Monday, July 15, 2019


Hello!  I hope everyone had a nice, summery weekend.
Ours was good!
My mom and dad got back from Michigan last week.  Sounds like they had a nice trip to the U.P. with Ryan and Jamie.  I think we might be headed up there with them next year.
Raylan was excited that they were back and Mom and Dad were excited to see Raylan, so Raylan went out to their house and spent Thursday through Saturday out there.  He had a blast.  Swimming pools, bounce houses, and generally being spoiled.  That kid has a rough life!  ;-)
On Saturday Amy, Kiddo, and I drove out to Steiner Ranch to go meet up with them and go to the pool.  Ryan and Jamie met us out there to go swimming as well.  It was really fun to see everyone and hang out.  We ate lunch at Mom and Dad's, and ended up staying all the way to eat the leftovers for dinner.  (Ryan and Jamie bailed out after lunch)

The whole family in the Steiner Ranch Towne Square pool

Raylan schools Papa on magna-tiles
In the evening Amy and I watched Stranger Things.
On Sunday we drove way up into North Austin (near where I grew up) to go to the El Salido pool with Shelly, Kit, and Spencer.  We had a good time.  I felt like I didn't get to talk to Shelly and Kit all that much because I was chasing kids around the whole time, but it was still nice to see them.

El Salido has a kid pool/splash pad with playground equipment in
the water.  Genius!
Raylan jumped off a diving board for his first time on Sunday!  He's been swimming better and better lately, and he kept closely watching some kids who were probably 6 through 10 who were going off the diving board.  I could tell he was intrigued.
The first time he got up on the diving board he walked out to the end and stopped when he realized that there was a little drop to the water.  Then a lifeguard blew their whistle and told him he wasn't allowed to wear his goggles when he was going off the board.  Then some girl little girl (probably 6 or so) started yelling at him that he should just climb back down.  He got a little rattled.
So he turned around and climbed back down.  He said he didn't want to jump.
I understood.  He's only 4, after all, and he really only started getting much better at swimming in the last month or two.  Plus, he always looks underwater at how deep the water is in the deep end by the diving boards and comments on how far down the bottom is.
But then we went back to the regular prat of the pool and kept swimming, and he kept looking over at those kids who were going off the board...
Eventually he said, "Dad, I want to try again."
He climbed out of the pool before I really realized what was going on.  I scrambled after him, and by the time I got by the deep end to watch him he was up on the diving board. 
He walked out to the end, stopped, said it looked a little scary, and then jumped right in.  He swam over to the side very capably on his own and then hopped out to go again.
I was very proud of him- not for going off the diving board so much, but for being brave enough to stick with something that was a little scary because he really wanted to learn how to do it.

After a few jumps, Raylan wanted his mom to see him do it, so we went and got Amy (and Shelly and Kit and Spencer).

By Raylan's 7th or 8th jump, he was doing spin moves
We swam for about 2 hours.  Then we headed home and had lunch and took naps.  Both kids slept hard.
Later on we played.

Amy reads a story to Raylan.  Kiddo, apparently dissatisfied, went
and got her own book to look at.

In the evening we had band practice.  All of us were there.  We sounded awright.

And that was about it!  Good weekend.  Went by too fast!

Monday, July 08, 2019

July 4th and Update

Hey!!  So I hope everyone is having a good summer!
Things are going pretty well at our house.

This past week was the 4th of July.  My parents were up in Michigan, on vacation with Ryan and Jamie, so we didn't see grandparents or aunt and uncle for the 4th this year. 
We still managed to have a pretty good time, though.

On the morning of July 4th Raylan had a swimming lesson.  After that we took Raylan and Kiddo over to Galindo Elementary to play on their playground.  It was a nice, shady spot, and the school has goats!  The goats were a big hit, especially with Kiddo, who wanted to pet them through the fence.

Happy birthday, America!

Kiddo and this goat developed a special understanding
In the afternoon we went out to the Hill Country Galleria, which was hosting a family-friendly July 4th event.  They had a stage with live music, a bunch of arts and crafts vendors, and bounce houses for the kids.  Kiddo was a little too young for the bounce houses, but Raylan had a blast.  In fact, while we all had fun people watching, the outing eventually turned into an event where the rest of the family followed Raylan from bounce house to bounce house, waiting in line with him and cheering him on as he flailed his way through the inflatable madness.

Shooting out of the mouth of a giant tiger.
To celebrate American independence.

Waiting in line for the coveted water slide bounce house


I used to have one of these for my pet hamster when I
was a kid...
By the night of July 4th, the kids were tired enough to collapse into bed.  Amy and I watched a new episode of Stranger Things.  Loud fireworks went off on the street behind us, but the kids were passed out and didn't open an eye.

Friday the kids went to preschool for part of the day while Amy and I got some treasured grown up time together.  We went to Garrison Pool and laid in the sun and listened to some music.  It was quiet and magical.  Whole different experience going to the pool without kids.

On Saturday we got up and went out for breakfast.

Mom, I have a lot more things to tell you before I decide whether I want to
finish my food.

We headed back to Garrison pool on Saturday, but this time with kids.  It was a much more active experience.  But a lot of fun.  Raylan keeps getting better and better at swimming.  I didn't take any pictures.

On Sunday Raylan helped Amy wash our cars, and then the kids wanted to go swimming in the pool in the yard. 

Raylan swims some laps while Kiddo literally hangs out.

The women's World Cup finals were on Sunday.  Somehow I missed the first half (I got the time wrong), but no goals were scored, anyway, so it all worked out.
Much to my surprise, Raylan was fairly interested in the game.  I kept yelling at the TV, and I think he was curious about what was getting Dad all riled up.
He kept cheering for the Netherlands, even though I kept trying to get him to cheer for the U.S.  The Netherlands had orange jerseys, though, and apparently that was the deciding factor.
It was a good game, and a great tournament.  I was happy to see the U.S. win, but also just happy about the overall quality of play from all of the top teams.

Raylan and Kiddo settle in for the second half.

Sunday afternoon we just played in the yard.  It was a little hot out, but there was a breeze, and the kids didn't seem to mind.

Tree climbin'

Raylan dubbed himself "Spider Boy" this weekend.
I resulted in a lot of acrobatic climbing activity...

Sunday evening I had band practice with Reed and Frank.  We sounded pretty good, I think.  At any rate, I had a good time.  I got a chance to play my new 12 string Danelectro.  It worked pretty well, so that was cool.

And that's it.  Mom, Dad, Ryan, and Jamie should all be back in town by tonight, I think. 

Have a great week!

Monday, July 01, 2019


We had a pretty good weekend, albeit a sort of low key one.

On Saturday we got some exercise.  Ryan and Jamie came over for lunch (we ordered some pizza), and the kids got to hang out with them a bit.  Ryan and Jamie are headed for the Upper Peninsula or Michigan with my parents this week for vacation, so we were happy to squeeze in a chance to visit with them between our trip to Utah and their trip to the U.P..  It was nice to hang out.  Both Raylan and Kiddo seemed very happy to see them.
Later on Saturday afternoon we took the kids to the Garrison Park pool.  We had a really fun time swimming.  Afterward we went to Dairy Queen and got some ice cream.

On Sunday we exercised again and then drove up to Catch Air.  Raylan had been there before with my parents, but we had never gone.  It was a big ol', fun, indoor playground.  We had a really fun time.  The kids loved it.

Raylan on da slide

Kiddo executes a reverse descent

Raylan dances it out during the kid dance party
(he really did enjoy dancing)
Afterward we went next door to Moonie's for hamburgers/chicken sandwiches.  Pretty good!

Raylan explains something complicated to Amy during lunch
We got home and sort of crashed.  Raylan played with some toys in his room.

Epic castle
Later Frank came over and we played some music at the house.  We had a good time.  Amy said we "sounded like music", so I'm calling that a win!

And that was our weekend.

It went by really fast.

Have a good week!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Park City, Utah

Hi!  We just wrapped up our summer vacation trip to Utah.

We flew out last Thursday.  We got up pretty early in the morning and Mom was nice enough to drive us to the airport. (thanks, Mom!)

Kiddo and Raylan do their version of waiting patiently for our plane
at Bergstrom International.
We had a connection at Love Field in Dallas.  We got some breakfast before getting back on a plane to get to Salt Lake City.

Flight into Salt Lake City.  The Great Salt Lake and
the Wasatch Mountain Range.
We got into Salt Lake City in the middle of the afternoon.  We rented a minivan and drove out of Salt Lake City and up into the mountains to Park City (stopping at the Whole Foods in Kimball Junction to get some food for our condo).
When we left Austin it was in the high 90's and fairly humid.  We got to Utah and it was in the mid to upper 50's with a few passing showers mixed with blue skies.
The mountains in Utah were really beautiful.  Raylan was amazed that there was snow on the top of some of them, even in the summer.  As we got closer to Park City, the landscape was very green.

We stayed in a condo/townhouse in Park City.  It had three stories, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.  It was a nice place and worked well for us.  It also had a back porch with a nice view, a table, and a grill.

Raylan tries to squeeze his body through Kiddo in order
to be in the center of the picture
We met up with Jean and Greg and Nathan at the condos.  They had a condo that was about 100 yards from where out condo was located.  It was good to see them.
We settled in and went and picked up some tasty pizza from a local place for dinner.  The kids got to run around and play.
On Friday we all got up and fed the kids and exercised (Jean and Amy ran, and I went to a very nice gym facility which was located adjacent to our condo).
Afterward we wandered into Park City to wander around and see the shops and have lunch.  Park City is a cool little city.  The weather was great (mildly cool and sunny).  We went into some shops, rode on a trolley, and had lunch at Wasatch Brew Pub (which had some good beer and food).  After our lunch, Amy and Jean took Kiddo and Nathan home to rest while Greg and I took Raylan back to our condo on the city bus (which was fun- Raylan enjoyed the ride, and it gave us a little tour of Park City).

Amy, Jean, Kiddo, Raylan, and Nathan in Park City!

Kiddo, Nathan, and Raylan hang out on a bench beside a stunningly
accurate statue of Uncle Ryan

After Kiddo's nap we mostly hung out near the house.  We took the kids to a nearby park to play on the playground.

Raylan enjoys a stone bench near a little creek behind the condo.

Spider boy!
By evening time we had become aware that it was the summer solstice. (thanks, internet!)  We bought some food (hot dogs and salad and potato salad) at the store and had a little summer solstice cookout on the back porch of our condo.

Greg, Amy, Jean, and Natahan (and the top of Raylan's head).
Greg is willing Amy to open the mustard faster.

Summer solstice picnic view of Amy on the back porch.
It was about 100 degrees back in Austin on this day, but in the mid 60s
in Park City

Jean explains Scooby Doo to Raylan (who has never seen it).
This, of course, led to a series of questions about mysteries and
why people would intentionally expose themselves to scary situations

Whenever there was a moment of downtime, Raylan spend
it trying to dam the stream up by throwing rocks into it

Raylan lectures Kiddo about water safety.
Beside the 4 inch deep creek.
On Saturday we drove out to Heber City to take a short ride on a historic railroad.  The ride was meant for families, and it was only about 45 minutes long.  It was a lot of fun!
The kids really enjoyed the railroad, itself, as well as appreciating some of the scenery.  The ride had a sort of hippie theme, and there was a high school aged girl on the train who was getting people to sing along with 60's music that was piped in through the speaker system.  We had a little rain as we were getting on the train, but it soon stopped.

Jean, Nathan, and Raylan with a historic locomotive

All aboard!!!

Raylan explains to Nana how fast he can run up the side of a mountain

I didn't eat the popcorn.  YOU ate the popcorn!

Kiddo and I deboarding the train
On the way back to Park City after the rain ride, we stopped off at Jordanelle State Park, which sits along a lake (created by the dam on the Provo River) called the Jordanelle Reservoir.
The park had a playground and a beach.  The kids had a blast both in the sand and water (feet only) and on the playground.  There were even some large seagulls to feed. (in the middle of Utah?  A mystery!)
Amy helps roll up some pants and take off some shoes

Looking for a "souvenir rock" for Uncle Ryan
After playing at the park for a while we drove back to Park City so the kids could nap.

Jean and Greg were nice enough to watch the kids for a while, so Amy and I could got for a bike ride.  The owners of our condo had a couple of bikes in their garage that they had made avaible for us to use, and the Park City area is covered with paved trails and bike lanes (in addition to more rugged trails for actual mountain biking).  We rode the bikes basically to Kimball Junction and back.  It was almost certainly some of the nicest scenery that I've ever enjoyed in my life on a bike ride.
Just a random shot of some mountains, a church, and a fence on our
bike ride.

Amy gives a wave as we pedal around on the trails
In the evening we all went to dinner at Squatters.  Nice dinner!

Nathan and Raylan, "patiently" waiting for their food
I exercised pretty much every day at the fitness center near our condo. I took the pic below just to show the view of the mountains from the windows while you're working out.

In Austin, our gym does not have windows.  Cause there's nothing out
there to see.
On Sunday we went to the Park City Vacation Resort to ride the gondolas up into the mountains.

Gondola ride.  Not being a fan of heights, the gondola sorta freaked me
out.  Raylan might have been slightly wary, but was actually good with it.
At the top of the gondola we went on a little walk/hike to an alpine lake up on one of the mountains.  It pretty quickly became apparent that the hike was a little too much for Kiddo (or for anyone who was carrying Kiddo).  So Amy took the hit for the team and stayed at the lodge near the top of the gondola with Kiddo while Jean, Greg, Nathan, Raylan and myself hiked up to the lake.  Once again, it was beautiful scenery!

In da woods

Annoyed that I'm asking him for a picture when he wants to be throwing
rocks at trout

Nathan, Jean, and Raylan look for fish in the lake

Raylan and I look out at the mountains 
After the hike we rode the gondola back down and had lunch in the ski village at the resort.

Sunday night we had dinner at the condo.  Amy and jean and Greg made chili cheese chicken with bacon while I supervised Raylan and some other kids from the condo complex who were playing soccer/volleyball/catch out in the grass.
We had a nice dinner.

On Monday we drove into Salt Lake City.  We went to Temple Square and saw the Salt Lake Temple as well as the visitor center.  

The Latter-Day Saints Church is pretty impressive to behold when you see the full power of the organization in Salt Lake City.  Regardless of your opinion about the particular religious aspects of their belief system, it's just sort of wild to stop and consider the fact that this religious sect, entirely created and formed in the United States, beginning in 1830, is now such a fully formed religion.

The Mormons, at times, seem to want to hold themselves out as simply another denomination of Christianity, but even a casual viewing of their materials at the Temple Square visitor center serves as a reminder that their beliefs truly are radically different from those of pretty much every mainstream branch of traditional Christianity (I found Raylan curiously watching a cartoon at the visitor center which explained the Mormon belief that the physical, human bodies of Mormon believers are resurrected after death in perfect physical form to live with their  loved ones and family.  Raylan started to ask me questions, but I distracted him with an offer to get him a cookie during lunch).

I don't really want to weigh in on particular religious beliefs, but the fact that the Mormons have built a massive, powerful, international religious organization since the mid 1800s is genuinely impressive (or, I guess, to some people, a bit scary- their founder, Joseph Smith, was, after all, charged repeatedly with crimes ranging from disorderly conduct to banking fraud to conspiracy to commit murder to treason, with these crimes spreading across at least 4 states).

At any rate, I found the whole thing fascinating.

Amy, Jean, and Raylan in front of the
Salt Lake Temple
Office building headquarters of Church of LDS

Greg keeps watch over Kiddo while she takes in the Temple Square fountains.
We ate lunch at a cafe in Temple Square.  Afterward we drove to This is the Place Heritage Park.

The plan was just to let the kids run around a bit and wear themselves out before driving back.

Driving out of Salt Lake City
It turned out, however, that the Heritage Park was placed on the site where Mormon founders had established their initial settlement (hence, "This is the Place!").
The park had a sort of historical re-enactment town (with Mormon "settlers" in historical clothing), along with a playground, petting zoo, pony ride, a train-like wheeled tram, and a little train on a track (with a scenic view).  We did all of those things.  The park also had blacksmiths, an arts center, a Native American dance recital, quilt museum, etc., etc., etc.  But we didn't make it to everything.

The playground (with a cool zipline swing that Raylan liked)

Nathan, Raylan, Jean, Kiddo, and Greg ride the tram train.

Amy rides the smaller train with the bigger view

I wanna see the whole thing!
After our trip to This is the Place Heritage Park we headed back to Park City so the kids could rest.

Kiddo found the Mormon lifestyle exhausting
We ate leftovers for dinner, packed up, and basically crashed.

The next day we packed up pretty early and drove back to Park City to fly out.

Adios, Utah!