Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day Weekend

Hey!  I hope everyone had a good Memorial Day weekend.   Can I get real for a minute?  I feel weird doing well wishing regarding Memorial Day weekend at this point.  
It's a little complicated.
I've been working with Veterans Court for quite a few years now (at least 7 or 8).  Prior to working with Veterans Court I understood, of course, that Memorial Day was a holiday meant to commemorate our fallen soldiers.  I even probably took a moment when Memorial Day rolled around to think about our service members who have died for our country in the line of duty.  I felt grateful for their sacrifice, but it was in a sort of abstract way.
In Veterans Court, however, I have worked professionally with veterans (i.e.,  peer mentors, defense attorneys, clinicians, and a judge) and have worked with veterans defendant/participants in our program.  A lot of these guys have been in combat, and quite a few have lost friends in the process.
When Memorial Day rolls around, it's frequently a difficult time for a lot of these guys.  Many of our participants have substance abuse issues, and Memorial Day is frequently a time when relapses occur.  Almost invariably, the drinking or substance abuse doesn't happen at a party or barbecue or whatever.  More often than not, when our vets fall off the wagon on Memorial Day it's because they're at home, isolating, and struggling through feelings of guilt, depression, and sometimes anxiety over memories of fallen friends.
The peer mentors and other vets who are a little father along the path of working through some of their feelings still find Memorial Day to be a sort of difficult day.
I don't think they expect people to sit around and mope on Memorial Day, but the celebration of Memorial Day with retail sales events, for example, can feel a little out of touch to the guys who actually lost friends in combat.
That being said, a bunch of these guys probably go to cook outs.  A day off is a day off!
Anyway, like I said, I don't think anyone is expected to sit around and feel sad all day, but some acknowledgment that the day isn't just another excuse to party is probably a good thing.
A lot of good people have served in the armed forces to protect our country, and we owe it to both the fallen and the living to show a little respect.
End of speech!

Our Memorial Day weekend was pretty good.

Friday night we just ate pizza and chilled out.

My mom and dad have been out of the country in Israel for about two and a half weeks.  They got back on Thursday.  On Saturday we went out to their house to go swimming and to hang out.  Raylan was super excited, and Kiddo was excited, too.  She's also very attached to them at this point.

We went swimming at Bella Mar pool.  Even though it kept threatening to rain, we got lucky, and eventually it cleared up and turned nice.  Later we hung out at Mom and Dad's place.  We got to catch up and hear about the trip.  It was nice.  They fed us a great lunch of salmon burgers, corn, and lot of fruit and salad.

Raylan happily catches up on some Papa time
We stayed out in Steiner Ranch all the way through dinner.  We went to Galaxy Cafe.  They have a nice outside play area.  It was fun!

On Sunday we drove all the way up north to Cedar Park to the Quarry Splash Pad.  Amy had been out there to go to a birthday party a while back and had been talking about it ever since.
It really was the nicest splash pad I've ever seen.
Of course, we got there, and within the first 5 minutes of playing on the splash pad (following a 40 minute drive to get there), Raylan fell and skinned his knee pretty badly.
It was all but inevitable.  Like I said, it was definitely the coolest splash pad that I've ever seen, and I'm 46 years old.  As soon as we wandered out to play in the water, Raylan started running around at full speed on the wet concrete, hooting like a crazy man.  I warned him like 2 or 3 times to slow down and walk, but it was just impossible.  Coolest splash pad ever.  His four year old brain was exploding.
Anyway, there was a sort of wet slap-crunch, the token moment of stunned silence, and then the traditional screaming and crying before and parental hugging.
"Oh, do we need to go home?"
The bravely stammered, hesitant, "No, I want to play..."
Some nice lady gave us a couple of band aids, and we were more or less okay.  We still played a lot more and had a lot of fun.
And we continued to run whenever we weren't thinking better of it.
Which was quite often.

Amy helps Kiddo with the water collectin'

Kiddo and Raylan let me share their snacks during a break

Raylan the daredevil tries to recreate the moment of his spill for Kiddo
We played for quite a while and then drove home.  We ate fast food on the way.

At home there was sleeping for kids.

On Monday, Memorial Day, Mom and Dad came over to watch the kids for a little while.  Amy and I went to the gym and then went out to a grown up lunch.  It was nice.  My folks and the kids went to the park and out to eat, as well.

In the afternoon, I took Raylan to get a haircut.  We got ice cream afterward.

This is as close to a smile as I could get from
Raylan while he was eating ice cream

Later Raylan and Kiddo played in the yard.

Raylan grows tired of Mom and Kiddo's hammock party

Memorial Day pool party

In the evening I went to band practice.  We were all there.  I had a good time.

And that's it!

Have a good week!

Monday, May 20, 2019


Hey! Hope everyone had a good weekend!  Ours was pretty good, but fairly low key.

Friday was bike to work day.  I rode my bike to work.  Stopped off at City Hall to pick up some free sunglasses and other free stuff.

When Raylan found out that he would not be riding to
work with me, he didn't take the news especially well.

Bike to Work Day 2019
On Saturday we got up and went out to breakfast at Kerbey Lane.  Afterward we went to see a children's play called Acorn and Robin at the Carver Cultural Center.  The play was interactive, and the kids seemed to enjoy it.  Kiddo was really interested, and she even wandered up on stage during some of the interactive parts of the performance.  Raylan told me he was a little bit scared of the people in the "weird costumes".

After the play the kids played on the playground outside the Carver Center.  We video chatted with my parents, who are still on their trip to Israel, while outside on the playground.  It was good to see them.

Later that morning we went to PetSmart and bought a little fish tank.  We set it up on Saturday, bought a fish to put in it on Sunday, and by Monday morning that fish had gone to the big fish tank in the sky.  Not sure what happened to that fish.  Raylan had named him Cat.

On Sunday I picked up our groceries and took Kiddo to TuneBugz.  

Sunday afternoon the kids played at the house in the kid pool and with the sprinkler.

Summer is coming

Sunday afternoon Frank came over and we played guitar for a little while.  It was fun.

Sunday night we watched the series finale of Game of Thrones.  I felt like it was sort of a letdown.  Bran has been pretty lame for a while on the show, and now he's the king?

Oh well....

Anyway, that was our weekend, for the most part.

Have a good week!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Update; Mother's Day 2019

Hope everyone had a good weekend!  I especially hope that you moms and grandmothers had a good Mother's Day!  

On Friday I took the day off.  It was a mix of getting some errands done combined with taking a little time off to relax.  In the afternoon, Amy and I went to see Avengers: Endgame.  We both enjoyed it.

On Saturday morning, we went out to breakfast at La Posada.  Then Amy took Kiddo and went to a foster mom support group that she's been attending.  She seemed to enjoy it.  

Raylan and I ran some errands while they were out.  We went to a florist, and Raylan picked out some flowers for his mom for Mother's Day.  He was very proud of his selection, and he did a good job.

It was unseasonably cool and rainy on Saturday, so we spent a lot of time playing games in the house.  Raylan likes games quite a bit now.  He has some cooperative games for kids and a PJ Masks concentration game that he's really good at (I legitimately have a really hard time beating him).

When it got done raining on Saturday, I took Raylan and Kiddo outside to burn off some energy.

Kiddo, did you know that some parents
pay lots of money to take their kids to
water parks?!

On Saturday evening we got a babysitter.  One of Raylan's teachers, Ms. Bianka, was performing over at the Whisenhunt Stage at the Zach Theatre with her show choir, the River City Pops.  We went to see her perform, and she was great!  We had a lot of fun, and it was nice to get out of the house and go enjoy ourselves.  Bianka has a really great voice.  Also, we went out for ice cream afterwards...

When you ask Amy to make a face that shows how
much fun she's having on a date with her
awesome husband, this is what you get.
She was joking!  I'm pretty sure she was joking...

Sunday, of course, was Mother's Day.  When I had asked Amy what she wanted for Mother's Day, her foremost request was to have some time to herself.  So on Sunday morning I got up and took Raylan and Kiddo to Kerbey Lane for breakfast while Amy went to get a massage.

Slightly distorted panorama shot of Kiddo and Raylan at breakfast.

After breakfast we went over to Uncle Ryan and Aunt Jamie's house for a while so Amy could continue to relax a bit longer (never mind the fact that she ultimately ended up deciding to use this
time to do chores).  We played a bit with toys and then went to the park in their neighborhood.  The kids had a lot of fun.  

Aunt Jamie sloooowly walks to the park with
 Kiddo and Scout

Uncle Ryan helps the kids explore the best part
of every neighborhood park- the storm drain tunnel
and water retention pond!

On the drive home from their house, Raylan was complaining that we didn't stay longer and asking when we could go back.  So apparently Ryan and Jamie's house was a hit.

We got back to the house to find that Amy had been moving a whole pile of unwanted items (including at least one piece of heavy furniture) out to the curb for bulk trash collection day on Monday.  Not exactly what I had pictured her doing with her time off, but the woman does love to organize!

The kids got lunch and took naps while I rode my bike to the gym (the sun had come out and the weather was great on Sunday).

When the kids got up, we walked to Central Market and bought a couple of cupcakes to celebrate Mother's Day.

When we got home, the kids played in the yard for a while.  Ryan had bought them a sort of sprinkler toy that looks like flowers that are shooting out water.  Raylan stripped off his clothes and ran around in it.  Kiddo basically orbited the whole scene, muttering "too cold" every time she got sprayed by water.

Mother's Day partay!
Eventually we cleaned the kids up and had dinner.  The kids wished Amy a happy Mother's Day.  Repeatedly.

Pin her to the floor and make sure she knows how
much we appreciate her! 

It was a pretty good weekend.

Hope everyone has a good week!

Monday, May 06, 2019

Update; Kiddo's Birthday

Hey!  So we had sort of a long week at our house, culminating in a really fun Sunday.

Kiddo caught some kind of really nasty stomach bug during the week.  Raylan had gotten sick to his stomach last weekend for less than 8 hours.  When Kiddo seemed to catch the same bug, it stretched into more than a 3 day event, including high fever (Raylan never had a fever) mixed with some serious stomach issues, and all of the nastiness that you might imagine would accompany something like that.  We ended up taking her to the pediatric urgent care by our house (the staff there are getting to know our family all too well) so she could get some anti-nausea medication.
Amy and I took turns staying home with her from work.  Raylan spent a couple of days at my parents' house.  They were supposed to take him overnight, anyway, before heading off on a trip to Israel, but his stay got extended by an extra night so we could take care of Kiddo and so everyone could get more rest.

At the urgent care.  I wish to recreate this mural in
our living room.
Raylan returned home Friday night, and it was nice because Kiddo seemed to really perk up when he saw him.  By Saturday Kiddo had no more overt stomach problems or fever, but she was still pretty cranky.  She may have still been feeling sort of nauseated.  She really didn't seem to want to eat anything.  This was unfortunate because Saturday was also her birthday.

We tried to keep her comfortable and entertained, but it was sort of rough going.  We took Raylan and Kiddo to a South Austin park.  Raylan had a good time, but Kiddo was a little out of sorts, and spent some a chunk of time just yelling/screaming at us for no apparent reason (although she did get to play with some dogs for a few minutes, and she seemed to enjoy that).

Birthday trip to the park!

I don't know what we did on Saturday.  Amy and Raylan made a cake for Kiddo.  We played at our house a lot.

On Sunday we had a little get together over at our place.  It was a sort of little birthday party for Kiddo and an excuse to cook out and see everyone.  Ryan, Jamie, Kit, Shelly, and Spencer came over.  The kids played in the yard.  Amy made really good chicken/cheese/pepper things on the grill, and we grilled some veggies.  Amy also made macaroni salad, cucumber salad, and coleslaw.  We also grilled some hot dogs for the kids.  It was all excellent.

Spencer and Kiddo took naps, and Raylan played and watched TV.  The grownups got to hang out and visit for a while.

Waiting for the guests

Uncle Ryan helps Raylan build the world's worst roller coaster.
Kiddo watches in amazement.
.  Ryan, Jamie, Kit, and Shelly.  Chittin' and chattin'

Did I mention that Kit brought over a crazy water toy?
Also a bubble machine.  Of course there
was a bubble machine!
Amy helps Kiddo unpack some b-day gifts.  Spencer loses interest.

The birthday party/cookout was fun.  Food was great, and we really enjoyed having the gang come and hang out.  The weather was even really nice!  (although it got hotter and muggier later in the afternoon after folks left)  Anyway, we had fun, and even though Kiddo's actual birthday was a little rocky, I think we more than made up for it the next day.

Later in the evening I went over to Reed's and played some music for a little while.  It was good to see him and get loud.

And that was the weekend.  Hope everyone has a good week!  Safe, fun travels to Mom and Dad as they head off to Israel!