Sunday, May 31, 2020

Update

Hi!  Hope everyone is hanging in there.
We're just sorta plugging along over here.

Last Friday I took Raylan for a bike ride.  He rode for 7 miles!  The kid's just a little over 5 years old, so I was pretty impressed by that.

Celebratory photo after the 7 mile ride
On Saturday morning I took the kids to Garrison Park while Amy went running.  The weather was nice, and we just wanted to get out of the house.  We didn't play on the playground, but we wandered around the park and had a nice time.  The kids climbed on tree stumps and rocks and chased squirrels.

When the playground is closed, you play "King of the Rock"
Also "Jump Off the Rock".
And "Who Has the Best Rock?"
The are some grave stones from the 1870's and 1880's in Garrison Park from the Nolen family, a pioneer family who settled in the area.
The kids, of course, were very curious about them.
I tried to keep them from walking on them, but Kiddo could not be deterred.  I hope the Nolen family were fond of children.
Anyway, we had a talk about what graves are, and an even longer talk about the sort of lives that people probably had in the 1800's in Austin.  
Raylan seemed very confused by the idea of life without air conditioning or cars.


Later, there was some fun in the pool.


On Saturday night I got together with the guys for an acoustic Therapy Pets practice at Reed's house.  We played outside, and sat 6 feet apart from each other.  It was nice to see the guys and make some music again.

Reed in the foreground, Jim, Frank, and me


On Saturday night there were some protests in Austin (as well as across the country) relating to the police custody death of George Floyd up in Minneapolis.  The protests were sparked by Floyd's death, but the protesters had grievances against APD as well, including the recent killing of Michael Ramos, an unarmed suspect who was killed by Austin police officers in April.
The protesting basically turned into a riot on Saturday night, with at least one car being burned, and at least two businesses looted.
I've been following these protests pretty closely for several reasons.  I guess I'm interested in seeing what the protesters ultimately can achieve through their action.  I'm interested in these questions of racial equity in law enforcement because I work within the criminal justice community here in Austin (and I'm always fascinated to see the take of "the public" on criminal justice within our community).  Also, I'm following these Austin protests closely because some of the property crimes and public disorder crimes (e.g., participating in a riot) are offenses which may ultimately be reviewed for prosecution by our office.
Anyway, I woke up on Sunday, and during my usual bike ride, I headed downtown to see the aftermath of whatever had happened the night before.  There was widespread graffiti for a number of blocks, with anti-police messages, including some messages about killing police along with messages about wanting justice for George Floyd.  I was shocked by the amount of tagging that had occurred.  Even APD headquarters and the downtown municipal court were covered in graffiti.  That really shocked me because I knew that APD would have made protecting that building a priority if they weren't overwhelmed by higher priority problems.
So I'm guessing that it was pretty much pandemonium downtown last night. 
I've got a lot of conflicted feelings about the whole thing, but I think that the line has been crossed beyond peaceful protest, and I'm not cool with that.  I hope it doesn't escalate in the coming days.

Some of the graffiti on APD headquarters
Later in the day I took Raylan for another bike ride.  Before we even left the house he told me that today he wanted to go 8 miles this time.  I was already sort of tired from my earlier ride, and it was kind of hot and muggy out.  I didn't think he would make it 8 miles, but I didn't want to discourage him, so I just told him we would ride until he got tired.
Well, we ended up riding 8.25 miles.  He fell down in some gravel early in the ride, and he wasn't happy about it, so for a moment I thought it would be a 2 mile ride.  But when I asked him if he wanted to go home, he jumped back on his bike and took off again.



Horses in Sunset Valley

"Are you excited about the horses, Raylan?"

So that's been it, really.  We've been quarantining and hiding out, mostly.  It's getting weird because our politicians are opening everything back up, and, slowly, in some ways things are starting to move back to a bit more normal (stores are open and restaurants can be open at 50% capacity).
At the same time, most of the actual medical experts keep saying we should still be social distancing and following all of the quarantine procedures.  It's hard to know what to do.  For now we're still erring on the side of caution.
Personally, I feel like it might let up for a while, and then there will be another outbreak.  Maybe it will be worse in the fall and winter?  I don't know.  It feels like nobody really knows.

Anyway, the world feels a little crazy right now.  Everyone stay safe.


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Memorial Day Weekend

Hi! Hope everyone had a decent Memorial Day.
Ours was pretty nice, although slightly weird, given the COVID  quarantine.

On Saturday I went for my usual bike ride.  The city has closed down some streets in and around downtown to try to encourage people to exercise on city streets instead of congregating in the parks.  It was fun to ride down through the neighborhoods with little or no traffic on those streets.

the Healthy Streets initiative
The kids spent the night with Grandma and Papa on Friday night.  I picked them up Saturday morning.

Raylan ponders the next addition to his Lincoln
Log cabin
Later on Saturday we played in our inflatable pool in the yard.

On Sunday we went for walks and bug hunts.

Our brave bug hunters in front on Mandy's house
Later on Sunday we had some pretty big storms, and even had some hail!

Raylan shows off some of the hailstones that he collected
On Monday, Memorial Day, we went to Grandma and Papa's house for some fajitas.  We had a nice time hanging out with them.


The kids and Amy try to spot some frogs that are croaking
in Grandma and Papa's little pond

Raylan negotiates with Papa to get a brownie by eating some
watermelon first

That was pretty much our weekend.  By necessity, it was low key, but it was pretty nice.  We miss having Ryan and Jamie and Susan around for our get togethers.  Feels weird.  But it was a nice time!  Thanks to Mom and Dad for having us!
Have a good week!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Update

Well, we're still hanging in there through the coronavirus quarantine.  We're still working from home (which is pretty busy), my parents are still helping out with the kids (thanks!), and we're trying not to watch the news too much.  Things are feeling a little bit like Groundhog Day (get up, eat breakfast, get on the computer, go for a bike ride, get back on the computer, etc.).
I had a little video happy hour with some of the people who work on the mental health dockets at work, and that was nice.  We also briefly visited via computer with Ryan and Jamie this weekend.  It got cut a little short because the kids were already a little wired-tired and getting ready to get cleaned up for bed, but it was nice to see them!
I'm just gonna post a few pics from this week.

Amy took this pic.  Apparently Kiddo rode her balance
bike through a puddle and got her sandals wet.  So
she immediately got off her bike to put them on the
curb and "dry them in the sun"

Amy read an article in the paper about a woman who has been making art
and then giving it away for free in her front yard art gallery during the
pandemic.  Raylan and I rode our bikes over to Jinx Avenue and
snagged some artwork!

Amy made soap in the back yard with the kids.  Jean had sent the kit.
They had fun.  Thanks, Jean!

Grandma and Papa got Kiddo this inflatable outdoor
easel for her birthday.  The kids had a blast playing
 with it.
You wouldn't think this would be a great pool for diving practice, but....

Amy made us a dish from her childhood named Johnny Marzetti.
It was really good!  Apparently Teresa Marzetti, a restaurateur from Ohio,
invented the dish and named it after her brother-in-law.  I expect
Jamie or Heidi to produce a delicious dish called "Jason Steanso" any day now

Anyway, this is how we're living during the pandemic!  Everyone try to stay healthy!  If you do get sick, we wish you a speedy and painless recovery!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Kiddo's Birthday; Mother's Day

Picking up a curbside grocery
order during quarantine

Hey!  It's taken a little while to post this week, but things can somehow become shockingly busy when you're working from home!
We had 2 big events last week!
Kiddo had her 3rd birthday, and we celebrated Mother's Day!
Celebrations during the quarantine are a little unusual.  Birthdays have turned into small, family gatherings (usually we would probably try to have at least a couple of the kids' friends over), and celebrations like Mother's Day can't really involve going to restaurants or taking the kids to a park all day while Amy gets a chance to relax.

For Kiddo's birthday, Amy baked a cake, Kiddo opened presents, and Grandma and Papa were there to help celebrate.  We all ate macaroni and cheese (which is pretty much Kiddo's favorite food right now) and had sausages and salad.  She was very excited about her birthday, and talked about it a lot in the weeks leading up to it.  Among her favorite presents were a tutu and dancing ribbon set, a little doll house, some tie-dye shirts, and some books.

blowing out the candles!

the family on Kiddo's 3rd birthday

Kiddo, excited about her birthday loot

Kiddo's birthday rave/dance party
So Kiddo had a very nice birthday celebration.  She seemed very happy.

Amy got Raylan this shirt.
So I had to post a picture of him in it.
Cause... truth.



at some point this week Amy and the kids got matching tie-dye shirts
I had a virtual happy hour on Thursday with the guys from my band, Therapy Pets.  It was good to hang out with the guys.  We were online for like 3 hours, and I don't even know what we talked about.  So it was kinda like having one of our band practices...

Jim, Reed, Frank, and me
On the weekend, we went out to my parents house.  Grandma helped the kids make some presents for Amy for Mother's Day, so that was really nice.
I got a little present for Amy and some flowers for my mom.
We picked up some food for both breakfast (Kerbey Lane) and dinner (Tarka) for Mother's Day, so Amy didn't have to cook.


Raylan presents some Mother's Day gifts

Hanging out with Mom

Mother's Day is over!  Take care of us!!!!
Raylan has been getting better and better at riding his bike, so we've been taking longer bike rides.  It's not unusual for him to go 4 miles on some days.  It's a lot of fun.


I still take solo rides by myself for exercise, though.  I don't really get the speed and distance to get in a good workout with Raylan, although it's fun to ride with him!


And Raylan and Bella continue to do some learning activities both at home and with Grandma.  He's really working on his reading and math skills.  Kiddo is learning her letters.

practicing some letters
And that's been about it!  Work is still busy for both Amy and I.

I hope everyone is staying happy and safe during this strange time!



Sunday, May 03, 2020

Update

Hi!  Well, like most everyone else, we're still "sheltering in place" during the COVID-19 outbreak.  Working and living at home has sort of become the new normal at this point.
We all went into this thing (i.e., working from home and staying at home) with a sort of sense that it would last for maybe a month or two, and that life would then sort of pick up and resume to normal.

Now, with experts saying that the epidemic could go on much longer or produce returning waves of the virus, we're faced with the more daunting question of when life will return to normal.  Business and political leaders want to get us back to normal as quickly as possible, and that's certainly understandable, given the economic toll that the COVID lockdown is having on the country.  On the other hand, the idea of allowing outbreaks that could overwhelm our hospitals and kill lots of people feels untenable.  It's just an impossible situation.  Fingers crossed for a speedy vaccine.

My parents continue to help out on some weekdays with the kids, and Amy and I have been very busy with work stuff.  I continue to manage dockets from home, and Amy has been working to prepare for an upcoming hearing relating to cleanup costs for a Superfund site.

Working from home on the days when we're all here together is a balancing act of taking care of the kids while also trying to get our work done.  It usually feels like neither job gets done with the full attention that it deserves, but, on the other hand, we're all getting along fairly well, and nobody seems to be suffering too much.

"Take a picture of my virus haircut."
Amy was the cosmetologist.
Raylan is the model.

waiting for Dad to bring home breakfast tacos

pretending to be statues at Mandy's house

I took Raylan to the Burger Center to practice riding his bike.
They had tents set up for mobile COVID testing.  I didn't let him
get any closer than this.  He had a lot of questions. 
Strange time to be a little kid.
It's been pretty hot lately.  Kiddo and Raylan have already been enjoying the sprinkler and the back yard pool.  I don't know what we're going to do if the neighborhood pools don't open at all this summer!

back yard kiddie wonderland
That's all I have,  I guess.  The weekends have been nice.