Thursday, September 24, 2020


 Soooooo....  Hey.....

Things just keep plugging along here in 2020, don't they?

Raylan's virtual kindergarten experience, for one thing, keeps plugging along.  He says he likes it.  To him, kindergarten, right now, is a series of activities that he does with his parents and Grandma.  In virtual kindergarten, he does some online lessons with his teacher and then does "asynchronous learning", which involves completing some assignments that he submits through his iPad.  He enjoys learning, and I think he likes the one-on-one time.  It'll be interesting to see how the transition goes when he eventually returns to a classroom.  He likes being at home with us, but he likes being around other kids, too, so, I think in Raylan's mind, each version has pros and cons.

Working at the table in his room on a school lesson

climbing a tree when we went for a walk 
during a break

On Friday, when I was doing Raylan's school with him, the weather outside was beautiful (we've had unusually mild weather this September).  At lunch time, we hopped on our bikes and rode over to El Chilito for lunch.  They have picnic tables outside, so we say under the trees and ate breakfast tacos and had a really nice time.

Friday lunch out is an upside of virtual school

On Saturday morning we went for a hike on the Barton Creek greenbelt.  We had a fun little hike, but all of the water had dried up in the creek since last week!  Oh well.  Definitely easier to keep the kids dry that way!

Amy on our hike!

On Saturday I went for a bike ride and got to stop by Ryan and Jamie's house to visit with them for a while on the back porch.  It was really good to talk to them and get a chance to catch up a bit.

Saturday evening we had Mono Ensemble practice in Reed's back yard.  It was pretty fun, and I think we sounded alright (especially given the infrequency of our practice schedule).  All five of us were there.

On Sunday morning I tried to take the kids for a walk, but they rebelled.  Instead we played in the yard for a while.

the artists at work

Sunday afternoon we drove to to Buda to go to Cabela's.  Amy grew up doing some fishing, and our trip to the greenbelt in the nice weather had inspired her to want to get some little starter fishing poles for the kids.  So we loaded up in the car and head out.
Cabela's is, of course, one part outdoor supply store and one part theme park.  The kids loved looking at the aquarium and the stocked stream (they fed the fish) and all of the taxidermied animals.  We even took a turn at the laser shooting range up on the second floor.

checking out the aquarium
feeding the fish!

family photo!

Who is this mysterious action hero?

After Cabela's we went to Buda City Park.  They had a really nice playground there, and it was, just, overall, a super nice park on a really beautiful day.

They kept yelling at Amy to  jump off.
To her credit, she let them down slowly, anyway.
That's self discipline, people!

Later we stopped off at Home Depot.  Then we went home and Grandma and Papa picked up Raylan so he could go over and spend the night with them to do school over there tomorrow.  Ryan stopped by to drop off some food for Mom and Dad.  Kiddo tried to show off for Uncle Ryan while climbing the fence, and took a tumble.  The only injury was her pride.  She was pretty embarrassed.

Amy made spaghetti for dinner (which was great).

And that was the weekend!  Dad had eye surgery this week, but it seems to have gone well, so we're all happy for that.

Now back to sitting in front of a computer all week....

Monday, September 14, 2020

Update- 1st day of Kindergarten

Howdy!  Well, it's starting to feel a little bit like Fall here in Austin.  We've had some unusually cool weather for September, including a day last week where the high was in the 70s (which is very unusual for Austin, where we're typically still in the high 90s around this time of year).

This past week was Raylan's first day of kindergarten!  It was very exciting, although not exactly what we would have been envisioning for him at this time last year.  He's started school with all online classes due to the pandemic.  
I think I was much more nervous about his first day of school than Raylan was, given my concerns about getting all of his programs and apps to work on his school-issued iPad.  Things have been going okay, though.  Amy and I are both helping him, and my mom is helping several days a week.  He has some face-to-cafe time with teachers and classmates, and then "asynchronous learning" where he completes assignments and projects.
All in all, we're very lucky that he is healthy, safe, and that he seems to have a really good school with good teachers and administrators (he is going to Mathews).

First day of school picture!

Ready to start kindergarten!

Aside from Raylan starting school, things are mostly just chugging along as they were before.  Kiddo is still going to her preschool, and Amy and I are both working at home.  We're hoping to finalize Kiddo's adoption in early November on National Adoption Day.  Very excited about that!

Raylan and Papa build a spaceship 

I tried to get Raylan to explain some of his
chalk drawings.  It took a while.

Raylan literally winds Kiddo up on the swing set

On Saturday morning I took the kids down to the Greenbelt to try to wear them out a little bit.

If you look closely in the background of this
pic, you can see rock climbers scaling that cliff

Both kids had fun "exploring", although
eventually Kiddo got tired

the kids add some rocks to Barton Creek

later on Saturday Amy helped the kids do some finger painting
 in the back yard

Dad v. Raylan checkers on Saturday afternoon

Saturday evening I had a back yard, social distance band practice with Therapy Pets over Reed's house.  It was fun.  I think we sounded pretty good.

Sunday morning I took the kids on a "bug hunt", which mostly just turned into a walk.  We saw some big turtles down by the creek.

A friendly, neighborhood cat.
Trying to teach the kids how to approach animals 
cautiously and gently.

Amy's friend and co-worker, Tyler, came by to pick up some baby gear that we've outgrown and which he can use for his baby daughter.

We had intended to have him just pick up the stuff in the driveway while we stayed in the house, but.... the kids were desperate to explain to him how the toys work  Also, Tyler had Pogo, his little dog with him, so there's no way the kids were gonna stay in the house with that dog in our driveway.

There's no way Tyler could have figured
out this tiny record player
without help

Later we played with Magna-Tiles

It was a good weekend.  Pretty busy, now that I'm looking back on it.  I also went for a bike ride each day and Amy went for a run.

So that's about it!  Hope everyone is doing okay and staying safe!

Monday, September 07, 2020

Labor Day Update

Hello!  Well, it's Labor Day weekend!
It's been a pretty good week.

We had a bit of rain.  Amy's litigation team had a big hearing (the judge hasn't ruled, but she's feeling good about it).

Uncle Ryan and Aunt Jamie sent Raylan and Kiddo a letter that had a sort of story about which sorts of animals would make good pets.  Ryan drew some great pictures for it.  The kids loved it.  Raylan immediately insisted upon writing a return letter.

Reading the mail from Uncle Ryan and Aunt Jamie

We had some rain this week.  Raylan played out in the rain one day, and both kids enjoyed splashing in the puddles.

My bike had a malfunction a while back, and it's been in the bike shop for repairs for about 3 weeks.  I finally got it back.  Made me very happy.  Riding that thing around town really helps my mood when I'm working at home and stuck in the house so much.

Reunited and it feels so good!

I took the kids with me to go pick up some groceries from
HEB curbside.  They didn't want to stay in their kid seats while 
we waited for the groceries to be brought to the car.

We had a full blown Mono Ensemble band practice at Reed's house on Saturday night.  All five of us were there, and we sounded pretty good, given the fact that Mono Ensemble hasn't played in, I think, just about all of 2020.  We were also playing acoustic guitars outside, and socially distanced, so it was quite a bit different than our usual configuration.  We did okay, though.

Front yard pool splashing on the weekend.

On Labor Day, Monday, we went over to my parents' house for lunch.  Amy also took the kids to the pool, although I skipped that part.
Mom and Dad fed us fajitas, and the meal was great.

Papa and Kiddo chat and chew

The tie dye family on Labor Day

Well, that's about it.  Hope everyone is doing well!

Monday, August 31, 2020


COVID life, day 134,531.
We're still here!

On Monday, we all went across the street to Mandy's house for Darla Dog's birthday!
There were popsicles for the kids, and dog treats for Darla and a few neighborhood dogs.  It was all in Mandy's front yard and we tried to social distance with the neighborhood adults and kids who turned out.
There were more people than you would think for a dog's birthday party in the middle of the day on a Monday.  
We're all going crazy!

With Kiddo now in school and Raylan currently spending one night a week at my parents' house, we are having one night a week with Kiddo at home alone with Amy and I.  She loves Raylan, for sure, but she also really enjoys being an only child one night a week and getting the attention of both parents.  Raylan is with us a couple of week days each week while Bella is at school, so he get some solo time as well.

Mom and Dad, if Raylan sees a picture of me having fun with you
guys when he wasn't home, it could get bad for me...

Entertaining the boy

Picking unripe acorns out of the trees is, for
some reason, a really big deal

Another Saturday swim at the Farleigh's pool

You know what, sis?  I bet we could build us a boat and leave these 
squares behind!

Kiddo got a big girl bed this week!
We're still hitting milestones in the pandemic!

That's really been about it.  It's been really hot outside.

Not sure what else to say.

Hope everyone is staying safe and sane!

Monday, August 24, 2020


 Howdy!  It's still hot.  Still summer.  Still living in coronavirus land.

Our week was pretty good.  It seems like things are moving forward with Kiddo's adoption, so we're excited about that (hoping to finalize it in October).

Kiddo is back at her preschool.  It gives me a little bit of anxiety, because of the virus, but the school has been working with Dell Medical School to come up with a relatively safe plan in terms of how to operate.  If kids or teachers start getting sick at the school, it will shut down again for a while.  Raylan's kindergarten has not started up, and, when it does, it will be virtual, at least initially.  Such a strange time that we are living in....

Amy helps Kiddo and Raylan make pizza

Friday was Dad's birthday.  We went out to their house on Saturday.  We ate Rudy's barbecue (which was very good) and went swimming with the kids.

Chillaxing once again at Farleigh's pool

Mom made this cake, and Amy found this "Amazing Candle" at
the store.  The candle spun around and played happy birthday!

On Sunday I took the kids over to Oak Hill Elementary to meet up and play with one of Raylan's best friends, Dorothy.  Before Dorothy and her parents arrived, the kids wandered over to the school's chicken coop.  One of the parent volunteers was taking care of the chickens.  She invited the kids into the enclosure to pet and hold the chickens.  She also gave us a few eggs that they had just laid!  It was a very cool experience for the kids.

Meeting the chickens

When Dorothy showed up, the kids played for a long time.  They had a really good time, and really wore themselves out.

pretending to be pirates in the Gaga Ball pit

And that was mostly it.  We played around the house later.

Sunday evening Frank came over and we played some guitar, socially distancing on the porch.

It was a nice weekend.  Happy birthday, again, Dad!  Love you!

Monday, August 17, 2020


Hi!!  I don't know what to write anymore!  It's a pandemic!  More of the same!  (we work from home, my parents help out, we try to entertain the kids, etc. and so on).
We had a virtual happy hour this week with Amy's family- Jean, Greg, and Carol.  It was fun!  It was nice to see them and have a chance to chat for a bit!
Other from that we're just trucking along.  We went out to Steiner on Saturday morning and actually went to one of their community pools for a while.  There were like one or two other families who came to the pool while we were there, but there was definitely plenty of room to do some social distancing.
It was like 106 or 107 on Saturday and Sunday, so the water was definitely critical to outdoor fun.

When it's August in Texas, any activity that involves water
becomes a form of entertainment

Play-Doh with Kiddo

Amy made slime with the kids.
Raylan immediately figured out how to do this
with it.


This was on our "bug hunt" walk.
We always check for turtles under the bridges
(and we saw a big one at a different bridge on
this walk)

Learning to play harmonica!
The family band!!!!

That's it.  Frank and I did a social distancing guitar practice Sunday.  It was a little warm on the front porch, but we had fun.
'Til next time!