Ella at One Year
Ella in Black and White at One Year

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 225 user reviews.

Get this, Austin will have a professional basketball team next year. It’ll be an NBDL (National Basketball Development League) team (like the minor leagues for basketball).

Enter their Name the Team Contest and take me to the games with you (I don’t really care for basketball all that much, but I can’t pass up a chance for something free, like seasons tickets to the local basketball team games.

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 188 user reviews.

Jack is getting so big! He weighs 14 lbs 14 oz and is 25 inches long. His height, weight and head circumference are all 50th percentile. Its been that way since he was born. Its reassuring to know that he’s growing and gaining weight like he should be.

The biggest topic of the appointment was sleep. Dr. Treybig says its time to get Jack sleeping 11-12 hours straight in his crib. It really sounds like quite a feat but John and I are ready to try it. She said there is no reason developmentally to wait another month, and that if we did, we’d just be getting him used to more bad habits (i.e. sleeping in his swing, rocking him to sleep, etc.) that will make it more difficult to correct as he gets more mature. Besides, I am ready for 11-12 hours of straight sleep!!! What a concept!

As far as feeding goes she says to keep feeding Jack the rice cereal (we started again last night and he was ready for it… he loved it). We can also start feeding him oat cereal, and Stage 1 baby food. She said to feed him a new food every three days or so and alternate between fruits and vegetables. She said to make prunes one of his first foods to help keep his system in check with all of the new solids (which can be constipating).

Dr. Treybig said that Jack is very strong and is ready for his exersaucer and Johny Jump Up which will help him gain more trunk support. I thought I had to wait on those toys till he was able to sit up on his own. It will be fun to see him playing with his new toys and jumping around in his Johnny Jump Up. That will make for a cute video for sure!

At the end of his appointment the mean shot lady came in and gave him his second round of vaccinations. He cried a little longer this time with big crocodile tears. Poor thing. We got home and I fed him and he has been asleep for an hour now. Those shots just wear him out. If he reacts like he did last time he’ll be really tired the rest of today and most of the day tomorrow.

I think that’s all.
Love you guys!
Christine

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 163 user reviews.

This was Jack’s first Easter. Christine and I had hoped to spend the afternoon at the church sponsored picnic and Easter Egg hunt on the lawn of the State Capital building, but, the weather proved difficult on Saturday afternoon. We went to the picnic, after picking up a couple of sandwiches at Jimmy John’s Sandwich shop (we found that place while we were at the hospital back in November).

When we arrived at the Capital, we ventured out onto the lawn with all of the other families gathered, sat down, and ate our lunch. We discovered Jack likes to people watch while Christine and I were eating. One of the preachers came and visited with us, and then we decided it was just too cold and wet to stay out too long… so we waited for the Easter Bunny to show up, took a picture with him, then headed back to the house. We stayed home Saturday night and watched Troy on DVD. (Nothing like watching a film about Greek mythology on Easter weekend right?)

On Sunday morning, we got up and went to church. Kim, Brad and Kim’s mom saved us some seats in the balcony (church was packed today with all of those Easter Methodists) and we sat through the whole ceremony without a trip to the “cry room”. I guess Christine got the feeding/nap schedule down this morning, because Jack was really good in church. He didn’t make any crying sounds, though he did start talking to me at one point during the service. We got a lot of compliments on how cute Jack was after the service, which tells me he wasn’t a bother to anyone around us.

After church, we drove out to the lake to have Easter lunch/dinner with Debbie, Raymond, Peggy, Payton and Shirley. Payton was wearing his school ring, which he’s earned as a Junior in High School… He sure is growing up to be a fine young man.

It was a gorgeous day today in Central Texas.

Right before we ate, we drove down to the Hamilton Greenbelt there in Lakeway, and took some photos. The best ones came from a setting on the creek, near a little set of rapids. Jack got a little cranky, because he was tired, so Christine and I headed back to the car early. Jack fell asleep in Christine’s arms as we walked back to the car. He was snoring in her arms. That was cute.

After a late lunch/early dinner, we watched Finding Neverland on DVD. Good movie. A bit slow at first, but a great ending.

Then Jack played “Who’s gonna eat that hand” with Raymond. Here’s a little movie from their playtime. Jack was laughing so hard. I wish I’d have grabbed the camera sooner to capture more of it on film:

We headed home shortly after 9:30, and Jack is sleeping in his car seat now (never wake a sleeping baby, right?)

Hope you all had a happy Easter. You can see all of our photos from this weekend in this gallery.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 189 user reviews.

Last night, Christine’s friends and I conspired to throw her a surprise birthday party at Kim and Brad’s house.

I don’t know how we pulled it off. I was horribly unorganized about planning it, and totally wishy-washy about the date and who to invite. Kim stayed on my ass about it though, and on Monday this week, we had a plan. Between Kim, Cyndi Erin and Elise, we threw a pretty decent party, I think.

El Arroyo catered, and arranged for a margaritta machine. Cyndi made the cake. Kim decorated and Brad bought the beer and liquor. I arranged for a baby-sitter for Jack (our first night to use a stranger to baby-sit for us).

Around 7:30, Christine and I left the house to “pick up Brad and Kim to go to dinner with them”. Christine opened their door to say “let’s go” and was greeted with a “Surprise!”

Lots of people showed up, and we had a good time at the party. (We really don’t need much of a reason to get together and have a good time). The hail storm that blew through midway through the party was interesting.

Thanks to everyone that helped us pull off the party, and to those of you that stopped by to join in the festivities.

Christine and I got home around midnight and were both exhausted after a great night.

Pictures from the night are here.

Happy Birthday Christine!

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 296 user reviews.

Mello YelloThe last time I had a Mello Yello to drink I think I was somewhere between the ages of 6 and 7. I think I was about that old because, the only thing I remember about drinking that Mellow Yellow was pulling up to the “Coke Store” as I called it back then (I’m sure it was a 7-Eleven or a Utotem in Houston) and telling my mom I wanted a “Mellow Yellow”.

My mom returned to the car dutifully with a Mello Yello in hand just for me. I took one sip and promptly puked.

I bring this story up for you all because today at lunch, I was asked if I wanted a “pop” to go with my sandwich, and for a second I had no idea what I was being asked, then, as the cashier motioned towards the soda fountain, I saw Mello Yello, and said “Yes, please.”

I had a Mello Yello today for lunch.

I almost puked.

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 252 user reviews.

If you’re looking for babynames, then look no further than this neat way to visualize the popularity of baby names. Just start typing a name, and the graph will change slowly showing you all possible names with that combination of letters and the rank of that name over the last century.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 239 user reviews.

When booking an airline trip, call ahead to find out if the entire Westlake Marching Band will be on your flight, and if they will, allow for an extra hour of security checks.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 217 user reviews.

Last night, after a wonderful dinner (Christine cooked a delicious lemon oregano chicked dish last night), I spent some time downloading photos and movies from the little camera, and here’s a round up of recent photographs and a movie:

  • 29 – A few select photos from my 29th birthday party.
  • Ella’s a Year Old – These are a few photos we took at Ella’s Birthday Party (I can’t believe we didn’t take more).
  • Reading his book – Mommy took these photos of Jack reading his book during morning playtime.
  • Goodmorning Sunshine – On Saturday morning, Jack and I went out to greet the sun, while laying in the hammock. Afterwards, we went inside and woke up mommy.
  • Reading with Daddy – Jack and I read a book before bedtime last night.

And for this week’s movie, we present Life of the Party. At my 29th birthday party, Jack and I danced to a song Josh was playing on the radio. The poor guy was tired, but he hung in there, and was the “Life of the Party”:

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 274 user reviews.

Ella shows us all that the Bluebonnets are finally starting to bloom:

Ella in Bluebonnets

Isn’t she adorable?

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 243 user reviews.

To follow up on yesterday’s garage cleaning, Christine and I got up late this morning, and headed back out to the garage, after eating an early lunch.

We worked until 4:00, and we’re now able to say that we’ve gone through every box that was in the garage. We’ve gotten rid of a lot of stuff we just didn’t need anymore (like a box of MacWorld magazines that spanned from April 1998 to 2004). We’d saved so much crap over the past 8 years, that it was pretty funny going through all that stuff. We had a box of every receipt for everything we bought between May 1998 and December 2001. No idea why we saved that stuff. We had a box of a lot of old computer peripherals that I’d picked up over the years – The Salvation Army is now the proud owner of a USB 56K Modem, for example.

I hung our bicycles from the rafters in the garage, to get them out of the way. We packed away all of the Christmas decorations properly. We stored a lot of Barbies and art. I’ve started sorting out my tools and the like. The garage floor is now completely clear of any obstructions, save for a small pile of a few trash bags full of trash, that need to go out on Friday morning.

Most importantly, we found the box that came from our master bedroom at the Travis Heights house, that Christine had packed all of our valuables in. It was buried under about 10 other boxes, that we just hadn’t gotten around to unpacking. Felt good to find that box and put our hands on those things again.

The garage looks great, and after Friday, we’ll be able to pull a car into it (it’s not wide enough for 2 cars). So, I’m planning on washing the cars this coming weekend, and then parking the Volvo in the garage from here on out.

It feels really good to get something that felt like a huge job done, finally. (Only took us a year to get around to doing it).

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 263 user reviews.

Christine and I spent the better part of the day cleaning out the garage today.

Around 9:00 a.m., I took a load of stuff we had ready for Goodwill to the donation center, then went to Home Depot and bought 8 storage bins, and some trash bags. When I got home, I started clearing out the garage a little. I got the lawn mower and fertilizer spreader out of the way, then moved our bikes outside, along with the ladder. I also started a small pile of boxes that we just didn’t need to keep anymore (anyone else have a few empty boxes that you think you’ll need someday? like a box to the last printer you bought, etc…)

Christine put Jack down for a nap and joined me in the garage. We started unpacking the boxes that we haven’t unpacked since our move from the rent house we lived in in Travis Heights. We found some fun old memories (lots of photos from Christine’s 8th grade and highschool, and from our days at A&M and in the Army). We found a bunch of old books that we didn’t need to store anymore really. We found two pairs of boots that we had no idea where they’d gone to. We divided what we found into piles: One for Goodwill, one for trash, one for eBay, and the stuff we kept, we repacked in the storage bins I’d bought that morning.

Around noon, we ate pizza on the back patio … which was funny … Christine freaked out over a bee that flew near her face and she ran inside. I got her to come back outside to finish eating after about 5 minutes of coaxing.

Then I started burning (in the chiminea) a bunch of old files we were hanging on to for no good reason (we still had my old Austin County State Bank statements and cancelled checks for God knows what reason, for example).

All said, we did a pretty good job of getting rid of a bunch of stuff we really didn’t need to keep anymore (like about 40 books that were just taking up space — stuff like our AAA tourguide books of Kentucky we have from 7 years ago — sheesh). I took a load of stuff to Goodwill (4 boxes). I took a load of stuff to Half-price books (made $21.50 there for 2 boxes of books – what a rip off). I took a file cabinet we didn’t need back to Office Depot (made $70 there).

So now, we have a garage that’s on its way to being better organized… and is definitely cleaned out a bit.

When I got home from getting rid of the stuff we were getting rid of, Christine and I packed the car full of cardboard, and I took it to the recycling place in downtown Austin.

After that trip out, I fertilized the lawn, just in time for it to rain, so I didn’t have to water it in.

Christine started making dinner (a wonderful Talapia dish with spaghetti squash and rice for sides). Bob Beurlein came down from Ft. Hood, and we all ate dinner together (including Jack).

Austin WranglersBob and I then headed to the Austin Wranglers game for the evening. We watched the Wranglers beat the New York Dragons. It was a fun game. Arena football is a good sport to watch, and to take a family to, I think. It’s kind of like watching regular football, but at a basketball pace.

Got a lot done today, and now we’re tired… it sure feels good to get things done.

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 190 user reviews.

Over the past week, we’ve spent a lot of time celebrating birthdays:

John turned 29 on March 10th. Yes, I’m still a year younger than my wife. She’s still wiser. I’m still younger. I’m 4 weeks into my Weight Watcher kick and so far I’ve lost 11.2 pounds. Feels good being a little lighter, I just hope the pounds are coming off the right parts of my body 😉 To celebrate, Josh cooked an amazing dinner, and we spent the evening at their house, playing with Jack and talking about stuff. Josh also gave me a really nice knife and some stuff we need in the kitchen so he can come over and cook at our house like he does at his (and so I can learn some culinary arts from him in the process).

Ella turned one year old on March 13th! And boy is she amazing at one year old. Shadel and Evan threw the little princess a wonderful birthday party in Bellville. Christine, Jack and I drove down on Saturday (the 12th) and spent an evening with them before the big event. Evan and his friend Jason got up around 5:30 to start cooking brisket. I got up around 7:00 to help them. Shadel and Christine decorated, and around noon, I guess, the birthday well-wishers started showing up. Lots of family and lots of friends. It was a lot of fun, and I shot about an hours worth of video, so Evan and Shadel can preserve the event.

During the week of March 14th, we just worked. Jack started learning how to sleep a little longer through the night. I started reading a book on how to get him to sleep through the entire night. I closed another deal at work, this one with a bigger client based in Chicago.

Then last night, March 18th, we met Cheri, Greg, Raymond and Debbie at the Iguana Grill on Lake Travis, to celebrate Cheri’s __th birthday (I’d never ask a lady her age). We went ahead and celebrated all of the March and April birthday’s last night too (Debbie’s birthday is April 5th). The food was great. The conversation was better. The sky was overcast, so the sunset wasn’t as good as it normally is over the lake.

Today, I’m hoping to either a) get the garage cleaned out, or b) get the yard in shape. Depends on how much time I have.

Jack’s sitting in front of me playing right now, so I’m gonna get off this darned computer and go spend some time with him. He’s so much fun!

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 161 user reviews.

Josh sent this to me… it’s a neat use data from Amazon to write out my name:

Engler in Books

John Engler in Books

Click on an individual book to learn more about why it’s in the books that get into the image. Click the logo at the bottom to generate your own.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 268 user reviews.

Grandma sent me this email this morning from AsAManThinketh:

What Matters In Life
Author Unknown

Some people understand life better

And they call some of these people “retarded”…

At the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash.

At the gun, they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with a relish to run the race to the finish and win.

All, that is, except one little boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to cry. The other eight heard the boy cry.

They slowed down and looked back. Then they all turned around and went back every one of them. One girl with Down’s Syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, “This will make it better.”

Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line.

Everyone in the stadium stood, the cheering went on for several minutes.

People who were there are still telling the story… Why? Because deep down we know this one thing: What matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves.

What matters in this life is helping others win, even if it means slowing down and changing our course.

Great story Mom, thanks for sharing.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 267 user reviews.