I’ve been traveling pretty much all month, thus we haven’t updated the website with new photos. We had two 512MB CF cards full of photos last night when I downloaded them from the camera. Here are some of the better ones:

  • On the couch – Photos of Jack and Wesley on the couch together, from yesterday.
  • Frank turns 60! – Some random photos from our recent trip to Dallas and Frank’s 60th birthday weekend extravaganza.
  • Payton and Peggie – We took some great photos of Peggy and Payton from their last visit.
  • The Arboreteum – We went to the Arboreteum for a picnic one Saturday with Jack. Jack enjoyed the open air and the trees, and especially the big pertified cows.
  • Jack’s First Real Food – Carrots. Blech! Mommy made Jack eat veggies for his first real food. Carrots must be the messiest food on the planet too!
  • Trip to the Park – Christine and I took Jack to the park at the begining of April. It was fun, and we got to meet some of the local kids from the surrounding neighborhoods.

I’ll try to post my ruminations on my recent trip to Denver sometime this weekend or next week. Sneak peak: It was snowing really hard there on Thursday, and I had to drive an hour north to the technology and agricultural mecca of Loveland.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 207 user reviews.

After getting home from Denver late on Tuesday night, I slept in on Wedneday morning (until 9:00 a.m.)

I got up, went to the drycleaners and picked up my suit and a shirt Christine had taken in for me. I went home, and started packing again.

Christine and I went to the airport around noon on Wednesday, 4/20, with Jack in tow. I checked Christine and Jack in at the Southwest counter, and accompanied them to their gate. They were heading to Dallas. Around 1:30, I left them to find my gate. I was heading to New York. Both of us boarded our different flights at 1:50 or so.

Christine’s parents picked her and Jack up at Love field in Dallas about an hour after she took off from Austin. I meanwhile flew to Chicago for a connection to New York’s fabulous La Guardia airport. The wireless internet stuff at O’Hare wasn’t working… typical. I hate flying through Chicago.

On the connection from Chicago to New York, I met the owner of the Monroe Salt Works. We talked about his business, his products, and advertising. It was neat to meet him, and discuss his business and how he got started. He reminded me of Raymond alot too.

After a short cab ride into the city, I checked into my hotel. The Hotel Pennslyvania. The Hotel Pennsylvania is across the stree from Penn Station, and Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. It’s an old hotel, in a crappy neighborhood (Hell’s Kitchen is just west of the hotel), but it’s also a block away from my company’s offices in NYC. It’s also a typical New York hotel: $200/night is the basic room. $250/night gets you a decent room with a window that gives you a view of the building next door (anywhere from 6 – 12 inches away from your window), and $300/night if they’ve sold half of their rooms. If you spend more than that at the Hotel Pennslyvania, you’re getting robbed… go stay at another hotel in Times square, or, there aren’t any rooms in the city anywhere, so you should be happy you have a room at all.

I actually had a decent room with a King size bed this visit, and a key that gave me access to the Penn 5000 club louge (yes, that sounds a little weird, but that’s what they call their “exclusive club”). I got a free cup of coffee and turned in for the night.

On Thursday morning, I woke up on my own at 5:45 a.m. — travel really screws up my internal clock, and it’s never predictable — so I got dressed and walked around outside a bit before heading to the office. I prepared our conference room for my future clients that were going to be visiting at 9:30 a.m. before getting together with my boss and co-worker to game plan our presentation. At 9:35 I called my client to find out if he was on his way… he wasn’t. We were supposed to be at his office. (This is typical of this guy… our emails specifically agreed that he’d meet us at our office, but… that wasn’t accurate, and it was probably my fault).

After a decent presentation with the client and his staff, we headed back to the office. I grabbed lunch at a little sports bar around the corner with another co-worker that I’m heading to Cleveland with next week, and we game-planned that meeting a little.

I visited a bar after work with yet a different co-worker after work on Thursday. This bar was a little dive on 3rd and 28th or so, which was around the corner from his apartment. It was fun… he knew the owner and a few of the regulars, and we hung out until 7:30 or so, waiting on his girlfriend. After that, I turned in for the night.

On Friday, I spent the day trying to coordinate a future trip to Denver, while also trying to figure out where a few other deals I have in front of people are, before heading back to La Guardia.

My flight left New York late, arrived at Chicago late, and into Austin even later. I got home around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.

On Saturday morning, I got up around 10:30 or 11:00 and drove to Dallas, so we could all celebrate Grand Dad Frank’s 60th birthday. We’re driving back to Austin this afternoon.

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 159 user reviews.

I landed in Denver this morning after barely making the flight … and let me tell you, the Denver Airport sucks. It took my 45 minutes from deboarding the plane to driving off the airport in my rental car. That’s totally unacceptable. It shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to get off the airport, in my opinion.

As I drove my 4WD SUV rental car off the airport, I was struck by how beautiful the Rocky Mountains were in the sunrise. I was headed for Loveland, which is about an hour north of Denver. The drive was wonderful, even if I didn’t know exactly where I was heading. I called Christine as I neared Loveland, and got better directions to my destination… think of it as having my own “00 Info” on standby (whenever she’s able to answer the phone).

My meeting in Loveland went well, and I think I’ll land that client in the next month. That put me in a good mood. On the way out of Loveland, back to Denver, I stopped at Subway for a 6-inch sub (remember, I just watched Super Size Me, and I’ve sworn off of McDonald’s for the time being).

I drove to Denver, and got a call from a future client I was trying to meet up with in the afternoon. They were sitting at a micro-brewery and wondered if I’d drop by. I said sure, and spent an hour with them while enjoying a very good Bock beer.

At 3:00, they had another call to take, so I headed to Denver and found my hotel and checked in. I headed to Starbucks to get on the internet, so I could check email and touch base with the home office (New York) and the home (Christine and Jack). I met the same client again at Dave and Busters at 5:00 and we talked until 7 p.m. which is a good sign.

I got back to my hotel by 7:45 or so, and watched the sun set over the Rockies from the 9th floor of the hotel. That was totally cool… breathtakingly gorgeous, and it only could have been more beautiful if I was on the west side of Denver instead of the east side (so the city wasn’t in the foreground as I looked west). Even with the city in the foreground it was gorgeous, and made for a great way to spend 30 minutes…

I like Denver in April.

One more future client to visit in the morning, and I’m on my way back to Ausitn.

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 181 user reviews.

Christine, Jack and I met Debbie and Raymond at The Cheesecake Factory for dinner on Friday night. Everyone’s dinner was good, if the portions were just a tad big… next time, we’re just getting one apetizer and 4 deserts. The cheesecake was fantastic. We didn’t stay long as Debbie and Raymond were both a little under the weather, but it was good to see them nonetheless.

On Saturday, Peggy and Payton came up to babysit Jack for us. Payton and I hung new blinds and valances in the nursery, and we enjoyed visiting, before Christine and I headed out for a fun night together.

We left the house around 6:30, and headed to Z-Tejas for dinner. We didn’t have reservations, and someone forgot to tell us that it was Prom night in Austin. We parked the car, took about 10 steps toward the door of the restaurant, and headed back to the car. There was at least 50 people standing outside waiting for a table.

So we drove down Capitol of Texas Highway, trying to figure out what to do… since it was prom night, that pretty much shot our chances of eating anywhere with a cool view… so we decided to head downtown to see what might be fun.

We eventually had a valet take our car on 4th street, and walked into Malaga, but the air conditioning was tool cold, and was blowing right on us. We really kind of wanted to sit on a patio, and they didn’t have one, or at least, didn’t ask us if we wanted to sit outside. (We noticed that they do have a small patio on our way out that had an open table on it).

So we walked next door to Fadó’s and quickly found a seat on the patio. Patrick Fleming was playing live music, and we were sitting under an open sky. The music on his website gives a good idea of how good he is, like this original: Nowhere, USA. I ordered a Black and Tan (what else do you order at an Irish Pub. We ate a Ahi Tuna Ceviche from the apetizer menu, and then sat back and enjoyed the music. Patrick did a good job covering a lot of popular music and he was fun to watch (we were sitting right behind him).

After Patrick Fleming went off the stage, we stayed to listen to a couple of songs by The Blaggards, an irish punk band from Houston. Go to their website and watch their irish punk version of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” … they’re pretty good and a lot of fun to watch in person.

On Sunday, we got up, and I cooked breakfast: Eggs and sausage, with homemade wheat bread toast. Peggy picked up the bread at Hruska’s on the way up from Houston on Saturday. If you haven’t stopped at Hruska’s in Ellinger on the way up from Houston… you need to next time. It’s on Highway 71, and is a little like stopping at the Czech Stop in West, Texas.

After Peggy and Payton left, Christine and I watched Super Size Me, the story of Morgan Spurlock and his 30 day McDonald’s only diet. Scary stuff. It’s a pretty compelling story, and will definitely make you think twice about ordering that Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, or those 44 oz. drinks at the fast-food joint of your choice. I’m convinced that Jack will never eat at a fast-food restaurant in his life, and I won’t eat at one by choice again. I’ll find the place selling salads and apples at the airport, instead of making that quick stop at McDonald’s or Burger King in the future.

Check back for some cute photos of Jack and Payton and the rest of us.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 293 user reviews.

I got up this morning a little later than I wanted to (I never sleep well in hotel beds, unless I’m staying at a Westin hotel for some reason … I guess I’m spoiled – especially if there are things on my mind, which there are more of these days). I met a client for breakfast at 6:30 a.m. in the hotel restaurant. We chatted a little longer than we should have, then he took me to the Columbus airport.

I arrived at 8:00 a.m., and was too late for my 8:30 departure flight, so, I got bumped to the 10:30 a.m. flight… no big deal I figured. I could get some work done at the airport, and I’d still get into Austin early enough to finish out a few things before the day ended.

The boarding clerk just announced over the P.A. system that our plane hit a bird on the way into Columbus, so now they’re performing an hour long maintenance check before they let us board the plane.

I hope I make it home today. That’s all I’m concerned with at this point. At least the Columbus airport has free wi-fi in the concourse.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 178 user reviews.

Work puts me in Columbus, Ohio today, calling on a current client, and I have to say that I really like Columbus. (It helps that it was a gorgeous day here today – 65 degrees and sunny).

I got up at the crack of dawn (4:30 a.m. or so) with Christine’s help, got to the airport in time to catch my 6 a.m. flight (that’s the good part of living town with a small airport) and flew to Chicago for my connecting flight. I had about an hour layover, so I camped out at the gate for the leg to Columbus.

When I got in line for the Columbus flight, I asked the frumpy unhappy looking lady in front of me if she was in boarding group 3, as they’d just called my group, and there was already a line of people still in boarding group’s 1 and 2. The lady ignored me at first. (She was in boarding group 4… I could see that plainly on her ticket, but I figured I’d be polite and ask instead of just muscling my way in line in front of her, which I considered a rude act. I was in a good mood, and excited about my trip to see my client, and “gosh darnit, people like me.”

So I asked again.

She said “hmmmph… I’m in line.”

So I smiled, and said, “OK, having a tough day already this morning?” in a jovial manner with a smile on my face.

She said “Yeah! Now step off!”

Gotta love that mid-west hospitality.

I said “No problem, we’ll all get there at the same time, I’ll just get in line behind you, and I sincerely hope your day gets better.” She stayed upset, which is sad, because she just looked unhappy, and there’s really no reason for that.

The younger guys standing in line behind me sort of chuckled a bit to themselves. One of them looked at me and said “did you get chewed out?” We struck up a conversation about air-rage, and enjoyed each other’s company.

When we got on the plane, the lady sat in her seat (row 2, aisle) and frowned at me, as if I’d somehow wronged her. All I could think was “poor lady… I really hope she has a better day.” And I hope she did. I had a good day today.

So, back to Columbus. It’s really pretty in downtown Columbus. I’m staying at the Doubletree on the river here in downtown (link to map). It’s a block from the Columbus Statehouse, and right next to the river. I have a river view room, which overlooks a quick bend in the river. The river today is beautiful. The sunset was a gorgeous site looking out over the town from the 15th floor of the hotel.

Downtown Columbus is really pretty… and very clean. It’s sort of like Austin (the cities are about the same size) without the dirty streets and vagabonds. I walked around the block after my meetings looking for a place to eat. I didn’t walk around too much (I was starving) but I found a quick chinese place (remind me not to eat chinese food in Columbus, Ohio next time) and watched the people walk to their transportation on their way home from work. It was a nice day. I like this town, and hope to come back in the next 6 months.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 270 user reviews.

Jack rolled over yesterday!!! He is four and a half months now and getting to be such a big boy! He rolled from back to front and then got upset to find himself on his tummy. He did it for me twice yesterday and once for John today. He is also babbling… lots of vowel sounds with a goo, ga, and ba mixed in. It makes for lively conversation at dinner time.

We started feeding him fruits and vegetables last weekend. We started with carrots. He wasn’t crazy about them at first, but by the third day he was gobbling them up. Next came bananas. He LOVES bananas. He is cute while he eats… he gets so excited. Next up we try peas. I wonder how that will go.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 225 user reviews.

Christine and I skipped church this morning (Jack was napping: “Never wake a sleeping baby”). While sitting in the dining room, downloading video off the video camera (finally getting around to trying to make a video for Ella of her first birthday party), I played around with Google Maps and their new satellite views.

This is my house, in Austin…. right where the mouse pointer is:

This is the rental house we rented for a year when we first moved to Austin.

This is the house Christine and I built in Fort Worth. Freaky… our house is the one in the middle with the greenest yard, and a bigger back yard than the other homes on that street. Really miss that neighborhood.

This is where Christine and I lived in Du Pont, Washington, when I was stationed at Fort Lewis.

This is where we lived in Radcliff, KY, when I was stationed at Fort Knox.

Here’s a closeup of the Quadrangle (where the Corps lives) and Kyle Field at Texas A&M, where we went to college.

This is Bellville, where I spent my early years growing up.

(It’s annoying that I can’t zoom in further in those rural areas, but can on a military based near Seattle … weird … especially considering even the military issues maps I used in the Army had areas of the map that were “off limits” and showed up as just big white empty spots on our map of the base)

This is where the first house I remember is (Dunstan is two streets north of the football stadium in the picture – that’s Rice University in the photo), from my early childhood.

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 244 user reviews.

…well, sort of…

On March 21st, I got a photo of Ella in the bluebonnets, from Shadel. The photo was too cute, so I forwarded it to my friend Christian at the Statesman, and asked him to put together his “wildflower photo gallery” again this year.

Christian sent me back a one-line email: “Please don’t make me do it again” … I know that building the photo gallery for the paper is a lot of work for an overworked guy… so I felt his pain, but I sent him back an email begging him to do it.

I hadn’t thought about it again, until Christine pointed out to me today, that Ella was on Statesman.com.

Woohoo! My niece’s photo is part of the newspaper’s website. That’s soooo cool. I remember being a kid, and thinking it was cool to have my track photo, or Boy Scout troop photo in the Bellville Times.

I think it’s just too damned cool that Ella made it onto Statesman.com.

Cool Beans. She’s so cute, and in my opinion the cutest little girl in Statesman.com’s wildflower photo gallery.

I gotta buy Christian a beer for putting together the photo gallery. Love it!

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 193 user reviews.

Tonight Jack didn’t cry at all when we put him to bed! He has come so far in a week! He had dosed off while I nursed him one last time for the day. Poor little guy was so tired. When I laid him down in his crib he opened his eyes, which is usually about the time he decides he doesn’t want to sleep and starts crying. He watched me as I tucked him in and set his little stuffed lamb on his chest. He laid there sweetly watching me as I prayed that God watch over him while he slept. I kissed my hand and touched his forehead wishing him good night and he closed his eyes and went to sleep! I watched him in disbelief for a minute and then quietly left the room.

It feels good to finally lay our sweet little baby down to sleep… quietly.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 245 user reviews.

From Shadel:

Ella is really starting to walk.

She is getting into everything! She especially enjoys being outside. Her favorite thing to do is push her push toy all over the yard. When we go inside she cries and sits at the window and just stares.

Evan and I have enjoyed every stage of her life, and it just keeps getting better. Everyday after school I race over to the daycare to pick her up! I don’t think she even cares when I get there because she is so busy with her friends.

Oh, well! I guess one day she will have me ducking in the car when I take her to school because she is embaressed of me!

Love to everyone!
Shadel

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 227 user reviews.

Today was a glorious day. Gosh it was gorgeous outside in Austin today.

Around noon, I went to Home Depot to buy some angle brackets and screws so I can hang the valances that Christine had Debbie get made for the baby room. While I was there, I also bought three water hose wranglers (you know, those boxes you store water hoses near the water spigot outside). One of them auto-retracts the hose for you… it’s spiffy.

When I got home, I started working in the yard. I raked most of the leaves out of the flower beds in the front yard, and then mulched them with the Black and Decker mulcher thingy I have. Then I spread new mulch down in one of the beds out front… I only had a few bags of mulch, and I’ll be buying more next weekend, along with some flowers for the beds out front.

I installed the hoses in two of the three hose wranglers I picked up.

I also rescued about 200 foot of water hose from the jungle on the south side of our house (that side is all ivy and ground cover, and the last owners of the house had left that poor water hose out in the jungle to die).

After all of that, I sprayed Sevin Dust bug killer on all of the plants and all around the house. Weirdly, though, I don’t think any of the spray actually came out of the applicator… No idea why, but I’ll take time to investigate the inner workings of the screw-on applicator next weekend.

I was exhausted by 5:30 p.m.

It was fun working outside, and I got the chance to listen to a lot of the new music on my iPod. I’ve decided that I really like The Used. The Postal Service has some catchy tunes, but some of their songs are weird. I like Eminem’s Encore album, and the Rob Zombie album I have … I think it’s called Hellbilly Delxue or something catchy like that.

I went inside and drank a cold glass of water. It tasted sooo good. Jack thought it looked good too, and when he grabbed it and pulled it towards his mouth, so, we let him try to drink it. It was hilarious, and after we got done drinking, he was soaking wet, as was I:

Thirsty Boy movie
Photos Here

After relaxing for a little while, Christine, Jack and I took a walk around the block. We stopped to smell the flowers, and tasted our toes on the way too:

Walk This Way movie
Photos Here

When we got home, Jack played in his exersaucer for a few minutes… it was a lot of fun, but I think it was toy overload..

Excersaucer movie

After playing, I went and got dinner from Freebirds (I’m sure burritos are on the Weight Watchers diet, somewhere). Mmmmmmmmm. Gooooood. Fooooood.

When I got home, it was Jack’s dinner time, then bath time, then bed time. He cried for 18 minutes (yes, my wife is a civil engineer and has the time written down) and was out. I think he was as tired as I am.

Looking forward to another week at work.

Oh, and by the way… I think Daylight Savings Time is a stupid idea (in the spring).

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 163 user reviews.

Last night, Christine and I got home from the Lockett wedding around 6:30. We quickly changed clothes, and then started Jack’s evening routine.

Jack ate dinner, then we fed him rice cereal, and then bathed him. Around 7:30, we fed him again, and by 8:00 or so he was in bed. Here’s the good news. He only cried for 10 minutes or so last night, and was out. For good.

At 8:45, Christine and I were in bed ourselves.

He didn’t wake up until 5:00 a.m. this morning… but, Daylight Savings Time was in effect, so it was really 6:00 (we forgot about DST until around 10:00).

I slept pretty good last night. Christine woke up at 5:00 wondering where Jack was, and sort of panicked (for a second) that he hadn’t woken up all night… then she realized he was peacfully sleeping, and she couldn’t believe it.

Christine and Jack got up and ate around 5:30 a.m., and I joined them around 8:00 (realize that we didn’t change our clocks until 10:00).

So, night number two went well. Jack was exhausted yesterday most of the day though, so I think this is just the beginning of building the schedule… hopefully this sleep training pays off for us in the long run.

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 298 user reviews.

Christine, Jack and I piled in the station wagon yesterday around noon, and drove as quickly as we could to Hostyn, Texas for a wedding. Rob Lockett invited us to his wedding to Ashley. Rob and I grew up together and were the best of friends. Our families have stayed pretty close over the years… and so, we were delighted to be invited to the wedding.

Hostyn is about an hour from Austin, just south of La Grange. We got to the chapel with about 30 seconds to spare (we still haven’t adjusted to having a baby and getting places on time — not that we were all that good at being on time before the baby, but now it’s a lot tougher).

The ceremony was very nice. A simple short Catholic ceremony in a beautiful country chapel. The bride was gorgeous, and there whole town was in attendance (I really think the whole town of Hostyn was there).

After the wedding ceremony, Jack got to meet the Lockett family, and the Fox family (Rob’s Grandparents and Aunt and cousins). Mrs. Housley (my 7th grade social studies teacher) was there too. We headed to the reception after saying hi to a lot of people…

Kari Burt, Rob’s cousin, is doing well at A&M. She’s a freshman, and the last time we saw her was when she ran hurdles in the state track meet in Austin last year. She’s still growing up, and still getting prettier every day. Amy was doing very well, and seems to be pretty much fully recovered since her accident 2 1/2 year ago.

Lori (Rob’s sister) and Jason are doing well… Lori seems as happy as I’ve ever seen her.

Halley’s middle child (Halley is Rob’s youngest sister) is just too cute… a little ball of energy with blonde curley hair.

Reese (Rob’s younger brother and one of Evan’s best friends) and Karen are well. Their two little ones are cute. Kade (the oldest and the boy) was the ring bearer in the wedding and cried all the way down the aisle, until he saw his mommy, then made a bee line for her with the flower girl in tow. Gabby, the little girl, still has the most beautiful dark brown eyes I’ve ever seen, with those long eyelashes.

Nanny and Bussy are still Nanny and Bussy… we just love seeing them. Bussy introduced me to one of his neighbors (I didn’t ask how many miles away this neighbor lived, but I’m sure it’s at least a couple of miles) and we talked about choices… Bussy’s always teaching me something, and I love him for that.

We also ran into Bronson Pilcik and his wife Becky. Bronson and I went to school together when we were young. Bronson’s doing well now. They have 2 kids, a two year old girl and a six year old boy. The boy is just starting to play tee-ball. We laughed about old times, caught up on old friends and where they are now, and then talked about family. Bronson’ll probably take over parts of his family’s business in Industry in a few years, and is doing great.

We left the reception before they served dinner, as it was time for us to head back to Austin for “Learning to Sleep – part two”. We did stop at Dairy Queen on the way home though, and both of us had a “Dude Sandwich” … love those things! Funny thing about “the Dude” is that I think they only sell them in Texas… you should have seen the look on the face of the counter clerk in Kentucky when I asked her for a “Dude”. Heh… I’ll have to tell that story sometime.

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 290 user reviews.

Last night, Christine and I put Jack to sleep in his crib at 7:10 pm (after the evening ritual of feeding and bathing), and for the first time in his life, we didn’t go check on him again, until he was asleep. We are training Jack to learn to go to sleep on his own, and to comfort himself to go back to sleep when he wakes up in the middle of the night.

The decision to start doing this on Friday night, didn’t come lightly. We were ready to start doing it last week, but we wanted to talk to the doctor before we put Jack through this training, just to make sure we’re being smart about it, and not starting too early.

So, at 7:12, Jack started crying. He was asleep at 7:52. He slept for an hour or so, then woke up, and we listened to him cry again for about 45 minutes two hours. After he fell asleep the second time, he slept until 3:50 am. Christine got up to take a shower (it’s hard to listen to your baby cry for any longer than about 2 minutes) and by the time she was back in bed, Jack was asleep (and so was I).

Jack woke up at 6:10 am or so this morning, and we (that means Christine) started the day with him. He ate pretty healthily this morning (he usually eats once or tiwce during the night) before taking morning nap.

It’s 11:00 am right now, and we’re all getting ready to go to Rob Lockett’s wedding in La Grange, and we’ll come home tonight to start day two of sleep training.

All of the books say it takes three nights to train your child to sleep through the night without being checked on … for some reason, I’m having a hard time believing this training will be over after 3 nights.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 282 user reviews.