On Saturday the 26th, we packed the house with 25-30 people to celebrate Jack’s First Birthday at a Party all for him. Honestly this is the most people we’ve had at the house since we moved in, and I’m glad no one else showed up… the house was pretty full with just 25 people here…

The Buckaroo theme was in full force, and Jack wore his trusty bandana through the whole party, just in case some of the rustlers in attendance stirred up too much dust.

Here are some photos from Jack’s First Birthday:

See the rest here.

Also, here’s a video from the party. It’s a really big file, so if you’re not on cable or DSL internet, don’t bother… we’ll show it to you next time you visit:

Again, that movie is huge, so if you’d rather watch a smaller version that’s about half that size, follow this link. They’re both still pretty big movies… sorry about that. If the movie doesn’t work for you, follow the link to “Download Quicktime” on the right side of the englers.org homepage, and get the latest version for your computer.

Talk about some cool presents … many many great toys that Jack is still getting out of their packaging this week. Thanks all, very much. Very, very much. The party was a lot of fun for us, and I hope it was for our guests… it meant a lot to us to have everyone there.

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One year ago today, Jack was born at 3:45 p.m.:

Today, I took some photos with a new camera that Marc Swendner is letting me borrow for the weekend:

Grandmother and Grandad showed up around 2:20, and Grandmother put me down for my afternoon nap. Grandad put together a present for me while Jack was napping.

When Jack got up, we got Jack dressed, so we could take some more photos. We went out into the backyard, and took some photos with the present Grandad made for Jack. A brand new hand-made picnic table:

We also took a photo of Jack in one of Daddy’s favorite t-shirts:

The idea behind taking a photo of Jack in that shirt is that we’ll hold onto it until Jack is 18, and we’ll take a photo of him in that t-shirt on every birthday, so we have a record of how big he’s getting relative to that t-shirt. Should be a fun tradition (as long as we don’t loose that shirt).

After taking photos in the backyard, we headed to Highland Mall to take some photos with Santa:

Jack enjoyed meeting Santa for the first time, and Santa was impressed with how good he was for only being one year old.

When we got home, Mary and Christine worked together to make a Havarti Chicken dish with green chiles, mushrooms, an italtian sauce, and havarti cheese. It was really good. We all sat down for dinner, and Jack ate… and then opened a few presents from his parents:

We finished up the evening with a fun bath with our new “Noah” bath toy:

Here’s all of the photos from today:

update: I wanted to point out that these photos were all taken with Marc Swendner’s Canon EOS-D60 [link to a good review], which is a high-end digital SLR. Marc was kind enough to let me borrow it for Thanksgiving, as well as 3 lenses, so I’ve been playing with a wide-angle lens, two telephoto lenses, the flash settings and other settings on the camera. I’m thouroughly impressed with the lift in quality from my Canon Powershot 410 to this SLR… I’m going to have to work on talking Christine into letting us buy this camera from Marc for Christmas 😉

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We got this email from one of our neighbors the other day:

From: “Lori Levy”
Date: November 17, 2005 12:53:46 PM CST
Subject: first pictures of dashiell

Hi Friends and Family,

Dashiell Leverant Levy was born November 11 at 3:23 a.m.
He weighed 7 lbs. 6 oz and measured 19 3/4 inches.
Everyone is home and doing well!!
Love to all,
Lori, Herbert, Dylan and Dashiell

Cute kid:

And to think, we saw them just two weeks ago or so at the Halloween play group, and they didn’t know what they were going to name him… Congrats Lori and Herbert. And congrats to little Dylan on the new little brother.

Jack is looking forward to playing with you guys soon.

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 253 user reviews.

This week, I’m taking a few days of vacation. It’s nice, but, because it’s Thanksgiving and we’re having Jack’s first birthday party on Saturday, we’re spending a bit of time cleaning up the house, getting organized, and cooking.

On Saturday, at 4:00, we’re having Jack’s birthday party. Here’s the invitation:

Christine ordered the invite from PaperMatinee, after we decided that we were going to do a Cowboy themed party. (Come on, what else do you do at Thanksgiving in Texas but yearn to play Cowboys and Indians?)

We printed 30 invitations, to save a little money, but we wanted to invite all of our friends to the party. The reality is that because it’s Thanksgiving weekend, a lot of our friends can’t make it (we went out with Josh and Elise on Sunday evening so they could wish Jack happy birthday before they head off for Oklahoma this weekend. They gave Jack a push toy that pops and sings while counting to 10, a little car that goes vroom-vroom, a Dr. Seuss Book, and an adorable little outfit – yes, I said adorable) … so, if you’re in Austin for the weekend, and would like to come celebrate Jack’s one-year old birthday, stop by (please call first, so we know we have enough food). I think the fare for the day will be chili, hotdogs, hamburgers, and anything else we can think of that’s “Cowboy friendly”.

No “official Red Ryder, air carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle” this birthday… we don’t want Jack to shoot his eye out:

Ralphie: No! No! I want an official Red Ryder, air carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!
Santa Claus: You’ll shoot your eye out kid. Merry Christmas. Ho! Ho! Ho!

Looking forward to seeing that movie again this Thanksgiving. I’m sure it’ll be on TNT non-stop.

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This past week, Christine and Jack drove down to Bellville to spend some time with Grandma and his cousin Ella, Aunt Shadel and Uncle Evan.

Christine and Jack had a lot of fun (and from the pictures it looks like Ella did too). They played (a lot) at Grandma’s house, and made a trip down to Brookshire to visit Brookwood.

The highlight of the trip was a visit to the poinsettia farm there on the Brookwood property… And the photos we got from that trip are awesome:

See the rest of the photos here.

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I really want a high-end digial SLR now. And some great lenses. And Marc’s experience.

Here are a few of the photos that Marc took when we went out to Mayfield Park last weekend:

Jack is almost a year old

This is my buddy

Me and My buddy

Damn that kid is photogenic

See the photos from that day here. You should see them as printed photos… they look awesome in the real world… so much detail doesn’t come through when you shrink the photos down enough to fit on the web easily… so for that, I apologize. The photos really do look awesome in person.

Man, I need a good camera, and about 20 years of experience using it.

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This week, Jack graduated from his Baby Signs class that he was taking a Gymboree. Here’s a good photo of Jack and one of his classmates (Lucy) playing on one of the Gymboree playthings before class.

Jack is now officially licensed and trained to use sign language to talk to his parents and anyone else he meets on the streets…

What’s funny about Jack graduating is that I think he knows 3 or 4 signs out of the 30 or so they teach…

That’s how it starts folks… we teach our kids that it’s okay to get 90 percent of the test material wrong, and we still pass them, so they feel good about themselves… 😉

After class, we took Jack out to eat at the Central Market Cafe to celebrate his graduation. Jack has some Rustic Pizza, pineapple and strawberries, and some market veggies, before we went home and took a bath before bed. It was windy outside at dinner.

Actually, Jack has amazed us in the past two weeks or so, with his first actual grasp of a few of the signs.

Jack can now say “all-done” at the end of his meals, or at least when he’s done sitting in his high-chair and wants down. He did it tonight before either of us asked him if he was “all-done”.

Jack can also say “bath” (or at least he did tonight which was his first time to sign it).

Jack kind of says “bubbles” when he feels like it.

Jack has his own sign for “kitty” which is to say he doesn’t use the standard sign for it, rather he sticks his tongue out and “purrs” – which is hilarious and can be messy.

All Done
All Done

Jack also now points at individual objects and says “uh” which is sort of like him asking “what’s that?” We generally encourage this behavior, meaning Jack will probably never stop asking questions once he can really talk, by saying “That’s a _____” whenever he does it.

And then, Jack got his fourth tooth this week… so he’s got two on the bottom and two teeth on the top.

He also almost walked today… it wasn’t a real “I’m walking because I want to” walk, but rather, we stopped holding his hands for a split second and he fell into his Mommy’s arms… then proceeded to protest the fact that we just let go of him…

Fun times…

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On Saturday morning, Christine and I loaded up Jack into the Volvo and headed for Mayfield Park. It’s official name is Mayfield Nature Preserve, and it’s located in Austin near Mt. Bonnell, right off West 35th Street.

It was our first time to visit, and we were there to help Cyndi and Marc capture some good family photos of them with Rowan, while also getting our own pictures taken.

I’ve got to say that Mayfield Park is pretty cool. When you first park, and walk into the preserve, you’re greeted by lots of peacocks… which I wasn’t expecting. The park area that we visited has multiple lilypad filled ponds and lots of flower and planting beds that are cared for by local groups that volunteer their time to support the park.

We didn’t hike the trails, but I wish we would have (we’ll have to do that next year). I read a story of someone else’s hike today, and I’m interested in seeing more of the park (it’s 22 acres in size, and we only visited about 1 acre of the land).

It was fun to spend time with Cyndi, Marc and Rowan, and we got some good photos too. See them all here.

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It’s been a long week. A very long week.

I flew to Dallas and then NYC on Tuesday, and came home on Friday. I was working non-stop for four days… Christine got to spend four days with Jack all by herself.

Needless to say, we’re both exhausted, and it’s not even 8:00 yet on a Saturday night, but we’re turning in very soon… I bet we’re in bed by 8:00.

update: The title of this post comes from this Pat Green tune. “I ain’t going down this way…”

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