On Christmas morning, we all woke up in Bellville, at Evan and Shadel’s house.

After breakfast we noticed that Santa had brought gifts to Bellville too, so… we started unwrapping them.

First up was a Tonka Truck:

What little boy doesn’t need a Tonka Truck?

Ella danced in her new shoes and shook her maracas:

After opening lots more presents inside, Jack and Ella headed out onto the back porch to play.

Nothing like a cheesy looking Jack to brighten your day.

They rode around in the little red wagon, and Ella helped Jack walk around the back yard, which turned into both of them rolling around in the leaves.

Then we went over to Grandma’s house to see the Christmas decorations and pick up Debbie, Josette and Peggy who’d all come with Raymond to visit.

We finished off the day with T-bones the size of Montana, which Ella helped Jack eat, and a few more photos.

Evan and Shadel headed to Katy to see her family, and Christine and I stayed in Bellville and watched a movie before driving home Monday morning.

I got the flu somewhere along the way, and my gout started acting up Monday morning, so I couldn’t walk, and had a hell of a sore throat.

But it was a very Merry Christmas this year!

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Last weekend, we drove down to Houston for the annual Teaff family Christmas Eve, at Debbie and Raymond’s house.

It was a blast. We got to see lots of family, though there were a few family members that didn’t make it this year because they were sick (we missed them). Greg stood in for Uncle Roland and said the prayer before dinner.

The party was supposed to start at 4:00, so around 3:00 people started showing up. Peggy and Payton and I played basketball with Greg and Patrick, and Jack got to try and dunk the ball

I took some really cute photos of the babies at this year’s Christmas party out on the swing in the backyard:

We ate dinner starting around 4:15, and man was it good. We had turkey, and stuffing, and dressing, and mashed sweet potatos, and gravy, and squash, and green beans, and rice casserole, and … and … and lots of other stuff. My plate was full when I started, and I ate most of what I put on it… but man was I stuffed when dinner was done! Great food again!

Santa showed up shortly after dinner, and some of the kids were a little freaked out about him showing up, some weren’t.

We all took our turns on Santa’s lap:

Jordan, Matthew, Todd, Paige, Peggy, Payton, Raymond, Jack went from screaming to ok when Santa gave him a gift, Patrick, Christine, Jack and Ella, John, Ella, Josette and Matthew, Shelley, The Kay family, Matted Dog the Reindeer, John, Jack and Christine.

And I snapped this cute photo of Ella looking up in awe at Santa (little did she know).

After Santa left, we all opened presents!

Christmas in Houston is always fun… lots of fun to see family that we just don’t get to see often enough.

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I sent a photo of Jack in to the Austin American-Statesman, as a submission for their “Holiday Photos” extravaganza, and they accepted it:

Click for larger image

Cute eh?

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A long time ago, my mom gave Chrsitine and I a bunch of old photos from my family. Old Teaff and Engler photos.

As a follow up to the Daron photos I scanned in a couple of weeks ago, I figured I should scan these old photos in, so we have them in the future, and, so you all can see them. I also cleaned up most of these photos… some of them had tears in the prints, or stains on them.

There are two photos of my Dad, John Fischer Engler, Jr. from when he was a kid: here and here.

There’s an old photo of Jessica Ann Teaff as a baby.

Mary Jane Cato Teaff was mom’s mother, and here’s a photo of her as a child.

James Joseph Teaff was my mom’s father, and here’s a photo of him as a child.

Here’s a photo of my mom, my aunt Josette Cato Teaff and two uncles, James Joseph (Jimmy) and Roland Louis Teaff:

Click for larger image

And this is where it gets cool folks.

This old photo is: (I’m not sure who is who)

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My Great Uncle Morgan Teaff, Great Uncle David Ulerick Teaff, my Great Great Grandfather David Solmon Teaff, my Great Uncle Kirby George Teaff, my Great Uncle Sphonie Elmore Teaff, my Great Great Grandmother Clair Robertson Teaff, my Great Uncle Roland Paul Teaff, and my Great Grandfather Joe Teaff.

And lastly, we’re gonna take you way back here folks. These are some of those folks above, but a lot younger: (again, not sure what order these folks are in)

Click for larger image

Jim Teaff, Great Great Grandmother Claire Teaff, David Teaff, Daisy Teaff, Roland Teaff, Kirby Teaff, Great Grandfather Joe Teaff, and Great Uncle Sphonie Teaff. Notice none of them except Great Grandfather Joe are wearing shoes, but their clothes are nice. Tough days back then.

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Christine, Jack and I went to Dallas on Saturday last weekend. Since then, we’ve taken lots of fun photos:

Steven’s Graduation Ceremony from ITT (he graduated with Top Honors, which means he had a GPA above 3.8 out of 4… and he totally downplayed it. We’re all very proud of him, and are really glad we made the trip up for his ceremony). [Proud parents and student]

Then, last night, before heading back home to Austin, we had a nice big family dinner at Granddad and Grandmother’s house. Jenny, Steven and Michael were all there, and dinner was fun. After dinner, we took a family photo that turned out really good I think.

Of course we also took multiple photos of Jack playing, and laughing, and helping Granddad cook, and playing with the Christmas tree in Dallas.

Then tonight, Jack was helping in the kitchen. At first, all he did was help unload the dishwasher (never mind that the dishes were actually still dirty). He also helped the dog eat (though all I could get was a photo of him holding the dog food… the dog ran off before I got the camera out). He also ate one piece of dog food… yuck! He didn’t like it too much.

And we finished up the evening with some photos of the bath. He just loves it when we blow bubbles for him in the bath tub.

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On Sunday night, Christine and I visited Santa’s Village with Jack and his Grandmother.

Santa’s Village is remarkably close to their home in Richardson, not at the north pole, in case you’re wondering. That, or maybe the north pole is in Richardson, Texas, not in the Arctic like we’ve all though prior to finding it in Richardson…

Either way, it happens to be on the grounds of the Richardson City Hall, and it’s remarkably warm this time of year (compared to the Arctic that is).

Santa’s Village was really cute. It had lots of little shops and stores, just like you’d expect to find in Santa’s Village. There was a Pet Shop, a TV Station: KELF-TV, and a police station.. There was a house for Clifford the dog, a fire department, and lots of other little buildings. All of the buildings had “little people” sized doors, which were the perfect height for elves, or kids. The city fountain was very pretty, and so were all of the lights in the trees, which Jack loved pointing at. Jack also really enjoyed playing with the lighted reindeer that were in the yard.

We all had lots of smiles and lots of walking around.

Towards the end of the evening, we had lots of fun running up and down a hill that was right by the fire department in the village.

Around 6:30 pm, it was time to go home.

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Jack got his first haircut today.

And he was great.

We got his haircut at this little children’s only haircut place: Hair’s Lair, by Margo, the owner.

Jack was much better than poor Liam, never cried out, or squirmed one bit. And he looked much more sure of himself and what was going on (actually he was ignoring the hairdresser) than little Jaiden. And the funny thing is that his hair wasn’t as crazy as Riley’s was before her first haircut.

More photos from the first haircut session here.

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When I was growing up in Bellville, we lived in “a 100 year old house.” (It was built in 1910, so it wasn’t quite 100 years old, but it will be in 4 more years). That house had virtually no insulation, and no central air or heat.

We had gas heaters throughout the house, and a wood-burning stove in the dining room.

When it got really cold one winter, I remember my mom, my brother and I sleeping on the floor in the dining room with the wood-burning stove going full blast all night… and it was still cold in the house, but the stove kept the chill off, and my mom got up dutifully to keep it stocked all night.

We also kept the gas heater that was mounted in the wall running almost constantly that winter (and most winters for that matter). There’s nothing worse than stepping out of the bath or the shower onto a frigid floor in frigid air, freezing your frigid %@#&! parts off!

I remember getting out of the bath and then running over to the wall heater one time, and schooching up to the gas heater as close as I could get… and since I was soaking wet, I was cold… and, well…

I got a little to close, and burned my behind.

I think I was about 6 or 7 when that happened.

I can safely tell you that I haven’t burned my hiney on a gas heater since that time I did when I was young.

It’s with fondness that I remember those gas heaters, as they were our only source of warmth in that house, and we stuck to them like glue when it was cold. Sometimes we’d use them to warm up the insides of our jackets right before we put them on as we were heading outside to play.

There’s nothing like the heat that comes off a gas heater.

So, tonight, while Jack was taking a bath… I started up the gas heater in our bathroom, hoping that someday, Jack will have the same fond memories I do of gas heaters.

Our gas heater

Man I’m glad we bought an old house.

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I’m reminded of the old Dinah Shore and Johnny Mercer tune tonight:

Yes, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside“.

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Christine’s cousin, David, or as I call him “Sergeant Major David” sent home this email from Iraq:

From: “Redmon, David CSM, 1BSTB 10MTN DIV, BN CSM”
To: The Family
Date: December 7, 2005 2:57:57 AM CST
Subject: A Couple of Pictures


Martha sent me a small digital camera last month. I took a couple of
pictures before a mission yesterday to let everyone know that we have
plenty of gear. If I left someone off the list above, please forward to

The one photo is off the sign in front of the Battalion Headquarters on
Camp Liberty (Baghdad). The other two reflect what we wear for every
mission outside of the Forward Operating Base. It does not matter
whether it is 45 degrees or 135 degrees. Without adding the ruck sack,
the gear shown adds only about 50 pounds.

I’ll send a few pictures from time to time.


Some Heavy Shit! – click to see a larger version

If you’d like to email David your support, thoughts and well wishes, let me know, and I’ll send you his email address.

Also, Bob Beurlein is over there this Christmas too. I have his email address and real address, if you’d like to send him a care package.

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 229 user reviews.

Christine and I figured we should post an update about some of the things Jack is doing now that he’s a year old.

So, here it is…

As you can tell from that photo above, Jack is getting pretty inquisitive lately. He’s definitely asking us lots of questions. He asks by pointing and saying “uh?” We reward the questions with answers, telling him what he’s pointing at.

This has grown into Jack wanting things.

At dinner, Jack invariably starts asking Christine and I for our food (he eats the same thing we do, but he wants to eat off our plates) and our drinks… even though he has is own drink. We’re trying to teach him that the coke and milk on the table in our cups are “our” drinks, and that he has his own drink.

It sort of works. When he throws a fit, we know he’s almost done eating.

Jack has also started blowing on his food. Because we feed Jack the same food we eat, it’s usually hot when we all sit down to the table, so Christine and I typically blow on it before we put it in front of Jack. Just the other night, we were watching Jack eat, and we realized that he was holding his food in front of his mouth, and was “blowing” on it. He wasn’t very good at it, but nonetheless, he was blowing on his food. It was too cute. He’s done it a few times since we noticed it, so we know it’s not a fluke. Now we just have to teach him to blow on hot food, not cold food.

Jack has also started to learn to “be gentle”. It started with the kitty. When Jack used to pet the kitty, he’d pull his hair, but after saying “be gentle” and showing him how to pet the kitty, he understands “be gentle”. So, now that the Christmas Tree is up, we’ve told him to “be gentle” to the Christmas Tree, and he gets it. He doesn’t pull on the tree, but rather points to the lights and ornaments, and gently feels the leaves on the branches. We’ll have to get a real tree next year, so he knows what Christmas smells like.

Jack also walks now. He doesn’t walk a lot without help, but he can do it. He usually walks with one of his push toys (Josh and Elise gave him one for his birthday and we gave him one), and that gives him something to balance against (he’s pretty darned wobbly still) and that gives him confidence. It’s really funny to watch him step, squat, stand up, and step… which is what he does when he’s really not sure if he should be walking. If one of us is near him, he’ll reach out for help walking, but if he is standing by himself, about half the time he’ll take a few steps before starting to crawl.

Just the other night, we coaxed him into walking from his bedroom through the dining room and living room towards our bedroom with his red popper push toy in hand. When he got to the hallway, we realized he was doing this because he was chasing the kitty with the push toy. When he cornered the kitty in the hallway (all of the doors were shut in there) he laughed a hearty belly laugh, and as the kitty ran by him, he quickly turned and started following the kitty.

Jack likes to have his teeth brushed, but he doesn’t really get what we’re doing. We load the toothbrush up with water, and then put it near his mouth, and he sucks the water out of the toothbrush, while we attempt to brush his teeth. We then repeat this process a few times until we call it “good”.

Here’s a link to some photos I took tonight.

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On December 3rd, Jack, Christine and I met Cyndi, Marc and Rowan at the State Capitol to attend the city tree lighting ceremony.

It was pretty neat, and Jack had lots of fun.

They had a large stage setup on the Capitol steps, and a choir, and Christmas music playing.

Mayor Will Wynn led the countdown with the crowd to the lighting of the tree, and funnily, the tree didn’t light at the right time… but it lit up within 10 seconds or so of when he finished his countdown.

We took lots of photos, and sat on the Capitol lawn and chatted with Marc and Cyndi when one of them wasn’t chasing Rowan all over Austin (he’s into the running around and just running and running stage now – now I know what my mom was saying when she said the race is on).

When it was time to go, Jack got super pissed that Christine wouldn’t let him drink Cyndi’s Fresca, and he threw a decent little fit (he’s just starting to do that bad enough that we call it a fit).

Until that is, we let him walk basically from the Capitol to the car. Along the way, Rowan and Jack ran up and down a hill that is on the Capitol grounds… and up and down… and up and down… (I just figured out why my back hurts so bad today).

Then Christine tried to get Rowan to roll down the hill by showing him how to do it. She rolled and rolled and rolled… heh… Jack thought it was hilarious. I wish I had a photo of that for you all.

The rest of the photos from the evening are here. Merry Christmas.

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Jack is getting bigger and bigger every day.

Over the past week or so, he’s started eating by picking up his plates and bowls, and trying to lick his food off the plate or drink the food out of the bowls…

It’s hilarious, but sort of annoying when he picks up the bowls and plates that are supposed to stick to the table that he’s eating off of. I sware, none of those stupid little suction cup based plates and bowls stick to the tables… none of them.

So if you’re a new parent looking for a suction cup plate or bowl, don’t bother… unless you want your kid to look like this after you give him a bowl of yogurt and then walk away for a minute or two:

See a few more random shots from last week here.

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Christine’s Grandaddy and Grandmother were married on June 27th, 1943 at the Church of the Bretheren on the McPherson College campus in McPherson, Kansas.

I scanned them into the computer today for posterity’s sake. I’ve put some web-quality photos online, in case you want to look at the photos we have, but if you want to print a copy, let me know, and I’ll burn a copy of the photos on CD, so you can get the best quality print you can. I also cleaned up the images a bit, as the 60+ year old photos had weathered and worn just a little bit. I hope you enjoy seeing some photos from the past:

These are some photos from the Miss Gulah Velma Hoover to Dr. Garman Harlow Daron Ph.D. wedding. Miss Hoover was 31, Dr. Daron was 39 when they married.

The Best Man was Foster Hoover, uncle of the bride.
The Matron of Honor was Maxine Doyle, sister of the bride.
[photos of the groom, bride, and best man and matron of honor]

The mother and father of the bride were Charles “Doc” Hoover and Ida Hoover. [pictured to the left]
The mother of groom Mabel Daron. [pictured at right]

See them all here.

Bonus photo:

Garman Daron by himself in a professional portrait:

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Earlier this week, on Tuesday morning, Jack took his first real steps by himself.

Christine and I have seen Jack take a step or two when we were by ourselves with him, but we decided that we wouldn’t say he “walked” until both of us saw him walking at the same time.

We decided that because, well, we didn’t want to be overzealous parents that thought we saw him walk when he was really just falling down, or trying to stand up quickly and had to take a step to get his balance.

So, on Tuesday morning, when I saw Jack taking a few steps, I hollared at Christine “get in here!” and she came running, just in time to see Jack take 4 or 5 more excited and super wobly steps. It was really cute. He was pushing the little duckie push toy we picked up for him for his birthday, and using that to balance.

Since then, Christine and I have tried to get some video of Jack walking, to no avail…

So here’s a little video of some of the footage we’ve taken while trying to capture some of Jack’s first steps on video for posterity:

Click to watch the movie

When I told my mom that Jack was walking her advice to Christine and I was to:

“Get your rest now it’s almost time to start the fun run… Hope you can keep up… I gave up around 3 or 4 yrs. old… I went to just keeping a eye on you guys… you two were too fast for me”


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