Jack Rides a Bike (without training wheels)

On Saturday, Christine and I took Jack and Grayson to Anderson High, here in Northwest Hills Austin, so that he could ride his bike on the running track around the football field without his training wheels. Christine figured he’d be less scared if he knew that the track was softer than concrete, or the road out in front of our house. It also helped that there weren’t any cars on the track to worry about.

They boys had a blast:

After riding bikes for a good thirty-minutes or so, we headed back to the car.

On the way back to the car Jack said “This is the best day of my life.” Christine just about melted when she heard that.

She did good recommending that we go to the track to ride bikes.

Garner 2010

Last week, Christine and I, Jack, Grayson, Cyndi, Marc, Rowan, Caelyn, Elise, Maly, Jennifer, Steve, Brendan, and Mia all headed to Garner State Park for a Spring Break camping trip.

We spent a day at the Frio River… and yes, it lived up to its name:

Rio Frio!

We danced under the stars.
We climbed a mountain, and looked down at the world.
We cooked out on an open campfire.

We had a blast, and can’t wait to do it next year:

Father and Son

Photos are here and there are a few on my Facebook wall.

Five

Jack turned five last week.

FIVE YEARS OLD.

And to think, I used to be able to hold him with one hand:

I just re-read the first post I made about his birthday,

It’s hard to explain how cool it is to have a five year-old in the house, but it’s pretty cool. Jack is becoming the “big boy” in the family, and he’s learned so much in the last 6 months… going from four to five, I’ve really seen him mature.

He’s now sharing with Grayson pretty much all the time, and when he’s not, he uses his words to tell Grayson and his mommy and I that he’s “playing by myself right now” which is so sweet. He’s also learning responsibility. Just last week he told me to take my own trash to the trash can after dinner, because “it’s your responsibility Daddy” and when he had a friend over for a playdate, he asked him to help him clean up “the toys you’re responsible for”.

Jack is an adorably sweet boy who gives hugs and kisses, and thanks God for his family, while also being pretty independent and resolute in his endeavors (just today he opened the back door at Nana and Papa’s all by himself (it’s a heavy sliding-glass door, and hard for me to open at times)).

He’s also rubbing off on his little brother. Yesterday, Grayson walked up to Jack and said “Hey Jack, do you want to be Jazz or Rachet?” When Jack chose Rachet, Grayson said “Ok, I’ll play for you and tell you if you win” which is a cute game for Jack when he plays it, but wasn’t cute to him when Grayson played it… though we got a kick out of it.

Jack is a sponge and just loves going to school and soaking up all the knowledge he can. Today he wrote his first item on his list for Santa… and he wrote all of the letters himself. He wants a “Lego Watch” with Luke Skywalker on it.

Jack is also a good Aggie fan, and great football game buddy. He’s been to pretty much every home game with me or Christine since he was born, and to a couple of games in Austin. And he loves seeing Bussy at the games.

I hope he continues to grow and develop in the manner he’s being doing so far, and that he grows to be a compassionate man who knows that love and communication are the keys to everything important. I think he will.

Phantom Menace + Return of the Jedi

This year, for Halloween, the boys wanted to dress up like characters from Star Wars.

Grayson wanted to be Darth Maul. Jack wanted to be Luke Skywalker.

So, I give you:

Darth Maul:

And Luke Skywalker:

Between the two of them, we’ve had some major lightsaber battles around here!

(more photos from Halloween here)

Lady Bird Trip – Butterflies

In mid-October, I took Jack and Grayson, and we picked up Maly and headed to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to be part of their “Flight of the Monarchs” night. We had a lot of fun!

First, we met my Aunt Margo… my Dad’s sister, who I haven’t seen since I was in college 15 years ago.

Then we went into the main center and made caterpillars.

After that we walked up to the top of the observation tower, and I held each of the kids up high, so they could see the surrounding land all around us. They all thought that was pretty cool.

Then the kids were off. Off and running to be exact. I could barely keep up with them… running, running. Running. All over the place. Then we found some yard art.

An iron spider to be exact. And a friend. We played on that for a while, then right as it got dark, we headed back to the car… to home, and to bed.

Maly spent the night with us and the next morning, the kids all ran outside in their t-shirts and underwear, and played and got dirty… and looked for butterflys… Never saw any, but we looked.

What a great weekend!

(more photos here)

Bathtime, Books, and Chocolate Milk

Kids are so fun. And funny.

I took some photos of Jack and Grayson in the bath:

and then a few of Grayson in his elephant towel. He’s such a cheese:

Then I took a photo or two of Christine reading to Jack:

Then of Grayson drinking chocolate milk from his bear cup:

Kids…

(all photos here)

The Cork Boat

Jack has to make a boat this week for school. On Friday, they get to bring the boats they made to class to try and float them together… They’re studying water right now, and the world of water around us.

So, Christine had an idea to make a boat out of wine bottle corks.

Jack and I built it tonight. And did we build a boat!

Jack had drawn the design of the boat out on a piece of paper, so building it was actually pretty easy. Just a little hot glue and some patience.

And here’s the end result… click to watch the movie:

July 4th, 2009

This year, we headed out to the lake again. Debbie and Raymond had a full house… so full we shared a room with two cousins! Jack got to sleep on the floor on a pallet, which Christine and I shared one double bed, and the two little girls shared the other double. Grayson was in his playpen that first night. We were all so exhausted after a full Friday, that it didn’t matter a bit (and I hope my snoring didn’t keep anyone up too much during the night).

We went swimming as soon as we got there, and the boys had a blast swimming with their cousings:

Aunt Peggy and Payton were in charge of dinner Friday night. Talk about good! Mmmmm. Mmmmmmm… Everyone got plenty of good food (fish, chicken, and beef) and lots of great conversation.

On Saturday, we took all of the kids out on the lake in the morning, for a little fun in the sun!

Grayson got sick that afternoon, and so he and I headed home… Christine and Jack stayed and played… and headed to church on Sunday before heading home to hang with us.

Good weekend, althought it was too short.

See all of the photos here.

Business + Vacation – Orlando and Denver

A week ago last Friday, Christine, Jack, Grayson and I got on a Southwest plane headed from Austin to Orlando. The plan was the hang out with Jodie and Hayes’ family for a few days, then head to my trade show for a few days, then go to Denver for another trade show and to see Joan, Ted, Lydia and Leo for a few days before heading home. Call it “mixing business and pleasure”, if you will.

In Florida, we stayed with Jodie and Hayes for a few days, and hung out with them at their house for most of the day on Friday (after the boys napped all the way from the airport to their house, and a late lunch at McDonald’s that is). Hayes cooked some of the best burgers I’ve ever had that night, and the kids got hot dogs.

On Saturday morning, we’d planned to wake up and watch the Space Shuttle launch from their backyard, but it was scrubbed due to leaking Hydrogen or something… So, instead I slept in, and then we went to the beach, where we had a blast with them at Ponce Inlet.

We all got a little sunburned, and a lot worn out… the sun and the sand can sure take it out of you. After a day at the beach, we ate at a Chili’s with the extended family (pretty much all of Jodie’s family and most of Hayes’ lives there in Florida).

On Sunday, we got up, and headed to the Orlando Science Center, where the kids had a lot of fun. Our original plan was to hit the beach again, but we decided to save the kids from another sunburn filled day… We saw dinosaur bones, and learned about electricity… had lunch, and then picked oranges. Afterwards, we headed to Downtown Disney and the Lego Store before dinner at T-Rex (which is like a Rainforest Cafe with dinosaurs instead of monkeys).

We checked into the Marriot that night, and settled in. I went to a business thing, and the kids and Christine got to sleep pretty late.

On Monday, I did “work” things, while Christine and the boys met Jodie and her beautiful kids, Emma and Morgan, and spent the morning in the pool at the Marriot… which happens to be the biggest pool in the world or something.

Christine had her hands full with the kids all day… I was working… then on Tuesday, she took the kids out while I worked from the room and the lobby of the hotel, and then we headed to the airport around noon. We were lucky we’d left so early, because we ended up having to walk all the way across the Orlando airport after turning in the rental car, before waiting about an hour to check our bags (all 7 of them) with Southwest. The Orlando airport is a zoo. We boarded the airplane, all a little frazzled. The boys wouldn’t sleep, and couldn’t get comfortable, and Christine and I were tired too.

We rented a car in Denver (we weren’t sure if we were going to until we landed) and drove a little out of our way to get to the hotel… and checked in around 9:30 p.m. or so. The staff at the downtown Sheraton were awesome though, and got us into our room quickly, and brought up a crib and fridge quickly too. We got the kids to bed, and I stayed up late catching up on work from the day that I’d not had time to do.

On Wednesday, I worked in the morning, while the kids explored downtown Denver. They hit the public library, the Museum of Art, and the Capitol grounds, before we all went to lunch together. I headed to the lobby to work while the kids took naps (Christine did too). We then met Joan, Leo and Lydia out on the Denver Mall for dinner.

I took Grayson home from dinner early, because he just wasn’t feeling well. We watched Madagascar 2, and all of us went to bed late.

On Thursday, I got up and headed to another trade show, while Christine took the boys, and loaded up the car, and drove out to Arvada, Colorado (the pinnacle of Denver suburbia) to stay with Joan and Ted for the remainder of our trip. Grayson was so exhausted that he finally just laid down in the middle of the living room and crashed. While he napped, the rest of the kids headed to the pool and playground.

On Friday, I quickly hit the trade show, then checked out of the hotel early, and waited for the family to pick me up. Meanwhile, they hit Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Dinosaur Ridge. Talk about some cool stuff! Jack told me all about all of the dinosaur footprints and bones they found on the ride back to the Wagner’s house. That night, Ted cooked filet mignon on the grill, and we all caught up a little after the kids went to bed.

We were treated to this sunset from the front porch of the Wagner’s new house:

Gorgeous.

On Saturday, we got up and headed to Boulder, taking the scenic route through the mountains. We stopped at the Barker Dam for a few photos…

Our goal was to hike to Boulder Falls, but they were closed due to fallen rocks, which was just as well, as the kids were hungry. After lunch at a brewpub in Boulder, we left Joan and Ted, Leo and Lydia in Boulder and headed to the Denver airport. Turning in the car was easier there, but the bag check line at Southwest was just as bad as Orlando.

We got to our gate about 15 minutes before we started boarding (even though we were at the airport a good two hours before our flight), and got on the plane with some tired kids.

Grayson slept all the way home, and Jack and Christine played games together. It was a great flight, and we were glad to be home.

Seven days on the road, in two cities, with me having to actually work 5 of those days, makes for a very tired family, and we’re enjoying catching up on our rest today. We loved seeing our friends, but I don’t think we’ll mix business and pleasure again until the kids are old enough to buy their own tickets and get their own hotel rooms. Or until I can afford to just not work, if I don’t want to. 😉

You can see all of the photos here:

Ponce Inlet Beach Photos
Orlando Photos
Denver Photos