It’s Sunday night, and Christine and I are still waiting on a baby.

Jack’s little brother isn’t due until next Monday (10/16) but we were both pretty sure that he was going to make an appearance last weekend… nope, we’re still waiting. I think now that I’ve decided to stop traveling, the little guy has decided to hunker down for a few more weeks and stay cozy…

So, let’s see.

Since our last post, a lot has happened. A lot.

I flew to Santa Barabara, CA, again, for work. I was out there for three days. It wasn’t nearly as pretty this time due to the fact that there was a blazing fire a few miles east of us. The westerly winds kept us covered in soot for the entire three days I was out there. But it was good for business.

Then that weekend, it was Peggy’s birthday. She came to visit the lakehouse with Debbie and Raymond, and then stopped by the house to visit Jack on her way home. They had a blast playing in Jack’s room and reading books. Here are some photos from her trip up.

I went to New York City for two days for work. I attended some advertising conferences and trade shows, and spent some time in the New York office. Good trip, but sad too. While I was in New York, Christine called me to tell me Josh’s Dad was in the hospital and it didn’t look good. I spoke to Josh for maybe 5 minutes. We didn’t say many words to each other, but we communicated what needed to be said.

Then, when I got home from New York, I’d learned that David had passed away. Their loss is our loss. I can’t bring myself to write more about David passing right now… it’s still too painful for me. I still don’t know what to say about the event, because I want to say it all, but there are too many raw emotions behind my totally inadequate words. I attended the funeral that weekend. Alan Hillboldt and I drove down to Bellville together. Josh wrote about his loss here. David was a great man and we’ll miss him dearly.

This week was pretty mundane, but not. On Sunday night around 7 p.m., I came down with a fever… that lasted until Tuesday morning at 7 a.m. Ugh. I haven’t been laid up in bed sick like that for a long time. I still have a sore-throat. Christine thought she might be in early labor on two days this week. I took Jack to school and picked him up from school on Thursday, because we thought that might be the day. It was nice to see Jack’s teacher and the other parents, but it wasn’t the day. I did get a nice yellow parking ticket though for my troubles.

This weekend, we played with the neighbors a lot, and finished our power-nesting kick. The baby’s nursery is finally ready. The bedding is set, the walls are decorated with appropriate baby stuff. There’s a new shelf on the wall with stuffed animals. Christine has probably washed 50 loads of baby clothes in the past two weeks, and well, I sort of helped.

Like I said, we’re just waiting on a baby.

In the meantime, here are some photos from the past couple of weeks for you:

  • Jack and Wesley – playing in the backyard. Yes, I know the grass is very long. You should see it today!
  • Jack and Peggy – Playing and reading books.
  • NYC – a few photos from the drive to the airport… I really didn’t have time to go out taking photos like I wanted to.
  • Raymond, Debbie and the kids – from an evening out for dinner with the Munks.
  • Water in the Yard – Jack playing with the water hose in the front yard.
  • Fingerpainting – kind of says it all doesn’t it?
  • Nora and Mason – Nora and Mason came over this morning to play.
  • Walking Faces – Faces of Jack and one of him walking with his hands in his pockets (a recent discovery)
  • Neighbors – Jack, Dylan, Nora and Mason playing at Dylan’s house. Jack took a ride in the bike carrier with Dylan too, thanks to Herbert.

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So, I’ve postd a video every day this week, and I figured I should treat you all to something really special today.

Here are five photo galleries I haven’t linked to yet:

  • Jack Playing – photos from this week, of Jack and his mom playing (they were “camping” in Jack’s room in a home-made fort, and then Jack was “taking photos” with his camera, and then playing with cars).
  • Furniture by Stan – Cyndi’s uncle refinished some antique furniture that my mom gave us a while ago. The furniture looks awesome now, and all the drawers work perfectly now mom! Now our guests (and the new baby) will have a place to put their clothes when they come visit.
  • Aggie Jack – the photos from our weekend Aggieland trip.
  • Jack by Erin – Erin took some photos of Jack with her mom, sister, Chrstine and I after church on 8/27. Too fun!
  • In the Sandbox – just some photos of Jack in the sandbox one afternoon.
  • Ben and Jack at Serranos – After church one day, we met Murphy and Amanda at Serranos by accident. We ate inside while Murphy and Amanda (and their guests) watched Jack and Ben, then we came outside and watched the boys while they ate. The boys had sooo much fun playing together.
  • Levy Party – Lori and Herbert threw a party for the kids one weekend afternoon. Lots of water splashing and playing outside.
  • Lakehouse Swimming – We went to visit Debbie and Raymond on August 19th, and I took these photos outside around the pool. Jack just loved swimming this summer!

And, here’s the double whammy… another video for today:

Have a good weekend folks! (We’ll be nesting!)

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 254 user reviews.

Last Friday, Christine and I got on a flight, with Jack, to Seattle. We were heading up there for the weekend to see friends (The Penfields) that we really hadn’t seen in 3 or 4 years, and to meet their daugher (who is 3 now) and let them meet Jack, and to see how big Joel has gotten since the last time we saw him.

Long story short, we had a great trip, but it was way to short, and getting there was “half the battle” so to speak… Needless to say, American Airlines cancelled our Dallas to Seattle flight, so we were facing the possibility of not even going to Seattle for the weekend, but one of their star ticket agents understood our plight, and booked us through Denver to Seattle on Friday. Instead of arriving at 2pm as we’d intended, we arrived at 11:00pm. Jack was pooped.

We were staying at a friend’s condo in downtown: Fourth and Pike. An amazing address, and a great little one bedroom condo: Perfect for “getting away” for the weekend, or a week or two…

On Saturday, we got up ‘early’ and met Kelly, Greg, Joel, and Aubrey at Pike Place Market, and watched the fish throwers throw a few fish… then we walked down to the park, and then headed to our Harbor Cruise reservation. On the cruise, we chatted and caught up, and enjoyed learning about Seattle from the water, and spending time with the kids.

After our cruise, we grabbed a quick bite to eat at Red Robin, and then walked back to the fish market. Aubrey was cute… helping me push Jack’s stroller (he was passed out tired. We said our goodbyes and took Jack home for a nap.

After napping, we headed to the Seattle Aquarium… talk about fun for Jack. He really enjoyed looking at all of the fish and seals and starfish. It was really cute to see him exploring the aquarium.

We ate dinner at the Fisherman Restaurant on the peer, and let Jack have fun running around while we ate… I got up with him and ran around with him… the waitresses thought it was cute.

On Sunday, Jack and I got up early and went for a walk, and took some photos. Then we brought breakfast and coffee up to Christine. And then Christine packed while Jack and I took a nap.

As we were leaving our condo, we realized that the Seattle Gay Pride parade was taking place right outside our condo. Heh… “too funny” is all I’ll say.

We got in our car, and drove to the airport for the flights home. Jack was great on the 4.5 hour flight to Dallas, and fell asleep in Dallas before we even took off, and didn’t wake up until the morning.

It was a great trip, long overdue, and way too short.

The photo galleries are here:

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 267 user reviews.

This past weekend, Christine, Jack and I headed to Bastrop State Park with Marc, Cyndi, Rowan, Jenny, and Michelle. Christine and I haven’t camped out there in 10 years… it was lots of fun then, and now.

Christine rented a tent for us from REI for a very reasonable rate ($24 for the weekend – not bad for a 6 man tent that costs $300+). Cyndi, Marc and Rowan came over to the house around 10:30, and we all drove out to Bastrop around 11:00 a.m.

Talk about a gorgeous day… man it was an awesome day to go camping: blue skies, green grass and tall pine trees, and friends… who could ask for more?

Jack got all scratched up and beat up on his first camping trip. He got scratched on both legs, he got a few bruises on his arms, and he got a nice shiner on his right eye… heh. Fun times!

Here are some photos from the camping trip:

Jack did really good sleeping through the night out in the woods too, though, he did wake up about 4 or five times. Eventually, Christine pulled him out of his Pack and Play and put him in bed with us (we had a blow up mattress) and he only woke us up 3 or 4 times when he was in bed with us… heh… but it was fun. An adventure even.

Rowan was hilarious at times… he’s really getting to be a big boy. We did things like sit around the campfire and make Smores, and walking along the really long windy nature trail, and climbing the hills, and playing with balls, and killing mosquitos – everything you’d expect on a camping trip in Texas.

More photos here.

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The weekend of March 11th and 12th was a weekend of Birthdays.

I turned 30 on Friday, March 10th, and Ella turned 2 on Monday March 13th… to celebrate, we had a couple of parties!

Christine threw me a relaxed happy hour birthday party at Brentwood Tavern in Austin on Friday afternoon. We started things around 5:00 and ended around 10:00. Christine brought an Ice Cream cake from ___ and it was gooooood!

John’s 30th Birthday Party photos are here.

On Saturday, we got up and headed to Bellville for Ella’s party.

We got there in time for Jack to take a nap, so we headed over to Grandma’s house, and tried to put Jack down after a quick bite to eat. He wouldn’t sleep. He’s spotted a bucket of toy cars on his way from Chrsitine’s arms into the crib. He went nuts! He just wanted to play with his cars… so we played until it was time to hit the party.

Ella’s party was too much fun. There were kids galore, and lots of friends and family. Some kids fell off the new playscape Evan and Shadel bought, but no one broke them, but no one got seriously hurt. Ella got lots of presents. And all the kids got to eat cake and ice cream (as did the adults).

I took lots of photos, and got lucky (I think) capturing this photo of Conner:

Conner is Lori Lockett’s 3 month old son… isn’t he just adorable?

The photos from the party here.

On Sunday morning, we all got up, and headed to Newman’s bakery for Breakfast. Bussy met us for breakfast, and we had a nice conversation over omelets and pancakes, donut holes and kolaches. Then we went to Grandma’s house to play and show off the deck. She’s building a big deck off the back of the house that should be done in time for Easter.

She’s also got some great places for kids to play in the backyard… including this “funny car” built out of wood with horns and mirrors on it. Got a really great photo of Jack and Ella on that thing:

More photos from Grandma’s house are here.

On Sunday evening, Evan, Chad and Jake Payton (Jake was the ring bearer in our wedding almost 8 years ago (has it been that long?) and is now 15/16 or so), and I played poker. Chad took us all.

On Monday morning we got up, drove home, and returned to the grind.

Had a great weekend though!

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This morning came early. Christine woke up around 4:00 a.m., then fell back asleep. I woke up around 5:00 and couldn’t fall back to sleep. So I got up and walked around the boat, waiting for them to finish docking.

By 6:30 a.m. they were done docking, and they were letting people off the boat, based on what floor people were staying on… so Christine got up and we started packing.

We were done packing and out the door by 7:30 or so, and we made it through Customs by 8:15. By 9:00, we were in our car, on the road headed for Austin.

We meant to stop by and see Raymond and pick up a rocking chair for Elise from him, but Loop 610 was under construction, and they’d closed the exits to I-10, so, when we found ourselves on 290, we just hightailed it to Austin.

We did make a pit stop in Cypress to buy some new windshield wipers for the Honda… the old ones sucked, and I could barely see through the rain coming down.

We got to Austin around 12:30 p.m., hugged Mary and Frank before they left, and put Jack down for a nap. We both swear that Jack has grown a few inches, and is acting much older after being away from him for a week.

We’re both exhausted, and are suffering from a mild case of land-sickness. That is, our inner-ears still think we’re on a boat that’s rocking back and forth, but our feet tell us that we’re in our house, and it’s not rocking back and forth. Think reverse sea-sickness.

We’re going to watch the Olympics again tonight, and pass out from shear exhaustion early.

Here’s a quick round up of the last few photos I’m posting from our trip:

Page through the entire gallery here.

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 285 user reviews.

On Wednesday night, Christine and I ate dinner and then headed to the Talent show, which started at 10:00 p.m.

Dinner was great, as usual. I had Schnitzel and Beef Wellington as my main course. Between dinner and the talent show, we went up to the top deck to tour a little at night, and we had fun taking photos of us fighting the wind at the back of the ship.

The talent show was fantastic. Six fellow cruise guests were brave enough to get up on stage and share their talent with us. There was a girl that played piano from New York, a lady that sang a wonderful song about San Francisco, and a guy that did a great piece from Fiddler on the Roof. Then an old guy got up on stage with his little bity trumpet and did a wonderful rendition of Hello Dolly in the spirit of Louis Armstrong. After the guests performed, the crew of the Elation got up on stage to do a skit called “If I Were Not Upon the Sea” which was basically each crew member personifying a job they would have if they didn’t work on the cruise ship, while singing and acting out their jobs “in the round”. It was quite funny.

We stayed up until midnight, which was our latest night on the cruise.

On Thursday morning, we got up, ate breakfast, and headed out to Cozumel. We weren’t docked at a port, as the piers in Cozumel were all destroyed this year by the hurricanes. We had to take a little tender boat ashore.

On the way to shore, I snapped a photo of what remains of one of the main piers… pretty crazy that a hurricane could really destroy that much steel and concrete:

Once ashore, we shopped a little (and met a parrot and a donkey waiting to have their picture taken), and we bought Jack a little mexican ybarra shirt which we think will be really cute once we get him dressed in it. We also picked up a few charms for free… the stores were giving them away as enticements to get us to buy something.

After shopping we headed out for Paradise beach, by way of Downtown Cozumel… we needed to find an ATM, and there’s only one or two on the island. Here’s a map of the island, in case you’re curious. Paradise beach is about half way between Puerta Maya (were our cruise ships docked) and Punta Sur, on the west side of the island. Cozumel is north of Puerta Maya.

Paradise beach was fun… beautiful crushed shell beach, with lots of chairs and umbrellas. We paid for a couple of chairs and an umbrella after finding all of the free ones were taken, and we sat down to enjoy the sun. I walked back out to the road to take a photo of a sunflower I’d spotted on the way in… then grabbed a few beers before sitting down to read.

We read for a few hours, and then I bought lunch. There was a $40 minimum if you used a credit card. That’s a lot of beer in Mexico my friends. Needless to say, when we got back to the boat, I was pretty worthless, and went to bed early.

But, on the way back to the boat, we picked up a hand-made recorder for Jack, and then got in line with our good friends from the cruise (we found some people we didn’t know near the front of the tender line, and they let us cut in line with them).

Last night we took it easy and watched the end of the women’s ice skating at the Olympics…

This morning we got up to enjoy our last day on the cruise, as tomorrow morning we sail into Galveston. We’re going to go lay out in the sun today, and try to even out our sunburns, so we don’t look stupid when we get back on shore.

We laid out today from about 9:30 until noon, but not until both of us had lathered up in plenty of SPF 30 sun block. We were dying hot at noon, so we found some shade and read inside, in the air conditioning for another 30 minutes. Then we headed to lunch outside, where we watched the cruise line’s version of “Survivor at Sea”. What makes these people get up and compete in these games astounds me, but they’re always funny.

After Survivor, we headed in to watch “The Newlywed Game”. Three couples competed. Once couple had been married 50 years, one 25 years, and one 5 days. Needless to say some of the answers were hilarious… and after 50 years, that one couple wasn’t ashamed of much… Hilarious.

We stuck around and palyed BINGO again. $60 down, nothing to show for it… but we do get to keep the BINGO cards! WOOHOO! (That last woohoo is heing yelling in my best Erin Taylor immitation voice.)

It’s about 4:45 p.m. on Friday afternoon as I type this, and we’re about to get ready for dinner, and we’re planning on spending some time outside enjoying the sunset before we head into Galveston tomorrow. Fun times folks.

We’re really enjoying this cruise, and vow to do it again something in the next 20 years.

Something else I should point out. The staff that makes up our rooms always puts a little towel animal in our room, and it’s pretty cute.

Photos from the last couple of days are here and here.

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 160 user reviews.

This morning (written on Wednesday, 2/22), our boat docked at Puerto Progresso, Mexico.

Christine and I went ashore around 10:00 a.m. after eating breakfast at the breakfast buffet. After we disembarked the boat, we took a bus into Progresso (the boat docked forever and away from the town… about 10 minutes by bus).

We got off the bus, and Christine called home on our cell phone, to check on things. Home is fine… as is Jack and the Grandparents. I toured the market while Christine was on the phone, and I saw the meat market… ugh. Lots of really fresh fish out under the hot sun covered in flys. I guess the flys keep the fish clean?

We then got on a tour bus headed for Merida, the capital city of the Yucatan state. Merida is about 4 hours from Playa del Carmen, 4.5 hours from Cozumel, and 1000 miles from Mexico City (or so our tour guide told us).

We drove the 20 miles to Merida, and got out at a monument to the Yucatan Mayans, that told the story of the city and state. It was interesting, and I took a few pictures there. Miss Yucatan 2003, 2004, and 2005 were at the monument to take some photos while we were there. I should have taken a few photos of them… heh… but I didn’t. Gosh.

Today was the first day of Carnival, so there were lots of preparations for Carnival in the two cities we visited. And lots of kids going to see the festival.

We got to the city center in Merida, deboarded the bus, and went to the main cathedral. Got some good shots in there. It was interesting to me that Jesus wasn’t nearly as beat up in this church as he was in Guanajuato… I guess life’s a little easier in Merida than it was in Guanajuato.

We then went over to the State Government offices to use the restroom before heading off on our own.

The town square was beatiful… and there were lots of folks just hanging out passing the time talking. I think they were waiting on the parade that kicks off Carnival:

We walked down a few streets to find something to eat. We found a pretty decent place to eat, and had a plate of Nachos Especiale (Nachos with beef and Guacamole – good stuff). Fancy… I know!

Then we shopped for 15 – 20 minutes before heading back to the boat. I bought a bottle of Jim Bean for $10 before we got on the boat… it’s rediculous how much a drink on the boat is. Seriously. I think each drink is at least $5… that’s rediculous…

We then trecked back to the boat, tired and still sunburned… and probably a little redder than when we got off the boat. Merida was fun, and it’s interesting to me how these Mexicans have learned how to get money out of us tourists. On both bus rides to and from Merida, we were offered beer… at $1 a piece… which is cheaper than on the boat, but I guarantee the markup us about 75 percent… considering we’re stuck on the damn bus and it’s 95°F outside… who’s not going to buy a beer or two?


We got on the boat, and headed to our room to take a nap. We ended up watching the movie “Fantastic Four” while our boat headed out to sea. If you haven’t seen it yet, you aren’t missing much.

Tonight is “Guest Talent Show” night, and we’re looking forward to seeing some of the other guests on the boat make fun of themselves. Tomorrow: Cozumel.

Photos from Progresso are here.

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 194 user reviews.

Tuesday night was formal night, so Christine and I got dressed up. We looked pretty spiffy. I was wearing a swell tie and suit combination, with french cuffs and silver cuff links. Christine wore a sleek black top and skirt combination, with pearls.

We tried to tone down our lobster burns a little with bronzer. It worked for her, but I looked like a cross between Poe (the red teletubbie for those of you without kids) and David Hasselhoff… but more like Poe.

The Captain of the ship, Giuseppe Denado, and his gang of mobsters, I mean the ships’ officers, were hosting a cocktail hour, complete with dancing and live music before dinner. Drinks and appetizers were free, so Christine and I were there. We sat down, and five minutes later we were up and headed back to the room. Poor Christine wasn’t feeling well.

Dinner was to be served at 8:00, so I waited until 8:15 to get changed into more comfortable clothes. We were all dressed up with no place to go.

Christine started feeling better around 9:00, so we laid in bed and watched the Olympics again.

Wednesday morning, I woke up at 6:45 a.m., thanks to the sounds of our ship coming into port. We were arriving at Puerto Progresso, Mexico. Since I was wide away, with no real hope of falling back to sleep, I grabbed the camera and headed top-side. I was hoping to grab a few good photos of the sun rise, or of the port, or something… and maybe have a good cup of coffee before waking Christine up.

the ship funnel

deck chairs

I took the photos, and got the coffee, but I forgot to change my film speed after the sun came up. Gotta remember that next time.

Here are some more photos.

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 282 user reviews.

On Monday, 2/20, at 2:00 p.m. or so, Christine and I boarded our Carnival Cruise ship: The Elation, in Galveston, Texas. The map to the right shows you our original sailing route, but they changed our first port to Progresso, instead of Playa del Carmen… something about the hurricanes hurting the ports in Playa del Carmen.

After we boarded, the first thing we did was find our room, drop all of our gear that we’d carried on, an started exploring the ship. Our room was on the 6th floor of the ship.

We found the bar and the internet cafe area. I ordered a Jack and Coke and a Bottled Water for the wife. While I ordered the drinks, we were entertained by a little piano/strings trio that was really good. We then went up to the 8th and 9th floors and explored a bit.

Around 3:15 or so, an announcement was made that we were about to get started with our fire drill/emergency escape drill… so we started making it back to our room to grab our life jacket. Turns out everyone on the ship already knew what to do and they all had their life jackets and were congregating in their assigned muster areas.

Our muster area was “Area A” and happened to be in the main lounge/showroom of the ship. So we trecked back down to the 6th floor, grabbed our life jackets and headed to the 8th floor. We got into the lounge, and put on our life jackets as we were instructed. In this room there were about 250 other people all wearing their life jackets… We were all hot and looked pretty stupid.

We followed directions pretty well and by 4:15, the drill was over. We now know where our life boats are, and how to get there should we have to… though, I don’t think I want to have to remember those details.

We retired to our room as the ship got under way, and when we shoved off, Christine jumped up into the porthole bay to watch the sea pass by as we left G-town.

After a few minutes, we went up to the 9th or 10th floor to sit in one of the lounges to watch through bigger windows. After watching grey water and skies roll by for 30 minutes or so (it got pretty boring after Galveston faded into the distance) we headed back to our room to relax a bit, after taking a stroll up to the 12th floor, and then to the top deck… where it was really windy… crazy windy… Like lose your hair windy if you’re Elton John windy.

Our dinner was scheduled for 8:00 p.m., and we wanted to hit the 7:00 p.m. “Welcome aboard” show, so we relaxed for a little bit, then got dressed (that means Christine got ready… I was already ready from earlier in the day) and headed out for the night.

The “Welcome Show” was fun, and dinner was pretty good. We’re sharing a table with a couple from Manitoba Canada and a couple from Oklahoma. Our 4th couple didn’t show last night, so we’ll look for them tonight (I hope they didn’t fall over board already).

After dinner, we strolled around the boat a bit before heading to our room. We went to bed early after watching the Olympics on the tube and woke up early on Tuesday morning.

Christine woke up at 6:30 a.m., wide awake, and I woke up at 7:00. First morning away from the kid and we’re waking up at ungodly hours… what the hell? Maybe it was the “motion of the ocean” as Christine calls it. Yes, folks, at night the bed rocks with the motion of the ocean. And no, the size of the ship doesn’t matter, or so I’m told.

(Our room is way at the front of the boat, which makes the oceanic movement more pronounced, as I understand it)

In fact, you can definitely tell that you’re on a ship pretty much anywhere on the boat, if you pay attention. But the motion hasn’t affected us… knock on wood, but neither of us are seasick… yet.

Tuesday was a pretty lazy day after breakfast. Since we woke up so damned early, we figured we’d excercise (it’s been a few years since I’ve done that, in case you’re wondering). So we headed up to the sports deck, and then on to the top deck. Once outside, we walked 10 laps around the jogging path. I actually ran 2 laps (okay, maybe it was one and a half, but I did run).

The view from the top deck was amazing:

We headed to the breakfast buffet around 8:00 a.m. and then to our room to get cleaned up.

I showered first, then read a few chapters in my photography book. Christine got cleaned up and then decided to relax in the bed for a while. I headed out to explore the ship and to look for some fun photos I’d like to take…

I didn’t see much, but I did get to see a ship passing in the wind:

I gathered up Christine around noon, and we headed to lunch. We sat with a couple of old ladies from Missouri, and a couple from (or all places) Austin. The conversation was fun, and we all headed off in our own directions after lunch. Christine and I went up to enjoy some sun.

We sat in the sun for an hour or two, and we both now look like lobsters. Fun, fun, fun!

After roasting, we headed to the Bingo hall. Woohoo! B-I-N-G-O people!!!

We lost. Fun, fun, fun!

Then we found a quite place to relax and watch the waves roll by, while we ate a piece of cheesecake and sipped on a Cappucino.

Tonight is formal night, so we’re hanging out in our room right now, doing our nails, prettying our faces. I’ll iron my shirt and tux soon, so we can head out to razzle-dazzle the rest of the boat with our good looks.

Loving the vacation. More updates when we find time.

All of our photos from Day One and Two are here.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 202 user reviews.

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.

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 193 user reviews.

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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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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On Wednesday night of this past week, Christine and Jack drove to Bellville for the Austin County Fair.

Oh my gosh, did they have fun.

They stayed with Grandma, and got to spend a lot of time playing with Ella and Aunt Shadel.

On Thursday morning, they all got up, and headed to down the road to the Austin County Fair Parade. They found their spot on the side of Highway 159 near Mrs. Payton, Jennifer, and their bunch of kids, and settled in to watch the parade. They were also sitting next to Mrs. Hueni and Brian was there (Haven’t seen them in forever and I’m sorry I missed them).

The parade started, and soon, there were firetrucks and ambulances from all of the towns in the county driving through town, making all sorts of racket. There were a few bands, and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts paraded through town. The fair queen candidates rode in on a trailer, as did all mannner of cheerleaders and mascots.

The kiddos were getting tired towards the end of the parade and ended up falling asleep in their strollers.

On Thursday evening, the family got dressed up and headed to the fairgrounds. The saw the opening of the rodeo, and met some goats, and pigs, and cows, and other animals, before heading over to the carousel for some fun. (The animals scared Ella just a little).

Christine finally got to meet Dixie Haverlah, who babysits Ella for Aunt Shadel and Uncle Evan. They all had lots of fun on the carousel.

Jack got to taste ice-cream at the fair for the first time ever… bad mommy… she gave in to temptation…

Ella and Jack got some whirly light toys and had lots of fun playing with them, before eventually heading home. On the way out of the fair, Christine plopped Jack on a tractor. Jack was totally in command of his element.

Now that you’ve looked at all of those photos, here’s a quick video from the Fair photos and videos that Christine shot:

See all of the photos from the Fair in this gallery.

On Friday, they all headed towards the pumpkin patch in Sealy to take photos with all of the pumpkins. Evan told them that there were plenty of pumpkins out, but the Great Pumpkin must have liberated them all, because when Peggy met the girls and kids there, there weren’t but two pumpkins left…

So they took lots of photos with the two pumpkins that were there, and then Aunt Peggy and Christine drove back to Austin.

Sounds like they all had lots of fun at the Fair this year… I’m gonna have to make sure I go next year.

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Steven Kamp (Christine’s little brother) had a birthday on October 10th, so Christine, Jack and I headed up to Dallas to visit. Here are the photos from that trip.

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