Maly’s first photo

Maly took this photo with my iPhone while I was putting on her diaper before bed tonight. I think it’s a photo of her eye. Or maybe Sasquatch.

Weekend dinner with friends and some family time

On Friday night my old bud Cody and his girlfriend, Candice came over for dinner. Cody and I go way back to the 6th grade. He was my first true friend after my parents and I moved to Cat Spring and I started attending school in Bellville. We’ve known each other for 20 years and combined, have both lived in Austin for somewhere near 20 years.

So Cody and Candice showed up early Friday evening for a dinner that I told Cody he had to invite himself to six months ago. He called me on it and I welcomed the notion of having friends over to hang out and to force myself to get in the kitchen again to make a decent dinner. Elise has really stepped up as the Family Manager in the past year and a half so my culinary endeavors have kind of taken a backseat to spending time with the Zombie Eater and letting Elise feed us dinner.

I cooked four 8 oz. filets medium rare with a chipotle-bock beurre blanc ala Hudson’s, roasted asparagus, fresh green beans and ancho cream mashed potatoes.

Our guests stayed until ~1 a.m. as we spent the evening hanging out on the deck talking.

Elise had fallen ill earlier that day so she was really exhausted. Saturday’s sun came early so I let Elise sleep in. Maly and I got up, ate breakfast and headed out for some weekend shopping.

We went to the ol’ HoPot for a replacement blind slat. I won’t name names but said slat was broken by a biped Janicek that measures in less than 36″ in height. We also picked up a surge protector that will allow me to have all of my electronics to be plugged into something other than a daisy-chained rig of three late-90’s sure protectors. Then we headed over to CompUSA in search of nothing other than something to spend money on. I found a dual tuner Series 2 TiVo box for $50 after mail-in rebate. Upon check-out I found out that the rebate was for new TiVo service activation. So we left CompUSA sans TiVo. We stopped at HEB for coleslaw and barbeque sauce and went home in time for a brisket lunch with Elise.

On Sunday we went to Barton Creek Mall for to window shop and to have lunch at Nordstrom’s. Maly indulged in ‘gourmet’ French fries (seasoned with parsely) while Elise and I had sandwiches. I also had the crab bisque (which is why I like going to lunch at Nordstrom’s for lunch on the weekends).

All week prior I’d been living on pretty much an all-beef diet. Since the butter-filled dinner on Friday night with Cody and Candice, I’ve been doubled over with stomach pain.

All week I’ve been on a high-fiber, vegetarian diet.

This past weekend was a lot of fun. I enjoyed having friends over for dinner. I’m inspired to put myself back into the kitchen. Hanging out with Maly alone on Saturday was a blast. I’m reminded that I really need to seize each and every one of those opportunities. And I need to indulge in more fiber.

Long weekend in Des Moines and the bachelor week after

The weekend before last we flew up to Des Moines to spend time with Elise’s family and friends. We flew out Thursday morning and landing in Des Moines early in the evening. That night Grandma and Eric came over, Joanne cooked corn on the cob and Steve grilled brats. We stayed up late and chatted before all turning in for the night.

On Friday Steve and I went to Best Buy for a wireless router that I picked up as an early birthday present for Steve. Elise and Joanne wound up taking Maly to walk-in clinic because she came down with a bug the day prior. The doctor gave her Amoxicillin which pretty much wiped out the bug before week’s end.

On Friday evening Steve and Joanne dropped Elise and me off at the Iowa State Fair. We quickly found a bench and people watched until 7:15 when we met Elise’s brother, Eric. We stopped at a beer tent before heading to the stadium to watch Alice Cooper. Yes. THE Alice Cooper.

The show was absolutely awesome. And I was the geek who pulled out my iPhone and tried to write down every song title within the first 10 seconds of each song’s start. Despite the 100+ degree temperature and 9,000% humidity, it was a concert in every sense of the word. It was a show that few bands can pull off any more – a show with a ”plot”. It was a concert the way concerts used to be. And for once in a long, long time, we left (sans the ability to control the conversation volume of our voices) knowing that it was money well spent on a show.

Elise, Eric and I grabbed a couple beers at the fair after the concert and then Eric drove us back to Steve and Joanne’s for the night.

On Saturday we all got up and went to the farmer’s market. I bought a half gallon of real root beer and Elise bought some kitty crack from Three Dog Bakery (next time I think about it, I’ll film Riley raving about his kitty crack).

That afternoon it was brought to my attention that Steve and Joanne have DSL so the router that I got wouldn’t work with their rig. Steve and I were off to Best Buy to find a DSL modem/router combo. No luck. So we returned the router that I’d bought and then hit CompUSA.

We found a DLS modem/router combo for a good price and I picked up a MacBook for Elise. Steve and I went back to the house and I spent the rest of the afternoon setting up the wireless network in the house.

That evening we went to Prairie Meadows to watch the horse races. I’m not a gambling man by nature but I was feeling lucky so I decided to bet. And there’s a reason why I’m not a gambling man. I wasn’t counting our money but I can tell you this – I left with a lot less than I showed up with.

4:30 a.m. came early on Sunday. Elise drove me to the airport to catch my 6:30 flight. I nodded in and out of consciousness from Des Moines to Houston with the Sky Mall catalog in my lap. Luckily I kept falling asleep, otherwise I might have bought a chocolate fountain or a solar powered neck tie organizer.

I had a great time with my in-laws in Des Moines and wished I could’ve stayed longer. Elise and Maly stayed back all last week which left me a week as a guy in his temporary bachelor pad.

It was good to have some down-time, which ultimately meant doing a lot of un-distracted work around the house. I finished up the baseboards in both bathrooms and around the kitchen bar. I gave the yard some much-needed attention. I washed and detailed both trucks. I cleaned the garage. I got a lot of work (as in the job that pays the bills) done. And I put some well-earned hours into Guitar Hero.

So, it’s been a busy few weeks lately. Catching Maly’s eye at the airport the past Sunday was priceless. She did a double-take and if she could speak full sentences, I’m sure she would have said to herself, “Oh my god! It’s… it’s… it’s… DADDY!!!!!”

I missed my girls. I’m glad they’re home and I’m glad we all got to spend time with family in Des Moines.

Photos are here.

Price of a speeding ticket in Austin Texas

Speeding (45 mph in in a 35 mph zone): $107 filing fee
Certified Complete Driving History: $12
Take-home defensive driving DVD: $43.29
Bottle of cheap scotch (have to do something while watching this DVD): $18.93

Total: $181.22

Monthly Maly Letter: Month 16

Dear Maly,

You turned 16-months-old today. Today is your first sweet sixteen and I’m not with you to enjoy it. You’re on vacation in Des Moines with your Mom, Boppa and Gran. It’s been four days since I last saw you and I really miss you.

You’ve experienced many milestones this month, most of which are clear indications that you’ve become a sponge. You’re neurons are firing on all cylinders and you’re on a quest for knowledge and to experiment with how the rest of society will react to your newfound wisdom.

You’re beginning to refine your vocabulary. A few weeks ago while your mom was bathing you, you picked up your green rubber duck, held it out to show your mom and said, “This duck”. I wasn’t in the bathroom to witness this monumental occasion but your mom was quick to call me in to give me the news. My inclination is to take credit for teaching you the word ‘duck’ because I usually give you your bath. Your mom is really good about reading to your and teaching you new things so I’m sure she was very instrumental in teaching you the word duck. “This” is a word I think you picked up on your own. Or, when you said it, it was just by happenstance. Either way, what is important here is that you know what a duck is. Unfortunately, when we take you to a duck pond for the first time, you probably won’t know what we’ve taken you to see because real ducks aren’t green. Or rubber.

Your mom and I have determined that your first real word was “baby”. You have baby GG that your cousin Grant bought for you while we were in San Diego in June. Your Grandma also bought you a baby doll that we’ve yet to name. You love both of your babies and you even know which one is GG. Now instead of “baba”, you say “baby!” And every time you say it, you say it with such enthusiasm. “BAYBAAAAY!!!!” You love to run to get your babies and hold them and hug them. It’s so cute to watch your nurturing side for the eight seconds before you drop babies on their heads onto the hardwood floor to be forgotten about as you scurry off to play with an electric outlet or to go splashing in the cats’ water bowl.

You also know the word “more” very well now. We taught you months ago a sign where you point your index finger to the opposite palm if you want more food. Every time you do this hand motion, we ask, “do you want more?”, to which you would be given more food. Over the past few weeks you’ve taught yourself to say “mo” while gesturing with your hands upon our inquiry. We recently made the mistake of giving you a sampling of a Twizzler. This innocent and loving gesture of a treat turned you into a Twizzler fiend. Without even a notion of offering, you immediately gestured and said, “mo, mo, mo, mo, mo, mo, mo MO MO MO!!!! DAMNIT I NEED ANOTHER TWIZZLER BEFORE I START BUSTING SOME FRIGGIN’ SKULLS!!!”

You’ve become quite astute in that you try very hard to mimic our words:

“Maly, this a fish”


“This is a ball”


“Maly, where’s my eye?”


“Where’s my mouth?”


“What’s the kitty say?


“What does the dog say?”


“No, silly, a dog says ‘wuff'”

“woof woof”

“What does a donkey say”

“Hell, I don’t know, Dad, just go get me another one of those Twizzlahhhhhs!”

I’ve been informed and have witnessed on a few occasions that you have a flash temper. You get this from your Mom and me both. You’re now experimenting with hitting. You’ll get frustrated with your mom and you’ll slap at her. This really frustrates your mom. We’re both trying to determine how to prevent you from physically lashing out and slapping. You and Mom went to the library last week and checked out a book entitled, “Hands Are Not For Hitting”. So now whenever you try to hit at either one of us or another object or cat, we try to grab your hands and say, “hands are not for hitting, they’re for…” I haven’t had to endure many of these mini-psychological remapping endeavors. I think it’s just you testing what will get a reaction out of your mom or me. And you’re entitled to that. You and your mom can go to the library. I’m going to Costco and buying a palette of Twizzlers.

I guess you’re considered a toddler now. This means you toddle around and absorb everything you can. While I’m not around during the day, you Mom is left to her own devices in which to train you, for the most part, to be a functioning “tween”, which means at that point, I will be employed to teach you that boys are bad and that the music that Dad listens to while driving you and your friends to the mall is real music.

As you’ve toddled around the house as of late, you’ve maintained a significant level of codependency. So much so that you’ve predisposed yourself to follow your Mom to the bathroom. Her closing the door isn’t really an option in that you get really upset if you’re not tended to or if you’re ignored when a faction of the parental unit has to “tend to business.”

I think your Mom is embarrassed but I think it’s hilarious whenever we’re in public and you find yourself with a napkin or a tissue and, with solid research, go about making motions with said paper product towards your crotch. You know how to wipe. You’re such a clever kid.

I’m so happy that you’re learning so much. I’m happy that you’re such a blessing and a joy to be around. I’m enlightened and invigorated when I watch you embrace what your mom and I are trying to teach you. I love watching you grow. I’m amazed when I look at photos of you from a mere three months ago and realize how much you’ve grown and changed. But I find comfort in knowing that you’re my little girl. You’ll always be my little girl.

I really miss you right now. I wish you were here so I could hug you, give you kisses and say “Maly, you’re 16-months-old today!!!”

I’m so proud of you and am so happy that you’re growing into your own. Every day greets me with an opportunity to step back into my childhood through you. The circle of life is starting to make sense to me now. And I thank you for bringing me into that circle.

You’ll probably never know how much I truly love and cherish you. Only I know and I just wish I could put it into words.

I love you, Sugar.



Dinner with Mom

Sunday would have been Mom & Dad’s 36th anniversary. We had Mom come up for the weekend.

The Thursday prior my brothers-in-law, Ron and Craig flew into Austin from San Diego as they were to meet my sisters on Friday in Horseshoe Bay to pick up my nephews from Camp Longhorn. Ron, Craig, Elise and I had a few drinks and talked until it was time for bed. We had a really good time and it was a blast to have an impromptu bachelor’s night (Elise counted as ‘one of the guys’ that night).

When I got home from work on Friday, Mom was here playing with Maly. Elise was babysitting for Marc and Cyndi at their house. I went to Double Daves for pizza for Mom, Maly and me. Adrian came over around 11 p.m., after he’d finished a day of working on a new album here in south Austin. Elise got home close to midnight and we all stayed up until 1 a.m. talking.

On Saturday we went to my company’s summer picnic at Zilker Park where it was humid and hot as hell. Maly had a great time playing with the other kids and chasing dogs. That evening we just relaxed at the house.

On Sunday we loaded up and headed out to Horseshoe Bay to spend the day with my sisters, bros-in-law, nephews and uncle Jerry and aunt Linda. We went out on the boat and pulled Lisa, Elise and my nephews on the inner tube. It was also Maly’s first time on a boat and she took very nicely to it. In fact, she leaned over at one point and whispered into my ear, “Daddy, you should really consider getting us a boat. Think of it as an investment in fun and ohhh the fun we would have!”

We docked at the lakehouse and went inside for burgers that Jerry cooked. After lunch Linda took us all to see their newly purchased 6,000 square foot other vacation home. It was then that I decided that I should think about becoming Jerry’s page. Or home network administrator. Or lawn boy.

5:30 came quickly and we needed to head out to make it to dinner at 6:30. We said our goodbyes to everyone and headed back east to Lakeway. To commemorate Mom and Dad’s anniversary we took Mom to Hudson’s on the Bend. It’s my favorite restaurant and a restaurant that I’ve always wanted to take my parents to. I had planned on taking them to Hudson’s for their anniversary this year. I hadn’t planned on my Dad dying in September. Mom really enjoyed our dinner. Maly as always was our little joy and distraction.

Smoked Duck Diablos – duck breast, jicama, jalapeno, figs in balsamic wrapped in apple wood bacon served with red chile glaze

Mom had the Guajillo Crusted Pan-seared Snapper topped with scallop, shrimp, crab with cilantro lime beurre blanc.

Elise had the Grilled Axis Venison Chops with butter poached Maine lobster with grilled peaches stuffed with Pure Luck goat cheese, habanero honey and peach beurre blanc.

I had the Open Fired Grilled Prime Tenderloin with herb butter grilled lobster served with jalapeno hollandaise and a zinfandel glaze.

Dinner was great. It would have been perfect with Dad. My mom is an amazing and strong woman and I am very inspired by her. I’m glad that she was with us for her and Dad’s anniversary.

I’m happy that they had almost 36 years together as husband and wife. I’m proud that they were truly happy together and that they worked together to make their lives successful. I’m enlightened that death separated them physically. I’m proud that even though he’s not here, I still learn things from my Dad every day. And I’m thankful that I am my parents’ son.