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April 30, 2014

Jack (formerly known as Zombie Eskimo etc.)

Well THIS is a name-changer; JACK!

jack's (zombie eskimo) alligator drawing

#2 son has a very patient teacher. He's been signing his school papers as "Jack". When I asked him about it, he said  "that's not really my name. it's just easier to write than my REAL name. my REAL NAME is Zombie Eskimo"

this is after Lloyd (the chosen one) and X (pronounced Ksssss, long emphasis on the S).

Jack has drawn an alligator.

All this name changing has reminded me of when I changed my name. I was also in kindergarten back in Des Moines Iowa.

A friend of my father was complimenting me on a drawing I'd done. He really built me up and told me how I'd be a famous artist some day "just like Tolouse Latrec". I was quite taken with his enthusiasm and we all agreed that I should just go ahead and change my name now, to Tolouse Latrec. I made sure this would be OK by my dad, and he confirmed it. I had permission to change my name. I was Tolouse Latrec!

The next day at school, I wasted no time putting my new name to use. It was Library day, and I knew the routine, sign the card, turn it in at the desk, take the book. The Librarian wasn't having any Tolouse Latrec checking out her books. She became quite cross with me, but I stood my ground and I insisted that my name was in fact Tolouse Latrec! I came home with a note from school.... 

I'm glad teachers at Eanes are more cooperative and flexible. 

April 28, 2014

Eeyore's Birthday, the abreviated version

We try to make it to Eeyore's birthday every year. We had a big event the same day, but we managed to swing by for a quick lunch and costume contest.

eeyore's birthday austin 2014 kids costume contest praying mantis

hatdog at eeyores birthday 2014

happy birthday eeyore austin 2014 party 

drum circle eeyore's birthday austin 2014

eeyore's birthday 2014 drum circle hatdog

Then, #1 son, the Wife and I went to attend and photograph a wedding.

walt and wendy got married

Congratulations Walt and Wendy!


"showered and blue blazered" that time The National played three nights at ACL-Live Moody (austin)

Monday night April 21-2014, The National Played ACL Live Moody Theater, the wife and I went after some refreshments at TRACE.

Trace W hotel austin

The National ACL Live 2014 Austin


Matt Berninger the National Austin 2014

Matt Berninger The National austin acl moody live 2014


The National Matt Berninger Live ACL moody Austin 2014


ACL Live Moody Theater austin camera policy

Pic above is Matt Berninger about to reach out and grab my camera from my hand, nevermind the cheap leather wrist strap (snapped). Below is the photo he took of the audience before returning my camera.

Matt Berninger takes phot of audience austin acl moody theater

He also crawled OVER Kat's head about this time (video at the bottom)

matt berninger showered and blue blazered by seize sur vingt the nationa acl austin

Blue Blazer (suit) by Seize sur Vingt

I stayed home for night two, returned on night three (Wednesday April 23rd) to take the daughter. We all met at Trace for pre show eats.

TRACE W Hotel Austin restaurant kids

#1 son knew what he wanted, steak tartare! #2 son expressed his disappointment that he was not seated in the private dining room again... high standards for such young kids.

 TRACE Austin cocktail W hotel

the national austin 4-23-14

matt berninger destorys microphones and mic stands at acl live austin

there was the usual destruction of microphones and their stands.

if I stay here trouble will find me

chad using his iphone to grab another pic

More singing from and with the audience.

matt berninger the national acl austin live 2014

matt berning the national in the audience singer

the national in austin april 2014 acl live moody theater


they usually end each show with an unplugged performance of Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks, and it was awesome! LOVE THIS BAND! and even more awesome is that I can hear the daughter singing along during the Wed night performance of Vanderlyle… I sure love that girl.


April 21, 2014

Easter 2014

We started our Easter down in Wimberley. #2 son got the jump on his siblings, started to harvest eggs before they were awake!

Easter Egg Hunt Wimberley TX

wimberley texas easter egg harvest

blubonnet wild flowers wimberley texas hill country state flower

We found a field of Bluebonnets near our cabin in Wimberley.

spring 2014 bluebonnets wimberley texas

blanco river near wimberley fischer 2014 spring

We took a short walk down by the Blanco River.

blanco river rapids wimberley texas

Then we came back home for an egg hunt hosted by a neighbor here in West Lake Hills

easter tether ball napoleon dynomite impression

easter zip line westlake austin eanes


Wimberley, pulling down the TALL house.

wimberley demolition

I've been going down to the Wimberley place about once a week. I'm working through the scrap to separate the good straight lumber from the cracked and twisted. (note the organized stack near the bottom of the frame). I haul back what can be repurposed. I'm just about done with that, so we dropped the 3 story addition.

wimberley hillbillies manual labor hill country

We took the airstream down for the night. Did a couple long exposures after the sun went down. 

wimberley dark skies airstream hill country night photography

BIG PIC, makes nice screen saver

wimberley star light night photography hill country texas


Look out world, here we come...

passport office austin rm 301 travis county courthouse

Our options are about to expand...

My Passport had expired, the Daughter's Passport had expired and the boys never had one...  taking care of all that. We took the Passport photos at home.  

benji's cantina happy hour austin

We celebrated making it out of the passport office with Happy Hour at Benji's Cantina on W. 6th.

real queso benji's cantina austin happy hour

Just when I'd gone and said I'm not sure I like queso... Benji's was pretty good! It tasted like it was freshly made, from real cheese (not the yellow block of cheese like stuff most queso is made from)

benji's cantina austin happy hour tacos

Drinks and tacos are $4 each during HH. The tacos are served on burrito sized flour tortillas (not corn). They were large and good, but not a traditional taco. I'd definitely go back for some of them. We ordered one of each they offer (total of 8).  

matzoh cracker sad face

Matzoh Crack sad face. Had a relative over for dinner. He's in town with the Catholic church seminary program, studying to be a Paulist.  (I'm only going to show you his shoulder)

rocket shaped birdhouse

We have a bird nesting in the rocket ship birdhouse! #2 son was not as happy as I'd expected. He only wants a Hummingbird to use it, as my painting on it is supposed to indicate to all birds.

trader joe's wine not suitable for drinking

It's great having a Trader Joe's just down the street from our home. It's fun to find value priced table wine. We've enjoyed some exceptional juice for low cost. BUT, not every cheap wine is worthy of a nice dinner. Some even gets sent back into the bottle. The hunt is part of the fun.  

diy ginger beer

and in other beverage news.... almost ready!

April 14, 2014

Last Day with our Exchange students from Taiwan

texas style kolaches

Texas style Kolaches for breakfast, both savory and sweet.

Then we took a group picture, or two...

family portrait


our lo tung senior high school exchange students


We hiked Mount Bonnell.

mount bonnell austin tx

LTHS students in Austin

mountain goat instinct

I see the kids got kat's mountain goat gene.

mount bonnell lake austin

lths taiwan students in austin tx


mount bonnell stairs austin

We were asked to visit a supermarket, so we stopped by Whole Foods.

whole foods market austin texas usa

whole foods austin tratoria 6th street

We grabbed lunch of pizza, pasta and beet salad. Beets were unfamiliar to our guests. 

We stopped at the Art Place Austin street festival and caught Emily Bell performing. 

emily bell band austin art festival

emily bell austin

emily bell band art place austin 2014

emily bell band

best wurst austin

kat can't pass the Best Wurst cart without enjoying one. We tried to divide one three ways, so our high school students can have a bite. Not an easy task without plates or forks and knives. I think our girls were tired of us dragging them all over Austin, ready to wrap it up. Their Chinese teacher had asked us to join them for a 5 PM dinner WAY UP NORTH, and we all managed to make it. And then an idea was hatched to acquire some souveniers... it was Sunday eve, our only option was 6th street.... but we DID get them outfitted with gifts to take home to their families back home.

I dropped them back at school this morning, and wished them well and said goodbye.  A week with the Schuster family has come to a close. Now “back to the way I was".

Chinese Culture Night at Westlake High School (eanes) Austin

The Westlake Chinese students and the exchange students from Taiwan hosted Culture Night. Both groups of students gave various performances. The daughter had told us she was not part of the event. Our girls from Taiwan were in the show, so I went to show my support.

chinese yo-yo westlake high school eanes

I was surprised to find the daughter practicing a Chinese Yo-Yo and DID take part in the evening entertainment.

chinese lion dance westlake high school austin eanes

inline skat figure skater exchange student chinese culture night westlake austin

umbrella dance LTHS westlake hs austin exchange students austin

taiwan aboriginal dance LTHS exchange students westlake hs austin tx usa

Taiwanese Aboriginal Dance (similar appearance to native americans?)

lths exchange students westlake hs austin martial arts demonstration

westlake eanes chinese students

chinese 1 students yo-yo westlake high school austin eanes chinese culture night lths

The daughter even attempted and landed several high tosses of her yo-yo. The audience applauded with great enthusiasm.

westlake chinese students chopsticks dance culture night eanes

chinese students westlake high school eanes culture night fan dance

chinese dance culture night westlake high school eanes austin

chinese yo-yo practice

chinese yo-yo behind the back success westlake hs austin eanes

She wants a chinese yo-yo of her own. She was practicing her behind the back catch.

lo tung high school taiwan westlake high school austin

westlake high school track and football stadium

westlake high school austin eanes stadium

lo tung high school students eat fajitas in austin westlake eanes

Took our girls out for tex-mex food, fajitas. Did you know that fajitas originated from here in Central Texas and NOT from Mexico?  

table side guacamole westlake lupe's tortilla

We asked our Taiwanese girls if they were familiar with the avocado, "is it a potato?" they asked. I don't think they acquired a taste for the avocado or the guacamole made table side.

lo tung senior high school student about to enjoy tex-mex fajitas in austin texas usa westlake

fajitas and ribs went down well. 

Lloyd (the chosen one) has a peacock phobia

Lloyd, turn around, I want to get a picture of you with the peacock behind you.

lloyd montgomery garmadon

"nooooo, I'm afraid"

I helped to chaperone a kindergarten field trip to the Austin Zoo last week.

peacock at the austin zoo 

The daughter still plays a few songs on guitar. The lighting was good, I grabbed my camera (as I'm prone  do).

barton creek mall farmer's market austin

Kat and I enjoyed a trip to our local Farmer's market saturday morning.

johnson's back yard farm austin farmer's market barton creek

all grown at an urban farm in East Austin.


Girls from Taiwan (chinese exchange students) helped consume enchiladas

chinese exchange students love enchiladas

What was your favorite thing you ate while in Austin? "enchiladas". 

hand knit gift from taiwan

They gave us some gifts they'd brought with them from Taiwan to offer to their host family. Her mom hand knitted the hat/scarf.

it's a hat from taiwan

gifts from exchange students

We each received a nice assortment of goodies.

miniature chinese umbrella

midway austin food truck park

We took our girls to the Midway Food Truck park.

midway food trailer eatery austin

Most of the food trucks close at 8PM. We'd arrived at 7:55 PM.... we got what we could and relocated to Maudie's Milagro.

"table for seven! I could get used to saying that!" -Kat

behold the queso at maudie's tex-mex austin

Behold!, the queso....

lo tung senior high school students about to experience queso at maudie's milagro austin texas usa

I'm not certain the queso was popular with our Taiwanese guests. It's not so popular with me either. But, it's one of those things you have to try.

mexican martini from maudie's milagro westlake

Tex-Mex-tini culture.

tacos al pastor from maudie's milagor westlake austin

The tacos al pastor went down well enough. The Tres Leches, Sopapillas, and Flan closed the evening.


April 07, 2014

our new girls from Taiwan.... a cultural exchange.

practicing their Chinese to make a sign, to claim our girls at the airport.

Lloyd the green ninja in dinner jacket

Lloyd was ready to make a lasting impression on our guests. 

airport exchange student claim process austin westlake high school

aus airport exchange student claims

willie nelson statue at ACL LIVE Moody Theater W hotel austin

First stop from the airport, meet Willie Nelson (statue) outside the ACL studio.

TRACE Private Dining Room Austin W Hotel

I'd informed TRACE we'd be stopping in for a quick bite to eat. They prepared the private dining room for us.

I had many questions for our new girls, each new question had them look at each other before answering. But when I asked "what are you MOST excited about seeing during your visit to America?", there was no hesitation, they both answered right away: "the lifestyle!".

We paused, it was our time to look at each other before I replied, "OH, uh... we may not be normal Americans. Just so you know".

and then we ate:

hamachi crudo TRACE austin W Hotel

Hamachi Crudo with compressed cucumber, white soy, serrano and meyer lemon

Trace restaurant W Hotel Austin diver scallops

Seared Diver Scallops with crispy pork belly, garlic, cabbage and chantrelle mushrooms

TRACE Austin restaurant at W Hotel Steak tartare

Steak Tartare: spiced hand cut (raw) beef, horseradish, quail egg, house made pickles

We also had a trio of sliders (miniature hamburgers). I saw the girls look at the sliders, and then each other. They were excited to try them. Then I realized, we'd already introduced them to the most famous American food offering, the hamburger! Maybe we are typical Americans? I bet they didn't expect the burgers to be so small.

joe posada baby dude records austi

They'd already heard that Austin is the "Live Music Capitol of the World". I could see they were interested that Joe Posada was playing in the main dining room of TRACE. About one hour since leaving the airport, and we'd already found live music.

our taiwanese chinese exchange students westlake high school

It was cold yesterday, that was unusual. We took the opportunity to enjoy a fire in the screen room with dinner (the second half of dinner)

grilled salon skewers austin

Grilled salmon skewers and mushroom caps.

westlake exchange students austin

We will make sure our new girls are well fed.

Lloyd and Tesla Tom

Lonestar Roundup (hotrod weekend) and other randome pics

lone star roundup hot rod austin

Rarely does a weekend in Austin not involve some festival or event. This past weekend was the Lonestar Rod & Kustom Roundup.

slammed hotrod rartrod ford austin tx

We enjoyed some tacos al pastore at Guero's and took a leisurely stroll along Congress avenue to look at all the custom rods and ratrods. 

hotel san jose austin tx congress ave

guero's oak grove music and dancing

and we enjoyed some live Zydeco music at Guero's Oak Grove. Kat and the boys did dance.

guero's taco bar oak grove live music congress ave austin tx

ginger and chamagne yeast...

can you guess what we're up to here?

shiek oma pickle jar

Carillon, fine dining in Austin, TX at its best

Date Night: Carillon

paul schuster austin tx usa

carillon restaurant at&t conference center austin tx

Located within the AT&T Conference Center, on the UT campus, Carillon remains one of our favorite fine dining options in Austin. The $60 pre fixe option is a real bargain at seven courses. The meal took three hours and allowed us to enjoy almost everything on the menu (14 choices between the two of us)

They started us with an amuse bouche, so I guess that makes it an 8 course meal.

carillon amuse bouche melon soup

Amuse Bouche: melon soup with chorizo

vegan carrot risotto carillon austin tx

CARROT RISOTTO: carrot top oil, pine nuts, watercress,  parmesan reggiano

carillon chef's tasting menu austin fine dining

MERO: spinach, maitake mushrooms, carrot-apple-ginger reduction

prawns at carillon pre fixe austin

MADAGASCAR BLUE PRAWNS : ajo blanco puffed rice, grape, cilantro

ny strip steak carillon austin tx

NEW YORK STRIP: broccoli, smashed potatoes, texas escabeche, smoked onion soubise

pre fixe menu at carillon austin

ESCOLAR CRUDO: pickled mustard seed, celery, golden raisins, paprika aioli, crouton

creme brulee cucumber gelato carillon austin

Creme Brulee: with cucumber gelato and rhubarb (from memory)


Lloyd, the chosen one

ninjago dragon lego

They boys have really enjoyed playing with the new Lego kits #2 son got for his birthday.

A couple weeks back, #2 son came home and announced he'd changed his name to X. He explained that we were to pronounce his name as "eksssss", with a long emphasis on the S sound.

But then all that changed. He changed his name again, to Lloyd. His normal shy self even started to introduce himeslf to strangers, "Hi, my name is Lloyd". Strangers just thought he was very polite, having no idea this was a new name for him, they just accept him as Lloyd and introduce themself to him. He beamed with pride, he'd officially become Lloyd.

The school has teachers stationed at the drop off area to open car doors for the kids as they exit the vehicles. One teacher asked me, "Have you heard his new name?". Apparently he'd told the people at school, and news had spread.

We opened his backpack to find he has started to sign his school papers with his new name. His teacher makes the kids sound out words, you can see he has not really figured out how to spell Lloyd, but I give him points for trying. He knows that he needs two L, and to capitalize the first.

lloyd the chosen one green ninja

chalkboard art austin modhouse amh

This is the chalkboard art I did for his B-day party. He requested that I include myself (bottom left) with wine and cheese. He also requested I draw one of his classmates, falling down.  Lloyd....

magic treehouse bedtime story

Loyd with his beloved minecraft ocelot. His mother reads him some Magic Treehouse book each night at bedtime.