Volume Displacement

We’ve been enjoying (not really) the incredibly intense Texas heat by celebrating on our front porch with some family time. This commemoration of the convection oven known as the weather is usually toasted with a nice white wine or champagne as Jess and I sit on the porch-couch and watch E.K. play with her water table.

It’s really a lot of fun and the heat isn’t quite as bad as I make it out to be.

This occasion, Jess had brought out the giant silver bowl for Emmy. And, like a cowgirl in the wild west, our daughter decided she should take a bath in it.

Watching her learn how water spilled over the rim of the receptacle as she submerged her body further, I commented that she was learning about volume displacement.

Her response was simple. “It’s called ‘splashing’, dad.”

Touché, Emerson. Touché.


Horseshoe Bay

We took a trip down to Horseshoe Bay to see Ashton and Scott. The newlyweds were kind enough to host us in their hill country home by Lake LBJ. What a view!

The drive down was twisting and turning as we took the back roads. At about hour three, Jess received a text message from Ashton telling us to watch out for deer crossing the roads. It was approaching sundown and that’s an active time for our whitetail friends to prance and hop over the fences lining the Texas highways. And sure enough a quarter-hour later, a pair of does decided to make the dangerous bound across us. One made it, the other turned around before hitting the pavement, but thankfully I was on high alert. Ashton saves a deer’s life.

Soon after some life-saving, I saw something I’ll never forget. Emerson was having a bad dream and woke up petrified. The sheer terror on her face as she couldn’t verbalize this fear that was gripping her was heart-wrenching. She pointed out the backseat window, shaking in horror and clinched up. It was frightening to witness. Jess had to jump in the back to soothe her. Once she was calm in the protective arms of her mother, we continued our journey.

Ashton’s husband, Scott, is a life-saver too. Literally. He’s an ER surgeon. Scott was on a 36 hour shift when we arrived. So Ashton, Jess, Emerson and I… oh and Wigs the dog… sat and conversed late into the evening, fueled by Becker Vineyards wine, milk and snacks. Emerson stayed up later than she probably ever has but was so excited to discover the pallet Ashton made for her to sleep on.

The next morning, our gracious host made an amazing egg casserole for breakfast while we waiting on Dr. Scott to make it home. Our plan was to venture to Hamilton Springs, a natural spring park about an hour away. We found out as we pulled up to the gate that you have to make reservations in advance to get into the park. So that was a bust.

Luckily central Texas is filled with things to do. Like the exact same thing. We went to a different natural spring called Krause a little closer into Horseshoe Bay.

We were grossly ill-prepared for this experience. Neither Emerson nor Jess had their swimsuits on. And apparently natural springs are a hotbed for injuries as the wet rocks are basically frictionless. You need a certain kind of shoe or to go barefoot.

Krause was a beautiful place. Jess captured a few photos there but didn’t have a wide-angle lens. Another unprepared moment.

We didn’t spend a lot of time there as lunchtime was approaching and our little bear turns into a grumpy bear if she hasn’t had her vittles.

After lunch, a delicious Panini from the press that I’d never let Jess buy as I have a bias against kitchen gadgets that take up too much room, we decided to trek out to Becker Vineyards.

It was a beautiful place. And since our hosts are “members”, we were greeted as VIPs with a special tasting room and different tastings than those with a lesser status. After 6 or 7 tastes, I was in a great mood. And bought 6 bottles of various wines. After all, we have a giant wine fridge and hardly anything in it…

The last stop was Pedernales Vineyards. I’m not sure I knew such a view existed in Texas. Just jaw-dropping. And I already knew I loved their GSM wine because Regan had introduced us to it during a dinner at Stampede 66 in Dallas a few years back. Three more bottles to the collection. A liquid haul, if you will.

On the way to dinner, Scott was navigating. And he fell asleep. So I let Google navigate instead. It was hilarious as he woke up when I parked the car to see the incredible confusion on his face that he’d been napping for 20 minutes.

Dinner was great, and we got Emerson to bed at a reasonable time. The four remaining awake people watched a movie and then called the trip done.

The next morning, Emerson and I took a quick walk outside. We were looking for the three fawns we’d seen on our way into their neighborhood.  We found one young deer and its mom. But Emerson was really excited about hearing the cicada noises. She felt like they needed help. “The ‘casaydas’ need our help, Daddy.” Our daughter is so cute.

Upon our return to the house, we said our thank you’s, goodbye’s and we’ll be back soon’s. And we will. Nine bottles won’t last forever after all.

Great weekend get away.

4th of July Parades

Last year we missed the Lakewood Neighborhood Parade. I don’t recall if we woke up late, had a napping 1.5 year old, or maybe that the parents were just exhausted and didn’t want to deal with “the parade folks”. But that was a mistake.

This year we made it to the starting line of the parade about 30 minutes before the grand marshal set sail. Or drive.

Strolling along in the big stroller, Emerson was thinking this parade would be more like her parade from school. A few classes full of children marching in the hot sun for about 10 minutes in front of doting parents oohing and awing as “Proud to be an American” blasted from the mono-speaker in the corner. At the end, there were popsicles and napkins. Lots of both.

So as Emerson was expecting maybe a grape popsicle and 10  minutes of marching Cub Scouts and Brownies, she was in for a whole lot more.

We found a cozy spot on the curb of the street and parked in there. An older woman clad in sun-covering gardening clothes sat next to me, cooing over our little girl. To our right was another couple in the nearby neighborhood who actually brought a blanket, lawn chairs and a bag to catch candy. They were clearly veterans of the Lakewood Parade.

Droves of regular humans, tiny humans, motorized vehicles of old and new, bicycles, tricycles, mopeds, boats, cross-dressers, costumed-superheros, and even Santa passed by showering us with varies Halloween candy favorites. It was a little confusing to mix so many holidays, but we definitely enjoyed our morning.

The sun roasted us all as the parade lingered. The coffee went from delicious to unnecessary. Champagne next year. Or water. Whatever.

Our cache of sweets full of tootsie pops, smarties, laffy taffy and a myriad of others, we called it a day soon after the police escort allowed.

Besides being a ton of fun seeing our little girl enjoy “Happy Birthday America”, it was also a great observation of parenting. Once the elderly couple left, the late-comers moved in on our turf. As the three young moms let their children traverse into the streets of Lakewood, I got more and more nervous. When the parade cars are veering further to one side of the pedestrian-lined streets than the other, you should probably notice it’s because they’re trying to avoid your street urchins called children. The longer it went on, the less of the parade we could see as the sea of people sprawled further out and wider across.

Manners. Teach them. Safety. Observe it. Emerson sat like a good child and ate her smarties out of her little red cup. Another good parenting day.

Uncle Regan’s Birthday Trip


The lake.

The Fleeg works for rich people.

Rich people own lake houses.

Rich people own really nice lake houses.

So, in honor of the birthday of Uncle Regan, aka The Fleeg, we went out to his boss’s lake house on Eagle Mountain Lake.

It was an easy drive. Just an hour and some change from our home. And pulling up, I knew I was home. Or at least at my 2nd home.

And I guess Emmy and Jess thought it was great too.

Seemed like the perfect setting for a dual-family getaway. Cousin Charlie, Aunt Stacy, and Uncle Regan were shortly behind.

Once the party arrived, we all settled in.

By looking through every single cabinet, drawer and closet to see what treasures awaited us. Because that’s what good houseguests do.

To fast forward a bit, we did some boating.  Fleeg was Captain Yellow Hat.

We did some dining (where we pulled up to the dock in our fancy boat), we did some dock-destroying… wait? What?

Yeah, the Fleeg and I took the jet skis out. As evidenced by jet ski hair.

And as we were repositioning them on the last day, the dock didn’t fair so well when the bumper went sinking into the great beyond. Still not sure what that expense is going to look like.

Emmy was fascinated with the wake behind the boat “chasing us”. Between walking up and down the aisle or hull or whatever you call the walkway on the boat between mom and dad. That is until she fell asleep each time we went out. Apparently the open water is soothing.

Charlie just wanted Dad Captain Yellow Hat most of the time.

The weekend was a hit. Emmy and Charlie tried to share their toys and the plethora of additional toys around there. Jess got to try out her new lens, as you can see by the new quality of the pictures herein.

And dad got to be a lake dad. With the most rad kid you’ve ever met.

Sour Cream

Our little bear is a fan of sour cream. To say the least. And she’s a sour cream thief these days. To the point where we have to order her a separate ramekin so she can properly dip her finger in it at will. We entice her chicken bites by dipping them in sour cream. A little protein with her dairy.

And then there’s salsa. She’s not a fan. But that doesn’t mean she’s not helpful.

This tragedy of a spill was when Mom and her friend Jess (not a typo; the “other Jess”) were at a makeup thing and Dad was on little bear duty.

We traversed Northpark mall for a few hours, hitting the Disney Store twice. And then it was grumpy bear lunchtime. So we made it to Tupinamba’s as quickly as possible. Between the salsa spill and the queso-covered hands on the booth’s back, I’d say Dad did a bang-up job.

Emmy’s First Concert

The O’s!

One of Dad’s favorite bands of all time. The local (Denton, I think) band that Regan first introduced me to when they performed the “Spotlight Fan of the Night”, which we later learned was their first and only time to do, and it happened to be someone we were with.

Jess found the info on the Dallas Zoo concert schedule and The O’s were playing tonight, so it was a must-attend for Passport members like us.

The Dallas Zoo used to get a bad wrap when we were growing up. Everyone always claimed the Fort Worth Zoo was better. We’ve sampled both and they both have their merits, but it’s pretty clear the Dallas Zoo has had a ton of new investments in the past 10 years that have really pushed it in line with, if not past, the Fort Worth Zoo.

The Hippo exhibit just opened up and Emerson got up close and personal with this giant beast.

We got to see all sorts of animals again, and the great part of the zoo is that you can go several times and visit different spots for a few hours and it always feels like a different experience.

And then we approached the concert.

Emerson got after some dancing with her mom.

She already has great taste in music. Good parenting, Horns. Good parenting.


Ten calendar days of banking school. The Southwestern Graduate School of Banking, lovingly referred to as “Swigsbee”, is the premier banking school in the country. And I was proud to have been accepted and even more proud to have the bank pay for it.

Come to find out, I’m not the only alumni in the Horn family. My uncle was a SWGSB man. His comment was “it was a lot of partying”.

I couldn’t agree more. My interest into this school was more than just a fun time away from work and a stay-cation. I really enjoy what I do. And at some point, I assume I’ll do it at it’s highest level. But to get there, I have a lot to learn. So in comes SWGSB.

I take most things seriously though try to have a somewhat laid back approach. That being said, I am a crazy little nervous ball of excitement inside. When entering a new group of peers, my goal is to sit back and observe. Watch and step in when I feel it’s needed. Lead by example and hopefully get the opportunity to teach others along the way. If you’re into personality profiles, I’ve always tested as an INTJ.

I’m not going to go through the massive amount of knowledge crammed into my brain in those two weeks. Nor will I go into the massive amount of partying that happened all over that place.

What was important to me, and much to Jess’s credit, I was able to be present. Being there is something I’ve heard speechwriters say over and over again. Disconnect from the outside and live there in that moment. So a huge thank you to the family for letting me do that.

The quick recap is that in two weeks, I learned that I miss my family terribly and that a lot of other people do the same. The campus, however, will distract you from that.  Beautiful place.

But I’m thrilled to be back home.

Photo Face Smash

It’s not the name of some new app. It’s about a change in my life.

Once upon a time, I wrote a different blog. Much more controversial as I was just a college kid writing about the crazy stories that happen to a college frat boy. Thankfully, the “selfie” hadn’t been invented yet, there were no video camera phones, and social media was really just starting out.

On that blog, I wrote a post about how girls always smash their faces together in pictures. And if you happen to be in that picture, you’re getting face-smashed too.

It drove me a little nuts. Well, I’m here to simply present this photo as proof that people change.

The Refresh

It’s not often that parents earn reprieve. Educators get it for months at a time. Uncles and Aunts get it at the slightest hint of fussiness or lavatory smell. Babysitters get it at the end of the evening. But parents. Well we get it once in a blue moon.

And like the song says, “You saw me standing alone…” Well the parents were together, but we were sans Emmy Kate. We sent Emerson to the farm.

If you’re familiar with that colloquialism, then I apologize. We didn’t kill Emerson. We allowed G.G. to whisk her off to Moore Acres, which E.K. lovingly refers to as the farm. And like a thief in the night, she was gone.

What in the world do parents do when they’re not parenting? It was something I proposed to Jess via text before the trip. Do we go to a movie, go to a sporting event, go to… really anything at all that requires stillness and quiet?

Ultimately, we had happy hour with some neighbor friends. Then woke up “late” at 6:45 AM and got after some yard work. I felt like Matt Blashaw kind of yard work although I wasn’t wearing flannel.

Tons of errands, tons of chores, tons of remembering what it’s like to be a husband and wife instead of parents. I enjoyed talking to Jess without feeling like we were just planning out the rest of the day around Emerson. And Emerson, as you read this the first time, you won’t understand what that means. But hopefully. Some day. You go back and read this and realize that it’s important to have these types of moments in a marriage that are outside of your parental responsibilities and just to reconnect. And refresh.

Plus, look at how pretty the 1924 Tudor looks with all this work…

First Musical

We attended our daughter’s first musical this afternoon. For some two and a quarter year olds, I think we’d both admit these toddlers are impressive.

The whole week, the teachers had prepared us for this musical on Friday without much other explanation. We’d ask Emerson what songs she’d be singing but never got much of an answer. We’d ask the teachers what to expect, and I imagine it was just to be a surprise considering the lack of discussion.

Walking up the stairs to the second floor of the church, I was late. Jess was there and I was rushing to catch up and witness this gift of a musical. After all, how many children at that age will actually sing, dance, sign, or act?

Well, we’re here to tell you we have a dancer, singer, actor, and digger.

Thankfully, Jess had her camera out to capture just how much fun these kids were having. It was impressive to see them sing and dance. Mostly, just to witness the joy in these kids as they expressed their learning through this format.

We left proud.