Corpus Christi

We made a trip down to Corpus Christi this past weekend. My Uncle Jamie, Aunt Marybeth, Cousin Alecia & Ronnie, and their kids Alexis, Porsha, Shelby.  And you can’t leave out Bubba the white lab and Rusty the Maine coon cat.  What a family!

Emmy’s school was out on Friday, so we got an early start to a 6.5 hour road trip. That’s if you drive straight through. You can imagine we weren’t too bullish on getting there by lunch or anything. We made a decently long stop at a burger place in Georgetown, TX which proved to be a good call.  See…

Pulling up to Uncle Jamie’s house, a million memories of my childhood come flooding back. We would come visit most summers and go to the beach in Port Aransas. Back then, the beaches had tar and weren’t the cleanest, but as a kid you don’t really know about the difference between the Caribbean islands and the gulf beaches. These days, though, the beaches are nice. And with Emerson’s continued obsession with Treasure, Ariel’s cat that she found at the beach in one of E.K.’s nighttime books, we certainly needed to make a visit to the North Shore beach in Corpus.

My aunt and uncle are some of the kindest, most generous people I’ve ever known. I’m sure I’m biased, but I really can’t say enough about how good they’ve been to me over my lifetime. And, true to form, they gave us the royal treatment. Cooking, showing us around, letting us pick where to go and what to do, etc.

But the biggest gift of all was Emerson’s new best friends. Shelby, the youngest daughter of my cousin, was like a big sister to our little bear. They played and played and played to the point of exhaustion. It was so fun. Porsha was there quite a bit too, picking up Emerson and playing with her. You can tell she’s got that same Horn kindness in her.

Saturday was the most eventful day. We started the morning with a quick breakfast and then an 8 AM soccer game. Soccer is a big sport for the Peck family. From Alecia on down, they’re all soccer stars. Shelby was playing in this contest and Emerson was watching and cheering for her new favorite person. Afterwards, the whole family stopped into a local eatery for a second breakfast. Alexis was doting on Emerson as Shelby and Porsha helped get her fed. It was like free babysitting.

With our bellies full of delicious breakfast burritos, we stopped at the day-old bread store to grab a loaf to go feed the turtles. When this activity was described to us, we thought, “Okay, some ‘big’ turtles down in a pond.” In reality these were dozens and dozens of huge turtles, all varieties, down 30 feet into a creek off a bridge. Just look at this.

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When Aunt Marybeth mentioned she wasn’t sure that bread was good for turtles, we verified that with a quick Google search and Jess stated that we now owed our turtle friends some lettuce and tomatoes.

And then, we loaded up to head to the beach. It was the first beach trip for Emerson. And at first, she wasn’t too excited about the sand beneath her feet. But as Uncle Jamie took her by the hand and walked through the water, she warmed up to the idea quickly. It was a very sweet moment.

Cousin Alecia scoured the beach for seashell souvenirs. Porsha and Shelby joined E.K. and Uncle Jamie as Aunt Marybeth, Jess and I watched on dotingly.

We headed back to the house for some dinner and sleep.

The next morning, we packed up and said our goodbyes. It’d been 3 years since we’d last been there. It won’t be another 3 before we go back though. What fun we had!

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Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children

I love the TSRHC. It’s a place I used to volunteer at in the evenings. It’s a happy place where children face difficulties most of us will never understand, yet they’re joyful, hopeful and thankful. Life-changing experiences there for me.

So I have always gone to their events. The San Angelo Clay Shoot was my first introduction to the hospital and it’s been a must-do for most years. My dad and I shot together for years along with Jamie, my first mentor in banking, and several other friends.

This year, I went with Jamie, John and Kevin. We had a ton of fun, as always. I bid on a few things after a beer or two but didn’t walk away with any prizes. Oh, well except that I won our “group”.  Per usual.

I hope to, one day, take Emerson to volunteer at the hospital and give her the same gifts that volunteering there has given me.

The Maker

Yesterday, Jess was sick. Luckily it was a Sunday and we had very little we had to do. So as the wife was holed up in our bedroom, Emerson and I played in her room.

E.K. has really been very good at pretending lately. She’s always making up stories about her cat (not real) Treasure and adventures they go on. Mostly Treasure, the “Palace Pet” of Ariel from The Little Mermaid, bonks her head on a door or is scared of a dog or fox and Emerson comes to the rescue. It’s good fun.

But yesterday, we took pretend to a whole new level. I laid on her soft rug in the middle of her room as she kept wanting to feed Treasure or build a bridge to crawl over a rive or a myriad of other things. And as we need materials to create these spectacular make-believe stories, we had to use our map (Dora the Explorer’s map we bought months ago) to reach The Maker.

The Maker was mom, who was resting in bed. Emerson would yell, “We have to get it from The Maker,” as she sped off through the hall, past the kitchen, onto the jute rug of the dining room, and back to the hardwood floors connecting living room to bedroom. The pitter-patter of little feet.

Emerson would approach the side of the bed and request whatever magical material we needed to complete our mission.  Jess would dig under the covers or under a pillow and pull out whatever was needed and hand to Emerson who would then retrace her steps holding her hand high in the air as she came screaming like a freight train back to me.

We played The Maker for a good hour and she was exhausted by the end of it. Her, Jess and I, all.

The Library

Emmy’s first trip to the library is in the books. Get it? And what did she do? Read all the books?  Observe the quiet areas?

No. She played on the computer the whole time. Millennials. Or whatever her generation is going to be called.

I had to return the 3 books I checked out from the central library downtown, and, lucky for me, library books may be returned to any of the Dallas library system. We live about a 4 minute walk from the Lakewood library.

I pondered about the job it must be to return books to their rightful places. What such a job would pay and how easy it actually must be. And I think that sounds better than “banker”.

Anyhow, all of these books lately have really inspired me. Wrote my 29 page paper for SWGSB and turned it in on Friday, the last day I could. So I want nothing to do with economics for about another 99 years, I think.

There was a flood of memories brought on by all these pages filled with words. The fondest of them was reminiscing back to my introduction to ethics class in college. I remember the professor discussing with me that I should change my major from business to philosophy. Looking back, I am reminded of the lessons I learned there. Did he push me to change my major for my own interests or to save his department? It was quite the moral dilemma. And did my recognition of his intentions mean that I actually should have changed it? I do love some Plato, Socrates, Kant and the like. How amazing would it have been to just sit and think as your job? No one today is called philosopher that isn’t in academics. And certainly no one is paid for it.

We have 3 new books from the library. I’m loving that we can walk up there and borrower books to bring home and read. Emmy hasn’t been able to truly appreciate it yet, but my hope is to turn her into a bookworm.

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.


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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.