23 September 2012

Summing up our Supersonic Summer

Joshua's Mustang Island friend
Tasting the saltiness of a steady seabreeze

Petty's first time at the beach, very wary of the waves

Summer 2012 is officially over, and it was so action-packed, so transitional for us that it was almost dizzying.  It began with my future as a French/journalism teacher with Hays CISD uncertain and Joshua working hard in North Austin as an assistant business office director, then ended with both of us landing new positions-for me, a high school social studies position with Austin ISD and, for Mr. Fallin, a promotion to business office director at a San Antonio facility.  After lots of applications, resume updates, interviews, and anxiety over our futures, we are excited and striving to keep this positive momentum going. 

June started with me trying to unwind from the stress that comes with the end of the school year, and trying to force myself to study for the French certification exam that I attempted one last time on Bastille Day, July 14.  Joshua and I squeezed in a few nights out doing Austin things, enjoying the summer weather before the inevitable intense Texas heat arrived in full force.  We took Geppetto to Blues on the Green, which he thoroughly enjoyed.  Kelly and JR decked him and Ona out in glow stick collars once the sun set, and they got a lot of attention for their rave-ready cuteness.

Johnny's guitar has seen lots of playtime
At the end of the month, Joshua's mom arrived for her first visit to Austin.  We love showing off our city, and the longer we are here, the more places we discover.  We introduced Tammie to iconic places like Kerbey Lane (known for their queso, pancakes, and 24/7 hours), Bouldin Creek Cafe, Amy's Ice Cream, the Hey, Cupcake trailer, The Oasis on Lake Travis, and a blues show with some local legends at The Saxon Pub.  It was incredibly hot while she was here, though we did get one overcast day to lounge at the pool while Joshua toiled away at the office.  Petty and the kitties loved having someone else around to give them treats and attention, of course, and I enjoyed the distraction from the job search.
Time for breakfast!

Tammie's sister Pattie and her husband Tim joined us for the 4th and we discovered a few new Austin gems.  The Mesquite Grill satisfied Tim's taste for some BBQ, and the recommendation from Guy Ferreri on Triple D was spot on, the screen door and monster bowls of chilli were authentic Texas.  The tip for Matt's El Rancho led us to some great Tex-Mex, including french fries with onions and jalapenos.  (As a new Texan, I'm realizing that just about anything is good with a little pepper kick).  Pattie and Tammie loved the fun shops on South Congress, and we satisfied our sweet tooth at the Big Top Candy Shop.
Crazy Californians with their crazy nephew

Cooling off in the shade oft he Ginger Man

After drinks at the Ginger Man and Iron Cactus, we tried to check out the bats, but they seemed to be waiting for the festivities to die down before making their appearance, so we left downtown for the new hot part of town, the east side.  A favorite local musician of ours, Dale Watson, who reminds me of a unique combination of Elvis Costello and Johnny Cash, was crooning while girls dressed like 1950s style pin-up models in cowboy boots danced the two step on a dance floor decorated with holiday lights and Joshua and JR took advantage of the Lonestar/whiskey combo special.  It was the best people watching of the whole day, we could have stayed all night taking in the crazy scene, but our stomachs were growling and it was way past bed time.  On the way home, we stopped at Kerbey Lane for a late night meal to end our perfect 4th and squeeze in a few more calories to our tally (a visit to Austin can definitely add a few pounds, to both the tour guides and the travelers. :)
Dale Watson rocking it at The Sahara on the 4th of July

JR and JD
The Fallin crew enjoy their Spotted Cows on the lawn
The next day Mr. and Mrs. Fallin, along with a certain Pomeranian, left for another cross-country road trip in good old Elliewood.  After leaving Geppetto with Grandma and Grandpa in McFarland, we met up with friends and family for a fun-filled weekend of Dave Matthews Band at Alpine Valley. We saw two amazing concerts, and spent our days catching up with Joshua's sister and brother, and their Illinois crew-Danielle and Kenny, Kristen and Allen, Jamie and Mickey, and Chooch.  Brian met up with us on the lawn on Saturday night for his first Alpine experience.  
Tailgating on the second night

Alpine Valley Saturday show

Joshua with the girls at Mareva's

Connor chatting up Grandma over mac'n cheese
We finished off Joshua's first real Midwest visit since our move with two days hanging out with my family and Peggy, Nina and their kids.  Joshua hit it off with our one year old nephew Grant from the first moment they met and was holding him and carrying him around before I could even get out of the car (it took me days to build up that much trust with the little guy).  Olivia and Connor showed Uncle Joshua their newly decorated rooms, and their awesome playroom.

The drive back to Austin included an overnight stop in Illinois for dinner at Mareva and Joey's.  Baby Cecelia seemed to be very comfortable in Joshua's arms, and Julia showed us how big she's gotten since we last saw her.  The next night, we stayed with Tammie and Bob in Eddyville, and visited with Josh's Grandpa and Grandma.  Joshua got to itch his trigger finger, target shooting with Bob.  Geppetto stayed behind for his summer retreat in the woods of Kentucky with Delilah.
Shootin' cans

Catching up with Grandma

Nina and Mateya got silly with us
On Saturday, July 14th, though I longed to be back in Wisconsin at Connor's construction-themed 3rd birthday party, I was at Texas State University in San Marcos with dozens of other hopeful foreign language teachers, testing in a room for 5 grueling hours.  The next morning, I was on a plane to Madison, trying to put my nagging thoughts about each answer to rest once and for all.

My two weeks in Wisconsin were packed, I tried to see as much of my friends and family as possible.  I spent a few nights in Verona with the Lavins, sleeping in Olivia's pinktastic bedroom, and surprising Connor when he awoke--"Why are you still here?" The whole Peters/Lavin clad had a memorable day on Green Lake on the one day of my trip that saw clouds and temps below 80, hey, at least we didn't need to worry about burning.  

Angel face
Captain Olivia keeps warm in her frog towel
All smiles when we are together on the Lake :)

Connor helps Grant with opening their birthday gifts
Grandpa with a happy Captain Connor

I took a drive up to Oshkosh for the chance to catch up with Molly, Holly and Kristen, and their adorable kids, including Baby Sydney.  Nina brightened me up with a fabulous new 'do, and I had a fun afternoon with Mike in 'Tosa before meeting Tanya and Matt and Pierce (and even Ben and Julie for a bit) at Tyranena Brewery in Lake Mills for a picnic and a Kissers show.  Tanya, Peggy and I met up in Johnson Creek for an extended happy hour and serious gabfest.  I also squeezed in dinner with Holly and Lisa, a few visits with my Grandparents, and some Food Network with Mom and Dad. Phew!
Leaving Anaala with my new 'do

Grant's pool at Gma and Gpa's
Dinner at Riley's Pub in  Green Lake after a day on the water
Connor keeping us smiling on Grandma's birthday
To make the journey back to ATX, I had our newly purchased Dodge Caliber hatch back, filled with stuff (all good stuff, that I was grateful for, still more stuff just makes me dread our next move).  After hitting a nasty storm in Southern Illinois, I finally arrived back at the Trumbull Compound in Eddyville to rest before the long second leg of my first solo cross-country drive, and to pick up Geppetto from his retreat with Grandma and Grandpa.  Turns out that he had become buddies with Bob while I was away, and had gained a little belly and the nickname 'Meatball'.  Day 2 of driving went well with my audiobook from Grandpa and Grandma Peters (Killing Lincoln) and Geppetto reminding me to stop every few hours.  We were in Dallas by 10 pm, and just had to keep going to get home, arriving back in South Austin by bar time.

Hanging out with Kate and Baby G
Grant is always ready to go
The best thing out of all that 'stuff' in the car, as far as Joshua was concerned, was his bass amp, which had been sitting in Dan and Nina's garage for two years.  He immediately brought it up and plugged in his guitar, I was happy to see him so giddy and into his music groove.  I jumped back into my own groove once I was rested up from my journey, searching for the perfect teaching job, or just any secondary social studies job within a reasonable commute.  Soon I was deep in applications, letters of intent and internet searches.  It was exhausting, and I struggled to keep my anxieties from taking over.

Petty's summer trim

Joshua sporting his bday gift-a Grateful Red T
Next came a fun weekend celebrating Joshua's birthday, including dinner at the first Thai restaurant we ever tried in Austin, and another Dale Watson show, this time on the roof of Uncle Billy's overlooking Lake Travis, with JR and Kelly.

The following day, I dropped Joshua off at the airport for his week in Denver for the annual Emeritus conference.  He got to experience the mile high elevation, as well as a Rocky's game and some microbrews while rubbing shoulders with the higher ups.

Kelly and I at Uncle Billy's
Dale and the boys between us and the sunset over Lake Travis

Texas' oldest Live Oak tree, Goose Island State Park

After countless sleepless nights, and a rollercoaster of emotions, I was able to end my contract with my former district and accept an offer from Crockett High School in South Austin, teaching Government and Sociology (and serving as yearbook advisor, can't escape that one).  My commute has gone from an average of 30 minutes to 10 each way, and I am teaching subjects that I have a strong background in through UW and Norwich to students who are young adults rather than adolescents.  It was for those reasons that I had to jump on the position...even after learning that I had passed my French certification exam (c'est incroyable!).

The AISD school year kicked off with the Superintendent giving the Convocation from Crockett to the entire district, beginning with this fun video parody of "Call Me Maybe", starring some of my new students:


Outside our apartment, sporting Joshua's new hat

We decided to celebrate with a weekend camping trip to the Gulf before school started, and after I finished my two weeks of training with my new district and campus.  Goose Island State Park gave us a taste of the sea and our first night sleeping in Elliewood since moving to the Lonestar State.  It seemed romantic and spontaneous, and we enjoyed a picnic of Josh's delicious barbeque seitan at sunset overlooking the bay, but then we remembered what sleeping in the Element in hot, sticky weather is like, with Geppetto panting next to our heads.  By 10am we were back in Austin, though we did stop to see the 1000+ year old Live Oak tree on our way off the island.

Our summer ended with one last road trip, over Labor Day weekend to surprise Tammie for her birthday.  Jeremy and Heather arrived the night before, and she was really excited to see us all.  We hunkered down in the thunderstorms left behind by Hurricane Isaac, played Wii, watched movies, and cooked yummy comfort food, perfect weekend.
Petty taking in the sites

The iconic Caldwell County Courthouse  in Lockhart

Petty found the shade at our Goose Island campsite
Gulf shores
Yesterday marked the first day of autumn, football is scheduling our weekends (Go Pack go! and C'mon Crockett Cougars!), and the weather is finally cooling with high temps in the 80s-90s.  We have been getting back into the rhythms of the school year, and both of us are struggling to stay ahead of our demanding workloads.  Taking advantage of this city helps us escape, like last Thursday night's Chris Robinson Band show at Antone's, an amazing rock concert in a packed downtown bar.  Austin City Limits music festival is just a month away as well, but next on our horizon is our big move across the hall to a 2 bedroom unit, can't wait to spread out and have room for guests!