2021 was my 40th year on Earth (if you count 1982 when I was 0 years old). Despite the raging pandemic, life returned mostly to normal in a lot of ways. We traveled, attended sporting events, shopped maskless for brief periods, and even went into my office once. The kids returned to school in a semi-normal fashion (John remained at Four Seasons for first and second grade; we were more comfortable with the small group setting). We had baseball seasons in the spring and fall, and visitors returned to see us in Austin.
The vaccine was unveiled to the public, and our household was among the 70% of eligible Americans to take part. What can I say, I guess I trust scientists, the US government, and long respected health organizations such as the WHO and CDC. If all 50 governors and even Trump got the vaccine, who am I to question its safety?
Perhaps my favorite month of the year weather-wise in Texas, January did not disappoint in 2021! On Sunday, January 10, my wishes finally came true as we received our first big snowfall in the time we’ve lived in Austin. There had been numerous dustings in the past, but nothing like this magical day, which just so happened to be a weekend where we could all go bask in it. We sledded, made snowmen, and watched giant snowflakes fall as we frolicked about town with the neighbors in whatever makeshift winter gear we could scrounge up. The next day it had all melted. It didn’t disrupt anything and everyone had lots of fun. Of course, we had no clue what was to come in February.
On the 16th, I took another of my long walks, venturing 15 miles from home down to the state capitol. We launched our Little Library on the sidewalk, Lauren’s birthday wish. On the 31st we celebrated Lauren’s birthday with an afternoon of brewery hopping with the Plumpes. And throughout the month, Lauren and I were fixated on Super Mario 35, the limited-time Nintendo challenge that swept the world.
The highlight of February was also weather-related. On the 13th, the biggest winter blast to hit Texas in decades—if not ever—began with an ice storm. Tree branches were collapsing under the weight of the frozen rain weighing them down. The night of Sunday the 14th, the family was over at the Plumpes hanging out when the little ice pellets turned to snow, and by 11pm we were in an all-out blizzard. Snow blasted Austin all night long, and we woke up to a foot of snow on the ground and temps in the single-digits, absolutely unheard-of in this area of the country. It absolutely paralyzed the state, whose energy grid gave out, killing hundreds. While Senator Cruz fled to Mexico, millions of Texans were stranded without power, water, food or firewood. We got off extremely lucky, losing no utilities or services. We even got lucky by having stocked up on groceries and wood beforehand. For days, it was an eerie sight. Every road was undriveable, every store closed. When HEB finally reopened, it marked the third different occasion in a year a line wrapped around the store for people to stock up on essentials—pandemic, Floyd riots, and now icepocalypse. I have been in the middle of much worse winter storms throughout my life, but at least up north they are expected and people are equipped to deal with them. But this was much different and quite the thing to experience!
Nothing else of note really happened in February, aside from the start of John’s coach-pitch baseball career, Valentine’s Day, and a father-son trip to the toy museum.
Neighbor Chris and I did a 15-mile walk from downtown back north. John’s coach pitch baseball season with the Blue Jays began. The weather was largely pleasant with no more snow, but also no ungodly heat. I excitedly got my first vaccine at a mass Austin Public Health event, way earlier than I ever imagined I would. I didn’t expect such skepticism from such a large chunk of the country!
The highlight of March was spring break, where Grandma Marcie flew down and we all drove from Austin to Gulf Shores, Alabama for a beach vacation. For me, it was my first time visiting all of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama! On each way we did a stop in New Orleans, spending some time doing tourist stuff like the street cars, beignet, French Quarters and Bourbon Street. In Gulf Shores, we had a great Airbnb not far from the beach where we could easily walk over and enjoy the sand and water. The first two days were very hot and sunny, but the rest of the trip was cool and very windy. We found more fun things to do like beachy restaurants and bars and even the zoo.
April was pretty quiet, according to my photo library. We stayed home and worked, and the kids went to school. Pretty low key! John had a few baseball games, we celebrated Easter, and took in the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center for the first time. Old buddy Bart was back in town to visit for the first time since moving the previous summer. I got my second dose of Pfizer and it knocked me out for a day. Other than that, May was pretty non-noteworthy!
Our May was highlighted by our big plans to renovate our house with a local designer/builder after securing some funding through a home mortgage refinance. We met several times and came up with some pretty neat concepts. The wheels were certainly in full motion at that time.
Also in May, I traveled back to South Dakota solo over Memorial Day weekend for the Class of 2001’s 20-year reunion at the Carpenter Cafe, as well as the annual all-school alumni celebration in Willow Lake. I had lots of fun catching up with about half the class, and the party even spilled out to the Glanzer farm afterwards.
Other highlights of the month included John’s Blue Jays team winning the Balcones league title, my first haircut in over a year, and our first movie theater experience since pre-pandemic.
By June, most people had believed the pandemic was coming to an end and travel reopened a bit. Over Father’s Day weekend, we made our return to an MLB ballpark and took in a Rangers-Twins game at the new Globe Life Park. No masks or anything! We also took in our first Austin FC game in the team’s inaugural MLS season, a 0-0 tie vs Columbus. The kids were enrolled in swimming lessons and for about four straight weeks that’s all we did after work every night.
I also made my first work trip back to Tulsa since the pandemic had started, when I latched on with a group of other managers for a mid-week trip. Despite a horrible flying experience with American which caused me to have to rent a car and drive from Dallas to Tulsa, it was a great time catching up with all the old coworkers and meeting all the new ones.
July was pretty mild by Austin standards, rarely if ever going over 100º. We celebrated the 4th of July at our friends the Andersons’ house in Bee Cave. Lauren made two visits back home to Minneapolis to visit family, once with each child. When I was home alone with John we went to a Round Rock Express game and ran into an unruly usher, and when Edie was home with me we went out to Jester King in Dripping Springs with the Allens and visited the baby goat farm. But overall, looking back at photos from the month, it seemed to be dominated by swimming lessons and kids parties at pools. It was great to be intermingling again with the pandemic long over (or so we thought).
On the first of the month, I departed on a mega road trip with nights in Longview, Little Rock, St Louis, Chicago, Galena, Minneapolis, Carpenter, Omaha and Tulsa and ate up the first half of the month. I did the first few days on my own, exploring the TX-AR-LA tri-state area, Texarkana, Hope, and many places in between, while taking in Cardinals and White Sox games. Lauren and the kids met me in Chicago and we drove out to her family reunion in Galena for the weekend. After that, we dropped Lauren at the Minneapolis airport to fly back, while the kids and I spent a day in MSP and then a few more days at the Glanzer family farm. On the way home, Grandma Marcie and cousin Adrienne joined us on our voyage back to Austin with fun stops along the way.
The rest of the month was pretty jam-packed too, with a Gary Clark Jr. concert, a birthday outing to Plank Seafood, and John’s birthday party with friends at Pinballz.
It was time to slow down a little in September, with school starting. A last-minute decision was made to pull John out of public school and back to his old private school at Four Seasons amidst some rising COVID concerns for his second grade year. Edie also returned to Four Seasons preschool in the Peacock class.
In other highlights, neighbor Chris and I achieved our Big 50 placards by consuming lots of beer at our neighborhood watering hole. I started intermittent fasting for a month to see what would happen and lost a few pounds but failed to stick with it. We celebrated Labor Day with a big street gathering. I started coaching John’s coach-pitch Little League team, the Twins. I took in my first ever Longhorns football game with old pal Tony. We made another visit out to Jester King to see the goats and beer again.
Baseball seemed to dominate our October, with Little League’s fall season in full swing. Lauren and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary with a classy dinner out downtown. We took in our second MLS game, Austin vs Minnesota. Edie and Dani put on a co-third birthday party together at the park, complete with Groovy Bus. We had one wild weekend of four kid birthday parties to attend as well. I got a little carried away playing John’s new video game Mario Odyssey. I made a bunch of Simpsons yard decorations for Halloween, and we trick-or-treated as a family with the Plumpes.
November was the start of the big shed project, with Dad and Alex flying down for 3 days to help construct the unit. While we didn’t do much traveling, we did a couple local hikes, went bowling, and the baseball season came to an end. We celebrated Thanksgiving at the Plumpes’ house with a big feast. Not gonna lie, my camera roll for November was utterly dominated by shed pictures.
While the rest of 2021 was unusually cool or mild weather-wise, December was not. Records were shattered with the hottest December (or any winter month, for that matter) ever recorded in Texas history. We were seeing upper 80s during the day and even upper 70s well into the night hours for almost the full month! Not my idea of Christmassy weather.
Aside from more shed work, Edie went to her first movie in a theater as I took the kids to Encanto. The kids had a fun-filled dentist appointment with 3 cavities for John. Lauren traveled frequently for work including a trip to San Francisco, but the kids and I drove down to San Antonio to join her for one weekend trip.
We entertained family on both sides over the holidays, with the Rosoks visiting Dec 20-24 and the Glanzers Dec 24-29. When the Rosoks were in town, we stayed in an Airbnb near Fredericksburg so we could all be in the same house. Mom and Dad also stayed in an Airbnb in Austin to give everyone some space. Dad, John and I drove to Houston for a Texans-Chargers game during the stay.
On New Years Eve the kids and I went downtown for some urban city scootering, and at night we rang in 2022 once again with our neighbors the Plumpes.
The theme of December, however, was illnesses. John and Lauren all went in and out of illnesses all month, with John missing a huge amount of school. Edie and John both fell ill (John confirmed with pneumonia) during Lauren’s San Fran trip. That really sucked. Somehow I avoided getting sick!
Cheers to another year!
Thanks everyone for continuing to read and support this blog! It ain’t what it once was, as I’ve lost the steam to chronicle stuff, but every so often I feel the need to document things. Wishing you all the 2022 of your wildest dreams.