Monthly Archives: August 2019

Add Some Creativity to Your Anniversary


Did you know that each wedding anniversary has a gift assigned to it?  I don’t know how it was decided and there isn’t even one definitive list, but I adopted one of the lists a few years ago.  Our 18th wedding anniversary was coming up so I figured I’d buy something that matched the 18th year.  It was “appliances.”

Now my wife has actually asked for a Swiffer before on her birthday.  One of her spiritual gifts is cleaning and I think she finds great joy in it, so I wasn’t too worried about her being offended by me buying her an appliance of some sort.  The problem was that I didn’t know of an appliance that she actually needed or wanted.  After a little searching, I came upon the perfect gift . . . not just for her, but for our family.  I got a sno cone maker!  Now before you gather the pitchforks and a mob, it wasn’t the ONLY thing I got her.  It was just one thing that matched the theme.

The next year was the Jade Anniversary.  I searched Amazon and there was nothing she would like.  I googled idea and came back with the same result.  So creativity kicked in.  I found out there is a place where you can find jade in northern California, but with all the things happening around our life that year, a trip wasn’t in the cards.  So instead, we went to Jade Restaurant in Austin.  For what it’s worth, it was a fantastic restaurant.

This was our 20th anniversary and it was the China Anniversary.  We don’t use china in our house.  It’s odd to unwrap a Taco Bell burrito and place it on such a fancy dish.  Taking a trip to China wasn’t going to happen either, so I used Trip Advisor to find the highest rated Chinese restaurant in Austin that was not in the $$$$ category.  So for our 20th anniversary we went to Wu Chow for dinner.  If you ever plan on going, make sure you make a reservation.  I had the foresight to do that, but the people in front of us at 6:15pm on a Tuesday night had an hour and a half wait.  I also ordered some envelopes that are traditional gift giving envelopes in the Chinese culture and I put her presents in those.  It is our twentieth so we’re also taking a trip to Boston next month, but we had to do something before that.

If you want to start adding creativity to anniversaries, here is the list I use.  The 21st anniversary is “fire” so make sure you check back in a year for now.  I’m going to burn something down!!!!


Tubing Down The Comal


I’ve been down the Comal a dozen times with the youth ministry and our kids have gone before with the youth group, but this was the first time that we did it just as a family.  The student leadership team at our church hasn’t put it on the summer calendar in several years so it was like a brand new experience for Emerson (our nine year old).

This was one of those Family Days where we let our kids each invite a friend, so the six of us loaded up and head to New Braunfels on a Monday in the summer.  I would highly recommend that if at all possible.  The river still had quite a few people on it, but it was not overly crowded like it can be on some summer weekends.

This time we purchased tubes from a Groupon that was connected to Comal Tubes.  It was my first time with that company.  The Groupon stated that you had to reserve 24 hours in advance.  I didn’t realize that because I’ve never had a Groupon like that.  I tried to reserve online and it didn’t work.  I called and the lady who worked there tried to make me a reservation.  It didn’t work either.  She gave me the number to the office.  I left two messages (and they still haven’t called me back a month later).  I finally called the lady back and explained my predicament . . . we were already on the road headed that way.  She called down to the river and they informed her that you didn’t need a reservation at all!  That was good news after what was quickly becoming a debacle.

One other odd thing about Comal Tubes is that if you go to their website you can rent a tube for $20 or upgrade to a tube with a backrest for $25.  When we were there, you could pick any tube you wanted and everyone took backrests.  I would have hated to pay the extra $5 per person when you apparently don’t have to (at least not on a slow weekday).

Comal Tubes puts you in at the park which is a shorter float than we usually do.  The river was running fast so that made it a very enjoyable for our kids.  It was easily over an hour float (probably closer to two), but it didn’t feel like it at all.  There was very little paddling.

The Groupon made it worth it, but if I was paying full price, I’d go back to Rockin’ R River Rides.  It cost $3 more per tube, but it’s a longer ride down the river.  When you put in at the park you go through the tube chute and have a couple of other rapids, but the further up river you put in, the more rapids you get.

Floating down the river with the kids was a great time to hang out, talk, and enjoy some pretty scenery.  The water was really refreshing on a hot day and it was a great experience.  I’m pretty sure we’ll be doing this one again.  Raley’s friend, who had never been tubing, finished the day declaring “this is my favorite thing to do!”

We were able to use the Groupon for four tubes and paid regular price for the two friends.

Tubes: $100 (includes transportation to and from the river)

Waterproof pouch for phone : $10

Austin Zoo


A couple of weeks ago I took our youngest to the Austin Zoo.  The big picture idea here would be to visit any zoo that is local, but I’ll tell about our experience at this particular zoo.  As is the case for so many of the dates I plan, I got a deal off of Groupon.

Emerson is nine years old and is the right age for the Austin Zoo.  If a child is too much older than that, it may not be as exciting.  The Austin Zoo isn’t your typical zoo.  Most of the animals there are rescue animals.  They had owners who could no longer take care of them, were injured/abused, or were found and needed some special care.  It is a small zoo, but it has lions, tigers, bears, and some great animals to see.  There is a pretty large area for feeding animals (and a lot of animals to choose from).

Walking around the zoo gave us a lot of time to talk.  We were able to talk about creation and God’s incredible imagination when he created animals.  We also got to talk about our favorite animals and the ones that we thought were boring (that would be the birds for me).

t took us nearly an hour to get to the zoo (and an hour home) not counting our lunch stop.  We spent between 90 minutes to two hours in the zoo.  We didn’t ride the train, but did just about everything else.

Pro Tips:

  1. It may have its address in Austin, but it is much closer to Dripping Springs.  Plan accordingly before you go.
  2. Don’t go in the heat of the day.  A lot of the animals are trying to find shade or are sleeping which makes them hard to see.

Total Cost: $14.50 for two people with the Groupon (plus gas and lunch)