Visit an Art Museum

downloadWe are not what most people would consider “cultured.”  If you’ve read the blog you’ve already discovered we’re more likely to be at a rodeo than the opera.  In fact, you can probably put money down right now on the fact that there won’t be a blog post about the opera or the orchestra (although if that is your thing it could be a great date for you).

Raley (the twelve year old) and I stepped outside of the norm and headed down to the Blanton Museum of Art on a Sunday afternoon after church.  This was not on the top of her list of things to do.  The conversation on the drive was mostly a list of all the things she’d rather be doing than going to an art museum . . . so if your kids complain about the things you do to make memories, just remember you aren’t alone.  I wasn’t going to say it out loud, but I was a little suspect of the experience myself, but wanted to try something new.

I can’t speak for all art museums, but I absolutely loved the Blanton Museum of Art and Raley didn’t hate it, which was a win.  It isn’t made for a soon-to-be teenager, so “not hating it” is a pretty big win.

There were paintings from hundreds of years ago and when you look up close you are blown away by the detail.  There were some rooms of contemporary art as well. One of my favorite displays had a room all to itself.  I posted a picture below, but the picture doesn’t give it justice.  There were bones hanging from the ceiling, communion wafers in a tower in the middle of 300,000 pennies, and it was all surrounded by curtains.  I’m sure there was some significance I’ll never understand, but I enjoyed it because it just looked pretty cool . . . and I’ve never seen $3,000 in pennies.

The other highlight of the day was the typewriter, which was a hands-on display in the literary exhibit.  Raley sat down at it and I thoroughly enjoyed watching her try to figure out how to insert the paper.  When she pushed the first key and the typewriter’s metal letter swung forward and struck the ribbon on the paper she literally jumped back in her seat.  It reminded me of how far we’ve come technologically and how old I am now.

I’ll probably go back on a date with my wife one day since it is definitely geared more towards adults.  The cost is $12 for an adult, $5 for a teenagers, and kids are free.  Thursdays are free (don’t purchase a ticket because they can’t refund them) so you could make this a really cheap date night!



Hawks vs Spurs


I grew up a fan of the Atlanta Hawks which has caused people to ask hundreds of times, “How did that happen?”  When I was growing up, Ted Turner owned the Hawks and he also owned the television channel TBS and the Hawks games were the only way I could watch NBA basketball.  Thus, a fan was born.

For Christmas, Amanda bought me tickets to watch the Hawks when they came on their annual trip to San Antonio.  I can confidently say that this was not a date that my wife would have picked out for herself, but she knew it would be one of my favorite!

Sporting events are not for everyone and they can be fairly expensive.  A friend of mine connected me to TickPick.  If you are on the website (not the app) you can bid on tickets.  You pick the quality of the ticket you want and then put in what you are willing to pay.  If anyone who owns tickets in that area are willing to take your bid, it buys the tickets for you.  I haven’t been successful in bidding yet, but I have found tickets for cheaper than other tickets outlets because TickPick has no fees.

As I mentioned earlier, the basketball game probably wasn’t the highlight for my wife, but it was more than a basketball game.  There was four hours in the car which isn’t exciting, but it does provide for some quality time if you’ll redeem it.  We also had fun in trying to find a place to eat.  We ended up at Texas Burger Company which was a glorified drive-thru with some outdoor seating.  It wasn’t romantic, but it was fun!

The good news was we had a great time together.  The bad news was the Hawks lost ☹

Living in the Old West


We got up on a Saturday morning and headed into Austin to check out Pioneer Farms.  A lot of kids have been there on school field trips because it is a great location for a little bit of history and learning.  Our oldest had been before, but she still had a great time on her second trip.

Pioneer Farms is tucked away in the middle of East Austin.  It’s kind of surreal when you drive out of the parking lot and 200 yards later you are back in current civilization.

We spent a little over two hour walking all over the grounds.  We explored what houses looked like in the 1800s, the blacksmith shop, the Indian teepees, and a whole lot more.  Sometimes there are tours, but we just did it on our own.  We still got to talk to the gentlemen who were working the carpentry shop and the blacksmiths.  There is an old Swedish silo there that is one of only two left in the world!

One of the other great things about the trip was that Waller Creek runs through the property and there is a great view of it near the Indian village.  There is a section of trail that goes down by the creek, but we ran out of time and didn’t get to walk it.

I bought our tickets on Groupon and I used a discount code.  I also think I’ve discovered a Groupon hack.  If you put in an expired Groupon discount code, you’ll still get 20% off.  The four of us did Pioneer Farms for $12.  That’s a great deal and a great half day with your family!

Lupe Tortilla and Datelivery

Lupe TortillaA lot of our dates revolve around dinner and our last date was no exception.  We had not been to Lupe Tortilla yet, but we had heard a lot about it.

I have had a subscription to one of those date box sites where they send you a prepackaged date once a month.  I’m planning on reviewing some of those along the way in case any readers are interested in finding out more about them.

About a month ago I stumbled upon an offer to try out Datelivery.  All I had to do was pay for the shipping so I jumped on it.  As of now, that offer is still up on their website if you want to take advantage of it.  We took the box with us to Lupe Tortilla.  That’s probably not the wisest thing to do because most date boxes work better at your house (or at least you should open it to see what it included).  When I opened the box, the note inside explained that this was not a full box, but rather a sample.

It came with a scavenger hunt for around your house (clues were included . . . you just had to place them) that led to a massage.  The box included massage oil and Hershey’s Kisses.  The Kisses were in a ziploc bag and the massage oil looked like someone had bought a travel shampoo container, filled it with oil, and then printed a sticker off of their computer that said “massage oil” and put it on the bottle.  It seemed a little odd, but I was going to get a short subscription anyway to give it a chance.  Unfortunately, the only thing you can actually purchase on their website is the sample box.  So this is the first and last blog about Datelivery for the time being.

At the restaurant, we read the scavenger hunt clues (they were very easy) and I have no clue what happened to the candy.  The box also had some discussion questions to get couple’s talking.  We did those over dinner and they were well done.  Here are a couple to give you an idea or to discuss the next time you go out to dinner.

1. Describe what a “perfect day” looks like for you.

2. If you could meet one famous person, who would it be?

Captain Marvel isn’t Creative, but it Works

Captain-Marvel-Poster-new-look-1I try to be very creative when it comes to making memories of fun and laughter with the family, but I may be the only “creative” in my house.  So while I’m dreaming up ideas, my wife is simply wanting to go to the movies.

Amanda loves nothing more than going to the movie theater.  In fact, the other night over dinner, we were describing our “perfect days” and her perfect day had a movie in the afternoon and a movie in the evening.  I think that may be what happens when you grow up in a small country town where the nearest movie theater is over 30 minutes away.

So a lot of our dates are to the movies.  It’s not creative, but it’s what she loves.  The good news for me is that I can pick whatever movie I want to see and she’s usually in.  Last week we went to see Captain Marvel.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a super hero movie I didn’t like . . . yes, I’ve seen Electra, the Hulk made by Ang Lee, and the Batman movies with Ben Affleck.  Even though the world would agree that Pee Wee Herman would make a better Batman than Ben Affleck, I still enjoyed the movies.  Captain Marvel was a win for me and since it was a movie, it was a win for Amanda.

Find something your spouse loves to do and do it often.

One of the things that worked for us when our kids were younger was “tax payer childcare.”  That may not work for everyone, but “tax payer childcare” was on Friday mornings.  Friday is generally my day off and Amanda makes her own hours, so we would go to the movies when the kids were in school. The matinee was also a cheaper option so it was a double victory!

What are some creative ways that you’ve made childcare work for you if you were going to the movies with your spouse?

Sidewalk Chalk

20190321_194203Sometimes a creative idea doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult.  This evening worked out perfectly because the oldest wanted to go to a school event, so that left our 9 year old at the house.  I had checked in advance to make sure we had sidewalk chalk in the garage and we did.

We spent about an hour and a half outside enjoying some beautiful weather.  We started off with some tic-tac-toe in the driveway.  We decided to play until someone won three times.  Some parents take the approach of letting their kids win, but there are enough participation trophies for kids already.  My child was going to have to earn her wins at tic-tac-toe.  She didn’t.  It was a clean sweep 3-0 and I’ve ordered my trophy for winning!

Next on the agenda was hangman.  We started working our way down the sidewalk taking turns of who was coming up with the words or phrases.  The only one she couldn’t get was “Walt Disney World.”  She got the phrase “dead spider” (picked because I killed a spider as I was drawing the hangman), but couldn’t get the magic kingdom.  That hurt my heart a little bit.

Mom showed up with Taco Bell and we had a picnic in the driveway.  After dinner, we went down the other direction of the sidewalk and we created a mural of our family date to the rodeo.  There were pictures of rides and places to eat, the concert stage with the Midland logo, and a rodeo arena with a bull that looked a lot like a unicorn.


$7.13 for sidewalk chalk (if you don’t have it already)

If you try this as a Dad/Daughter date, let me know how it went.  If you’ve got some Dad/Daughter dates, you’ve done and would be willing to blog about it, reach out and tell me!

Rodeo 2.0

josh turner

Sometimes you get those blessings in life where someone gives you a gift.  My love language is “receiving gifts” so I absolutely love those days!  Earlier in the week a friend of mine asked if I wanted two tickets to the Austin Rodeo to see Josh Turner.  It took me all of about two seconds to accept that gift.  I’ve seen a lot of concerts, but Josh Turner was on my bucket list.

I’m not going to write about a date to the rodeo since I just wrote about a Family Date to the rodeo a few days ago.  Instead, I was going to share with you our conversation on our date AND offer up a suggestion that might give you some guidance into intentional parenting.

Several years ago we made some values for our family.  This is a picture of our values.


On the way to the rodeo we spent some time walking through our values and evaluating how we are doing living them out.  In a social media world, we often see all of the exciting things a person is doing.  We see their best because we don’t want to post about the bad days in our life (unless we’re seeking attention from people).  I’m going to give you full disclosure on how our evaluation went.  We’re not a perfect family by any means.

1. Making Jesus First – We both felt like we were doing a pretty good job at that.  We spend intentional time as a family reading the Bible, praying together, and having spiritual conversations.  We’ve made our small groups, worship, and home group a priority for our family.

2. Impacting the World Through Missions – Our kids our young, but we’ve done some intentional serving in our community and in our church.  Our oldest volunteers once a month in the nursery to help out.  As parents, we serve a lot, but I didn’t give us that great of a grade.  We sponsor two children through World Vision (one for each daughter).  We haven’t done a great job of making our ministry to them all that it could be, so after our conversation on the way to the Rodeo, we decided to get that in gear and do better.

3. Making Memories of Fun and Laughter – We gave ourselves a pretty good grade here.  We like to laugh and we like to have fun together, but sometimes it is challenging because we don’t all have the same idea of what fun actually is . . . but we’re trying.  Stay tuned to the blog and I’m sure you’ll hear about the ideas I thought would be great that turned into open family rebellion.

4. Revealing the Heart of God by Loving our Family – I felt like this was an area of growth for me (I’ll say that Amanda does a better job at this than I do).  I was convicted that I often find my sarcasm and joking going to far at the expense of my kids.  My mentor told me years ago that we are to be to our kids as God is to us.  I’ve never forgotten that and as we evaluated our values, I felt like I needed to work on that area in our family.

5. Honoring God by Always Doing our Best – We have kids.  If you saw their bedrooms you’d probably conclude that they aren’t “doing their best,” but we felt like they were doing a pretty good job for their age.

So what is the takeaway?  First, have friends who give you free dates!  Second, think through what you value as a family.  What do you want your kids and your spouse to hold important?  Discuss these with your spouse or your family and write them down.  Hang them somewhere in your house where your family will see them regularly.  Come back to them and align your actions to what you say you value.

Hot Air Buffoons

BalloonI’m really proud of the title and it is the first sign that not all Family Dates go like you’d want them to go.  This was the second time we scheduled something as a family this week.  That is not a normal pace, but with my travel schedule taking me to Georgia twice this month it backlogged some time together.

Several years ago, I bought a “family bucket list” off of a website (I can’t begin to remember where I got it from or I would link to it for you).  It came pre-loaded with ideas and one of them was to see a hot air balloon.  We try to accomplish those bucket lists together and we’ve all seen balloons, but never when we were together.  Groupon came to save the day!  Here is a side note that you’ll see as a recurring theme on this blog, but Groupon and LivingSocial are two places where I get a lot of ideas.

Today was the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Georgetown so I grabbed tickets for the family so that we could do something together AND check off one of the items on the bucket list.  We drove over to Garey Park (which a day in your city park could be a family day in and of itself) and got there at about 5:00pm.  Friday night was the kickoff event and Saturday is a Polo match (which could also be a family day).  There were way more people in attendance than I thought would be there.

It wasn’t one of the better ideas for a family day simply because there wasn’t much to do.  Your two options were to shop at people’s booths (selling insurance, CBD oil, etc.) or  food booths.  I’ll admit the food booths looked pretty good, but it was pretty expensive ($3 for a soda).

There was one entertainment act during the evening.  A couple of guys had trained their dogs to catch Frisbees and they were fun to watch.  There was a face painting booth, but most of the designs were around $15 and I’ve seen kids on mission trips do similar work with their untrained hands.

The biggest disappointment was that there were no hot air balloons to be seen the vast majority of the time we were there.  The balloons were out in the field in the back of people’s trailers, but they weren’t inflated.  We did get to talk to several balloon owners and that was extremely interesting.  I bet you didn’t know that a hot air balloon cost somewhere in the ball park of $30,000!

Right before we were going to give up and go home, one of the commercial grade balloons decided that the wind wasn’t too much for them and started to inflate the balloon!  We did indeed get to mark one more thing off of the bucket list!

This Family Date was pretty unique, but you could always gather the family and make your own bucket list of things to do.  If you choose that option, make sure you put “ride in a hot air balloon” on your list!


Parking – $17 (in advance)

Tickets – $40 (two adults and two kids)

Total cost – $57 (but we didn’t buy any food or face painting AND got the Groupon discount)

Put on your boots and head to the rodeo!

103165_originalNot every city has a rodeo, but if you’re from Texas it isn’t too hard to find one.  I have some great memories of going to the rodeo as a kid (it didn’t hurt that one of my dad’s neighbors was a rodeo clown) so we tried to build some memories with our family at the Austin Rodeo.

This was an idea that worked for everyone in our family.  The 12 year old was interested because her friends had been before and she was “the only one of her friends who had never been” (win!); the 9 year old got to put on her boots and dress up (win!); mom loves anything we do as a family (win!); and dad loves the rodeo and concerts (double win!).

We headed out after school and parked around 5pm.  The Austin Rodeo is a three part experience: fairground, rodeo, and concert.  We started with some rides at the fair.  This was the part that hurt the most because my wallet thought we were at Six Flags, but the rides were more like Two Flags.  You could buy a half day wristband or a full day wristband for rides, but by the time we arrived the time had already passed on the half day wristbands so we opted for the cards.  I put $60 on one card and both kids used it (I’m too cheap to pay the extra $2 for them to have their own cards).  I had done the math in my head and figured that would cover enough rides before the rodeo started.  I checked the balance on the card a couple of times and it didn’t seem to be disappearing like I thought.  We guessed the rides were half price after 5pm (but don’t hold me to that).  We also got several free rides because the card didn’t work and they would just put us on the ride for free.

We grabbed dinner after that.  It was corn dogs, french fries, and drinks for the ladies.  It was Chicken Diablo for dad (bacon wrapped chicken and jalapenos that had been deep fried on a stick)!

The rodeo kicked off at 7pm and everyone enjoyed it.  We watched steer wrestling, calf roping, bronc riding, barrel racing, and of course, bull riding!  It was entertaining enough that no one had to go to the bathroom or get snacks.

midlandThere was an intermission after the rodeo as the stage was set up for the concert.  That was just enough time for two of the girls to get funnel cake and cotton candy; and for dad and the youngest to try on cowboy hats.  The night closed with a Midland concert.


$156 for 4 tickets

$15 for parking

$60 for rides

$75 for food (guessing here)

Total: $306 (my heart just skipped a beat typing that and I’m now in cold sweats)