Blogging hiatus

Dotzourfamily.com has been live for seven years.  My blog dashboard says I’ve written 1,241 posts and have received 2,143 comments (oh, how I have loved getting comments over the years).  When Mom was sick, this blog was such an important tool for sharing news of hear health journey.  It was where we shared news of both babies being born, major family milestones, holidays, sickness and injury.  This blog was one of my main tools for maintaining sanity after Sylvia was born and I was home full time.  I am SO thankful that I could take the rough, long, or hard days and spin them into stories that would make people laugh.  I used this blog as a plantform for reflecting on life.  It helped me live more intentionally as I relived moments by writing them down.  Now I have a record of my early parenting years.  It feels good to know it’s there for posterity.

Sometime in 2010, I started blogging less about what I was thinking and more about what we were doing.  Then in 2011, I found myself switching gears in my blog writing.  I no longer felt the compulsive need to write.  I wasn’t composing posts in my head.  I didn’t have that itchy, “Must write blog post before going to bed” feeling that had been my close companion over the previous years.  In the second half of 2011, nearly all my blog posts were annotated photos.  They were more a record of our days.  I just wasn’t feeling need.

So after finishing up our Christmas trip blog posts, I decided to take a break.  I thought about posting an “I’m taking a break” note, but I wasn’t sure that I would actually stick to it, so I just left things hanging.  and in the following six months, I haven’t even contemplated blogging.  So I guess it was time for a break!

While I’m not posting at the moment, I am uploading new photos to my Flickr photostream on a very regular basis.  I’ve maintained my compulsion to edit and upload family photos before the sun sets on the day.  So if you want to see what the Dotzour family is up to, that’s the place to look.

To see my photos, you’ve got a few options.

  1. Bookmark http://www.flickr.com/photos/adotzour/sets/  This is the home page for my photo albums.
  2. Subscribe to the rss feed for http://www.flickr.com/photos/adotzour/  This will have every photo I upload shoot into your rss reader.
  3. Visit the photo page of DotzourFamily.com http://dotzourfamily.com/pictures/ This just pulls all the photos from Flickr into my website.
And if you’re interested in my photography work, you can see my site at http://www.altheaphotos.com/

For the time being, these are the best ways to see pictures of the kids and to see what’s up in our lives.  And until further notice, this blog is on hiatus.  I imagine that at some point, I’ll be back:)

Cheers!

~Althea

New Year’s Eve on the Riverwalk

On New Year’s Eve, Bryan made us reservations for dinner at Acenar on the Riverwalk.

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I was so excited when our server led us outside, through the crowds, and to a little secluded table on the balcony overlooking the Riverwalk.  So cool!

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Just look at those pretty lights!

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It was a delicious meal, and a great way to celebrate the end of a terrific year.

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After dinner, we wandered amidst the Riverwalk crowds until we came out at the Alamo.

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Last time we visited during the day, so it was neat to see it at night.  While you couldn’t get inside, they had the facade all light up and glowing.

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Exciting people that we are, we headed home early.  At midnight, Bryan was asleep, but as I lay in bed reading, I heard the fireworks for quite some time.  Sounded like fun…but maybe not as much fun as being cozy in bed.

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On January 1, we headed home.  We drove from San Antonio to College Station, stopping for lunch at this great restaurant in Bastrop.

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I don’t know if you heard last summer about some of the big fires in Texas.  Bastrop contained an area known as the “Lost Pines,” a beautiful pine forest.  During last summer’s drought, fire took out 34,000 acres and burned over 1,600 homes.

Bryan and I drove through Bastrop State Park, and we were awed at the extent and thoroughness of the fire damage.  Really impressive, sobering destruction.

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We drove the rest of the way to College Station, then flew to Dallas and finally to Madison, where the weather was in the teens.  Burr!  Bryan had off work on January second, so we sat around the house and enjoyed pretending like we were slugs.  It was so nice to have a little down-time at home before Granny flew the kids up on the 4th.  Thanks oodles to Granny and Grandad for giving us this lovely time together:)

Kicking back in San Antonio

We arrived in San Antonio late in the day on Friday, December 30.  Our hotel was a few blocks off the River Walk, and we set out to see the sights.

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We hadn’t anticipated how heavily crowded the River Walk would be.  Apparently it’s a pretty popular place to visit around New Years.  In the restaurant district, we shuffled along through the thick crowd.  The trees sure were lovely, all lit up and magical!  After a few failed attempts at finding a restaurant, we left the River Walk and got ourselves dinner at Texas de Brazil.  The drinks were good, and the salad bar (and the cheese bread!!!) was so good that I filled up before the meat course.  We were entertained by a crazy aerial “wine angel” who flipped and spun and retrieved wine bottles for lucky patrons (see here for a video I found on YouTube).

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On New Year’s Eve morning, we had breakfast at a wonderful place called The Gunther House.  So glad that Bryan’s mom suggested it for us!

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Our wait for a table was really pleasant as we sipped our coffee in the sunny courtyard and then browsed the restored home and the cute gift shop, full of Texas cookbooks and baking goods.

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I seriously could not get enough of these trees.  They are so beautiful it makes my heart ache.

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After breakfast, we wound our way through the King William Historic District.  So many pretty homes!

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The Riverwalk extends through most of San Antonio, and it seems like it’s become a wonderful way to connect the city and to help people get outdoors.

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One of my main goals for our time in San Antonio was to eat at a restaurant where we’d have guacamole made at our table.  We did this when we visited San Antonio back in 2001 (photos here!), and it made quite an impression.  After a little walking, we stopped at Boudros for some drinks and guac with chips.

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There’s our waiter making me happy with avocados!

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Oh, what a day!

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We wandered down the Riverwalk until we came to a little park where we sat and read for a couple hours.

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Ahh, a day spent walking and eating and reading.  Pretty fun stuff!  Now back to the hotel to change for New Year’s Eve!

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Exploring the Hill Country – by horseback and stream

On Friday, December 30, we woke up early, packed our bags, said farewell to Barron’s Creekside, and drove down to Bandera, Texas for a horseback ride at Dixie Dude Ranch.

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I’d called around, and our trail ride was actually arranged by Marci and Russell Tiner from Cross T Ranch.  They bring their horses to Dixie Dude Ranch and offer rides on their land.

I felt like a kid, I was so excited to see the horses when they pulled up.  I sold Cold Snap back in 2002, and I don’t think I’ve ridden a horse since then.  Made me oh, so happy to be near them!

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I was on a steady, smart thoroughbred named Earl, and Bryan was on a half-Percheron, half-quarter horse named Archie.  They were both sweeties and needed almost nothing from us as riders:)

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We rode for around an hour through scrubby woods and rocky gullies.

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It was windy but sunny and very pleasant.  I’d love to come back and do an overnight ride someday!

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Signs of the longhorns.

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There’s me and Earl!

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After our ride, we drove down toward San Antonio.  On the way, we took a scenic road (thanks to a book we got for Christmas) and stopped at a nice little nature park.

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We wandered down to the stream and saw some beautiful Cypress trees.

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Prickly Pear Cactus grows everyone here in the hill country.  As we drove along, it was as common as thistle is up here in Wisconsin.  So cool!

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During this walk, Bryan and I spied a Scarlet Tanager.  I don’t think I’d ever seen one before, so that was a bit of high for me.  I used some of my iTunes gift money to buy iBird for my phone so I can more quickly ID birds.  Fun fun!

Hill Country, Texas romantic get-away

On Wednesday, December 28, Bryan and I packed our bags, said goodbye to the family, and drove west for a week of vacationing together.  After a stop in Austin for a delicious lunch at Z Tejas, we drove on to Fredricksburg, TX, a beautiful German town in the heart of the Hill Country.

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We stayed in a cabin at a beautiful little resort called Barron’s Creekside.

First thing we did was to stroll around the grounds.

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I love this shadow picture of the two of us!

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The cabins are made of timber from a tabacco barn and the windows and doors and some furnishings are from a home in Switzerland.  The owner, Daniel, is Swiss and splits his time between here and there.

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There’s my handsome sweetie.

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And there’s me, feeling quite relaxed and happy.

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Our cabin was named Wasserfall.  What a wonderful place!

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Our first morning there, Bryan brought me breakfast in bed and then we lazed around and read for half the day.

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We enjoyed some delicious dining in Fredricksburg (the Navajo Grill was super yummy), but my favorite meal was the steaks and mushrooms and asparagus that Bryan made on the grill.  We moved our table out to the porch to eat by white Christmas lights.

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Ahh, and the fire in the fireplace!  So cozy!

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This was one of the best trips we’ve taken together.  We visited Becker Vineyards (bought some port and lavender honey), went to Wild Seed Farms, drove past the very crowded Enchanted Rock State Park, and wandered up and down the adorable shopping street in Fredericksburg.   I loved it here, and highly recommend both the location and also the solo vacationing sans kids!

Hanging out in Texas

After Christmas, Bryan and I spent a couple days hanging out with the family before venturing out on our own vacation.  I thought I’d share some pics from our fun times.  There’s a video at the end of Sylvia playing with an electric car that’s pretty cute.

This is actually on our flight to Texas on the 23rd, but I had to share these pictures because the kids were looking so silly.

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Andrew had a “blue raspberry” lemonade.  He was so proud of his blue tongue!

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After Christmas, Melanie gave us all some new holiday beer toppers.  Reindeer and santa hats:)

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A perfect poker combo.

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Bryan got sick on Christmas Day and he was out of commission most of the 26th, but by the evening of the 27th, he was back in the game…the poker game.

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I don’t know if I can count the number of “tubbies” that Sylvia took while at Granny and Gradad’s.  I’m guessing it’s around 4 per day.

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Bryan and Mark went golfing in the balmy Texas weather.

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Here’s a cute video of Andrew and Sylvia playing with a motorized car.  I like how she gently pats it when it stops and then runs gleefully away.  So cute.

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Christmas day

LuAnn played the piano at the Christmas Day church service this year.  It was so fun to watch and listen to her!  Great carols and hymns:)

When we got home, Sylvia dressed up (outfit #15) into Granny’s Belle costume.  I thought she looked so sweet playing on the piano!

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Our Christmas Dinner was in the evening.  Granny made a beautiful crown pork roast with an amazing cranberry pecan stuffing.  I’ve got to get this recipe.  That stuffing is the stuff that dreams are made of.

Here’s the main course, coming out of the oven…

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What a beauty!

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Oh, yummy, yum, yum.

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And fresh rolls!

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Mark and LuAnn’s friends BJ and David joined us for Christmas Dinner.  They were both a lot of fun!  Note, they are sporting the necklaces Sylvia made:)

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Here’s David and Mark carving the roast.

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Sitting down at the beautiful Christmas table.

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On the outside, looking in…

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Christmas lights from the street.  Sylvia was a bit concerned to know where I was going.  You can just see her head peeking around the open front door.

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“Come in, Mommy!”  She’s jumping up and down:)

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After dinner, Sylvia got to eat some of her gingerbread house for dessert.  Note, it’s become heavily more decorated!

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Thanks, all for a wonderful Christmas feast.

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Christmas morning

On Christmas morning, I woke up around 7 and came out to the living room.  Mark and LuAnn were sipping their coffees, the fireplace candles were lit, and it was all peaceful.  No kids up yet!  So we sat in cozy contentment together, gazing at the now-stuffed stockings, and waited for the young ones to awake.  Andrew came out with salutations of “Feliz Navidad, Granny, Feliz Navidad, Grandad, Feliz Navidad, Mommy!”  Then he snuggled up in my lap and we hung out together for a while.  I mentioned something about Sylvia waking up at some point, and Andrew disappeared.  A sleepy, Sylvie groan came from the bedroom, followed by a more lively waking-up sound.  In a moment, two kids were gazing up at the stockings.

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After we gave the OK for them to go wake up Melanie and Dad, the unwrapping of presents began.  Usually we go around taking turns unwrapping.  This year, the pace was a bit more, uh, frenetic:)

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Sylvia got a Vidia and Rosetta fairy!

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Ooo, new dresses from Aunt Mellie!

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Here’s a video of some of our present-opening:)

Christmas morning

Andrew has been requesting a toy called BeyBlade.  I’d never heard of it before…but his friends at school love them.  After doing a bit of searching, I found out that they are battling tops.  Actually, they’re really fun!  I got Andrew a couple, and we all had fun battling them in their special arena.

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Each top is a little different (these two are called Galaxy Pegasus and the Meteo L-Drago).  I think the object of the game is that the last top spinning is the winner.

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Fun to spend Christmas Day together, playing with toys and eating lots (and lots) of fudge:)

Christmas Eve frolic

On Christmas Eve, Grandad put together a really fun scavenger hunt for all us kids.  I spent a quiet December morning putting together the videos that Granny shot with the photos I took to make this Scavenger Hunt video.

After the prizes were uncovered (the traditional Christmas Eve pajamas), the kids were full of excitement and glee, and they danced together around and around and around.

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Then they went to the kitchen to get some cookies and milk for Santa.

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And then they gamboled together again.

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Oh those two…they really crack me up!

Here’s my favorite picture from Christmas.

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And a quick posed photo (with the obligatory sibling-neck-squeeze) in front of the fire place.

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Ahh the excitement of being a kid on Christmas Eve.  It doesn’t get much better than that!