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Torrey Gazette is the combined work of everyday Christians blogging on books, family, art, and theology. So pull up a seat and join us. Family Table rules apply. Shouting is totally acceptable.

Family Interview - with Pictures

Family Interview - with Pictures

 What a whirlwind adventure we've had throughout the summer! Thanks to Jamie Martin and Sarah MacKenzie our family has been reading around the world. Jamie's book, Give Your Child the World is an exceptional resource, I highly recommend it. As our last venture, we are inviting everyone into our corner of the world. Participants in the book club are answering the following questions, take a gander into our hometown and then check out some of their cities! 

Tell us about your family.

Our growing family consists of Mom (me, Alaina), Dad (Joshua), three kiddos (Kenzie, Judah, Olivia) and a baby growing in utero! We enjoy being outside (this summer Nana gifted us with a trampoline), playing games, reading books, and taking walks.

 
The five of us last year visiting the Texas State Capital.

The five of us last year visiting the Texas State Capital.

 

Tell us about where you live and how long you’ve lived there.

We live in Austin, TX and love our city! All three kiddos were born here, as was I, but Joshua wins the prize for having lived in the city longest (his family moved here when he was very young whereas my family moved away when I was young!). Joshua and I met in Austin, married here, moved away for a couple years to finish up some schooling but then hurried back and have been here together for seven years.

What do you think is unique and special about living where you do?

 Austin sits on the edge of the hill country, and boasts beautiful (albeit dry) landscapes of rivers, trees, limestone caves, and hills, of course. Texas as well is geographically versatile with beaches, swamps, forests, hills, desert-like plains, mountains, and the panhandle which sometimes gets snow. People from all over the world live here, coming to work in the high-tech industry or attend university. We love the diversity that can be witnessed here of God’s creation, both in nature and in people.

Olivia, playing in the surf & sand at Galveston's Jamaica Beach.

Olivia, playing in the surf & sand at Galveston's Jamaica Beach.

Kenzie, scaling the limestone cliffs in Zilker Park, downtown Austin.

Kenzie, scaling the limestone cliffs in Zilker Park, downtown Austin.

What languages are spoken there? If it’s different from English, can you help us learn a few common phrases?

We speak English here, although some will say “Texan” is a dialect of English in its own right! Conjunctions such as “y’all” are common, as are colloquial phrases like “fixin’to” (meaning we are about to do something).

What are some traditional foods there?

 The food is the BEST part of Texas! We love our “Tex-Mex” a wonderful, spicy take on traditional Mexican cuisine. Fresh fruits and veggies abound and are relatively affordable, we eat avocados year round and enjoy an extended summer of the best peaches anywhere. In Austin, a culture of food trailers brings a wide variety of food to the city - nearly any type of food can be found, made to order and eaten straight from the “kitchen”. BBQ is also a staple of Texas food, with gigantic pits smoking meats for days on end and filling the air with delicious scents.

Fresh fruit platter made for a New Year's Eve party last year.

Fresh fruit platter made for a New Year's Eve party last year.

Homemade Guacamole, Queso, and Salsa. Which I could eat ad nauseum.

Homemade Guacamole, Queso, and Salsa. Which I could eat ad nauseum.

Tell us about the climate where you live.

 Texas is hot. Essentially, we experience two seasons: Summer and a timid Winter. Temperatures of 40-60 degrees F will fluctuate between late December and early February, but most of the months are warm. As early as May temps rise to the high 90’s with 100+ degrees being common from June through early September.

What does school look like for the majority of kids where you live?

 Many Texans attend public school. Sports play an important role in the society at large, with High School football being a physical/social cornerstone of relationships for many youth. In Austin there are both public and private schools as well as an exceptionally large contingent of homeschoolers. Community colleges in Texas accept homeschool students at age 15, and Texas, in general, has very few restrictions upon or requirements for homeschool families.

What does school look like for your family?

 While we plan on homeschooling, our oldest is 4, so our schooling looks quite a bit like playing. We read books together and have started some chapter books during afternoon snack (Treasure Island at present). In the evenings our family is learning the songs that we sing in our church service and memorizing questions from the Heidelberg Catechism. Other than that, we are out enjoying nature and one another!

Kenzie & Judah digging for dinosaur bones at the Austin Nature & Science Center - a free resource here in the city. 

Kenzie & Judah digging for dinosaur bones at the Austin Nature & Science Center - a free resource here in the city. 

Olivia & Kenzie drawing with chalk in our backyard, practicing those fine motor skills!

Olivia & Kenzie drawing with chalk in our backyard, practicing those fine motor skills!

Are there any special festivals or traditions you’d like to tell us about related to where you live?

 Many families in Texas have close ties to Mexico, our neighbor to the south. As a state we celebrate Cinco de Mayo, the Fifth of May – Mexico’s Independence Day. In Austin, Dios de las Muertas (the "Day of the Dead") is also celebrated, which includes a parade downtown and a variety of costumes.

One thing I love about Austin, again, is its eclectic nature. Being the "Live Music Capital of the World", Austin hosts two large music festivals each year, SXSW and ACL. On a more local level, two million Mexican Free Tail Bats reside under a downtown bridge, and each year "BatFest" and "Night of the Bat" celebrate their nearly hour and a half long emergence with live music, arts and crafts, and costumes. There are yearly Dragon Boat races on the lake presented by the American Chinese population. Various Octoberfest celebrations are held throughout surrounding towns (nearby cities were settled by German-Americans in the mid-1800's). We also celebrate March 2nd, Texas’ Independence Day which commemorates Texas’ independence from Mexico and its formation as a sovereign nation. Essentially, we all like a reason to get together and be festive.

If you ever had to move away from where you live, what do you think you’d miss most?

Everything! Probably the food and the vastness. Although boasting some of the largest cities in the country, it takes less than an hour to travel from any downtown and be immersed in the wide skies and open country that is the hallmark of our home.

 Do you have a favorite book that takes place in your region/country?

$6.99

The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tommie De Paola is a favorite of ours – the Bluebonnet is our state flower and in the springtime bluebonnets cover the state.

Judah, lounging in a field of Bluebonnets (and Indian Paintbrushes). It's pretty much tradition to take yearly "bluebonnet pictures" here!

Judah, lounging in a field of Bluebonnets (and Indian Paintbrushes). It's pretty much tradition to take yearly "bluebonnet pictures" here!

 
The Empty Spot At The Rail

The Empty Spot At The Rail

Go Team USA!

Go Team USA!