One MILLION dollars. Mwa ha ha ha ha ha!

Hey you. It's been a while, hasn't it? Good to see you again. I hope all is well. Things are going pretty well at Casa de Austin. I don't have a lot of pictures -well that's a lie, I have a lot of pictures, just not resized and on the web server yet- so this is just an update for those regular readers who can't live another second without hearing about our little clan and the minutiae that is our day to day lives. I know, I know, the gleaming beacon of hope has returned. I hope you leave today sated and ready for a nap.

The big news, Mrs. Austin's Bridal Expo experience was well worth the price of admission. She made three bookings over the two days plus -I believe- three more after the fact from people that came by. Mrs. Austin is a natural sales person. I don't mean smarmy, greasy vacuum sales type of thing. She just excels at opening up to clients and contemporaries and giving them all the information available about the product. She makes them feel smart and excited without being pressured. And she is genuinely excited about what she's doing, which makes the product seem more enticing. It's not like going to 7-11 to get a pack of smokes, the clerk could care less if you bought that or a Slim Jim. Mr. IG -Mrs. A's brother- noted that watching her at the Expo was like watching something as close to its natural environment as possible. A fish to water, if you pardon the pedestrian cliché.

So she did very well and was thoroughly exhausted when it was over. But she wasn't completely done. She had to come photograph my company's yearly kick off event.

For the past 5 months, ever since I came over to my new company, I've been the resident graphic design/creative genius. First off, and I'm not trying to be humble here, but I in no way claim any title not afforded me by an institution of higher learning or a man behind the curtain. That being said, with a company as small as mine -120 employees, most of whom are traders- when you find someone with any level of artistic expertise, you want to use them. From the company's point of view, it's a cost saving method. They don't have to pay anyone for it and they have more control.

So last month I did a poster based on the company's theme of Back to the Future. It was a lame ol' graphic trick of finding a bunch of photos online and pasting them with some clever text into an image. I'm not proud of it, but there it is. After that I was tapped with the unofficial moniker of Event Coordinator for the next year's theme; High Rollers.

With the popularity of poker reaching a height not seen in my lifetime, the company decided that the 2005 theme would be gambling, card playing, poker. (Ironically enough, the day trading business has always been dubiously paralleled with gambling. This would be akin to an acrophobe jumping out of a plane.) Long and short of it, there would be a media blitz, internally of course, culminating in an yearly kick-off event. This would involve an additional internal web site, posters, a big sign, a poker vendor to host a night of gambling, prizes, food and a skit performed by the higher ups. I wrote the script, created posters, recreated our company logo, bought all the gifts and hired my wife to take pictures of the event.

Taking pictures of people playing poker? How droll, you may say. Well, our Chairman -and owner I believe- had a surprise up his sleeve that he didn't tell to a soul. All he wanted was a photographer and a backdrop and sign, but couldn't say more than that.

So when two armed guards walked in with a bag, we knew something was up.

After the skit, the owner said that it's hard to envision all the goals they've set as a company. It's difficult to get a mental picture of what kind of rewards would wait for us at the end of the year. That's why he brought in...


...and let everyone take a picture with it. Talk about ballsy and something to create incentive. We have pictures of it, and I'll post the one with me later. It'll be the only time in my life, I'm fairly certain, that I will be that close to that much money. Sad that it wasn't mine, but all the same it was pretty cool.

The kids are continuing to develop. Pilgrim can sit up on his own, stand up with the help of a small table or chair. He's taking his cue for LMA about getting lippy and loves to chatter. It’s nothing intelligible yet, but very close. It's like a dog that sounds like it's saying 'I love you' when in fact it's trying to loose that peanut butter from the roof of its mouth. His anthropomorphic phrase is, "I want my mama." It's cute, but it's gibberish. He's also got three teeth coming that have broken through their gummy prison.

Lil Miss Austin. Wow. How do you quantify this child? Just like any child I would guess. She's almost four, yet still has potty accidents. She is sweet and kind and loves playing with her brother, yet throws a tantrum when you don't give her a car cup with milk. She loves going to the coffee place, but never eats anything. She's an enigma wrapped in a three-foot body. Sometimes she's smarter than I give her credit for, other times I have to remember she's a little kid, not quite just a kid. Oh, yeah, and she cut of most of her hair. Remember that long hair she had? Gone. It was really quiet one day and when we finally found what she was doing, the bathroom was covered in hair. It's gone from mid back to just about the shoulders now after Mrs. A's valiant recovery efforts, but there's still a patch of bangs that just has to grow out. I had to laugh, Mrs. A had to cry.

Pictures soon, promise.