Matt Maher Bachelor Party

Some good guys got together and headed up to Camp Tepeyac in Prescott, AZ, to celebrate Matt’s bachelor party a week before his wedding. The highlight of the trip was a ruthless day of paint ball. To be clear, the only real marksman out there were Bart the Army Ranger, and Ennie and Paul, two Southern boys who hunt. The rest of us made it up as we went along.

Being so high in the mountains gave me a preview of autumn. At night it was in the low 60s, maybe in the 50s. It felt good to put on a jacket in September.

The Summer’s Last Trip to San Diego

Here are photos from our vacation in San Diego. It was a blast to get away for one last family adventure before I’m pulled back into graduate school.

Oh…and by the way, we returned home with lots of household drama:

  • Broken cell phone
  • Broken pool pump
  • Dying fridge
  • Leaking A/C that warped my family room floor.

This isn’t what I wanted to come home to. But I’ve been trying to keep it all in perspective and not get too worked up. Unfortunately, fixing all these problems costs lots of money. Money that I’d rather be spending on cool stuff like monster trucks and Van Halen memorabilia.

The Smith Family Goes to H-Town

We just got back from a 5-day trip to Houston, Texas. I had two responsibilities when I was there: speaking at the Archdiocesan Youth Conference in downtown Houston and then filming in The Woodlands out in the ‘burbs.

Highlights from the trip:

  1. The Hotel. Our view of the Houston Skyline from the Hilton was gorgeous. Other perks were the top floor pool and complimentary car service. Across the street was a beautiful city park called Discovery Green where Norah could be entertained by the splash pads and the mega-playground. Plus we ate at the park’s two Dwell-like restaurants: The Grove and The Lake House.
  2. Downtown Living. It was fun to explore the city to see what it would be like to live there. We did the whole deal: museums, cafes, shops, and parks. You can see from the photos below that it’s a beautiful downtown that feels older than most people would have guessed. Like many Western cities, unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of residents downtown. Lots of buildings, not many people.
  3. Norah speaks. Norah’s vocabulary and enunciation seems to have improved in the past couple of weeks. She now calls me Dah-Deee! instead of Dah-Dah. She now refers to herself as Nah-Nah whenever she needs something. Every time the train passed by us in downtown Houston, Norah would tap her chest with her little hand and say Nah-Nah to let us know that she really wanted to ride the train. It’s adorable. Another cute one: hmmm has become shyesh (yes). These little words just fill me with joy like you can’t even imagine.
  4. Lovely Woodlands. Seriously, if you have to plan a suburb, do it like The Woodlands. All big retail stores and their parking lots are hidden from the main streets with a 100-foot deep band of forest. Signs are low to the ground and not tacky. Plus they have a newly built downtown that should have been featured in my previous blog series called Suburban Shopping that Doesn’t Suck. (Read it: Part 1, 2, and 3.) I could go on about the details, but the end result is a suburb that doesn’t feel like a generic suburb. It feels like a charming forest.

Right now I am at the courthouse in downtown Phoenix because I’ve been summoned for jury duty. I’ve postponed this whole deal three times now because of big responsibilities with school, family, and work. But now it’s my time to come and do my duty. So far, I’ve just checked in and nobody has spoken to me since. I’m glad I brought my laptop so I can distract myself from the celebrity gossip that’s booming out of the television that’s strapped to the wall.

Here are photos from the trip:

Two Photos, Two Steubenville Conferences

This summer I made two trips across the country to speak at Steubenville Conferences for teenagers. If my phone had a better camera, I would take a photo from stage into the two groups of 2000 teenagers. But since I have an average phone camera, I snapped these two photos outside where it was bright under the summer sun.

Market Street near my hotel and the Palm Beach Convention Center in Florida. Saturday June 19, 2010

View from my hotel window. Rochester, Minnesota. Saturday, July 17, 2010