Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Two years ago today at Legoland

Dec. 31, 2011, Legoland, Calif.
Two years ago today, we spent New Years Eve at Legoland in Carlsbad, Calif.!

Earlier that month, I had moved from Encinitas to Palmdale but still had stuff left in a storage shed back in San Diego. So, I figured I could do things at once: Pick up some stuff from the shed (about five totes fit in the car - two in the trunk, two in the back seat crammed next to you, and one in the front passenger set); and make a fun day of it for you at Legoland. I remember telling you it would be a long trip, but if you were good, I'd give you a big reward! And you were good!

While we had fun at Legoland, it was cool and cloudy, so that limited us from going on some of the water rides. There also was a heavy fog that evening, which  diminished the ability to see the fireworks, though they still were neat - we wore 3D glasses that turned the lights into Lego Bricks!

Here's some pictures from our day together!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Our day together on Dec. 28, 2013

Scooby Doo video game you played.
I so enjoyed our time together on Saturday (Dec. 28, 2013), Kieran! We had lots of fun hanging out at Grandma and Grandpa's playing games and enjoying one another's company.

You also got to meet Aunt Sandy and Uncle Mark, who you hadn't seen since you were an infant. They gave you $10 in half-dollar coins, a snow owl Christmas ornment, and a rocking horse ornament that I squirrled for our own tree when we get our own house!

Among the many games we played (some with Bryan and Rebekah) were: Monopoly Empire, Hi-Ho-Cherry-O, Don't Rock the Boat, Clue, and Life. You also played some Scoooby Doo video games on my compter.

At the end of the day, we went to the Dollar Tree and got some NFL stickers, NBA stickers, an FBI playset, football cards, glue and Scotch tape. We finished the evening with a meal at McDonalds!

I can't wait to see you again!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Visiting Museum of Man in San Diego

Playing in the Egypt chuldren's section
at the Museum of Man, Dec. 29, 2011.
Two years today, we visited the Museum of Man in San Diego's Balboa Park. This would mark your last visit to the museum.

I needed to drive to San Diego to pick up my last paycheck from my former employer (I edited magaines in San Diego but then left to start my own editing business). Since you were on Christmas break from preschool, you went with me from Palmdale for the long trip there and back.

You said you wanted to visit the Museum of Man (one of your favorite spots), and as I knew I wouldn't be going back to San Diego much since I'd moved to Palmdale, I figured going there again would be a great idea.

Here's a whole bunch of pictures from our visit.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Remember going to the snowy mountains?

Dec. 28, 2010
Three years ago today, we drove up into the back range of the San Gabriel Mountains and enjoyed some snow!

While temperatures on the desert floor were comfortable in the 40s and 50s (At the time, we lived in the green house in Lancaster, Calif.), a mile up on the mountain tops, snow fell rather than rain. So when the weather cleared up there, we drove up to find several feet of snow, blue skies, and temps in the 20s!

I had bought a blue sled for us, and we went sliding down the Pacific Crest trail near Big Pine, Calif. What is funny is we went hiking there just a few months before!

Here are some photos from our adventure!

Friday, December 27, 2013

'Luke, how did you get up there?'

McDonald's in Acton, Calif.
You might remember on Christmas Day I told you the story of how we always used to joke about the horse that was atop a McDonald's in Acton, Calif.

When you were 4 years old, if we drove by the McDonald's, you'd say, 'Luke, how did you get up there? Not again!' as pretending to be Sheriff Jack, one of our Old West cowboys (I always was Sheriff Jack's sidekick, "The Deputy"). Luke was Sheriff Jack's trusty horse (You even had a horse that you named Luke in your set of cowboy figures.).

Playing the Deputy, I'd suggest all kinds of crazy ways of getting Luke down, like "We could get a crane and lift him down" or "We could fly one of them newfangled air balloons over the McDonald's and lift him down" or "We could divert the river and flood the whole town so that Luke could swim down from the roof."

Anyway, here's a picture of that famous Old West-themed McDonald's with Luke the horse atop it!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Day 2013 together

I had so much fun with you at Christmas yesterday, Kieran!

You got a ton of presents. Your favorites, you said, were the Matt Flynn Oakland Raiders jersey (which you wore the rest of the day), the Lego sets (you received a police/robber/ATM set and a Star Wars set), and the Imaginext Eagle Talon castle!

You also gave me your first gifts ever for Christmas - a star ornament and a holiday picture frame, both of which you made in school. I shall place the star ornament on top of our Christmas tree forevermore!

Here are a whole bunch of pictures from our day together!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Photos from Christmases past

Merry Christmas, Kieran! I am looking forward to spending the day with you and making great memories that will last the rest of our lives!

Here are pictures from our previous Christmases together:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Dragon Happy Meal toys

Do you remember all of your plastic dragon toys? They were picked up at McDonalds in Happy Meals, distributed during the movie "How to Train Your Dragon" in April 2010.

We had most of them - there were a couple that for whatever reason we never got - and in a few cases (especially Night Fury and R.D.) we had multiples of them! We seemed to use the dragons in quite a lot of our play. Most often they were part of our knights and castle play, but sometimes they were bad guys in our adventures with Star Wars or superhero action figures.

I thought of the dragon toys because a sequel to the movie is coming out next summer. I wonder if Mcdonalds will release another set of them for us to collect?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Our similar haircuts at Christmastime!

I found this really old photo of me in one of Grandma Bignell's photo albums and was struck by how similar our hair styles are! This photo was taken in the early 1970s, probably when I was in seond or third grade. I guess my mom decided I needed a really short haircut, too!

Anyway, we're at my Auntie-I and George's, my great aunt and uncle, who raised Grandma Bignell when she was a teenager. Their house was in rural Fall Creek, Wis., and this is their living room at around Christmas time, I remember that Uncle Chris (the littlest boy in the photo; my back is to the camera) received the black puppy dog toy for a Christmas gift. It could be wound up and then would move, bark, and wag its tail!

The photo is a bit aged, because the carpeting in their living room was a pale pink, and here it looks orange. Years later, when they replaced the carpet, my parents put it in my bedroom, because I only had a wooden floor in it!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A new drawing book for you

Earlier this week at the library I checked out for you a kid's book about drawing. I'm going to photocopy it and give it to you on one of your upcoming visits.

I've noticed during our last few visits that you've taken an interest in drawing, boldly trying to copy - without tracing - scenes from books. You appeared to enjoy the challenge, and I might add that for a six-year-old, were quite good at it!

I've always tried to encourage your interest in art by having paints, colored pencils, colors, markers and Play-Doh available, as well as scissors and glue to make collages. I also took you to a few art museums.

Perhaps the book will be too advanced, perhaps for you this is just a passing fancy. But I think you'll find drawing very satisfying in both the challenge of creating something and in the meditative pleasure it brings.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

One year ago today: Christmas presents!

One year ago today we spent the day together opening Christmas presents!

Among the many presents you received were a Go Fish card game, tub of Legos, Imaginext superhero action figures (including CatWoman), PlayDoh, U.S. puzzle map, Transformers, and Hot Wheels cars. You took most of the gifts back to your mother's place, though I kept a couple for our next visit.

I wonder what you'll receive this year for Christmas?

Here's a whole bunch of photos of our time together!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Attending your Christmas program

Dec. 19, 2013
I enjoyed attending your school's Christmas program last night, Kieran! You and your schoolmates sang very beautifully!

Getting to talk with you after the program in your classroom also was a lot of fun. I'm so glad you showed me around the room and some of the projects you worked on!

Hopefully during the weeks and months ahead, I'll be able to attend more of your school events and get to enjoy finding out about all the great work that you're doing in class!

Here are a few pictures I took of the program.

P.S. Congratulations on your great work on the Brazil booklet!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Remember playing Hi-Ho Cherry-O?

Do you remember your game Hi-Ho Cherry-O? I got it for you while I lived in Encinitas.

The game involved spinning to see how many fruits you would "pick" from a tree and place in your basket. You could choose from cherries,blueberries, oranges or apples to pick.

You always had to be careful to not spin the dog. He would tip over your basket,and you;d have to start picking fruit all over again!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Recall our gem trail hiking guidebook?

Do you remember the gem trail book that I used to have? I often used it to plan hiking trips for us where we could find fossils and cool rocks in Southern California.

Though the book was borrowed from the library, I photocopied a number of the pages, and read it quite a lot, so it sat prominently on my desk.

I remember when we once hiked Red Rock Canyon State Park in the Mojave Desert, and while we we were in the gift shop, you saw it on the bookshelf and said, "Hey, we have that book!" So I wonder if you still remember it today...

I think that day I got you stuffie at the gift store, though I can't remember if it was a bat, a road runner, or a songbird. Anyway, there are lots of photo albums on my Facebook site of our gem and fossil trail hikes, and I will show them to you one day (as well as some of the rocks that we'd collected!).

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Four years ago today in Disneyland

Dec. 17, 2009, at Disneyland.
Four years ago today, we spent the day in Disneyland! It was my birthday!

I remember you being very impressed with all of the Christmas decorations at Disneyland, especially those on Main Street USA and the big Christmas tree at the center. At the time, you favorite ride was the carousel, so we went on that right away, as well as the teacups, which you also liked a lot!

We also spent a fair amount of time in Toontown, where you got to meet Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. You were just 2 years 10 months old, and cute as all heck!

Here's a whole bunch of pictures of our trip together!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Pictures of us when we were 6 years old

On my Facebook page I recently posted a retro photo of myself - my first grade picture, taken in autumn 1972 for my elementary school picture. I was 6-3/4 years old.

I posted the retro picture because my cover photo is of you ... from autumn 2013 during our visits, when you were 6-1/2 years old.

We look a lot alike - even have the same early Beatles mop top hair cuts, don't we?

When I was six, I lived on a small farm east of Elmwood, Wis. I attended Elmwood Elementary School. My first grade teacher's name was Mrs. Rhiel. I shared a room with my brother, and the room was turquoise,. My favorite football teams were the Miami Dolphins and the Green Bay Packers! I loved to watch Star Trek, and would catch each weekday after school from 4 to 5 pm on WKBT-TV out of La Crosse, Wis. My best friend in school was Ronald Wolfe. When my parents went out for the evening, usually our next door neighbor, whose name was Hazel, babysat us.

I am very proud of you and love you more than anything, Kieran!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Our day at Action City in Eau Claire

I had so much fun with you yesterday, Kieran! We spent most of the day at Action City in Eau Claire and then came back to Grandma and Grandpa Bignells for birthday cake!

At Action City, you started the day with some racing video games. I was impressed by your driving - you definitely drive aggressively like a Bignell!

Then we went on the bumper cars and after that to the gocart racing track. We got first place on the the gocart racing, making a great move at the end that sped us from second to first place!

We must have spent an hour on the Terminator video game. I think you got ripped off, because when I used your machine gun, it didn't fire all of the time. When you used the machine gun I had through most of the game, you scored "Elite" and won!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Cool new Star Trek Hot Wheels cars!

Last night I found a new toy that I'm certain to buy for you in 2014: Star Trek Hot Wheels vehicles!

They're little trucks and cars that have one of the five major "Star Trek: The Original Series" characters on each vehicle: Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, and Sulu. Here's an article about the Hot Wheels cars.

You've always liked Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. I remember you picking one out each time we went shopping at Wal-Mart, Target or Albertson's supermarket when you were only two years old!

I don't quite know when the Star Trek Hot Wheels come out, but I'll be looking for them!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Recall 'Luke Skywaker's Amazing Story'?

Our discussion this past weekend of you wanting books to read at your mother's place got me thinking of all of the great books you once had. You probably had close to a hundred of them at the green house in Lancaster.

Then when I went to the book store to purchase a bunch of them for you, I began to wonder if I should rebuy some of those books for you or go for totally new ones?

Anyway, one of the books you had - and one I couldn't find! - was "Luke Skywaker's Amazing Story". About half of the book came from "Star Wars IV: A New Hope", and the other half was a mix of the highlights from the two movies that came after.

You absolutely loved the book! You'd have me read it to you night after night as a bedtime story, and the pictures kept you in rapt attention.

I think if I can find this book somewhere, I will purchase it for you, just for old time's sake!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Finger lights to search for monsters!

I bet your remember the cool finger lights we had when at the condo in Palmdale! They came in three colors - red, green and blue - and could be worn on your fingers with a little elastic band that held them in place.

The condo was perfect for the finger lights because even during the day as two back bathrooms were dark enough that we could sneak into them, pretending to search for monsters. Of course, they were even better at night when almost every room could be dark!

You liked to play so much with the finger lights that you actually drove me crazy! I'd have to break up the pay with other activities.

When we moved back to Minnesota/Wisconsin, I got some new finger lights that you, Bryan and Rebekah played with at Grandma and Grandpa's house!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Two years ago today: Our day at Legoland

Two years ago today, we spent the day at Legoland!

It was Christmastime, so Legoland was decked out for the season. I remember looking at all of the displays of famous landmarks made from Legos and how they were decorated with Christmas touches, like wreaths on the "doors."

You also got to meet Santa Claus, who was in the shape of a Lego character. The temps were a little cool for San Diego this time of year, so we had to wear pants and hooded sweatshirts to stay warm.

Here's a whole bunch of pictures from our visit!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Three years ago today at 'cowboy museum'

Playing in the Chinese resturant at "the cowboy museum,"
Dec. 10, 2011.
Three years today we visited the Autry National Center of the American West - or what you liked to call "the cowboy museum"!

At first, I didn't think you'd like going to the cowboy museum, as it would be too formal. But you were enamored by the Old West paintings - and even more taken by the cool Hollywood Old West sound stage and the great kids area in the basement.

The kids area included a typical California house from the 1930s and a Chinese restaurant from that period in Los Angeles. We played a lot in both places - in the latter one, you would cook me a meal and be my waiter while I was the customer!

Here's a whole bunch of pictures from our trip!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Photocopied football book for you!

One of the books we checked out from the Menomonie Library that you were unable to take to your mother's place was "Successful Sports: Football." It seemed to be the book you were most interested in when we stopped at Dairy Queen and then went back to Grandma and Grandpa's to make our football game.

Well, I photocopied the book and stapled the pages together for you so that you can read it whenever you like! I will give it to you when we next get together on Saturday.

I must admit that the book brought back some memories for me. It was published in 1997 and so had photos of great players from the 1990s, like Jerry Rice, Troy Aikman, and Deion Sanders!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Your Scooby Doo action figure

Do you remember your Scooby Doo action figures? One of them was Scooby Doo, and his legs and head moved so he could be in different positions. Best of all, you could press a cutton on the back of his neck, and his eyes would pop out!

You were really into Scooby Doo as a preschooler, always watching the DVDs I had of the show. If I recall correctly, the one episode you liked to watch the most was "What a Night for Knight".

The Scooby Doo came with a package of the entire gang. We actually had another Scooby, as he and Shaggy also came with the Mystery Van we purchased.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Recall your I Can Do That! card game?

Do you rmember your I Can Do That! card game? It was a Dr. Seuss game in which you had to draw three cards and do silly things, just like the Cat in the Hat would.

If you succeeded in doing the task, such as "Take giant steps around a chair with the fish under your right arm," you got to keep the cards. Whoever had the most cards at the end of the game won. But the fun of the game was in doing the silly stuff rather than trying to win!

When I told Grandma Bignell about the game and how much fun we had playing it, she bought one for your cousin Rebekah. Fortunately, you got to play it with your cousins Rebekah and Bryan and me during a visit to Grandma and Grandpa Bignells in December 2013!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Your Kai-Adi-Mindi action figure

Do you remember your Kai-Adi-Mindi action figure? He appeared in the first three Star Wars movies and for whatever reason was one of your favorite action figures to play with when a preschooler.

Usually with just a few facts, I can figure out exactly why you like or dislike something. Our psychologies are pretty similar. But you always stumped me on Kai-Adi-Mundi!

Still, the mystery of not knowing is one of the great pleasures of being a parent. It means you are a unique person with thoughts and beliefs all your own, and I take great joy in discovering what they are!

I still have the Kai-Adi-Mundi action figure and will give it back to you. He is missing his hands, though! Here is an online entry about Ki-Adi-Mundi and his life!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Remember Star Wars' pop-up book?

When visiting bookstores as a preschooler with me, one of the Star Wars books you often enjoyed looking at was "Star Wars: A Pop-up Guide to the Galaxy." In fact, I think we got a copy of the book at the library in Lancaster, Calif.

With each page were several illustrations that popped up and flaps that could be pulled to create scenes from the various Star Wars movies. Among them was the cantina from "A New Hope"; it as so elaborate that it almost looked like a mini playset!

Another scene had the big battle between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker from "Return of the Jedi." Sometimes you'd like to take the two characters and have a light lightsaber battle between them!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Two years ago today: Aboard USS Midway

Trying on aviator goggles
 in the USS Midway gift store.
Two years ago today we toured one of your favorite places to go in San Diego: The USS Midway aircraft carrier.

We began the tour with a walk through the ship's brig and then the engine room. I have some neat pictures of you looking into the ship's boilers.

Then we went up to the deck where the airplanes are worked on (when the ship was in operation, of course), and you got to play around in the aircraft cockpits they set up for kids. Then we went to the conning tower (I may have the term wrong) and played in the ship's command center and visited the ship's "captain."

Here's a whole bunch of pictures from our adventure!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Two years today: In Disneyland

Two years ago today, we spent the day in Disneyland!

Unfortunately, I don't have too many photos from that weekend - sometimes my batteries ran out of power, and my camera has seen better days. But I did get one nice shot of you, wearing a Nightmare Before Christmas hat!

I do recall that we went into the haunted mansion for the Nightmare Before Christmas ride during the weekend!

Here's a whole bunch of photos from our trips during that Christmas season!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Recall your mini Disney lightsabers?

On Saturday when you took some of your Star Wars action figures with you, I got to thinking about all of the great toys from that series you've owned over the years. Certainly one of your favorites were the mini lightsabers we picked up at Disneyland.

There were four of them, each a different color, if I recall correctly - green for Yoda, purple for Mace Windu, red for Darth Vader, and blue for Obi-Wan Kenobi. Sometimes they'd break when playing with them, but they were pretty sturdy!

I'll also remember you having imaginary battles with them in the truck/car as we drove between places! Sometimes you'd say lines from the movie as going through the motions!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

At Grandma's and Grandpa's on Saturday

Decorating the Christmas tree, Nov. 30, 2013.
I had so much fun with you on Saturday, Kieran! We spent the day at Grandma and Grandpa Bignell's!

The day started with us putting stickers in our NFL sticker books and then enjoying a nice ham dinner that Grandma made. Then we played games with your cousins Bryan and Rebekah; the games includeed Clue and the Dr. Seuss game.

Then we took a drive into town; you got to see the elementary school I went to, we visited the library to get books, I showed you my old high school, and then we went to Dairy Queen for ice cream.

When we got back to Grandma and Grandpa's, we made a cool football game. Oh, and how could I forget - you got help decorate the Christmas tree earlier, right after lunch!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Our set of 101 cookie cutters

Do you remember our set of 101 cookie cutters? They were plastic, and we picked them up at Walmart then used them to make sugar cookies for just about every holiday and season!

Christmas by far was the most popular time, with us usually making a couple of different batches during the holidays. Our cookie cutters included Christmas trees, gingerbread men, bells, candy canes, snowmen and stockings.

We also made cookies at Halloween (ghost, haunted house, bat, black cat, pumpkins), Easter (duckies, cross, Easter bunny, Easter egg), and Valentine's Day (three sets of hearts). Letters also came with the set so I could spell out our names!

I usually mixed and match them for different seasons; for example we the footprint, the moon (for the sun) and the fish for going to the beach! I love you and miss making cookies with you!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Your Radio Flyer Retro Rocket toy

Do you remember your Radio Flyer Retro Rocket toy? I actually bought it for you before you were born because I thought it was such a cool toy that you'd love!

And I was right, if I do say so myself! You would sit on it and push the buttons that played a countdown and made swooshing sounds. The seat also lifted, and sometimes you'd stick action figures, crayons, and other small toys in there!

You soon outgrew the toy, which was meant for toddlers (Your legs were too long to comfortably sit on it or push it around), but I kept it in my office as a decoration!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

View-master reels about Redwood Hwy.

Yesterday I wrote a trail guide summary about the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias in Yosemite National Park. It's the location of a giant tree that had a tunnel carved through it so people could say they drove through a tree! I remember that well because as a child I had a View-master reel about the national parks, and one of the pictures showed the tree. I always thought going there would be very cool!

That got me to thinking about you. Why? Because I once found a View-master reel set about the Redwood Highway, which included a picture of Crescent City, Calif., where you lived as a baby (You were born just off the highway in Eureka, Calif.). I bought it and stored it in a tote, hoping to give it to you one day.

In all of the moving around last year, I don't know if I still have it, though. I am very sad when I think about it possibly being lost. Soon, though, I will unpack all of that stuff and look to see if I have it. If not, I somehow shall find it online!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Two years ago today at Legoland

Legoland, Nov. 27, 2011.
Two years ago today we spent the day at Legoland enjoying their Christmas celebrations. It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and you'd been with me for quite a fun weekend since Thursday morning.

The highlight was a great play area made of artificial snow! We got to throw snowballs, make snowmen (with Lego pieces for the nose/eyes, of course) and then go sliding down a little snow hill.

What was really great is that it was 72 degrees and sunny that day! So you were playing in shorts and T-shirt in the snow! I bright along gloves, though, so your hands wouldn't get cold!

Here's a whole bunch of pictures from our adventure!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Remember the Star Wars exhibit in Santa Ana?

Two years ago today, we visited the Star Wars exhibit at the California Science Museum in Santa Ana, Calif. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, so we drove up from Encinitas (You'd been with me since Thursday morning).

The exhibit included a cool mock-up of The Millennium Falcon in which we got to be in the cockpot where Han Solo and Chewbacca sit and watch a movie about space, and then a whole room full of cool stuff from the various Star Wars movies.

Afterward, we went through the rest of the museum, which included a hockey section and a recycling game near the grocery store area. When we finished early, since we were only about eight minutes drive away, I said, "Hey, we're really close - do you want to go to Disney?" You said, "Yeah!" so we spent the afternoon and early evening there.

Here's a whole bunch of pictures from our trip!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Two years ago today in Disneyland

Nov. 25, 2011, Disneyland
Two years today, we spent the day in Disneyland! It was the Friday after Thanksgiving.

The day before (on Thanksgiving), I'd driven all the way up from Encinitas to Palmdale to pick you up, and we enjoyed a meal at Marie Callenders in Moreno Valley before arriving at my place outside of San Diego for the evening. I had the turkey special, but you enjoyed a hamburger and fries!

The next morning, we drove up to Disneyland to enjoy it for the Christmas holidays. I think we stopped at Ruby's Diner in Carlsbad on the way up there, but I might have that mixed up with something else.

Anyways, I remember one of the highlights is that you were fascinated by the Disneyland Christmas tree. And the It's a Small World ride was decked out as well with Christmas decorations!

Here's a whole bunch of photos from our day!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cowboys and Indians character toys

Do you remember the cowboys and Indians playset that you had in spring 2011? They were small and plastic like green Army guys.

You were really big into the Old West that winter/spring, so I picked up the toys at a trading post in Arizona when traveling cross country with Jane that spring. You and I had stopped at the same trading post a year before when we drove to New Mexico, and for some strange reason I remember the toy being there, so I just had to stop and pick them up for you!

If I recall correctly, I bought two sets - which made for a lot of cowboys and Indians! We had some great "battles" with them that spring!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Your Balok and puppet Star Trek figures

Do you remember your Balok and puppet action figure set? It was a Star Trek collection of three action figures, which included Captain Kirk, Balok, and his menacing-looking puppet.

I had purchased the set back in 1998 when there were tons of Star Trek toys out. I always liked to collect those from The Origianl Series.

I never opened it and kept it packed in totes in our garage at the green house in Lancaster, Calif. After you discovered that I had action figures/toys in the totes, you eventually came across the set!

Though I planned to collect the action figures, so many of them were produced that most were worth less than I paid for them, so I figured why not open 'em and let you play with them? After all, it gave us an extra Captain Kirk (We also got one with the shuttlecraft!)!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Your Obi-Wan 'Clone Wars' action figure

Another one of the Star Wars action figures that you really liked to play with when a preschooler was Obi-Wan Kenobi from "The Clone Wars" movies. I'm not certain what the appeal of that version of Obi-Wan was, though I suppose he looked a lot like that through the Clone Wars cartoons and in "Revenge of the Sith."

I always thought Obi-Wan in that movie looked like Jesus with his haircut, beard and robes!

I know we had the young Obi-Wan from "The Phantom Menace," and I'm fairly certain we had the Obi-Wan from "A New Hope" (my favorite version of him!), but when Obi-Wan was a part of our Star Wars adventures, the one from "The Clone Wars" movie is the one you grabbed!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Memories of my childhood football game

With your love of football, I've been looking for a great football game that we could play together. Most of them are fairly complicated, but I'm confident I'll find one that's just right for us!

Still, the games I have found definitely are better than the ones I grew up with! In the late 1970s, I got an "electronic" football game that consisted of a metal tray, painted to look like a football field, and then vibrated when plugged in and turned on. This caused the "players" (see picture at above right) to move. Each player sat on a plastic piece whose bottom could be adjusted to determine which way they moved when the board vibrated.

Of course, the game was impossible to play! Setting each player was extremely time consuming. In addition, any small dent in the board, or if the game wasn't sitting on an absolutely flat surface, meant the players didn't "vibrate" where they were supposed to!

Still, the games was kind of cool just to look at. My version of the game had the Denver Broncos playing the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XII.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Princess Leia action figure

Among your favorite toys growing up were Star Wars action figures. We easily collected close to a hundred (if not more) of them. In fact, it got to the point that we had purchased all of the ones available for sale at Wal-Mart/Target and so were reading up on what new ones were coming out and then looking through comic book stores for old ones "no longer available" for sale!

I was only able to bring a few of them with me when moving from California in 2012, so I tried to take the ones that you enjoyed the most. One of those I grabbed was Princess Leia from the planet Hoth scenes in "The Empire Strikes Back." I'm not sure why I took that one; perhaps because it was the best of the Princess Leia's that you had. I do recall, though, that we often set up the rebel base on Hoth and that this Princess Leia usually was in the command center (which the Bat Cave playset nicely doubled as!).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Two years ago today we were at Legoland!

In front of a Bioncle, Nov. 19, 2011
Two years ago today we spent the day at Legoland in Carlsbad, California!

We started our day with a trip to Moonlight Beach in Encinitas and from there headed on over to Legoland. I'm not sure why we went to the beach first, as we usually saved that for Sunday mornings. Perhaps Legoland wasn't quite opened yet or I wanted to save Sunday for another activity that required us to drive.

We spent a good hour or so doing the Aquazone ride over and over at Legoland! You also bravely went down the tall slide in the park's Egyptian section!

Here's a whole bunch of photos from our adventure!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Recall your football action figures?

Do you remember your football action figures? We had quite a few of them, including Peyton Manning (as a Colt), Jay Cutler, Adrian Peterson, Drew Brees, and Larry Fitzgerald.

We always had fun pretending to play a football game with them, usually three-on-three. Sometimes a Star Wars action figure would sub in the game!

The action figures were great because they 20 movable parts, but they'd fall apart because of it, especially with how roughly we played with them! I remember putting them back together (only for them to fall apart), taping them up to keep a leg or arm from falling apart, and then just plain buying a new one to replace a broken one!

We also would print then cut out and paste onto blocks pictures of action figures we didn't have!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Remember the Disneyland candy store?

Do you remember the candy store Marceline's Confectionery in Downtown Disney? It usually was our last stop before leaving Disneyland!

The candy store was conveniently located directly across from the bathrooms and an exit we could take to a sidewalk that led to the parking ramp. When you were in a stroller, I'd usually push you along in it, rather than take a tram, from the tram to Disney.

The store carried water and milk, a necessity for our drive back home. Sometimes we'd also pick up some treat for the ride back. You liked the Minnie Mouse cookies, and I usually got a pretzel stick with some caramel/chocolate/nut candy wrapped around it!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Our time together on Saturday, Nov. 16

At Grandma and Grandpa Bignell's,
Nov. 16, 2013
I had so much fun with you today, Kieran, as did the rest of the family. Everybody was so happy to see you again after all of this time. I thought I would take this entry to recap our day together.

We started with Uncle Chris and me picking you up at Caribou Coffee in Woodbury. Then we stopped in Hudson, Wis., where we went downtown to the bookstore. There you got some "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" notebooks and a football book. After that, we went to KFC and picked up lunch.

Following that, we went to Grandma and Grandpa Bignell's farm, where you got to meet the entire family and where we had lunch. We spent the afternoon playing games with your cousins Bryan and Rebekah and coloring. After they left, we played with Hot Wheels cars while listening to the Beatles and wrapped up the afternoon with dinner while playing Battleship.

From there, we traveled back to Woodbury and while waiting for Grandma Deb to pick you up put stickers in your NFL sticker book!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Found photo of you from summer 2008

I found some more photos of you while you stayed with Grandma and Grandpa Bignell's farm during the first half of 2008! I've been scanning them into my computer so that you'll have them later in life.

Here's one of them - you sitting on a swing in their backyard. You're only a year old in this photo! The grass is green, so it must have been taken during the summer. You definitely look sleepy!

Tomorrow (Saturday, Nov. 16), you'll finally get to go back to Grandma and Grandpa Bignell's farm and see where you spent the early days of your life and to re-meet them. Everyone is so looking forward to seeing you again!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Remember Charlie Bown Farms?

Four years ago today, we stopped at Charlie Brown Farms in Little Rock, Calif., to look at the dinosaurs! You may recall that they had all of these statues for sale, and among them were several man-sized dinos.

Charlie Brown Farms always was a fun palce to explore because they had lots of itneresting stuff there to discover and play with. They also had mega amounts of candy and soda pop options!

It was across the road from a McDonalds that we sometimes stopped at. I almost always pulled off there on my way back to San Diego for a little dinner to eat in the car.

Here's some pictures from our adventure!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Remember hiking Piute Butte?

Three years ago today we hiked Piute Butte east of Lancaster, Calif.! It was the site of ancient Indian villages and the Antelope Valley Indian Museum.

We began with a hike around the grounds through some interesting rock formations. You really liked the loop because there were numbered markers identifying key sights, and you liked finding the next number! The picture at right is of you showing disbelief because somehow you'd missed marker No. 8!

Afterward, we went into the museum, which was this neat building literally built over rock on the side of the butte. You enjoyed looking at all of the pottery and Indian artifacts.

Here's a whole bunch of pictures from our adventure!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Today has been a fun day in your life!

I don't think the ancient Egyptians wore
sunglasses, but you never know!
November 12 so far has been a very fun day in your short life, Kieran!

In 2009 - four years ago today - we went to Hollywood together! Specifically, we went to "Star Trek: The Exhibit," where you got to play on the set of the Enterprise-D bridge!

In 2011 - just three years ago today - we went to the Museum of Man in San Diego. The adventure included a ride on the trolley through  Balboa Park.

Click on the above links for photos of our adventure. You do need to be a member of Facebook to see them, though.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A family full of veterans

My squad summer 1988 in Ft. Irwin, Calif.
I'm second from left, back row.
Today is Veterans Day, in which we honor our countrymen who have fought in wars. Did you know that you have a lot of veterans in who have served in the military?

Among the oldest is an uncle who fought in the Revolutionary War. He was in a militia that fought in upstate New York and Vermont.

We also have several uncles and a great-great-great-grandfather who fought in the Civil War. They all served in Wisconsin units and fought in places such as Tennessee, incuding the Battle of Shiloh.

Your great-grandfather - who your middle name comes from - served in the Army during World War II, though he didn;t have to go overseas.

Your Uncle Chris and I also served in the Army National Guard, though neither one of us ever were in a war. One day I will show you my medals and stripes!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Your picture is in a magazine!

Your picture appeared in an online magazine last week! Every few weeks I write an article about hiking for Seattle Backpackers Magazine and usually send along photos to go with the text.

My most recent article is about dressing kids for winter hikes. Of course, I had photos of you dressed for winter, from when we went up into the mountains after a snowfall while living at the greenhouse in Lancaster, Calif. (at right).

The photo shows us sitting in a sled together! You might remember that I pulled up the hill on the sled and then we went sliding down it together.

Here's the article!