Thursday, January 31, 2013

Recall your construction crane?

Another one of your favorite toys as a toddler and preschooler was the Imaginext construction crane. It was a long truck with a crane that you could raise on its truckbed. At the end of the crane was a wrecking ball that could be used to knock stuff down!

Among those items was this cool conical tower made out of five pieces. We often used that tower as a "cage" or a building when playing with other toys.

The truck also came with two construction guys, who probably were your favorite part of the whole set! They often were used when we played fireman or spaceman with your other Imaginext characters.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Recall seeing the rare desert tortoise?

Kieran watching the desert tortoise.
Three years ago today we hiked the Desert Tortoise Natural Area in the Mojave Desert. The reserve was about 40 minutes north of where we lived in Lancaster, Calif.

Yes, we got to see the rare desert tortoise! We found one sitting outside of its den just off the trail. This particular species of tortoise has been on the Earth for about 2 million years but is facing extinction.

The highlight of the hike for you was finding the numbered posts along the trail. They corresponded to a guide that pointed out interesting sites along the trail. You turned it into quite the game to find the next numberered post!

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

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Remember Palmdale's airparks?

At Joe Davies Airpark
Two years ago today, we went to the two airplane parks in Palmdale, California: Joe Davies Heritage and Blackbird airparks.

The Joe Davies airpark exhibits planes connected to the neighboring U.S. Air Force Plant 42, a sprawling facility where a number of the nation's premier military aircraft have been developed or manufactured during World War Ii and th Cold War. The Blackbird Airpark displays aircraft tested at the Air Force Flight Test Center on nearby Edwards AFB.

You always enjoyed going to them, though later when we moved to San Diego and could play in the aircraft on the Navy carrier and at the Marine base airpark, you kind of thought these two little airparks were a downer because you couldn't inside any of them!

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

Monday, January 28, 2013

A trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific

A year ago today we went to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif. This always was one of your (and mine!) favorite places to visit when a preschooler.

The day was perfect - a wonderful 72 degrees and sunny, so I couldn't resist taking us there! Back in the Midwest where I grew up, there were snowstorms or at least cold temps, and in the high desert where we lived at the time, the temps during winter usually only got into the high 50s.

After the aquarium, we walked around the harbor to some of the neat seaside shops and got ice cream. We also spent a little time in the aquarium where we played some game that netted you a toy Army man or two.

Unfortunately, I only have a couple of pcitures from this trip - the disc on my camera was full so only three pages could be taken!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Remember your Hot Wheels ramp?

One of the toys we played quite a lot with when you were a toddler and a preschooler was a Hot Wheels ramp. It was mad eup of three straight Hot Wheels racing track pieces, and using a plastic vice, could be held to a ledge. I hook it up to the glass table we had in the living room.

We'd zip cars down the ramp to see which ones went the farthest! It was a great to teach you colors, as we'd race the "yellow" car against the "green" car and so on. Because you had almost a tote full of cars, we could spend the better part of an hour sending cars down the ramp.

Ont time you used the racing track pieces as a "light saber," though, and started whacking stuff, so I had to put away the ramp away. But we eventually set it back up.

This was just one of many Hot Wheel and Matchbox toys that you had.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

My email sent to you on Jan. 26, 2013

Here is the email I sent to you on Jan. 26, 2013, just in case you don’t get to see it:

Hi Kieran,

How are you doing? I’m doing fine, though I miss you very much and think about you every day. The good news is that we finally will be able to see one another again in just six days, on Feb. 1! I will enjoy catching up with you since I have not received your emails during the past months. Hopefully you have been receiving mine; I have kept all of my emails to you and will show them to you once we are allowed to see one another again.

We have much to celebrate when we see each other on Friday. First, there is Valentine’s Day! Do you get to exchange valentines with your classmates on Feb. 14? I always did when I went to school. We also had parties, too, usually in the afternoon. Everybody in school looked forward to them. We also got to make valentine mailboxes that we’d put on our desk for our classmates to drop valentines into. One year, I made a valentine box that looked like a gas station!

We’ll celebrate Valentine’s Day together on Feb. 1 with some of grandma’s yummy valentine sugar cookies! She also is baking another special treat that you’ll really like – it’s one of your favorite sweets!

The second thing we have to celebrate is your birthday! Everybody has birthday presents for you, and I can’t wait for you to open them. Is there anything special you wanted for your birthday this year? Last year for your birthday on Feb. 23, you and I went to Chuck E Cheese together in Lancaster, and you got a Transformer toy and an art set. We then played all kinds of games together. I had lots of fun with you!

There’s another big day coming up in February – President’s Day. We usually celebrate George Washington’s and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays on President Day, which is Feb. 18 this year. Speaking of Abraham Lincoln, today I saw a movie about him at the theater. It was a very good movie, and one day when you’re older I’m sure you’ll want to watch it. Some people said the movie is too serious, but you’re a very smart boy, so when you get older I’m certain you’ll enjoy it.

Have you read any good books lately? I have. It was about Abraham Lincoln! The book was called “Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek” by Deborah Hopkinson. Actually, it’s about when Abraham Lincoln was a boy, maybe 6 or 7 years old. He and his friend Austin have to get across a very dangerous creek but because there’s no bridge they run into problems. I bet your school library or the public library has a copy of the book that you could check you. Perhaps your mother or Grandpa Don could read it to you!

Well, that it is all for now. I can’t wait to see you in just a few days!



Friday, January 25, 2013

States where I've lived!

You've probably noticed from all of the entries recounting my life that I've lived a lot of places! Here's a list of all of the state's I've lived in:
>>Wisconsin (1965-1989, 1991-92, 1994-2002, 2012-current))
>>Minnesota (1989-1991)
>>New Mexico (1992-94)
>>Iowa (2002-2005)
>>California (2005-2012)

Through the Army, I underwent training in the following states (I didn't include Wisconsin or New Mexico as I was attached to those units located there.):
>>South Carolina, Fort Jackson (1983)
>>Georgia, Fort Benning (1983, 1984)
>>Minnesota (1986)
>>Nebraska (1987)
>>California, Fort Irwin (1988)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Recall your San Diego Chargers football?

One of the many fun things I enjoyed doing with you was playing football - especially with you San Diego Chargers football.

It was a softer ball and a little smaller than the footballs the professionals use. This made it easier to handle and ensured that it didn't hurt in case it should bounce out of your hands and into your nose (Ouch!).

I got the ball for us when I was living in Encinitas, which was just outside San Diego. The Chargers weren't doing too bad that year, if I recall - or at least they got off to a good start!

We used the football when I taught you how to tackle, throw the ball, and to take a handoff. When we were outside, we also practiced kicking off!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Recall our hike to Franklin Canyon Lake?

Two years ago today, we took a little hike around place you probably see a lot on television: the Upper Franklin Canyon Lake. It's been in a "Star Trek" episode and most famously in the opening credits of "The Andy Griffith Show."

You were fascinated with tossing sticks and pebbles into the water and seeing how it made ripples (see the picture at right!). You also took your favorite stuffie, Logs the bunny rabbit, with you for the whole adventure!

Though the lake looks like it's in the mountains or country, it's right smack dab in the middle of Los Angeles (well, Beverly Hills specifically). That's why a lot of TV shows are made there - because most are produced in Hollywood, which is very close by.

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

Monday, January 21, 2013

Recall visiting the William S. Hart home?

Feeding the mule deer fawn
One year ago today we drove over to Santa Clarita and visited the museum ranch and home of silent film cowboy star William S. Hart. He was one of the first great stars of the western motion picture, and you were really into cowboys at the time. It seemed like a perfect fit to tour his home!

The ranch included a little mini zoo where you could feed the animals. You got to feed chickens, rabbits, a mule deer fawn, and a big Brown Swiss cow. The pigs were sleeping, though!

After the zoo, we hiked up a hilltop to Hart's home. I was very impresed with you - though it was a long tour, you were really well-behaved and very interested in everything there.

On the way down, we stopped at the gift store, where we purchased the toy cowboys and Indians set that included Sheriff Jack, the Deputy, Calamitous Jane, Luke the horse, and Baby Kieran.

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

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Moving to San Diego and Palmdale

The night of April 1, 2011, your mother moved out of the green house in Lancaster. I had to go to court to get the right to see you, which I accomploshed on April 22. That allowed me to see you a couple of days a week unil I could get back in court on May 25 for it to order joint custody between your mother and me of you.

In late May of that year, I moved to San Diego for a new job. I worked at Business Leader Media, editing a suire of business magazines, and moved into the house in Encinitas. Thus began several months of us travling back and forth between the two towns on weekends and holidays.

By December, I'd finally got my business launched and went full time with it. At the same time, I moved back to Palmdale so that we culd spend more time together. That autumn, you entered preschool in Lancaster.

Then in March 2012, we moved into the condo into Palmdale, which Jane shared with us. That lasted until May, and brings you up to date on what has happened in my life!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

My letter to you from Jan. 19, 2013

Here is my email sent to you today, in case you don’t receive it.

Hi Kieran,

How are you doing? I’m doing fine, though I miss you very much. I miss not being able to spend time with you and talking to you on the phone every night like we used to do .

I am very excited, though, that we will see each other in just two short weeks on Feb. 1. When we get together, we will have two big days to celebrate: Valentine’s Day and your birthday! Grandma is whipping up some fun Valentine’s Day sweets for you, and all of us – me, grandma and grandpa, Uncle Chris-Aunt Suzy-and-your-cousins-Bryan-and-Rebekah – all have bought birthday presents for you. They all miss you, too, and though you may not remember them because you were so young the last time you saw them, they all remember you! They can’t wait, either, to finally see you again.

How was your first week back to school? I bet seeing your friends again after a couple of weeks off was a lot of fun. When I was a little boy your age, it also was a lot of fun to find out what all of my friends got for Christmas and some of the neat places they went during their winter break.

Do you enjoy the snow in Minnesota? You always liked it when we went up to the mountains together after a snowfall. We’d go sledding together and throw snowballs. Sometimes we’d stop off for a steaming cup of hot chocolate. Although the winters do get long in Minnesota, one nice thing about them is you have lots of opportunities to drink hot chocolate!

I am glad you’ve enjoyed the games, toys, art supplies and books I’ve been bringing to our visits. Playing with and reading to again has been a lot of fun for me, too. What games should I bring next time? I was thinking some card games like Old Maid or Go Fish. Email me to let me know which games you’d like to play.

You may notice that these questions were the same that I asked the previous week. Unfortunately, your answers to them were not sent. So, I am repeating them in hopes that your mother will correct this problem by resending your answers (as well as your emails to my last three weeks of emails to you).

Have you read any good books lately? One good Valentine’s Day book you might like to find at your school or city library is “Hedgehug: A Sharp Lesson in Love” by Dan Pinto. We read it together a couple of years ago, and you liked it a lot. You might recall that’s about a hedgehog who looks for someone to be his valentine, but no one wants to hug him because hedgehogs have prickly hair. Will he find someone to give his Valentine card to? You’ll have to read the book!

That is all for now. I love you very much and can’t wait to see you on Feb. 1!




Friday, January 18, 2013

Finding fossils, gems in Opal Canyon

Two years ago today we took a hike into Opal Canyon. Located in Red Rock State Park about 35 minutes north of where we lived in Lancaster, Calif., the canyon is most famous for its opal gems, but three sites also have been known to yield 7-million- to 12-million-year-old fossils.

We went opal hunting but kept our eyes out for fossils as well. You enjoyed tapping away at the shale with my geologist’s hammer as we looked for some cool finds.

And we did find some stuff! One was a fossilized impressions of tiny leafs and an opalized bone fragment in a chunk of shale. I also found a partially opalized bone fragment from a piece of shale; it looks vaguely like a tooth. I still have the fossils and gems and will show them to you one day!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Living at 'the green house' in Lancaster

Pear tree in backyard of "the green house."
In February 2009, we moved from Santa Clarita to Lancaster, Calif., specifically to the "green house" as you called it. Your mother worked at the hospital in Lancaster, and I was a stay-at-home dad, taking care of you!

I loved the "green house". It had a garage (that we used more as a storage shed), a neat galley kitchen, a cool bedroom for you (That I put these wonderful tote shelves into for your toys and boys), and a family room (that opened up to the backyard), where I had my "office." We had beautiful plants growing in our backyard and a grille on the side porch.

We had many great adventures together when living in Lancaster, especially hikes. Much of our day was spent playing, punctuated by trips to the library or errands we neded to run.

We stayed in the green house until April 2011,  a little more than two full years!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Living in Santa Clarita, Calif.

While Grandma and Grandpa Bignell took care of you from December 2007-September 2008, I moved from Eureka to Santa Clarita, Calif. While the job I took at the Santa Clarita newspaper wasn't any different than - I was still the copy desk chief - Santa Clairta offered some great opportunities. I was tasked with redesigning the newspaper and with setting up new software for reporters and editors to work on. In addition, it was in sunny Southern California, where I longed to live!

In September 2008, you returned to live with me in Santa Clarita. I met you at the airport in Minneapolis, and we drove cross country through Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and California! I remember the first time you saw the mountains - you were so impressed with how they soared so high. You'd tap me and point at them!

I was so happy to finally be reunited with you. Though I'd missed seeing you learn how to walk, what began was three years of wonderful time spent together!

Unfortunately, the economy crashed in autumn 2008. I was laid off at the newspaper in November 2008. On the plus side, I was able to dedicate all of my time to you as a stay-at-home father!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My brief job in Eureka, Calif.

In July 2007, I unfortnately was laid off at the Crescent City newspaper. The newspaper industry was rapidly shrinking thanks to competition from the Internet and the rising cost of raw materials, especially paper. When the economy got rough in any way, newspapers cut back on their expenses somehow...including getting rid of people.

Fortunately, I was able to find employment as the copy desk chief at the Times-Standard, the newspaper in Eureka - the town in which you were born! While I liked many of the people there, it was a real step back in my career, as I was doing the same job I had in manitowoc six years before. Still, I was determined to work hard and regain my footing in what had become a declining industry.

On Dec. 11, 2007, we parted ways for a few months, Your mother decided to move back to Wisconsin and live with my parents, Grandma and Grandpa Bignell. It was a very sad several months for me while you were away, but it was not my choice. I will explain more to you about the truth of what happened when you are older and can better understand it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Recall our hike to Mormon Rocks?

One year ago today, we hiked Mormon Rocks in the San Bernardino National Forest. It was on the way to the I-15, that huge freeway that takes you from Las Vegas and down the mountains into Los Angeles (and part of the route we always took to San Diego). You might remember there was a McDonalds, near the freeway intersection with the road, that we often stopped at.

The Mormon Rocks looks a lot like Vasquez Rocks because they were made the same way. About two million years ago, everything west of those rock formations was an ocean with rivers bringing water and sediment (sand and rock) down from the mountains. As the sediment fell to the river and ocean floor, it hardened into rock. Since then, the collision of two tectonic plates has raised the land out of the water and tilted them into the weird angles we see today.

During the hike, you took along your toy rifle that we picked up at Disneyland a few weeks before and played cowboy. You were Sheriff Jack as usual, and we were out looking for Black Bart!

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

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Working in Crescent City, Calif.

After working in Palm Springs for a year-and-a-half, I made the big leap and became a managing editor of a newspaper once again. In October 2006, I went to work in Crescent City, Calif., at The Daily Triplicate newspaper.

It was a wonderful opportunity, and my staff and I made a lot of changes in the news we covered and the paper's look. Perhaps the biggest story we covered was when a tsumani wiped out part of our harbor. We won lots of awards for our writing!

I lived in a really nice three-bedroom ranch house with a garage and huge yard. It was about a mile or so from the Pacific Ocean.

But the most important thing that happened to me in Crescent City was that you were born while I was living there! I shall tell you all about that in a future entry!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

My email to you from Jan. 12, 2013

Here is the email I sent Jan. 12, 2013, just in case you don’t receive it:

Hi Kieran,

How are you doing? I love and miss you very much and can’t wait to see you on Feb. 1, in just three short weeks. Unfortunately, I’m still not receiving the emails your mother is supposed to send. Perhaps you could please have her resend your emails responding to mine from Dec. 22, Dec. 29, and Jan. 5?

How was your first week back to school? I bet seeing your friends again after a couple of weeks off was a lot of fun. When I was a little boy your age, it also was a lot of fun to find out what all of my friends got for Christmas and some of the neat places they went during their winter break.

Do you enjoy the snow in Minnesota? You always liked it when we went up to the mountains together after a snowfall. We’d go sledding together and throw snowballs. Sometimes we’d stop off for a steaming cup of hot chocolate. Although the winters do get long in Minnesota, one nice thing about them is you have lots of opportunities to drink hot chocolate!

I am glad you’ve enjoyed the games, toys, art supplies and books I’ve been bringing to our visits. Playing with and reading to again has been a lot of fun for me, too. What games should I bring next time? I was thinking some card games like Old Maid or Go Fish. Email me to let me know which games you’d like to play.

Thank you for the watercolor painting you made of the letter Y eating a gumball. I have it hanging over my desk. If I ever go to chew a stick of gum, I make sure I stay clear of that letter Y!

Have you read any good books lately? I have. I recently read “If I Had a Snowplow” by Jean L.S. Patrick. The book is about a young boy who imagines how he might help his mom if his toy trucks were real. He starts in January using his snowplow truck to clear a path for the car and ends in December using his toy truck to deliver lots of presents to his house. The book starts out,

“If I had a snowplow, you know what I’d do? I’d crash through the deep snow, just for you!”

That is all for now. Have fun at school, and I look forward to seeing you in just 21 days! I miss you very much!



Friday, January 11, 2013

Remember your Dancing Elmo?

For Christmas 2008, when you were almost two years old, you received the hit gift of the season: a Dancing Elmo!

You thought it was absolutely cool. Elmo would talk to you and ask how you were feeling. He'd tell jokes and laugh and sing songs. Then he'd dance aorund as singing. Finally, he'd get tired and lay down and go to sleep.

You were absolutely fascinated by the Dancing Elmo and often tried to interact with it, as if it were actually living! You'd respond to what it was saying and dance along with it.

Eventually Dancing Elmo's gears or motors gave way, and he'd tip over as trying to dance. So we put him in the garage, but by that time you'd outgrown him.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Working in Palm Springs, Calif.

In July 2005 after working for 2-1/2 years in Iowa City, I landed a job at the largest newspaper I've ever worked for - The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif., circulation 72,000+. I was their editorial page editor!

I did much of the same work in Palm Springs as in Iowa City. Probably the most famous person I met and interviewed was Arnold Schwarzenegger, the movie actor and then governor of California.

I lived in a very nice one-bedroom apartment near downtown Palm Springs. From my bedroom balcony window was a beautiful view of Mount San Jacinto.

The job in Palm Springs is what brought me to California - which is where you were born and have spent most of your life (at least as of this writing)!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I can't wait to attend your school events!

I read a very sad story today about a father who dropped his son off at the boy's soccer game and said he would be back in a couple of hours to pick him up. The son told him he thought he was going to stay for the game. The father said he was very busy but promised to go to the next game. His son told him that this was his last game.

I understand that you must feel disappointed when I am not at your school, church or other events. I am disappointed, too, that I am not there.

However, you need to know that unlike the father in the story, I want to attend and would attend such events. Unfortunatley, others have made it so I am not allowed to. I am working very hard at changing this, but the very people who won't let me attend your events keep working to prevent me from getting this changed.

It will be a happy day once this is overturned, and I go to your school event. I will be very proud of you!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pics at Grandma and Grandpa Bignell's

Today I'm posting several pictures from winter 2007-2008 when you stayed with Grandma and Grandpa Bignell. You turned one years old that February (2008). I hope you enjoy them!

You and your cousin Rebekah Bignell.

Rebekah, Grandpa Bignell, you and Bryan Bignell.

You and Grandpa Bignell.

You with Rebekah and Bryan Bignell in background
and Grandpa Bignell in chair.

You in Grandma and Grandpa Bignell's kitchen.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Recall visiting Calico Ghost Town?

A year ago today we visited Calico Ghost Town near Barstow, Calif. You really were into the Old West the winter of 2011-12, and with us living near so many great cowboy sites, I took you to a few of the better ones. The ghost town definitely was among your favorites.

During the visit, we took a train ride around the mining area and then went down into an actual mine. Later, we stopped for some root beer, enjoying it at an old style saloon. You also panned for gold, as we went through all of the various shops and attractions there.

At the end of the trip, we stopped for ice cream. If I recall correctly, we also got you a package of toy cowboys and Indians, which were sort of like toy Army men.

Here's a whole bunch of pictures from our fun day!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Working as editorial page editor in Iowa

After working for a couple of years in Manitowoc, Wis., I moved to Iowa City, Iowa. I got a job at the newspaper there, working as its opinion page editor! This was just the job I wanted ever since interning at the Duluth, Minn., newspaper some 15 years before.

While at the newspaper, I wrote the daily editorial, solicited/edited columns, selected the editorial cartoon, edited letters to the editor, spoke on behalf of the paper in the community, and wrote a weekly column called Cornfield Soul (I've posted some of those columns online).

As editorial page editor, I got to meet a lot of interesting people, including presidential candidates and governors. John Kerry probably is the most famous of them; he ran for president in 2004 and is the current secretary of state.

I received a lot of awards at the paper for my editorial writing and editorial pages. We were named either the best editorial or editorial pages among Iowa dailies for three years running!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Jan. 5, 2013, email to you

Here is a copy of my letter sent to you on Jan. 5, 2013, just in case you are not allowed to see it:

Hi Kieran,

I had so much fun visiting with you yesterday! I can’t wait to see you again on Friday, Feb. 1.

What game should I bring next time for us to play? I am thinking of getting checkers or maybe some of the card games like Old Maid or Go Fish that we used to play at the condo.

Playing with the remote control dune buggy was a good time. You got really good at maneuvering it! When I was a little boy your age, I always wanted a real dune buggy. They are very dangerous, though, and wreck the environment, so there are very many places that one can drive them, and that is probably good. We’ll have to enjoy the toy remote control dune buggy, I guess! Don’t forget to turn it off by moving the red switch on the dune buggy’s bottom or the batteries will die.

The cars that came with the truck also were a lot of fun (They were a gift from Grandma and Grandpa Bignell). As a little boy, I use to draw roads on cut-out paper bags or potato chip boxes to drive the vehicles on. Maybe we should do that the next time we get together – I’ll bring some markers or crayons. Let me know if you’d like to do that.

Thank you for painting the picture for me! I have hung it up over my desk so I may enjoy it every day.

I must compliment you for being so kind to the workers at the center yesterday by offering to share your M&M’s and root beer with them. You are a very nice, polite boy (Just like I taught you!).

You asked if next time I might bring some action figures for you, but we never got to which ones you might like. Perhaps you could let me know in your next email that you send.

Going back to school should be a lot of fun on Monday. I bet it’s been a while since you’ve seen your friends!

We didn’t get a chance to read the books I brought yesterday. I have books about Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Peter Pan, Jake and the Pirates, and A Bug’s Life.

Have fun at school this week, and I will see on Friday, Feb. 1. I miss you very much!



Friday, January 4, 2013

Working in Manitowoc, Wis.

After being the editor of the Prescott Journal newspaper, in October 2000 I went to work as the copy desk chief at the Herald Times Reporter newspaper in Manitowoc, Wis. I worked the night shift, 3-11 p.m., editing and designing the newspaper, usually Tuesday through Saturday.

During my time there, I tweaked the look of the paper and helped transition us to a new computer and software system. I also wrote editorials and columns for the Opinion page.

The apartment we had was decorated with lighthouses. During my couple of years living there, I wrote two novels, including "Windmill," the one I've since published.

One of my favorite things to do in Manitowoc was to walk along the Lake Michigan waterfront. I also spent a lot of time working out at the local YMCA. Then in December 2003 I got another job in Iowa City, Iowa - more about that later!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Recall your play fire station?

One of your favorite toys to play with when a preschooler was the Fisher Price Imaginext fire station pictured at right. I bought it for you when you were two, but you played with it no matter what your age!

It had neat doors that you could park the fire truck behind, as well as bunkbeds so you could pretend that the firefighters were at the station before they got called to put out a big fire. One feature I really liked was the pole on which the firefighter could spin down from the roof to the ground level.

I bought some additional fire trucks and ambulances as well, so we could have quite the adventure with the play set. Often after the firefighters left the station, it became the burning building they had to save!

I always kept it on the mantle next to the fireplace, as it was a favorite toy of yours to enjoy. You'll probably see it in the background of several photos from our time at the green house in Lancaster!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Your first California snowfall!

It never rains in Southern California - but it does snow! Snowfall covered the Mojave Desert the afternoon two years ago today. It was the first time in five years that snow had fallen where I'd lived near Los Angeles - and it was YOUR first snow fall in California!
You'd played in the snow in the mountains near where we lived in Lancaster so knew how much fun it could be to be outside, so you asked if you could go out in it. I got you quick dressed, and once outside you ran through it like crazy and made snowballs.
Later that day, one of our trees in our backyard fell over! It couldn't handle all of the wind and the heavy snow on its branches.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My work as Prescott Journal editor

After teaching in New Mexico and Wisconsin for nearly eight years, I went back into newspapering into spring 1999. I got a job as the managing editor of the Prescott Journal, a weekly newspaper in Prescott, Wis.

Prescott was a special town for me. First, it was where a cousin, who was like a brother to me, lived for several years during our childhood, so I always had fond memories of the town. Secondly, I actually lived there for a few months as a baby while my father (Grandpa Bignell) worked in nearby South St. Paul, Minn.

My staff and I totally revamped the paper's look and content. We began to sell more and more copies and quickly became a force in the community and recognized among our peers.

In fact, in 2001, the Wisconsin Newspaper Association named us Weekly Newspaper of the Year for our work done during the year 2000. I consider it one of my greatest achievements.