Sunday, March 31, 2013

Remembering Easters past

 You ate the ears off your chocolate
bunny first at Easter 2010!
Happy Easter, Kieran! I hope you are enjoying the day. Today I've included some pictures of past Easters we've spent together.

I remember our first Easter very well. It was in 2007, and we were living in Crescent City, Calif., where I was the newspaper's managing editor. You were just a wee baby of only two months! Still, we got you a  Easter basket that included a baby's book about Peter Cottaintail and a stuffie bunny rabbit.

In 2011, you and I made Easter sugar cookies together! You helped me roll out the dough, stamp the shapes, and frost the cookies! One of the cookies that you really liked was of a baby duck, which we frosted yellow (except for the bill, which we frosted orange) and gave a dollop of black for its eye.

Here's are a whole bunch of pictures from Easter 2010, which was on April 4 that year!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

My email to you for March 30, 2013

Your Easter basket, 2012
Here is my email to you sent on March 30, 2012, in case you don’t receive it.

Hi Kieran,

How are you doing? I love and miss you very much. I am not certain why our visit planned for yesterday was cancelled, but I want you to know that I had nothing to do with it. I wanted to spend time with you because you are the most important person in the world to me. You always have been and always will be. Hopefully our cancelled visit soon will be rescheduled.

Tomorrow is Easter, so I thought I would share a few memories I have of the holiday with you.

Our very first Easter was in 2007! You received a small basket with a tiny stuffie bunny rabbit and a little book about Peter Cottontail. We lived in Crescent City, Calif., at the time, and though the weather there usually was rainy, that Easter was nicely sunny. We went out to eat for Easter dinner, and you sat in your child carrier on the table and you slept through the whole meal! A lot of people stopped by to look at you because you were so darn cute!

In 2010, when you were three years old, you didn’t get an Easter basket. You got an Easter bucket! It was a Star Wars sandbox pail that we filled with all kinds of goodies. One of the items was a chocolate bunny rabbit. You ate the bunny rabbit’s ears first!

In 2011, when you were four years old, you and I made Easter sugar cookies together! You helped me roll out the dough, stamp the shapes, and frost the cookies! One of the cookies that you really liked was of a baby duck, which we frosted yellow (except for the bill, which we frosted orange) and gave a dollop of black for its eye. We also went to the Easter Egg hunt at Lancaster, Calif., City Park.

Last year, when you were five years old, we were living in the condo in Palmdale, Calif., and we had spent all day Saturday together. When you woke up Sunday morning, I mentioned that the Easter Bunny had left something for you at the front door! The Easter basket was a good mix of toys, candies and clothes I had picked up for you just the week before on our drive from Wisconsin to California.

After a little breakfast, we went to the Easter Egg hunt and festivities at City Park in Lancaster. At the end of the egg hunt, one child had just a couple of Easter eggs in his basket and was afraid that he wouldn't receive a reward for turning in the eggs (All the children received some candy and a little toy for turning in the eggs.), so all on your own you offered to share some of your eggs with him! I was so very proud of you for being so kind and generous.

I will miss you tomorrow during Easter. I hope you have a good day, though, and that the Easter Beagle brings you everything you wish for! We are next scheduled to get together on April 26, but hopefully we will see one another once before that date as well.



Friday, March 29, 2013

Sorry that we won't see each other today

I was looking very forward to seeing you this afternoon, Kieran. I don't think I can express enough to you how much I miss you and long for the times when we are together. You're the kind of a son that every father wants, and I've always been very proud of you.

You need to know that I did not cancel our planned visitation today. You also should know that no reason was given by the visitation center as to why our visitation was canceled, and no offers were made by the canceling party to reschedule it.

Did you know that one year ago today I called you from Wisconsin! I had flown back to the Midwest to move Jane out to California. Jane and I spent the day getting together with people we hadn't seen in a long time, including Grandma and Grandpa Bignell.

They so wanted to see you, and Jane and me had tried to come up with a way to bring you on the trip. But we ultimately decided that it would be awful complicated to do, and the long drive back to California would get boring very quickly for you.

But I did promise Grandma and Grandpa Bignell that I would bring you back to Wisconson on vacation to see them. It's a promise I have yet to fulfil, but it is one I will keep - after all, I also promised you that one day I would bring you to their farm to meet them. And I always keep my promises!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Writings from my past

For the last couple of days, I've been editing a book about a man whose young wife died. He then receives a mysterious letter and a key to a storage shed; the letter says that stuff belonging to his former wife is stored there. He goes to the shed and finds all of her diaries and writings from her childhood. Then he begins to read them and discover things about his wife that he never knew.

I wanted to tell you about this story because I also have many writings from my past stored away and want you to have them should anything happen to me. Grandma and Grandpa Bignell will keep them for you.

Unfortunately (Well, given their lack of quality, maybe not fortunately!), my writings from childhood have been lost over time, but my journal entries largely begin in junior high with some writings from college.

Most of the stories lsot from my childhood were short stories I wrote in fourth through eighth grade. Almost all of them were set in the Star Trek universe or other science fiction pieces.

You always enjoyed creating stories when we were togther. Do you like to write stories, too?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sharing some pictures with you

Scandinavian Festival, April 17, 2010
The other night your cousin Rebekah was visiting Grandma and Grandpa Bignell the same night that I was, and she wanted to look at pictures of you and all of your adventures. I have many of them online so was able to show her some that I have posted for all of my Facebook friends to see.

Rebekah is the same age as you and also in kindergarten, so she's very interested in the fun that you've had.

We looked at pictures of your trips to Legoland, Disneyland, the beach, and to the Poppy Festival last year in Lancaster. I think she was a little envious of all of the great adventures we've taken together!

Showing her the pictures was fun because I got to recall all of our fun times together and to tell her fun stories about you. She says she can't wait to meet you in person!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Memories of spring breaks past

During the last week or so you've probably been on spring break - that week long vacation from school that usually occurs around Easter.

During elementary school, I didn't have spring break! We usually just got a day or two off of school around Easter, typically Good Friday or the Monday after.

When I was in high school, my school started doing spring break. I kind of liked having the break from homework and classes, but after a couple of days I always missed my friends.

In college, we always had spring break. For me, it was a great chance to catch up (and even get ahead) on schoolwork I had to do. That made the rest of the school year easier and gave me more time to have fun once all of my friends got back to college!

How did/are you spend/ing your spring break?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Remember hiking into a volcano?

Do you know where you were standing four years ago on Monday? You were in the middle of a volcano!

We went on a hike to the Amboy Crater, a famous extinct volcano in the Mojave Desert near the historical Route 66. As you were very young, I took you up into the volcano on my back in a child carrier, and when we got to the middle of the it, I let you out. The picture at above right shows you playing in the cone.

The black rock is called basalt and was lava that flowed out of the cinder cone and hardened. Lava last flowed out of the volcano some 5,000 years ago.

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

Saturday, March 23, 2013

My email to you for March 23, 2013

Here is my email from March 23, 2013, just in case you do not receive it.

Hi Kieran!

How are you today? I love and miss and very much. The good news is we get to see one another again in just six days on March 29! I can’t wait. Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Chris and Aunt Susie have some Easter presents for you, and of course I’ll be bringing some surprises, too!

Did you have Spring Break this past week or do you go on it next week? Your cousins Bryan and Rebekah were on Spring Break this past week. While getting a week off of school was nice when I was a boy, it also got boring real fast for me! I always missed my friends and learning about new stuff. Before going home on Spring Break, I always made sure I brought home lots of books from the library!

Do you get to go to the library and check out books? I miss not being able to go to the library with you. When we were together in Lancaster, we went to storytimes at the library and always checked out books to read at home. Some days we read 10 books! Some days you liked a book so much that we read just that book 10 times!

Easter is coming up soon. What do you plan to do for the Easter holiday? I think I mentioned in my last email that you I was eating at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, where Uncle Chris, Aunt Susie, your cousins Bryan and Rebekah, and Aunt Susie and Uncle Mark will be getting together for Easter dinner and the afternoon. We are having ham and prime rib for dinner. Yummy!

I don’t believe you’ve ever met Aunt Sandy and Uncle Mark (If you did, you were just a baby at the time). Aunt Sandy is Grandma’s sister. They are very nice and have a big house in Stillwater. They also have a dog, a very old black and white border collie. They have seen pictures of you, I’ve told them lots of great stories about you, and they can’t wait to meet you!

In addition to editing and writing books, I have taken up snowshoeing! As you know, I like to hike, yet hiking in the snow is too difficult – but it’s not if you have snowshoes! You then can walk almost anywhere. Snowshoeing does take a lot of energy at first, though, but seeing new things outdoors is a lot of fun – and so is the steaming cup of hot chocolate you enjoy afterwards when you go back inside! Would you like to go snowshoeing one day?

Have you read any good books lately? I have. It was called “Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie,” by Laura Rankin. It was about a little girl name Ruthie who finds a teeny tiny toy on the school playground. Even though it’s not her toy, she tells everyone it is and then tells more lies so she can keep it for herself! Will she get caught lying? You will have to read the book and find out! I bet you can find it at your school or city library.

Well, that is all for now. You have a good week, and I will see you Friday afternoon!



Friday, March 22, 2013

Your two big trips to Palm Springs

Donning the trainer's helmet
at Palm Springs air museum.
Last night while watching a "Six Million Dolalr Man" DVD, I noticed the episode was filmed in a place we'd gone before: the desert road north of Palm Springs where the tram goes to the top of the mountain.

You may not remember visiting Palm Springs, as you were very young, but we went there twice. The first time, we visited volcanic features on the Salton Sea and then enjoyed dinner downtown. I purchased a captain's sailor cap for you in the hat store.

The second time we went was to visit the airplane museum. The weekend was very rainy and cold, an oddity for Southern California, and the only place I could find that was moderately dry (though it was a little cloudy) was Palm Springs. We ate lunch at Ruby's Diner downtown.

I actually lived in Palm Springs for a couple of years and worked at the newspaper there as its editorial page editor.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Our hike across 'another world'

Three years ago today we hiked through a very alien setting, but one that's right here on Earth: the Trona Pinnacles!

The pinnacles are mineral spires that sat at the bottom of a lake during the last Ice Age. Several science fiction movies have been filmed there.

You wanted to walk through it, so even though I had a child carrier on my back, I let you down for most of the hike. The air was very dry and had a distinct alkaline scent.

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How you got your name

Do you know how you got your name?

Your mother and I came up with four names - two for girls and two for boys (just  in case we had twins). The first name had to be Celtic in honor of our ancestry (She's opart Scottish, and I'm part of English). The middle name had to be that of a British king or queen - though the middle name of our favorite boy's name also was the name of your great-grandfather on your mother's side (or her grandfather). Actually, we started with her grandfather's name and because it also was the name of a British king, decided all of the other names also had to be of British kings or queens.

We mainly picked the first name because we liked its sound. But in your case, the name did have a special meaning - Kieran means "dark" and my first name means "bright." I thought that our names having the opposite meanings was kind of neat.

Your middle name, Edward, means "wealthy guardian," by the way.

What were the four names we selected? They were:
1. Kieran Edward
2. Keegan Arthur
1. Kelsey Elizabeth
2. Kenzie Anne

So if youwould have been a girl, we would have named you Kelsey Elizabeth!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

'The Clone Wars' going off the air

I read yesterday that the Cartoon Network plans to take "The Clone Wars" off the air at the end of this season. It's been on for five years, and our time together certainly has touched upon that series a lot.

We began watching it together on Friday nights during the second season. Then we began collecting all of the action figures and assorted toys associated with the series - and boy, were there a lot of toys! Soon, though, we had virtually every action figure, and so we started looking online togther at when new ones would be released during the months ahead!

You even had a blue clone wars bedspread and sheets in your room at the green house! There's a picture of it at left.

We also caught up with the first season by buying it on DVD. Hopefully you still have it and the second season. If not, do not worry; I shall repurchase it andthe other four seasons for us to enjoy one day.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Our hike of Red Rock Canyon State Park

I bet you don't remember this hike - you were barely two years old at the time! It's the first big hike we took after moving to Lancaster, Calif., and we did it four years ago today.

It was to Red Rock Canyon State Park, north of Mojave, Calif. We walked through some areas where the canyon walls were made of pure black lava rock - it was quite a sight!

During a rest stop, I let you out of the child carrier that I had on my back, and you sat on a boulder of lava that is about 13 million years old. That's what the photo at left is of. The cool dinosaur T-shirt I bought for you in Green River, Utah, a few months before. I still have your hiking hat shown in the picture!

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

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Remember seeing an 'ugly car'?

When you were just a year old, I started teaching you colors. One of the ways I did that was to point out the colors of cars in parking lots when we passed them. You learned the colors pretty quickly that way.

Sometimes, though, you'd see a rare color that I hadn't taught and then would point at the car to ask me what it was. I'd say something like "That's a beige car" or "That's a turquoise car." You'd then repeat the color aloud to me.

Once you pointed at a PT Cruiser (see picture at above right), and in an attempt to be snarky, I responded "That's an ugly  car." So you said back to me, "Ugly!"

After that, everytime we saw a PT Cruiser, you'd say, "Look Dad, an ugly car!"

Remember going to Bugstock?

At Bugstock, March 25, 2012
One year ago today, we drove all the way to the fairgrounds in Orange County to see Bugstock! This was an event to celebrate all things "Beatles".

There were a bunch of fun blow-up playground jumpers and slides that you played on, a VW bug car show, and of course, a Beatles tribute band performing. We listened to a few of the Beatles' early songs. As watching the performance, you asked me "Which one is which?" That got a few chuckles from some of the people surrounding us, who were a little older and probably were teenagers when the Beatles had their first hits - no doubt they heard the same question from their own parents!

After that day, we went about 10 days without seeing one another, as I flew out to Wisconsin a couple of days later to bring Jane cross country to our condo in Palmdale. Boy, were you ever excited to see me and Jane that Wednesday night when I picked you up! We were so excited to finally seeyou again, too!

Here's a whole bunch of photos from our adventure at Bugstock.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

My email to you for March 16, 2013

Here is my email to you for March 16, 2013, just in case you don’t receive it:

Hi Kieran,

How are you today? I hope you’re doing well. I’d doing fine, though I miss you very much.

How is school going? I did not receive your email to me last week, so I did not get to hear from you how you are doing in kindergarten. Please have your mother resend the email to me so I can catch up on your schooling.

Tomorrow (Sunday, March 17), you will have to make sure you wear green. Why? Because it’s St. Patrick’s Day! It is a very important day for people who are Irish. Though we’re not Irish, we still celebrate the holiday out of respect to those who are and because it’s a lot of fun!

Do you get spring break at your school? The school where your cousins Rebekah and Bryan go has spring break in just another week. During spring break, they get the whole week off from school! Schools often have spring break so that parents can take their children on vacation, and then the kids don’t have to miss any school.

If you could go on vacation, where would you go? Some people travel to lots of fun places like Disneyworld in Florida (We used to go to Disneyland in California.). Other families travel to scenic or historical places where they can enjoy nature or learn about our past. Places like that include a national park, such as the Grand Canyon in Arizona, or Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital. Other families don’t travel at all but spend their vacation in their own house, enjoying their time together playing games and watching movies and maybe going to fun places that are nearby, like a mall.

After St. Patrick’s Day and spring break comes Easter on March 31. Do you have big plans for Easter, like going to an egg hunt or maybe out to eat for Easter dinner? I am going to Grandma and Grandpa Bignell’s for Easter. Your Uncle Chris, Aunt Suzie, cousins Bryan and Rebekah, Aunt Sandy and Uncle Mark all will be there. We are having ham and prime rib for dinner. All of us wish you could be there with us for Easter sinenr.

There sure is a lot of snow on the ground – much more than we had in California! Do you like playing in the snow? Have you made a snowman or snow angels yet? Have you gone sledding? When I was a little boy your age, I always liked to go sledding down snow-covered hills and then have hot chocolate afterward. You might remember that we went up into the mountains near our house in Lancaster and went sledding and had hot chocolate afterward – it was the first time you ever had hot chocolate, and you loved it! You had so much fun going up and down and down the hills and drank so much hot chocolate that you slept the whole drive back to our house.

Once the snow starts to melt in a couple of weeks, the wind will start to pick up as spring arrives. That makes for great kite-flying weather. Would you like to fly a kite?

Well, that is all for now. I love and miss you very much and can’t wait to see you again on March 29!



Friday, March 15, 2013

Your favorite Disneyland play areas

Redwood Creek Challenge Trail: Sept. 3, 2011
Besides rides and shows, we spent a lot of our time when at Disneyland in two really cool play areas: Tom Sawyer's Island in Disneyland and the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in California Adventure.

To reach Tom Sawyer's Island, we had to a raft across a river. The island had a cool tree house, some neat dock challenges (like pumping water to get to the treasure chest, and a wrecked pirate ship that had been trapped in the sand.

You loved the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail (which you called "the bear place") and often pretended to be a Jedi knight trying to find lost clone troopers. There was a fallen hollow sequoia tree that we would play this game in over and over; I'd be an injured clone trooper that you rescued. A picture of it is at above right.

What memories do you have of your favorite Disneyland play areas?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Your favorite Disneyland shows

Kieran vs. Darth Vader on Aug. 27, 2011
Yesterday I wrote about your favorite Disneyland rides. Interestingly, we didn't go on all that many rides whenever we visited Disneyland - maybe four or five at most. That's because we spent a lot of time doing other stuff there, like going to shows, shopping in stores, and playing together whenever we found fun interactive activities.

By far, your favorite two shows to attend were the Muppet Show 3D in California Adventure and the Jedi Academy in Disneyland's Tomorrowland. We went to the Muppet Show so many times that you actually started memorizing some of the lines/jokes (especially Fozzie the Bear's "waka waka!")!

You almost always were selected for the Jedi Academy. A couple of times, you even wore your Luke Skywalker costume when participating. After a while, you started memorizing all of the light saber moves they taught at the academy. The picture above is of you battling Darth Vader at one of the shows.

What memories do you have of these two shows?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Your favorite Disneyland rides

Francis Ladybug ride, Sept. 10, 2010
Saw an advertisement on a website for Disneyland and started thinking of all of the times we went there and what your favorite rides were.

By far, your favorite ride when you were 2-3 years old was the Mad Tea Party (or the "tea cups" as you called it) and then as a 3-4 year old, you loved the Francis Ladybug Boogie (or "the ladybug ride" as you called it) over in California Adventure. You'd ask to go on both rides over and over, and we'd get back in line and do them all again and again!

Other favorite rides that you always liked to go on - but were happy to do just once a visit - were: the Haunted House (but only when it was decorated for "The Nightmare Before Christmas"); It's a Small World; Monsters Inc. (at California Adventure); and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

What rides do you remember going on?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Up, up and beautiful balloon

Hot air balloon over our house
in Lancaster, Calif.
Do you remember the hot air balloons that used to fly over the green house in Lancaster, Calif.? Usually on Sunday mornings, beginning around this time of year, a whole bunch of them would take off in the desert west of where we lived and fly over the house.

Though the balloons were some 1000 to 3000 feet above us in the sky, they were 75 feet tall so could easily be seen. Their brilliant rainbow colors looked very pretty against the clear blue sky as floating quietly upon the gentle wind.

I always wanted to take you to a balloon launching, as watching the them be filled with helium and then rise off the ground is an impressive sight. Wouldn't it be fun to go up in a hot air balloon?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Standing in front of a pteranodon

Here's a great photo of us I found in my files; I don't remember the name of the place, but it was on the coast in southern Oregon where you walk through the forest, which has a bunch of fake dinosaurs arranged in dioramas. Kind of kitschy, I know, but it was pretty drive and lots of fun! I'm a sucker for kitschy dinosaur displays, btw.

The trail through the displays started with concrete, so we took you in your stroller. Then the trail turned to dirt and got rough, so we had to carry you and bring the stroller back to the beginning!

Here we are in front of a pteranodon. We did this trip in September 2007, so you are only 6 months old! On the way back, we stopped for a nice meal at a restaurant in Brookings, Ore. We were living in Crescent City, Calif., at the time.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Our many Pacific Ocean adventures

June 20, 2011, Moonlight Beach,
in Encinitas, Calif.
Do you remember all of the times we went to the ocean? We went quite a number of times to the beach in Ventura and Encinitas and once to the beach in Carpenteria. We'd also do the boardwalk in Long Beach, and when you were an infant, you went to beaches in and around Crescent City.

You always liked to let the tide rush in at you and see if you could evade it by running away. Sometimes you were successful! Because you couldn't yet swim, I always had to make sure I held your hands so you wouldn't get knocked down and float away on me.

We also went to different aquariums that had fish, mammals and other animals that lived in the ocean. The Aquarium of the Pacific on Long Beach by far was your favorite. We also went once to the Birch Aquarium in San Diego and a couple of times to Sea World in San Diego.

Here's some pictures from a couple of those ocean adventures!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

My email to you for March 9, 2013

Here is my email to you sent March 9, 2013, just in case you do not receive it:

Hi Kieran!

I hope this letter finds you well. I love and miss you very much. Grandma and Grandpa Bignell, Uncle Chris and Aunt Suzie and your cousins Bryan and Rebekah send their love, too, and wanted you to know that they can’t wait to meet you.

How is school going? When we last spoke, you said you were up to the letter R in Superkids. I bet that means you are up to the letters S and T now! I’m very excited that you’re learning your letters and ultimately how to read. It’ll be interesting hearing what you think about the books you’ve read. Maybe you’ll be able to read me a story instead of me reading you one! J

You also mentioned that you were learning about oceans. I bet that is a very exciting and an easy unit for you, as we used to go to the ocean all the time. You might remember that we used visit the beach in Ventura and Encinitas and also aquariums. The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach was your favorite! There is an aquarium at the Mall of America and a small one at the Minnesota Zoo, both very close to where you live. Have you had a chance to visit them yet?

I believe you also said you were learning about money in your math class. I bet that is fun. Did you know that not all quarters look the same? While the fronts are the same with the head of our first president, George Washington, the backsides now have pictures from our 50 states. It’s fun to collect quarters of your favorite states. Can you guess what’s on the backside of Minnesota’s quarter? What states’ quarters would you like to see or collect?

On Monday morning you may find yourself very tired! That’s because we will be moving our clocks ahead one hour tonight. We move our clocks ahead in part so that we’ll have more sunlight in the morning when people get up. We actually skip an hour in time – and a lot of people lose an hour of sleep because of it! So go to bed a little earlier tonight to help your body adjust to the change in time.

You’ll want to check your closet and see if you have any green clothes to wear! Why? Because March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day. On that day, people who are Irish celebrate their heritage and wear green, the favorite color of the country where the Irish come from, Ireland. We’re not Irish, but we still celebrate St. Patrick’s Day because it’s lots of fun, and the Irish played a very important role in the growth of our country.

Speaking of St. Patrick’s Day, I recently read a great book about the holiday. It was called “The Gold at the End of the Rainbow” by Loek Koopmans. The book is about a boy who’s your age – his name is Brendan – and his grandpa, who sail to an island looking for a treasure chest of gold. On the island they meet a leprechaun! Do you think they find any gold? You will have to read the book to find out! I bet you can find it at your school or city library.

Well, that is all for now. I am looking forward to seeing you again on March 29! I miss you!



Friday, March 8, 2013

Today we moved into our condo

One year ago today we moved into our condo in Palmdale...unfortunatley, our stay there was a short one.

You might recall that I didn't have any furniture as Jane planned to move in, and she was going to bring all of her stuff. So while we waited for Jane to arrive, the whole house was empty! I set up a table and chairs for me to work and us to enjoy our meals, and then moved in our toiletries, clothes and a few kitchen items. That made for a great playground! We had lots of space and used the whole condo as a giant playroom.

The place was quite pretty with some gorgeous trees outside, with the one by the stairwell to the main entry having purple blossoms. And who can forget the ice cream stand that was within walking distance!

Here's a whole bunch of photos of our condo!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Another favorite TV show of mine

You've probably gathered by now that "Star Trek" and "The Six Million Dollar Man" were my favorite show when I was a young boy like you. But there were a lot of other shows I liked, too!

One of them was "Welcome Back, Kotter." It was a comedy show about a teacher and his classroom full of difficult students (called the "sweat hogs"). Each student had some funny thing they'd do in every episode, which was hilarious at first but I suppose grew a bit tiring week after week, so the show didn't stay on the air for very long, maybe two or three years.

The show also had a great theme song that is one of my favorites, "Welcome Back" by John Sebastian. John Sebastian was a big rock star many years before in the 1960s, and his theme song got me interested in his earlier music, which is among my favorites today.

What are your favorite TV shows?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The importance of a pet

I am so glad that you have a pet. Besides being great companions, they can teach much about being responsible and compassionate toward others. A lot of people will ut on a good talk about the importance of being responsible and compassionate, but until you actually take care of an animal or another person, you may not truly understand what it means or how it can make you feel good.

Since I grew up on a farm, I've had lots of pets, both cats and dogs. As an adult, I had a couple of cats, and I've written about one of them, Winnie, in a previous entry.

My very first pet was a border collie named Scotty. My dad named him that because border collies are common in Scotland, but as a little boy, I thought he named him after the chief engineer on "Star Trek"! Anyway, Scotty and I had lots of great adventures playing ball and just wandering around the yard together. While I was little too young to really take care of him (as I did with my later pets), I did learn how to feed and water him and helped give him baths.

In what ways do you take care of your pet cat, Yoda?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Recall hiking Coarsegold Canyon?

Two years ago today we hiked Coarsegold Canyon in the Angeles National Forest and found a 12-million year-old fossil!

All those millions of years ago, that part of California was a lush delta flowing into the Pacific Ocean. Then a volcano blew, burying the area in ash. The fossil we found (and I still have it!) is of a leaf that was covered in that ash, called volcanic tuff.

You helped me dig through some of the white chalky tuff and then took a break to enjoy some freeze-dried ice cream I brought. See the picture on this page!

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

Monday, March 4, 2013

Recall going to the beach in Ventura?

One year ago today we went to one of your favorite places - the beach in Ventura!

Your sand toys were packed away in a storage shed, so we went to the Target in Ventura and picked up some new ones. There was the standard bucket and a couple of shovels but also a plastic truck and airplane.

Then we stopped off at the Busy Bee Cafe to enjoy a fun lunch of burgers and fries. It's a 1950s-styled diner in downtown Ventura that has been around since 1963, which was the height of the surf craze in Southern California.

From there, it was off to the beach! We played in the sand, on the playground, and even stepped into the ocean water just a little bit. It was a beautiful day with temps in the mid-70s! It was a beautfiul day because I got to spend it with you!

Here's a whole bunch of photos from our day at the beach.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bubble time on our get-together

I had so much fun playing bubbles with you this past weekend! You made some really cool-looking ones, as the photo to the right attests.

You've always like making bubbles (Well, who doesn't unless you're a moldy grump?). When you were a baby, I'd make them for you, and you'd try to swat them.

Later, when you were three or so, I purchased a "bubble gun" for you - it was like a squirt gun, except you hooked a bottle of bubble solution to it, and when you pulled the trigger it blew out bubbles!

Here's a few photos from "bubble time"!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My email to you sent on March 2, 2013

Here’s a copy of weekly email sent to you on March 2, 2013, in case you don’t receive it:

Hi Kieran,

How are you doing today? I’m doing fine, though I miss you like crazy! I had so much fun with you get together you could bring the Batman puzzle that was in it, and we could make it together. I’m also glad you enjoyed the candy. Grandma wasn’t feeling well on Friday, so she didn’t have a chance to make her Easter cupcakes for you, but she promised to do so for the next time we get together, which is in four weeks on March 29.

I’m also very happy that you liked the dragon Hot Wheels set and the cool cars to play with it. That was neat how the cars would go down the ramp on only one set of wheels where the dragon had “bitten out” the roadway! I shall have to look at the toy store for a race track like the center has.

What adventures are you taking your toy archer and ninja on today? I bet they will battle a very dangerous dragon. Make sure to feed the dragon whole wheat so that it can’t breathe fire – then you’ll be able to capture it for the zoo!

This week may be the last you’ll be able to make snowmen this winter. The weather is supposed to get very warm this week – warm enough to make the snow melt. When spring and the snow melt came while I was in school and about your age (well, a little older), we used to make dams out of the runoff and the remaining snow. Here’s a newspaper column I once wrote about it.

Making the eggs in school with the balloons and plaster of Paris sounds like fun. Do you next get to paint the eggs?

Have you read any good books lately? I have. I recently read “Bunny’s Easter Egg” by Anne Mortimer. It’s about a bunny rabbit who looks a lot like your new stuffie, Soccer. After a long night of hiding Easter eggs, the bunny rabbit can’t find a comfortable place to sleep. Will Bunny be able to go to sleep? You’ll have to find out be reading the book. I bet it’s in your school or city library.

Before I go, I just want you to know that I have not received your emails for the past eight weeks or your report card (via email or by giving me a copy on Friday as requested in last week’s email). Please have your mother resend your emails and your report card.

I love and miss you very much! I look forward to reading all of your resent emails, as well as your response to this one, and to seeing you again no later than March 29.




Friday, March 1, 2013

Advice on goals and adventures

I read a great quotation today from the famous American author Mark Twain: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover."

I found this to be so true, Kieran! As I look back upon the places I've been, the accomplishments I've had, and the adventures I've gone on, I don't do so with any disappointment, even if I did not necessarily achieve what I wanted to there and with the people I knew at that time. I learned from such experiences, and given what I knew at the time and the skills I possessed then, I did the best I could.

If I am disappointed at all, it is that I have not yet been to some places, that I have not yet achieved certain goals, that I have yet to experience various adventures. There are many great places yet to see in life, many wonderful dreams yet to be realized, many fantastic explores yet to be undertaken. There perhaps are more places, goals, and adventures than I have years left to fit them all into!

So live life to your fullest, my son. Never sit back and wait. Once you havebeen somewhere, have achieved a goal, and have completed an adventure, move on to the next one and keep striving - in doing so, you will be thriving.

You won't be disappointed that you did!