Friday, May 31, 2013

Visiting L.A. Zoo four years ago today

Boy Contemplates Chimpanzees
Four years ago today we went to the Los Angeles Zoo! We went to see all of the animals of Africa, like the lions, gorillas and giraffes, and then spent some time at the zoo's cool playground.

You were walking around quite well by this time, but the zoo with its steep inclines and crowds wasn't a great place to let you walk free. So I pushed you about in a stroller and then when we got to each animal, I took you out of the stroller and held you up so you can see them. I got my exercise that day!

You were really interested in the chimpanzees. Fortunately, there was a clear plexiglass window that you could lean against and watch the chimps - which you did for quite a while!

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

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Spending Memorial Day at Disneyland

Kieran at Disneyland, May 30, 2011.
Two years ago today, we spent Memorial Day at Disneyland!

I had just moved to San Diego, and when picking you up for the weekend, we went to Disneyland on Saturday and then drove along the ocean back to my place in Encinitas. Having just moved, I didn't have a lot of spare money, but since Disneyland was on the way between my place and your mother's, and since we had Disneyland annual passes, going there again on Monday made sense.

We spent a good amount of time in the morning at Fantasyland and then during the afternoon went over to California Adventure. I remember us seeing the Muppet 3D show and going on the Monsters Inc. ride.

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

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Visiting the Birch Aquarium in San Diego

Whale tail sculpture fountain at Birch Aquarium.
Two years ago today we visited the famous Birch Aquarium in San Diego. It was Sunday morning, and we went out for the first of many Sunday morning breakfasts at Denny's in Encinitas.

Afterward, we drove down the freeway to the aquarium. They had some neat sculptures there as well as a great view of the ocean on the aquarium's backside. We spent quite amount of time in the children's play area.

Afterward, we had lunch at the aquarium's cafe. And of course we hit the gift shop!

Here's some photos from our adventure!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day weekend trip to Disneyland

Two years ago today, we spent the day at Disneyland in what would become one of many trips that summer to the theme park.

Usually our visit began with a ride on Astro Blasters ("the Buzz Lightyear ride," as you called it) then a stop at the Star Traders (read "Star Wars") shop across the way. Then we'd head on over to Fantasyland for some rides, which almost always included the teacups. The afternoon would be spent at one of the playground areas, usually the Redwoods Challenge Trail in California Adventure.

This particular weekend, you got a Mickey Mouse dressed up as a jedi stuffie at the Star Traders store! The above picture was taken that afternoon at California Adventure.

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

Monday, May 27, 2013

Pictures from our May 24 visit

When we were together on Friday, you said I should put the pictures from our visit on my computer. I'm not quite sure I fully understand what was meant - Did you mean post them on Facebook? Maybe place the pictures on my desktop? Possibly post them here? Or just store them? My hope is that now that you have a computer that you might be able to see this site. At the very least, I know that soon you will be able to read and use a computer just as well as (probably better!) than an adult, and you'll be able to see these pages and learn the truth about what has happened. So, I've posted here a few of the pictures from our visit for you to see!

The photo you took of me!

Winning the Scooby Doo game

Playing with Star Trek legos

Playing with micro cars

Enjoying Grandma's cookies

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Recall playing 'Don't Break the Ice'?

Do you remember our Don't Break the Ice game? We always had lots of fun playing it, and the Scooby Doo brick game that we played on Friday reminded me a lot of it.

The biggest challenge of the game was getting the ice blocks into the tray! We always did them together, but getting the last ones tucked in along the sides always was a little difficult for your little fingers.

The first time I ever played the game was as a little boy who was about your age when you got the game. My cousin Barry had the game, and we'd often play it at his house. Except he lost ice cubes along the way, and it wasn't as fun to play when after only two or three taps the beat would go through the ice!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

My email to you for May 25, 2013

Enjoying Grandma Bignell's chocolate chip cookies
on May 24, 2013.
Here is my letter for May 19-25, 2013, in case you don’t receive it:

Dear Kieran,

How are you doing today? I’m doing fine and very happy because I got to see you again yesterday! I had so much fun – but then you’ve always been a great kid to be around!

I’m glad you liked the football player action figures. I shall have to look for some more of them, especially since you like the Chicago Bears and there are a couple of their players that you can get as action figures. I’m sorry to report to you that one of those players, Brian Urlacher, has retired and isn’t playing next year. That’s good news, though, for my favorite team – the Green Bay Packers – because Brian Urlacher was very good at tackling our quarterback!

Playing the Scooby Doo game was great fun, too! You were quite good at tapping out the bricks. It reminded me a lot of our Don’t Break the Ice game. I bet you remember the Scooby Doo haunted house that we used to have. Maybe I should look for that and get it for the next time we’re together.

I think I most liked the Cat in the Hat card game that we played, though. You were excellent at walking like a penguin, and thank you for showing me how to skip properly! I will bring that one with me next time!

The “Star Trek” transporter Lego set is neat with how the light flashes and then our character sins around so it looks like he’s beamed down to the planet with the Kirk Rocks. There aren’t too many “Star Trek” sets left to get, but I will look for more packages with characters – hopefully we will get the Gorn! Maybe you also would like a Lone Ranger Lego set?

I liked playing “zombie” with the finger lights, too! We used to play all the time with those and the “Star Trek” lights we got out of cereal boxes. We’d sneak through our green house in Lancaster, pretending it was a wrecked ship that we searched for survivors, hoping no monsters attacked us. But they inevitably did – and turned one of us (usually me!) into an alien zombie.

Playing with the micro cars was a good time, too. They fit perfect on that fold-out van set, didn’t they?!

I’ve been a little surprised that you haven’t wanted to read books the last several times that we’ve gotten together. We used to read books all the time together. Is there a reason you don’t like to read books anymore?

I know that you want to see me more, and I want to ensure you that I also want to see you more. I love you more than anything in the world and want to see you every day and have fun and new experiences just like we always did. Let me assure you that I am working very hard at ensuring that happens.

Well, that is all for now. You take care – I next will see you June 21 (and hopefully even sooner!)!



Friday, May 24, 2013

List of new 'Star Trek' Lego-like toys

Transporter (w/Scotty and Klingon)
I'm looking forward to seeing you today, Kieran. It is the highlight of my month when we can spend time together, if only for a couple of hours.

I will bring more of the "Star Trek" Legos for us to build and play with, including some characters. When we were together, we used to look online at all of the "Star Wars" toys that were coming out; so in advance of our visit, I thought I'd list all of the "Star Trek" Legos (They're actually not made by Lego but a competitor known as Kre-o) sets:
>>Transporter (w/Scotty and Klingon) HAVE
>>Dive Doors (w/Kahn, Captian Kirk) HAVE
>>USS Enterprise (big set)
>>Jellyfish ship w/stand
>>Klingon ship w/stand HAVE
>>USS Enterprise w/stand HAVE
>>USS Kelvin w/stand
>>Klingon Bird of Prey (w/characters)
>>Shuttlecraft (w/Sulu and Spock)

Which ones will I bring? You shall find out today at 2:45 p.m.!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Remember your X-wing fighter?

Another one of your favorite toys when a preschooler was the Star Wars X-wing fighter - it was the rebel ship that Luke Skywalker and his companions flew when trying to destory the Death Star. It came with an action figure pilot (not Luke, though) and an R2D2.

The ship often came in for a landing at the rebel base that we'd "make" on the living room endtable by using the Batcave as a command center and some other Star Wars action figure accessories like computers and communication tables. We always had action figures and robots performing maintenance on the ship!

Other times we'd take it and the Star Trek shuttlecraft on flights through space as they explored new planets. Inevitably, those planets included Pillow and Blanket monsters that tried to caputre our heroes and destory their spacecraft!

When we were at City Park in Lancaster, in the areas with steering wheels we'd sometimes pretend to instead be flying the X-wing fighter as we attacked the Death Star!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Our spring visit to Aquarium of the Pacific

Two years ago today, we visited the renowned Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif.

The day did not start well for us, though! You got ill in the car and threw up! I had to stop at Target along the way to buy you new clothes.

You seemed to be OK while we were at the aquarium. One of the most exciting parts of the visit was when you got to feed the lorikeets. A few moments after the photo at above left was taken, the greedy little bird decided to use you forearm for a branch. When the bird jumped onto your arm, you screamed and spilled the nectar!

On the way back, you were feeling a little under the weather once more and threw up in the car again! Fortunately, I was able to get you cleaned up at a Burger King in Santa Clarita.

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


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Touring a small aerospace museum

Examining an early protoype for a rocket.
Two years ago today we toured the Colonel Vernon P. Saxon Jr. Aerospace Museum in Boron, Calif. We were on our way to the Calico Ghost Town outside of Barstow and stopped for a little car break.

The museum was named for a local Air Force guy who worked on a lot of intersteing experimental projects at Edwards Air Force Base, which Boron is on the north side of. One of the projects was the same kind of aircraft that Steve Austin would later be shown flying (and crashing) in the opening sequence of "The Six Million Dollar Man" television show.

You had quite the imagination and wanted to play with all of the exhibits, pretending we were in the Air Force or on rocketships and that our stuff was broken and needed to be fixed or we'd crash!

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

Monday, May 20, 2013

Our mini-vacation at Disneyland

Trying to make the "C" a "G" at the
California Adventure entry.
Three years ago today, we began a four-day mini-vacation at Disneyland and California Adventure. We went to each park Thursday through Sunday and stayed in Pomona!

At this time in your life, you liked to meet the Disney characters. Donald Duck was your favorite, you said, and you got to meet him at California Adventure! I think you also met Goofy, Mickey, Minnie Mouse and the bears as well.

Here's a whole bunch of pictures from our California Adventure portion of the mini-vacation. If you were to go to the theme park today, you would find that it has changed - they tore down the letters in front of the park and changed the central area. I kind of like it the "old way" - the way it's shown in these pictures - but the new look is nice, too.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Our picture is in a bunch of bookstores!

This weekend your face is gracing book covers at a number of book stores across northwest Wisconsin!

My latest book, "Headin' to the Cabin" has been getting a lot of attention, and a number of businesses have asked to sell the book. Whenever they do, I try to talk them into also carrying my other hiking guidebooks - "Hikes with Tykes" and "Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities" (And they usually take them!).

The two "Hikes with Tykes" books both feature a picture of you on their covers. One has a picture of you on the Manzanita Trail in the Angeles National Forest and the other shows you at Vasquez Rocks (Or what you call the Kirk Rocks!).

The books with you photo on the cover are on sale at Wisconsin book stores or outfitters in Hudson, Eau Claire, Cumberland, Spooner and Cable! I also have books on sale in Stillwater and Menomonie, but they don't carry the "Hikes with Tykes" books. :(

Saturday, May 18, 2013

My email to you for May 18, 2013

Here is my email to you for May 18, 2013, in case you do not receive it:

Dear Kieran,

How are you doing? I’m doing fine, although I miss you very much and wish we could spend every day together. The good news is that we get to see once another again in just six days, on the afternoon of Friday, May 24! I can’t wait to see you again!

I put together the Star Trek transporter Lego kit for us to play with when we get together. It’s really cool. One side is the transporter room. You can put your Lego guy on the transporter pad; when you press a button, a blue light flashes, and the pad spins around to the back side, which is a scene from the planet he just beamed down to! There are some more Star Trek Lego characters I can pick up at the toy store, so I will make sure that we have some of them to put together and play with on the transporter kit!

We used to have lots of great Lego kits to play with when we lived in California. A few were from Harry Potter, a couple form Pirates of the Caribbean, and most were from Star Wars. Not only were they fun to put together but to later incorporate into our playtime with all of the neat Lego figures we had. I still have most of the Lego figures and will make sure to get them out for you once we’re back together again.

How is school going? You’re almost done with kindergarten and will soon be a first grader! What interesting books have you read? What are you learning about in math (I was so impressed that you could add 52 and 5 to get 57 when we were last together! I couldn’t do that in kindergarten!). Are you still studying oceans or have you moved on to a different topic in science?

I don’t remember too much about was taught when I was in kindergarten, but I do remember playing a lot. We also got to do a lot of arts and crafts stuff (like painting) that I didn’t have the materials for at home, so that was a lot of fun. I recall that for “aprons” to keep the thick paints from getting on our clothes, we wore our dad’s used shirt backwards so that the button side was on our back. It worked! Most of my friends and I had paint all over our dads’ shirts – but not on our good school clothes!

Have you read any good books lately? I have. It was called “Who Was King Tut?” by Roberta Edwards. The book is the nonfiction (or about real people and events) story of the famous Egyptian pharaoh King Tut. He also is known as the “boy king” because he ruled all of Egypt even though he was a boy. The book told about the mummy’s curse – it was said that bad things would anyone to who disturbed King Tut’s tomb (where he was buried). So did bad things happen to the scientists who found King Tut’s tomb? You will have to read the book and find out! You probably can find the book at your city library or a bookstore – be sure to look for it when your grandmother or mom take you there!

Well, that is all for this letter. I shall see you in just six days – on May 24. I love and miss you very much!



Friday, May 17, 2013

Remember our Busytown game?

One of your favorite games to play was Busytown. It was a neat game, based on the Richard Scarry characters and books, in which we actually "cooperated" help one another.

First we had to put the board together! It was very long, stretching six or seven feet across the floor.

Then we'd spin to see if we drew a card or if the pigs got to eat picnic food. If we drew a card, we had to find the object on the card and place a "magnifying glass" over it; when the hourglass timer was done, we'd stop and count how many of the objets we found - and that's how many spaces we got to move.

The object of the games was to reach the picnic blanket before the pigs ate up all of the food!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Your name/pic is in the newspaper!

Your picture and name appeared in Wednesday's (May 15's) St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper! The newspaper ran article about my recent hiking book, "Headin' to the Cabin."

The article included a picture of us when you were just two years old when we were hiking Red Rock Canyon State Park in California. It also describes how to came to write my hiking books because of our experiences together and notes that the book is dedicated to you.

In just a couple of weeks, I'll be reading a hiking essay, which includes you in it, at three bookstores. The stores are in Stillwater, Minn., and Hudson and Menomonie, Wis.

I've saved a copy of the newspaper article for you to have one day. But the article also appears online.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Our hike along Monte Cristo Creek

Four years ago today we went hiking in the mountainous Angeles National Forest on the Monte Cristo Creek Trail. Temperatures were in the high 90s in the desert where we lived, so I thought the mountains would be a bit cooler.

It was cooler, and we were helped in that the trail paralleled a creek. Still, the terrain was at a low enough elevation that it still was desert, so we didn't walk too far before having to turn around.

We parked at a campground near the trailhead, and I remember that when you saw the ash from a campfire ring you got all excited and wanted to play in it (see picture at left). I stopped you just in time by giving you a snack of dehydrated ice cream!

Unfortuantely, the area we hiked no longer looks like it did then. Later that summer, a horrible forest fire swept through the area and burned up the campground and surrounding woodlands.

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

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Attending Fire Appreciation Day 2011

Trying on the U.S. Forest Service's
firefighting gear.
Two years ago today, we went to Los Angeles County Fire Appreciation Day in Lancaster, Calif.! Though a little hot, all of the great fire, police and ambulances vehicles on display there were worth it!

We got to go inside a real station and see what it looked like. After that, we made the rounds, stopping at (and climbing into!) all of the great fire trucks, ambulances and police cars that we could.

There also were demonstrations of firemen putting out fires and "rescuing" people, but usually they were very crowded, and with the heat we decided to skip them. I think you got a new fire hat there, too, if I recall.

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

Monday, May 13, 2013

Remember your Scooby Doo game?

One of your favorite games to play as a preschooler was the Scooby Doo haunted house game. We bought it at Toys 'R Us.

We could be any of the Scooby Doo gang, and a spinner would tell us what to do. Sometimes when we landed on a square, we had to push down a ghost, and that would set in motion all of these traps. If our character got caught in a trap, we had to start over!

The game was really hard to keep together! It was made of cardboard and plastic, and when pressing the ghost, sometimes some of the traps on the board came apart! Still, we had lots of fun with it.

At above right is a picture of what the game looked like.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Remember your Batcave playset?

One of your favorite toys to play with when a prechooler was the Batcave by Imaginext.

The playset unfolded, had two levels (four if you count the floor and the cave roof), boasted an elevator, a chamber that could be closed, and several entry points. We bought a bunch of accessories with it, including the Batcopter and some of the Batman villains.

We used the playset for lots of fun besides playing Batman. I remember on many occasions it became part of the rebel base for our Star Wars character or somehow was incorporated into other storylines using our other action figures.

Above left is a picture of the Batcave playset we had!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

My email to you for May 11, 2013

Here is my email sent to you on May 11, 2013, in case you did not receive it:

Dear Kieran,

How are you doing? I’m doing fine. I had so much fun with you yesterday! I can’t wait to see you again in just two weeks on the afternoon of May 24.

Thank you for introducing your stuffie penguins to me! They look like they’ve received lots of love and affection from you, and that’s cool. I remember how much you enjoyed the penguin cartoons that you would watch on the DVD player when we made those long drives from Palmdale to San Diego. It was always a great pleasure of mine to hear you laugh and giggle from the back seat!

Putting together the “Star Trek” legos was a lot of fun, too. You did a great job of following the instructions. We still have the Klingon ship and the transporter to build. There were a couple of other “Star Trek” lego models at the toy store, so I shall pick them up for the next time we get together. I think there were some other characters we can get as well. They also had Lone Ranger Lego sets, so maybe we’ll do those when we run out of “Star Trek” kits!

Is your wooden car model holding up well? If the wheels ever fall off, you just have to use some wood glue to put them back together. You did a very nice job of painting the car!

You were very good at playing War! I shall have to find some additional games for us to play. Have you ever heard of the game “Operation”? You have to pick up little pieces out of a “body,” but if you touch the body it buzzes and you don’t get the piece. Whoever has the most pieces at the end wins. I bet you would like that game. Speaking of the body, the next time we get together I also will bring the human body book with the skeleton that we can put together.

I am glad you enjoyed the book about Egypt, too. It had a lot of interesting pictures, didn’t it? One of your favorite places to go when I lived in Encinitas/San Diego was the Museum of Man, which had a whole section of Egyptian mummies and sarcophaguses as well as a great children’s area for learning about Egypt. We’d take the trolley there, and on the walk over from the trolley stop would look around in the sculpture garden and sometimes have lunch in the open air cafeteria next to it. Their gift store was a lot of fun, too – if I remember correctly, we got you some Egypt and Darwin toys, there. Anyway, the museum was one of your favorite places, and you’d even beg me to go there!

We had so much fun that we didn’t have time to do everything, like play with the Hot Wheels car, the map puzzle, or the sticker play book. Maybe next time!

Well, that is all for now. I love you and miss you like crazy. I’ll write again next Saturday and will see you on May 24!



Friday, May 10, 2013

'Kieran's Quote of the Day'

When you were a preschooler, you had a "fan club"! Every once in a while, I'd post on my Facebook page something humorous that you said. I called them "Kieran's Quote of the Day."

People loved them! They'd share your quotes with teir friends and leave comments.

Here are a couple of those quotes:

>>(As passing an aisle of girls toys at Target): "What a waste of shelf space!"
>>(After coming down from a mountaint op on a hike): "Daddy, my hat still up there."

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Our last time together for some time...

One year ago today marked the last time I would see you for six months. I picked you up after school and brought you back to our condo in Palmdale where we had dinner.

I will remember forever our last moments together. After dinner, we were in your room next to the closet counting out quarters. I was teaching you how to divide them out so you would know when you had a dollar and then how to count those groups so that we would have enough "dollars" - we were going to get Jane from her room and walk to the ice cream stand on the corner and get some cones.

Only after a long struggle in the courts would I see you again six months later, on Nov. 9, 2012. As writing this, I continue to pursue your legal and moral right to see me. Because I love you, I promise that I never will retreat from my duty as your father to ensure your rights and needs are met.

Going to Germany with Guard in 1986

During college, I took three weeks off and went to Germany! It wasn't a tourist, though; my National Guard unit went there on a three-week training mission called REFORGER in January 1986.

The idea of the training was for us to go through the experience of being called to active duty and serving in Europe in case of a suspected Soviet invasion of western Europe. At the time, the Untied States and its allies in the West were engaged in a Cold War with the Soviet Union.

After spending a couple of days at Fort McCoy, Wis., we flew from Camp Douglas, Wis., on a C-130 to Belgium. Along the way, we stopped at an airport in Maine and in the Azores!

From Belgium, we were flown to our base in Grafenwoehr, Germany, and then sent into the field. Our position overlooked a pass through two low mountains near the West German-Czechoslovakia border that would be a major invasion route for the Soviets if they entered the West.

We also got a day off to tour a town. We went through an old castle that was several hundred years old and walked through a German town.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Your love for Smokey the Bear

Just finished editing a children's book called "The Best Bear Hug Ever" and that got me thinking about how much you liked Smokey the Bear as a preschooler!

You first learned about Smokey the Bear when we hiked the Angeles National Forest in California. We went to a fire lookout tower, and the "prize" for children who make it to the fire tower was a Smokey the Bear comic book and button.

You couldn't read, of course, so I told you the life story of Smokey the Bear. You were so concerned that Smokey might not escape the forest fire and were so relieved when the rangers rescued him and nursed him back to health.

You asked me to tell you the story over and over! You also wanted to know if one day we could go see Smokey the Bear's grave in New Mexico (One time when we did drive through New Mexico, though, I got you a Smokey the Bear stuffie.)!

We haven't yet gone to the forest where Smokey lived, but perhaps one day soon we will.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Our last morning together...

One year ago today I took you to school on a Monday morning as you'd spent the weekend with Jane and me at our condo in Palmdale. It was the last morning we spent together for a year now...

While I got breakfast ready for us, you played with your toys in the living room and saw that one of the DVDs I had were the cartoon "Return to the Planet of the Apes". You got all excited and asked if you could watch it, so I put it in - It was one of my favorite cartoons as a little boy!

You were mesmerized by the opening scene and couldn't stop watching it! When Jane joined us for breakfast, I put the DVD on pause so we eat together as a family, and you told her all about the cartoon!

Afterward, I drove you to preschool where we played a little with some of the dinosaur toys there! They had some of the dinosaur play action sets that we did.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Our last weekend together

A year ago today was the last full day and weekend that we've spent together. On that Sunday, we went in the morning to the Kirk Rocks (Vasquez Rocks County Park) where we hiked and played cowboys near the Friday's Child Rocks. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of that last adventure; they were on Jane's camera, and I never got them downloaded onto my computer before we separated.

After hiking the rocks, we went over to the country store in Agua Dulce and enjoyed some ice cream cones. I remember that you had mint chocolate chip, your favorite!

We also picked a roadside flower that we brought back to Jane, who was sleeping in that Sunday morning. You presented it to her when we got back to the condo, and the two of you put it in a glass of water. I recall thinking about where we would take Jane for Mother's Day brunch and deciding a restaurant we found in Agua Dulce would be fun.

The rest of the day is a bit hazy in my memory, though I do recall us tossing the football around to one another that afternoon. It ended up in the neighbor's balcony, and fortunately she got it for us!

You also spent the night at the condo, with me bringing you to school Monday morning.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

You having fun with Grandma Bignell

You might remember that I earlier wrote that Grandma Bignell gave me a whole bunch of pictures of when you spent the winter and summer with them during 2007-2008. You also might remember that I couldn't find any pictures of you and Grandma (probably because she was the one behind the camera).

Well, I found one! It was buried behind another picture in the photo album. So I've posted it here!

I'm not certain when it was taken, but it would have been between mid-December 2007 and early September 2008. That's when Grandma and Grandpa Bignell raised you at their farmhouse in Wisconsin.

I'm not sure what you two were doing, but you sure looked to be having fun!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

My email to you for May 4, 2013

Here is my email sent to you May 4, 2013, in case you do not receive it:

Dear Kieran,

How are you doing? I’m doing fine, though I miss you very much. There’s not an hour in the day that goes by that I don’t think of you!

Hopefully, we will be able to get together on Friday (May 10). Our visitation for April 26 still has yet to be made up, and the Family Center said that next Friday will work for us to get together. We also are scheduled to get together the afternoon of May 24. We will be able to see each other a couple of times this month!

How is school going? What recent books have you read? Are you still studying the oceans or have you moved on to a different topic in science class? How did the spring concert go? I can’t wait to see you again so that you can fill me in on all that you’re doing in school!

Did you know that Sunday is a special day for many Americans? It is Cinco de Mayo. Many Americans celebrate it as a day of pride of Mexican heritage and culture, much like we celebrate the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. The day originally celebrated a major battle in which the Mexican Army defeated the French Army, which invaded Mexico in the 1860s. Mexico is the country south of the United States; when we lived in California, we were very close to Mexico (especially when we lived in San Diego!). Did you celebrate or learn about Cinco de Mayo in school? Maybe you will go to some Cinco de Mayo events on Sunday in the Twin Cities.

Another big day coming up this week is Tuesday (May 7) – It’s National Teacher Day! When I was a teacher, I received a great card from one student on Teacher Day. I taught language arts and grammar to kids, and her card was full of spelling errors and said “Thanx 4 beeing a grate teecher - U lern us stoodents reel goode!” I think I still have that card somewhere and will have to show it to you someday. Be sure to bring an apple to your teacher that day and wish her “Happy Teacher Day”!

I bet you were surprised by all of the snow we received Thursday! Minnesota and Wisconsin usually don’t get snow in May – and if we do, we don’t that much! It should melt very quickly, though, and then we can enjoy the green grass, warm breezes, and sunny skies of spring. I hope to get back out on the trail and do some hiking once spring returns – this weekend, though, I am going to take down my snowshoes and go walking through the woods on them!

Have you read any good books lately? I have. It was called “No Jumping on the Bed” by Tedd Arnold. Despite being told by his parents to not jump on his bed, a naughty little boy named Walter ignores them and keeps seeing how high he can go. He keeps ignoring his parents and keeps going higher and higher. Guess what happens to Walter? You’ll have to read the book and find out! If you’re school library doesn’t have the book, I bet you can get it at the city library when your mother takes you there.

Well, that is all for now. I love and miss you very much! I can’t wait to see you in the week ahead!



Friday, May 3, 2013

Our Star Trek movie action figures

With the new "Star Trek" movie coming out in a few more days, thought I'd share with you some memories of the action figures we had from the last movie. You had all of them!

You liked the Uhura and the Captian Kirk action figures the most for some reason. The pony tail broke off our first Uhura, and it took a while for me to find a replacement one, but we did! Then I think our Sulu or Captain Kirk broke, but I was able to tape him back together.

The belts never stayed on them, but we the phasers did a fairly good job of being in their cupped hands. Sometimes we taped them in place to keep them there!

There were both tall and short ones, so we had two of each character! Usually we played with the small ones, though, because they fit with the transporter and the bridge play action action we had. They also were closer in size to our Star Wars action figures, so we were able to have the two interact.

I think the above picture is of the tall ones, because Chekov is missing, and he wasn't in the tall set.

We had lots of other Star Trek movie tie-in toys, too, and I'll have to bring them up in future entries!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Enjoying real maple syrup

I had pancakes with real maple syrup for breakfast today, and it brought back memories of how you liked real maple syrup, too!

Having grown up on a farm eating only real maple syrup, I never liked the imitation stuff, such as Aunt Jemima Syrup, which has a maple flavoring but doesn't come from maple trees at all (It mainly comes from corn syrup!). So when we went grocery shopping together, I always bought real Vermont maple syrup, even though it was quite expensive.

So you also grew up having real maple syrup on your French toast sticks and waffles.

One day while at Denny's, you got pancakes, but they served you fake maple syrup. When you took a bite of it, you made a face and exclaimed they didn't give you maple syrup!

Like father, like son!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

You're No. 1!

Did I ever tell you about the great exchange we came up with when you were about four?

One of us would say to the other, "You're No. 1!" The other person then would respond, "No, you're No. 1!" Then we'd both point at one another and at the same time say, "We're BOTH No. 1!"

We had lots of little exchanges like that. Sometimes we'd recite/exchange lines from books or TV shows we'd seen. "Knuffle Bunny", "Green Eggs and Ham" and "The Book that Eats People" come to mind!