Saturday, August 31, 2013

My letter to you for Aug. 31, 2013

Here is the letter/email I sent to you on Aug. 31, 2013, in case you do not receive it:

Hi Kieran,

How are you doing today? I’m doing fine though I miss you like crazy!

I had a lot of fun with you Friday!

Your memory is very good, I must say – you remembered exactly where every chess piece went on the board and how they moved. You are on your way to becoming a master chess player!

You also impressed me with your cool karate moves. You’ve got quite a strong punch and kick! Keep working on those moves! I’ll keep practicing my Canadian karate moves, too! J

I’m glad that you enjoyed the Lone Ranger and Army Lego pieces. I’m sorry that the Army Lego Jeep was frustrating to put together – the instructions looked very complicated, so no wonder you didn’t want to follow them! I think, though, that I might have in one of my totes a Lego car that is very easy to make…I shall bring it next time, and we can build it together, okay?

Your knowledge of the states keeps improving, too! I think you knew twice as many on Friday as you did just the week before! I am still looking for that world map puzzle, though. I may have to order it online.

Speaking of online, I looked up and watched the Disney XD show you told me about – I thought you had said “Crash and Burn Scene” rather than “Crash and Bernstein”! I can see why you enjoy the show so much; the humor is exactly what you would find hilarious! I like Crash’s T-shirt showing a skull with headphones on it.

Too bad that you’re friend Milo didn’t come back to school this year. Losing a friend to moving always is difficult; when I was in third grade, my best friend Marc moved, and I had no idea where or if I’d ever get to talk with him again. He introduced me to “The Six Million Dollar Man” and we liked pretending we were “The Bionic Boys.” I was happy to hear that Richard and all of your other friends are back. You guys should have a lot of fun this year!   

Going up north to the farm and the lake sound like a good time. What did you all do on the farm and lake?

I forgot to ask you on Friday how you liked the Titanic book you took home last week. One of the neat things about first grade is that you’ll learn to read and soon will be able to read the book all on your own!

I’m very excited – we get together again on Thursday (Sept. 5)! I miss and love you very much and can’t wait to see you again!



Friday, August 30, 2013

Recall your Pirates of the Caribbean boat?

Do you remember the Pirates of the Caribbean Queen Anne’s Revenge Hero Ship Play-Set we once had? We bought it in fall 2011 during a visit to Disney. You'd been looking it over a lot during previous visits, but it was awfully expensive.

Then I landed a little extra money editing and with a 10% discount on my Disney annual pass, decided "Why not?"

You were in the stroller and had to hold it the entire way back from Downtown Disney to the parking ramp because it wouldn't fit beneath it. You were so excited you couldn't stop looking at the box and gripped it hard so it wouldn't fall.

I lived in Encinitas at the time, and we put it together the following morning. It was huge - about 2-1/2 feet long and 2 feet tall. It included an escape hatch, a retractable plank, a mid-section that slid open, and a rotating crank. I recall a cool glow-in-the-dark skeleton that hung on the ship's prow.

We had lots of Pirates of the Caribbean action figures that we were able to play with it, too!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Learn something new every day

Unfortunately, I am not allowed to be with you each day, Kieran, so I am unable to lisen to and talk with you about your concerns and problems. Because of that, I will on occasion offer advice about moral codes to live by. Here is another such entry.

As we go through life, we have a tendency to focus on a few narrow paths: our careers, our immediate family, our college major, our community. Each of those areas certainly is enough to keep us busy!

They may not be enough, though.

Often we feel unfulfilled because we do nothing but work, raise our kids, study a specific field, live in one small area. We desire to get away from it all for a while. This is necessary to keep our minds fresh.

We don’t necessarily have to travel long distances or abandon all we find comfortable to reboot our mental and emotional health, though. Oftentimes the solution is as simple as learning a little something new every day.

Picking up new knowledge also may be paramount to maintaining a job, family and community. With new information, we can bring a different perspective to work problem, parenting, and local issues. With new information, we can better adapt to new situations because we’re no longer trapped by the notion of “But we’ve always done it this way.” With new information, we’re better able to think creatively. This all occurs because when we actively learn new stuff, our understanding of how the world operates broadens. We gain an understanding that transcends our everyday lives.

How can you learn something new? It’s easy. Google a word. Open a dictionary to a random page and find the first word you don’t know. Go someplace you’ve never been before. Talk to someone who specializes in something you know nothing about. Take a class. Listen to public radio. Attend a lecture. Read a book.

What new thing will you learn today?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Remember that big St. Bernard stuffy?

When we lived in the grene house in Lancaster, you might recall that I had a couple of big pillows a large fluffy St. Bernard dog stacked next to the television in the living room.

Sometimes you way lay on the pillows and dog while watching television. Other times you'd play tackle the dog!
When we did football, "tackle drills," I'd place the the pillow beneath my knees so I'd beyour height for you to ram into.

The dog was a stuffy I got for your mother before you were born. She liked St. Bernards, and for a while we were putting together a mystery novel about a nurse whose St. Bernard solves murders that the nurse gets entangled in!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Always stay physically fit

Unfortunately, I am not allowed to be with you each day, Kieran, so I am unable to listen to and talk with you about your concerns and problems. Because of that, I will on occasion offer advice about moral codes to live by. Here is another such entry.

In our modern times, most of us are spared the physical labor that our ancestors had to endure just to survive. Machinery does the work instead, and many of us now spend our days seated comfortably at desks. The result is many of us gain weight and become physically weaker.

“So what?” you might ask. “Less physically demanding labor sounds like a good thing.”

That’s true enough. We’re now free to pursue personal interests and have more leisure time.

Still, there’s plenty of good reasons to stay physically fit by exercising, walking and watching our diet.

Research shows physical fitness reduces the risk of contracting debilitating diseases from diabetes and heart ailments to various cancers. Each of these diseases can be expensive to treat and can limit our ability to function even if we’re just sitting behind a desk.

In the short term, staying physically fit improves one’s mood. Exercise increases production of endorphins, which in turn reduces depression. A brisk walk or swim has been shown to boost your memory and ability to learn.

Regular exercise also means you’re more likely to live a longer life. With strong bones and muscles and not suffering from disease, your body will be able to recover more quickly from illnesses and injuries that strike you in old age.

So why not make a difference in your life right now and for the long-term by lifting some weights, dancing, or even just stretching?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Remember our Disney figure sets?

During our many visits to Disneyland, we got into the habit of purchasing play figures of characters from Disney movies or rides. Usually six or seven came in a set, and there were at least a dozen sets!

One of them was the villains set (see pictures). It contained bad guys from various Disney movies.

Often these figures/characters became parts of other play sets! The Peter Pan pieces, for example, were part of our pirate toys while the Buzz Lightyear toys became part of our space toy collection.

Unfortunately, none of the figures had movable parts. Still, they stood upright quite well (better than our various action figures!) and were a lot of fun to play with anyway!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Our hike along the Sierra Alta Trail

Sierra Alta Trail, Aug. 25, 2010
Three years ago today we hiked the Sierra Alta Trail in the Angeles National Forest!

The trail was about 6800 feet above sea level so nicely overlooked some canyons yet was shrouded by higher mountain peaks.

The trail was surrounded by greenery and very comfortable in temperature, a nice respite from the sandy, hot desert where we lived!

You got your own trekking pole for this hike. It was a brief enough trail that I let you walk it by yourself. You had a blast, though I had to keep telling you to wait up as you wanted to run ahead out of my sight!

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

Saturday, August 24, 2013

My email to you for Aug. 24, 2013

Here is the email I sent to you on Aug,. 24, 2013, in case you do not receive it.

Dear Kieran,

How are you today? I’m doing fine, though I miss you like crazy! I hope you’re doing well and are having lots of fun during this last week of summer.

I so enjoyed our time together on Thursday! You’ve gotten really tall and have quite the powerful swing when it comes to light saber battles!

Your knowledge of the states as we put together the USA map was very impressive, too! I really enjoy talking about all of the places we’ve visited and hearing about all of the states you’d still like to see. I am looking for a world map puzzle so we also can learn about countries and oceans. While you’ve never been out of the United States, perhaps when you become 18 you’ll want to travel overseas.

Teaching you how to play chess was a lot of fun, too! The game is very complicated and will take a long time learn, but you're well on your way by learning the names of the pieces, where they go on the board, and how they move.

Building the ancient Egyptian city out of the craft blocks was a good time, too. It looked just like some of the cities we saw when visiting the Egyptian section at the Museum of Man in San Diego. I posted pictures of our work online!

How did you like the book about the Titanic that you took home on Thursday? I remember reading to you kids’ books at Barnes and Noble about the Titanic and how much you enjoyed them. I thought you’d like that book!

I am so proud of you that you are about to enter first grade. You will find it a lot of fun. Always do your schoolwork, even if it’s boring or difficult, and you will do fine. In fact, you’ll find that that first grade and school in general gets easier when you do your assignments!

One book I recently read that you might like is about going to first grade. The book was called “First Grade, Here I Come!” by Nancy Carlson. It tells the story of Henry, who after the first day of first grade, isn’t sure how he feels about it. The teacher isn’t like his kindergarten teacher, and the fifth-graders hog the monkey bars! Will Henry come to like being in first grade? You will have to read the book and find out. When your mom takes you to the city library, I bet you’ll find the book there in the children’s section.

We next get together on Friday, Aug. 30 – just six days from now! Let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to bring. I see your email “send” button is not working again, as I haven’t received an email from you since Aug. 11. Perhaps you could have your mother help you with that. In any case, I have saved all of my emails for you so that if there are any of mine that you do not receive, you’ll be able to later read them.

Well, that is all for now. I love and miss you very much and will see you on Friday!



Friday, August 23, 2013

Remembering our visit together

Kieran, Aug. 22, 2013
I so enjoyed our time together yesterday, Kieran! You've gotten really tall and have quite the swing when it comes to light saber battles!

Your knowledge of the states as we put together the USA map was very impressive, too! I am looking for a world map puzzle so we also can learn about countries and oceans.

Teaching you how to play chess was a lot of fun, too! The game is very complicated and will take a long time learn, but you're well on your way by learning the names of the pieces, where they go on the board, and how they move.

Building the ancient Egyptian city out of the craft blocks was a good time, too. I posted pictures of our work online!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Always pursue your dreams

Unfortunately, I am not allowed to be with you each day, Kieran, so I am unable to listen to and talk with you about your concerns and problems. Because of that, I will on occasion offer advice about moral codes to live by. Here is another such entry.

If you meet people who are perpetually grumpy or cynical, they probably aren’t happy with themselves. They view their life as a failure, their job and home as something they must endure.

Most likely, they lack an important quality that people who generally are happy and positive possess: They don’t have a dream.

A vision for our future, of a place where we want to ultimately end up, can be a significant motivator in lives. It gives us purpose. That purpose in turn then shapes our daily decisions. We decide to save money, to study harder, to take a second job, to master new skills all to pursue our dream.

More importantly, the journey to achieving a dream also will build character and strengthen your willpower.

For example, if a woman and your dream is to slim down from a size 20 to a size 4, envisioning what you’ll  look like in a mirror, the great clothes you could wear, the compliments you will receive, and the looks of admiration from men you will get, can help you through difficult times. For example, if you have a bad day at work or just had another difficult phone conversation with your mother, rather than turning to a bowl of ice cream to alleviate your emotional pain, you instead can use that vision of what you’ll look like when slim to hold off from indulging.

If a man and your dream is to own a sports car, envisioning yourself driving that car, the happy smile of your girlfriend as she sits in the passenger seat, and the nods of respect you’ll get from other men you pass on the road, can help you through tough times. For example, when you get a bad grade on a test or a girl turns you down for a date, rather than going out drinking with the guys to deal with the depression, you instead can use your vision of turning that key in the ignition of your beautiful sports car to keep from wasting money on beer (Alcohol will just exacerbate your bad feelings anyway!).

Indeed, you may never ever own that 16-room mansion or actually reach the summit of Mount Everest – but your efforts to do so will provide an incredible payoff.

And should you achieve your dream, you’ll find that the next one you pursue will be all that much easier to obtain.    

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Remember going to maritime museum?

Taking the helm of a sailing vessel
we took out into San Diego Bay.
One of your favorite places to go when I lived in Encinitas, Calif., was the San Diego Maritime Museum - and we were there two years ago today!

I think you called it the "pirate ships" because so many of the boats there were from the 1800s and used sails, just like the pirate ships of old. The museum also had submarines there that you always enjoyed exploring.

I remembered that one time we visited dancers were performing on one boat, showing the popular moves of the time that the ship sailed. You asked if we could stay and watch them, and we did. You were enamored by their moves!

Here's a bunch of pictures from our trip two years ago today to the maritime museum!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Always believe in yourself

Unfortunately, I am not allowed to be with you each day, Kieran, so I am unable to lisen to and talk with you about your concerns and problems. Because of that, I will on occasion offer advice about moral codes to live by. Here is another such entry.

Perhaps the most important gift any person ever can give is to believe in yourself. That may sound kind of selfish, but ultimately it’s what’s best for everyone.

As the old saying goes, if you do not believe in yourself, who will? After all, achieving anything of value requires some level of self-confidence. Even when no one else believes in you, an inner certainty that you can persevere and ultimately be victorious will carry you through difficult times and lead to success.

You cannot be personally happy if you do not believe in yourself. When wracked by self-doubt, you ultimately become depressed or grumpy. No one wants to be around someone who’s like that all of the time. By not believing in yourself, you actually push people away, which further feeds your isolation and self-doubt.

In addition, by grumpy and gloomy can affect other people for the worse by causing them to respond curtly to you and others. Your little black raincloud spreads across the sky of other people! Now imagine what would occur if you instead presented a sunny happiness upon others. Their moods would improve. The result in a nicer world to live in…and people who are more supportive of you when you need help and encouragement!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Recall visiting Silver City Ghost Town?

Silver City Ghost Town, Aug. 19, 2010
Four years ago today we explored the Silver City Ghost Town in the Sierra Nevada Mountains! It was a collection of buildings brought there to make up this roadside tourism attraction.

Along the way, we drove through the mountains and saw some neat country scenes! During one stretch, cattle weren;t fenced in, and we drove by thema s they stood on the road!

Twenty-one buildings in all preserved at the ghost town. The town was supposedly "haunted," but that probably was just made up to help bring people in. It also has appeared as a backdrop in a number of film and video shoots.

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

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Always find a purpose to guide you

Unfortunately, I am not allowed to be with you each day, Kieran, so I am unable to lisen to and talk with you about your concerns and problems. Because of that, I will on occasion offer advice about moral codes to live by. Here is another such entry.

All too often what holds us back from experiencing happiness is that we lack purpose. Without purpose, though, anything we do and everything we encounter will feel meaningless. It’s a quick route to depression, anger and trouble.

We need purpose in life to guide and excite us. If our purpose is to provide for our family, getting up early on a cold morning to go to work so there’s money to pay for food and a roof over your children’s heads is not only easier, it’s looked forward to. When troubled times come, a purpose gives us the strength to persevere.

Many people will tell you what your purpose is in life – to serve God, to help others, to serve country, to pursue the truth, and so on. They may be right. For such people, at the very least, what they profess is their purpose works for them. It may not be right for you, though…and you are the only one who can determine your purpose.

Finding purpose is easier than you might think. Begin by making a list of the people you admire (e.g., Mother Theresa, Peyton Manning, and your teacher Mr. Johnson) and list at least one character trait about them that causes you to regard them so highly (e.g. selfless=Mother Theresa, cool under pressure=Peyton Manning, caring=your teacher). Next, make a list of things you feel passionate about (e.g. sports, traveling, cancer-stricken sister). Then compare the lists. Is there something that you feel passionate about in which you can strive to uphold a character trait of one of the people you admire (e.g. a selfless person might become a coach; a caring person might become nurse who takes care of the ill)? You now have a purpose (to be a coach who selflessly mentors children so they can avoid a life of poverty or crime; to be a medical professional who ensures the ill do need needlessly suffer and are healed).

Saturday, August 17, 2013

My email to you sent on Aug. 17, 2013

Here is the letter I sent to you on Aug. 17, 2013, in case you do not receive it:

Hi Kieran,

How are you doing today? I am doing fine though I miss you like crazy!

I am so glad that you’re having a busy and fun summer. That’s what summers should be about when you’re young.

It was exciting to hear that you’re learning how to swim. That’s a very important skill to have and a fun activity. I once knew how to swim, having taken swimming lessons as a young boy when just a little older than you, but I almost drowned once. Now when I go in the water I tense up and can’t swim or float very well. There are many times I wish I could go swimming, though! Have you learned how to float yet?

I also am glad to hear that you’re working on the bicycle riding. Besides being great exercise, it’s lots of fun to go whooshing down the street with the blow blowing through your hair! What color bicycle do you have?

Going to the zoos always was a favorite trip of mine, too. I like the jungle/tropics section of the Minnesota Zoo. Como Park Zoo has changed a lot since I was a little boy; in the 1960s, the animals were kept in small cages, but now they fortunately are placed in environments that are more like where they would actually live if in the wilds. What is your favorite part of each zoo?

The Blue Jays should be a good baseball game. I think the Twins actually might be able to win that one! Not that I should talk – two of my teams (The San Diego Padres and the Milwaukee Brewers) actually are doing worse than the Twins. But the Los Angeles Dodgers are in first place, and hopefully will make the playoffs this fall! Who will you be rooting for to win the World Series?

Football season also is about to start. Exhibition season, in which the players get to practice by playing games that don’t count, already are underway. Adrian Peterson says he plans to run for 2500 yards this year. Do you think he can do it?

Thank you for telling me that you enjoy seeing me. I know you do – we always have lots of fun when we get together – but it was still nice to hear anyway! I always enjoy being with you well. In fact, I am very excited because we will get to spend time together every week for the next three weeks! Our next visit is in just five days on Thursday, Aug. 22. We then get together on Friday, Aug. 30, and then on Thursday, Sept. 5. Is there anything you would like me to bring this Thursday?

Well, that is all for now. I miss and love you very much! I look forward to reading your next letter and will see you on Thursday!



Friday, August 16, 2013

Remember our wampa action figures?

One "Star Wars" toy that we always had fun with were the action figures from the wampa scenes in "The Empire Strikes Back."

I can't recall if we bought these pieces as from a couple of different sets, but in any case we quickly combined them into one. It included a wampa, the white monster that captured Luke Skywalker, Luke himself, and his taun-taun, the dinosaur-like creature they used as a horse. I recall that pieces of raw meat that the wamp ate came with the set - yech!

We also had a Han Solo dressed up for the winter scene on Hoth (the planet where the wampa lives), so I think we combined two kits: Han Solo and the taun-taun; Luke Skywalker and the wampa.

Unfortunately, I don't remember any specific stories about playing with these toys, only that they always were part of the starfighter base that we typically built on the glass coffee table in the green house in Lancaster.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Always forgive others for wronging you

Unfortunately, I am not allowed to be with you each day, Kieran, so I am unable to lisen to and talk with you about your concerns and problems. Because of that, I will on occasion offer advice about moral codes to live by. Here is another such entry.

Once someone has wronged us, our natural reaction is to protect ourselves. This means being punitive and distrustful of the person who hurt us. We probably are angry at them and want justice served.

While we should make clear to this person that what they did caused pain and is not permissible, we cannot allow our bitterness and resentment to transform into hatred and violence. If we do, then we also become a person who wrongs others. If this chain of wronging continues, then all of us will be filled with anger and hatred for one another.

The only way to break the chain of wronging is to be forgiving. We have to let go of our anger and hatred and tell ourselves that the person who wronged us did not actually intend to or that they suffer from a calamity that led them to make a bad choice.

Forgiveness is not just a way to bring about peace in the world but is necessary to heal our own hearts. Anger destroys us emotionally by making us cynical and bitter. It destroys our physical well-being by raising our blood pressure, increasing our risk of a heart attack, and reducing our immune system’s effectiveness.

How can we forgive? We must consciously decide to forgive. Unfortunately, forgiveness usually does not happen with one bold statement. Our anger can be persistent. We must tell ourselves to forgive every time our anger flares, until the matter finally is settled in the heart.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Going to your first concert - 'The Beatles'!

Three years ago tonight you went to your first music concert - by a Beatles tribute band at the park in Palmdale, Calif.!

You always loved the Beatles (One of the many, many loves we share!), so going to the concert was a no-brainer.

The first half-hour was spent waiting for them to come on stage and goofing around with one another. Then they came on, and you tried to guess the song titles (You were fairly accurate, by the way!).

We left at intermission, after they'd played the Beatles hits through about 1965/66. By that time, it was getting way past your bedtime, and you were about to fall asleep in my arms!

Here are some photos from the concert!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A moral code to live by: the Golden Rule

Unfortunatley, I am not allowed to be with you each day, Kieran, so I am unable to lisen to and talk with you about your concerns and problems. Because of that, I will on occasion offer advice about moral codes to live by. 

Perhaps the most important rule you can follow when interacting with others is the Golden Rule – “Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you.” Virtually every culture has some version of the Golden Rule in its moral code: “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself” (Chinese); “Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others” (Greeks); “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful” (India). Along with “Don’t commit murder,” the Golden Rule perhaps is the most universal of humanity’s moral axioms.

The Golden Rule is more than a “Be nice to others” stricture, though. Underlying it are the basic beliefs that every human being is of value and therefore deserves to be treated fairly. These are the foundations for human rights and justice. For example, if you believe that others shouldn’t limit your ability to speak or vote, then you cannot limit their ability to do the same. If you do limit their ability, then you must believe yourself superior to them. You then should expect that holding yourself above others will result in their resentment of you. Given this, the Golden Rule also is about reducing violence.

So before doing something that effects another, ask yourself “Would I want someone to do that to me?” If you wouldn’t like someone cutting in line in front of you, getting a better test score because they cheated, or flipping you off, then don’t do it either!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Playing Curious George computer games

The other day your cousin Rebekah was watching "Curious George" on PBS. That got me to thinking about how much you loved the show and the "Curious George" games we'd play on the computer when together.

One of those that we played was "Present Time". It was less a game than an activity. First you got to pick out who you were going to get a present for and then you selected their gift. Finally, you got to create the wrapping paper for them by coloring it and picking out the pattern!

Another game you really liked was "Mix and Paint". You could mix four different colors together and then brush it on a line drawing of one of the characters from the cartoon.

There were other games we tried as well, but "Present Time" and "Mix and Paint" seemed to be your favorites!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Our hike along the Traverse Ranges

Atop the Transverse Ranges
at 4,995 feet elevation
One of the many interesting places that we hiked when living in California was Ritter Ranch Park. It's not much a "park" but more of an area preserved and set aside so that it can't be developed. Anyway, we hiked it three years ago today!

I remember having a difficult time figuring out to get there when planning our expedition. But eventually I found the right roads, and we drove them through Acton and then up a steep, winding mountainside.

We hiked the eastern-most ridgeline of the Transverse Ranges. The ranges are among the fastest rising pieces of earth - and the rocks we stepped across were more than half a billion years old.

You loved it up there, playing with a hiking stick as we walked about the road! I'm not sure why - maybe it was the view or just a sense that this was a wonderful place for a great adventure.

Here's a bunch of pictures from our adventure!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

My letter to you for Aug. 4-10, 2013

Here is my letter to you from Aug. 10, 2013, just in case you do not receive it:

Dear Kieran,

How are you doing today? I am doing fine, though I miss you like crazy!

I want to begin by letting you know that I was as disappointed as you were about not getting together Friday afternoon. I’d also like you to know that I wanted to get together and did not cancel our visit. I actually was driving to the center when I received the call that our visit had been cancelled. I have asked the center to set up a makeup visit, but whether or not we are able to do that is entirely up to the person who cancelled this visit. I love you very much and never would cancel or be late for one of our visits except in the direst of emergencies. If I were allowed to, I would see and talk to you every day.

In addition, I want you to know that your emails to me continue not to be sent. As of this writing, 31 days have passed since your last email was sent to me. That is very unfortunate, as I am now not aware of what you are doing even though I would like to know so we can talk about those things (and perhaps I even can participate in them in some way). I have never missed sending my weekly letter to you in the nearly 11 months since I have been allowed to write to you, and I never will miss a letter except in the direst of emergencies.

Hopefully we will get to see one another again very soon for our make-up visit, and hopefully I will begin receiving your emails during the next day or so. We are next scheduled to meet on Friday, Aug. 23, but there is no reason that we cannot have a makeup visit before then. I always will change my schedule to be there for you and to see you.

You must be getting very excited about a couple of big events that are coming up!

First, the Minnesota State Fair starts in just 12 days, on Aug. 22. It is a lot like the Los Angeles County Fair we used to go to in California, but I’d say the Minnesota State Fair is a wee bit better. When I was a little boy your age, I remember seeing the fair on television. One of the cool carnival rides the TV always showed was a big yellow slide, like what we used to go down on gunny sacks at Legoland and at the Poppy Festival in Lancaster. Hopefully the slide will be there again this year, and you’ll get to go down it!

The other big event is that you’re about to start first grade! I don’t remember much about my first day in first grade except that my friend Ron and I had to go through different doors into the school than we did during kindergarten. The kindergarten room was in a different section of the school than the first through sixth grade classrooms! My first grade teacher’s name was Mrs. Rhiel. Do you yet know the name of your first grade teacher? What day do you start school? Do you know which of your friends will be coming back to school with you this year?

I hope that you’ve been having a great summer and have gotten to go to lots of places in the Twin Cities. There are many fun things for kids to do in Minneapolis-St. Paul, from carnivals to museums and from sports to bookstores. I miss and love you very much and look forward to seeing you at our makeup visit!




Friday, August 9, 2013

Your visits to the state of Wisconsin

You and your Uncle Chris at your birthday party
at Grandpa and Grandma Bignell's in 2008.
One other state that you've been to - and after California and Minnesota is the state you've spent the most time in - is Wisconsin (My home state!).

You've been to Wisconsin twice. The first time, from Dec. 11, 2007, through early September 2008, you lived with Grandpa and Grandma Bignell on their farm in Knapp, Wis. I have lots of pictures of your stay there!

Then, in October 2008, we drove on I-94 from the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport to Baldwin, Wis. Along the way, we stopped at the visitor center in Hudson, Wis. (The center no longer exists.), and I got some Green Bay Packers football cards for you there!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Remember you pinpression?

One toy you enjoyed playing with as a child was a pinpression. It had plastic sticks that you could press your hand or other objects against, and the other side would show its impression! Yours had neon purple sticks.

We often used the pinpression when playing with your Star Wars action figures by placing the characters in it, pretending it was a block of carbonite, like what Han Solo was placed in during "The Empire Strikes Back" and "The Return of the Jedi"!

Over time, some of the sticks broke off, fell out and were bent in the pinpression. But we still enjoyed it anyways!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Our visit to Moonlight Beach

Aug. 7, 2011
Two years ago today, we spent the morning at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas.
You had a blast letting the waves of the Pacific Ocean splash over your feet! Then we made sand castles, which you enjoyed "destroying" in an imaginary battle in the end! Being all wet from the ocean water, the sand sure stuck to you!

Usually we went out for breakfast to Denny's in Encinitas then drove down to the beach, parking on the vista above the beach. Then we'd have to take a long walk down a path to the beach. I always was worried that you'd trip and fall on the steep path, but you never did. You didn't enjoy walking back up it, though! From there, we'd drive back to Palmdale.

Here's some pictures from our time at the beach!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Our day in Disneyland two years ago!

Pirate helper, Aug. 6, 2011.
Two years today we spent the day in Disneyland! It was a Saturday, and I picked you up in Palmdale; then we drove to Anaheim.

You got to be the pirate helper at the telling of "Peter Pan" in the House of the Future. Then we went on the SS Columbia ship in Frontierland.

Next we went back over to the do the Jedi Academy, where you fought Darth Vader. Later, it was off to Tom Sawyer Island in Frontierland.

Finally, we went over California Adventure and played on the Redwood Challenge Trail. Then we left for my home in Encinitas!

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

Monday, August 5, 2013

Remember the Joker's Funhouse toy?

One toy you played a lot with when a preschooler was the Joker's Funhouse. It went along with the Batcave set we had (Though you liked the Batcave much more!).

The Joker's Funhouse was the Joker's hideout and had lots of places where Batman and Robin could get trapped. If you pressed a button, the Joker laughed and taunted Batman, though I can't quite remember what he all said.

One of the Batman books we had involved Batman and Robin capturing the Joker in a carnival funhouse, so I think the playset was made all that much more fun because it related to a story you knew!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Your visits to the state of Iowa

You've been to Iowa couple of times in September and October 2008.

The first time, you entered on I-35 from the Minnesota border then took I-80 to the Nebraska border! All of us stayed overnight in Des Moines. I recall that we stopped at a travel center or wayside there, and you played on rocks they had in a landscaped area.

The second time, we did the same route in reverse but didn't stay overnight. I think we ate at the Cracker Barrel in Des Moines, but I could be wrong on that. Uusally when traveling through IOwa, that's my restaurant stop!

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures from our quick trips through the state - sorry!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

My email sent to you Aug. 3, 2013

Here’s my email to you sent Aug. 3, just in case you do not receive it.

Hi Kieran,

How are you doing? I’m doing fine, though I miss you like crazy! Hope you’re enjoying your summer. Unfortunately, your email is not working again, because I haven’t received any emails/letters from you during the last three weeks. Hopefully your mother can fix that for you.

The last month of summer, August, has arrived! That means school starts very soon. Are you excited about entering first grade? What day does school begin? Do you know who your teacher will be this autumn? Have you gotten your school supplies yet? Picking out school supplies and getting new school clothes always was one of my favorite parts of going back to school in autumn. Well, that and seeing my friends again after missing them all summer long! Living in town (I lived in the country) and going to summer school, I bet you got to see lots of your friends over the summer.

Next weekend is the Irish Festival in St. Paul. Hopefully you’ll get to go, especially since your name is Celtic! We went to an Irish festival together four years ago in California. You had a great time on the playground as we listened to an Irish band perform. Then ee walked through a medieval Irish village that had knights, and later you got to pet sheep and a border collie. We had fish and chips for lunch! Here’s a whole bunch of pictures from our adventure.

The following weekend, the Renaissance Festival begins. The festival is a huge medieval village, sort of like the castle area at Legoland. The festival lasts for several weeks, and has a couple of special weekends dedicated to the Scottish Highlands and to Ireland. We’ve gone to lots of Renaissance festivals in California; at one of them you got a Robin Hood cap and foam swords that you later pretended were “light sabers.” Here are some photos from one Renaissance festival we went to in 2009. Hopefully you’ll get to go to the festival in the Twin Cities during one of the weekends ahead.

Have you read any good books lately? I have. It was called “The Night Before First Grade” by Natasha Wing. It’s all about this girl named Penny on the night before she goes to first grade for the very first time. Why kind of things do you think she does that night to get ready for school the next morning? You will have to read the book and find out! I bet you can find it at your city or school library.

I am very excited. Do you know why? I am excited because I get to see you again next week! We get together again the afternoon of Friday, Aug. 9. Of course, I will bring a tote of fun things for us to do. Is there anything specific that you’d like me to bring? Just let me know in the email that you write during the next week (and be sure to send it from a new address as the old email apparently isn’t working). I miss and love you very much – see you on the 9th!






Friday, August 2, 2013

Remember having an Elmo cell phone?

Here's a toy you may vaguely remember: an Elmo cell phone. You got it when you were about a year old and always liked to press the buttons, which made beeping sounds like some cell phones do.

I don't recall if it actually answered with a voice, though you had a different telephone that did so. You no dount liked it because Elmo was on it, and he by far was your favorite fictional character when you were 1-2 years old.

Still, by the time you were two, you no longer played with the cell phone, having outgrown it. You found my real cell phone much more fun to play with!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Your trips through the state of Nebraska

Great Platte River Road Archway in Kearney, Neb.
You have been to Nebraska at least twice in your life, specifically September and October 2008 with me. The first time, we took I-80 across the state from the Iowa border to I-76 crossing into Colorado. The second time, we did the trip in reverse!

The September trip included a stop at the Great Platte River Road Archway in Kearney. It was a historical museum full of displays about pioneers and modern travelers following the Platte River west, and it stretches over the freeway. You loved all the cool exhibits! Later, we stopped in Gothenburg, Nebraska, and briefly went into a small historical museum there.

During the October trip, we drove through snow as crossing the Colorado border. Then we later stopped in Grand Island, where you got a toy Sesame Street telephone in which Elmo and Cookie Monster would talk to you when you picked up the phone!