Thursday, October 31, 2013

Remember playing 'Scary Monster"?

With today being Halloween, I thought I'd share my memories of playing "scary monster" with you! When we were in the green house in Lancaster, you would pretend to be taking a "nap" on the sofa and then say, "Dad, Dad, I think I hear something!"

I'd say, "There's nothing there!"

"There was, there was!" you'd say.

"I'll go check and show you that everything is okay!"

Then I'd go into the hallway where you couldn't quite see me, and I'd say really loud, "There's nothing here. Now you go back to taking your nap!" I'd start walking back to you and go, "Hey, what was that noise?" Turning around, I'd go, "Oh my God, what is that?"
Then I'd make loud monster growling noises and go "Aggh!" and pretend to slam myself into the wall and slide down it.

A second of silence would pass (You'd be peeking over the sofa to try to see what was happening.), and then I'd start walking with a limp like a zombie toward you, making monster growling noises and saying, "Now I can eat that little boy!"

You'd jump off the sofa and run screaming into the kitchen, where you'd break out in laughter!

Happy Halloween, Kieran!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Recall your B. Meowsic Keyboard?

Do you remember your B. Meowsic Keyboard you received one Christmas? I wanted to encourage your interest in music and so got it for you.

You really liked it - but not for the reason I purchased it! The keyboard had different tunes that could be played, and there was this one Spanish-lyric tune that you absolutley loved to play over and over, but it drove me nuts! You also liked to speak into the microphone, but not to sing along!

Still, I wanted you to keep the keyboard as I tried to interest you in the different sound that each key made so that I might show you how to play a tune. That either was a little advanced for your age, or I didn't quite know how to teach that skill (probably a little of both!).

I think, though, that the keyboard did contribute a little to your interest in understanding and playing music. As I got you other keyboards, your interest was piqued, and you seemed to remember skills learned on the B. Meowsic!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Your Lincoln Logs Frontier Junction set

Do you remember your Lincoln Logs Frontier Junction set? We used it to build a mini-fort/general store. It came with a cowboy and a horse.

The toy wasn't quite your cup of tea, mainly because it fell apart easily during construction and especially once you started playing with it! That was a bit frustrating for you!

I probably should have waited to get it for you until you were a bit older, but I loved Lincoln Logs so much as a kid, I was certain that you did, too! I probably was older than you though, when I got my set.

We still put the Lincoln Logs to good use. We'd use the pieces to build fences or walls for our army men and superhero action figures during their battles!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Remember hiking to the dry lake bed?

Celebrating that we've reached
the shore of the dry lake bed
Three years ago today we hiked the El Mirage Dry Lake Beds east of Lancaster, Calif. It's in the Mojave Desert below the back range of the San Gabriel Mountains.

The day we were there, the dry lake bed wasn't entirely dry, though! Rain had recently fallen, so there was an inch or two sheen of water across much of the lake bed.

At this point in your life, you were able to walk on your own during our hikes, but the amount of mileage you were willing do varied each time; we didn't walk very far on this one. I think you were fairly excited about going to the nature center, though, and so wanted to cut this hike a little short!

Here are a whole bunch of photos from our adventure to the dry lake bed!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Remember your Thomas the Train PJs?

Do you remember your Thomas the Train PJs? You had two sets of them - one red and the other blue - that you absolutley loved to wear!

The PJs certainly must have been comfortable and warm; the material had an almost felt-like feel. But I think you really liked to wear them because you loved Thomas the Train!

We had tons of Thomas the Train toys and Thomas the Trian DVDs. We went through a period when you were two or three years old of when treated to a toy you always wanted a Thomas the Train engine or car!

Above is a picture of you wearing the red PJ set on Christmas morning 2010!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Do you recall your Green Lantern plane?

Do you remember your Green Lantern plane? It was an Imaginext toy and went with the all of the superhero toys made by that company (like the Batcave and the Joker's hideout)!

Perhaps because green was your favorite color as a preschooler, you had a definite affection for the Green Lantern, though there wasn't much on the air about him. I do recall a couple of Batman cartoon episodes involving the Green Lantern, though.

In any case, we often used the Green Lantern plane when taking astronauts on adventures to other worlds (usually a table in another room!) rather than as a superhero toy! Our Imaginext astronauts fit perfect into the cockpit!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Where we were four years ago today

Four years ago today, we spent the afternoon at California Adventure!

You enjoyed the water play area near what used to be the Farmers Exposition area (Now it's the Cars section) and got absolutely soaked! Fortunately, it was a warm day, so after a change into dry clothes, you were all okay!

You'd actually discovered the water play area the day before (on a Saturday) in our two-day excursion to Disneyland. So you were very keen on going back there Sunday and kept asking me when we would get to the fountains! The morning was a bit too cool to let you get soaked (I didn't want you to get hypothermia!), but by afternoon, the sun had fully warmed the theme parks.

Here's a whole bunch of pictures from that weekend!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Four years today at California Adventure

Four years ago today we spent together at California Adventure!

It ws at the age when you enjoyed meeting the characters. And boy did we meet a bunch of them that day!

There was Chip and Dale, Mickey Mouse and Goofy. I quickly learned that if you want to meet characters, the best place to do it is California Adventure because there are no lines!

We also went on rides. I specifically remember doing Monsters Inc. and the lady bug cars.

Here's a whole bunch of photos of adventure!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

In Disneyland four years ago today

Four years ago today we spent our day at Disneyland!

The whole place was decked out for Halloween, which was cool. It was our first exposure to Disneyland decorated for Halloween.

You were a the right age to be really interested in meeting characters. You got to meet Pinocchio on Main Street USA!

One young Disney girl taking pictures in Fantasyland thought you were the cutest thing and you two talked and talked! At above right is a picture she took of us together in a teacup!

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Remember the Science Museum?

Four years ago today we visited the Discovery Science Museum in Santa Ana, Calif.!

This was your first visit to the museum! We spent a little time looking at the interactive stuff.

But most of our time was spent in the dinosaur section. It had a great play area that you really enjoyed!

Afterward, We spent the afternoon at Disneyland!

Here's a whole bunch of pictures from our trip at the science museum.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Your Lego clone trooper characters

On Saturday in the bag of candy I include a couple of the Lego clone troopers that we had constructed when in San Diego. I was so heartened when you said, "I remember putting those together with you!"

Here's a picture of what the complete set looked like. I remember putting together the vehicle while you made the clone troopers. You took the vehicle with you but somehow one or two of the troopers got left behind - actually, I think they were in a tote of toys I left in the back seat for you to play with when we drove to places.

I have several other Lego characters that I was able to save when moving from California. I'll give to you each time we get together over the next several weeks!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Our day at the Minnesota Zoo

Thank you for the wonderful time yesterday, Kieran! I had a lot of fun with you and am so sorry that we had so little time with one another.

I enjoyed our lunch - you made some very healthy food choices with the carrots! The IMAX movie did go a little long, but I think you still enjoyed it - I'll always remember how you grabbed at the stars in 3D.

We got a good start walking through the tropics section until the slivers from the tree bark - and at least now we can say we've been to a part of the zoo that many others never go to!

I'm glad you like your new jacket and all of the football stickers and cards, too! I shall have to look for some grape Jolly Ranchers!

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

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Major American cities you've been to

Train Town in Los Angeles, Calif. in 2009.
I've previously written about the states you've been to. Perhaps you'd also like to hear about all of the cities you've been to, too! Here's a list of the most populous cities that you've been to so far in your life:
>>Los Angeles
>>San Francisco
>>Long Beach
>>Minneapolis/St. Paul
>>San Diego
>>Las Vegas
>>Des Moines
>>Santa Barbara
>>Lincoln, Neb.

I have photos of you in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Minneapolis/St. Paul, San Diego, Albuquerque, and Santa Barbara.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Remember Barnes and Noble Blondies?

Here's something that should make you hungry!

Did you know that one of your favorite snacks when we were out and about was to stop at Barnes and Noble cafe and enjoy a Blondie bar? It was like a regular yellow pan bar but had M&M's in it!

We'd first grab a couple of magazines - you a Star Wars one and me a Star Trek one - and then I'd get the Blondie for us, usually with milk for you and a cofee for me.

Sometimes you'd go get us a seat so we had a place to sit, and if the table was missing a chair, you'd get all concerned and shout to me, "Oh no! Dad, there aren't enough chairs!" Usually someone would give up their chair for you because you were so dang cute.

We'd then enjoy our magazines, showing each other pictures in them, and splitting the Blondie!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Our telephone call and this weekend

I'm glad we were able to finally talk by telephone last night, Kieran! Hearing your voice again was so wonderful!

I am very proud of you for doing so well on your math test. You've always been very good at math - when you were only three years old, you could count close to a hundred and then by fives up to a hundred! That was better than most kindergartners!

This weekend we will go to the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley. The weather will be rainy and cold, so I needed to find something for us to do inside. We can have lunch at the zoo and then see the tropics and the Minnesota animals section, which are indoors. We also might be able to do the monorail. We might also do an IMAX movie, but the only one showing is "Space Junk 3D."

I love you very much and can;t wait to see you this weekend - and to talk to you again next Tuesday!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Recall your Lone Ranger Lego set?

Do you remember the Lone Ranger Lego Comanche camp that we put together this past summer? It contained a teepee, two Indians, and of course, the Lone Ranger.

The Lego set came out with the Disney movie "The Lone Ranger," which was panned by the critics. But you always enjoyed the Lone Ranger, putting him your stories of Sheriff Jack and the Deputy. So I thought you'd enjoy the Lego set.

And you did! You put together the people while I constructed the teepee. We played a little with the guys in the set. I think you really liked the canoe!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Remember your Fisher Price barn toy?

Your barn toy
When you were just 1 year-old, you received for Christmas a Fisher Price barn toy. It was a neat playset with animals that when placed on certain spots in the barn or attached silo, made their sounds; for example, the pig would go "oink oink" when set in the pig pen.

My barn toy!
The predecessor to this toy was one of my favorites to play with when I was preschooler! Back then, though, the barn was smaller and didn't make any noises. It also came with wooden people and a plastic tractor. Sometimes I'd stretch out the cow's legs, have him fly through the air, and call him "Supercow"! I love playing with people and took them on all kinds of adventures, just like you enjoyed playing wiht your action figures.

Probably because you didn't grow up on a farm, after a while the barn toy wasn't as exciting as the firehouse or other playsets you had. But sometimes we would take it out and with other farm toys we had set up a small farm with animals. We used a small foldable doll house as the farmer's house!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Remember your hospital room playset?

Do you remember your Playmobil hospital room set? It was a collection of cool stuff a patient might have if in a hospital rom - a bed, a food tray, an IV, and so on.

The hospital room set ended up in a tote of your "doctor toys," which included a doctor's kit and a doctor's costume. But we typically used it when playing with your firemen toys - the girl who was a patient somehow lost her hair so she always was someone injured in a fire and put into the ambulances! We also used the IV stand and blood bag to treat the "injured" at the fire.

You've never had to stay a night in the hospital! You've gone to the emergency room a couple of times, for a broken arm and for an asthma attack but you always were released within a couple of hours. You're a very lucky boy - by the time I was your age, I'd been in the hospital two or three times for multiple day stays each time!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Your fave Star Trek character: Chekov

When you were a preschooler, your favorite "Star Trek" character was Ensign Chekov. You often asked to watch "Chekov episodes" on our "Star Trek" DVDs, and liked to play with that action figure - or when we didn't have that action figure, you'd just pretend another one was Chekov!

Did you know that Chekov wasn't in the first season of "Star Trek"? His character joined the crew in the second season, and he's not in every episode of the second and third seasons. He's not in any of the cartoons but is in all of the movies.

I'm not sure why you liked Chekov so much. I suspect it's because he was the youngest of the Enterprise crew and a bit boyish compared to the rest, so you probably related most to him.

Here's a website page about Chekov!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Do you remember 'Bob the Builder'?

When you were a preschooler, one of your favorite shows to watch was "Bob the Builder" on Sprout and PBS. The claymation program featured trucks and construction equipment that talked and had personalities like people.

I once got you a dump truck for a sand toy, and it came with a person who sat in the drivers seat. You called the person "Bob the Builder"!

You may also recall there was a Bob the Builder ride at the Toys 'R Us in Lancaster, Calif., that you sometimes got to ride when we went to the store. Usually you were too excited about playing with your new toy to want to go on the ride when we left the store, though!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Remember Ventura beach playground?

Four years ago today we went to the beach in Ventura!

We spent much of the time enjoying the playground, which had ocean-themed play equipment. For example, the slide looked like a waterfall, and an obstacle course had nets like what fishermen would use.

The stop at the beach was just part of our day in Ventura. We also went to the Scottish festival at the county fairgrounds!

Here's a whole bunch of pictures from our adventure at the beach playground!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Recall your Bucky action figure?

Do you remember your Bucky superhero action figure? Of all the superhero action figures you had, it was one of your favorites to play with when a preschooler.

Bucky started out as Captain Amrica's sidekick in the 1940s Marvel comics. Later he came back from the dead as the Winter Soldier and then even became Captain America when Steve Rogers, the man who was Captian America, was presumed dead.

I'm not certain why you liked Bucky so much. I suppose it might be because he appeared younger and was more boy-like than the other superstrong, manly superhero action figures we had, and so perhaps you identified more with him.

I still have your Bucky action figure in one of the totes, by the way!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

To be happier, don't judge others

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.

One of the most common bad habits people have is judging others. We form opinions about them based on their accent, we pick friends based on their clothing, we make fun of people because of their political and religious beliefs.

Yet, each of us is imperfect ourselves. So in judging others, we place ourselves upon a false, higher plane and demonstrate our vanity. To someone else, though, our accent is odd, our clothes not as good, and our political and religious beliefs laughable. We probably don’t appreciate their opinion about us, so just as no one else has the right to judge us, so we shouldn’t judge others.

Judging others really only creates negativity in the world. By inferring that we are better, we arrange the landscape so that others are inferior. This only leads to others feeling hurt and ultimately to conflict as they lash back in disagreement or to reassert their equality. It causes others who consider themselves superior to assert that belief over others through oppression.

When we judge others, we ultimately judge ourselves. Through our judgment, we objectify them and in doing so objectify ourselves. The judge always is the opposite of the judged. Each of us must ask ourselves: If you do not want others to objectify you, why would you objectify yourself?

This doesn’t mean that we don’t set standards to live by. But we set them for ourselves not for others. We judge our decisions and actions – not the decisions and actions of others – against the bar of those standards. So, give yourself this challenge today: Can you live up to the standard of not judging others?

If you can, you may find yourself happier.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The History of the Miami Dolphins

1973 Larry Csonka football card.
This past weekend you told me that your favorite football team was the Miami Dolphins. I found that amazing because my favorite team when I was your age was the Miami Dolphins, too!

That year the Miami Dolphins went undefeated. They're the only team that has won every single game in a season. A few teams have come close, but no one has matched it. Their quarterback was Bob Greise, their running back was Larry Csonka, and their coach was Don Shula.

The Miami Dolphins started playing football in 1966 in the American Football League. Their colors are aqua and orange.

They went to the Super Bowl three years in a row - 1971, 1972 and 1973 - and won the last two of those. With Dan Marino as quarterback, they went back to the Super Bowl in 1982 and 1985 but lost each time. My favorite years of the Dolphins were those in the warly 1970s, though, and after they started getting different players and losing during the late 1970s, I wasn't much into them.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Do you remember baking cookies?

Do you remember all of the cookies we baked when living in the green house in Lancaster?

We used to make sugar cookies from scratch. You would help me roll out the dough, press the cookie cutter into the dough, sprinkle flour around the dough so it would roll and cut easily, and then putting sprinkles on the frosted cookies after they came out of the oven!

For each season, we made different kinds of cookies. I always like to make cookies for fall/football opener, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Easter.

All of your clothes, your hair, your face, and your hands would be absolutely covered in flour and frosting and sprinkles when we were all done, so I always had you take a bath afterward! Then when you got all clean, you'd get to enjoyed the warm, freshly frosted and decorated cookies!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Our day at the Mall of America

I had so much fun with your yesterday, Kieran!

We spent the day at the Mall of America, and here is a rundown of all that we did:
>>Lunch at Johnny Rockets, where you showed me your cool new NFL sticker book.
>>Camp Ice Age, where we played carnival games, watched a cartoon, and met Sid the Sloth
>>Lego store, where we bought a new Chima lego set
>>Searched for football stickers and cards; we found some football and baseball cards at one store
>>A&W malts; we enjoyed them while playing with the football cards int he food court

Here are a whole bunch of pictures from our adventure!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Honor Your Ancestors

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.

There’s an old saying from the East to “Honor your ancestors.” It’s good advice, and one that few people follow today. After all, our heritage – who our ancestors our and where they come from –tells us much about who we are today.

Quite literally, if not for our ancestors, we would not be here today. Biologically speaking, we owe them our lives. Further, where they settled and worked determined where we grew up and in what economic class and with what religious beliefs. Think deeply about the kind of person you are and the values you hold dear…they most likely match those of your ancestors.

Of course, if you’re angry about your current condition, you might very well blame our ancestors for it. Maybe it is because of them that you grew up in poverty or suffered great tragedies. But perhaps they were victims themselves. That does not excuse them from their actions, but it may explain why they made the choices they did. In any case, we are captains of our own fate. Each of us can decide how we will navigate the landscape we find ourselves in.

And where our ancestors are concerned, we are more alike than different. Our drives and interests, whether inherited genetically or taught to us in the culture of family, probably are very similar to your parents, aunts and uncles, great-grandparents and even great-great-great grandparents. Like our country, we may not always agree with everyone in it or every decision that our government makes, but we still are proud of our nation and its achievements through history. So it should be with family.

How can we go about honoring our ancestors? One way is to learn about their lives through genealogy. Many of them faced incredible hardships yet persevered to achieve what they did. Another way is to think about who you are and how you became that person through your ancestors. Often we’re not “just like dad” but also “just like grandma” and “just like “great-grandpa” and even “just like “great-great-grandma.” Finally, honor your ancestors by always doing the best you can, by making your family name one that is recognized, whether it be for its altruism, its discoveries, or its building of a community. Make your descendants proud of who their ancestors are!
You can learn about many of your ancestors at a special website I have built for you, Kieran's Family Tree.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Do you remember your knights set?

Do you recall your Playmobil knights set? I got them for you at Christmas 2011, and we had a ball playing with them each time you visited though spring 2012.

The set consisted of three knights, a cannon, and a horse, as well as assorted shields, swords, banners, and helmets. We often played got out our other knight figures and a huge castle playset for "big battles."

I always said the banner they carried was "the Flag of King Kieran" and had them storm the castle "in the name of King Kieran!"

I still have the knight figures, but I think the cannon is gone. I'm not sure about the banners/shields and swords, though...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Always be transparent with others

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.

Being human, all of us make mistakes; all of us are morally imperfect. Still, we don’t like to admit our errors and faults to others, preferring to present a picture of ourselves as a good person. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to present ourselves that way, of course – that is, until we use deceit to convince others that we’re indeed a perfect person.

Rather, we always should practice transparency by being open and accountable about our past and our decisions. That doesn’t mean we have to tell everyone up front about our mistakes and poor choices. But it does require us to be honest with ourselves and with others when confronted about that past.

We can practice transparency by explaining why we made the decision we did and admitting that it was the wrong decision. This approach means we’re not defending our errors but accepting responsibility for them.

Another way to practice transparency is to not blame others for our mistakes. Each of us make our own choices, and another person’s poor decision doesn’t justify our own bad call.

Acting with transparency builds trust. It demonstrates to others that we are personally accountable and that our intention is to be a moral person. By lying, however, you only reinforce what your past bad decision suggests: That you are an immoral person merely interested in yourself.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Recall your Buzz Lightyear blaster toy?

Do you remember your Buzz Lightyear blaster toy? It was modeled on the blasters used on the Buzz Lightyear ride at Disneyland (The ride usually was our first stop during any Disneyland visit we made!).

You had a couple of different blasters. One was a large one the size of a phaser. Sometimes we'd pretend to be Starfleet officers on a derelict ship and would carry the blaster and a phaser to fend off monsters and evil aliens. I still have the blaster in a tote!

The other blaster was a small one that was part of a keychain. We had a couple of those - one broke and so we replaced it. You always liked to carry it around when at Disney; one time you dropped it in the water at the Storybook Land ride, and a Disney worker fished it out for you!

We bought both (er, all three?) blasters at the Star Command store at the end of the Buzz Lightyear ride!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

To feel good, always eat healthy

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.

You’ve heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” It’s definitely true! To function properly, every cell in our body depends upon nutrients we eat or imbibe. Feed the body the wrong nutrients, and those cells soon don’t function very well.

Poor diet contributes to loss of energy, mood shifts, whether or not you get sick a lot, obesity, organ failure and even disease. Often this takes several months or even years to occur. But it ultimately does.

Unfortunately, we often crave foods that aren’t so good for us. So people go on crash diets and fad exercise programs. A few actually stick with it and lose weight. Studies show, though, that once a dieters reaches their weight goal, they quickly gain back their weight.

The best thing you can do is not to diet but to change what you eat. By eating healthy – which usually means cutting out the junk food, processed foods, and and foods heavy with corn syrup and replacing it with lots of fresh, whole fruits and vegetables – your body begins working like it should. Accompany this with regular exercise, and you have a winning combination!