Saturday, November 30, 2013

Our set of 101 cookie cutters

Do you remember our set of 101 cookie cutters? They were plastic, and we picked them up at Walmart then used them to make sugar cookies for just about every holiday and season!

Christmas by far was the most popular time, with us usually making a couple of different batches during the holidays. Our cookie cutters included Christmas trees, gingerbread men, bells, candy canes, snowmen and stockings.

We also made cookies at Halloween (ghost, haunted house, bat, black cat, pumpkins), Easter (duckies, cross, Easter bunny, Easter egg), and Valentine's Day (three sets of hearts). Letters also came with the set so I could spell out our names!

I usually mixed and match them for different seasons; for example we the footprint, the moon (for the sun) and the fish for going to the beach! I love you and miss making cookies with you!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Your Radio Flyer Retro Rocket toy

Do you remember your Radio Flyer Retro Rocket toy? I actually bought it for you before you were born because I thought it was such a cool toy that you'd love!

And I was right, if I do say so myself! You would sit on it and push the buttons that played a countdown and made swooshing sounds. The seat also lifted, and sometimes you'd stick action figures, crayons, and other small toys in there!

You soon outgrew the toy, which was meant for toddlers (Your legs were too long to comfortably sit on it or push it around), but I kept it in my office as a decoration!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

View-master reels about Redwood Hwy.

Yesterday I wrote a trail guide summary about the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias in Yosemite National Park. It's the location of a giant tree that had a tunnel carved through it so people could say they drove through a tree! I remember that well because as a child I had a View-master reel about the national parks, and one of the pictures showed the tree. I always thought going there would be very cool!

That got me to thinking about you. Why? Because I once found a View-master reel set about the Redwood Highway, which included a picture of Crescent City, Calif., where you lived as a baby (You were born just off the highway in Eureka, Calif.). I bought it and stored it in a tote, hoping to give it to you one day.

In all of the moving around last year, I don't know if I still have it, though. I am very sad when I think about it possibly being lost. Soon, though, I will unpack all of that stuff and look to see if I have it. If not, I somehow shall find it online!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Two years ago today at Legoland

Legoland, Nov. 27, 2011.
Two years ago today we spent the day at Legoland enjoying their Christmas celebrations. It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and you'd been with me for quite a fun weekend since Thursday morning.

The highlight was a great play area made of artificial snow! We got to throw snowballs, make snowmen (with Lego pieces for the nose/eyes, of course) and then go sliding down a little snow hill.

What was really great is that it was 72 degrees and sunny that day! So you were playing in shorts and T-shirt in the snow! I bright along gloves, though, so your hands wouldn't get cold!

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

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Remember the Star Wars exhibit in Santa Ana?

Two years ago today, we visited the Star Wars exhibit at the California Science Museum in Santa Ana, Calif. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, so we drove up from Encinitas (You'd been with me since Thursday morning).

The exhibit included a cool mock-up of The Millennium Falcon in which we got to be in the cockpot where Han Solo and Chewbacca sit and watch a movie about space, and then a whole room full of cool stuff from the various Star Wars movies.

Afterward, we went through the rest of the museum, which included a hockey section and a recycling game near the grocery store area. When we finished early, since we were only about eight minutes drive away, I said, "Hey, we're really close - do you want to go to Disney?" You said, "Yeah!" so we spent the afternoon and early evening there.

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

Monday, November 25, 2013

Two years ago today in Disneyland

Nov. 25, 2011, Disneyland
Two years today, we spent the day in Disneyland! It was the Friday after Thanksgiving.

The day before (on Thanksgiving), I'd driven all the way up from Encinitas to Palmdale to pick you up, and we enjoyed a meal at Marie Callenders in Moreno Valley before arriving at my place outside of San Diego for the evening. I had the turkey special, but you enjoyed a hamburger and fries!

The next morning, we drove up to Disneyland to enjoy it for the Christmas holidays. I think we stopped at Ruby's Diner in Carlsbad on the way up there, but I might have that mixed up with something else.

Anyways, I remember one of the highlights is that you were fascinated by the Disneyland Christmas tree. And the It's a Small World ride was decked out as well with Christmas decorations!

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

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cowboys and Indians character toys

Do you remember the cowboys and Indians playset that you had in spring 2011? They were small and plastic like green Army guys.

You were really big into the Old West that winter/spring, so I picked up the toys at a trading post in Arizona when traveling cross country with Jane that spring. You and I had stopped at the same trading post a year before when we drove to New Mexico, and for some strange reason I remember the toy being there, so I just had to stop and pick them up for you!

If I recall correctly, I bought two sets - which made for a lot of cowboys and Indians! We had some great "battles" with them that spring!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Your Balok and puppet Star Trek figures

Do you remember your Balok and puppet action figure set? It was a Star Trek collection of three action figures, which included Captain Kirk, Balok, and his menacing-looking puppet.

I had purchased the set back in 1998 when there were tons of Star Trek toys out. I always liked to collect those from The Origianl Series.

I never opened it and kept it packed in totes in our garage at the green house in Lancaster, Calif. After you discovered that I had action figures/toys in the totes, you eventually came across the set!

Though I planned to collect the action figures, so many of them were produced that most were worth less than I paid for them, so I figured why not open 'em and let you play with them? After all, it gave us an extra Captain Kirk (We also got one with the shuttlecraft!)!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Your Obi-Wan 'Clone Wars' action figure

Another one of the Star Wars action figures that you really liked to play with when a preschooler was Obi-Wan Kenobi from "The Clone Wars" movies. I'm not certain what the appeal of that version of Obi-Wan was, though I suppose he looked a lot like that through the Clone Wars cartoons and in "Revenge of the Sith."

I always thought Obi-Wan in that movie looked like Jesus with his haircut, beard and robes!

I know we had the young Obi-Wan from "The Phantom Menace," and I'm fairly certain we had the Obi-Wan from "A New Hope" (my favorite version of him!), but when Obi-Wan was a part of our Star Wars adventures, the one from "The Clone Wars" movie is the one you grabbed!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Memories of my childhood football game

With your love of football, I've been looking for a great football game that we could play together. Most of them are fairly complicated, but I'm confident I'll find one that's just right for us!

Still, the games I have found definitely are better than the ones I grew up with! In the late 1970s, I got an "electronic" football game that consisted of a metal tray, painted to look like a football field, and then vibrated when plugged in and turned on. This caused the "players" (see picture at above right) to move. Each player sat on a plastic piece whose bottom could be adjusted to determine which way they moved when the board vibrated.

Of course, the game was impossible to play! Setting each player was extremely time consuming. In addition, any small dent in the board, or if the game wasn't sitting on an absolutely flat surface, meant the players didn't "vibrate" where they were supposed to!

Still, the games was kind of cool just to look at. My version of the game had the Denver Broncos playing the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XII.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Princess Leia action figure

Among your favorite toys growing up were Star Wars action figures. We easily collected close to a hundred (if not more) of them. In fact, it got to the point that we had purchased all of the ones available for sale at Wal-Mart/Target and so were reading up on what new ones were coming out and then looking through comic book stores for old ones "no longer available" for sale!

I was only able to bring a few of them with me when moving from California in 2012, so I tried to take the ones that you enjoyed the most. One of those I grabbed was Princess Leia from the planet Hoth scenes in "The Empire Strikes Back." I'm not sure why I took that one; perhaps because it was the best of the Princess Leia's that you had. I do recall, though, that we often set up the rebel base on Hoth and that this Princess Leia usually was in the command center (which the Bat Cave playset nicely doubled as!).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Two years ago today we were at Legoland!

In front of a Bioncle, Nov. 19, 2011
Two years ago today we spent the day at Legoland in Carlsbad, California!

We started our day with a trip to Moonlight Beach in Encinitas and from there headed on over to Legoland. I'm not sure why we went to the beach first, as we usually saved that for Sunday mornings. Perhaps Legoland wasn't quite opened yet or I wanted to save Sunday for another activity that required us to drive.

We spent a good hour or so doing the Aquazone ride over and over at Legoland! You also bravely went down the tall slide in the park's Egyptian section!

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

Monday, November 18, 2013

Recall your football action figures?

Do you remember your football action figures? We had quite a few of them, including Peyton Manning (as a Colt), Jay Cutler, Adrian Peterson, Drew Brees, and Larry Fitzgerald.

We always had fun pretending to play a football game with them, usually three-on-three. Sometimes a Star Wars action figure would sub in the game!

The action figures were great because they 20 movable parts, but they'd fall apart because of it, especially with how roughly we played with them! I remember putting them back together (only for them to fall apart), taping them up to keep a leg or arm from falling apart, and then just plain buying a new one to replace a broken one!

We also would print then cut out and paste onto blocks pictures of action figures we didn't have!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Remember the Disneyland candy store?

Do you remember the candy store Marceline's Confectionery in Downtown Disney? It usually was our last stop before leaving Disneyland!

The candy store was conveniently located directly across from the bathrooms and an exit we could take to a sidewalk that led to the parking ramp. When you were in a stroller, I'd usually push you along in it, rather than take a tram, from the tram to Disney.

The store carried water and milk, a necessity for our drive back home. Sometimes we'd also pick up some treat for the ride back. You liked the Minnie Mouse cookies, and I usually got a pretzel stick with some caramel/chocolate/nut candy wrapped around it!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Our time together on Saturday, Nov. 16

At Grandma and Grandpa Bignell's,
Nov. 16, 2013
I had so much fun with you today, Kieran, as did the rest of the family. Everybody was so happy to see you again after all of this time. I thought I would take this entry to recap our day together.

We started with Uncle Chris and me picking you up at Caribou Coffee in Woodbury. Then we stopped in Hudson, Wis., where we went downtown to the bookstore. There you got some "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" notebooks and a football book. After that, we went to KFC and picked up lunch.

Following that, we went to Grandma and Grandpa Bignell's farm, where you got to meet the entire family and where we had lunch. We spent the afternoon playing games with your cousins Bryan and Rebekah and coloring. After they left, we played with Hot Wheels cars while listening to the Beatles and wrapped up the afternoon with dinner while playing Battleship.

From there, we traveled back to Woodbury and while waiting for Grandma Deb to pick you up put stickers in your NFL sticker book!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Found photo of you from summer 2008

I found some more photos of you while you stayed with Grandma and Grandpa Bignell's farm during the first half of 2008! I've been scanning them into my computer so that you'll have them later in life.

Here's one of them - you sitting on a swing in their backyard. You're only a year old in this photo! The grass is green, so it must have been taken during the summer. You definitely look sleepy!

Tomorrow (Saturday, Nov. 16), you'll finally get to go back to Grandma and Grandpa Bignell's farm and see where you spent the early days of your life and to re-meet them. Everyone is so looking forward to seeing you again!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Remember Charlie Bown Farms?

Four years ago today, we stopped at Charlie Brown Farms in Little Rock, Calif., to look at the dinosaurs! You may recall that they had all of these statues for sale, and among them were several man-sized dinos.

Charlie Brown Farms always was a fun palce to explore because they had lots of itneresting stuff there to discover and play with. They also had mega amounts of candy and soda pop options!

It was across the road from a McDonalds that we sometimes stopped at. I almost always pulled off there on my way back to San Diego for a little dinner to eat in the car.

Here's some pictures from our adventure!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Remember hiking Piute Butte?

Three years ago today we hiked Piute Butte east of Lancaster, Calif.! It was the site of ancient Indian villages and the Antelope Valley Indian Museum.

We began with a hike around the grounds through some interesting rock formations. You really liked the loop because there were numbered markers identifying key sights, and you liked finding the next number! The picture at right is of you showing disbelief because somehow you'd missed marker No. 8!

Afterward, we went into the museum, which was this neat building literally built over rock on the side of the butte. You enjoyed looking at all of the pottery and Indian artifacts.

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Today has been a fun day in your life!

I don't think the ancient Egyptians wore
sunglasses, but you never know!
November 12 so far has been a very fun day in your short life, Kieran!

In 2009 - four years ago today - we went to Hollywood together! Specifically, we went to "Star Trek: The Exhibit," where you got to play on the set of the Enterprise-D bridge!

In 2011 - just three years ago today - we went to the Museum of Man in San Diego. The adventure included a ride on the trolley through  Balboa Park.

Click on the above links for photos of our adventure. You do need to be a member of Facebook to see them, though.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A family full of veterans

My squad summer 1988 in Ft. Irwin, Calif.
I'm second from left, back row.
Today is Veterans Day, in which we honor our countrymen who have fought in wars. Did you know that you have a lot of veterans in who have served in the military?

Among the oldest is an uncle who fought in the Revolutionary War. He was in a militia that fought in upstate New York and Vermont.

We also have several uncles and a great-great-great-grandfather who fought in the Civil War. They all served in Wisconsin units and fought in places such as Tennessee, incuding the Battle of Shiloh.

Your great-grandfather - who your middle name comes from - served in the Army during World War II, though he didn;t have to go overseas.

Your Uncle Chris and I also served in the Army National Guard, though neither one of us ever were in a war. One day I will show you my medals and stripes!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Your picture is in a magazine!

Your picture appeared in an online magazine last week! Every few weeks I write an article about hiking for Seattle Backpackers Magazine and usually send along photos to go with the text.

My most recent article is about dressing kids for winter hikes. Of course, I had photos of you dressed for winter, from when we went up into the mountains after a snowfall while living at the greenhouse in Lancaster, Calif. (at right).

The photo shows us sitting in a sled together! You might remember that I pulled up the hill on the sled and then we went sliding down it together.

Here's the article!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs

This week I purchased a book for you - though I'm going to keep it for a few years until you're old enough to read it (Yes, it's going into the "Future Kieran" box)!

The book.magazine is called "The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs," and it's produced by Rolling Stone magazine. It's chock full of photos and stories about how 100 of their songs were written and produced.

What were the top 10 "best songs"? They were:
10. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
9. Come Together
8. Let It Be
7. Hay Jude
6. Something
5. In My Life
4. Yesterday
3. Strawberry Fields Forever
2. I Want to Hold Your Hand
1. A Day in the Life

How does that compare to you list of favorite Beatles songs?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Castle where Martin Luther stayed

Veste Coburg, Germany
You might remember that during our Tuesday telephone conversation, I mentioned that I had been to a castle in Germany where Martin Luther (who you're learning about htis week in school) stayed. Well, I found the photo!

The photo was taken on a very cloudy day, and with the picture being taken nearly 30 years ago, it hasn't held up well, but it's attached. It's a picture of the Veste Coburg, a huge citadel in Coburg, Germany, that I toured in January 1986 (the day the space shuttle exploded by the way).

In 1530, Martin Luther sought refuge at the Veste Coburg from his persecutors. He spent almost six months there under the protection of the Elector John the Steadfast. This was during the time of the Diet of Augsburg, during which the Augsburg Confession, one of the Lutheran Church's most important documents, was drafted. While at the Veste Corburg, Luther worked on translating the Bible from Latin into German.

I got to see the room where Luther stayed, but they wouldn't let us take pictures of it. The photo that is attached is the outside wall of the area where Luther stayed, specifically the part that looks like a house standing atop the castle walls at the photo's center. It's neat to think that nearly 500 years ago, Luther looked out the same windows at the very spot where I was standing! I remember that the castle also had a massive collection of medieval armor and weapons, as well as a modern art museum in it.

I sent the photo to your teacher!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Remember scaling the Kirk Rocks?

Nov. 8, 2009
Four years ago today, we hiked Vasquez Rocks (which you affectionatley called "the Kirk Rocks"!).

We'd been there before a couple of times, but on this visit, you were very keen to hike all the way to the top of Gorn Rock on your own! With a little boost from me, you were able to scale each set of walls to the next level up.

Our trips to the Kirk Rocks usually began with a walk to the Friday's Child Rocks (Where scenes from the Star Trek episode "Friday's Child" was filmed) and then a hike up the Gorn Rock (Where Captian Kirk fought the Gorn in the Star Trek episode "Arena.").

Here's a bunch of pictures from our adventure!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Remember going to the rock show?

Three years ago today, we attended the Rock 'n Gem Roundup, held at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds. We had a blast!

Like an asteroid blast - you got to stand next to the fossil skill of a T-rex, which was so large that it could have eaten you whole! You also got to look at all kinds of other rocks; I believe it's one of the reasons that you're still interested in gems and minerals (When we were at the Minnesota Zoo a couple of weeks ago, you even bought a geode with amethyst in it!).

You won the drawing for free gems at the show, by the way, and got a necklace with a fossilized shell in it! In truth, I think they rigged the contest because they wanted to keep young children interested in their hobby (The Palmdale Gem and Mineral Club sponsored the event). Not that we complained!

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

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Remember dressing up as a knight?

Nov. 5, 2011, Escondido Renaissance Festival
Two years ago today we attended the Escondido Renaissance Festival.

You dressed up as a knight in a Halloween costume I purchased. All of the festival workers, who also were dressed up in such garb, were delighted to see you all decked out and gave you lots of attention for it!

We spent a lot of time at the playground; there was a tire swing in particular that you liked. We also bought from a vendora "stuffie" pirate ship that you absolutely loved! It came with a little stuffie pirate!

There also was march of the queen and her court through the grounds, as well as a large mock battle that we watched.

I also remember that the day was a bit cool, but you seemed warm enough in the costume!

Here's a bunch of pictures from our adventure!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Remember our hike in Nightmare Gulch?

Three years today we hiked Nightmare Gulch!

The canyon is deep in Red Rock Canyon State Park and absolutely otherwordly. Walls of volcanic ash rise up to 20 stories above the canyon floor and virtually no plants grow there.

You walked part of the way, but we went quite deep into the canyon, so I carried you on out in the child carrier. You had a lot of fun playing with the few mud puddles we found along the way!

Here's a whole bunch pictures from our adventure!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Remember hiking Mormon Rocks?

Four years ago today we hiked the Mormon Rocks in the San Bernardino National Forest. We'd often passed the rocks on our way to Disneyland and Pomona, so stopping there for a hike seemed like an idea that was long overdue!

We hiked the southeast corner group of the rocks, taking a trail that rose about 300 feet above the surrounding desert into the hogbacks. The San Andreas Fault runs only a few hundreds away from Mormon Rocks in Lone Pine Canyon.

When we were all done with the hike, you pushed the gear back to the truck as I took it off! You always liked to pitch in and help. Plus I think you were excited about going to McDonalds for a hamburger - which we did when all done with the hike!

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

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A great day at Nickelodeon Universe

I had a wonderful day with you Kieran! I had a lot of fun, and we made some great memories, too!

We started the day with lunch at A&W at the Mall of America, showing each other all of our new neat stuff. Then we went on to Nickelodeon Universe and rode tons of rides! You really liked the bumper cars and one that whipped around when it went around corners.

After that, we went to Dollar Tree and got loads of football stickers for your sticker book and football cards for your collection. I was really impressed with the way you broke down the sticker book into a series of logical steps so that finding where they went would be easy! We then went to Kokomos for quesadillas and to paste our stickers into the book!

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

Friday, November 1, 2013

Do you recall your art easel?

Do you remember your art easel? I always wanted you to enjoy a broad range of experiences growing up so that you would have a lot of different interests and find out what you most liked to do. So for Christmas I purchased the art easel for you.

After setting it up, your first experience with it was painting with watercolors. You liked to hold the paint brush over the carpet, though, and the paints would drip, creating a mess! So after that, I pretty much limited the easel to colors, markers and colored pencils.

The easel had a neat paper roll on it. After we used up one side, I unwound it and rerolled it so you could use the other side!