Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Two years ago today at Legoland

Dec. 31, 2011, Legoland, Calif.
Two years ago today, we spent New Years Eve at Legoland in Carlsbad, Calif.!

Earlier that month, I had moved from Encinitas to Palmdale but still had stuff left in a storage shed back in San Diego. So, I figured I could do things at once: Pick up some stuff from the shed (about five totes fit in the car - two in the trunk, two in the back seat crammed next to you, and one in the front passenger set); and make a fun day of it for you at Legoland. I remember telling you it would be a long trip, but if you were good, I'd give you a big reward! And you were good!

While we had fun at Legoland, it was cool and cloudy, so that limited us from going on some of the water rides. There also was a heavy fog that evening, which  diminished the ability to see the fireworks, though they still were neat - we wore 3D glasses that turned the lights into Lego Bricks!

Here's some pictures from our day together!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Our day together on Dec. 28, 2013

Scooby Doo video game you played.
I so enjoyed our time together on Saturday (Dec. 28, 2013), Kieran! We had lots of fun hanging out at Grandma and Grandpa's playing games and enjoying one another's company.

You also got to meet Aunt Sandy and Uncle Mark, who you hadn't seen since you were an infant. They gave you $10 in half-dollar coins, a snow owl Christmas ornment, and a rocking horse ornament that I squirrled for our own tree when we get our own house!

Among the many games we played (some with Bryan and Rebekah) were: Monopoly Empire, Hi-Ho-Cherry-O, Don't Rock the Boat, Clue, and Life. You also played some Scoooby Doo video games on my compter.

At the end of the day, we went to the Dollar Tree and got some NFL stickers, NBA stickers, an FBI playset, football cards, glue and Scotch tape. We finished the evening with a meal at McDonalds!

I can't wait to see you again!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Visiting Museum of Man in San Diego

Playing in the Egypt chuldren's section
at the Museum of Man, Dec. 29, 2011.
Two years today, we visited the Museum of Man in San Diego's Balboa Park. This would mark your last visit to the museum.

I needed to drive to San Diego to pick up my last paycheck from my former employer (I edited magaines in San Diego but then left to start my own editing business). Since you were on Christmas break from preschool, you went with me from Palmdale for the long trip there and back.

You said you wanted to visit the Museum of Man (one of your favorite spots), and as I knew I wouldn't be going back to San Diego much since I'd moved to Palmdale, I figured going there again would be a great idea.

Here's a whole bunch of pictures from our visit.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Remember going to the snowy mountains?

Dec. 28, 2010
Three years ago today, we drove up into the back range of the San Gabriel Mountains and enjoyed some snow!

While temperatures on the desert floor were comfortable in the 40s and 50s (At the time, we lived in the green house in Lancaster, Calif.), a mile up on the mountain tops, snow fell rather than rain. So when the weather cleared up there, we drove up to find several feet of snow, blue skies, and temps in the 20s!

I had bought a blue sled for us, and we went sliding down the Pacific Crest trail near Big Pine, Calif. What is funny is we went hiking there just a few months before!

Here are some photos from our adventure!

Friday, December 27, 2013

'Luke, how did you get up there?'

McDonald's in Acton, Calif.
You might remember on Christmas Day I told you the story of how we always used to joke about the horse that was atop a McDonald's in Acton, Calif.

When you were 4 years old, if we drove by the McDonald's, you'd say, 'Luke, how did you get up there? Not again!' as pretending to be Sheriff Jack, one of our Old West cowboys (I always was Sheriff Jack's sidekick, "The Deputy"). Luke was Sheriff Jack's trusty horse (You even had a horse that you named Luke in your set of cowboy figures.).

Playing the Deputy, I'd suggest all kinds of crazy ways of getting Luke down, like "We could get a crane and lift him down" or "We could fly one of them newfangled air balloons over the McDonald's and lift him down" or "We could divert the river and flood the whole town so that Luke could swim down from the roof."

Anyway, here's a picture of that famous Old West-themed McDonald's with Luke the horse atop it!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Day 2013 together

I had so much fun with you at Christmas yesterday, Kieran!

You got a ton of presents. Your favorites, you said, were the Matt Flynn Oakland Raiders jersey (which you wore the rest of the day), the Lego sets (you received a police/robber/ATM set and a Star Wars set), and the Imaginext Eagle Talon castle!

You also gave me your first gifts ever for Christmas - a star ornament and a holiday picture frame, both of which you made in school. I shall place the star ornament on top of our Christmas tree forevermore!

Here are a whole bunch of pictures from our day together!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Photos from Christmases past

Merry Christmas, Kieran! I am looking forward to spending the day with you and making great memories that will last the rest of our lives!

Here are pictures from our previous Christmases together:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Dragon Happy Meal toys

Do you remember all of your plastic dragon toys? They were picked up at McDonalds in Happy Meals, distributed during the movie "How to Train Your Dragon" in April 2010.

We had most of them - there were a couple that for whatever reason we never got - and in a few cases (especially Night Fury and R.D.) we had multiples of them! We seemed to use the dragons in quite a lot of our play. Most often they were part of our knights and castle play, but sometimes they were bad guys in our adventures with Star Wars or superhero action figures.

I thought of the dragon toys because a sequel to the movie is coming out next summer. I wonder if Mcdonalds will release another set of them for us to collect?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Our similar haircuts at Christmastime!

I found this really old photo of me in one of Grandma Bignell's photo albums and was struck by how similar our hair styles are! This photo was taken in the early 1970s, probably when I was in seond or third grade. I guess my mom decided I needed a really short haircut, too!

Anyway, we're at my Auntie-I and George's, my great aunt and uncle, who raised Grandma Bignell when she was a teenager. Their house was in rural Fall Creek, Wis., and this is their living room at around Christmas time, I remember that Uncle Chris (the littlest boy in the photo; my back is to the camera) received the black puppy dog toy for a Christmas gift. It could be wound up and then would move, bark, and wag its tail!

The photo is a bit aged, because the carpeting in their living room was a pale pink, and here it looks orange. Years later, when they replaced the carpet, my parents put it in my bedroom, because I only had a wooden floor in it!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A new drawing book for you

Earlier this week at the library I checked out for you a kid's book about drawing. I'm going to photocopy it and give it to you on one of your upcoming visits.

I've noticed during our last few visits that you've taken an interest in drawing, boldly trying to copy - without tracing - scenes from books. You appeared to enjoy the challenge, and I might add that for a six-year-old, were quite good at it!

I've always tried to encourage your interest in art by having paints, colored pencils, colors, markers and Play-Doh available, as well as scissors and glue to make collages. I also took you to a few art museums.

Perhaps the book will be too advanced, perhaps for you this is just a passing fancy. But I think you'll find drawing very satisfying in both the challenge of creating something and in the meditative pleasure it brings.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

One year ago today: Christmas presents!

One year ago today we spent the day together opening Christmas presents!

Among the many presents you received were a Go Fish card game, tub of Legos, Imaginext superhero action figures (including CatWoman), PlayDoh, U.S. puzzle map, Transformers, and Hot Wheels cars. You took most of the gifts back to your mother's place, though I kept a couple for our next visit.

I wonder what you'll receive this year for Christmas?

Here's a whole bunch of photos of our time together!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Attending your Christmas program

Dec. 19, 2013
I enjoyed attending your school's Christmas program last night, Kieran! You and your schoolmates sang very beautifully!

Getting to talk with you after the program in your classroom also was a lot of fun. I'm so glad you showed me around the room and some of the projects you worked on!

Hopefully during the weeks and months ahead, I'll be able to attend more of your school events and get to enjoy finding out about all the great work that you're doing in class!

Here are a few pictures I took of the program.

P.S. Congratulations on your great work on the Brazil booklet!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Remember playing Hi-Ho Cherry-O?

Do you remember your game Hi-Ho Cherry-O? I got it for you while I lived in Encinitas.

The game involved spinning to see how many fruits you would "pick" from a tree and place in your basket. You could choose from cherries,blueberries, oranges or apples to pick.

You always had to be careful to not spin the dog. He would tip over your basket,and you;d have to start picking fruit all over again!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Recall our gem trail hiking guidebook?

Do you remember the gem trail book that I used to have? I often used it to plan hiking trips for us where we could find fossils and cool rocks in Southern California.

Though the book was borrowed from the library, I photocopied a number of the pages, and read it quite a lot, so it sat prominently on my desk.

I remember when we once hiked Red Rock Canyon State Park in the Mojave Desert, and while we we were in the gift shop, you saw it on the bookshelf and said, "Hey, we have that book!" So I wonder if you still remember it today...

I think that day I got you stuffie at the gift store, though I can't remember if it was a bat, a road runner, or a songbird. Anyway, there are lots of photo albums on my Facebook site of our gem and fossil trail hikes, and I will show them to you one day (as well as some of the rocks that we'd collected!).

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Four years ago today in Disneyland

Dec. 17, 2009, at Disneyland.
Four years ago today, we spent the day in Disneyland! It was my birthday!

I remember you being very impressed with all of the Christmas decorations at Disneyland, especially those on Main Street USA and the big Christmas tree at the center. At the time, you favorite ride was the carousel, so we went on that right away, as well as the teacups, which you also liked a lot!

We also spent a fair amount of time in Toontown, where you got to meet Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. You were just 2 years 10 months old, and cute as all heck!

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

Monday, December 16, 2013

Pictures of us when we were 6 years old

On my Facebook page I recently posted a retro photo of myself - my first grade picture, taken in autumn 1972 for my elementary school picture. I was 6-3/4 years old.

I posted the retro picture because my cover photo is of you ... from autumn 2013 during our visits, when you were 6-1/2 years old.

We look a lot alike - even have the same early Beatles mop top hair cuts, don't we?

When I was six, I lived on a small farm east of Elmwood, Wis. I attended Elmwood Elementary School. My first grade teacher's name was Mrs. Rhiel. I shared a room with my brother, and the room was turquoise,. My favorite football teams were the Miami Dolphins and the Green Bay Packers! I loved to watch Star Trek, and would catch each weekday after school from 4 to 5 pm on WKBT-TV out of La Crosse, Wis. My best friend in school was Ronald Wolfe. When my parents went out for the evening, usually our next door neighbor, whose name was Hazel, babysat us.

I am very proud of you and love you more than anything, Kieran!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Our day at Action City in Eau Claire

I had so much fun with you yesterday, Kieran! We spent most of the day at Action City in Eau Claire and then came back to Grandma and Grandpa Bignells for birthday cake!

At Action City, you started the day with some racing video games. I was impressed by your driving - you definitely drive aggressively like a Bignell!

Then we went on the bumper cars and after that to the gocart racing track. We got first place on the the gocart racing, making a great move at the end that sped us from second to first place!

We must have spent an hour on the Terminator video game. I think you got ripped off, because when I used your machine gun, it didn't fire all of the time. When you used the machine gun I had through most of the game, you scored "Elite" and won!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Cool new Star Trek Hot Wheels cars!

Last night I found a new toy that I'm certain to buy for you in 2014: Star Trek Hot Wheels vehicles!

They're little trucks and cars that have one of the five major "Star Trek: The Original Series" characters on each vehicle: Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, and Sulu. Here's an article about the Hot Wheels cars.

You've always liked Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. I remember you picking one out each time we went shopping at Wal-Mart, Target or Albertson's supermarket when you were only two years old!

I don't quite know when the Star Trek Hot Wheels come out, but I'll be looking for them!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Recall 'Luke Skywaker's Amazing Story'?

Our discussion this past weekend of you wanting books to read at your mother's place got me thinking of all of the great books you once had. You probably had close to a hundred of them at the green house in Lancaster.

Then when I went to the book store to purchase a bunch of them for you, I began to wonder if I should rebuy some of those books for you or go for totally new ones?

Anyway, one of the books you had - and one I couldn't find! - was "Luke Skywaker's Amazing Story". About half of the book came from "Star Wars IV: A New Hope", and the other half was a mix of the highlights from the two movies that came after.

You absolutely loved the book! You'd have me read it to you night after night as a bedtime story, and the pictures kept you in rapt attention.

I think if I can find this book somewhere, I will purchase it for you, just for old time's sake!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Finger lights to search for monsters!

I bet your remember the cool finger lights we had when at the condo in Palmdale! They came in three colors - red, green and blue - and could be worn on your fingers with a little elastic band that held them in place.

The condo was perfect for the finger lights because even during the day as two back bathrooms were dark enough that we could sneak into them, pretending to search for monsters. Of course, they were even better at night when almost every room could be dark!

You liked to play so much with the finger lights that you actually drove me crazy! I'd have to break up the pay with other activities.

When we moved back to Minnesota/Wisconsin, I got some new finger lights that you, Bryan and Rebekah played with at Grandma and Grandpa's house!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Two years ago today: Our day at Legoland

Two years ago today, we spent the day at Legoland!

It was Christmastime, so Legoland was decked out for the season. I remember looking at all of the displays of famous landmarks made from Legos and how they were decorated with Christmas touches, like wreaths on the "doors."

You also got to meet Santa Claus, who was in the shape of a Lego character. The temps were a little cool for San Diego this time of year, so we had to wear pants and hooded sweatshirts to stay warm.

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

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Three years ago today at 'cowboy museum'

Playing in the Chinese resturant at "the cowboy museum,"
Dec. 10, 2011.
Three years today we visited the Autry National Center of the American West - or what you liked to call "the cowboy museum"!

At first, I didn't think you'd like going to the cowboy museum, as it would be too formal. But you were enamored by the Old West paintings - and even more taken by the cool Hollywood Old West sound stage and the great kids area in the basement.

The kids area included a typical California house from the 1930s and a Chinese restaurant from that period in Los Angeles. We played a lot in both places - in the latter one, you would cook me a meal and be my waiter while I was the customer!

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

Monday, December 9, 2013

Photocopied football book for you!

One of the books we checked out from the Menomonie Library that you were unable to take to your mother's place was "Successful Sports: Football." It seemed to be the book you were most interested in when we stopped at Dairy Queen and then went back to Grandma and Grandpa's to make our football game.

Well, I photocopied the book and stapled the pages together for you so that you can read it whenever you like! I will give it to you when we next get together on Saturday.

I must admit that the book brought back some memories for me. It was published in 1997 and so had photos of great players from the 1990s, like Jerry Rice, Troy Aikman, and Deion Sanders!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Your Scooby Doo action figure

Do you remember your Scooby Doo action figures? One of them was Scooby Doo, and his legs and head moved so he could be in different positions. Best of all, you could press a cutton on the back of his neck, and his eyes would pop out!

You were really into Scooby Doo as a preschooler, always watching the DVDs I had of the show. If I recall correctly, the one episode you liked to watch the most was "What a Night for Knight".

The Scooby Doo came with a package of the entire gang. We actually had another Scooby, as he and Shaggy also came with the Mystery Van we purchased.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Recall your I Can Do That! card game?

Do you rmember your I Can Do That! card game? It was a Dr. Seuss game in which you had to draw three cards and do silly things, just like the Cat in the Hat would.

If you succeeded in doing the task, such as "Take giant steps around a chair with the fish under your right arm," you got to keep the cards. Whoever had the most cards at the end of the game won. But the fun of the game was in doing the silly stuff rather than trying to win!

When I told Grandma Bignell about the game and how much fun we had playing it, she bought one for your cousin Rebekah. Fortunately, you got to play it with your cousins Rebekah and Bryan and me during a visit to Grandma and Grandpa Bignells in December 2013!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Your Kai-Adi-Mindi action figure

Do you remember your Kai-Adi-Mindi action figure? He appeared in the first three Star Wars movies and for whatever reason was one of your favorite action figures to play with when a preschooler.

Usually with just a few facts, I can figure out exactly why you like or dislike something. Our psychologies are pretty similar. But you always stumped me on Kai-Adi-Mundi!

Still, the mystery of not knowing is one of the great pleasures of being a parent. It means you are a unique person with thoughts and beliefs all your own, and I take great joy in discovering what they are!

I still have the Kai-Adi-Mundi action figure and will give it back to you. He is missing his hands, though! Here is an online entry about Ki-Adi-Mundi and his life!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Remember Star Wars' pop-up book?

When visiting bookstores as a preschooler with me, one of the Star Wars books you often enjoyed looking at was "Star Wars: A Pop-up Guide to the Galaxy." In fact, I think we got a copy of the book at the library in Lancaster, Calif.

With each page were several illustrations that popped up and flaps that could be pulled to create scenes from the various Star Wars movies. Among them was the cantina from "A New Hope"; it as so elaborate that it almost looked like a mini playset!

Another scene had the big battle between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker from "Return of the Jedi." Sometimes you'd like to take the two characters and have a light lightsaber battle between them!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Two years ago today: Aboard USS Midway

Trying on aviator goggles
 in the USS Midway gift store.
Two years ago today we toured one of your favorite places to go in San Diego: The USS Midway aircraft carrier.

We began the tour with a walk through the ship's brig and then the engine room. I have some neat pictures of you looking into the ship's boilers.

Then we went up to the deck where the airplanes are worked on (when the ship was in operation, of course), and you got to play around in the aircraft cockpits they set up for kids. Then we went to the conning tower (I may have the term wrong) and played in the ship's command center and visited the ship's "captain."

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

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Two years today: In Disneyland

Two years ago today, we spent the day in Disneyland!

Unfortunately, I don't have too many photos from that weekend - sometimes my batteries ran out of power, and my camera has seen better days. But I did get one nice shot of you, wearing a Nightmare Before Christmas hat!

I do recall that we went into the haunted mansion for the Nightmare Before Christmas ride during the weekend!

Here's a whole bunch of photos from our trips during that Christmas season!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Recall your mini Disney lightsabers?

On Saturday when you took some of your Star Wars action figures with you, I got to thinking about all of the great toys from that series you've owned over the years. Certainly one of your favorites were the mini lightsabers we picked up at Disneyland.

There were four of them, each a different color, if I recall correctly - green for Yoda, purple for Mace Windu, red for Darth Vader, and blue for Obi-Wan Kenobi. Sometimes they'd break when playing with them, but they were pretty sturdy!

I'll also remember you having imaginary battles with them in the truck/car as we drove between places! Sometimes you'd say lines from the movie as going through the motions!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

At Grandma's and Grandpa's on Saturday

Decorating the Christmas tree, Nov. 30, 2013.
I had so much fun with you on Saturday, Kieran! We spent the day at Grandma and Grandpa Bignell's!

The day started with us putting stickers in our NFL sticker books and then enjoying a nice ham dinner that Grandma made. Then we played games with your cousins Bryan and Rebekah; the games includeed Clue and the Dr. Seuss game.

Then we took a drive into town; you got to see the elementary school I went to, we visited the library to get books, I showed you my old high school, and then we went to Dairy Queen for ice cream.

When we got back to Grandma and Grandpa's, we made a cool football game. Oh, and how could I forget - you got help decorate the Christmas tree earlier, right after lunch!