Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Remember your Lego Fire Chief Car set?

One of the many Lego sets you've had over the years - and one that you put together Feb. 8-9, 2014 - was the Fire Chief Car from the Lego City rescue set. The set included a fire department car, the fire chief, a tree with a cat atop it, and a woman holding a fish to get the cat to come down!

After you put it together that weekend while visiting, you took the car and two Lego back to your mother's, but we left the tree and cat on the house set I built while you were putting together the Monster truck and semitrailer set!

You've had quite a few of the smaller City Rescue sets, such as a fire truck and police motorcycle after robbers, over the years. I wonder which ones we'll get in the weeks ahead?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Past birthday celebrations

Feb. 1, 2013
With yesterday (Feb. 23, 2014) being your birthday, here are some photos from your past birthdays:
>>2014 (7 years old)
>>2013 (6 years old)
>>2012 (5 years old)
>>2011 (4 years old)
>>2010 (3 years old)
>>2009 (2 years old)
>>2008 (1 year old)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Remember Your Imaginext Bat Copter?

A couple of days ago while in Kmart I saw one of your old toys - the Bat Copter that went with your Imaginext Bat Cave. That brought back lots of memories!

We often used the Bat Copter when playing with the Bat Cave. Sometimes the villains even tried to capture the copter!

You really liked playing with the copter, though, when we got a Imaginext Fire Rescue chopper - it was red with a circled letter R on it, so you said it was Robin's helicopter! We now had a chopper for both Batman and Robin (You typically assigned me the Bat Copter while you got "Robin's chopper") and took them together on lots of adventures!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

My books dedicated to you

As you know, I write books (as well as edit them) for a living. Most of the books I've written are dedicated to you! Here's a list of those dedicated to you:
>>Hikes with Tykes (Your picture is on the cover and there are several pics of you in the book.)
>>Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities (A picture of you at Vasquez Rocks is on the cover.)
>>7 Minutes a Day to Your Bestseller (For this volume and the next two on the list, you share the dedication with your two cousins, Bryan and Rebekah, as I released the three books at one time.)
>>7 Minutes a Day to a Self-Published Book
>>7 Minutes a Day to Promoting Your Book
>>7 Minutes a Day to Mastering the Craft of Writing
>>Headin' to the Cabin: Day Hiking Trails of Northwest Wisconsin
>>Hittin the Trail (So far, there are six books in the series, and each is dedicated to you.)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Three years ago today: SpaceShipTwo

Feb. 19, 2011, with WhiteKnightTwo and
SpaceShipTwo behind you.
Three years ago today you got to see the first non-government spaceship at the Mojave Air and Spaceport's monthly fly-in.

The spaceship was Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo! The WhiteKnight is the mothership that carries SpaceShipTwo high into the atmosphere where the gravity is lower. It then drops the SpaceShip, which fires its rockets and zooms into low Earth orbit!

The day was extremely cold, though - only in the mid 40s - so we stayed there just long enough to walk around the ship and take a few pictures. You told me it was a "pretty cool spaceship"!

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

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Memories of your 'Scottish' castle

During the previous weekend with me (Feb. 8-9, 2014), you played a lot with your castle that I gave you for Christmas 2013. You made a couple of great memories - at least in my mind!

One memory revolved about me somehow telling you that at one time England conquered Wales, then Scotland and finally Ireland to form the United Kingdom. After that, the knights in your castle were Scotsmen defending the fort against the invading English!

During this battle, you also started shooting the discs from the cannons on the tip of the castle's turrets. Some of those discs hit me! You were apologetic and shifted the castle's position so that the fired discs would land on your bed, that way they would be easier to find!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Recall your Traffic Jam floor puzzle?

Do you remember your Traffic Jam floor puzzle? It was a huge 2-foot-high by 3-foot-wide puzzle made by the Melissa and Doug company, which specializes in sturdy, educational toys for kids.

The puzzle contained different kinds of transportation vehicles in a cityscape. We got it when you were a preschooler, so often I'd place on the floor where the pieces go, and you'd piece them together. Later, as you grew older, you would look for connecting pieces.

Afterward, I'd always ask you to point out the vehicles on the puzle, such as "Which one is the airplane?" or "Where is the fire truck?"

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Your Lego Monster Truck Transporter kit

One of the great Lego toys we got this past weekend (Feb. 9, 2014) was the Lego Monster Truck Transporter kit.

I was so impressed that you put it together all by yourself! There were a lot of pieces in the kit, but you followed the instructions from the first to the last page while we listened to oldies and I built a house from the other Lego kit. Your ability to stick through the project from start to end with only a couple of short breaks to get up and stretch your legs was fantastic!

The kit made a semi truck and trailer with a Monser truck that fit on the trailer's back. There were three guys and other pieces as well.

I can't wait to put together more Lego kits with you!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Four years ago today: Saddleback Butte SP

Feb. 15, 2010
Four years ago today we hiked Saddleback Butte State Park in the Antelope Valley, California! The park was about 15 miles east of our house.

The butte has a large number of Joshua trees that sit on the desert floor beneath a large rocky hill. We hiked to the top of a smaller butte/rocky hill at the park's norhwest corner and then through the Joshue Tree forest below it.

The hike was quite brief in terms of mileage - only about 0.75 to 1 mile long, but you were at the point in your life in which you wanted to walk the trails rather than be taken in the child carrier, and that was about all the distance you could handle!

I also remember the day being fairly warm, in the high 60s.

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

Friday, February 14, 2014

Four years ago: Aboard the Queen Mary!

Queen Mary sun deck, Feb. 14, 2010
Four years ago today we toured the Queen Mary and attended the Scottish festival in Long Beach, Calif.!

After the long drive there, we enjoyed lunch aboard a sit-down restaurant on the former ocean liner. Some of the parts of the ship we toured were the engine room, the officer's quarters, and the bridge, the latter two of which you treated as a playground!

At the festival, we listened to bag pipes and then went back inside the ocean liner to look at the vendor's displays, which included some swords. I remember that I forgot to bring my camera with me, so I bought a disposable one at the Queen Mary gift store!

Here's a bunch of photos from our adventure!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Your Lego Star Wars Rancor pit

This past weekend (Feb. 8-9, 2014), we purchased and put together the Lego Star Wars Rancor pit. It's from a scene in "Return of the Jedi."

We found the Lego set at Target in Eau Claire. I had intended to buy some Legos for you and spotted this one on sale. You were excited to put it in the shopping cart!
You started putting together the kit when we got back that afternoon to Grandma and Grandpa Bignell's. I finished it off while you worked on your fire truck Lego set.
The set had a gate that moved up and down and two secret compartments. It came with Luke Skywalker, the Rancor, the Rancor's keepr, and one of Jabba's guards as Lego people.
You took the Lego character swith you back to your mother's place but I kept the Rancor pit!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Four years ago: Hiking Ripley State Park

Feb. 12, 2010
Four years ago today we hiked the Ripley Desert Woodland State Park - one of the last virgin stands of Joshua trees in the Antelope Valley, which is where our homes in Lancaster and Palmdale, California were located.

The park was located way out in the desert, about 15 miles from our house. It was very easy to get to but had no facilities to speak of.

You most enjoyed the numbered markers posted along the trail! The numbers corresponded with a brochure that told about Joshua trees and the local ecosystem. You had great fun searching them out and making sure you got the next number in the sequence!

Here's a bunch of photos from our adventure!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Three years ago today: L.A. Zoo

Our view of the elephants, Feb. 11, 2011.
Three years ago today we spent the afternoon at the Los Angeles Zoo!

We did the zoo "backwards" - usually we would go clockwise through the Australian section then uphill to the African section and finally downhill to the play area. We instead went counterclockwise, starting in the playground then zipping around what then was the new elephant enclosure, then down to the gorillas in Africa and finally to Australia!

I'm not sure why we did the zoo this way - I think I was trying to get us to see some sections over by the playground and South American section because we usally skipped that side; typically after going through the playground, we'd head home.

Here are a whole bunch of photos from our adventure!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Two years ago today: Santa Clarita

Two years ago today, I picked you up for the weekend at Barns and Noble in Palmdale, Calif., for the weekend. At the time, I was dating Jane, and so you got to meet her for the first time, though you had talked with her on the phone a few times.

The three of us then went out to eat at the Texas-themed restaurant in the Palmdale mall. From there, we drove back to Santa Clarita, where we were staying in a hotel for the weekend.

We spent the weekend doing a lot of driving about - on Saturday morning we drove to Lancaster to look at apartments and then headed back to Santa Clarita for the afternoon. On Sunday, we drove into Los Angeles, and then on Monday morning it was back to Lancaster to drop you off at school.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Our day together: Feb. 9, 2014

Finding rocks and gems in your science kit. Feb. 9, 2014.
I had another fun day with you, Kieran! We started the day with a breakfast of Belgian waffles and bacon, which you devoured. Then it was off to playing with a variety of toys we had in your room, including the castle set you got for Christmas, and the great Rock and Gem kit I'd gotten for you at Michaels last week.

After a spaghetti lunch, we went to Wal-Mart and got another Lego kit - this time of a semi-trailer than carried a Monster truck on it. You spent the whole afternoon putting it together - I was so impressed by your focus and dedication!

We did lots of other things to - play Star Trek with our phasers and tricorders; play chess, play with the new Play Doh set we picked up earlier at that day. Our weekend together ended all too soon!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Our Saturday, Feb, 8, 2014

I had a great time with you today, Kieran! After picking you up at Caribou Coffee, we made a quick jaunt to the Dollar Tree in Hudson for sports books stickers then headed to your cousin Bryan's house for his brothday party. Shortly thereafter, we went up to Action City in Eau Claire (where the Terminator game unfortunately was broken) and then over to Target.

At Target, we picked up a Star Wars Lego set, among other items, and headed back to Grandma and Grandpa's. We spent the rest of the afternoon putting together the Lego set and playing games, including chess! I'm impressed with how quickly you're picking up the game, specifically how the pieces move!

We also listened to lots of oldies, particularly my collection of songs from 1964-66. I remember how after hearing the TV theme to "Car 54, Where Are You?" you hummed the tune for the rest of the afternoon!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Four years ago today: In Disneyland!

Feb. 7, 2010
Four years today, we went to Disneyland! The rain had been horrible on Friday (Feb. 5, 2010) when we went there, so we spent Saturday (Feb. 6, 2010) in Palm Springs. The rain was only slightly better on Saturday, though, and had let up a little (but not much) on Sunday (Feb. 7, 2010), so after packing up the truck, we went back to Disneyland!

To keep out of the rain and cold, I shuffled up our usual activities. We started the morning with a character breakfast at the Plaza Inn just off of Main Street USA. You got to me Tigger, Goofy's son, and Chip and Dale.

Later we did a variety of rides in Fantasyland. we drove back to Lancaster that evening.

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

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Four years ago today: Palm Springs, Baby!

Feb. 6, 2010, Palm Springs Air Museum
Four years ago today, we went to the air museum in Palm Springs, Calif.! The weather was extremely wet and cold, and I didn't want us to suffer through it again at Disneyland, like we did the day before. So I came up with the bright idea of driving from Pomona (where we were staying) to Palm Springs, where I thought its separation from the L.A. basin would make the weather there fairly nice (at least that was my experience inthe past when I lived in Palm Springs!).

The weather was warmer in Palm Springs - but ran still fell, though it was a little lighter.

We started the day having lunch at Ruby's Diner in downtown Palm Springs. Then we spent a couple of hours at the air museum. We both were getting a little tired and had a long drive back, so we drove on the I-10 into the L.A. metro area, stopping at Toys R Us in Ontario, where we bought a toy (Though I can't seem to remember what it was - I think it was a tree house explorer kit with animals) and then went back to the hotel.

Here are a bunch of pictures from our time at the air museum!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Four years ago today: At Disneyland!

Feb. 5, 2010
Four years ago today, we were at Disneyland! I remember the weather being very rainy, which was a mixed blessing: We were able to get on lots of rides as very few people visited the park, but it also meant we had to fight the dampness!

Because of the rain and cold, I altered our usual itinerary and the kinds of rides we we went on. We began the day with a character breakfast at the Storybook Cafe in the Californian hotel off of Downtown Disney. You had a lot of fun meeting the Disney gorillas, chipmunks and bears!

You were a little scared, though, when we went over to the Jedi Academy. You had to participate in your first academy, and with the rain they had a character meet-and-greet. You got to meet Darth Vader (who you found frightening) but then lightened up when we got to the jedi, who treated you a like a little padawan. When they asked you who your favorite jedi was, you told them "Luke Skywalker," and they were very impressed!

Here are a bunch of photos from our adventure!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Some new surprises for you

I'm very excited to see your reaction the next time you visit (which is Feb. 8)! Grandma and Grandpa Bignell bought you a new bed, and we modified the playroom in the farmhouse so tht it can be your bedroom!

I also purchased NFL sheets/comforter/blanket set for you! Back when we got our condo in Palmdale, you had said you wanted NFL sheets, but they were far too expensive to get, so we got you a generic football set instead; unfortunately, we never got stuff unpacked so that we could set up your room that way.

With your love of football this past year, you should like the NFL bedding even better than when we had the condo!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Your Kitchen Science kit

Do you remember your Kitchen Science kit? I got it for us at the Minnesota Science Museum in August 2013, and we used it to create a mini-volcano!

I assembled all of the materials needed to make the volcano then guided you through creating it. You were so wowed when the "lava" came pouring out of the cone that you wanted to do it again! And we did.

There were several other science experiments in it as well - such as making a mini-rocket, a lemon-powered clock, fingerprint kit, and so on, but as of this entry, we have yet to do them. Maybe we'll do them when you're a little older this summer!

Here are some pictures from when we made the volcano!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

My Super Bowl memories

Larry Czonka (Miami Dalphins)
in 1973 Super Bowl.
Today is the big Super Bowl game! Though you've watched others before when we were together, this is probably the one you'll remember as your "first" Super Bowl!

The Super Bowl during the year I was in first grade (1973) was the first one I remember. That year, the Miami Dolphins defeated the Washington Redskins 14-7, and the Dolphins became the only NFL team to ever have a perfect season.

I remember lots of other Super Bowls from my childhood years in the 1970s, probably more so than the rest of my life. Usually the Super Bowl involved the Minnesota Vikings or Dallas Cowboys playing either the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Okland Raiders. The Broncos and Rams also made the Super Bowl during those years.

The other big Super Bowl I remember is No. 30 when the Green Bay Packers beat the New England Patriots, winning the first league championship in 30 years! That was in 1997.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Your second quarter report card

Your report card for second quarter of first grade showed some marked improvement! I was very proud of you for your accomplishments.

If you did not stay the same with an already good grade, work habit, or conduct, you improved. You improved in Christ-Light, Memory Treasures, Language Arts, Spelling, Math, Art and P.E. as well as following directions, attentiveness, class participation, completing assignments, showing love to others, respecting authority and following classroom/school rules.

You received A's in math, memory treasures, and Christ-light, a B+ in language arts, and a C in spelling. You also received an E (for excellent) in class participation!

I have kept your report card so that one later you may look back upon it!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Your height and weight through the years II

In a previous entry, I listed your height and weight through the years. When we got together on Saturday (Jan. 25), you were very excited to tell me that you weighed 51 pounds! So I figured I should update this list!

Here's a list of those measurements that I stumbled across as going through my computer files. It's a little incomplete because I have your height listed on a wall poster (which is packed away somewhere):

Feb. 23 – Weighs 7 pounds, 7 ounces

Feb. 5 –
Weighs 20 lb., 14 oz.
June 5 – Weighs 23 lb., 6 oz.

Jan 26 –
Measures 3 feet, 10 inches tall

Jan 10 –
Weighs 41 pounds
Jan 21 – Measures 3 feet, 11.25 inches tall
Apr 21 – Height is hair under 4 feet

Jan 25 –
Weighs 51 pounds
March 25  Weighs 44 points; measures 4 feet tall (added after entry was posted)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Four years ago today: Tortoise hiking

Spotting a desert tortoise, Jan. 30, 2014.
Four years ago today we hiked a trail in the Desert Tortoise Natural Area. It was a remote area in the Mojave Desert, though driveable from where we lived in Lancaster, Calif.

The wildlife reserve was set aside as a place for the endangered desert tortoise to live. They've been on the planet for about 2 million years but are rapidly disappearing. We were lucky enough to see one, by the way!

I do remember the day being just a tad under perfect warm; we had to wear hoodies and sweatshirts, but it felt very nice compared to the cold winter we'd been experiencing.

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

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Three years ago today at Vasquez Rocks

Hamming it up for the camera, Jan. 29, 2011.
Three years ago today, we hiked Vasquez Rocks, which you also referred to as "the Kirk Rocks"! Except this time instead of visiting "Star Trek" sites, we went searching for sites used during filming of the first season of "The Bionic Woman" (which you really enjoyed watching, by the way)!

We had just purchased "The Bionic Woman" on DVD, and while watching it, I noticed that the episode "Canyon of Death" (which takes place in the desert portion of the "Ventura Air Force Base"), took place at Vasquez Rocks. Since we'd hiked it several times before looking for"Star Trek" filming locations, I was fairly familiar with the county park and figured we'd have little trouble identifying where the scenes occurred.

By the way, you wore a Starfleet Academy cap for the hike!

I put together a photo gallery of our hike including photos from "The Bionic Woman" episode!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Two years ago: Aquarium of the Pacific

Children's playground at Aquarium
of the Pacific, Jan. 28, 2012.
Two years ago today, we visited the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif.! This was one of your favorite places to go, and you always were asking me if we could go.

We'd had a sring of gloomy overcast skies and cool temps in Palmdale, and I was itching to go enjoy some sunshine. Somehow I came across a discount coupon for the aquarium, and so off we went!

The temp was a gorgeous 72 degrees under sunny skies. I remember that our faces got a little red from the sun as we walked around the harbor from the aquarium to the shops and arcade on the oceanfront!

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

Monday, January 27, 2014

Remember your electric racetrack?

Jan. 25, 2014
On Saturday, I gave you a racetrack toy that we built and played with. It was the Kid Connection Road Racing Play Set.

We put together the track with me cnnecting the pieces (which you handed to me) and you putting on the stickers!

The racetrack formed a figure 8 in which part of it rose above the other. It came with two cars - a black one and a red one.

The challenge was to ensure the race cars didn't spin out, so you had to control its speed...but we didn't want to go too slow or that wouldn't be any fun!

We each did a bunch of trial runs practicing control of the car; you kept track of the number of spin outs on a notepad!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Our day together on Jan. 25, 2014

Playing with the new racetrack toy, Jan. 25, 2014.
I had so much fun with you on Saturday! We began the day by stopping in Hudson, where we stopped at the Dollar Tree and picked up football/basketball/baseball stickers, then at Target where we picked up BeyBlade tops and Lego kits, then at Culvers for lunch, and finally at Walgreens for football cards!

Then we went back to Grandma and Gandpa's where we looked at all of the football cards, put together the Lego sets, and placed stickers in our NFL book. Then we put togther and played quite a while with our racetrack set!

We also took some time to look at your report card. I am very proud of you - your grades and conduct improved across the board from first to second quarter!

While enjoying an early dinenr of hand sandwiches, we played Trouble and Hi-Ho Cherry-O. On the ride back, you watched the opening episode of Jonny Quest on my Kindle Fire.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Remember your dragon castle?

Do you remember your Imaginext Dragon World Fortress Castle? It was among your favorite toys as a preschooler. I think you played with it just about every day.

It had this dragon head on it that could reach down and grab attacking knights with its jaws. Pressing a button also opened windows to the sound of a thunderclap so that the castle appeared to be "alive"!

We mainly used it for big battles between knights and dragons (Usually the ones we picked up at McDonalds). You also would place Disney princesses in it and have them fight off the dragons!

Our Star Wars and sueprhero action figures also had many goes at attacking/defending the castle!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Four years ago today: Mountain snow II

The view from where we went sledding.
Four years ago today we went back to the mountains to enjoy an afternoon in the snow!

The afternoon before (Jan. 23, 2010), we drove up into the San Gabriels to explore what was up there. I was so excited to find a winter wonderland that on the way back we stopped off at a sporting goods store and picked up a sled with rope and some other sundries for cold weather fun.

The following morning, we drove back up into the mountains. We went sledding down a very small hillside and tossed snowballs at one another!

Here's a couple of photos from our adventure together!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Four years ago today: mountain snow

Four years ago today, we drove up into the back range of the San Gabriel Mountains and played in the snow, though only briefly. For the past couple of days before then, clouds shrouded the mountain tops, and on this day they cleared, leaving the peaks capped in white.

I decided we should check out just how far down in elevation the snow had fallen and if there would be any great places for us to play in the snow. So late in the afternoon, after our midday naps (You usually fell asleep in my arms after lunchtime milk), we drove on up.

Was I ever surprised by the number of people there! I had difficulty finding a parking spot but eventually did. Unfortunately, sunset came shortly after 5 p.m., so we didn't have a lot of daylight (which is why the photos are a bit dark) to enjoy the snow, though you sure had fun playing in it, especially throwing snowballs!

Here's a few photos from our adventure!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Recall your Transformers toys?

Do you remember your mini Transformers figures? We got a few of them when I lived in Encinitas and moved back to Palmdale in 2011-22.

The toys folded into vehicles and then unfolded into a Transformer. The smaller the toy, the more likely pieces of them were to fall off! So I often found myself repairing the Transformer toy.

Bumblebee by far was your favorite Transformer character. You might recall he was a bright yellow Camarro. Whenever we played Transformers in the car, you'd want to be Bumblebee.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Two years ago today: William Hart home

Jan. 22, 2012, William S. Hart ranch.
Two years ago today we visited and toured the museum ranch and home of silent film cowboy star William S. Hart. It was in Santa Clarita, Calif.

The visit started with going through the petting zoo, where we fed some animals, in particular a big brown swiss cow and and mule deer fawn. There also were various chickens and hogs, but none of them were hungry.

Then we hiked up the hill to the ranchhouse. I was so impressed by your good behavior on a tour that semmed to run a little long for my tastes!

Afterard, at the gift store, you got a collection of cowboy and Indian toys. These became the characters of your Sheriff Jack stories!

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

Monday, January 20, 2014

Your 'Hikes with Tykes' hoodie?

Do you remember your cool "Hikes with Tykes" hoodie? When I lived in Encinitas, I published my first book, "Hikes with Tykes" (with a picture of you on the cover) and got some clothes made up to promote the book!

One of them was an ash gray hoodie for you. It had front pockets to place your hands in when they got cold and a hood to keep out the wind. The words Hikes with Tykes were in black over the left breask pocket.

For myself, I got a matching black T-shirt and black sweatshirt. Sometimes we'd wear our Hikes with Tykes sweatshirts when we went places together!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Remember your Playmobil knights castle?

Do you remember your Playmobil castle? It was a small portion of a larger set but offered plenty of fun times anyways.

It included part of a wall that could be broken through, a small cell for captured prisoners, a took/tower, and a couple of knights to battle it out! The toy sat in your tote of knights toys.

We usually used the play castle in conjunction with other toys...it might be the lair of the evil Star Wars action figures or the temporary base for the good knights as they held out against an assulat from all of the bad dragons!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Remember our gem hunt in Opal Canyon?

Opal Canyon, Jan. 18, 2011.
Three years today we went hiking in Opal Canyon at Red Rock Canyon State Park north of Mojave, California! It is a gem trail on which we searched and dug for opal and other cool rocks.

Our hike began with a drive down a desert jeep trail to the edge of an dry wash. We then hiked up the arroyo to various fossil sites.

Once at the sites, you helped me chip away at the rock with my geologist's hammer. We found some great gems, and I still have them in a box, all labled for you (I will show them to you one day!)!

Here's a bunch of pictures from our adventure!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Recall your parking ramp toy?

Do you remember your cool parking ramp toy we had at the grene house in Lancaster? It was the Fast Lane Street Linx Parking Garage, and we got it one afternoon at Toys R Us. It ook me about any hour to put together, but we got plenty of hours of fun afterward from it!

The elevator on it didn't work too well, but we had lots of great adventures driving cars around on it. Probably the most exciting part of it, though, was the cool spiral ramp that we'd let cars sail down to see how far they'd go when they cleared the bottom floor.

This was one of two parking ramps you had. The other fell apart (Though we kept the blacktop roads that went with it for our construction toys), so we got this as a replacement!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sledding in Hudson at the SnowPark

On Saturday, Jan. 11, we went sledding (or more accurately snowtubing) at Badlands SnowPark in Hudson, Wis. The snowpark was a series of hills on which we could slide down with intertubes!

I bought you a bunch of new winter clothes for you for the adventure, including boots and snowpants. You loved the cool skull stocking cap I got and wore it over your Angry Birds stocking cap! You also wore your sunglasses - the same ones you had in California!

We did the bunny hill, which still was quite "fun but scary," as you said. You even rode your own intertube down the hill. There also was a rope that you grabbed onto it, and it automaticlaly pulled you up the hill!

Unfortunatley, my camera batteries went dead in the cold, so I was unable to take any pictures of us...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Your NFL jerseys through the years

In your Phillip Rivers
jersey, 2011.
This past weekend when we were together, you mentioned that you don't recall ever having a Philip Rivers jersey. Probably not - you were just a preschooler when you had it! So I thought today I'd list all of the NFL jerseys you've owned (so far!):
>>Brett Favre (Minnesota Vikings) - We got the purple jersey at the mall in Palmdale, Calif., in 2010, the season that Favre had his big year with the Vikings and they went to the conference championship.
>>Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers) - We bought this in Encinitas, Calif., in fall 2011. It was the navy blue jersey.
>>Matt Flynn (Oakland Raiders) - Though he as traded to the Green Bay Packers, I got the black jersey for you for Christmas 2013.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Three years ago today: Carpenteria Beach

Zen meditation on Carpenteria Beach
Three years ago today we went to the beach in Carpenteria, Calif.! The beach is north of Ventura along Hwy. 1 on the way to Santa Barbara.

The temperature was a perfect 71 degrees with clear, sunny skies and a gentle breeze off the Pacific Ocean. You had fun frolicking around in the sand, and I'm certain you enjoyed the weather, as the High Desert where we lived was a little cool.

We didn't spend much time on the beach, as we were on our way to Solvang for the day. On the way back, we stopped off in Ojai!

Here are some photos from our time at the beach!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Berenstein Bears' 'The Ghost of the Forest'

Do you remember your Berenstein Bears' book "The Ghost of the Forest"? It was one of your favorites when a preschooler.

In the book, Papa Bear takes the Bear Scouts on an overnight hike and campout. He secretly stashes a ghost costume in his backpack, though, so he can scare the Bear Scouts after telling them ghost stories around the campfire!

Except Mama Bear sneaks out into the woods in her our frightening costume and scares Papa Bear!

I got the book for you because it has hiking and camping in it - but you like the book for hte ghosts and scary scenes!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Our day together sledding and playing

Playing Beyblade
I had so much with you on Saturday, Kieran! Our few hours together went by so fast!

We started the day snow tubing on the bunny hill at Badlands Snow Park near Hudson, Wis. You might recall they had these all ropes you could use to ride up the hill. After that, we went inside the warming house and played foosball.

Then we went to Target and picked up some Beyblade materials and basketball cards. We disccovered during lunch at Culvers that the basketball cards cube we got was a rip-off, so we went back to pick up a big pack!

We spent the afternoon at Grandma and Grandpa Bignell's and played games, went through our NBA cards and NFL stickers, enjoyed a Star Trek phaser adventure on a derelict alien ship, and opened up a pack of Star Wars action figures (the making of Darth Vader set).

I can;t wait to get back together with you!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Kiddie songs from your preschool days

Earlier this week while going through my computer looking for files to delete - having less stuff on your computer helps it run faster, as it frees up memory - I came across some memories of us: a collection of children's songs that we often listened to when living in the green house in Lancaster.

Among the songs were "B-I-N-G-O," the Chipmunks doing Beatles hits, "If You're Happy and You Know It," and "I'm a Little Tea Pot." I collected them by copying DVDs from the library.

You really liked listening to the Chipmunks songs and some of the railroad songs, especially "I've Been Working on the Railroad." Sometimes, though, you'd ask me to play more adult music, like the pop and rock hits from the Sixties. You had grown-up tastes in music even as a preschooler!

Though you probably wouldn't listen to those kiddie songs now, I refrained from deleting them. Maybe one day you'll want to hear them just for old time's sake...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Books from the library for car rides

One of my favorite things to do is to find library books for you that you can look at in the car as we travel from place to place. We live in a fantastic world with many great people and places, and I want you to learn about and experience as much of it as possible.

Having said that, it's always a challenge for me to find children's books at the library that will match your interests and that you can read!

In the past, I've checked out books on pirates, Star Wars, ancient Egypt, army soldiers, and the Old West, to name a few topics. One book that you REALLY liked was a Pirates of the Caribbean picture book from the Encinitas, Calif., library.

This weekend, I have books for you about football (specifically the AFC West with Philip Rivers on the cover), California, the Los Angeles Lakers, and a book of jokes!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Remember going on Astro Blasters?

Do you remember our many rides on the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters at Disneyland? It usually was our first ride when we arrived at the park as it was near the entrance and lines would get long quickly, so I was keen on getting on it as soon as possible!

After going through a queue in which Buzz gives us our orders, we board little carts/spaceships and go off to fight Emperor Zurg's evil robot minions and alien friends.

While in the moving carts/spaceships, we'd fire blasters (We had a toy one to play with!) at red lights on the robots and aliens. Sometimes the ride would stop moving due to a mechanical or a loading problem, and that was an opportunity to rack up megapoints as we could keep shooting at the same targets over and over!

The last scene is a gigantic battle with the Emperor Zurg himself!

After the ride, we were deposited in the store full of Toy Story toys, which we usually looked at, but after quickly growing bored with that, we'd scrambled across the way to Star Traders, which was the big Star Wars store!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Your NBA sticker album in 2013-14

Today's entry is less a memory than a marking of where you are today - because later in life it will be a memory!

One of your favorite activities this winter is collecting stickers of sportstars in sticker albums. I've already written about the NFL sticker album. Now that the football season is winding down, though, you're getting interested in basketball - and so you've been collecting NBA stickers!

You have the "2013-14 Official Panini NBA Sticker Collection Sticker Album". I mention the official name because I know that years later remembering the title of something, even of a really important book in one's life, can be difficult.

You've also told me that your favorite teams are the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Oklahoma Tornado!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Two years ago today: Ghost town!

Two years today we went to Calico Ghost Town bear Barstow, Calif.!

I remember that at the time you were really into cowboys and the Old West. So going to the Old West mining town turned tourist attraction only made sense!

We went on a small train ride, toured a mine shaft, panned for gold, and looked in various shops for cool cowboy stuff. We also enjoyed an ice cream cone!

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

Monday, January 6, 2014

Three years ago today: in Ojai, Calif.

At Libbey Park in Ojai, Calif., Jan. 6, 2011.
Three years ago today, we spent part of the day in my favorite town, Ojai, Calif.!

It was late afternoon, and we drove out to Lake Casitas for a bit. We didn't stay long, though, and from there drove to downtown. After a quick stop at Serendipity Toys where we bought some toy (I don't remember what, though!), we spent most of our time at Libbey Park before grabbing dinenr at Ojai Pizza Co.

We've made several visits during our time in southern California to Ojai. I always loved the small town but upscale feel of the town; it bridges my small town past to my aspirations for the future.

Here are some photos from our adventure!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Our day at Disneyland!

In front of Sleeping Beauty's castle, Jan. 5, 2011.
Three years ago today, we went to Disneyland together! We began the morning with a look at the bronze sculptures on the campus in Pomona and then drove on over to Anaheim.

We began our day at Disney with a ride on Buzz Ligthyear and then a quick stop at Star Traders (the Star Wars store), where you got a stuffed Yoda. We then went over to Fantasyland, which include a run on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

After that, we headed over to Adventure to do Tarzan's Treehouse, one of your favorite stops, and then to Critter Country for the Winnie the Pooh ride!

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

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Your Don't Rock the Boat game

For Christmas 2013, Uncle Chris and Aunt Susie got you the Don't Rock the Boat game. We played it for the first time during our visiton Dec. 28!

The game was a pirate ship that balanced on a stand; each player in turn placed a penguin (dressed in pirate garb) on the ship. The object of the game was to not have all of the penguins spill off the boat. It was sort of like the Don't Spill the Beans game we once had.

I remember that you weren't too excited about the game on Christmas Day, but you sure had fun playing it on Dec. 28 (And I did, too!).

Friday, January 3, 2014

Recall your City Vehicle Action Set?

Do you remember your City Vehicle Action Set? We bought it at Walmart when you were a preschooler and we lived at the green house in Lancaster.

You may not remember the action set but you probably recall pieces of it - that's because I tossed it in the tote with all of your airplane toys! Most of the pieces in the action set seemed to involve airports, so that only made sense!

Among the pieces in the set were fake wall fronts for an airplane terminal and a gas station/car wash. There are were airport signs and a delivery van.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

When snow fell at our SoCal house

Jan. 2, 2011
Three years ago today, we got to enjoy a rare afternoon snow fall at the green house in Lancaster, California! It was the first day our part of the desert had received snow in five years!

I remember that when the snow started falling, I had come over to the window and look with me, and then I asked you if you'd like to outside and play in it. You got superexcited and said "Yes!"

One bad thing about the snow fall was the freezing rain knocked down our apple tree in the backyard. It was the biggest tree in our yard and in the corner.

Here's a bunch of pictures of you enjoying the snow that day!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Your Scooby Doo Mystery Mine game

One of your Christmas presents that you received for 2013 is the Scooby Doo Mystery Mine game. It's sort of a "sequel" to the Scooby Doo huanted house game we had at the green house in Lancaster, Calif.

We put together the game on Christmas Day, though it didn't stay together as well as the haunted house 3D game, so I'll have to do some taping and gluing to make it all work. We played it a couple of times with your cousins Rebekah and Bryan.

One of the cool things about the game was the miners cart that roll down a track, setting off traps that could knock down the tokens (requiring you go back to start). Everybody wanted to roll the miner's cart down the track!