Category Archives: Bean

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Today is Emma’s seven month birthday. I can’t be with her today. I haven’t actually been able to be with her for several of her monthly birthdays, and that sucks. She’s a beautiful little girl. She’s sitting up by herself now, and she will happily play with her toys, mostly chewing on them. When she sits in the bath, she splashes and cackles with glee. She’s started to try and crawl with some deliberation, and I’m sure that she’ll figure it out any day now. I probably won’t be able to be there for that either. I miss my daughter, even though she takes every opportunity to spit cheese curds into my beard, or down the back of my shirt.

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I was in Boise last week for the 4th of July, and it was good to spend some time with the kids. The whole neighborhood turned out to have a party on our driveway, and when the late summer sun finally set, we lit off fireworks that everyone had brought. I can’t tell you how happy I am about the neighborhood we landed in. All the neighborhood kids play together, the parents talk and help each other, it’s a community. It’s kind of like we bought a house using a time machine, and somehow ended up in the 1970s.

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I sold what I could and packed what I couldn’t

We’re in our third week in Boise, and Emma would like to update you on our status.

On the 18th, the moving truck came by our house in Vegas, and some very nice men spent two long days putting everything that wasn’t nailed down into boxes, and then loading those boxes into a large truck. They were even kind enough to pack things I asked them not to pack, just in cases I needed them when I got where I was going. Thank god I have all those empty tissue boxes here.

Our moving truck arrives.

Logan did his best to be on his good behavior and not help too much. As a reward for his Herculean effort, we let him sit in the cab of the truck and pretend to drive it. He even got to honk the horn, which was an anemic little squeak instead of the throaty baritone that I had come to expect from films like Smokey and the Bandit. Frankly, I think the driver found it kind of embarrassing.

Logan wanted to drive the moving truck.

For the road trip to Boise I rented an RV. The goal was to provide a larger and more comfortable ride for all involved as well as providing a way for Cameron to breast feed Emma without us having to stop the car every 2 hours. An unexpected bonus that I hadn’t even considered was the on board toilet.

The RV we rented for the drive from Vegas.

Naturally, because he had “driven” the moving truck, Logan wanted to “drive” the RV as well.

Logan wanted to drive the RV

If you rent an RV, remember to buckler in your monkey.

Please fasten your seatbelts and return your monkeys to their full upright position.

When we got to Boise, it was in the middle of the longest and coldest winter weather pattern that any of the locals could remember. Snow, which usually only last a day or two, stuck around for several weeks, and it even snowed a few more times before it turned warmer earlier this week. It was overcast and snowing and foggy so much that it wasn’t until we’d been in the house for two weeks that I realized we had a great view of the Boise foothills out our front window.

The view from our front window of the Boise foothills

Logan, for his part, has loved the snow. He has energetically taken to shoveling snow. Unfortunately, he tends to shovel it out of the yard and into the driveway.

Logan loves the snow.

Emma, is not really a fan of the snow or cold weather. I’m betting that will change as she gets older.

Emma doesn't appear to like the cold as much as her brother.

After a few days of eating off paper plates and sitting on folding chairs, the movers showed up and spent one cold day unloading everything. A great way to meet your new neighbors is to park an 18 wheeler in their yard for twelve hours.

Our household goods arrive during a cold snap.

The new house is a room smaller, and has a two car garage instead of a three car garage. Towards the end of the day it was getting challenging to found places for boxes. For over a week the house looked like the final scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark. As we’ve reached some livable truce with the packed boxes, and cleared enough space to sit by the fireplace, our momentum has dulled and the house now simply looks cluttered.

We're all okay here, how are you?

We’re hanging in there though.

Merry Christmas

The holiday passed us with as little drama as possible for a family trying to take care of a 2 week old baby, plan a move to another state in three weeks, start new jobs in a month, and help two Grandpas through chemo therapy. Everything went smoothly, and sleep deprivation is starting to wane, although Mommy still isn’t sleeping full nights. Unfortunately, that likely won’t change for a month or more.

Christmas Morning

We continued our holiday tradition of dinner at Lola’s house for Christmas Eve. I assumed the duties of chef this year, and cooked a nice Prime Rib Roast, mashed potatoes, green beans, and carrots and parsnips with an orange glaze. According to the immediate reviews from my wife and her mother, everything turned out well.

Christmas Dinner with Lola

This is how I looked after four hours in the kitchen.

Christmas dinner after a few hours of cooking

This is how I looked after four hours in the kitchen, several glasses of wine and a whiskey or two.

Christmas dinner after a few glasses of wine

With his treatment essentially over, we got a visit from Grandpa Glen and Grandma Lori. They got to spend a few days with Logan.

Logan with Grandpa Glen and Grandma Lori

And they got to spend some quality time with Emma.

Emma and Grandpa Glen

They even brought her a birthday cake to celebrate her null birthday.

Emma and Grandpa Glen

When you have a three year old in the house, you never get to open your own presents. Whether this is a positive or negative impact is up to interpretation. Logan has reached that age where he seems to get the most pleasure out of ripping the gift paper off the boxes, and then immediately discarding the unwrapped gift for the next. He seems less interested in the actual gift, than in the cathartic violence of dismembering gift wrapping.

Christmas Morning

Tango, for her part, seemed mostly nonplussed by the entire ordeal.

Emma

Logan took the entire holiday in stride, and capped it off by watching the classic Rankin Bass Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer while clutching his stuffed Rudolph.

Watching Rudolph with Rudolph

He was very concerned about the Abominable Snowman.

Watching Rudolph with Rudolph

Bang your head.

A quick update from our resident laugh expert.

SDCC12 Show

Status Update: Potty Training

Logan frequently pees in the potty when he sits on it prior to his bath.

Potty training

Sometimes, without warning, Logan will announce, “There is no poop poo in my pants!” Generally this is an indication that there is, in fact, poop poo in his pants. So, some gains and some losses, but overall, positive performance.

Breckenridge

Cameron takes an annual trip to visit with friends of hers that she went to college with. In recent years this has resulted in a long weekend trip to Denver accompanied by Logan. This year, two of the other ladies have infants in addition to their previously acquired toddlers, and Cameron is pregnant.

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So they invited the husbands.

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I suspect this was largely a ploy to get babysitting services, and provide them the opportunity to do girl things. Like pedicures, and gossip, and engineering.

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After a short visit to the Denver Mint, of which we have no photos because photos are not allowed, we drove up into the mountains to spend a week in a time share at the bottom of ski slope. Breckenridge is a beautiful town with alpine forests. The air is thin and crisp, the evenings cool, and the sky blue. It reminded me a lot of my childhood in Alaksa, and I took a little time to try and infatuate Logan with the forest.

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A word of warning; if you ever get the opportunity to spend a week in a time share with a pregnant wife suffering from morning sickness, five other adults, three toddlers, and two infants, think hard about your answer. I love my friends, and I cherish the time I get to spend with them, but I can only cherish them so much before I need peace and quiet.

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The time share had a great kiddie pool, and so Logan got to do a lot of swimming. If you ask him, that’s all that really matters.

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That, and the giant Nutella crepe he got to eat. That was pretty important too.

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Napa Valley

When my Aunt called to wish Logan a happy birthday, we hadn’t intended to visit them. But there it was, the invitation hanging in the aether between our two telephones, “You should come out and visit, we’d love to have you.”
Fascinating

I’m accustomed to getting these kind of invitations from friends and family, and I find that I usually have to run them through a social interaction filter to determine if the invitation was made as a polite gesture, never intended to be accepted, or as a genuine request for a visit. It wasn’t necessary for this invitation, as my Aunt Linda is among the most sincere people I know. Also, she lives in Napa, and who doesn’t want to take a trip to wine country?

Practicising his toast

As it turned out, we didn’t have any plans for Veterans Day weekend, and we had been looking for some kind of short trip. A weekend in Sonoma County sounded like the perfect thing. Schedules were compared, plans made, websites looked at and plane tickets purchased.

Can I help you?

For the first time, Logan got his own seat on the plane.

Leaving Napa

Michael and Linda have a beautiful home in what must be one of the most beautiful places on the west coast. I can see why people want to live here. The weather is pleasant, even in November. As the vineyards turn to autumn, the gentle hills are transformed into a patchwork quilt of fall colors.

Fountains at Artesa Winery

Even the roads are picturesque.

Just one of hundreds of scenic roads in Napa Valley

We visited the Robert Sinskey winery and sampled several of their outstanding red wines. We really went to see the fish though. The winery has a pond stocked with koi near the entrance. Fish food is available from the counter, and the koi are accustomed to receiving treats to such a degree that they’re nearly domesticated.

Feeding the Koi at Robert Sinskey Vineyard

I can now say that I’ve pet a fish, an achievement so unlikely that I was unaware of it. Logan had a ball feeding the fish.

Where did all the fish go?

We also visited Train Town, a mini amusement park with a working rail line in 1/5 scale. Passengers sit in the cargo cars, and are pulled through an extensive wooded area featuring waterfalls, bridges, and stops at a tiny frontier town with a petting zoo.

Riding the tiny train at Train Town

Two full sized cabooses are open for excitable toddlers (and adults) to scamper through. In between the cabooses was, inexplicably, a passenger car outfitted with precambrian video games, most of which were in varying stages of decay.

Trying to leave the caboose

A short walk from Linda and Michaels house is Connolly Ranch, a 12 acre remnant of Napa’s agriculture heritage with a focus on teaching kids about nature and sustainable living. They weren’t open for general tours, but were kind enough to open their doors and let us wander around anyway.

Connolly Ranch in Nappa Valley

We saw a lot of critters,

Peeking in the chicken coop

took a short hike in the hills,

Hiking with Mommy

and tumbled off a hay bale once or twice.

Sitting on the hay bale pile at Connolly Ranch

Logan spent some quality time with gourds,

Picking out a squash

,sat on a saddle,

Sitting on a saddle

and spent some more time with gourds. He loves gourds.

Inspecting the pumkin

Mostly, he just loved Connolly Ranch.

Heyyy!

Logan got to spend some time with his cousins we rarely get to see.

Check out all my ladies!

He spent enough time with them that Cameron and I were able to get away for some adult time and visit Artesa winery.

On the balcony at Artesa Vineyard

On Veteran’s day, we drove down to the veteran’s cemetery.

Stopping to let Logan run in circles at the Veteran's Cemetary

Even though it was sprinkling, the view was still breathtaking.

Nappa Valley Veteran's Cemetary

A good trip isn’t just marked by the places you visit, or the things you do. The best part about a trip is the people you visit and the ones you travel with. I couldn’t have been in better company.

Family portrait

In conclusion, here is a picture of Logan in the bath wearing a lunch pail as a hat.

When you're two, everything is a hat.

Pumkin Patch Slide

October means pumpkins. According to all the lore of Charles Schulz, pumpkins are acquired at a pumpkin patch. Fortunately, and perhaps somewhat puzzlingly, Las Vegas has a pumpkin patch. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me, the pumpkin patch has a lot of carnival type rides. No matter the reason, Logan wanted to try the giant inflatable slide. As you can see, he was somewhat intimidated by the height once he got to the top.

Immediately after I stopped filming that short ride, he demanded “AGAIN!” and ran to the ladder. The second ascent was much quicker, and emboldened by his previous success, Logan barreled down for a second descent. What appeared like a fairly dramatic somersault at the bottom only seemed to delight him, and ended in cackles of glee.

Second Birthday Party

Over the last few months Logan has developed a keen interest in Curious George. His new found fascination with monkeys is largely the result of repeated viewings of the film Curious George, starring the bored voice of Will Ferrell, and Curious George 2: Follow that Monkey. Both of these films are terrible. The execrable qualities of the first film are only complicated, and exasperated if one can believe it, in the sequel by the lack of things like; voice talent, animation quality, and a sense that anyone working did anything other than show up to cash a paycheck.

Helping daddy with the internet
That being said, my two year old son loves them both. So, I guess they did something right.

Laugh riot

Logan’s fondness for Curious George requires him to shout out “MONKEY” every time the TV is turned on, and to lament “No Tup Tup (Star Trek) dada. Monkey!” If Monkey is not forthcoming, one of a series of scripted tantrums will play out with all the melodrama, and cliche of a penny dreadful.

Looking good

Since Curious George (MONKEY!) is virtually the only thing other than dirty diapers (YUCK!) that Logan holds a strong opinion on, we elected to use it as the theme for his birthday party.

Imp
Our friend Kat, with the assistance of Heidi, made this awesome Curious George cake. That’s two years in a row that Kat has delivered the goods for Logan’s Birthday. You may recall she made this awesome train cake for his first birthday. If Kat isn’t careful she’s going to become a traditional element of our son’s birthday parties.

Logan's 2nd birthday Curious George cake.
Logan, by the way, loves the cake.

BIRTHDAY CAKE!
The party was a hit. Friends came by. We ate some snacks. We sang Happy Birthday, and Logan played with his favorite new toy, a backyard slide.

Monkey rides the slide
He was so excited about it, he even helped me put it together.

Helping Daddy put the slide together

He likes the slide so much he has a tendency to bring his stuffed animals along and coach them on the proper way to descend the plastic slope. I don’t appear to have any pictures of that yet, so I’ll close with a picture of Logan wearing my shoes.

Wearing daddy's shoes.

Disney Adventure

Logan had a two week break from pre-school, and Cameron and I had our 8th wedding anniversary. It seemed like the only appropriate thing to do was go to Disneyland. When we took Logan to Disneyland for his first birthday in October of last year, he didn’t really seem to enjoy it much. The rides mostly frightened him. When he wasn’t strapped into the stroller, he was strapped into a high chair. The only time he appeared to really enjoy himself was when he was let loose in the hotel room.

Riding Heimlich's Chew Chew train

I vowed that we wouldn’t return until he was older and more apt to enjoy himself. Cameron reminded me of that vow in the car while we were winding through Cajon Pass. It’s been less than a year since our last trip, and here we were returning.

Dinner at the Wine Country Trattoria

Luckily, Logan was more engaged this time. He still put up some fuss about the stroller every once in a while, but the rides seemed to interest him a lot more this time. In particular he really seemed to enjoy the Tea Cups and, surprisingly, Pirates of the Caribbean. After both he made the hand sign for “more” and demanded “again! again!”

AAAAR!
My mother came along this time, to provide some extra hands, and to babysit so we could go on some of the more adventuresome rides together. She brought along her friend Jenny. The two of them met through the penpals section of Western Horseman Magazine when they were 12 and have stayed friends ever since. This week was the 50th anniversary of their first letter.

Grandma and Jenny

Naturally, they wanted their picture taken with a horse. The horse begrudgingly allowed it.

Grandma and Jenny pose with a horse

We visited Toontown to see Mickey and his friends. I rarely go to Toontown, and I realized on this trip why. Toontown has essentially no shade. Other parts of the park are lush with foliage, and while still hot during the summer months, there are places to rest out of the sun. Not so in Toontown. In Toontown there are barely any trees, and everything is made of painted fiberglass that sits in the sun.

Logan taking the whole family for a ride

Still, we got to meet Mickey.

Meeting Mickey

And Logan got to spend 20 minutes being hypnotized by the dishwasher in Minnie’s house. Interestingly, the kitchen was the focal point of Minnie’s House.

Logan was entranced by the dishwashing machine in Minnie's house.

Mickey’s house, by contrast, didn’t even have a kitchen, and sported things like a writing desk, and a barn area featuring chickens ready for the slaughter.

Sitting at Mickey's desk

At first I chalked this rather blatant sexism up to an anachronistic Disney world view from decades past. Then I discovered the Toontown was opened in 1993. I’m not sure what to make of that.

Logan was entranced by the dishwashing machine in Minnie's house.
Despite my politically correct criticisms Toontown is a fun place for kids, who are neither intereseted in the social and political commentary of adults, or properly respectful of the fearsome ball of nuclear devestation that hangs 93 millions miles above our heads. Naturally, Logan beheld all the craft and spectacle of Toontown, and spent the most time playing on a slide.

Mom! They totally have a slide!

We did the usual meet and greet of characters.

Princess Aurora made an impression on Logan

Pooh and Tigger were tracked down in their normal spot, as well as Eeyore. Tigger caused quite a stir when he bounce bounce bounced Logan to the ground accidentally, as Tigger’s are wont to do. At first Logan had no reaction, but when the 7 foot tall anthropomorphic animals in pastel shades of terror attempted to console him, he figured on crying just to be sure.

Grandma and her friend Jenny pose with Pooh and Tigger

Because it was a Disney family fun adventure, I was forced to ride It’s a Small World again.

Daddy is stoic about Small World, Logan is cautious.

Last time we went, we stayed at the Grand Californian hotel. It’s a nice place with a direct entrance into the Disney California Adventure park. I decided to stay at the Disneyland Hotel this time, for the simple reason that we’d never stayed there before.

The early morning view from our room at the Disneyland Hotel.

The Disneyland Hotel is under major renovation. The rooms were nice, but the rest of the property was divided up into inconvenient construction zones and the noise during the day was cacophonic. The pool was nice, the part that was open anyways, with interesting water slides and a zero entry area that kids could enjoy. We have no pictures of this, because cameras don’t like water.

Mommy and Logan on Flik's Flyers

In the end, it was a long and tiring three days, but a good time. I seem to have a relationship with Disney that is conflicted. On the one hand, I grew up on Disney films and many of the properties are deeply rooted in nostalgia for me. I love the parks, the sense of magical relocation, and wonder of the spectacle. As I get older, I find myself more and more interested in the craft and engineering of the park and it’s attractions.

Logan crawls through a tunnel

On the other hand, I loathe the crass commercialism of the entire escapade. From beginning to end, I find myself assaulted by the hypnotic appeal to consume for the sake of consumption. I hate the abhorrently long lines that are measured in hours sometimes, with a reward measured in minutes. With a murderous hatred I despise the enormous crowds, most of whom seem to have no idea that they share their immediate surroundings with other people,. They gleefully rebound off other pedestrians, or vapidly block entire traffic ways while their extended family stand in a large circle to discuss how best to get more fat and stupid.

Logan ponders the deserts

On the gripping hand; Soarin’ Over California never fails to erase all that ugliness and paste a nirvanic smile across my face.

All tuckered out after a long three days at Disneyland