Thursday, September 18, 2014

School drop off

It's great working in Brentwood again because I enjoy dropping off the boys at school.  We ride bikes, they make a big skid in front of the bike cage, and then I walk onto campus with them to talk with my friends.  They looked so cute today in their matching fun run shirts that I had to take their picture.  Scott, who is motivated by money, was real into getting sponsors for his fun run.  He raised lots of money and got the prizes he fancied.  Tyler wasn't into the prizes as much but did 36 laps and was happy about that.

Good times.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mr. T turns 7

Mr. Photogenic turned 7 last Thursday.   We celebrated at the Clayton Skipolini's with Pop, Heather, and her kids.  I'm really proud of Tyler because although he has a short fuse, he seems to have a lot of insight that other kids his age don't have.  Like, he talks about the future a lot.  He enjoys sports.  He seems to have friends at school and is doing well academically.  When we rode bikes to school on his birthday, people wished him a happy birthday and he looked them in the eyes and said with a smile, "Thank you."  

Heather got him a razor trike (like a big wheel) with unfixed rear casters so he can drift.  He also got some legos, clothes, a helmet, nerf gun, pocket knife, tape measure, and RC helicopter.  About the knife--the boys were real into carving pointy sticks on our camping trip so Tyler asked for his own knife.  I wanted to get him a Swiss-army type but China Freight didn't have any, so I got him a lock blade that used box cutter blades.  Heidi thought it was too dangerous, so she bought him a traditional type pocket knife.

While we were in the van, Tyler cut himself.  Which knife was he using?  Yeah, the less sharp one that Heidi got him.  I chuckled to myself because in Boy Scouts, we learned that dull knives were more dangerous than sharp ones.  When I was seven, I got a soldering iron.  I burnt myself lots of times.  I'm surprised my parents let me do stuff like that.  Well, half the time I bet they didn't know what I was up to.  Mom told me about the time I was three years old and went missing.  She drove around the neighborhood and found me at the railroad tracks with little bike.  I liked trains and can still remember what that crossing looked like.

Anyway, Tyler has brought lots of happiness to our lives and we are grateful to have him.

Today was the primary program and all the kids did well.  You never know what you're gonna get with that program because the kids are so innocent.  One kid was singing with a small group and during the song said, "SING LOUDER?"  Another kid couldn't hear the leader's whispers and said into the mic, "Blah blah blah blah blah."

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Labor Day Weekend

Had a great labor day weekend camping at Big Trees State Park in Arnold, CA.  I wanted to see the redwoods and Heidi got the last available campsite which was handicap access.  We drove up on Saturday, pitched the tents, and did the north point hike to see some of the big Sequoia trees, which can grow over 300 feet tall and have huge trunks.  

I think this is a stump from a Sugar Pine but is still pretty big.

You can't really tell but this cut stump is over 20 feet in diameter.

The root system of a fallen Sequoia.  They spread laterally 150 feet but only 6-8 feet deep.

The ranger told us to stay on the trail, but no one was around and there were footprints everywhere, so I let them climb up on this Sequoia.

Scott was always looking forward to the next thing.  We wanted him to just enjoy what he was doing at the moment.  I didn't realize it when I took this picture but he's probably 20 feet in front of the tree and it still looks mammoth.  Impressive.

Scott was, however, pretty stoked about seeing this deer.  It seemed unafraid of humans.

The last tree in the north loop had been hollowed out.  The bark is like asbestos in that it resists fire and is quite fibrous.

At Beaver Creek.  The water was pretty warm--at least 70 degrees--but that's just because it was shallow.  Further down it was probably 45.

Tyler threw rocks for about an hour.  I remember doing that even in college.  Breaking sticks and throwing rocks was entertaining no matter what.

Blakey liked throwing the rocks too, but he clocked Tyler in the face and Tyler was very unhappy.  Blake seemed unremorseful.

Kira caught a caterpillar even though it's blurry in the photo.

Scott wanted to hunt minnows.  I used to do that as a kid and I could usually get a few but I had a net and lots of patience.  The bucket and stick were unsuccessful.

I think Blake looks like Lavar in this picture.

Tyler and Scott really enjoyed the fire.  We learned a lot about fire construction on this trip.  The boys haphazardly threw sticks and logs on the fire and I tried to teach them that the fire needs to breathe.  On Sunday, we kept the fire going all afternoon.

Monday morning, the first thing they wanted to do was start the fire and roast marshmallows.  We used up all of our firewood and they were happy.  In the back is the bear box, and behind that are the flush toilets and shower.  The shower was $1 for 5 minutes, which was a good investment on Sunday morning.

The tent situation didn't work as planned.  We had two:  an adult tent and a kid tent.  Well, the first night, Kira peed the bed and wanted to sleep with me.  So she came into my tent and Heidi went into the kids tent.  Then she pooped the bed and we all ended up in the kids tent.  The next night, Kira stayed in my tent and Heidi was in the kids tent.  Blakey woke up in the night, needing to pee, and you could hear every step towards the bathroom, the opening of the bear box, the toilet flushing, and Blakey making his noises.  Fortunately he went back to bed.

Thanks to Heidi for organizing this trip.  I think we did a good job even though we're not that good at camping.  We should have brought dish soap and more chairs.  Maybe a couple of sharp pocket knives, too.  Still, a great trip.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Yesterday was county at Acalanes High.  Tyler and Scott both did freestyle and Scott did breast in addition.  He made finals in freestyle but was not happy about it because it meant staying longer.  He was happy to take a break from the meet to go to Pop's.  

I thought this was a cute selfie of Kira and me and all Heidi could say was, "Look at her hair.  She's going to ask us what we were thinking, letting her go out in public like that."

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Scottsdale Invitational

Scott and Tyler did well at the Scottsdale invitational at Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek.  Scott took first in the 100 IM, free and back.  He did well and had fun!   Tyler got a 3rd in fly and 4th and free.  Incredible!  Proud of our little men.

Some serious swim hair.

Having fun in the volleyball pit.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dana Hills meet

Gotta hand it to Tyler for taking first in several of his events and getting a county time in freestyle.   I'm impressed not only because he has half a heart, but because of his drive.  He wants to go fast so bad that it outweighs his physical limitations.  

Heidi and I watch House, MD, on netflix.  One of the cases was about an immunocompromised child who felt her parents were overprotective in keeping her indoors.  She just wanted to live a "normal" life even if it meant failing sooner.  

Several physicians recommended we terminate Tyler's pregnancy, and since we didn't, any time we have with him is gravy.  Therefore, we want him to have a happy and fulfilled life since no one knows when their card is gonna get pulled.  He has surpassed our expectations in many ways.  He's doing well in school, too.  

We talked in church yesterday about sowing what you reap.  Dieter Uchtdorf wrote a funny article about it and we discussed it in elders quorum.  People were making comments about how they worked out and strengthened their bodies in order to run faster and longer or make their bicycling goals.  I wanted to raise my hand and talk about genealogy and that it is, truly, watching the results of seeds grow.  Heidi's doing her genealogy on her dad's side, who kept good records all the way back to 1610.  I bet they never imagined what their posterity would be doing 400 years later, but here we are, writing a blog as our family history.  

But my unspoken comment was that if we cultivate our relationships with our kids, they will develop into competent individuals.  Heidi and I have different perspectives on the level of parental involvement, and she seems to think that I think the kids will just magically develop on their own without input from me.  

That's not my philosophy.  Mine is that I give them expectations and guidelines.  If they do their chores, they get iphone time.  If they don't, then they have time-outs in their rooms.  Once they know what is expected, and that there are consequences, they usually follow through.  I haven't gotten upset with them in the last week or so because I'm trying to change my attitude about parenting.  

I'm reading this book called Time and Money.  It's about how to save for the future and enjoy the journey and stuff.  Kinda like my book, only not as good.  I even emailed the author to ask his perspective on using the Buick Riviera as an example of a poor investment decision but he never wrote back.  Weak. Anyway, he thinks it's a bad idea to let your kids see you mopping the floor and instead thinks you should get a maid.  I can see his perspective but I disagree with it.  I want my kids to learn to work. Dad paid me to keep up the yard at his office and I took a lot of pride in my work.  I pruned, mowed, edged, sprayed for weeds,  swept, and all that.  The office was beautiful.  I didn't get paid much but I learned how to evaluate my work and achieve goals.  

Another thing this book discusses is not doing things you don't want to do.  Last night I made a batch of laundry soap while talking on the phone to Steve.  Making soap isn't all that enjoyable but it was good talking to Steve.    This morning, I woke up early and hung out the wash to dry.  Laundry isn't one of my favorite things to do, but none of my vehicles needs any work right now, so there wasn't much else for me to do.  So I didn't disenjoy my time.   Besides, I feel good that I'm conserving energy and resources.  

I fixed Heidi's phone.  Truly, the iphone 4 is quite a bit more laborious to fix a cracked front glass.  I had to take the whole thing apart, including the logic board, battery, sound bar, and even the frame.  But it now works.  I recommend people use, rather than youtube, because with the former, they measure the screws and color code them.  There are 1.2 mm, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 2.5, 3, 4.8, and 6 mm screws.  Not many people can differentiate between 0.1 mm.  But I deal with mm's all day, so I was glad for those measurement guidelines.  

Okay, that's all.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Scott had a meet at Woodlands in Walnut Creek.  He made the consolation finals but was NOT excited.  You can see in his expression his dismay.  He didn't even know I was taking this picture.  Plus, it was 102 degrees.  

Lately Tyler has been into watching our home videos on my phone.  I don't have that many of Blakey and he's been talking a lot, so I filmed him talking about my air/water syringe.  I can't understand what he's saying but he seems confident that he knows what he's talking about.

The kids had the co-op later that night and Heidi and I just hung out at home, in the air conditioning, watching TV.  At 9:53 pm it was still 83 degrees.  I don't know how Dan-o can survive in the Arizona heat because I bet sometimes it doesn't get under 90 there.

Seth called and we talked for 59 minutes.  It was good catching up.  I used my headset and changed the oil in the van during our conversation.