Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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Somewhere in Illinois…

November 26, 2009

Right now I’m sitting in the car as we drive across the country on our way to Delaware. Thankfully, we’re back into 3G coverage area, so I can use my phone to get online again. The West is scenic, but cell towers are few and far between.

For those of you who aren’t current on what’s going on in our lives, I’ll back the story up a bit. After a long year of searching for a job, I’ve taken a position with a company in Delaware. And while it’s great to be employeed again, it means packing up the family and moving across the country. I’m on my way right now, driving across with my brother Richard. Deb and Sophie will follow in a couple of weeks. (For some reason Debbie didn’t want to spend six days in the car with a 20 month old.)

We left last Sunday morning and drove to the grand canyon. After spending Monday morning exploring the canyon, we got back in the car and headed up to Utah. We drove through Monument Valley, then up to Arches national park. We spent the night in Moab, sampling some of the fine beers at the Moab Brewery.

The next morning we got up EARLY and hiked up to Delicate Arch to watch the sunrise. It was pretty incredible. We spent the rest of the morning driving and hiking around the park. Finally it was time to head to Colorado.

We didn’t spend much time out of the car in Colorado, but driving through the Rockies was cool, very reminiscent of going through the Alps with Debbie and her family a few years ago. After a quick dinner in Fort Collins, we crossed the line into Wyoming.

Now, I’m sure Wyoming is a lovely place in daylight in the summer. But when we crossed over the line it was already pitch black. For a while it was cool, because you could see a billion stars, but after about an hour we hit the clouds, and not long after that the blowing, blinding snow started and didn’t let up for about four hours. Finally as we approached the South Dakota state line the snow stopped. Someday I’ll have to come back to Wyoming and see what it has to offer in the daylight!

After crashing in Rapid City for what was left of the night, we got up and headed to Mount Rushmore. The mountain itself is cool, but the short hiking trail was closed, so after a quick walk through the museum (and gift shop of course) it was time to get back on the road.

Our next South Dakota stop was a place called Wall Drug. It’s a huge tourist trap, but you have to stop because they have billboards every quarter mile of the interstate across the lenght of the state. I’ll write some more about it when I post the pictures, but let’s just say it was worth the stop, and it was bizarre.

Then it was off to Badlands National Park. We were a little tight on time, but decided we just couldn’t pass it up. Fortunately, there is a great driving loop that let’s you see a good section of the park. It reminded me a bit of Bryce Canyon in Utah, although not as big or colorful.

After the badlands it was a straight shot across SD for about 8 hours, then about 4 more to get to Minneapolis. We stopped at our friends Dale and Jessica’s house for the night. They were planning on smoking a turkey for thanksgiving and we couldn’t pass that up. After a good night’s sleep followed by a great thanksgiving dinner this afternoon, it was back in the car to continue our journey.

Well, we just passed into Indiana, so it’s time for me to sign off. I hope everyone had a great thanksgiving. Keep checking the blog for more updates.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sophie Reviews the Latest Dan Brown Novel

November 3, 2009

She said it wasn’t as good as Angels and Demons, and lacked the interesting hook of Davinci Code. The architectural descriptions of Washington D. C. were interesting, but the plot was pretty weak. C+.

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Dinner with Miss Julia

November 3, 2009

After accidentally running into Sophie’s friend Julia at the zoo, we decided to call Julia’s parents, Shannon and Dave, to see if they wanted to go out to dinner. Fortunately, they live very close to the zoo, and were happy to join us for dinner.

Here Julia shows us how to prevent the alien mind control beams from penetrating your skull.

Of course Sophie wanted to join in on the fun, but there was a shortage of tin foil.

Thankfully, Julia was willing to share her hat.

Debbie tried to shield her brain, but it looks like one of the beams snuck through.

Finally after a nice dinner, everybody held hands for a nice walk home.

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From Shamu to the Zoo

November 2, 2009

Since we’ve had a little extra free time on our hands lately, we’ve made several visits to both Sea World and the Zoo. Sophie is fascinated by the animals and the shows.

She also really likes the rides at Sea World. She’s not big enough for most of them, but they do have a couple in the Bay of Play area that she can go on. Of course the fact that they have Elmo on them is simply a bonus.

But her true favorite is the Shamu show. She will sit there enthralled throughout the whole show, cheering right along with the crowd.

Sophie also likes the zoo. Especially the gorillas.

In one of those weird coincidences, we ran into Sophie’s friend Julia. At first we were concerned she had been kidnapped from Shannon and Dave, but it turns out she was just their with her babysitter.

Sophie also liked the petting zoo, at least a little bit.

Finally, it was time to get in the car and head home.

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Hangin’ Out With Matthew

November 2, 2009

Our friend Joan-Marie and her son Matthew came by to visit a couple of different times in September. Above is a picture of Matthew and Sophie playing with their cars on the recliner.

In the pictures below Joan-Marie entertains the kids with a story.

Thanks for coming to visit!

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Finally Making Some Dough…

November 2, 2009

Play Dough that is! Sophie was going a little stir crazy one afternoon, so Debbie reached deep down into her bag of teacher tricks and pulled out her recipe for home-made play dough.

Here’s Sophie helping her Mama measure out the ingredients.

Then Sophie helped mix up the dough.

Finally, it was ready to go!

While Sophie’s not quite ready to sculpt the next Venus de Milo, she did have fun using the rolling pin and cutting up the play dough spaghetti we made with the extruder tools.

For those of you who are interested, I have listed the recipe we used below. Have fun!

Traditional Play Dough

* 1 cup flour
* 1 cup boiling water
* 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
* 1 teaspoon oil
* 1/4 cup salt
* food coloring

Mix all ingredients, adding food coloring last. Knead until blended smooth. Add more flour if sticky. Place in plastic bag or airtight container when cooled. Will last for a long time.

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Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2009

The picture above is the costume Sophie wound up wearing for Halloween this year. Below is the costume we were planning for her to wear (this picture is from the day Debbie bought it back at the beginning of October).

Unfortunately, Sophie had other plans and flat out refused to put it on. Here is the closest we got.

We headed over to Niki and Rick’s house for some Halloween festivities and trick-or-treating. Here is the cast of characters right before heading out for candy.

Finally it was time to go trick-or-treating. It only took Sophie a couple of houses to get the hang of how the system worked, and then she was running from house to house yelling “treat-treat!” The only thing that slowed her down was getting knocked over by the ten-year-olds hopped up on sugar.

After wearing out Mama and Dada, Sophie moved on to Grandma Carol and Aunt Niki.

Finally, everyone’s bags were full and it was time to head home.

We did let Sophie have a couple of pieces of candy when we got home, although she did have to share with Aunt Niki!

Happy Halloween everyone!

P.S. Here is a picture of Rick’s awesome Darth Vader jack-o-lantern. Nice job!

Click below for a link to the full album,

2009-10-31 Halloween
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Say Cheese!

October 31, 2009

This camera used to be in the toy drawer at my grandmother’s house and my brothers and I played with it all the time when we were little kids. When my grandmother passed away a few years ago I claimed it and it’s been sitting on a shelf in my house with my other cameras ever since. Now Sophie has learned to hold the camera up to her face and say “cheese!”, even taking pictures of her “baby.”

Of course in this digital age, she doesn’t understand why the picture doesn’t show up on the back of the camera!

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Piggies and Paws

October 31, 2009

On September 14th our friend Elizabeth S. had a “piggies and paws” party at her house.  This is Elizabeth with her daughter Patricia.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with piggies and paws, it is like a Tupperware party, except what they do is create artwork from your children’s handprints and footprints.  Like you used to do in the first grade when you made a turkey out of your hand print.

You can see Sophie making her handprints in the photos below.

All you have to do is provide the handprints and they take them and add all the artwork. They have a whole catalog of designs, everything from animals to race cars.

The only problem with the whole concept is that there is a lot of downtime while you wait for your turn to make your prints. So the kids tended to get a little stir crazy.

Here Sophie shares her milk with Elizabeth’s son Peter.

And here is Sophie hanging out with Sophia.

And finally, here is what happens when you have step-shaped furniture and turn your back on the children for one second.

Thanks Elizabeth!

Click below for a link to the album.

2009-09 September Misc
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The Germans are Coming!

October 26, 2009

Actually, they were already here on September 8th. Ulli, Debbie’s former neighbor in Germany, and her daughter and son-in-law Julia and Marcus came to the US for a vacation in Hawaii. On their way back to Germany they scheduled a 48-hour layover to come and pay us a visit.

Their flight was through LAX, so we had to make the trip up there to fetch them. So we called up Debbie’s Uncle Julian and Aunt Nava and met them for an early dinner in Marina Del Rey. Here’s a picture of us by the harbor.

After dinner we headed over to the airport to pick up our guests. Everyone got a good night’s sleep and the next morning we headed out for a tour of San Diego. Our first stop was the beautiful island of Coronado.

We grabbed a quick lunch at the ferry landing. There were some mean pigeons running around, but the pizza was good.

Next we headed south to the Hotel Del Coronado.

Our final stop for the day was back up in La Jolla to see the seals. Unfortunately, they were not on the beach today, but there was still the nice view of the ocean to enjoy.

Finally back home, Sophie got to spend some quality time with Julia and Marcus.

The next day it was time to deliver our guests back to the airport for their trip home. Since we had just been to Marina Del Rey a few days before and hadn’t had much of a chance to explore, we decided to head back there.

As you can see below, by this time Sophie had bonded thoroughly with Julia and Marcus.

Finally our time was up and we had to head off to the airport. We took one last group photo.

In addition to the picures, here’s a video of Sophie and her Oma at La Jolla Cove.

http://www.viddler.com/explore/kevguy/videos/1/

(This is the first time I’ve used this video service. Please let me know if you have any problems with it.)

Thanks for taking the time to visit us Ulli, Julia and Marcus! Click below for a link to the full album.

2009-09-08 Bruch Visit