Saturday, January 26, 2008

That's My Girl

For Christmas this year, I gave Kate her very own digital camera, so that she could come with me on Photo expeditions. Today was our first one, down to Farmington Bay National Wildlife Refuge, to see Bald Eagles. What a great day. Her photos follow, with commentary by Kate.

It was a sunny Saturday, and we went out to see some birds. This is my self portrait as we got out to see the birds.

I took this picture of Dad because I think he is the best dad in the world. (That was not coached or prompted in any way, and alone, was worth the price of the camera)

I took this picture because it reminded me of friendships between friends, dads, moms and kids. And I thought it was kind of cute.

I really like birds, but I was surprised to get a picture, so perfect, of two eagles sitting in a tree. It was so close, and I got the eagles so detailed, that I had to cut out part of the tree, but I still think it is a wonderful picture.

I took this picture of the seagull because it could really show its camouflage. When I took it, I could hardly see it was there.

I was amazed to see so many birds in one large group at this watering hole. I couldn't help but take four or five pictures of it!

I liked this sunset so much, I especially sometimes like the smoke of the refineries. Today I thought it looked so pretty, I just could not help taking a picture of it, even though I normally don't like the refineries!

That's My Girl!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

My Little Man

It is far too late on a Sunday, and I should be in bed, getting rested for work tomorrow. But my heart is just so full of my little man tonight, I have to blog. Alden was sick today, and we played hooky from church together (which gave his dad the added bonus of watching football ;-)). He is so wonderful. That may come as a surprise to readers of this blog, as he probably doesn't garner quite the press here that Kate and Keegan do, and when he does, it is usually to report on the unique challenges he can present.

But most of the things we complain about are just him being a boy and a three year old, and doing what everyone that age has to go through -- learning to share, to separate a bit from mom, figuring out what siblings are all about, etc. Yet to know Alden is to love him. He is just the most special little guy. I can't find the words to exactly explain why; I just know that I am so happy to be his dad. There is so much about him to really love. Here are a few examples:

He is absolutely genuine, without guile. He doesn't change his story just because it is what you want to hear. He tells you how he feels and he keeps telling you, even when you insist he should tell you something else. He just can't understand why you would want him to say something he doesn't actually feel. Never seems to cross his mind that he should play along and try and get what he wants by pandering. He is just straightforward. Period.

He doesn't lie. If I angrily say, 'did you push your brother?!' he'll just say "yes." Sometimes he even delays that a bit, and I feel certain he understands that his response may have consequences for him, but he tells it like it was anyway. That is a quality that not many people have, and I sure hope he keeps it, hard as it will be.

He knows what he wants and goes after it. Doesn't matter that it makes no sense at all, or that everyone else wants to do something else or to do it even slightly differently. He sticks to his guns. While it can be frustrating, I love that ability to withstand peer pressure and stand up for what he knows he wants.

When he says he loves you, you know he means it. Just today, Keegan was following his brother around like a puppy dog, and not so subtly. Whenever Keegan got near Alden, he would lean his whole head and body into Alden with all of his 26 pounds. Alden was very good natured about it, and at one point, when Alden was laying down, Keegan just flopped on Alden, buried his face in Alden's neck, and giggled and kicked his little legs for all he was worth. I was prepared for a shove or whine, but no. Instead, I heard Alden say, "Oh Keegan! I Love you too!" He said it with such joy and heart, it just melted me. If you want a great experience, spend the day playing with Alden, then tell him you love him. He will immediately respond with "I wuv you too," and will do it in a way that makes you believe he really understands the serious import of what he is saying.

He loves to laugh, and has one of the greatest giggles ever. It comes so readily, and is so full of joy. You just can't be sad when Alden is laughing.

All he really wants is for you to be his best buddy and play with him. He loves having friends. He is a 'people who needs people,' and that makes him pretty special. Already at this point in his life, I know that it will be incredibly important for him to have friends, and that he will be a loyal and good one (once he gets past the sharing thing, anyway).

He is brave. Last Monday we went to the Rec center to swim, and he saw the giant slide. It must look so high to a little guy, and it is quite tall even for adults (I was very surprised at the speed it generates through many twists and turns). But he was determined to go even though it scared him, so he just pointed and said "let's go." And then he got that look. It is my favorite look ever. His big smile goes away, and is replaced by very serious, tight lips. And his eyes get this steely determination in them. (I am not kidding on that). He may be scared, but he has made up his mind, and there is no turning back. Pretty good for a little guy who doesn't even know how to hold his breath yet.

He is resilient and tough. It amazes me what a thunk he can take and just bounce right back. I'm sure he has a relatively high pain threshold. (That obviously comes from his mother).

Last but not least, he is quite a budding photographer. Here is a photo he took of Keegan.

Those are just a few of the things that make Alden a one-of-a-kind charmer. I sure love you, little buddy.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

So, what do you do with all that time?

No longer doing that time consuming Bishop thing. Kathleen is no longer working 55 hours a week. I'm no longer trying to make billable hours. So what do I do with all that spare time? One word: SHOVEL. Yes, I shovel. And shovel. And shovel. That's pretty much it -- seems to take up all that extra time somehow. That, and picking up after these jokers here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Few Thoughts

Two weeks ago I found myself stuck in the Oakland Airport, waiting on a plane for the interminable hours that always accompany winter storms in the Bay Area. I was drawn to a magazine, which was advertising its 10th annual "What I've learned" series, in which they interview many stars and famous people and ask them that question. So here are a few that struck me:

"Nowadays they say you need to get a special chip to put in the TV so the kids can't watch this and that. In my day, we didn't need that. My mom was the chip. End of story." Ray Charles, Musician

"I've never had a dream in which I am disabled." Christopher Reeve, Actor

"There's too much to remember. Sometimes, you gotta forget about the past." Antonio Pierro, 110 year old World War I veteran.

"If a guy hasn't got any gamble in him, he isn't worth a [darn]. You can fall many times in life, but you're never a failure, as long as you try to get up." Evel Knievel, Daredevil

"Changing your nature is the hardest thing to do. But I discovered that you can be who you choose to be." George Foreman, Boxer

"My definition of freedom is simplicity, really." Johnny Depp, Actor

"Tell the Truth. Sing with passion. Work with laughter. Love with heart. That's all that matters in the end." Kris Kristoferson, Actor, Musician

"Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die." Carrie Fisher, Actor

"The only normal people are the ones you don't know too well." Rodney Dangerfield, Comedian

"You can argue with somebody who says 'I know this and I know that. But you can't argue with passion. . . . I sometimes meet people who say, I'm going to be this and I'm going to be that. I feel kind of bad for them because they're limiting themselves. It's different from having an enthusiasm for something and seeing where life takes you." Tim Burton, Director

"When someone is successful, there's always a feeling that they were lucky. Luck plays a part, sure, but to be successful, you must have iron discipline. You must have energy and hunger and desire and honesty." Faye Dunaway, Actor

"People were excited when we landed on the moon. You go to the moon a couple of more times and they aren't so excited." Buzz Aldrin, Astronaut

"Enjoy your children, even when they don't act the way you want them to." Muhammad Ali, Boxer

"You can never give your mother as much as she gave you." Mel Brooks, Producer

"Happiness is not money and it's not fame and it's not power. Happiness is a good wife, a good family, and good health." Bobby Bowden, Florida State Football Coach

"Money doesn't make people happy. People make people happy." Steve Wynn, Las Vegas Hotelier

"If I had to list the most prominent highlights in my life over the last decade or more, the things I'd write would pretty much involve moments with my children." Jack Nicholson, Actor

"Love has more depth as you get older." Kirk Douglas, Actor

"I don't eat between meals. I don't snack. Well, I do eat those little fish crackers. They're fattening, but irresistible." Julia Child, Chef

Any comments? Thoughts and observations? Additions? Would love to hear them.

Friday, January 4, 2008

I could get in trouble for this . . . .

So, should one post candid photos of your in-laws without asking permission? Daring to go where few tread, and realizing that, having posted pictures of my family, I'm darned if I do and darned if I don't, I decided to take the plunge. We got together Christmas night with Kathleen's family, and I took a few photos of her siblings and Brent and Val as the kids unwrapped gifts.

Kath's dad Brent, brother Rob and Rob's son Garrett enjoying some time together.

Grandma Val enjoying the newest grandkid, baby Jude.

Brother Jared and his wife Kellee, proud parents of baby Jude.

Kathleen and her sister Kari, who was kind enough to host us in her great new house (for some reason I didn't get a picture of Nate, Kari's husband --guess he owes me).

Brother Nate and his wife Amy, the latter of whom is a diehard University of Utah fan :-) (O.K. in her mind, I just committed slander of the most heinous kind).

Brother Kevin and his wife Angela, who took us on a great trip to the Zoo, to see a Siberian Tiger no less. Ok, it was really for the Christmas light show, but we did seem to spend an awful lot of time at that Siberian Tiger exhibit . . . . (and we thought they liked us).

As you can see, with such a photogenic group, it is a good thing I am the one behind the camera. We still miss Shaun and Amy and Tricia and Bryan, who are away, and there were way too many cute cousins to include, but it is just a great group of people to spend time with, and it is so fun to be near them.

The Good and Bad

So we live here in part for views like this. That is the good. What we don't like is the inversion, which you can see from the nice, well defined smog layer. That is why we bought as high on the hill as we could afford . . . . Can't wait for the days when electric/fuel cells become the norm. Can't happen a moment too soon.