Robots in Space!!! (2015 Summer Series, pt. 1)

Dear Erin,

Well, the kids look happy enough, even if they had to play inside instead of outside on the Fourth. And I know for a fact that Munchkin and Little Man got to wear their patriotic gear in Florida, so I wouldn’t worry too much about plans that didn’t work out the way you’d hoped.

Speaking of that, I finally did get to my first movie of the summer, Wall-E.

This is still probably my favorite Pixar movie. Plot: Adorable robot spends his days packaging the garbage on an abandoned earth, finds plant, finds love, finds humans; saves humans, love, plant, and earth; lives happily ever after. The main character is unbelievably cute for something that’s not a mammal, and he’s a hopeless romantic to boot; some of the visuals are achingly beautiful (see above picture); the main “moral” is about sacrificially caring for others and the world around you (both themes I’m partial to). Also, there are so few developed characters and so much space around them (empty planet, empty outer space, empty outside-of-giant-spaceships) that I find most of it very calming. It’s a movie made for an introvert.

It’s also not especially scary, at least from a child’s point of view. As an adult, some of its ideas are depressing and terrifying, but that’s not the point here. Trying to imagine how LM might see it, I believe the character of Auto(pilot) might be a little frightening with its one red eye and its malicious omnipotence, but it’s not on screen that much, and the captain is constantly fighting against it – and pretty quickly succeeding. There might be some fear for Wall-E’s well-being on the first watching, because he really does look like he got squashed to death, but that had been prepared for in an earlier scene, so I think we could navigate that if it came up. Everything else is pretty sweet and cozy, and nothing really set off any alarm bells for me (like happened with Song of the Sea), so I don’t anticipate other problems. If they come up, they come up; we’ll see.

Has Munchkin watched this one? If so, what did she think?

Age to try out Little Mister on Wall-E: I think 4 or 5. I said five originally, but then I thought that Munchkin could probably handle it now or sometime soon, and she’s not quite there yet, so four might be okay.


Since we’re only posting once a week, I feel like I can’t just write on the movie this week. At least, I have to send you a picture or two (or 5!) of Little Mister from last week’s fun in Florida. (By the way, I should have titled last week’s post “Fun in the Rain,” because it would have been more accurate to our experience.)

More playing in the rain!


Got to the beach with Grams!


And the zoo with Grandpa, or “Pa,” as LM keeps calling him. We’ll see if it sticks. The giraffes were by far LM’s favorites.


Enjoying some ribs.


And then this is him on the way back; clearly, he didn’t want to leave!


Summertime Adventures – The Fourth of July

Dear Kristen,

Hanging out with you and Little Mister was AWESOME!!!  Munchkin keeps talking about things LM and her did together.  “And he chased me and it was so funny, Mamma, wasn’t it!!”  Hopefully our time together excuses me…at least a little…for the fact I haven’t written in awhile.  And I promised an update for the fourth and we’re almost to the twenty-fourth!


Here’s the adventure, and the deal:

We were hoping for a fourth that looked like this:


But…it rained.  A good amount.  So here are the pictures from the actual day:



We started the day with high hopes – an American bathing suit picked out for the lady and an American hat for the gentleman.  But breakfast finished and the rain came in.  We were hopeful that after lunch and rest time we could revisit the pool idea.  And there was a temporary break in rain – during rest time.  So when the rain rolled back in, Munchkin assumed it had rained the whole time.  She wasn’t too upset, which was a blessing.

She’s still too little to stay up for fireworks so we celebrated with a superhero costume instead.


But that’s another story for another day…

Fun in the Sun

Dear Erin,

It’s been a fantastic week. I got to see you!


I look crazy, but you look awesome, so I went with this one.

And Munchkin!


And Little Man!


And Mom and Dad, and the rest of the family, too! It’s been so much fun, and I get another week here in the home state with my Little Mister. Who’s also having a great time.


After you left this morning, we had kind of a quiet day, but LM and I did take some time to play in the rain,


throwing rocks in the stream, like every other little kid has always done in Dad’s garden. And he snookered Dad into getting him a present at Cracker Barrel:


And we ended up the day checking out the playgrounds on this side of the country.


He really liked the see-saw, which he’s never seen before. And we still have swimming, and the beach, and more visiting to do before we head back to the Left Coast, and LM sleeps for a week.

So with all this fun, I haven’t gotten a chance to sit down and watch any movies yet! Soon, though, I have a date to visit with a post-apocalyptic robot.

Success, Failure, and Trying New Things

Dear Erin,

Technically, it’s still Monday as I begin this post, so I’m claiming I’m NOT late this week. Look what I finished:

rainbow socks 2

They’re slightly too big, but other than that, the end product is very satisfying. I mean, how can you not be happy with rainbows on your feet? Pattern: Vanilla Socks by Carle’ Dehning. Yarn: Apple Tree Knits Sockit Fingering (which I think is what they’re now calling “Plush Fingering”) in the Chakra Gradient.

Because of the way they’re constructed, I have awesome bright red heels.

rainbow socks 4

Anyway, finishing those was more satisfying than finishing this:


It looked so promising – male and female co-sleuths in 1930’s England. But don’t bother: the author shines at including some lesser known social and historical happenings of the time, but it’s at the expense of a logical plot or characters that have much recognizable or consistent psychology.


But I really meant tonight to tell you my idea for a short summer series. You know Little Mister isn’t allowed screen time (at least, we try) until he’s two. Not that he’s taking that restriction lying down: I walked in and found him like this a couple days ago.


But at some point, we’ll have to introduce him to the magical box and then, eventually, to the silver screen. And I’m really looking forward to sharing movies I love with him, although not quite as much as I’m looking forward to doing the same with books.

I’ve actually collected a number of movies over the years just because I think they’ll be wonderful for kids. However, I haven’t looked at most of them for quite awhile. So, although it is very similar to last year’s endeavor, I thought I might survey a few movies this summer – just to start getting prepared. The question this time would be which of these would really be best to introduce to LM first, or at what age should he see them? Or did I perhaps forget about something that would make the movie wildly inappropriate for a young child?

For example, there’s My Neighbor Totoro, which is pretty sweet and gentle as I recall. But, then again, that movie has the Catbus:

Which is pretty terrifying, despite also being awesomely cute.

I’m thinking I’ll write one up every other week, starting next Monday, which would give me four movies to watch and review by the end of August. I have no list put together, so each review will be a surprise!

If the plan turns out to be a bust (as my reading experiments have been lately), I might just retreat during the fall into writing about things I know are awesome – namely Jane Austen books, since I’m in the middle of two of them right now.

Here’s another couple of pictures of the socks to end on a positive note, because I’m just pleased as punch with them.

rainbow socks 1

rainbow socks 3

Tour de Playgrounds

Dear Erin,

The Tour de France started on Saturday, thus the title of this post. I hope your 4th was fun and that Little Man did well with any fireworks you saw. We weren’t sure how Little Mister would do, what with his current issues. Besides, setting off fireworks is a community participation sport around here, and if the house burns down because some idiot was having a little too much fun with his or her bounty from Crazy Eddie’s or whatever, I don’t want to be in it.

So we went to Napa. We needed a break anyway, not that Charles got much of one. Work crises did abound throughout the weekend.

But we watched the parade.

20150704_101257LM’s favorite part was the mariachi band, which he could dance to, but there were horses and lots of cars and kids, a fire engine, and dogs, too, so his world was good. We watched for an hour but left before the bitter end, as the short one had had more than enough of being in one place. Besides, it was nap time.

So while he slept, we took a scenic drive up the valley to Calistoga and then back down the other side. When he awoke, we visited the first of the playgrounds: Playground Fantastico.

20150704_144141It might have been slightly oversold with that name, being a little sad and neglected. But it was once “fantastico,” and even now, LM had a great time. It had a castle / village theme, and he really liked the him-sized houses. Not too crowded in the middle of the afternoon on the 4th of July, either. Deserted, actually.

After that, we checked into our hotel and went swimming while Charles caught up on the sleep he’d had just three hours of the previous night. (See above, “crisis.”) LM is currently unsure about the water, but we’re working on it. I think when he has something to float in, he’ll take to it like a – well, not a fish, because a floating fish isn’t usually a good thing; how about a duck? In the evening, it was hamburgers and chocolate shakes overlooking the river. (Apparently, they were shakes made with half and half, not milk. It was a little harder to finish mine once I knew that but not impossible.)

Then it was a walk across town to the second playground.


where we tried to wear him out so he would sleep a little bit before the fireworks. No such luck; the world around him was too interesting. Back across town to claim a spot on the bridge so we could see the show. And, amazingly, he was fine for the most part. He was interested most of the time and even provided his own soundtrack to the explosions: “Doom! Doom!” Only at the finale did he break down – it was just too much, too late – and even then, he calmed down quickly and zonked out almost as soon as we got in the car. He was so ready to sleep he didn’t even protest at having to spend the night in a makeshift crib of sheets on the floor and furniture around the sides (The hotel had run out of cribs, and he wasn’t sleeping with us because then none of us would get any rest.)

Sunday, we took the scenic route (during nap time) up to Santa Rosa, where we had lunch (and more crisis management for Charles) and visited the Charles M. Schulz Museum.


My Charles is a big Peanuts fan, and it’s surprising we hadn’t yet made it up here. It’s a lovely building with lots of original strips well displayed and a nice yard for one-year-olds to run around in. (It has a kite-eating tree in it, though, so no kite flying.) And a fun craft / toy room.

20150705_142449My favorite was the studio display; it is fascinating to see where and how creative people work. In this instance, it was so fascinating I forgot to take a picture.

And finally, on the way home, the last playground. Again, no picture, but he may have hit his limit at that point because although he enjoyed it, he was more interested in playing with the wood chips than in sliding down the slides. One thing I found interesting though, was that he walked over to a toy he’d never seen before, one of these:

from “Free Fun in Austin” blog

There was a girl in it, and he stood there and watched her spin around. When she ran off to do something else, he walked up to it and held up his hands for me to pick him up and put him in. Once he was settled, I spun him around a little bit, but it seemed not to be as fun as he had expected because he was almost immediately ready to get out.

Then a long drive home (with an extra nap from LM!) and a very early night for me, to recover from all that fun. So that was a busy 4th (and 5th) of July and a long post, even without pictures of fireworks. I hope yours was just as much fun!


ps. I think I have a new idea for a series. It’s not what I was planning to do, but it’s easier to accomplish. Tell you about it next week!