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Saturday, July 29, 2006

 

Hello Little Bug



From six years ago, when my son was two. It seems like he has always been fascinated by bugs. Just the other night I found him asleep in bed with a book about insects folded across his chest.


Friday, July 28, 2006

 

Manzanar



Wife and kids at the Manzanar National Historic Site near Lone Pine, California, circa 2001.

A very sad chapter in our country's history.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

 

Watching the Wheat



Palouse wheat field - Moscow, Idaho

Click picture for larger image


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

 

Come Fly With Me



My wife and daughter, flying through the sky at Silverwood Theme Park.

This blog is going to be on photo-mode for a couple of weeks so I don't have to think too much while we enjoy the summer.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

 

Will The Wolf Survive?



Today we visited with Bill Taylor and Mohawk, his 11-week-old wolf puppy. Bill runs Wolf People, a wolf education facility dedicated to bringing wolves back to the wild.



Mohawk was a little cutie, and very friendly... except when he tried to eat my camera.



Sunday, July 23, 2006

 

Hot Mission

Where do you go when it's 103 degrees (39.45 Celsius, for my friend in Australia)?

Why, you go to the Old Mission State Park in Cataldo, Idaho, to pray for cooler temperatures!

The Cataldo Mission is the oldest standing building in Idaho, built between 1848 and 1853 by the Coeur d'Alene Indian Tribe and Catholic missionaries.

We spent two hours there today, moving slowly around the grounds from one patch of shade to another. The mission itself has 18-inch thick walls, so it never gets hot inside. The ceiling was stained purple with huckleberry juice!














Saturday, July 22, 2006

 

Denny's Hates Moms

Amber Deahn, one of the heroes of the Shasta Groene rescue last summer, has recently revealed that Denny's Restaurant fired her while she was on maternity leave.

More evidence of a corporate culture in this country that does not appreciate parents.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

 

Mr. Sandman



750 pounds of sand just doesn't seem to go as far as it used to.

In the middle of all my landscaping, I suddenly realized that I should build the kids' swingset before summer is over. So, two days and a ton of wood later they are now swinging, climbing, and sliding to their heart's content. Last thing to do was to haul in some sand. After some faulty calculations, I now realize that it's going to take another 5000 pounds of play sand to provide a nice cushion around the entire structure.

But it will have to wait. With predicted temperatures of 103 on Saturday and 104 on Sunday, we will be up to our nosehairs in the lake from sun-up to sundown for the next few days.

Stay cool.


 

Pickle-Chiffon Treasure

In yesterday's post, I forgot to mention one of my favorite new mom blogs!

MomSquawk is a group blog that delivers all kinds of fun and interesting news about children, parenting, and families. It's one of my daily must-reads.

A few days ago, one of the moms wrote a post about my all-time favorite children's book, Pickle-Chiffon Pie by Jolly Roger Bradfield.

My mother bought this book when it first came out in 1967, and she must've read it to me a lot, because it's the one story I remember the best. And believe me, my childhood was filled with good books. When my son was born and we started buying children's books at garage sales and thrift shops, I kept my eye out for Pickle-Chiffon Pie, because it was long out-of-print by the late 90's. Copies could be had on eBay for up to $80, which I just wasn't willing to pay.

Finally, when my son was about four, my mom found the well-preserved book somewhere in her house and mailed it off to me.



Something quite magical happens when you hold a treasured childhood item in your hand after nearly 40 years. And when I first read it to my son, he was instantly enthralled by the story of princes, giants, and juggling lions.

Just take a look at Mr. Bradfield's artwork. Who wouldn't love a three-headed marshmallow-roasting dragon!?



Some might say that the story of three princes competing for the hand of a princess is dated, but I don't believe so. It's a fairy tale, after all. A tale in which the nice guy finishes first for a change. How refreshing! It also offers a valuable lesson to kids that kindness and generosity can reap rewards. They won't learn that on MTV.

It's a wonderful book for both boys and girls. I've read it to both my kids dozens of times over the years, and they continue to ask for it at bedtime. Unlike some of the tongue-twisting Dr. Seuss books that grow stale after multiple readings, Pickle-Chiffon Pie is a joy to read every time.

The good news is that the book was reprinted two years ago and is now available at Amazon.com for a very reasonable $12. And apparently more of Bradfield's back catalog will be reissued in the near future. For a peek at his life and works, visit his website.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

 

New Blogs



Tuesday, July 18, 2006

 

Musical Beds

I haven't had a good night's sleep in eight years.

I mean, one of those nights where you settle down into your pillow around 10 o'clock with a good book, read for an hour or so, then quickly fall into a deep and relaxing sleep that proceeds undisturbed for eight solid hours.

Sounds like some kind of fantasy world.

For eight years we've had crying babies, sleep-walking kids, wet beds, sick tummies, and bad dreams. We're over most of those. In fact, we're down to just one regular nightly occurrence. I call it the 2am Thump Gallop Tiptoe Climb.

It's my 4-year-old daughter who wakes up at some point after midnight, usually around 2am, thumps out of bed, gallops down the hall, tiptoes into mommy and daddy's room, then climbs up into the bed with us. I'm not always fully awake to hear this routine, but it's enough to disturb my sleep for the rest of the night. Just the reduction of sleeping space in my bed prevents me from sleeping deeply since I like to toss and turn and thrash my arms about.

So we play musical beds.

Without even realizing it sometimes, I drag myself to another bed. Could be the guest room, could be the couch. I never know where I'm going to wake up. Every couple of weeks, my son joins in the game and we find him in our bed. One time he was in our bed, his sister was in his bed, I was in the guest room, and my wife was oblivious to it all.

I keep hoping that my daughter will outgrow this bad habit and things will settle down. Short of locking her door at night, there's not much I can do except to keep telling her how everybody needs to stay in their own beds until morning. Until she does that regularly, I guess I'll just keep dreaming about a good night's sleep.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

 

Animated Shorts

The National Film Board of Canada has placed fifty animated short films on its website for free viewing... Among these classics are some amusing and educational stories for children. Check them out:


Saturday, July 15, 2006

 

Cool For Cats



Here's my other birthday boy, Basil Ratbone... Named after the great British actor, our little feline friend turns ten years old this month.

I always used to say that the cat I grew up with was the best cat ever, but Basil has now purred his way into my heart to claim that title. Mostly it's the way in which he has taken to the kids in recent years that has earned my appreciation. He loves them almost as much as they love him. He's always around the kids, playing with their toys, sleeping on their beds at night, or just sitting quietly at their side while they read or do homework.

Basil has taught my kids about patience, responsibility, and love for animals ("Except dogs!" says my son). He's mellowed a lot with age, going from a hyperactive young kitten who had to be medicated with anti-anxiety drugs to a seemingly wise and understanding grown-up cat who doesn't mind playing dress-up with my daughter.

So, Happy Birthday Basil! We'd bake you a cake, but I know you'd just throw it all up on the stairs, so have another scoop of Purina Sensitive Systems cat food and pretend it's a big juicy mouse.


Friday, July 14, 2006

 

Lonely At The Top



Chip commented: "I'm still traumatized from the time I was stuck at the top of a ferris wheel at the age of 5 without my mom..."

Well, this one's for you, Chip. Here I am, stuck at the top of the ferris wheel at Silverwood, enjoying the view.

That roller coaster in the distance is called Tremors. Voted one of the top wooden coasters in the country. Every time I ride it, I get a headache from having my head and neck whipped around. So why do I keep riding it?!


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

 

You Spin Me Round



That's my son up there at the tippy-top of this big round spinning contraption at the amusement park. He had to ride it alone, as the last time I went on it with him it took me ten minutes to recover my senses. There's something about watching your child being spun madly around on a huge mechanical monster that is sort of disorienting in its own way.


Monday, July 10, 2006

 

A Pirate's Life For Me



I took my son to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest movie today. We loved it. Absolutely loved every minute of it. I had read a few reviews that said the movie was disappointing and confusing. Well, I'm not sure what film they were watching, because even my 8-year-old son was able to follow along with the many characters and plot points. It probably helped that we watched the first Pirates last night on DVD, so names and faces were still fresh in our minds.

The action was non-stop, the creatures were original and terrifying (awesome nightmare material for the preschool crowd), and the acting was perfect. Exactly what you want in a summer popcorn movie. No wonder the movie has broken all records for box-office performance in its first weekend of release.



We really liked these guys, Mackenzie Crook (remember him from The Office?) and Lee Arenberg (do you know which episode of Seinfeld he was in?). They were kind of like the Laurel and Hardy of the pirate world. Or, as my son would say, they were the C-3PO and R2-D2 of the Caribbean.

My son talked all the way home about pirates, treasure, sailing ships, and the sea in general. Watching movies like this fuels his imagination, and it also creates a hunger for history. He was full of questions for me about what life was really like back in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The movie left me with a hankering for pirate music, so we picked out some favorites for you and your kids to give a listen...

Here are our Top Ten Pirate Songs (in no particular order):

James Horner - "Pirates!" from The Pagemaster
Pirates of the Caribbean - "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life For Me)" from the Disneyland ride
The Muppets - "Shiver Me Timbers" from Muppets Treasure Island
Captain Tractor - "Drunken Sailor"
John Debney - "Setting Sail" from Cutthroat Island
King's Singers - "The Pirate King"
The Wiggles - "Bing Bang Bong (That's A Pirate Song)"
Relient K - "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything"
The Chieftains - "Treasure Cave" from Treasure Island
Kevin Kline - "Oh, Better Far To Live And Die" from The Pirates of Penzance


Sunday, July 09, 2006

 

Housework

Overheard:

"Does your husband help out with the housework?"
"No, not really."
"Does he dust or vacuum?"
"Nope."
"Laundry?"
"Nope."
"Dishes?"
"Nope."
"What about the yard?"
"Nope."
"He doesn't mow the lawn?"
"No, I do that too."
"Geez, doesn't he do anything around the house?"
"Ummmmm... Oh yeah, he programmed the Roomba!"


Friday, July 07, 2006

 

She's Leaving Home

We've all read the horror stories about MySpace. It's been mentioned in the news in connection with runaways, pedophiles, pornography, and teen sex. It's not the only web site that parents should be worried about. There are plenty of dangers for kids on the Internet. But if you think any of this is new, then think again.

I don't have any evidence that parents in the middle ages worried about their young children being lured away to dark castles by knights in shining armor. Nor do I have documentation that Aztec priests were going into the fine homes of Tenochtitlan to convince teens to find their destiny as a human sacrifice.

What I do have in front of me is an entertainment magazine from September 1964 called Movie Life. In it is a lengthy article titled "Police Warning: Tear Up This Beatle Letter" that outlines the dangers of a phony letter that was being sent to teen-age girls in both England and the US.

From the article:
You've just received a mysterious envelope in the mail. You open it, naturally curious, and, oh bliss! Your eyes practically pop out. Your brain goes reeling. You can't believe it. It's from THEM. It invites you, YOU of all the girls in the world, to meet The Beatles for a date. Or perhaps, since you are so beautiful, such a real fab dream of a dish, perhaps you'd like to audition for a role in the next Beatles movie. Sound too good to be true? It is too good to be true. Much too good. In fact, it is a hoax, deliberately aimed at, deliberately trying to victimize susceptible teen-age girls.

Take the recent case of two Virginia girls... Sporting Beatle haircuts, dressed in tight pants, mannish shirts and ties, talking in British accents, calling each other "Ringo" and "Paul," and carrying flight bags emblazoned with the legend "Liverpool Or Bust," the pair ran away from their homes, determined to get over to England any way they could to see their idols. The father of one of the girls was frankly afraid they would make it.

"They are so determined," he said, "that if they could get anything to float them, they would go to the water's edge and push off, and take a chance of starving to death to get there. The virus of the Beatles struck them, as it did two or three million other teenagers in this country, and has reduced them to people who do not dwell any longer in our midst. They have ceased to be part of their family, their class or their community."

This particular father, as it happened, overestimated these girls. They got as far as Philadelphia by hitchhiking and there they were picked up by the police - tired, hungry, out of money, and not too unhappy about being sent back to their families. "I'll never do it again," one of them promised the next day.

Police fear that the fake Beatle letters may be more than just someone's idea of a practical joke. The letter-writing could lead to big, big trouble, indeed - to graft, seduction, kidnapping and vice.

So, please, heed this warning. If you should receive a letter purporting to be from The Beatles - much as you want to believe it - don't! Tear the letter up. Or, if you have to do something with it, run, don't walk, to the nearest police station, and ask the first policeman you see to answer it for you.

Parents of every generation need to be aware of what their kids are reading, hearing, and writing. There's no need to panic and lock your teen away in a tower. This kind of thing has been going on basically forever. A little caution, a lot of awareness, and plenty of communication is all it takes to keep your kids safe.

Having said all that, if I get a letter in the mail from Paul McCartney offering me a job as a roadie on his next world tour, then I am outta here!


Thursday, July 06, 2006

 

Carrot Boy



I spent part of the evening scrolling through old photos on the computer. Have you backed up your files lately?

This picture is from six years ago. My son has always loved carrots... they're his go-to snack. The rule in our house about food is that the kids can munch all the carrots they want between meals. Everything else, they have to ask before helping themselves to it.

Think they'll have good eyesight?


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

 

Safe and Sane

I am so sick of fireworks it isn't even funny... People around here start shooting them off around June 25th. Every single night: Boom, Crack, Whoosh! It's like a war zone.

I like the pyrotechnics as much as the next guy, but two weeks worth? That's overkill. Especially late at night when my kids are trying to sleep. Fireworks are great around the 4th, and I don't mind them as early as the 1st. But before that? Seriously, if you can't satisfy your need to blow stuff up within those four days, then you have a problem.

We bought a "safe and sane" package of fountains and sparklers, then set them off in the street -- a tradition since I was a little kid when our neighborhood would come alive with families, smoke, and that curiously wonderful sulphur smell. Anyway, we had a good time creating our own cute little fireworks display. The kids plugged their ears and shrieked and clapped their hands.



Then one of our neighbors decided to put us in our place, whipping out the heavy artillery he picked up down the highway on the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation. So we watched the illegal display of aerial fireworks, marveling at the irony that these same people have turned in several of their fellow neighbors for animal and construction infractions. I hate hypocrites.

Later on, an even bigger and more impressive display was seen over Lake Coeur d'Alene with the city's yearly fireworks show:


Click the picture for a larger image

Capping off the night, God got into the act, unleashing a spectacular lightning storm that moved through the area, putting us all to shame with its power and fury. It was a fitting way to finish off the Independence Day celebration.

Check out this amazing set of photos of tonight's lightning storm, taken by Flickr member iamjosh.


Monday, July 03, 2006

 

Firework Dreams



"Daddy, let's get the biggest one they've got!"

Moms and Dads, have a safe and happy Fourth of July!


Saturday, July 01, 2006

 

Take Me Out


Opening Day, Spokane Indians, minor league baseball

"Look kids, now the pitcher will throw the ball to first base to keep the runner from trying to steal second."
"Yeah, that's great daddy, but here comes the snack man. Can I have some cotton candy?!"