Archive for the ‘Boys’ category

A Merry Lego Santa Claus Family Portrait

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Familiar friends at the Lego store The first 15 minutes of the Lego® Store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago is fairly entertaining; anything beyond that becomes a form of Chinese lead torture.

It’s what they love now, Legos®, and both Evan and Colin arrange much of their living space around the mighty investment into the building brick sets. Evan counted up how many pieces are dedicated to the Lego® Star Wars® sets and the number is approximately 11, 561.

We have a lot Legos® in our house.

And I think we can justify the purchases on the idea that both Evan and Colin still play with the Legos®. They might rebuild the set or might morph together sets and create new vehicles for Luke or Yoda or Darth Vader to do a flyby over Luke the cat. And as parents we like the idea of the boys creating stuff from bricks; it’s the good stuff of play. And it’s really hard to break the little things and no batteries are required.

But they do burn…or melt as I found out in 3rd grade.

The story is sometimes still in dispute, and is probably as controversial as the fire alarm story. In the fire alarm story (and I’m not kidding, my brother who is 5 years my senior and I still “discuss” it) I am the victim of a coercive brother. In the fire alarm story (it’s amazing how much of our childhood had some type of pyromania in them) Mike and I are at Yulupa Elementary School and it’s summer. And we’re roaming the hallways of school and around the corner from the water fountain by the bathrooms was a red “Pull for Fire” object about 4 feet up the wall. I’m watching Mike and he says (at least from my version of the story) that nothing happens when you pull it and he pulls it (or at least it appears that he has) and nothing happens. Then he says, “Now you try it.”

You cannot turn off a school fire alarm by banging your shoe against it. Apparently you need a key. Also, it is difficult to run across an uneven field and across a busy road with a shoe on your left foot and the other shoe in your hand: it just isn’t efficient in trying to make a quick get away when you hear the fire trucks coming to the school where you have just pulled the fire alarm. Lastly, it’s amazing that you might know that your brother has tricked you into doing something bad, and yet you still will be at his beckon call when he tries another stunt on you.

But that wasn’t the case with the Lego® house that we built when my mother was away. It was a group project: Mike, Steph and I are digging through the basket of Legos® and we’ve decided we’re building a mansion. We use the large green plate pieces for the foundation and then begin the two-story structure. We give up a strict color scheme on the second story when we run out of red bricks, but we’ve finished the house. It has windows, a door and a chimney.

See where this story is headed?

Again, I maintain that it was Mike’s idea, but perhaps we all wanted it and Mike lit the paper that we stuffed through the top of the chimney and I think I remember running for some reason (as if that would save me from the nasty burning Lego® house that was all of one foot high). The fire (or smoldering) was put out and we quickly cleaned up the mess and I even think we did the cartoon whistle-with-hands-behind-backs strolling about the house toward the door to the back yard.

Mom was not happy when she found out. It wasn’t the melting plastic from our realistic Lego® 2-story, but perhaps she even swore something silly when we sat down to eat dinner sometime later (that day or week or perhaps a month) and she saw the burn stain in her beautiful oak table.

Later, I was playing with the Legos® and found that some of the melted pieces didn’t make it into the garbage. I might have even used the evidence against Mike or Steph, but more than that, I didn’t have enough pieces to build whatever structure I was making at the time.

My sons haven’t discovered the wonders of fire but their lives do encompass Legos® and building and creation. I’m sure (and I know…I’ve heard it) they try and make their creations real: through battle sounds and often tossing the plane or ship into the spinning blades of their bedroom ceiling fan.

The big guy and the family And it continues to amaze me that when we go to the Lego® Store in Chicago around Xmas that we will inevitably stop by the Lego® Santa Claus, in his sleigh, with his reindeer. We will gather around the big guy in Red Suit (lots of red bricks) and get a picture of our entire family much like a family picture during Thanksgiving in Schamburg or during the summer in Pennsylvania.


The Things I Love

Sunday, 25 November 2007

We’re back from the 9th annual family gathering of the Bickels (Lois’ parents and Lois’ brother, his wife [Jinger] and their son), the Certalics (Jinger’s parents) and us on Thanksgiving weekend in Schaumburg, IL (home of the Woodfield Mall<= really big).

And, for the last 9 years, we had all read the same book and had a book talk (this year: A Thousand Splendid Sunsets [Hosseini of The Kite Runner]). At the suggestion by Lois, we each created a list of “Things we loved” that didn’t include the usual things like family or country or belief-like items. I scribbled mine on the back of notes from a little talk that I gave the editors of the Student Publications class and found more room on the hotel’s small notepad paper. It was interesting to hear each person’s list and was in general a pretty cool to do.

Try it sometime…or now–as a response to this post–it’s fun. It’s not so much in making this list, but sharing it with someone else who has made the list too.

So, here’s mine:

The Things I love:

  • Venti Bold lots of room for cream with four packets of Sugar in the Raw from Starbucks at 7:07 a.m. before school.
  • New England Clam Chowder with sour dough bread at The Tides restaurant in Bodega Bay, California.
  • The Mac OS X OS with its Unix core underneath and the bling bling of the UI on our eMac.
  • That each Bickel has a bottle of nasal spray on their night stand.
  • Celtic Women, Riverdance, and “Danny Boy.”
  • Most BBC comedies.
  • Netflixing with Lois.
  • Colin’s red hair and Evan’s hitting the floor.
  • Making Ken and Doris coffee.
  • The first bass note in a song.
  • The pictures of Lois and me at the Japanese Tea Gardens (Golden Gate Park) in 1989 and 2001.
  • The beginning, middle and end of a marathon.
  • My 2007 Grand Rapids Marathon shirt.
  • NPR (“Wait, wait…Don’t Tell me,” “This American Life,” and “Speaking of Faith”).
  • Troubleshooting a website’s code and the moment when it works as it ought to.
  • Writing in a black marble composition book.
  • The Golden Gate Bridge on a bright foggy day.
  • My running shoes.
  • My Timberland shoes.
  • A 1988 Ford Festiva.
  • Building inuksuk on the Lake Michigan shore in Milwaukee, WI.
  • The flatness of the Midwest.
  • When Lois calls me a jackass.

Prince Samuel

Thursday, 8 November 2007
Prince Samuel

Sometimes, you just have to put on a costume and dub yourself royalty.

Website from the past (circa 1998)

Saturday, 7 April 2007

With the birth of my first son, Evan, I decided to use my new found skills as a Claris Homepage fiddler to put together a website…for real. I found these main page images that served as a clickable image for that site:

EW again
EW site

Last long run in the books; Last swim of the season

Monday, 4 September 2006

Saturday’s 8 miles went without incident…listened to Wait, wait…don’t tell me and the beginning of This American Life “Americans in Paris” (starts with a piece about David Sedaris). Nice weather and really not much to write about. So, now it’s time to gear up for Saturday’s 26.2 miles and honestly, I haven’t the foggiest idear of how it will go. I put myself down for a target time of 3:50 … I’ll just enjoy the week of 3-4-2 mile runs (no speed work on Wednesday, though.

Today, Labor Day, marked the last swim of the season…sort of a sad time, but we all jumped in the pool together (at a mild 80 degrees … folks, that’s really cold for us).

Also, accomplished today was finishing the painting of the kitchen and downstairs bathroom (let me see if I can get some color swatches here…okay, the kitchen looks like the walls in the top picture on this page and go a shade darker for the bathroom area).

Last long run; First two weeks

Friday, 1 September 2006

In the “catch-up-after-a-few-weeks” department of excuses:

Last week’s 12-miler went fine; did the CR32 to CR11 and back route and the run was nice. No, “oops, I pulled it again” business this time. This week I ran twice: a 3-miler and some Lassos (3 bookended by mile there and back). Tomorrow is 8 miles and I’ll probably play it safe and do the loop once (all flat surfaces).

Today marks the end of the first two weeks of school and thus far there’s nothing to complain too much about. In fact, I’m finding that I thinking of trying some new stuff. First thing is playing with yet another organizational road…this time, I’ve gone with the GTD (Getting things done) crowd. I stumbled across GTD when I found a cool little Unix utility called Remind. The site was 43 Folders and I found the stuff that I was reading hit a chord. (I’m also playing with a shell script called ToDoTxt because I like the idea of stripping back the coding and the GUI and going with pure plain text). I’ll write another post or two regarding how I’m doing my lesson planning this year.

This holiday weekend is about priming and painting the kitchen and grading some summer reading essays. Oh yes, I think I’ll close the pool too. Besides that, Lego time with the boys and Netflix with Lori (we’re working through the Brit comedy, Cold Feet).

BTW, I think I’ll start a myspace account for my newspaper students. More about that later.

Mustache boy

Thursday, 9 February 2006

Mustache boy
Originally uploaded by vergil66.

Colin enjoys the taste of brownie after dinner and we get a preview of the facial hair days.