Ironic “facial hair,” age 3. 🙂
Ironic “facial hair,” age 3. 🙂
Downside: A blizzard leaves you flightless & stuck in Denver for an extra day.
Upside: Bonus trampoline mayhem with cousins!! 🙂
Late last year the boys took a real shine to a video in which Prof. Walter Tschinkel used molten metal to create casts of ant colonies. Now, through the imponderable power of little-kid free association, the name “Walter Tschinkel” popped up in a new ant-related story Finn’s devised.
I suggested to Dr. Tschinkel that Finn’s novel hypothesis that “10 ants equal 1 dog” is largely unproven. We’ll see what he says. 😉
[Update: Well, we didn’t have to wait long. He writes, “Mighty cute kid you got there! And now I have a hypothesis to test—- 10 ants equal 1 dog. Should keep me busy for a while.”]
May we introduce our very own Dancing Robot!
Margot’s grandmother had a famously dry wit. Margot writes,
My dad, Jack, grew up in a very tiny rural town, where nothing exciting ever really happened. Once, Grandma and her equally crazy friend Ag were picking up their kids from school and taking them to the city park down the street. The traveling circus – including a few elephants – had just come and gone, which laid the foundation for the following:
As they were walking to the park that day, Grandma and Ag start looking into the distance, through the trees in the park, exclaiming “Oh, look, there are the elephants, I bet they’re going to race! Kids, do you see them? This is going to be great!” The kids start craning their necks, looking around, befuddled, “We dont’ see them! Where are they?” Grandma & Ag: “There they are! They’re lining up, there they go! Now they’re running behind the tennis courts! Here they come around the bend!” All the while the kids are crestfallen because they don’t see anything, and keep moaning “But we didn’t see them! Where are they?” Cut to Grandma and Ag laughing hysterically.*
So, you might readily imagine that when Jack told me that Leadville featured teams of horses that pull skiers down Main Street, flying over jumps and collecting rings on their arms, I gave him a long & skeptical gaze. “What’s next,” I thought, “he’s gonna tell me that the word ‘naive’ isn’t in the dictionary?” And yet, dang if it wasn’t true! Behold the bizarre, obscure, and thrillingly dangerous sport of skijoring! Here’s a little gallery plus some video of the goings-on.
*The second half of the “elephant race” story happened about 25 years later when Margot’s Grandpa had a car dealership near main street. Again, a circus was in town with their elephants, but this time they were legitimately advertising elephant races “downtown” (which was all of about 4 blocks long). On the big day, Crazy Ag and her husband Les grabbed their lawn chairs, set up next to my Grandpa’s dealership garage, and waited and waited and WAITED for elephant race, which they never saw. Turns out, the race was on a different street and they had missed the whole thing!
I just stumbled across this little vid from last fall & got a chuckle from it. Finn got really into what he dubbed his “iPod”—a tiny educational computer he’d gotten as a birthday gift from pals Bettie & Quade. For whatever reason he dubbed the songs it played “Chuckbone” and “Sackbone.” Here, without further explanation (which I’d find impossible anyway), are the tunes:
You know what this photo makes me? That’s right, Father Of The Year. 😉
The boys had all kinds of fun digging in the snow, firing snowballs at their cousins, playing “Wampa vs. Mountain Lion,” and more. I got a particular kick out of my young nephew Patrick creeping out from behind a tree, nailing me with snow, and announcing, “I call that one ‘The Oswald.'” I immediately gunned one back at him and declared, “Yeah, and that’s ‘The Jack Ruby.'” Here’s a little gallery of the goings on.
All hail Leonidas, the Puppet King of San Jose. 🙂
Thanks, Grandma & Grandpa Nack!
Man oh man… sometimes you know that an idea is ridiculous, but you proceed anyway. And sometimes that’s not so bad. 🙂
Last summer Finn spotted—and immediately fell in love with—a particularly gigantic Lego set at the store. That alone is no big deal, and as with most kid-crushes, we expected the infatuation to fade quickly. Not this time, though: For the last eight months or so Finn’s been totally hung up on the Lego Unimog. He’s constantly built crude facsimiles via his other bricks, telling me about how great it’d be if he had the real deal with its stabilizer legs, motorized winch, and more. A few months ago a friend’s mom asked him what he’d like for his birthday, and he dutifully reported, “Well, there’s this really expensive Lego set that’s meant for teenagers…”
So, what to do? I knew it was crazy (and Margot certainly felt that way), but I figured, hey, if a 4-year-old can maintain that level of focus for that long, it’s as if I’d wanted something for 10 years! So, what the heck, we ordered the “‘Mog” and had it sent to Colorado. As you might have seen in the previous gallery, he went totally mental upon receiving it.
Aaaand, that’s where things got tougher. Assembling this 2048-piece monster made me remember a certain acerbic poster:
Trying to build the huge vehicle while Finn & Henry danced around the table, constantly babbling & stealing parts (!), was a huge challenge. I mean, for crying out loud, this monster is an honest-to-God, self-propelled 4-wheel-drive truck that features independent suspension, a working differential gear, an elaborate pneumatic power system, and a screw of Archimedes! I started describing my status as “Unimugged,” and what I thought would be a father/son bonding experience kind of turned into a father/son/mother/brother/psychiatrist experience. Okay, leave off that last part, and give Margot huge credit for swooping in, helping me debug my handiwork, and building the big arm assembly. Without her I’d still be in Leadville, rocking back and forth, wallowing in my own crapulence!
But all’s well that ends well, at least so far. (We still have to somehow get this fragile contraption home!) Henry keeps claiming the ‘Mog’s a low rider because of the suspension, and Finn’s devised an elaborate story about a driver named Duck who fishes ducks out of a pond using the arm, then eats them. Here’s a gallery showing the finished piece.
In the end the whole thing felt like a metaphor for parenting: Insane, unbearable, and totally worth it.
Oh, and Henry, if you’re reading this: Getting a giant Technic fire engine for your birthday in July is a terrible, terrible idea! ;-p
Yesterday the boys cashed in their Christmas presents from Grandma and Grandpa Liggett – ski lessons and ski rental at Ski Cooper, just a few miles down the road. Thanks to some hand-me-down helmets and goggles from their cousins, and some strategic thrift-shopping for bibs and mittens by their Auntie Laura, the guys were all set!
Ski Cooper was the training site for the 10th Mountain Division in World War II. Because of its high altitude and hundreds of inches of snow per year, it was the perfect training ground for the mountaineering troops. Now it’s a public ski resort, but it’s a lot smaller and lower-key than the big boys down the road like Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, and Keystone. It is a great place for beginners because there’s plenty of room to go slow and figure out what you’re doing without the threat of being mowed down by expert skiiers (they ski in a separate, faster part of the resort!).
The guys each got a 1-hour private lesson. The instructors were terrific – two college-age girls named Coco and Corinna. They were great with the guys – very patient and friendly. Little Henry took to skiing right away! He learned how to snowplow and “emergency stop” (a.k.a. tip over on your side), and really got the hang of skiing smoothly down the bunny slope. He looked like a little ski pro in his bibs, helmet, and goggles. Finny was having a rough day and wasn’t very into the actual skiing lesson. He liked getting fitted for boots and skis, but once he was on the slope, there was a lot of collapsing in frustration, drama, and trying to talk his way out of the lesson. He did manage to come down the bunny slope a couple times, and I think he actually understood how to snowplow but just wasn’t in the mood to cooperate.
We definitely want to visit Ski Cooper again – next time Mom-o and Dad-o will hit the slopes with the dudes! Here’s a little gallery of the morning’s proceedings.
[Side bonus for panda-loving Henry: The kids got to be part of the “Panda Patrol”! –J.]
I call it “Dad-O & The Tramp.” 😉
On Saturday my Finny turned five. I can hardly believe it’s been five years since this dimpled, smiling, blond little person made us a family. Before we tucked in for the night on Friday, all four of us shouted “Adios, four!”, and when we awoke on the big day, we all said “Hello, five!” before wishing our guy a happy birthday.
Then it was off to breakfast in the hotel for a much-anticipated birthday waffle (seriously, he’d been talking about it for weeks!), followed by a very slow, traffic-jammy drive up the mountains for an afternoon of snowball fights and snow tubing. The combination of all that partying and the high altitude wore us all out, so we saved cake and presents for Sunday.
Here are some photos from our adventure so far. Happy birthday, Finny! We love you to bits!
[Note the triumphal unveiling of the giant Lego Unimog. 🙂 Finny went tearing around the room yelling “Iloveit Iloveit Ilove it” before doing “donkey kicks” of joy on the stairs. Now, if we can just finish building the thing before he’s eligible to vote, the success will be complete! –J.]
Man, I’m too tired from today’s festivities (and the 10,000ft. altitude) to compose anything clever, so I’ll let these videos tell the story. 🙂
Spinning in infinity:
Mile-high greetings! After a fog-delayed flight (during which the boys behaved wonderfully; thanks, iPad-genie!), the whole fam arrived safely in Denver today. We got to visit Grandma & Grandpa Liggett’s apartment, bean each other with snowballs, and discover the burning of snow-caked hands.
The lads and Margot are sleeping now, I pray, but at any moment I could be called back to the room. Tomorrow we ring in Finn’s Big 5 with build-your-own “birthday waffles” courtesy of the Hampton Inn (something the boys have discussed for weeks!), then head towards Leadville for snow-tubing and more. We can’t wait!