Henry’s been upgrading his special effects skills lately, as you can see in this clip featuring his Gold City Junction set (a prize from putting in a solid summer’s worth of reading & exercise). Turn on your speakers & keep an eye out for cotton-ball explosions. 😌
Instead of breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day this year, Henry served up something much more unique: a custom-made Lego bowling alley featuring beloved & bizarre characters from the cult favorite The Big Lebowski!
I was able to buy the figures online, but the bowling alley was entirely Hen’s creation. He watched scenes from the film in order to really nail the tacky orange-and-white decor & everything. Margot was entirely charmed, just as we’d hoped. ☺️
Funny what little changes can happen in a pandemic: In our case Mr. Seamus, without access to his normal groomer, was going full Chewbacca until we found a lady who took him into her home & applied one heck of a buzz cut.
Honestly the switch has been more than a little jarring, with Finn initially despairing that his pooch had become a “Flimsy lady-dog.” 🙄 But not to worry: the new look has been growing on us just as surely as Seamus’s hair has been regrowing on him, and we’ll meet in the middle just fine.
Here’s a little gallery showing our man before & after.
Hey gang! Just because we were stuck home due to quarantine didn’t mean we couldn’t have fun with the lads. After enjoying some delicious fudge eggs from Galena’s Kandy Kitchen (thanks, Grandma & Grandpa Nack!), we conducted one of the most memorable egg hunts I’ve ever experienced.
Finn had the idea that instead of just packing plastic eggs with candy (as per tradition), this year the kids would each devise four eggs with custom prizes for mom & dad, and we’d return the favor with four for each of the two of them.
Here’s a little gallery showing some of the eggs & their treasures, as well as a vid that captures some of the hunt:
As we’ve been fortunate to do for 8 (!) years in a row now, yesterday we hosted pals from our many strands of life for a back yard Memorial Day picnic. Underscoring how lucky we’ve been weather-wise all these years, yesterday was the first time we faced rain & blustery winds. Not to be deterred, we moved some tables & chairs into the garage and let the group know that we’d proceed rain or shine. (Otherwise Margot, the boys, & I would have to eat an almost heroic amount of taco meat on our own!).
Seamus was an incredibly well-petted good sport, going for several walks with Finn & the kids, and the highlight had to be Henry turning the Westy into a mobile hot dog stand out front. Check out some photos from the event.
Even though Finn recently declared that the Easter Bunny is a “ho-ho-hoax,” he’d sure still like to get that candy. 😌 So would Henry, of course, and they gently reminded me that in past years the bunny has delivered little Lego sets in their baskets. So, to celebrate the occasion—as well as the resurrection of the Westy—we treated them to a pair of camping-themed kits.
Afterwards in the basement they created a little trailer park & campground (complete with water features, Cub Scouts cooking eggs, a corny dad with a selfie stick 🙄, an under-construction rail line, and much more). Check out a few pics plus the loot’s arrival below:
Our friends Shay & Jake always put on a great St. Patrick’s Day party, and this year to compensate for the loss of me-as-human-jungle-gym, they debuted a fun photo booth with props. Click each image to see a larger version.
We’ve been having so much fun with our little furball that we’ve barely gotten to touch the ol’ blog here. We’ve been trying to play him into good slumber, and here we are. 😌
For historical comparison, check out Super Hen from 9 years ago:
I have no idea what occasioned it, but we were delighted to come home & find that Hen had made Mom-O a lovely hand-lettered certificate affirming her status as Best Mom Ever. 🥰
Finn & our neighbor Henry D. continue to evolve their video production skills, as demonstrated in their latest masked misadventure. For any possibly bewildered grandparents out there, at least it’s an inadvertent tour of the new deck. 😌
You know how it’s said that “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” can stop postal workers? We felt a bit similar on this trip: not a busted van nor blowing snow nor hours of monotonous desert highways could keep us from the Grand Canyon—and on Sunday we finally made it!
As you can see in our gallery, we took in the awesome, billion-year-old sights over the course of nearly seven miles of walking. We were blessed with a gloriously clear & fairly warm day, and fortunately neither daredevil Hen nor Irish-despondent Dad took a plunge into the canyon. Hen was also more than thrilled to spend a bunch of time up close & personal with the cars of the famous Grand Canyon Railway. Afterwards we pit stopped at an air museum & then finished the day on the neon-lit streets of historic Route 66 in Williams, AZ.
And here you can see some of what we experienced while walking around the canyon & later the train:
As the boys swore to me last year (see below), they will never get over the time long ago when I munched off the head of one of their gingerbread men. 🙄
This year they had fun bringing up this bit of history while baking & frosting a new crop of gingers. In honor of the decapitated dude, they even made some faux-gruesome additions to the crew. Check out the gallery to see more.
On Sunday Hen & I cruised over to the historic Santa Clara Depot to enjoy their giant model train layout & peruse the wares on sale. “What a buy,” as Grandma Nack might’ve put it 😌: we scored a ton of old trestles, buildings, and even cars for super cheap (three coaches for a buck!). Afterwards Hen scarfed down a hot dog & secured a few waves from passing CalTrain engineers. Check it out:
To say that Henry’s an avid consumer of YouTube content would be like saying that sometimes he’s been not entirely cheerful at the barber. 😛
Happily, he’s going from mere consumer to creator, starting his own channel for posting vids about trains, his burgeoning currency collection, and more. He’s so thrilled to have smashed the elusive five-subscriber mark, and when I mentioned that morning that my teammate Buck would be interested in some new content, Hen made a beeline to grab a phone and record the vid below. I guess Margot & I are now safe to forget about saving for retirement & plan to cash in on our young Spielberg’s eventual media empire. 😉
These days, by the time we get around to T.A.L.B. at 8:30pm, chances are that Ol’ Dad has been blowing & going since before dawn. Consequently, recent story quality has been… well, let’s say uneven. I was kinda proud of the new characters I invented recently—Mr. Robert Cat, a bobcat, and Moe Hunculus, a homunculus—although Finn just shook his head and said “I often wonder whether you’re having a stroke.” 😝
By contrast, when our friend Maria is in town, she really pulls out the stops. Whereas I just try to invent stuff on the fly, she starts mapping out characters & events ahead of time using a pen & notebook. I’m pretty sure that somewhere she has a wall that looks like this:
Anyway, Finn noted the other day that “T” quality has varied widely lately—largely depending on who’s doing the telling:
Happily, I’ve been working to up my game recently, and we’ve been having a lot of fun incorporating Finn’s Yellowstone buddy Bert the (stuffed) Buffalo—who, it turns out, is quite the dancer. A few collaborative sketches of Bert in action are below. 🐃😊
At Back-to-School Night this week, Margot & I got to drop in on the dudes’ new classrooms and teachers. We were charmed to find their self portraits hanging up. Note Finn’s inclusion of green racing stripes on his glasses, plus Hen’s generous application of freckles. 😊
Henry is well known for his stubbornness – which has shown up in force every time we tried to enroll him in swim lessons. This kid HATES getting his head wet, hates getting his hair washed, hates getting splashed in the pool, and has run down the clock during countless swim lessons by simply refusing to participate and trying to talk his way out of actually doing anything.
After yet another progress-free summer at the Elks pool, having to constantly keep an eye on him, while he clung to the side of the pool, resolutely refusing to get his head or face wet, and refusing to even try to float or doggy paddle while his peers were splashing and swimming away, I decided to try, once more, to get him to learn to swim. He started weekly classes a little over a month ago at an indoor pool nearby.
Finally, slowly but surely, our man Henry is making progress! He has done more swimming and splashing in the past 6 weeks than the entire previous 7.5 years of his life! Each week on our drive to the pool, I give him a little pep talk, we talk about what he’s learned so far and how great he’s doing, and wonder what sorts of things he’ll be learning. We chat about his nervousness, and the fact that even while nervous, he exceeds his own expectations. He’s gotten a lot more comfortable with floating on his back, he can hold his breath, he puts his head underwater, he tips off the side of the pool and swims to the instructor, and he can alternate from back to front floating on his own.
He did so well last week, and was so excited to report his fantastic lesson to Dad-o and Finny that he requested that the whole family go to today’s lesson so we could all witness his progress. So we all headed out to the pool, and the Nack Family Cheering Section was in full force while our man demonstrated his prowess. He did great, and Dad-o and Finny could hardly believe he was voluntarily putting his head and face in the water without complaint. A great day for Mr. Henry, capped off with a family lunch and ice cream for dessert.
After about 10 years of waiting for all the cousins to be old enough, John and I finally got to take Finn, Henry, and cousins Patrick and Charlie rafting down the Brown’s Canyon section of the Arkansas River! All of us had a total blast – although, not surprisingly, it took Henry about 3/4 of the trip to finally start enjoying himself. (He tends to warm up to things far more slowly than the average bear.)
John and I sat in the front/main splash zone, followed by Charlie (11) and Patrick (13), with Finn behind Patrick, and Henry hunkered down in the middle of the raft for fear of getting launched out! In the gallery of photos, you’ll notice his little blue helmet way down low, right in between my and John’s knees. I started calling Henry “the turtle” because he was very effective at ducking down so low that the bill of his hat was sitting right on top of his life vest’s shoulders. He stayed that way most of the trip, as we shot through the Zoom Flume, The Widowmaker, and the Devil’s Toiletbowl. At some point I did hear him laughing, and looked over and saw his face plastered with a wide grin. He admitted at the end that he really had fun and would definitely do it again (as would all the other boys!).
Brown’s Canyon is the newest National Monument, and boy was it scenic. We had an epic adventure, and we were thrilled to chaperone all the kids on their first rafting trip. The Arkansas river will definitely see more of us in the future!
[Finn got very excited by “The Widowmaker” and kept yelling, “Adios, Dad!!” :-p —J.]
In the dystopian classic Blade Runner, where neon signs wink through the ever-present rain, the voice in a disembodied advertisement promises, “A new life awaits you in the off-world colonies!” I chuckled thinking of this when I found the sign below propped up at the entrance to Finn’s room. I guess we’d better stay out for a while. 🙂