Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

And, like that, December was halfway gone…

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And, like that, December was halfway gone...

Monday – 15 December 2014
It’s been longer than I’d planned since my last post. So, let’s get down to business.

The last few weeks have been good. Thanksgiving went well. We managed to host and feed ten people to no ill effect. The girls have been sick. Gotten over it. I’ve been sick. Gotten over it. Sara’s worked a lot – apparently, the end of the year is a busy time for the ballet. The Nutcracker and whatnot. Go figure.

This past weekend, I also got around to installing the trim in the train room. I’ve got three walls done; now it’s just a matter of timing to do the rest. Well, timing and moving a few things. It’s not perfect, but I am proud of  the job. If nothing else, I’ll have a much better idea of what to do – and not do – the next time I have a reason to install baseboards.

Ahead, Christmas. I’m looking forward to it. Not just because “It’s Christmas,” but also because the girls are so excited about it. We started putting up our trees and other decorations a couple of weekends ago. The girls have been going on about “Santa’s going to love our pretty decorations!”

Stray Toasters

  • As of this weekend, we have seen Frozen… or, at least, Sara! and I have seen it. We’re not sure if the girls had seen it before. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but it did surprise me in a couple of places.That said, I do understand Sara!’s irritation with Disney’s current marketing of the movie/DVD: All of the marketing seems to be geared towards Olaf (the snowman) and the Sven (the reindeer), rather than making note that the movie has not one, but TWO, strong female leads. Instead, the current wave points to “Hey, look at these funny characters!”
  • Speaking of which: When is the last time that Disney – not Pixar or Marvel – made a movie for kids that didn’t have a wacky animal or magically animated object as a sidekick/comic relief?
  • Titanfall is still fun… even when you haven’t played it in three months.
  • Pinstripes and Polos – because… self-promotion!
  • I can’t play “The Little Drummer Boy Game,” considering that one of my favorite Christmas songs is Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth, by Bing Crosby and David Bowie.
  • Two of my least favorite Christmas songs are: Jingle Bell Rock and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
  • I’m about 2/3 of the way through Ace Atkin’s Lullaby, the first post-Robert B. Parker Spenser novel.

    It reads very similarly to Parker’s style; there are a few things that seem slightly off – more “slightly out of focus” than “this isn’t even remotely right” – but pretty much reads like I expect a Spenser novel to read.

And that’s it for now; time to finish getting ready for Guys’ Night Out!


Veteran’s Day 2014

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Veteran's Day 2014

Tuesday – 11 November 2013
Today is Veterans Day.


“Thank you” to my family, extended family, friends and the thousands of other people who serve our country – and those who have served in the past – to protect our country and our freedoms.

Happy Birthday, Sara!

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Happy Birthday, Sara!

Thursday – 06 November 2014
You know that it must be something of “a day” when it takes me this long to get around to wishing the lovely Sara! a “Happy Birthday!”


But, before any more of the day gets away from me, I want to be sure that I say it and wish her a great day and a wonderful year to come… because she deserves all that and much more!

It’s like this was written about my day…

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It's like this was written about my day...

Sara and I are in the middle of watching last night’s episode of The Walking Dead:. I was fast-forwarding through commericials, but missed my count and wound up going back to normal play speed just as this came up:

After spending the day with Team DiVa – and after the horrible night’s sleep, due to sick kids – I couldn’t stop laughing.

Well played, Vick’s. Well. Played.


Thoughts for a Monday Morning…

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Thoughts for a Monday Morning...

Monday – 03 November 2014
A new week (and a new month, give or take a couple of days) is upon us.

Friday was Hallowe’en. After picking up Team DiVa from “school,” we got ready to take them trick-or-treating and prepared for visitors of our own.

Superhero Ballerinas!

Superhero Ballerinas: Batgirl (Vanessa) and Wonder Woman (Diana)

To check out more pictures of our resident superheroes, click here.

We took the girls out about 6:40 (after dinner and getting costumes in order); we didn’t run into other trick-or-treaters. Our neighborhood doesn’t have tons of kids, but there are a few around.  I had expected to see at least one or two costumed kids out there. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Not only that, but we didn’t receive any trick-or-treaters, either — we left candy and comics in a bowl on the front steps while we were gone. No takers. Oh, well. Their loss and more candy for us… like we needed it.

Saturday morning, Sara! headed off to quilting and Team DiVa and I hung out for a while. After Sara returned, I headed out to play in the “War of Light” HeroClix tournament at Dr. Volt’s. I went 1-2, but still had fun. Back home, Diana was starting to feel not-so-good, so we had a low-key afternoon around the house. I decided to see if there were any “new” cartoons that might be alright for the girls to watch. I was hoping to find something with Wonder Woman, but didn’t feel like giving Amazon money to watch old Super Friends episodes. I did, however, find episodes of Justice League of America and Teen Titans from 1967. The girls were able to readily identify Superman, Green Lantern, and The Flash from the JLA toons; they also mistook Wonder Girl for Wonder Woman in Teen Titans, but that was an easy mistake to clear up. On the plus side, they were rapt by the cartoons. Parenting win!

Sunday morning started early: 3 AM, when Diana started feeling sick (fever). She crawled into bed with Sara and me. For the next couple of hours, sleep became… not as easy as we would have liked. She went back to her room around 5 AM and we stole back to The Dreaming for a few more hours. After everyone was up, we went to breakfast at Millcreek Cafe and then took a Team DiVa-requested stroll around Wheeler Historic Farm. The girls took long naps, which afforded me the chance to put a major dent in cleaning up the Train Room. After nap time, the girls asked to watch more Teen Titans; so we did. Then it was time for Sara’s pre-birthday dinner at her parents’ house. Lamb curry. Pakora. Samosas. All good. Diana was still a little feverish and tired, so we put the girls to bed a little early.

Today, I’m playing Mr. Mom to one sick kid and one semi-sick kid, while trying to keep an occasional eye on work-related items… and watching more My Little Pony in one afternoon than I have in a month, apparently. That’s fine, though, because the cuddle factor makes it all worthwhile.



Two Score and Four

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Two Score and Four

Sunday – 26 October 2014
As of 7:00 AM EDT, I officially turn(ed) 44.

This has been a good year. I’ve been fortunate and blessed enough to have spent it in the company of a great family and friends.

I took Friday off, as we have a project starting at work on Monday for which I need to be in the office. It’s surprising how much work I wound up having to do at various points in the day. By the time I had figured that I was done and could relax for the evening, one final thing cropped up. No rest for the wicked.

Yesterday, I didn’t get to sleep in quite as long as I would have liked, but you can’t really complain about a morning that starts with the little ladies coming in for “family cuddles.” Absolutely nothing wrong with that. We ran a couple of errands, including a trip to Dr. Volt’s. I picked up a few birthday presents for myself:

  • Adventure Comics #371,
  • Legion of Super-Heroes #2 (1973), and
  • D&D Player’s Handbook (5th Edition) – not that I have a group with which to play, but “just because” is good enough. For now.

After nap time and running a couple more errands, we had family and a few friends over for cake and ice cream. Sara, made a Green Lantern-themed cake…

Yep, she knows me well. :)

…and it was good! Being the parents to Team DiVa keeps us “kind of” busy, so we don’t always get the time to spend with others. It was nice to take a couple of hours to unwind, sit and just catch up. Time well spent, I’d say.

We wound down the night with the premiere of Constantine and Doctor Who “Forest of the Night.” I enjoyed Constantine – it felt closer to the source material than the movie starring Keanu Reaves – but it was definitely a first episode. There’s still new show smell (actors getting used to roles, a lot of easter eggs and foreshadowing) on it, but I’m going to give it a go. The Doctor Who episode, on the other hand, I think may be the weakest episode (thus far) of the season. Oh, well. They can’t all be gold.

Today, not sure what’s going to happen during the first part of the day, but I get to choose the menu for tonight’s family dinner/birthday dinner. It shall be burgers and brats. Selah. Added birthday bonus: There’s a Ravens game this morning/afternoon. I’m good with that.

Time to see what the day brings.


Team DiVa Tuesday: Pumpkin Edition

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Team DiVa Tuesday: Pumpkin Edition

Tuesday – 21 October 2014
A couple weekends ago, we went to the Pumpkin Point Farms pumpkin patch to get… pumpkins. Because that’s what you do at a pumpkin patch. That and wander through the corn maze, if they have one. (For the record: They had two; we went through both.)


Last night, we decided to carve the largest pumpkin.  Since the little ladies are a wee bit young for sharp knives, Sara! had the great idea of letting them draw the jack o’ lantern’s face and then carving it later. (You may have seen Sara’s picture of the final product; she posted it last night.) The drawing process went a little something like this…

As you can see, they had fun drawing on the pumpkin.

What you don’t see are their reactions after Sara hollowed out the pumpkin and carved the face.
Short answer: They loved it.


A good weekend…

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A good weekend...

Tuesday – 13 October 2014
This was, as the title says, a good weekend.

Friday was a “less than stellar” day at the office. Well, that’s not entirely true. The day started off poorly, but did get better. Friday night, I hung out with Jonni. For a bit. It’s kind of hard to hang out with someone when they’re performing. But we managed. I also got to meet Desi Rexx, formerly of the D’Molls; he was a very nice guy. Pictures here.

Saturday was kind of busy. In the morning, we took a trip to the Pumpkin Point Farms pumpkin patch. Pumpkins. Corn mazes. Tractors. Happy kids.

Team DiVa at the Pumpkin Patch

Team DiVa at the Pumpkin Patch

Saturday afternoon, we took the ladies to the home of their friends Isaac and Julia, for Julia’s second birthday party. The kids played well together.

Saturday evening, we went to the home of our friends, Dean and Marilyn, for Canadian Thanksgiving. As always, it was quite the feast. And the company was good. After we got the girls back home and in bed, Sara and I rounded out the night with Doctor Who: “Mummy on the Orient Express” (Twelfth Doctor) and “Blink” (Tenth Doctor), which is quite possibly my favorite episode of the show.

Don't. Blink.

Don’t. Blink.

Sunday, we woke up, hit our local bagel shop and piled into the car for an excursion to look at fall colors. Our trip took us through Heber City and the Provo/Orem areas. Along the way, we stopped at the Heber Valley Railroad, Deer Creek Reservoir and Vivian Park (the park at the far end of the HVRR’s run). Click here for pictures.

Back home for lunch and naps. And football. Oh, football.

The post-nap afternoon/evening was fairly low-key. We did video calls with family around the country. I truly appreciate that technology allows me to keep in touch with my parents – and sibs – and that we are able to see each other.  I am especially happy about the fact that the girls are able to see their relatives who they, otherwise, wouldn’t get to see more than once a year, if that often.

After bath and bedtime for the girls, Sara! and I watched the season premieres of The Walking Dead and The Talking Dead.



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Monday – 06 October 2014
Sara! picked up JD McPherson‘s Signs and Signifiers CD a couple years ago. It’s stayed in pretty much constant rotation in her car’s CD changer.

Team DiVa – being the information/media sponges that they are, coupled with having us for parents – have rather eclectic musical tastes from “The Valkyrie Song” (Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyrie) to Schoolhouse Rock! to Bob Marley to Sesame Street’s C Is For Cookie to The B-52s (Love Shack and Rock Lobster) to Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Are Made For Walking.

Firebug thumbnail

That being said, it really doesn’t come as much as a surprise that they sing as much of the chorus of Firebug as they know when it comes up. This happened yesterday, on the way home from the zoo:


For those who’d like to hear the full song, click below:


Five years and counting…

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Five years and counting...

Friday – 03 October 2014
Five years ago today, Sara! and I got married.




It’s been a truly fantastic time and I can’t think of anyone better with whom I could have spent it.

Happy anniversary to an amazing woman!


“All I know is that memory can be too much to carry…”

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"All I know is that memory can be too much to carry..."

Tuesday – 30 September 2014
I was talking with my friend, Dana, earlier. She was having a very human moment, thinking about a loved one who passed away a few years ago:

Sometimes obvious things set you off – sad stories or movies…sometimes it’s less obvious and less sad. Sometimes the Steelers playing the Bucs hits you hard and you are thankful to have a friend at the bar with you. I know happy things seem life an awful silly reason to cry but that’s the way it is.

I commented to her that missing a loved one is never a silly for crying.

Her comment about football reminded me of my friend, Dave., who died a little over four years ago. I always think of him when the Ravens play the Browns. And the way we’d give each other – and our respective teams – pure hell for the duration of the game. And the often-rum/vodka induced “Who can hit harder” shenanigans that often accompanied those meet-ups.  I miss those times. And, I miss my friend.

It also reminded me of Jessica, whose 40th birthday would have been a few weeks ago.

I had been listening to Bill Withers before we started talking and had let it continue to play in the background. A few minutes into our conversation, Grandma’s Hands came on. That song always reminds me of my paternal grandmother and my maternal great-grandmother.

My great-grandmother died while I was in high-school, long before there were “blogs.” My grandmother died eleven years ago; given the nature of my conversation with Dana, I was reminded of this post I wrote when I learned she passed and this, which I drew for my father a few years ago:

I’d like to thank Dana for the opportunity to remember these people and for good reasons to smile.


Team DiVa Tuesday Returns!

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Team DiVa Tuesday Returns!

Tuesday – 23 August 2014
Not only is today Team DiVa Tuesday,  it is the first day of Autumn, as well.

Last night, we stopped by Sara’s parents’ place for a visit. While there, the girls decided that they wanted to wear some of their Papi and Gumbi’s hats. I managed to capture this picture:

Team DiVa in Hats!

Team DiVa in Hats!

Over the years, I’ve heard people mention how adept kids are at picking up habits and phrases from their parents. Our girls are no exception to this, it would seem.

Apparently, when I encounter a facepalm-worthy situation around the girls, I often say: “Oh, God…

I can’t remember what situation prompted it on Sunday, but Diana said it on the way back from breakfast. I think that Sara and I laughed for a good mile-and-a-half before either of us was composed enough to talk about it. Even then, we still cracked up while discussing it.

Sara related this to me when I got home from work last night:

She picked the ladies up from preschool. Typically, we’ll give them a small pre-dinner snack, because they’re “so hungry…” Yesterday’s snack was a bowl of cashews and peanuts. Through some unknown-to-me process, Vanessa managed to spill all of her nuts on the floor, prompting a transformation from Team DiVa Cutie into… Baby Meltdown!!!

Diana, hearing the commotion, ran into the kitchen to see what was going on. When she got there, she looked at the floor, saw the mess, and said, “Oh, God…

Yep. My kid.  (I wish I had been there to witness it.)

Hello, Monday.

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Hello, Monday.

Monday – 22 September 2014
This past weekend was rather good.

I went into Friday thinking “Friday!” I came out of Friday “Blah.” We had a situation at work that lasted all day, meaning that I wasn’t really able to take care of any of the things that I had planned to tackle. By the time I got home, all I wanted to do was call it a day. Sara, the girls and I went out for dinner. By the time we got home and got the girls ready for bed, I was ready to decompress… but didn’t know what I wanted to do. Sara! to the rescue: She brought me a glass of Maker’s Mark, a bag of Doritos and suggested that I vent some frustration in Titanfall.

Best. Wife. Ever.

Knowing that I had a fairly atrocious night’s sleep, Sara let me sleep in on Saturday morning. When I got up, Team DiVa and I went downstairs to watch a couple episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and the second half of The LEGO Movie. After lunch, the girls went down for naps. I probably should have, as well. But, I didn’t. I did mow the lawn, though, so I’ll count that as a “win.” Saturday afternoon, we had a few friends over for a “Fall Cookie Extravaganza,” as Sara called it. It was nice to be able to hang out and just enjoy the company of friends… and cookies. The girls turned into quite the little hostesses, as well: They would ask everyone who showed up what drinks they want and would pour a small – VERY small – drink for them. (I really think that it was more a matter of them liking to use the lemonade and water dispensers.) We had dinner and then we watched a couple of episodes of Doctor Who – one with Twelve, one with Ten.

Sunday morning, we got up and got ready to go out for breakfast. Instead of heading to Millcreek Cafe, as is our usual Sunday morning routine, we drove up to Layton to meet our favorite Treasure Valley Rollergirl, Mia Wallups (a.k.a. Jen)! We surprised her by inviting Dave, Angy and Gala, as well. At Sara’s suggestion, we ate at Sill’s Cafe. And it was worth the drive.

Picture - (c) http://everydave.com

Angy and Jen (Picture courtesy of http://everydave.com)

I tried a scone (which was, literally, as big as my head!) and biscuits and gravy, which were fantastic. I’m not sure exactly what everyone else had, but the consensus was that everyone’s meals were good. It was also nice to catch up with Jen; life’s been busy for both of us and we’d kind of lost track of each other in the process.

We came back home, got the girls a light lunch, and then put them down for naps. Once they were safely asleep, I headed downstairs to catch what was left of the second half of the Ravens-Browns game. I’d been tracking the game’s progress and it had been a back-and-forth battle. But, in the end…


Justin Tucker nailed an at-the-buzzer field goal to put the Ravens at 2-1 on the season.

After the game, I went to the Big Shiny Robot & Bohemian Brewery’s Nerd Swap Meet. I came home with a couple of finds:

When I got home, the girls wanted me to go for a ride in their “rocket ship.” I love their imaginations. I’m going to have to find them either astronaut costumes or, at least, a couple of astronaut helmets. Sara reminded me that we’d promised them a trip to “the Slurpee store,” so we returned to Earth and headed to the local 7-Eleven. Then, back home for dinner, kids’ showers, a show (and a few Schoolhouse Rock! videos) before putting the ladies down for the night.

We wound up the night with glasses of wine and The Strain.

All-in-all, a good weekend.

Stray Toasters

  • Sunday would have been my friend, Jess’, 40th birthday.
  • While watching the score of the Ravens’ game, I thought about how much I would have enjoyed watching the game with Brad and our late friend Dave, a Browns fan.
  • I picked up Destiny last week. I have yet to play it, as I discovered that I need to get a new hard drive for my Xbox.
  • I’m still forming an opinion about the new Doctor. But, at this point, I’m liking him.

That’s good for now.


How I Spent My Summer Vacation

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How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Sunday – 14 September 2014
For the past week, I’ve been on vacation. It’s been pretty amazing.

Last weekend, Salt Lake Comic Con was in town. I went (of course), as did Sara and Team DiVa. I think that the girls’ highlight moment can be summed up here:


They were pretty ecstatic to see Wonder Woman. I thought that Diana was going to try and knock people over to get to her. Unfortunately, by the time I finally got this picture, they were starting to run out of people juice. Click here to see more pictures of the outing.

Sunday afternoon, we packed up and headed to Redfish Lake for a long-anticipated family vacation. As Sunday and Monday were the girls’ birthdays, we had a small to-do for that:


We spent three-and-a-half days at the lake; it was a nice change of pace and it was a lot of fun to see the girls interacting with a new environment. There was a bit of a love/hate relationship with the lake: Temps were mostly in the 60s and 70s, so the lake was… brisk, to say the least. But, the girls had fun wading in the water and trying to catch minnows:


Sara! also introduced them to fishing. With hooks and bait and the whole nine yards. The fish weren’t biting, but they still liked it. I even managed to sneak in a bike ride while we were there. Click here for more pictures of our time in Central Idaho.

We came back to Salt Lake City to prepare for the last hurrah of the weekend: Team DiVa’s third birthday party (yes, that’s a picture link):


Yes, the girls are in their Comic Con costumes – it was a superhero-themed party. We invited some of the girls’ friends from daycare and a few other kids they know. The birthday party was a big hit. My mother, sister, niece and uncle flew in for the weekend to help celebrate. After the party – and a couple of much-needed naps for the girls – we had a family dinner in the back yard. (I think we’ve used the yard more in the past two months than we have in the past two years. Go figure.)


This morning, we saw Mom, Kris and Kennadi off at the airport.


My uncle had a early flight, so we said our goodbyes to him last night. It was nice having them here for a few days, as we haven’t seen them since last summer.

After that, we headed to breakfast at Millcreek Cafe. From there, we stopped to pick up a copy of Cinderella for a family movie morning. The movie went over with a mixed reaction, but the girls watched the whole thing. And from there, it was lunch and nap time.

Tomorrow, the working world awaits. But that’s tomorrow. For today, I still have a few hours to spend with Sara! and the girls. And there are Slurpees in our future.

And that’s just fine with me.


September 11th, 2014

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September 11th, 2014

Thursday – 11 September 2014
It’s been a busy day, but I wanted to try and get something up before the day was out. (Hey, I’m on Mountain Time. I still have almost two hours!)

It has been thirteen years since the terrorist attacks in New York, NY and Washington, D.C.

I hope that people took time to remember those who died, both in the attack and those who gave their lives trying to rescue/save those in the affected areas.

Today, Joe – a friend and a former New York native  – posted a few pictures of the World Trade Center, including a couple of him at the WTC. He also took this picture of me, atop 2 WTC (the South Tower):

Even after all this time, it’s still a little odd to see this picture, remember visiting the towers, thinking about the 1993 attempt to fell them and realizing how it felt to see where they were intended to fall… while standing inside and atop 2 WTC…

…and to know that they are not there any longer.

Again, for my thoughts on the attacks and the aftermath, refer to these posts.

Remeber the past.
Cherish the present
Look with hope to the future.