Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

Team DiVa Tuesday – 30 April 2013

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Tuesday – 30 April 2013
It’s been a good week with Team DiVa. Here’s just a little bit of proof:

Diana (l) and Vanessa, in the sand pit at Thanksgiving Point's Children's Discovery Garden

Diana (l) and Vanessa, in the sand pit at Thanksgiving Point’s Children’s Discovery Garden

Wait... you mean that we can bang on these? As loudly as we want?!

Wait… you mean that we can bang on these? As loudly as we want?!

Rhyme or reason?

At this point, there was still rhyme and a bit of reason to the label placement. A few minutes later? Not so much.


“You… you’ve got me? Who’s got YOU!?!”

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"You... you've got me? Who's got YOU!?!"

25 April 2013
It’s another sunny – and moderately warm – NBN Thursday in the valley.

Last night, was not only Movie Date Night, but it was Sara!’s turn to pick a movie. The only things that she would say about the night’s fare was that it required – REQUIRED – popcorn and that it was “the greatest movie ever made.” I was intrigued by these comments, to say the least.

After a messy dinner  (Two toddlers with Greek food… and rice. Do the math.) and some clean-up, it was time for the movie. And I was, to say the least, surprised by her choice:

That’s right: Superman. My all-time favorite movie.

Best. Wife. Ever.

So we sat on the couch, ate popcorn, and watched Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Margot Kidder and company bring a small slice of the DC Universe to life. And, once again, I was transported to a happy place in my childhood. I  was also able to pick out a few things that I’d never paid attention or associated with the movie before:

  1. Faster than a speeding bullet: Clark snatches the bullet out of mid-air during the mugging.
  2. More powerful than a locomotive: This one comes up twice:
    1. Teenaged Clark is races the train through rural Kansas
    2. Superman subs in for a missing rail as an Amtrak train approaches
  3. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound: This one’s a given – he flies throughout the second half of the movie.
  4. Who can change the course of mighty rivers: Not so much changing the course of a river, but he creates a makeshift dam to stop a river from destroying a town
  5. Bend steel in his bare hands: Again, another two-fer:
    1. He tears the door to Lex Luthor’s lair off it’s hinges
    2. He tears off the door to Lois’ rental car after the California earthquake

At the end of the movie, Sara! admitted: “You know, I hadn’t thought about it the last time we watched it, but that was actually a pretty good movie.” (I simply nodded and smiled at this. Hey, I’m biased… not stupid.) I did have to correct Sara!’s misconception of the “spinning the world in reverse” visual and explain that it wasn’t him turning the world backwards, but that it was simply a representation of him going back in time. (For which there are a great many references in the comics…)

All-in-all, it was a fantastic movie date night.


Stray Toasters


Team DiVa Tuesday – 23 April 2013

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Team DiVa Tuesday - 23 April 2013

Tuesday – 23 April 2013
Yes, it’s Tuesday. Barely, but I still have roughly… thirty ten minutes left. So with that in mind, here are the goods:

And, we’re leading off with video:

And another Team DiVa selfie, taken with my phone:

Vanesssa (l), Diana

Vanesssa (l), Diana

And, a scene that just made me laugh: Vanessa, deciding that my Gatorade made a rather handy chair:




New week. New post.

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New week. New post.

Monday – 22 April 2013 It’s been a bit and I have some time (at least I did last night), so I figured that I should get in a new post. Today is Earth Day. Last week, Sara! and I finally got around to watching Django Unchained.


It was a very Tarantino take on a “historical movie” in the same way that Inglorious Basterds was a “historical movie.” (With this in mind, I’m not really sure what everyone’s beef with it was. It’s not Roots, but it’s not trying to be Roots, either.) I found it to be a fun – and funny – movie. It entertained. It told a story. And it didn’t take itself overly seriously in doing so. cowboy-hatcowboy-hatcowboy-hatcowboy-hatcowboy-hatcowboy-hatcowboy-hatcowboy-hat This weekend was a good one. Saturday morning, Sara!, Team DiVa and I had breakfast with our friend Steve, who was in town with the touring production of West Side Story. We went to The Other Place, not just because it’s a good place for breakfast – and was close both to where Steve was staying and the theatre – but also because it’s a kid-friendly place. As an added bonus, I was able to scheme with our friend, Josh, to get him (and his wife, Aly and their very cute five-month-old daughter) to surprise Sara and Steve. Sara suspected that something was afoot, but Steve was surprised. I’ll still take that as a “Win.” After breakfast, we came back home and I played with Team DiVa for a bit before heading out for a ‘Clix event: Month Five of the WizKids’ “No Man’s Land” event. It was a sealed booster draft – buy two booster packs and build a team – and my packs were not really full of “awesome.” But, I built a team and I played. I wound up going 1-4, but since I normally don’t get to play (and I already had the prize support for the event), I was just there to have fun. And I did. After the game and dinner, Sara! went to see West Side Story; I stayed home with Team DiVa. We watched some Team Umizoomi. We read Moo, Baa, La La La and Barnyard Dance. We put money in their banks. We got them ready for bed. All things considered, they took great mercy on me. After post-bedtime cleaning, I played a bit of DC Universe Online and then watched my first episode of David Tennant’s Doctor Who. I liked it. I look forward to seeing more of his Doctor. Sunday was a fairly low-key day. Breakfast. Shopping. Hanging out at home. I also mowed the lawn for the first time this season. Hell, the first time this year. Sara’s parent’s came over for dinner. Sara! and I also watched Disney’s Tarzan; I haven’t seen it in years, but Sara! had never seen it. It’s not necessarily the best movie ever, but I enjoy it. I also watched my second Tennant Who episode. Stray Toasters


“…one day, they will join you in the sun.”

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"...one day, they will join you in the sun."

Wednesday – 17 April 2013
Movie Date Night.
NBN Thursday Eve.

Sunday, Sara! suggested that we take Team DiVa to Wheeler Farm to see the animals. The girls had fun looking at and identifying them. After we walked through the “farm” part, we went to the playground area. They even went down the big kids’ slide… on our laps. But that’s not the point. They – and we – had fun.

Speaking of the ladies: The girls’ vocabulary is growing, as well. And they are starting to put two- and three-word phrases together. It’s been neat listening to them express themselves.

Monday, I finally got around to mudding and taping the last two corners of the train room closet. It still needs sanding. And there’s a chance that I’ll have to go over things with a second coat of joint compound before putting on the topping compound, but it’s that much closer to being done.

Stray Toasters


Team DiVa Tuesday – 16 April 2013

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Team DiVa Tuesday - 16 April 2013

Tuesday – 16 April 2013
It’s Tuesday and… well, you know the drill by now.

Diana (l) and Vanessa, playing with the new toy Grandmommy and Papi got them

Diana (l) and Vanessa, playing with the new toy Grandmommy and Papi got them


Vanessa (l) and Diana: Drawing Time

Vanessa (l) and Diana: Drawing Time (…also known as “Crayon Stacking Time”)


Daddy let us have his phone again... that means... PICTURE TIME!!!

Daddy let us have his phone again… that means… PICTURE TIME!!!

I am afraid to count the number of “selfies” the girls have taken with my phone and iPad.  I think that they got 50+ in on  Sunday morning before breakfast.

And that, as they say, is that.


At week’s end…

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Friday – 12 April 2013
It’s the end of the week. Hallelujah.

Earlier this week, I noted that my father had a heart attack. I am happy to report that he is doing much better. He was moved from ICU to a standard room Thursday evening; also, the overall prognosis for his recovery is positive. Thank you to all who offered their well wishes and prayers.

Wednesday, Sara and I didn’t do our usual Movie Date Night. Instead, we had Dinner Date Night with Dave and Angy. Sara prepared Moroccan chicken and rice. And for dessert: Chocolate pie. And we may (or may not) have polished off a couple of bottles of wine. It was a lovely evening.

Thursday, we did have Movie Date Night. We watched Hitchcock.


It was surprisingly good. And fun. And witty. Anthony Hopkins made an oddly… delightful… Alfred Hitchcock. Helen Mirren, as his wife Alma, was every bit his match. (Not a big surprise there.) I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that I knew a number of other actors in the film, but didn’t recognize them at all. (Key on this list: Scarlett Johannson.) The movie was set around the filming of Psycho and showed Hitchcock’s interactions, relations and frustrations in accomplishing it. On the whole, it was a good and enjoyable selection.


Stray Toasters

There was going to be more.  But I don’t remember “what” it was. So…


Team DiVa Tuesday – 2013-04-09

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Team DiVa Tuesday - 2013-04-09

Tuesday – 09 April 2013
It’s another Tuesday in the valley.  Which means: “It’s another Tuesday in the valley.”


Weren’t you paying attention the first time?

Here’s your weekly dose of Team DiVa cuteness:


Vanessa has learned to smile – REALLY BIG – whenever a camera comes out. Diana, however, is non-plussed.




Diana: “Oh, come ON, Daddy… aren’t we done yet?!”


“We’re only immortal for a limited time…”

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"We're only immortal for a limited time..."

Monday – 08 April 2013
As if Monday wasn’t… well… “Monday,” I woke to a phone call this morning. It was my sister, Rana, calling.

::: deep breath :::

I’d actually been kind of expecting a call from her over the past couple of days. I wasn’t 100% sure that I’d get one, but I wasn’t looking forward to it, to be honest. She said “Hi” and apologized for possibly waking me and then got on to the part of the call that I wasn’t looking forward to: “I just wanted to let you know that the ambulance is here to take Dad to the hospital.”

Oh, boy…

<< REWIND <<
Turns out that my father had a small heart attack on Thursday — Rana had called me Friday to comment that Dad had been “sick” all day Thursday and the better part of Friday. She even asked if I’d call and see if he’d tell me what was up. I called. We chatted, but he told me that he was feeling fine. He sounded a little off, but I chalked it up to him having been sick.

Dad called me again on Saturday, to ask some questions about some travel plans for this summer. Again, he sounded a little weak, but again, he’d been sick. I didn’t think much of it.

> PLAY >
So, as I mentioned, this morning’s call wasn’t totally unexpected. But, it made for a disconcerting start to the day.

They took my father in for surgery when he got to the hospital. As there was nothing that I could do from this distance, I set about getting ready for the day. I went to work and tried to lose myself in the business of the day. It helped some, but it wasn’t quite enough to quell the worries and questions in the back of my mind.

Over the course of the day, I messaged and talked with Rana a couple more times, and spoke with Adam (my younger brother) as well. Rana confirmed that Dad did, in fact, have a minor heart attack on Thursday. The doctor said that Dad didn’t wait “too late” to get attention, but would have been better off going in Thursday or even on Friday.

Needless to say, my mood today has pretty much run the gamut of emotions. There’s a line from a song I like, Dreamline, that played through my head more than once today:


“We’re only immortal for a limited time.” It’s true. But there comes a time when mortality becomes an all too-present fact of life. Today was one of those days when I thought about it. Mine. My parents’. Even my kids’. I never got to meet two of my grandparents. I lost my other grandparents, including one great grandparent, by the time I was seventeen. I won’t lie: I was not ready to have to deal with losing a parent. I know it happens. I know that it’s a part of life. And it’s something that almost everyone has to face.  Just. Not. Today. Please.

Late this afternoon, I was able to get my father on the phone. Despite having been through surgery earlier in the morning, he sounded much more like himself. (Possibly the best thing I heard today.) He related what happened over the course of the day: They inserted a couple of catheters and stints; turned out that they didn’t need the second catheter, so they removed it. There was some blockage, but they were able to clear it. And, it does not appear to have been any major damage done to his heart. (I think that this was the second best news that I heard today.) They’re keeping him for a few days’ observation. I’ll talk with Rana and/or Dad tomorrow to find out how he’s progressing.

There were a small number of people I talked with and confided in about the morning’s events. To all of them, I’d like to say a very heartfelt “Thank you” for your support and understanding.

It’s been a long day.
It’s also taken me until now to figure out how to get this all off my chest.
But, at least I can rest a little easier tonight.

Stray Toasters

And I think that’s just about everything and anything that I could have to say, save three things:

  • Be good to those you love.
  • Be good to each other.
  • Be good to yourselves.



Team DiVa Tuesday – 02 April 2013

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Team DiVa Tuesday - 02 April 2013

Tuesday – 02 April 2013
Here we are again. Lets get straight to the TDVT pictures…

Vanessa (l) and Diana, putting some change in their banks...

Vanessa (l) and Diana, putting some change in their banks…

This has pretty much become a pre-bedtime tradition with Team DiVa. It’s gotten to the point where – unless they are playing down in the family room before bed – they will ask for their bears and “muh-NEE” (or “muh-MEE,” as Diana sometimes calls it). Loudly. And emphatically.


Diana (l) and Vanessa


“Oh, hey… I found this LEGO magnet on the floor. Can I keep it?”


“I don’t have time for pictures, Daddy!  I’m playing with LEGO magnets!!!”