Phamily Foto Phriday 7-31-15

Happy birthday to me! This post isn’t about me though.

August and Déla got new bikes. Here they are trying them out.

july 31 2015 01Sometime over the last week Ciárán’s tube and connector toy got broken out. Things were built. Some quite large.

Tuesday August got to ride on a Navy ship as it maneuvered from Everett to Seattle for Seafair. I had never heard of this type of thing being available for civilians to participate in.

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The following day August went on a tour with some of his Boy Scout troop members on a tour of the Federal Court House here in Seattle. This included checking out stuff with the U.S. Marshall Service and even sitting in a judges seat.

This morning we played a couple of games during breakfast.

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Cub Scout Day Camp 2015

This year it was Ciárán’s turn to attend Cub Scout Day Camp. With August already having crossed over into Boy Scouts he couldn’t participate – he will be participating in his own adventures. Also this year is the first time I helped out.

2015 cub day camp 01After registering and checking in the activity was within our group to make name tags and come up with a den cheer. There were 15 boys in our den, 3 Boy Scout leaders and 3 adults there to supervise and support (my role). Our den cheer? “Hail Hydrate!” It took us a day to figure it out. Whenever anybody said the word “hydrate” we would respond loudly “Hail Hydrate!”

2015 cub day camp 02The first round of morning announcements is when the idea struck, but it wasn’t until the second day of camp that we truly started to accept our den cheer completely. By Friday the camp’s chief of staff would pause whenever he was reminding people to drink plenty of water so we could effectively respond with our den cheer.

Our first activity of the first day was crafts. This day it would be tile making. Well, more like tile decorating. Then it was on to archery, an activity they would get to do every day.

Before you can do any archery there are rules and procedures to be gone over. Listen to and obey all instructions from the range master.

Lore was another station, and this time it would focus on knots. Then on the to BB gun range.

Finally it was Field Sports, which is Bocce Ball. This game was something I was interested in but it always looked a bit more complicated than it actually is.

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The second day started out a little damp, but not by much. Our first station was crafts and this day we made catapults. These were much sturdier than the ones you might make at Cub Scout Winter Camp. It took a lot of preparation work for these to be ready for cub scouts to finish in 45 minutes.

2015 cub day camp 12The lore station was a tale of King Arthur with an emphasis on Sir Gowain. The theme of this year’s Cub Scout Day Camp was Cubs In Shining Armor, so much of the program was around that theme. Of course some stuff was not (like BB guns) but in general the theme was utilized to good effect.

The cooking station this day was a sort of apple turnover desert type edible. Most of the kids liked it, then on to pelele, where they needed to assemble a person using a swim noodle and some bits of clothing to lift up on a blanket.

And yes, archery and BB guns were to be had.

Day three started off with BB guns. Then boffing sticks were made at the craft station which we were to use the final day. Then field sports was soccer.

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And again we did some archery. Ciaran was definitely getting better, even by shooting only a few arrows every day.

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One of the more interesting stations of the week was the lore station on the third day. It was centered around music. The kids got a great demonstration of medieval music and even got to get their hands on some reproductions, even if just for a moment.

What made this such a fantastic part of the camp was not just getting to hear a wide variety of medieval instruments, but some of the types of songs one might hear from that time. The kids even got in on the act with “Hot Cross Buns” (which requires only three notes). At lunch the musicians performed even more than they did during their station.

The cooking station was “hedgehogs” (a pile of meat with seeds in the back sticking up) and BB guns. The next morning, the final day of camp, started out with crafts working on a board game – Fox And Geese. Then on to archery.

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After lore, which was about the knight’s code, which there really wasn’t one, but what we regard as one and is very similar to the goals of Boy/Cub Scouts, it was on to jousting.

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The kids used their boffing sticks from the previous day and stood on balance boards and tried to either knock the crest off of the opponent’s helmet or not get knocked off the board. This was a major hit and an absolute highlight of camp. There was a presentation as well from the Society For Creative Anachronisms similar to the previous day’s musical one.

What was neat about this year as well was August came and helped out on Thursday and Friday afternoons. Since he is now a Boy Scout he is ineligible to participate as a Cub Scout, but he could be one of the Den Chiefs, the Boy Scout leaders that are helping the participants. I think Ciaran got a bit of a kick having his older brother there to help.

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It was great to see what all goes into making this annual camp happen. No, I didn’t see all the preparation and planning over the previous months to get the camp pulled off, but being there every day certainly was an eye opener. While August wasn’t able to go every year as a Cub Scout I am hoping to be able to send Ciárán every year. We need to check when it will be happening earlier rather than later. Ciárán got a lot out of it, and so did I.





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July 2015 Geek Fuel Box

Another month and another Geek Fuel unveiling. This month was a bit of a mixed bag (yes, I know it is poor metaphor usage) but the things August liked he liked a lot.

Starting off with a post for a comic Aliens vs. Vampirella which misses the mark in this household.


The other “whiff” was the Ant-Man “mini pint” (a shot glass).


A Serenity/Firefly pin which went over August’s head but I snatched up.



The first sort of “hit” was the game – Burnstar which came packed with some sort of candy.





Then there was the comic. The Civil Wars variant cover is poster quality. Actually, had that been the poster, this would have been a MUCH better box. The certificate of authenticity is nice for the collector. Actually, I’d love to see the cover turned into a poster.









Finally there was the shirt. This made a lot more sense when August caught the theme and finds it to be infinitely amusing. He only wishes there was another geek icon instead of Harley Quinn. Perhaps Uhura? Having two from the Batman pantheon weighs it a bit unfavorably, even if Link is in the lead.


Here is the video of August unboxing the… box.


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Music Monday: Taylor Swift

Over the years her songs would come on the radio or her videos would cross my view and I found them amusing and enjoyable enough. I never dismissed them, but I also didn’t give them much weight.

taylor swift fearlessWhen my daughter started paying attention to Taylor Swift a couple of years ago I paid more attention to the lyrics. Listening to the songs I had heard before, but more intently, I began to like them even more.

Some of these songs she wrote when she was a teenager. There seems to be a bit more depth and insight to some of these songs than you would expect from somebody of that age. My respect for Taylor Swift increased.

taylor swift redThe more I listened the more I liked. And her personal life kept getting played out in the media and her responses weren’t the typical trashy things you might expect from a young woman in her position. She wanted to keep her private life as private as she could but she understands that she is in the limelight and that comes as a cost. She is trying to balance the two the best she can.

And she is a smart business woman. The more I read about her the more I respect her.

By staying true to herself, making the music she wants, by living her life the way she wants but without being trashy about it, she has become a positive role model for girls. My daughter is one of them.

She is able to poke fun at herself, taking her own celebrity with a grain of salt but still staying on her own message, and without coming across as a having a superior attitude. Taylor Swift has shown herself to be a rare performer that finds herself in a position of power and is using it not just for her own self-interest.

You may not like her music, but as a person, it is hard to fault her for anything other than being herself, which is a positive message that many young girls need to hear. Many of her songs are love songs, but they are also about finding inner strength, a rarity these days. And I have no problem with my daughter being a fan of Taylor Swift’s music.

taylor swift 1989For this reason I am excited to be taking my daughter to her first “grown up” concert. She has seen live music before, but in a festival setting. This will be very different. For her birthday I am taking her to see Taylor Swift in just under 2 weeks here in Seattle. She doesn’t know and it is going to be a complete surprise.

Being able to see Taylor Swift through my daughter’s eyes has made me a fan, rather than just somebody who found some of her songs amusing. I am glad I am going to have the opportunity to take her to her first concert, and have it be somebody who will leave a lasting and positive impression on her.

I am a 47 year old man and I like Taylor Swift.

And I am not ashamed to admit this.

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Phamily Foto Phriday 7-25-15

Another week and another entry that is coming in a little late. This time by only one day. Last week was all about Ciárán ‘s birthday, and this week was (almost) all about him being at Cub Scout day camp which I volunteered at.

The week started out hot, so we got Slurpees. Ciárán used one of his birthday presents to cool off his head while drinking it.

july 25 2015 01After dinner the kids had ice cream and ran through the sprinkler.

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Here is a picture of Ciárán on the last day of camp shooting a bow and arrow. Every day the kids got to practice this and you could see them getting better each day. I will post more about this camp in a couple of days.

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The other major thing this week was the Greenwood Seafair Parade. It’s not often the kids get to stand in the middle of the street.

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And yes, Déla danced in the parade.

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Thursday August came up to help with Cub Scout camp after his coding camp in the morning. Before he came Laura texted me a picture of Xavier with the caption:

Punk Hulk!

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When she got home she texted me another picture with the caption:

Being a rebel is exhausting.

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Music Monday: Queen

I was always aware of Queen, I imagine, in the background of my life, but it was 1980’s “Another One Bites The Dust” that brought the band to the forefront of my attention.

Later that year the Flash Gordon movie came out. I was a fan of Flash Gordon, having watched the serials, so this big screen version was eagerly anticipated. What I wasn’t prepared for was how excellent the soundtrack would be.

Well, that was it. I was a fan of the band. I would pay more attention when their songs came on the radio. I’d hear a song and realize that it was Queen that I had been hearing all these years and enjoying, just not realizing it.

Over the ensuing years I would pay more attention to the singles the band put out. It wasn’t until a few years later that I would purchase my first Queen albums (News Of The World and A Night At The Opera) but I would certainly count myself as a fan. So much so that half the reason for wanting to see Highlander when it was released in theaters was because Queen did the soundtrack.

While they continued to make music their output wasn’t as popular after this point. Part of this was due to a change in record company and the promotion just wasn’t there.

Over the years as I had not only listed to a lot of Queen, but watched a few concert videos. Never having had the opportunity to see the band live, these concert videos were the next best thing for me. Then there was their appearance at Live Aid. Apparently the mid-80s were a high point for Queen.

Somehow this is a band I have a very spotty collection of. There are albums I have on vinyl, cassette and CD, but even accounting for each format I only have maybe half the band’s catalog. I need to rectify this.




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Phamily Foto Phriday 7-19-15

Yes, I know this is actually Sunday, but there wasn’t a heck of a lot going on last week until Friday. And then things just got… busy.

Ciárán celebrated turning 8 on Tuesday.

Friday morning we had a family photo shoot over at Manguson Park.

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Friday afternoon Ciárán had a birthday party, which is a special occasion not just for it being a party but because we have been out of town the last couple of years on his birthday (first Ireland then Boston – a series of blog posts I never wrote).

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0621151839bWhile we were on vacation in Oregon Ciárán came downstairs one morning. It was early enough that people weren’t really up yet for the day.

“Is Xavier down here?”

“No, he isn’t. Why?”

“He’s not in his bed. I thought he was kidnapped.”



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Back In The Darkened Theater

I had previously blogged about Ciárán’s reluctance to go back to a movie theater after having a horrible experience back in 2011. A year and a half ago he tried to overcome his fear and it did not go well. Since then more movies have come and gone and Ciárán has not shown any interest in going to see a movie in the movie theater.

Until this past weekend.

minions movie poster 2Minions.

Ciárán has always been enamored with the little yellow creatures from the Despicable Me films. Of all the children he took to imitating them the most. After Despicable Me 2 (which he did not see in a movie theater, than you very much) he would not only imitate the minions, but he could during his impression seamlessly go back and forth to the mutated purple minion from he movie. His favorite fruit is banana because it is the minion’s favorite.

With the Minions movie released theatrically he decided he wanted to try once more to go to a movie theater. Well, he was asked if he wanted to try again and he thought about it. If he were to go see the movie in the theater there would be conditions. The first would be we would have to sit in the back row. Fine. We could do that. His second condition? We would have to get popcorn. Okay. His third? Nope, that was it.

August was at a sleepover so it was myself, Déla (age 9) Ciárán (turning 8 today as I type this) and Xavier (age 5). And Ciárán put on his bravest face. Déla had been through this before a year and a half ago, so she knew what to expect if things went poorly. My worry was with Xavier, because at his age he can not be expected to reason about being afraid of something if you are excited about it.

On the way to the theater as we were driving I kept checking in with Ciárán about how he was doing. On the way in I checked with him. We arrived early for a couple of reasons, the first was to make sure we could get tickets and seats where Ciárán wanted. The second was to give him time to acclimate to his surroundings and be less freaked out when the film began. Thirdly, if he did freak out and we had to leave, I wanted to have enough time to get a refund, take him home and come back with Xavier and Déla to the next showing.

Entering the theater 20 minutes before the film was scheduled to begin Ciárán did well. There was something already being shown on the screen (some sort of pre-movie commercial infotainment) so the theater was already dark and the screen was active. And he didn’t freak out. He walked in and was looking for a seat in the back row. Somehow the theater was already over half full, but thankfully there were four seats in the back row.

With so much time before the movie I was a little worried about having too much time for him to back out of seeing the film, but I also was happy to provide him with enough time to get acclimated. It was a little annoying having him ask every other minute when we were going to get popcorn. My response was “Do you want popcorn with the movie or before the movie?”

minion bananaI timed the trip to the restroom and getting popcorn for just as the generic theater adverts began (the silence your cell phones and go get a treat in the lobby type of things). Taking him out of the theater was a risky move, because that allowed for him to not want to go back in. Once in it might have been easier to keep him in, but he did want to get popcorn. So we got popcorn and sodas and got back in our seats rather easily. I think the time spent before in the theater getting him acclimated helped.

After the trailers, none of which were inappropriate or scary, the film began.

Ciárán grabbed my arm as the movie itself began, but the opening shot of the Universal logo started to scroll and the minions were singing the Universal leitmotif, Ciárán unclenched my arm and started to giggle then settled into his seat. The minions had done it. They had helped Ciárán become comfortable in a setting of which he had for years been afraid. For the rest of the movie I checked in with him periodically to gauge how he was doing and each time he replied positively.

After the movie Ciárán said he was glad to have gone. I asked if he might be willing to to to another film in the movie theater at some point in the future and he replied that he might. This is a major victory. Not only did he make it into the theater, he sat for the whole feature. To top it all off he is open to the possibility of doing it again.

Not just a win, but a big win. And I am proud of Ciárán for trying to overcome his fear in the first place, let alone accomplishing the task.

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Phamily Foto Phriday 7-10-15

Another large batch of pictures to go over for the last week. At the beginning of this period, Friday of last week, the weather was still ridiculously hot. Here is Xavier and Dela enjoying what was at this point a daily Slurpee run.

july 10 2015 01August, Ciaran and myself celebrated our nation’s indipendance by backstabbing each other in a game of Epic Munchkin.

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Dela celebrated by wearing a bit of red, white & blue.

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The next day…. oh, wait, let’s have a cuteness break…

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As I was saying before being so cutely interrupted, the next day the heat just wasn’t relenting. Time to run through the sprinklers.

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The next day, Monday, was the start of day camps for the kids. It was crazy the first couple of days with Laura still gone for a funeral (and no, do not expect a blog post about it). We had to get up (ridiculously) early to get August to his bus pick up for camp then I had to get the others to their different camps. Pick up was staggered, so that went well, but the first day was so long and tough on Xavier he fell asleep in the car.

Here is Dela during her second of two different camps this week – Irish Dance.

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Laura did finally return home of course and things managed to sort of settle into a somewhat regular, if hectic, routine. Thursday after picking August up from his camp we went to the Ballard Locks for a picnic dinner.

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I was surprised there weren’t more people there. Granted, it was Thursday, but after 6?

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And there were fish in the fish ladder this time.

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Finally here is Dela this morning presenting one of the projects she worked on at her other camp this week – Coding For Kids.

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