Thursday, October 29, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Zoo! Membership Has Its Benefits.

We are now officially zoo members.  It has been so long since either of us have been to the zoo, and I believe the last few times, it was for zoo lights when all the animals were sleeping.  Well, okay, not the nocturnal ones.  Or the party animals.  But I digress, we haven't been to the zoo to see the animals in possibly 10 years. 

This was also Nathan's first time to the zoo and we were so excited to take him.  On top of that, his buddy, Brady, and his parents We-Lisa and Shaun also joined us.  They are actually Platinum members, having been members for decades, so we let them show us the ropes, lest we fall in and get stomped by an elephant.

Nathan and Mommy

If you look closely you can actually see a monkey.  I know it's hard with all of the green around, but just to the right of the hot lady you can see the cutest little monkey face peering out.


Actually, there is a monkey in this picture.  No, really, there is.  And I don't mean Nathan.  In the cage just to the right of Nathan's cute little head.  Yes, just past the adorable baby.  Stop looking at the baby.  If you want to see the monkey, you have to stop looking at the teenie, tiny, widdle, cuddly....Sorry about that.  Back to the story.  Ahem.  Where was I?  Oh yes, the monkey.  I didn't have time to read the info, so it may not actually be a "monkey," but it is in the monkey family.  Maybe a distant cousin.  Twice removed.  Likely tossed out by security for an "item" throwing incident.

"Not my toes!"

Here I am feeding Nathan to the giant tortoises.  Actually, if the fence wasn't there Laura would have been eaten by not one, but two, giant tortoises because, A) she's slow (I keed, I keed), and B) despite their size, she didn't see them.  Nature might be on to something with this whole camouflage thing.

Fun at the zoo

And finally, the giraffes.  Nathan has been waiting his whole life for this.  He has a little giraffe toy, Sophie, that he loves and he was so excited to see a real life Sophie.  Though, the real ones don't squeak when you squeeze them.  Well, actually, I've never squeezed a real giraffe, so maybe they do squeak.

And that was our first family zoo trip.  We only saw a fraction of what the zoo has to offer.  We didn't even make it to the lions and tigers and (we did see a bear, at least part of one - he was sleeping).  Even outside of all of the animals, there are tons of other activities and events to enjoy.  Good thing we have a membership now, especially since admission runs $16 per person.  As long as we go more than 2 times, we will pay for the annual membership cost and since many of our friends have memberships, I'm sure we'll be back monthly, if not more.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Blog Re-design In Process

Well after about a year, I've decided that I should finally learn some more about html and css to do a little re-design of the blog - leave the default layout nest and start creating my own. Let me know your thoughts or suggestions.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Review # 6: The Beatles - Rubber Soul

Uh, oh. Looks like they turned to drugs. Just looking at the cover you can tell they're high. Hopefully this translates into good music, because looking back, they seem to be hit or miss (though missing mainly because of cover songs and lame ablum filler).

  1. Drive My Car - Wow, you must really like her Paul. She can drive your car? Actually, that's not what the song is really about, but not a bad way to start the album.

  2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) - I love everything about this song: the melody, the mysterious lyrics, the Law & Order twist at the end, the sitar played by George who was influenced by Ravi Shankar, father of Norah Jones, who was in "My Blueberry Nights" with Jude Law, who was in the "Road To Perdition" with Tom Hanks, who was in Apollo 11 with...Kevin Bacon.

  3. You Won't See Me - The longest song of the Beatles career thus far and it feels like it.

  4. Nowhere Man - A pretty good song that sounds like it was influenced while under the influence of the ganja. Also, Nowhere Man could be a pot-head getting lectured about the path he's taken - somewhat ironic considering their new hobby.

  5. Think For Yourself - As stipulated in his contract, Georgie gets his very own song that he can show his mother and impress the ladies. Though, I'm pretty sure only his mother like this one.

  6. The Word - Before the bird was the word, the word was the word. Or something.

  7. Michelle - A good song with some dumb lyrics, but somehow it works (and somehow won a Grammy for Song of the Year). On a side note, Slick Rick (the rapper) mis-interprets the French lyrics "sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble" as "Some dumb monkey bumped his head on." I know, a Grammy, WTF?

  8. What Goes On - While everyone is high, Ringo, joking around, hits record and starts singing a song that didn't make the first album...this piece of crap. Maybe it's funny if you listen to it while your high. Speaking of which...

  9. Girl - A good song, but it sounds like they are taking a hit of weed everytime the title is mentioned. An early form of a drinking game, perhaps, but with weed, because The Beatles were gangsta, bitch!

  10. I'm Looking Through You - Well after that much weed, I might be looking through you too. Actually this song is about Paul's girlfriend of 5 years. This is almost as bad as breaking up by email. The songs not that bad though.

  11. In My Life - In a moment of clarity, John writes this great song.

  12. Wait - Don't tell me what to do.

  13. If I Needed Someone - After finding out the Ringo recorded another song, George pulls out his contract and demands another song. This is the result of that little tantrum. The world would be a better place without that contract.

  14. Run For Your Life - John gets high and goes psycho: "I'd rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man." All while a little Eminem listens intently at home.

Well, it turned out that the drugs helped do the trick. They seem more relaxed and free. The good songs are really good and the bad songs, well, they still sort of work in a drug influenced kind of way. All considered, this is a pretty decent album.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Puppy Party

Here are some highlights from the Sonoma's 4th birthday party. Yeah, I know, can you believe she's 4 already?

The first game we played was musical sit (similar to musical chairs, get the picture). The photo is of Sonoma coming in 2nd, mainly because she sits like a girl, taking her sweet time, finding the right spot, careful not to get her fur dirty. Otis on the other hand (the lab on the right, who won) was more like, sit-boom-okay dad, what's next.

All the doggies lining up for a little race. Sonoma smiling for the camera.

And they're off... Otis won this one too, but gratiously offered his prize to the runner up. Man, he's good.

Happy Birthday to Sonoma! Yes, we're those kind of parents. Laura baked a cake for her baby-puppy with all the things a little puppy likes, including sprinkles of bacon on top.

Thanks to everyone for coming out for Sonoma's 4th birthday party.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Review #5: The Beatles - Help!

The first step to self improvement is admitting you have a problem and need some help. Finally the Beatles reach this tipping point, although being a little self conscience, the decide to mask their cries for help with flag signals. Unfortunately, the photographer thought that H - E - L - P in flag signals wasn't visually appealling so they instead spelled out: N - U - J - V! Apparently they need help in more ways than one. Let's see if they manage to get any.

  1. Help! - I'm assuming this is the first of many pleas for help - and I fear that if they don't get any help they might turn to drugs and begin to resent one another. Oh, and this song is pretty decent.

  2. The Night Before - Keeps the album moving, not bad, but nothing stellar. The lyrics don't seem to make much sense: "when I think of the things we did, it makes me cry" - what the f did you do?

  3. You've Got To Hide Your Love Away - Another of my favorite Beatles songs, this time for sentimental reasons, as I had a crush on my wife when I first heard this song and I had to hide my love away.

  4. I Need You - George gets his first of two songs, this time writing for himself. meh.

  5. Another Girl - Combined with the last song, the ablum is losing steam quickly. Paul seems to be rubbing it in his girlfriends face, maybe the one from track 2, not nice.

  6. You're Going To Lose That Girl - Another dud, that's three in a row. It seems to be a response to the previous track as John threatens to steal one of Paul girls.

  7. Ticket To Ride - A nice song about losing your girl. Given their schedule, I don't see how John has time to stalk and stifle so many women. Trivia Time - according to Wikipedia, the song title's meaning is in dispute, According to wholesome Paul it is supposed to be "Ticket to Ryde" - Ryde being a city in England somewhere, where his lost love is headed to. According to sex-obsessed John, it refers to a prostitute with a doctor's note declaring her free from disease and thus "Ticket to Ride (a prostitute)" - Ride being slang for having sex. The lyrics seem to support Paul. I think John is messing with someone.

  8. Act Naturally - Ringo gets ahold of the mic while everyone is out of the room and presses record...

  9. It's Only Love - In 1980 Lennon said: "I always thought it was a lousy song. The lyrics were abysmal. I always hated that song." I am in 100% agreement.

  10. You Like Me Too Much - George's second song, keeping him one up on Ringo as stipulated in his contract. So if you're keeping score at home: George 2, Ringo 1, Listeners 0. I hope whoever allowed that into the contract was fired.

  11. Tell Me What You See - Nice instrumental, but other than that I don't see too much in this song. Wikipedia, on the other hand, suggests this unmemorable song is pivotal in the growth of the Beatles. Although I could see it growing on me.

  12. I've Just Seen A Face - This sounds like what Simon and Garfunkle would sound like if they did a country song.

  13. Yesterday - A great song, possilbly better known by its original title, "Scrambled Eggs." No seriously. Try singing it for yourself.

  14. Dizzy Miss Lizzy - Aaaaaand were done.

Yes, they need help, and hopefully they find it somewhere before they turn to drugs. Of course after hearing this you may want to take some drugs too. The good songs on here are really good, but the rest simply suck. You'll find what you need on the greatest hits disk that you already picked up instead of album #2. And who knows, that may also save you from experimenting with drugs for first time.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Temecula Trip

We just took Nathan on his first ever trip/vacation and he was amazing throughout the whole weekend. We were a little nervous about how he would take the 6.5 hour drive to Temecula (normally 5-5.5 hours, but we were expecting a few baby stops. No, not small stops, like baby steps, but stops to tend to the baby, you know feeding, diaper changes, that sort of thing). But to our amazement and delight, Nathan was perfect. He sat in his little car seat either sleeping or looking around the whole way. Even when he was a little fussy it was only for a few minutes when we were looking to stop for lunch and he was getting hungry. Even during the wedding he was a calm, happy baby and instead of loud crying at bedtime (which he has been known to do) he simply fell asleep, even with the loud wedding music playing. I don't know what everyone is talking about, this baby thing is cake! (knock on wood and all that stuff so as to not offend the karma guy from high atop the thing)

This was also our first time to Temecula, heading out there for one of my best friend's wedding at Falkner Winery. And since we enjoy wine country, we stayed an extra day to do a little wine touring. But first the rehersal dinner and wedding.

Rehearsal at the winery: Nathan rehearsing his crawling while daddy rehearses walking down an imaginary aisle.

Nathan enjoying the winery

"Fake grass? But it feels so real!"

"ASU!! ASU!!"

So we didn't think Nathan could get any cuter, and then we put him in his little ASU jacket and took turns squeezing him to bits.

Friday night at the wedding:

And then we put him in his little red vest and took turns squeezing him to pieces.

In the hotel room (obvisouly):
Don't you just want to pick him up and squeeze him?

Winery Picnic:

We only visited two wineries on Saturday. Normally (as in the few times we've been to Napa/Sonoma) we hit 4-5 wineries per day, but we figured we would need to cut back to accomodate the teenie guy and stay relaxed. Also, we usually plan a winery picnic during our tour because, well, it's fun, we get hungry, it helps to sober us up, and it refreshes our palate for the next round of tastings. So to continue with our tradition, we picnicked on the picturesque hill atop which sits Cougar Winery. Picturesque, beacause, well I took this picture. A little arid, but still not a bad way to enjoy some grub with the teenie guy. The wines were so-so, but we did pick up a rosé that was surprisingly good.

The other winery we visited was Ponte, which turned out to be better than our first impression. I say that because as we entered it was packed and looked very commercial, which in our experience tends to coincide with a lack of personality and character and when tasting wine, we like a little character. But we bellied up to the bar at the right place because our server was friendly, knowledgeable and engaging. On top of that the wines were pretty good too. We each had 6 tastings and the bartender offered generous pours, which was fine since we had planned to eat an early dinner there anyway.

If you are considering a trip to wine country, Temecula provides a great value as it is a short drive away and offers a variety of unique wines that you will not find anywhere else, mainly because the wineries are fairly small and are not sold anywhere else. So if you've never been I would recommend a visit.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

You Can't Stop Him, You Can Only Hope To Contain Him

"Me and my castle"

So our teenie guy has been mobile for about a month now and he keeps getting better, stronger, faster. We originally set up little speed bumps when he was just rolling around and those seemed to work well - he would just roll and stop. Then he would go the other way. Then, he learned to crawl and he would crawl up to them and contemplate what to do. Sometimes he would manage to figure out how to get past them. Since they were just velcroed to the floor, he sometimes kicked them loose or crawled up to them, grabbed them, and ripped them loose, holding the bumper in the air in celebration before seeing something else, getting distracted and rushing after the new object. Which brings us to now...

"Me in my castle, a.k.a. The Fun Zone"

I want to be over there and nothing will stop me, grrrrr. Except when we accidentally rolled out of control onto the tile and waaaAAAAAHHHHHHHH! That wasn't very fun, but darn it, I still want to go that way. So we had to buy this lovely little baby gate to contain him.

"Hey, that looks interesting!"

And what does he do? He starts to pull himself up!!! Seriously, stick with crawling for a bit. It can't be old yet, you just started. Savor the moment, enjoy it for a while. But no, Nathan wants to stand, so every chance he gets he tries to pull himself up. It's kind of funny too, every time he gets standing he looks around for us and then smiles really big like, "Look at me!!! Look what I can do! Hee hee."

"Look mommy, one hand!"

And of course the baby gate is just short enough to leave a small opening, just enough for crawl through. And guess who should happen to find it immediately and ever since be automatically be drawn to it like it has its own magnetic pull?
"I'm FREE!!!"

And speaking of magnetic pull...Nathan can seem to find any and every little hazard that we should have baby proofed for. And not only that, the stuff we can't move or block just yet, he remembers where it is. I thought that it was "out of sight, out of mind" for the first year. But, no, once he found the speaker cord and realized how wonderful it tasted (kind of like french vanilla ice-cream, I suppose) he heads straight for it. I will pick him up and put him back in the fun zone and he is immediately off and crawling through the opening, around the sofa, and behind the speaker until it's back in his tiny little hand. I think he has a little map somewhere...

And he's getting faster too, he can now cross the room about as fast as I can. So whereas we used to have time to put him at one end of the room and make a sandwich (while still watching him, of course) before he could get into any trouble. Now, he's crawling out of the room with us, side by side. So he has been keeping us on our toes.

Sonoma too. Now that he is mobile he enjoys chasing Sonoma around. Luckily for Sonoma, she is faster than all of us, but I'm sure she gets sick of moving all the time to escape the little fur grabber.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Review #4: The Beatles - Beatles For Sale

Okay, seriously, who buys beetles? I mean, really, that's just gross. Unless you are referring to these guys, but still, c'mon, look at their hair, it looks today. Get a haircut!

Anyhoo...fresh back from Hollywood, the Beatles released album number 4 just in time for Christmas 1964. So, let's see, that's what, another 5 months after that last album. hmmm, I'm thinking this might be a little rushed. And when checking the Wiki-man, yep, 6 covers all in an effort to hit stores for the holiday shopping season. And who doesn't love a good sale?

Judging by the cover, these guys are either tired or starting to get serious. And since it's their 4th album in 21 months, I'm going with tired. Let's see how they did.

  1. No Reply - The album starts off on a somber note - John's girl is avoiding him and no wonder, it sounds like he's stalking her - peaking through her window and calling all the time. A nice bouncy tune with a little pinch of crazy; and then it ends abruptly.

  2. I'm a Loser - After losing his girl in the previous song, John loses a little self-esteem, though with some nice voice inflections, I might add.

  3. Baby's in Black - I am going to assume that Lennon is mourning his girl from the first song, probably after John killed her in a bout of depression he suffered in song two. It's fairly short, likely to prevent John from incriminating himself. I didn't care for this so much.

  4. Rock and Roll Music - Now this is more like it. Lennon again jacks Chuck Berry, but this time doesn't seem to care if he breaks the song or not - he's out to prove something here. Or maybe he is just partying after stalking and killing his last girlfriend and getting away with it.

  5. I'll Follow the Sun - Slowing it down here, but with a nice melody. Apparently it only takes 1 minute and 49 seconds to break up with your girlfriend to wander aimlessly around the world hoping that she'll figure out what she's lost, though by then you're both alone...poor Paul.

  6. Mr. Moonlight - What the hell is this crap?

  7. Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey - They apparently combined two songs as an ode to a city I doubt they ever visited.

  8. Eight Days a Week - A nice fade in to a classic track to make up for the last two songs. I've always liked how the chorus slows down a bit. Word on the street is that Lennon refused to play this song live as he didn't like it, probably because it was a love song and not a stalking, freak-out-your-lover song.

  9. Words of Love - Covering Buddy Holly this time and not too badly either. At least they are not afraid to show their personality anymore.

  10. Honey Don't - Ringo again draws the short straw and gets stuck with this miserable excuse for a song. I think the bad thing about covering songs from the '50s is that they are lacking any resemblence of an actual verse and just repeat the chorus or song title over and over again.

  11. Every Little Thing - The instrumental is far better than the lyrics here.

  12. I Don't Want to Spoil the Party - Yet they do with this song.

  13. What You're Doing - hmmm, I could have sworn this was just on.

  14. Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby - Apparently George's contract stipulated that he will get to sing more songs than Ringo so they added this cover to finish off the album and shut him the hell up.

Overall, John sounds depressed on this album as his girl leaves him, he decides that he's a loser, (probably kills her), and by the end of the album his date stands him up at a party. So much for Beatlemania. Paul even leaves his girl for the sweet warmth of the Sun and after working 8 days a week, it's no wonder the album cover shows them sad and a little pissed off. Maybe they were really having a fire sale to rid the shelves of the crap before creating better albums. The first half sucks (to put it nicely) and the second half starts nicely before taking a turn for the worse so unless you enjoy feeling like crap, I'd say pass on this album as your "best of" disc (that you bought to avoid album #2) will have the good songs from this album too.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sonoma!!!

Our little baby puppy is turning four today. I can't believe she is already four. I can still remember bringing her home, how tiny she was, back when Laura could still carry her (I still can, but at 75 lbs, not very far). She has adjusted well to having a little brother around who I'm sure will begin to torment her more and more as he gets more mobile. As it is, now that Nathan can crawl, he chases her around the room, but luckily he's not too quick yet, allowing Sonoma to slowly move away. Once he's old enough, I'm sure they will have fun playing together, we'll just have to teach both of them how to not share their toys.