Category Archives: Weekly Update

Fun with markers

On Friday,  I noticed that Alice had drawn on her legs with marker.  It was visually interesting, so I encouraged her to draw all over herself with marker.  She was eager to participate, and even drew on her back.  When she was done drawing on herself, she drew on Jenny’s legs.  Fortunately, it comes off easily (except for blue).

On Saturday, Jerry brought over treated lumber for the frame (regular lumber should not touch the wall because it will absorb the moisture and rot).

  1. Measure the treated lumber and cut it with a saw to match the original wood frame
  2. Measure the location of the bolts on the original wood frame, mark it on the treated lumber, then drill
  3. To remove the old frame, use a hammer and a chisel (or large screwdriver) to split the wood.  Once the old wood is removed, unscrew the bolts using a socket wrench.
  4. Attach the treated lumber to the wall.
  5. Screw in the L-shaped bolts to hold the gate.  The two ends should point toward each other to secure the gate.
  6. Assemble the metal frame and attach it to the wall.
  7. Measure and cut the 2x4s and screw them into the frame.
  8. String a metal cable to go across the diagonal of the gate.  If you put in part of the gate upside down so there is no hole for one side, use the drill to add another hole in the metal.  
  9. Attach the latch.
  10. Since the gate is on an incline, hold one board against the gate and swing all the way to make sure there is clearance.
  11. Measure the boards and set aside any board that is less than 72 inches.
  12. Screw the long boards into the 2x4s.
  13. At the end, measure and cut one board to fill in the gap at the end.  Use wood glue to hold it in place.
  14. Remove the screws and nails from the old gate, then cut the boards with the reciprocating saw so that they are small enough to fit in the trash.

It was very satisfying when we finished.

On Sunday, it had rained, so we went and played outside.

In the afternoon, Jenny suggested that we go to the zoo.  The zoo had lots of good Halloween decorations.  While we were waiting for the petting zoo to open, Alice and Jenny looked at a map (I don’t know how much Alice understands that the map is a representation of the physical space).  When it opened, we practiced grooming goats from head to tail.  After that, we went to see the Rainforest of the Americas.  One of the glass panels for the piranhas had shattered, but no water escaped.

One of the highlights of the zoo was the lions.  The male lion was roaring, and it was loud.  Sometimes it was a constant roar, with some much base I could feel it in my bones.  Sometimes it was a halting roar that reminded me of a train getting started.

On Monday, Mom watched Alice, Gretchen drove down from Oakland, and Dad brought Barkis so that we could have a family dinner.  Barkis needed a walk, so off we went with Dad, Alice, and Gretchen.  The rain had stopped, but there was still plenty of water in the gutters.  Dad held Barkis while Alice and Gretchen jumped in the puddles.  Adorable.

After dinner, we even managed to get a few shots of the family.


Walking on water and ice

On Saturday, we went to Grand Park in Downtown Los Angeles to play in the splash pad.  Alice loved it.

I have wanted to replace our gates for a long time, so on Sunday, Jenny’s dad Jerry went with us to Lowe’s to get the supplies.  Jerry showed Jenny how to pick out good boards to make the fence by looking to see if they were straight.  Meanwhile, I was occupying Alice, holding her arms and pulling her up so that she could make huge jumps.  When we got home, Jenny and Alice went off swimming and I stayed home to paint the boards.  Throughout the week, when I got home from work, I kept painting boards.  With practice, I got faster and my messes got smaller.

On Tuesday, during our evening walk Alice was trying to spell words.  When we did this the day before, she tried incorporating numbers and letters, or repeating vowels, which didn’t spell anything.  Tonight, she had a better mix of vowels and consonants, and after three or four letters, I would try to add the last letter to make an actual word.  It is a fun game.

On Thursday, I decided to get down my plastic guitar from the attic and play Rock Band 3 (Rock Band 4 is coming out soon).  One of the nice features about that version of the game was that it allowed users to rate songs and then sort by rating.  I played some old favorites like Dirty Little Secret by All-American Rejects,  I’m Gone, I’m Going by Lesley Roy and Code Monkey by Jonathan Coulton.  I encouraged Alice to dance along, and she jumped back and forth between the couch and the coffee table.  It was fun, but I am definitely out of practice and even with muscle memory it was hard to get my fingers to move fast enough.

On Friday, I left work early and Jenny and I  drove to the LA Kings Valley Ice Center in Panorama City for lunch and a curling lesson.  The goal of curling is to slide rocks across the ice rink and get them inside a circle.  The thrower pushes off a launch pad with the rock, glides on the ice for a bit, and then release the rock, turning it ever so slightly.  The turning action causes the rock to move into the turn (or curl).  Two sweepers then walk ahead of the rock.  Sweeping causes the ice to melt which makes the surface more slick so there is less friction and the rock spins less and goes further.

Most of the practice was as the thrower, setting up on the launch pad, balancing on the rock and a broom, and gliding forward without falling over.  After about an hour of instruction, we each got to throw one stone.  It was challenging, but fun.  

Don’t put your shoes in the tub

On Monday, Mom came to watch Alice and took her to the Karabel Dancewear store.  They got Alice a pair of ballet slippers and a blue camisole tutu dress.  Alice loved them.  When I got home, they sang “don’t put your shoes in the tub.”  It was a hit.

On Tuesday, the rain was coming down hard, so I decided I needed to switch from my standard outfit of black slacks and running shoes to Kuhl shorts and Merrell sandals.  The normal work outfit was packed in my backpack and covered with my blue London Fog trench coat.  The result was ridiculous (like a hunchback flasher) and appropriately completed with Jenny’s black and pink umbrella.

Tuesday was also my first day wearing a FitBit.  The walk to work is about 5,000 steps.  The lunch walk is closer to 6,000 steps.  By the end of the day I was over 20,000 steps.  FitBit awards badges for daily steps, and lifetime totals starting with the Marathon (26 miles) and going up to the Great Wall (5,000 miles) and the Russian Railway (5,772 miles).

We also experimented with paper airplanes.  It was fun to reach back to childhood and try to remember how to make the folds.  We also experimented with different weights of paper.  The most successful airplane had three overlapping folds to the middle to make it long and pointy, and was made using construction paper that Alice had decorated with crayon and marker.  I tried to explain that launching a paper airplane requires a push (like using a Chinese yo-yo) not a throw (like a ball).  I don’t know if she got any better with practice, but she loved the experience.

Back in August, Mom did a beautiful mural on the chalkboard wall of Alice’s imaginary bunnies, Bingo and Flingo, standing on a bridge.  It stayed up the entire time we covered the dirt with plastic to kill the weeds, but was largely washed off on Tuesday with the rain.  On Thursday, we washed the wall.  I am excited to see what Mom does next.



On Friday, we tried blowing bubbles in the backyard.


Alice the photographer

Last Saturday, I set up the camera so that Alice could take pictures.  The first series was of me tying a bow tie.  The second series was of Jenny and me.  When I put the camera on the tripod, the release plate was on backward.  As a result, when Alice leaned on the camera for support, it popped out.  Fortunately, she held on to the camera.

On Sunday, Pastor Gretchen had wrapped a bag of candy in four layers of tissue paper.  The children sat in a circle and and passed the bag around as long as music was playing.  When the music stopped, the person holding the bag would remove a layer of tissue paper.  The person that opened the last layer got to keep the bag of what turned out to be Sour Patch Kids.  The lesson was about the importance of sharing and how it feels to be left out.  Throughout the day, Alice brought up the idea that she did not get any candy and did not like being left out.

After church, I finally got around to installing the swag hooks in the front room.  I used Brad’s Zircon stud finder, then drilled ⅛ holes for the screws.  On one side, I missed the wood, so I had to patch and paint the holes.  Now that the hooks are up, I will be able to hang my bar that holds the seamless paper from the ceiling.

We picked up Mom from the Burbank Airport.  When we got back home, Mom read Alice the Playtown Airport lift the flap book, and they explored all the things that go on at the airport.  We even had time for a few pictures.   

Yesterday was Hazel’s first birthday party.  Carrie rented an activity room at McCambridge Park and got a cake from Porto’s.  There were plenty of balloons and toys for the kids and everyone had a good time.

In the evening, we hosted Joey and Carrie, and Carrie’s parents Erick and Gail, for dinner.  Jenny served her famous pulled pork on King’s Hawaiian bread sliders.  It was great, and it was a fun evening conversationally.  Erick is a big fan of cake donuts (chocolate with sprinkles).  Locally, his two favorite places are Moonlight Donuts in Fillmore and Donuts & More in Oak View.  I look forward to trying them.

Have you ever sharpened a pencil?

On Saturday, Jenny helped Alice call Aunt Sally.  Alice’s best question was “have you ever sharpened a pencil?”  She asked because we had been sharpening her pencil earlier in the day to draw in her journal.  Later we called Jenny’s cousin Leila and Alice asked “have you ever had a sandwich that was too big to fit in your mouth?”  Both Sally and Leila were very kind to participate, and it is amazing to me how well Alice can carry on a conversation.

Alice talking on the phone
Alice talking on the phone

We also played peek-a-boo.

On Sunday, Alice drew on the dry-erase board.  She used a step stool to reach the board, and I gave her new markers when she wanted to change colors.  It made for a good photo shoot, but I had not considered that although the ink is easily wiped off the board, it is much harder to get it off the wall or her dress.  Still, as the cost of growing up and learning about art, it is well worth it.

On Tuesday, Alice got stamps from Grandma Lucie.  It took some practice to get the stickers off the sheet and on the page (or her forehead).

Decorating with Frogs

On Sunday, Jenny went to her Readers and Eaters book club for lunch in Pasadena.  Alice and I stayed home.  We played with the frogs that have magnets in their hands and feet, and had them hang from the metal lamp.

On Tuesday, we took some photos before going out for a walk.

On Wednesday, Alice went bicycle riding down the street.

On Friday, Gretchen sent me a beautiful blue bow tie.  I went to YouTube and watched some videos explaining how to tie it, and even though there are only three steps, it is surprisingly difficult.  With some help from Mom, we finally got it to work.

I don’t have time for this

On Sunday, Jenny painted Alice’s fingernails and toenails with pink Piggy Paint nail polish.  As I was taking pictures, Alice looked at me and announced “Daddy, I don’t have time for this.”  She was referring to the photography, not the nail polish.  It is tough for someone so young to be hounded by paparazzi.


On Friday, Jenny and Alice sat down after a long day for a snuggle on the couch.


Then Alice practiced brushing Jenny’s hair.

On Saturday, Alice helped me dig up new growth from the crepe myrtle tree in the front yard.

Then Jenny went to get her hair cut.


Before bed, Alice practiced sliding on the wooden floor with her socks.