Animal Selection

Yes, we went to the aquarium in Seattle. And yes, each of our kids walked away with a new plush creature. A certain family member couldn't resist the pleading and puppy dog eyes.

Like good children, they each picked a different species. As their parent, I am thankful for that decision as it will help us bypass all of the "It's mine/No, it's MINE" arguments.

Christian got a shark.
Zu got a river otter.
JJ got a puffin.

I think their choices speak clearly about the character of each of my kids. But what do their selections say?



We've spent the evening watching home movies. More specifically, clips from Bekah's family and all her cousins during a family reunion in 1993. She was 10 at the time and sporting the worst of 90's fashion.

Lots of laughs were spent. Jokes cracked. Much mockery. Until Bekah's mom mentioned that all of the kids were so much cuter back then - which prompted the following conversation.

Me to Bekah: "Had I known you back then (I would have been 14) I would never have wanted anything to do with you."

Bekah to me: "That's OK. You're just lucky I still married you after I saw a picture of you (taken in '94) in a wrestling singlet."



Need a break?

A friend or coworker just returned home from vacation and you ask them, "How was it?" Their response: "I need a vacation from my vacation."

Sound familiar? It seems the American way is to cram so much activity and excitement into our vacations that you return more energetically diminished than after a typical week at home and work.

Our recent family excursion is a bit unique in that respect.

First, this trip we made to Cheyenne was fairly laid back. This is the first I have ever returned from a week of paid time off relaxed and refreshed. By the time well pulled into our driveway last Saturday, I was ready to launch back into my regular routine.

Furthermore, this is the first time that I actually get to take a vacation from my vacation. We got home from Cheyenne last weekend, and we're taking a weekend road trip to Seattle next weekend.

Input Overload

Speaking of too much activity and excitement, that's how Christian feels.

While in Wyoming, Christian met more family members than he knew existed, learned from my genealogist grandfather that we're descendants of John Alden, and got a four generation family tree drawn out that detailed every member of the Budd family from my grandparents down through my cousins and our kids.

We spent an afternoon at Children's Village, exploring the gardens and fountains; learning about aerodynamics, solar power, and wind power; and using the hands on demonstrations of waterwheels and Archimedes' screw. The next day, we split our afternoon between the Wyoming State Museum and the Cheyenne public library.

By the time we were done, Christian had had his fill of mental stimuli. He could not handle any more. He even told us that we were stuffing too much into his brain.

"I've learned so much stuff," he said, "my brain is full."

Something isn't right

Being home means that I have resumed my normal schedule. However, that normalcy includes staying up far too late and leaving for work before anyone else in my house wakes up.

I don't care who you are, such a lifestyle will catch up with you. It caught up with me this week.

When I arrived at work, I parked my green Ford Explorer under a tree along the back fence. When I left work, I tried to get into a green Ford Explorer parked under a tree along the back fence, but the key would not unlock the door. Wrong green Ford Explorer parked under a different tree.

I went to bed early after that.

Fall of grace

I wouldn't describe myself as clumsy, but I do have my moments. Lacking in rhythm? Yes. A complete inability to dance? Yes. Uncoordinated? Maybe. But a klutz? Not usually.

But I do have moments of ungraceful greatness. Earlier this week, I overstepped the final carpeted step before the stairway tops out at hardwood floors. I stumbled and fell up the stairs. In the process, I managed to stub toes on both feet (I was barefoot at the time) and bang both of my shins - all on the same wooden transition strip between the carpet and hardwood. Then I landed flat on my face.

Yes, I am that talented.

Apt analogy

About my utter lack of dancing skills... When explaining my mad dance moves to a coworker, I compared myself to a fat kid with tourettes being chased by a swarm of angy wasps through an obstacle course.

You don't believe me? Sorry, I am not going to shake my groove thing in public just to prove that I dance like a penguin with two broken legs and a severe case of vertigo. I prefer to embarrass myself in the privacy of my own home.


Cheyenne bests

As I write this, we are holed up in a cheap hotel room on the south side of Billings. Tomorrow night, we will be home after 5 days in Cheyenne. Here are our favorite moments from the trip.

JJ: "Going to Great-Grandma's house." He also listed the fighter fighter's station (fire station), library, and museum as the best parts of our week. Once I narrowed down what 'favorite' means, he said his favorite destination was the pool. "Getting in the pool and getting wet."

Zu: "Uh... Seeing Nannie and Rachel every time." She also clarified that her saddest part is when we had to leave.

Christian: "Putting my whole entire body under water while swimming. I did do that, remember?" He definitely enjoyed dunking his head under water. It stood out as more enjoyable than any other activity.

Bekah: Off the top of her head, she can't think of anything. In her words, "I don't like being put on the spot." But she did enjoy a very special delivery from her older sister. She has also commented on a couple occasions that she is impressed that our kids behaved so admirably throughout the week.

Me: Seeing a more modern side of Cheyenne. Growing up, my childhood vacations in Cheyenne were adventures. Compared to my Seattle suburb home, Cheyenne was still a frontier town. Unpaved roads, rodeos, old homes and buildings that served to enhance my parent's memories of years past, everything brown and spread out. Most of my memorable experiences were from playing in the yard and basement of my mom's childhood home, or of the the Frontier Days parade and pancake feed. But on this trip, I saw modernization everywhere. My aunt and uncle's recently constructed home in a new neighborhood. Children's Village - a self sustaining park and garden designed to teach kids about basic scientific concepts, alternative energy resources, art and engineering, and the beauty of our natural world. The children's level of the library and their hands on/interactive exhibits that encourage reading, music, and creativity - and displays simple mechanical processes and cause/effect. Updated parks and green spaces. In public places, the city highlights all that they're doing to reduce water waste, recycle, focus on renewable energy, and encourage environmentally focused citizens.