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Today we celebrated Landon's 2nd birthday (which was actually Wednesday). Aunt Donelda drove in from Illinois just for the occasion and Ma, Pa and Uncle David joined us too.
Mary made the Danz family traditional number birthday cake in the shape of a "2." She gets better and better with each one!
Our little guy is growing up fast!
Landon waited very patiently for his cake and ice cream.
As it turns out, Landon wasn't a fan of the hard work Mama put into his cake. It was ice cream only for this birthday boy.
Landon knew just what to do when it came time to open his gifts.
Will, Landon and Drew checking out a gift.
Landon playing with this Mickey Mouse Rescue Truck.
Three brothers hamming it up together.
Aunt Donelda and her three nephews.
Daddy, Aunt Donelda, Drew, Mama, Landon, Uncle David, Will, Pa and Ma. Thank you everyone for helping to celebrate Landon's second birthday.
"Smile for the camera." "We are smiling." "I don't see a smile...smile for the camera." "We are smiling." Repeat to hilarity.
Aunt Donelda and her three nephews...Huey, Dewey, and Louie a/k/a Will, Landon and Drew.
Drew hit the ball today and both Drew and the catcher took off racing for first. Now why would the catcher get into a footrace with the batter?
Because the catcher was chasing down a dribbler hit down the first base line. Despite a phenomenal effort by the catcher who got after the short grounder as fast as any big leaguer, Drew was able to beat our the throw and wind up safe at first.
Drew racing to second. Now if the length of one's stride corresponded to speed, Drew (and his father) would be world class sprinters.
Drew rounding third.
Finally, Drew catching air as he is about to stamp down on home plate. Aunt Donelda really enjoyed getting a chance to see her nephew play ball while she was in town.
Work took me to Oklahoma City today and it was a beautiful day for photographing, even if it was just with an iPhone. The Devon Tower continues to grow, now about 43 of its soon to be 50 floors. For comparison, take a look at the photos I took of the Devon Tower in November of 2010.
Looking south from atop a nine floor parking garage.
Note the six-story glass rotunda and glass facade "podium building" to the left of the Devon Tower along with more parking garage behind. The entire site is atop the parking garage I used to park in everyday when I worked in downtown Oklahoma City from 1993 to 1998.
Just a little boy who turned two today coloring with markers.
On June 17, 2011, Green Lantern opens in movie theaters across the country. In conjunction with the Warner Bros. Picture release, Mattel has created a number of Green Lantern toys to go along with the movie and was kind enough to send me two items for my boys to review. Before the items came, we brushed up on Green Lantern history watching the movie preview, reading some of the Wiki page and watching some YouTube cartoons with the Green Lantern. For those unfamiliar with the Green Lantern, this was the official movie press release from last year:
In a universe as vast as it is mysterious, a small but powerful force has existed for centuries. Protectors of peace and justice, they are called the Green Lantern Corps. A brotherhood of warriors sworn to keep intergalactic order, each Green Lantern wears a ring that grants him superpowers. But when a new enemy called Parallax threatens to destroy the balance of power in the Universe, their fate and the fate of Earth lie in the hands of their newest recruit, the first human ever selected: Hal Jordan.
Hal is a gifted and cocky test pilot, but the Green Lanterns have little respect for humans, who have never harnessed the infinite powers of the ring before. But Hal is clearly the missing piece to the puzzle, and along with his determination and willpower, he has one thing no member of the Corps has ever had: humanity. With the encouragement of fellow pilot and childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris, if Hal can quickly master his new powers and find the courage to overcome his fears, he may prove to be not only the key to defeating Parallax...he will become the greatest Green Lantern of all.
By the time the box came, the boys were pretty excited.
As you can see by the video, Drew (7) and Will (4) were very excited to find out they had received a Green Lantern Colossal Cannon (age 5+) and a Kilowog action figure (age 4+).
The Colossal Cannon shoots little plastic discs a good distance while flashing lights and making cannon noises. Both Drew and Will really enjoy playing with it even after having it for a week. From a practical stand point, the cannon is sturdy and has what appears to be a reliable shooting mechanism. Other than shooting it directly into an eye, the discs are harmless and, despite being hard plastic, there is no evidence they damage furniture or walls (repeated shooting at point blank range excepted).
As you can see in the video, besides being a shooter fan, Will really likes action figures. He took an immediate liking to Kilowog but had a little trouble incorporating him into his Star Wars battles since he doesn't have much context in which to know what to do with him. I'm sure after seeing the movie (if appropriate for little munchkins) or after the expected Cartoon Network animated series comes out this fall, Will will be playing with him a lot more, especially if he gets a Hal Jordan and others to complete the team.
A little background on Kilowog from the package:
Kilowog is the intimidating drill sergeant that trains new cadets for the Green Lantern Crops. His tactics are renowned for pushing rookies to their limits, and Hal Jordan is no exception to the rule. Representing a long lineage of Bolovox warriors from the planet Bolovox Vik, Kilowog is now the last of his race.
The action figure also comes with a Power Ring. I was surprised the Green Lantern oath was not included on the package:
In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil's might,
Beware my power...Green Lantern's light!
I was pleasantly surprised at how robust the action figure was. It has a little bit of heft to it and the arms do more than simply rotate 360 degrees. They have some kind of ball joint that allows them to bend outward while at the same time preventing them from bending backwards in an unrealistic manner. The waist rotates 360 degrees while the legs bend up about 80 degrees. One of my pet peeves is action figures that do not stand up by themselves very well. Kilowog, however, stands on his feet and balances very well. I was curious about how sturdy the figure was, so I torqued and twisted his appendages beyond that of what I think an average kid might do. I had to stop short of literally trying to break it without any harm being done. I would say the action figure is surprisingly sturdy and well engineered.
The hero of the story, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, was not included in our package but is a likely addition to our collection after the movie/animated series comes out.
I will end by saying that I think most any kid would enjoy playing with these toys if they are the least bit familiar with the Green Lantern. The Colossal Canon is pretty cool all by itself but Kilowog, like any action figure, needs some context and ideally some companions. Both toys are better quality than the usual crap we've all become accustomed to and should last though many adventures.
If I had to come up with a criticism, it would be that every picture on the Colossal Cannon box of the kid or Hal Jordan has them wearing a Green Lantern mask. I even double checked the box to make sure I didn't miss the mask in the packaging. No where does the box say that it comes with the mask but someone might mistakenly think that it was included.
I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Dad Central Consulting on behalf of Mattel and received Green Lantern toys to facilitate my review and a gift code to thank me for taking the time to participate.
Will, Drew and Landon visiting the Easter Bunny at the mall. Landon was much like he was at Christmas: "Keep someone between me and the scary guy and hold my hand!" Still, a big improvement from last year.
Will, Landon and Drew after mass today. Happy Easter everyone.
The building's air conditioning at work was still in the process of being replaced today and by noon it had grown uncomfortably warm and unbearably humid and was only going to get worse so the office was closed early. This left the perfect opportunity to spend an afternoon with Will! We ate lunch at the place of his choosing, McDonald's with a playground. And, after slowly enjoying a Happy Meal, Will worked up a sweat on the indoor playground before we ran a few errands together. I really enjoyed getting to spend some special one-on-one time with one of my boys.
This giant crane greeted me on the way in to work this morning. They are replacing the air conditioner on the top of our 9-story building. With the weather unseasonably cool, the timing couldn't have been better.
Mary took a great photo of Landon sleeping this morning. So peaceful.
Tonight's baseball game was against one of the better teams which meant lots of fielding opportunities for everyone. Here's Drew fielding a hard hit grounder at third. Note the perfect use of his baseball cap pushed down low to keep out the bright setting sun.
Drew in center field running to meet a deeply hit grounder.
Just as the ball leaves Drew's hand as he throws in from center field to cut off the advancing runner.
I love finding surprises on our camera when I come home from work. Mary took this photo of some colorful clouds in front of our house today.
Drew, Landon and Will all ready for prayers and bed.
Make that, prayers, an episode of the Spectacular* Spider-Man cartoon on on iPad/Netflix and then bed.
*I originally had written the "Amazing" Spider-Man, but realized that this is actually the "Spectacular" Spider-Man. When did Peter Parker go from Amazing to Spectacular?
Tonight, Mary made the most incredible gourmet meal for dinner, Basil Artichoke Chicken. Here is the baked chicken breasts along with the sauteed mushrooms, artichokes, tomatoes and spices.
The baked basil artichoke chicken fresh out of the oven.
The final product, Basil Artichoke Chicken served on white rice. It tasted even better than it looked. Awesome!
There simply aren't too many awesome plays in 1st grade coach pitch baseball, but this one rocked. Drew and an infielder hustled after a grounder hit into the gap in the outfield. Drew got there first, slid to a stop, and stopped the ball while the infielder jumped over Drew. If Drew hadn't slid, they would have knocked right into each other. It was a major league play by a pair of seven year-olds playing their hearts out.
Thanks to the the bright low sun, my Canon 7D with 200mm zoom, a camera position along the third-base line and a grounder hit to the fence in deep left center, I was able to get these great close-ups of Drew.
Just after Drew threw the ball to the infield.
Taken from the third-base line for a change, Drew hitting a coach pitch ball.
After three coach pitches that Babe Ruth couldn't have touched, Drew walloped one off the tee.
Drew running from first base.
Drew running from third base.
Finally, Drew's favorite part, scoring at home plate.
The is the Radio Flyer wagon that my sister Donelda and I played with as little kids on our grandparents farm in Goltry, Oklahoma, forty some odd years ago. I only got a few iphone snaps before I dropped it off at Huber Restorations to be fully restored. They are a small vehicle restoration company but they do great work and, most importantly, they sometimes take on odd little projects to keep things interesting. And, the owner, Jeff Huber is an incredibly nice guy who seems genuinely passionate about his work.
All and all, the wagon wasn't in the worst possible shape, not too beat up and only scattered surface rust. I could have just given it to the boys to play with, but I wanted them to start out with something nice as well as filled with family memories.
The end result...phenomenal! Their restoration was perfect, flawless. They disassembled everything, stripped it all, put on multiple coats of paint (the perfect color), had an exact duplicate stencil of the Radio Flyer logo created by a graphics artist, and rebuilt it all with new hardware. It's as good a new...but better, because it's the same red wagon I played with as a little boy.
The interior of the wagon. Note the handle isn't exactly Radio Flyer standard issue. Somewhere along the way, the original handle broke and my grandfather Spiv welded a new--better--one to the stem. Of course, I left that improvement untouched. I care less about restoring to factory specs than I do of restoring memories.
Modern models have features such as "no-pinch ball joint keeps fingers safe" and "controlled turning radius prevents tipping." Not this one, just pure old school danger.
I'm having trouble locating information on dating Radio Flyer wagon models. The white wheels with grey hubcaps seem to correspond to a relatively narrow range of years. I just can't pin it down. I assume my grandparents bought it in the late 60's or early 70's. If anyone knows about dating Radio Flyer wagons or can point me to some resources, please send me an email or post a comment.
This is a milk can that my grandfather Spiv actually used on his farm long ago. I've been wanting to restore it for years and finally gave in and decided to just get it professionally done. A little more expensive than doing it myself but there's no doubt the quality of the job is far better than I could have ever done. I didn't get a good photo of the milk can before its restoration but it was in the exact same condition as the two below.
These are two more milk cans from my grandfather's farm. I plan to have them restored too, currently I'm thinking one a navy blue and one brick red. Each of the boys will then get a milk can their great-grandfather used to use on his farm in Goltry, Oklahoma.
Everyone knows that Friday night is Noodle Fight Night! This evening we took advantage of the warm sunny weather for a good old fashioned noodle fight. Even Landon got into the mix, whacking his older brothers. There's no better way to take out your aggression and burn off some little boy energy than hitting your brothers with a flexible five foot styrofoam noodle.