Category Archives: family

October 2010

Events

On October 16, Lauren kindly invited Samantha, Michelle and myself to Disneyland. We had a great time. Grandma Gigi was also able to join us. Samantha had a blast. It was the busiest I have ever seen the park, even the places that are always empty had medium sized groups in them (the museum on main street for example).

On October 23, we switched cars with the Higson family. They took possession of Michelle’s Toyota Camry and we got their Toyota Sienna. It was a great deal for Michelle and I, seeing as we have so much stuff to haul around with us everywhere and Samantha likes the new car much better as well.

We spent October 31, Halloween at my family’s home in Carlsbad. Samantha had a great time. For the first time I think she was really excited about Halloween. I’m not sure if she really understood what was going on, but going with Ryan, her cousin, made it exciting because he was excited. He would run up the driveway of someone’s house, toward the front door and look behind him calling, “Come on Samantha, we gotta get some candy”. It was very fun and cute to watch. Ryan was dressed up as Woody from Toy Story and Samantha was the cutest Panda ever!

Books

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain  – 3/5 stars. I largely compared this to and expected it to be like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. When it wasn’t up to par with that book I got discouraged. I still liked this book, but had a hard time judging it on its own merits. I kept comparing it to Tom Sawyer. Even still I liked the book very much.

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan  – 2/5 stars. This book was pretty dry. And there really didn’t seem like there was any attempt to not make it dry. It was interesting, but very dry. Still I enjoyed its many forays into the history of food.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson  – 4/5 stars. A gripping story. Very exciting. I had watched the movie before reading the book and I have to say I’m really glad I read the book. So much more detail. The movie is a bit gruesome at points; it was easier to read the book I think.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert  – 2/5 stars. I read this because it was so popular; I thought “this must be a good book”. I didn’t really like this book. I really could not relate to the main character. This lady is so depressed; it’s not really a fun book to read at points.

Dangerous Games: The Uses and Abuses of History by Margret MacMillan  – 3/5 stars. I think I was very giving with this book. Basically, MacMillan starts out with a thesis that history is abused and misrepresented and after 200 some pages I think she has proven this point. But I don’t know what I have really read or gained from reading this book.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger  – 5/5 stars. It is not often that I give a book 5 stars. This was an amazing story. It is a love story in a sci-fi wrapper. Something for everyone. I watched the movie with Michelle last month I think and I really liked the movie as well. Michelle also enjoyed the movie. This is a really great book. Don’t know anyone who would not like it.

Celebrations

Oct 1 – Grandma Gigi’s Birthday

Oct 3 – Tommy Reilly’s Birthday

Oct 3 – Grandpa Duane and Grandma Lyn’s Wedding Anniversary

Oct 4 – Melissa Sullivan’s Birthday

Oct 13 – Lee Muns’ Birthday

Movies

Babies – 1.5/5 stars. Terrible. Do not watch.

Miss Potter – 1/5 stars. As exciting as Victorian England can be.

Kick-Ass – 1 star. Didn’t even watch it all.

The Hangover – 3 stars. I thought this was pretty funny.

Von Ryan’s Express – 4 stars. Forgot I had already seen this and watch this classic again. No regrets!

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief – 4 stars. Very entertaining. Can’t wait to read the book.

On the Town – 2.5 stars. Good, but not as much dancing as I would expect from a movie with Gene Kelley, and the music I thought was sub-par.

The Girl Who Played with Fire – 3 stars. Pretty good. I’m reading the book now, so far book is much better as usual.

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September 2010

Events

Michelle found a Ethan Allen bookshelf for Samantha’s room.  Great addition and much needed as Samantha has a lot of books!

Jason got a A+ in his Using the Web as a Marketing Tool class that he has been taking at UCI Extension.  Only two more classes left to take to earn a certificate in Social Media.

Samantha discovered the “Customer in Training” carts at grocery stores, they are the small carts just the right size for little kids to push around and do their shopping.  She also loves the carts with the race cars on the front.

On September 18th we had Samantha’s 2nd birthday party.  It was a tea party that Michelle’s immediate family and my immediate family attended.  The next day we went out and bought Samantha some new shoes.  Seems it only takes two months for her to go through shoes now.

On the 23rd we celebrated Samantha’s 2nd birthday, this is the official day.  Daddy took the day off work and took Samantha out to the park in the morning.  Then we went to Trader Joe’s where Samantha happily push around a miniature shopping cart and Daddy put in a few groceries.  Afterwards we went home and played until mommy came home.  At which time, we had to go the doctor’s office.  It was Samantha’s 2 year check-up.  And she had to get a flu shot!  The rest of the day we just stayed at home and recouped from the doctor’s visit.

We almost went to Disneyland on the next weekend, but I’m glad we didn’t because temperatures went over 100 degrees!  So instead of Disneyland we went to Tanka Farms, a real working farm.  They grow their own pumpkins.  It was the grand opening of the pumpkin patch, so we got free tickets on the hay wagon ride.  Samantha had a good time and we stayed longer than I thought we would given the heat.  It was fun to see a real farm right in Irvine.  They even had a pumpkin cannon.  On the 26th we spent most of the day with Michelle’s grandmother at a large gathering in Downey, where we saw a lot of the family.

Books

White Fang by Jack London – 3/5 stars.  Not really fair since I had just read The Call of the Wild which is a great novel.  I had expected more of the same from London, but I don’t think that White Fang was nearly as good as The Call of the Wild.

Hamlet by William Shakespeare and the Cliff Notes for the play – 4/5 stars.  I really enjoyed this play.  I’ve read it twice this year and I watched the movie with Mel Gibson as well.  I think reading the play along with the cliff notes is a great way to make sure you get the most out of the play as possible.

The Associate by John Grisham – 4/5 stars.  I really enjoyed this book.  A lot more than I thought I would actually.  I was surprised by how much I liked it and now I look forward to reading more Grisham when I get the chance.

The Sherlock Holmes Theatre – 4/5 stars.  This was an audio book that had a different actor for every character.  It was really fun to listen to.  I think it had four different stories.  Some of them I had already read, some I had not.  I was very entertaining!

Mocking Jay by Suzanne Collins – 4/5 stars.  This would have gotten 5 stars, but I didn’t like the ending.  It was a good ending, I just didn’t agree with it.  Did not think it was a nice way to end the series.  But that said, if you have not read this series, DO!

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – 3/5 stars.  I was surprised by how closely the most recent movie followed this book.  It is almost exactly the way the book is.  Having said that I was a little let down in the book since there really isn’t much new about it.  But it is still a good read!

Movies

Hot Tub Time Machine – 3 out of 5 stars.  Kinda funny.  Can relate to the 80’s stuff.

Clash of the Titans – 4 out of 5 stars.  Good action movie.  Never saw the original.

Flight of the Phoenix – 2.5/5 stars.  Ok, would not recommend it.

The Book of Eli – 3/5 stars.  Just ok.  I wanted this movie to be good, but it just wasn’t.

The Bounty Hunter – 2 stars.  I think 2 stars for this movie is generous.

Green Zone – 3/5 stars.  Good action flick but I expect a lot out of Matt Damon’s movies ever since seeing the Bourne series.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time – 3/5 stars.  Ok action movie.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – 3/5 stars.  Ok, but the book is great!

Iron Man 2 – 2.5/5 stars.  Ok action movie.

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August 2010

Events

We had Michelle’s official birthday dinner at Elephant Bar.

Later that week we went to the Spectrum where they had these really cool playhouse.  They were all custom built.  They had all kinds of different ones.  About a dozen in all.  They had sound systems, lofts, fireplaces, flatscreens, pretty much anything you can think of they had.

Of course we did our usual shopping and errands around Irvine.  Here is some video of Samantha at Trader Joes shopping.  I finished playing Uncharted 2 for the PS3, great game!

My time capsule died on me this month, so I had to buy a new one since it was past its manufacturer’s warranty.  Good news was that I was able to save the hard drive out of the old one so now I have an extra 1TB external drive.

We survived a very hot two weeks without air conditioning and our hunt for a new house is still dependent on us selling the condo we are in now.  No news on that front.

Michelle’s friends Tony and Jen got married at the Skirball Center.  They had a wonderful ceremony and reception.  They even had a photo booth at the reception.  Out scanner is packed so I can’t share those photos just yet.

We went to Disneyland and had a great time.  Samantha got her picture taken with Mickey mouse and Tigger.  She seemed to have a really good time.  All the adults had a blast too.  It was pretty crowded as it was the summer and a weekend.  But at least the weather was pleasant.

Movies

Leatherheads – 3.5 out of 5 stars.  One of Michelle’s picks.  Pretty funny and all around a good story.

Timetravler’s Wife – 4.5 stars.  Another one of Michelle’s choices.  I wanted to watch this but not until I read the book.  We watched it anyway and it was really great.  Can’t wait to read the book, two of my Facebook friends have already commented that the books is really good.

Life or Something Like It – 2 stars.  This was a flop.

Lost City Raiders – 2 stars.  B movie.  Don’t waste your time.

Post Grad – 1.5 stars.  Really bad!

Outlander – 2.5 stars.  Another bad movie.  We’re really on a roll now!

Legion – 0.5 star.  Lower scores not possible!  Terrible!  Didn’t finish this mess.

War of the Worlds – 3 stars.  Finally an acceptable movie.  Not great, definitely not as good as the book.  It doesn’t follow it very closely either.

Valentine’s Day – Didn’t watch all of this.  Went to Samantha’s room and colored with her.  0.5 star.  Total chick flick from what I saw.

Death at a Funeral – 4 stars.  Really funny British comedy.

Bangkok Dangerous – 3 stars.  Meh.  Nothing much hear, semi-ok assassin flick.

Robinson Crusoe – 2 stars.  Not very good.  Nothing like the book.

Celebrations

Michelle’s Birthday 8/2

Barbara Black Maxey’s Birthday 8/30

Books

This months books gets me to 27 books for the year.  Only three more to reach my goal of 30.  I’m hoping to get to 40 now, but we will see as hopefully, we will be moving soon!

War of the Worlds – 3 stars.  I think I had this built up in my head so much that when I actually read it I was disappointed.

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 – 4 stars.  Cool alternative look at the first three books.  I will be reading volume 2 when it comes out.  Anyone know when its coming?

Nano Comes to Clifford Falls: And Other Stories – 3 stars.  A collection of science fiction stories.  Some better than others.

Of Mice and Men – This one is one of the classics that I wanted to read.  I didn’t remember reading this in high school, until I had already finished it.  No loss though as this was a GREAT read! 5 out of 5 stars!

Robinson Crusoe – 2 out of 5 stars.  Disappointed again.  I think I had built this one up in my head again.  I had looked forward to reading this for so long that when I did, I was bummed.  It wasn’t enough for me.

Four Quartets – 5 stars.  Excellent!  Loved it.  Can’t wait to read more of T.S. Elliot’s works.

The Call of the Wild – I had never read any of Jack London’s books.  This is the first one I chose to read, and I was not disappointed.  I loved it! 5 stars!

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July 2010

I thought June’s post was a bit scattered.  So this time, I’ve put made some categories to make it a little more organized.  Events, are the things we did during the month.  Movies is a list of movies and our reviews for them.  Celebrations are the birthdays and other events we celebrated in the month and finally books, is a section where I got over the books that I read during that month.  I hope you enjoy this new format.

Events


We had a great fourth of July party at our house over the holiday. We had both families come to a park near our home where we had hamburgers and hot dogs, went swimming and played lawn ball. It was a great day that was a lot of fun! I was able to play disc golf a few times this month with friends. It is always fun to get out and do something with Tim and Jeremy.

To celebrate our anniversary Michelle, Samantha and I went out to a fun dinner at the Elephant bar. The family and I also went to a pirate magic show at our local library this month too. I don’t think I have ever seen that many kids outside of a school before. There must have been 50 kids and well over 100 adults stuffed into a small room at the corner of the library. I think Samantha had a good time, but its really hard to say. The show started late around 7:30, and went until about 9pm, at which time Samantha was barely awake, but we could not have left any sooner than the end since the only exit was blocked by a huge crown of people.

I had a great lunch with my friend Ron.  We had not seen each other in about two years! Ron is an old podcasting friend of mine. Speaking of social media I also started a class at UCI Extension this month called Using the Web as a Marketing Tool.   I’m looking forward to it. I have already enjoyed the first weeks homework assignment, “Buy something online”.

I bought some new video games for the first time in a long time. Gamestop was having a buy 2 get one free sale so I bought 3 new games: Killzone 2, Resistance 2 and Uncharted 2. I have only played Killzone 2 so far, but I’m enjoying that game a lot. I have also played Uncharted and Resistance, the originals and really like both of them, so I’m looking forward to playing both of those too.

Our little girl Samantha had to get two crowns on her top front teeth, this month as well. I was surprised that it was needed and we even got a second opinion to make sure. Happily my brave little girl went through the procedure without so much as a grimace. Mommy and Daddy are so proud of her!

Michelle’s father is on the board of a credit union and every year the credit union has a meeting at the Park Hyatt (formerly Four Seasons Aviara) near my parent’s house. So her whole family (minus Paul) was down there and Michelle, Samantha and I joined them. It was nice to see my parents and we all got together one of the nights and had a great dinner at BJ’s.

Michelle’s birthday celebrations started early this year.  While we were down in Carlsbad my parents decided to surprise her with a cake.  She has been celebrating her birthday every day since!  That is a lot of candles on that cake!

When we got back from Carlsbad we celebrated even more….but you’ll have to wait until next month for that story.

Movies
Changeling – Good movie. Somewhat disturbing and sad, but al together good movie. This movie was based upon real events often called the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders.

Gamer was just a really really bad movie. Bad acting, terrible story, just skip this one.

The Last King of Scotland was and interesting story, like Changing it was based on true events and is actually based largely on the book written by Giles Foden. I have not read the book and probably won’t based on what I saw in the movie, which as gory, long and suspenseful.

Dark City was a great idea for a movie and wasn’t really bad, but it was not really good. It seemed like more of a B movie to me than anything else. It could have been so much more.

Kill Bill,  I didn’t really care for all the blood and guts in this movie and thought the story was pretty poorly thought out.

Cloverfield was a very different movie. The whole movie is shot from a handy cam. One handy cam. For me this made the movie hard to enjoy, but the more I thought about it this was probably the best way for this movie to be filmed, and its what really made the movie work. I like this movie more as time passes and I have more time to think about it.

The Invention of Lying was a very funny movie the the whole family watched.  Usually I just watch movies on my ipad, but Michelle wanted to watch this one since Jennifer Garner was in it.  I think Michelle enjoyed it as well.

Celebrations
This month we celebrated the following events.
Ty Maxey had his birthday on July 1
Michelle and I celebrated our 7th anniversary on the 12th.

Books
Last year I read 16 books.  I list 14 of them in a previous post.  This year I hope to read at least 30.  With the ones listed below I have reached 20.  Only 10 more books to hit my goal.  I have already read more than last year, so whatever happens I have made an improvement.

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner.  This book was just okay.  I gave it 3 stars.  I think Malcolm Gladwell writes these kind of books better.  I still think that I will read the second book though, Superfreakonomics.

Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care by Alan Greene.  I have read many baby books since (and before) Samantha was born and this one was devoted to how to feed your baby the right kinds of foods.  It was a recommendation from my mother-in-law.  I thought this book was worth reading, and might have been the best baby books with a food focus.  I gave it 3 stars.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.  I wanted to read this book because I never got the chance while I was in school.  It is part of my venture to read the classics.  I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars, but it might be more like 4.9.  The only reason it didn’t get a higher rating is because it is written for teens and children, not really for adults.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.  A classic novel.  Dove right into the story.  Was non-stop action and suspense.  I wish I had read more books like this.  It was truly a great novel.

On the Internet.  Below is a list of places you can “follow me” online if you so desire.

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/dahlenw
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jasond.watts (you’ll probably have to search for me, since I have this locked down pretty tight)
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/jason_watts
LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/jasondwatts
Foursquare: http://foursquare.com/user/dahlenw

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June 2010

June was a busy month for us. We went to Ruby’s for one of our first Kids Eat Free Tuesdays.  It was a huge success, Samantha loves French Fries!  While Google was switching from Windows to Mac, we were celebrating my sister and brother-in-laws anniversary on June 3.  I made the mistake of watching two very bad movies the first week of June too, Mall Cop and Pitch Black.  Samantha however, was having better luck and she scored a very cool Elmo shirt as a gift from Grandma Gigi.

Needless to say, the kids at the park are very jealous!  The next week I had better luck with movies.  I saw M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, which I really enjoyed.  By the 9th I was feeling better and starting to get over a cold I had had since May.  Well enough to watch the last match-up of the Stanley Cup Final game.  I read and watched Hamlet in June as well.  I liked both the book (very much) and the movie adaption that Gibson did. I had a great birthday.  On the 13th this year the whole family drove up to Santa Barbara to watch as my brother-in-law Philip graduated.  On the way up we stopped at the Santa Barbara mission for mass.

I also discovered that I share my birthday with 27% of the world’s population about 17,995,207 people.  Just after noon on that day we watched as Philip graduated.

Congratulations to Philip!  Afterwards, we had my favorite pizza at Rusty’s by the beach.  With full stomachs we went back to our motel called the Eagle Inn, which was AMAZING.  Michelle picked it out and I have to say it was an amazing place that I hope we can go back to soon!  I would highly recommend it if you ever find yourself in Santa Barbara.  The next morning we took Samantha to Chase Palm Park, a very cool park with a playground made to resemble a huge ship.

When we got back on June 14 we were welcomed home to a small shaker well, small by the time it got to us.  Always nice to be reminded that we live in earthquake country.  Later in the month I learned how to spell my name in Elvish.  I just know that will come in handy some day 😉

On the 19th I had a great birthday celebration in Carlsbad.  I hope everyone had a great time.  Plenty of food and good times.

I know Samantha had fun!  It was a celebration for a lot of people actually.  It was my mother’s birthday on the 16th and that weekend was Father’s day as well!  We had four dads there:  Duane, Jim, Tommy and myself.

We also managed to watch the new Alice in Wonderland film which I think we all liked, but then I tried to watch Pan’s Labyrinth, which I had heard good things about, but I didn’t like it at all.  On June 27th, we were lucky enough to be invited to Disneyland by my sister-in-law Lauren.  She works at Disneyland so she was able to get us in for free.  We met my parents when we got there and had a great time on the rides and watching the street parades.  While there we also celebrated my other sister-in-law’s birthday, Lisa!

Samantha wanted to visit Pooh, so we went on the ride and afterwards we were lucky enough to meet the bear in the flesh or fur as it were.

The shot above is right after she gave Pooh a kiss on the nose.  Everyone in line erupted in a instantaneous “AWWE!”  It was pretty adorable!

By the end of month I watched two more movies. Inglourious Basterds which if you can get past the strong language and gore, was a pretty good movie.  Lastly I watched Zathura, which is really like Jumanji, but in space.  I thought Zathura was really good.  In June, I also finished reading The Book Thief and Animal Farm.  The Book Thief was a recommendation from my friend Tim, and he was right on with this one.  I really like it.  I had never read Animal Farm in school, like most other people, but I did really enjoy this book as well.  Great month for books, not so much for the movies though.

Lastly, we took another Higson over to the dark side in June by purchasing David a Macbook Pro for his 8th grade graduation and birthday!  He was really surprised and we are very happy to have given him a gift that he will use in high school playing Mafia Wars and surfing Facebook, or I mean writing reports for school.

Speaking of Facebook, if your a friend of mine or Michelle’s there are a ton more pictures on our profiles.  Have a great day.

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Samantha

Finally, I’m making a post. Hopefully, I will be better at making posts. My last post may have been prior to Samantha’s birth. So much to share.

Samantha is nearly twenty months. Every day is a new adventure and very rewarding and exciting. Milestones: She’s now walking. She’s had a professional teeth cleaning in February and her next scheduled appointment will be in July. We walked to Ruby’s for dinner this week. We’ve dined there several times with Samantha, as it a fun place and kid friendly. Samantha gets an activity book and crayons. Samantha has been coloring for several months now. Her favorite activities are going to story time at the library and playing at the park. My mom takes her to story time twice a week; they both enjoy the outing. Our library is adjacent to a lake, so Samantha has an opportunity to see lots of ducks there. Actually, a couple of ducks are regular visitors to a neighboring condo, so she’s very familiar with ducks and other bird types. She likes pandas. She was the cutest panda for Halloween last year and will be a panda again this year. She has a panda stuffed animal and our 2010 calendar has only panda pictures. We are looking forward to the summer months. The beach club lagoon will be a fun experience for Samantha. The lagoon has a sandy shore and water slides. Depending on when we sell our condo, we will be moving at some point soon. We have a holiday weekend next weekend, Memorial Day Weekend, which will be so nice! Thanks for reading.

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Vegetarian Food

This is a call for your vegetarian recipes.  Please email me or post your favorite vegetarian recipe in the comments section below.  Once the comment is approved it will appear.  Michelle has recently taken more of an interest and I have always wanted to eat less animal products.  Substitutions are welcome.  For example, being lactose intolerant, I often eat cheese substitutes.

Image from Flickr User: museinthecity

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It’s all in the name!

Surname Map found on Lifehacker via CNET.

In the US there are 27,980 phone book entries with the surname Watts and approximately 74.613 persons with this name.

Thus, the surname Watts the 296th most frequent name in the US. 

Most occurrences are in Texas: 2,265. 

Other states with lots of occurrences are:

2. California  1,932
3. North Carolina 1,743
4. Florida 1,514
5. Georgia 1,291
6. Alabama  1,244
7. Tennessee 1,104
8. South Carolina 1,036
9. Kentucky 974
10. Virginia 972

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