Category Archives: OC Adventures

1128 Kraemer – Schaener Ranch

We moved to Placentia almost two years ago.  1128 Kraemer, Placenta, CA is a property within the city that I have always wondered about.  Especially recently as my weekend runs often take me past it.  I have had a better view of the property.  I have also looked it up on google maps recently.  Image below.

Schaner Garden FarmI assure you this is not how the rest of the beautiful city of Placentia looks.  So then, whats the deal with this place?  So to Google I went and searched on the address.  Which lead me to a place called Schaner Farm. Or spelled a little differently can be Schaener Ranch.  Turns out the city is considering building town homes on this location.

The Future

Schaner-Ranch_01-560x300

The 112-unit structure, labeled Schaener Ranch…would span 7.98 acres and would include 50 townhome units, 50 duplex units and commercial space with 12 more units positioned above that.  There is a Facebook page on it for anyone interested and an article from the OC Register.  And finally you can click here to view an FAQ on the project.

The development is being proposed by homebuilder HQT Homes, which has constructed similar projects in Lakewood and Bellflower.  The units would range from $200k to $500k.

“(We) hope to have city approval by March or April. We will start grading beginning in July and would start building by the end of the year,” Huennekens said. Homes would be ready by 2014, he added.

The Past

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Here is a picture I took on one of my runs.  Its an Emu I think.  It looks like the property used to be an organic farm.  As early as 2012.  You can read more about Schaner Garden Farm at Farmer Dave‘s website.

 

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Watts Family Online Newsletter August 2011

Wow! I have really fallen off the wagon now. I have not posted a Watts Family Newsletter since February. My apologies. So much has happened since February. It is a terrible excuse, but I guess I’ve just been too busy to post anything. Looking back to March was fun. The picture below was taken at a fiesta at the Balderrama’s home in Redlands. Michelle was actually looking at it last night and said that it always makes her laugh. Samantha was less enthusiastic and just looked at me like she was embarrassed and disappointed in me. Brother! My aunt Angela put it another way, “Good Grief, Pedro!”

I’m still reading a ton of books. Mostly listening, but I do get some real books in there whenever I can. I’m at 78 for the year. My original goal was 100 and it looks like I won’t have a problem hitting that number by the end of the year. Some of my favorites since February are: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson (3rd in the trilogy), Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, Bossypants by Tina Fey, and Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.

We put our condo up for sale and it took a while, but it is now in escrow and Michelle and I are shopping for new homes in northern Orange County. I got an iPad 2, best purchase of the year so far.

Late in March, we all go sick. Wasn’t too bad, but turned out Samantha had an ear infection, so we had to get her some meds, but of course she is 110% now. Speaking of Samantha she is doing very well. She has been going to “Mommy and Me” classes all summer long with Gigi and is signed up for Pre-school in the Fall. She is learning so much. Last week she was commanding us around, “Daddy, play dollies with me! Mommy, get me my milk!” and I asked her, “Just who do you think the boss is around here?” And without so much as a moment of hesitation she said “Me!”.

Samantha is addicted to the Disney fairies and Barbie. She watches all the Barbie movies (yes, there are many of them) and Fairy movies (again, lots of movies) over and over again. And being the boss she demands that daddy sits next to her on the couch, while she watches the movies with a dolly in each hand. I am very thankful for the iPad!

Samantha and Gigi still go to the library a few times a week. Samantha enjoys story-time and there is a nice park near the library they like to go to as well.

We got to go to Disneyland in April. It is always a pleasure and we always have fun. Samantha’s favorites are King Arthur’s Carousel and Dumbo! This time we waited in line for about 2 hours to see Tangled! Samantha wanted to leave towards the end but we stuck it out and got to see her.

I enjoyed watching the Ducks in the playoffs in April…until they lost. Easter at my parent’s home was a great time, despite the rain during the Easter egg hunt.

In May we went to my new favorite fancy-dancy restaurant in Laguna Beach. It’s called Watermarc, and they have one killer martini! Speaking of great drinks, I’m still addicted to Starbucks but now I have a new partner in crime. Samantha loves the birthday cake pop they have at Starbucks and is continually asking for them. I don’t mind any excuse to go to Starbucks.

June was a great month and not just because that’s when my birthday is, although that was a great day too. I got to watch the Stanley cup games (Thanks Michelle) and my dad and grandmother from New Mexico came to visit. It was pretty cool to see my grandmother, it had been a very long time!

June was also the month that my brother-in-law William graduated from high school! We were so busy, we also had a great mini vacation in Santa Barbara in June. We stayed at our favorite place and got to hang out with my sister-in-law, Lisa. It was really a great vacation! Our vacation didn’t end in Santa Barbara though, we also too Samantha to Pretend City, it’s like a theme park for toddlers. It was pretty cool. We also hit the beach and the Aquarium of the Pacific. And last but certainly not least we went to Legoland down by my mom’s house.

In July, Michelle and I had our 8th wedding anniversary. Also in July was Comic-Con. It was hot and crowded. We (Duane and I)waited in line for 4 hours and finally got in to see the panels for Eureka (cancelled a month later), Warehouse 13 (great show) and True Blood (adults only!). It was a funny, but exhausting day! Before the month was out Samantha graduated to a toddler bed. She had no problem moving from the crib to the bed. She loves it, sleeps in it all night without problems and thinks to the Disney princess sheets that we got her are awesome! On July 30, we went to my father-in-laws company picnic. Free food and lots of fun. He and Lauren, my sister-in-law joined me for a quick game of disc golf at the really nice course they have at El Dorado Disc Golf Course in Long Beach.

August was Michelle’s birthday. We went to Yardhouse with Samantha. Samantha was so tired she fell asleep at the restaurant. If you have ever been to a Yardhouse, then you know it is so loud, you can hardly hear yourself think. It’s virtually impossible to carry on a conversation without the use of sign language and Samantha feel asleep and stayed asleep. She woke up after we left the Yardhouse and entered a Sees candy shop for a snack. Just like her mother! A real Sees lover.

I think that catches us up pretty well. It’s been a fun few months, and we are excited about what is to come in the next few.

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February 2010

Events

February started out with my discovery of ReinaDelCid on youtube. She’s great. Check out this video below:

I started posting every week day to historyonair.com, my podcast website, that is quickly becoming a history blog and not a podcast, because I simply cannot find the time to podcast anymore. I’ll keep trying though. On February 3rd we had a Chinese New Year celebration at the office, I took some video of that.

On Feb. 6 we watched some of the Super Bowl just like the rest of the nation. I’ve had lots of fun in my Social Media classes in February I posted some of the work I did for the class on this blog. History on Air also got a Fan page on Facebook this month. This month I started to use Gowalla instead of Foursquare. Why? I like the icons and badges better on Gowalla.

On February 22nd, my office bought In and Out for all the employees. That was really cool.

Movies

The Social Network 3 out of 5 stars, better than I thought it would be. Worth watching.

The A-Team – 4 out of 5 stars, again, unexpectedly good. Tried to stay true to the old tv show, but not such a great job at that.

Books

Storytelling: Branding in Practice – 4 out of 5 stars. I read this for my social media classes. Lots of case studies. All pretty interesting. Good read.

Creative Composition: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques – 3 out of 5 stars. Pretty good, nice photos not a real beginner book, but still good.

The Story of Classical Music – 5 out of 5 stars. This was an excellent audio book. Lots of examples and lots of information. Even some great history of the composers.

Social Media Metrics: How to Measure and Optimize Your Marketing Investment (New Rules Social Media Series) – 3 out of 5 stars. Not as impressive as the other social media books I have read. This book culls together everything else that has already been said and summarizes it. Nothing mind blowing here. Let down.

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think – 3 out of 5 stars. This was close to 4 stars. Lots of case studies, good information. Very interesting. Worth reading.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – 2 out of 5 stars. Another one of the spin off books from the Harry Potter series. This just was not all that interesting. Let down.

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2) – 4 out of 5 stars. Another in the Percy Jackson series. Still interesting. I’m still caught up in this series. Well written and keeps you reading!

ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income – 5 out of 5 stars. Great book. Tons of good information. Perfect for anyone who wants to take their blog to the next level.

Blogging For Dummies – 2 out of 5 stars. Boring. Nothing new and nothing worth saying.

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December 2010

Events

This month we went to Disneyland again. Thanks to Samantha’s cool aunt Lauren, I think we have gone the last 6 months in a row. We had a great time again this time. The weather was looking pretty bad, but it didn’t rain. I think the fact that it didn’t look that good and that it was a Thursday helped keep people out of the park. This meant we had more time to have fun, because we didn’t have to fight the crowds. This visit also marked the first time Samantha had been to Ariel’s Grotto. At this restaurant the cast members are dressed as 5 princesses (Ariel, Snow White, Bell, Cinderella, and Jasmine). Samantha was very shy and didn’t like being close to the princesses, but when they walked away from the table, she acted excited to see them.

Christmas was really special for us this year. Because we had three of them! Our first Christmas was early at my parent’s house in Carlsbad. They of course spoiled us all with presents, good food, and great company. We all had a blast. Our next Christmas was on Christmas Eve at Michelle’s parents house. Again, we were regaled with presents, great food and great company. Lastly we had our own little family Christmas on Christmas day. Samantha had a great time and must think that Christmas last a month now.

Immediately after our Christmas we started packing for our vacation to Arizona. We had a good drive there and back. It is about 5 and a half hours with stops for eating. We made much better time going home, because we stopped less. Samantha was a little angel for the drives. Once there were greeted by my extended family. Some of them stayed at my aunt Lee’s house and the overflow, which included Samantha, Michelle, myself, Rick, Barbie, Autumn and Trevor, stayed at a timeshare Lee and Ron have that is also in Scottsdale. It was a beautiful place, but didn’t really compare to Lee and Ron’s beautiful Scottsdale home. We had a wonderful vacation there and attended my aunt Barbie’s wedding to Rick, while in Scottsdale.

Celebrations

Bill Kita’s birthday 12/16

Bill Watts’ birthday 12/21

Tim Thompson 12/22

Barbie and Rick’s Wedding 12/27

Robyn Plouse 12/18

James Higson 12/31

Cole Lesile 12/25

Movies

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – 3.5/5 stars.  Not bad.  Not great.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – 4.5/5 stars.  Great movie, only disappointment is having to wait for the second part.

Robin Hood – 4/5 stars.  Good action flick.

Grown Ups – 3/5 stars.  Funny.

Twilight: Eclipse – 3/5 stars.  Okay.  Just like the others, read the books, they are much, much better.

Despicable Me – 3/5 stars.  Excellent to see in 3D.  Kids movie that doesn’t appeal to adults as much as it possible could.

The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of the Ga’Hoole – 1/5 stars.  Terrible.  Boring.

Inception – 4.5/5 stars.  Excellent concept.  Would like to see more like this.

Books

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan – 4/5 stars.  Great book.  Looking forward to reading more.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde – 3/5 stars.  Being generous with this one.  Great idea, but the book totally misses taking advantage of it.

The Tristan Betrayal by Robert Ludlum – 3/5 stars.  Good spy novel.

Deception Point by Dan Brown – 4/5 stars. Dan Brown does it again  and again.  He is just a great author.

The Essential Lewis and Clark by Meriwether Lewis, William Clark – 3/5 stars.  Dry, reads like a diary, because it is.  Wish it would have read like a novel.

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow – 4/5 stars.  Excellent Sci-Fi.  More I think about it, this actually deserves 5 stars.  This book is also public domain.

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November 2010

Events
On November 1st, I tried to buy tickets for Comic Con, since then, I’ve tried once more.  Both times their registration system online failed and let no one order tickets.  I hope they fix this soon and I can buy tickets, I’m looking forward to going.  On the 2nd Michelle and I both voted.  On November, 5th I finally got my barista badge on foursquare.

You get this badge by checking in at 5 different locations.  For those of you who don’t know, I’m completely addicted to Starbucks coffee.  On November 7th our church had a book fair.  Michelle got a lot of great books for Samantha and I got about 5 books for myself.  Almost all of them only 25 cents!  To top off the morning they were also having a pancake breakfast!

On November 12th, I went to a Ducks game at the Honda Center.  I had a great time with my friends Tim and Jean.  The Ducks won too!  It was a great game and a fantastic night.  I can’t wait until Samantha is old enough to join Dad at the games!

On November 14th, Lauren took Samantha, Michelle and I to Disneyland again.  We had a great time as we always do!  Samantha had a slight cold this month.  It didn’t amount to much more than a runny nose for a few days, so we are very thankful that she is feeling better.

Just before Thanksgiving we celebrated my father’s birthday in Carlsbad.  They already had their tree up so the kids, Samantha and Cousin Ryan, helped their grandparents decorate the tree.

I took the week of Thanksgiving off and spent my free days with Samantha.  Playing Mr. Mom was great, exhausting, but great.  We spent Thanksgiving at the Higson’s home.  They were very gracious to invite us to their home and treat us to a wonderful meal and great company.  We had a great day!

A few days after Thanksgiving we traveled north to our friends home in Los Angeles.  The Sullivan’s had a wonderful “Friendsgiving” party.  We ate another wonderful thanksgiving meal and had more wonderful company.  We are very lucky to have such good friends.  That about wraps up November.  Sorry this update was so late, but if you think November was busy for us, just wait until you read about December!

Books
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli 3/5 stars

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium #2) by Stieg Larsson 5/5 stars –  Great book. Sudden ending. Looking forward to reading the last in the series.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving 5/5 stars –   Excellent book!!!

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Visual Companion 4/5 stars –   Michelle gave me this a long time ago.  Just found it recently and it made a good quick read.

Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims’ First Year in America by Glenn Alan Cheney 2/5 stars – Thanksgiving I would not recommend this book.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey 4/5 stars –   Wish there was a 4.5 category. Great book! Slow to start but really picks up and gets interesting. Amazing descriptions and fantastic characters.

Movies
Oceans – 3 stars.  Okay.  Not as good as I hoped.  Nowhere near the caliber of Planet Earth.

Toy Story 3 – 3.5 stars.  Finally got a chance to watch this.  I thought it was a great ending to the trilogy.

The American – 2 stars.  This could have been a cool spy flick, but it didn’t amount to much in my humble opinion.

The Reader – 4 stars.  This movie grew on me, after I had time to think about it more.  Good story, very interesting.

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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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