Monday, April 29, 2013


In my humble opinion, this is a classic video of Mary Jane busting out her alphabet to me while sitting at the dinner table.  Betsy is having fun off to the left of the screen and Mary Jane feels like she is entertaining the masses.

Friday, April 26, 2013


Hey now, some of us are trying to blog here!  None of these ridiculous 3.2 earthquakes which are just a mere shifting boom in the crust.  We Californians expect things to shake and fall in case of quaking.  That was nothing more than a big truck driving by... even helicopters shake the house more than that.

I guess those pictures on don't translate well.  I try to place one over there to the left and all I got out of it was three not-exactly-parallel lines.  Why, that's modern art, for you.

Anyway, the girls never woke up and they've never really experienced a large earthquake (thank goodness).  Oh, but some day they will.  But hopefully not soon.  Hopefully not soon.

The bunnies on the other hand... they might be thumping away.

Having Fun at Music Class

Talking 'bout My Generation!
 Mary Jane and Betsy Jo thoroughly enjoy their Sunday morning music class over on Venice Blvd.  One man, one guitar, nine or ten children, random assortment of parents, noisemakers, scarves, and a tunnel.  What more could you ask?  Mary Jane and Betsy both jump up and down on the trampoline (that's what Baby Natalie is balanced on in the picture below) with aplomb.  Can't say that I've ever used 'aplomb' before in a sentence.
 Two girls with their jeans and Who t-shirts ready to dance!

You mean it's time to go?  Boo hoo!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Sea and the Sand

 Mary Jane and Betsy went to the beach on Friday afternoon for a brief sojourn while Daddy talked to some of his old UCLA work friends.  Initially, they were both hesitant of the sand as it can just get into everything.  Yes, nothing like raisin dropped in sand (ew, more fiber?).

But they had quite the time there.  The most difficult thing about the beach has always been just getting there.  Luckily it was a weekday afternoon and Daddy has always been quite keen about finding parking spaces adjacent to the ocean.  Hopefully they'll be back to the beach again soon.

Paul wanted to go but stayed in the car.  He was afraid of sharks. He refused any further comments about it.  I guess every week is shark week.  That's what Sharkey says.

Raisins... before the Sand
Flopped on the Sand

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

To Bee or Not to Bee

Bees in our tree
This past weekend Mister John came to the surprising discovery that there was a swarm of bees in the corner of the backyard.  No, not the little Bee Girl from the Blind Melon video, actual bees.  While he was feeding the rabbits, he heard a buzz or two and didn't think much of it.  But then he looked straight up, and there it was, three feet above his head, a large swarm of bees centered around their queen.  Needless to say he was a bit startled and was about to tell Miss Jill that they needed Animal Control.  However, that would have been a bad choice of words as that's the number one calls with a deceased animal.  (Thump.)  Time to call some bee people whomever they may be.  At least someone who will deal with the swarm with funny hats and smoke guns or whatever it takes.

Not exactly in our tree
Some  volunteer on the phone said that sometimes the swarms just leave after a day or two.  Well, the bees seemed to grow in strength.  Minor bit of panicking.  Mister John tried to use the sprinkler and later the hose -- all the while ready to bolt for the den door in case of angry swarm -- but neither of those choices seemed to work.  Time to call the professionals.  It took him about 30 minutes but it was successful as he took the queen and the majority of the swarm with him, leaving us the honeycomb behind.

The beemaster told Mister John and Miss Jill that there was actually a swarm of the Africanized bees at a construction site in Marina del Rey this afternoon.  Wow, the actual "killer" bees.  They're on the Westside!  How can they afford the rent?  That assuredly means that the happy couple will stay an even more distant step from the next bee or two that they will see.
The professional

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cooking in the Kitchen

After Daddy cleaned the back yard kitchen with Mary Jane and Betsy Jo this afternoon, Mary Jane decided to cook her own meal.  Wisely using the microwave, Mary Jane cooked her pretzel with a great deal more efficiently.  After all was completed, she proudly proclaimed, "It's my lunch!"  Yes, it is your lunch... and a good one at that.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Brief Note from Betsy Jo

Betsy Jo says Hello to all the nay-sayers who don't think she can make another cute picture.  There ya go.  She'll make another one tomorrow as well.

As for the bunnies, they were not happy (or hoppy for that matter) of being chased around today by Betsy and Mary Jane.  "Not so cute," proclaimed Heidi in between thumps.

And so it goes in the Erb family for another Friday...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Getting to and from Mary Star today was no easy task.  Nothing like stalling in the middle of traffic a few different times.  But I made it.  Assuredly I made it.  I won't be trying that again any time soon but it can be done.

Got home right in time for baths.  Ah, nothing like Mary Jane and Betsy Jo splashing about.

"Cold water time!"  Yes, indeed... nothing like being able to drink some cold water from the tap after a nice long warm bath.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Beware the New Stick Shift Driver!

Watch out, San Pedro.  Mister John is heading down to San Pedro tomorrow in the CRV... yep, a stick shift.  Jump onto the the sidewalks... find some sort of escape route.  At least the departure from  home will be no later than 6:30 so the roads will still be clear of potential victims.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Ruby Jane Makeover?

Ruby Jane was having doubts about her own flop-eared appearance and this afternoon briefly thought about having stand-up ears.  However, she realized that was not the real her and she then chased her cage-mate Philip around the cage and bit him.  That's what he gets for mocking her appearance.  Luckily Mr. John was around to take this photo before the mocking and the resultant chomping occurred.

Let's See If Fate Is for the Birds

Along the trip home from southern Utah, we stayed one brief evening at the Venetian in Las Vegas.  It was a fun night... the girls got to go swimming, we had an absolutely delicious dinner there, and the gambling was a success.  The pai gow dealer was colder than Greenland which warmed up my end of the table.  With my winnings came a very minimal wager on the team with the pic down below.  Hey, if one of their key bench players breaks a leg, that's got to unify everyone... right?  Besides, I still remember the near brawl we had with Wichita State so long ago.  Of course that we refers to the UCLA Bowling Team.  Yes, we had a team!          Anyway, go Cards minus the 10.5.

Post-game update:

Argh... they won but by not nearly enough.  They trailed the whole game... thank you, 8-0, deficit.  If they would have started off at a more reasonable start...

That's what I get for betting the favorite.  Go Bruins.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Best Laid Schemes o' Pandas and Giraffes...

Mary Jane and Betsy Jo with their animal backpacks
What, me a British lit teacher?  Never.

Anyway, I had this great idea yesterday to see if I could take a walk around the block with Mary Jane and Betsy Jo wearing their animal packs with the "leashes" that would be tucked on each arm of mine.  I knew it would be difficult: the girls do walk at different speeds, have varying walking interests, and don't necessary listen to commands.  Then again, that could also be my sophomores.

I wore Mary Jane's "leash" with my left hand and Betsy's was on my right.  The first 50 feet worked splendidly.   They both giggled and ran intermittently.  Mary Jane tried to escape the gravitational pull of Daddy but was unable to extend more than the 3-4 feet in front of me.  She'd slow down, wait for my long stride to catch up to her, and then take off again.  That worked well for a few houses.  But that was not the problem.

Alas, poor Betsy, she didn't feel like walking.  She was in her Ferdinand the Bull mode.  Betsy wasn't necessarily smelling the flowers -- well, it is spring so it would be as good of a time as any -- but she did want to see all the sites of Dewey.  Never mind that she had to keep pace with Daddy who trying to slow down Mary Jane.  Being tugged at both ends wasn't too helpful... it did make me think about the gravitational pull of the sun and moon upon the Earth.  Seriously!  It did.  That's what I get for spending too much time covering the Space Race and other extraterrestrial (ouch!) things for AD this fall.
Betsy before the fall
Finally, the flop occurred.  Betsy Jo could take no more and fell down with a thud.  Mary Jane kept trying to tug me forward which would then drag Betsy on the sidewalk.  Not a good idea... so I made my executive decision and turned for home.  Mary Jane was not too happy about it as she wanted to get some bamboo for Paul, her stuffed panda.  He's quite the needy panda.

Of course the drama didn't end yet with these excessively cute animal backpacks.  Mary Jane realized that if she stepped on the "tail" of the backpack, Betsy would... yes... THWACK.  Right on the paved driveway.  I should have seen that coming but then again, I think I was annoyed at my shoe lace becoming untied a few seconds previous.

This anecdote was not to criticize the producer of those animal backpacks.  They seem to serve quite a good purpose.  But one dad, two girls, two arms... as Jesus once said, ain't happenin'.  OK, maybe he didn't say that... but maybe he did.  Once.  In Aramaic.

Do Not Feed Wildlife!

That man there is going to get a $100 penalty.  Oops, that's Grampa Kendall trying to feed Betsy who is turning away from him.  Well, maybe he can claim he wasn't feeding her since her back was turned.  (Remember, it's not an illegal block if the defender turns his back on you just before you block him.)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Dirt Road to Heaven

In the midst of our sojourn through Utah last week, a bunch of us drove northeast to the small town of Tropic, Utah, in order to go on an ATV tour through the countryside.  Uncle Greg, Aunt Lisa, Grampa Charles, Cousins Ryan and Connor, my wife, and I all readied ourselves for an afternoon of four-wheeling fun.  Never mind that I had never ridden one of these four legged things before in my life.  Or I completely lacked all skills regarding stick shift driving.

After getting to Tropic an hour early and seeing all the sites... ok, maybe just the cultural museum (which had an incredibly clean bathroom, thank you very much), we jumped on our rides and headed out into the wilderness.  Oh, but one cannot forget those helmets.  Mine was a bit too tight but I never felt the pain for the first two hours.  That was all dealing with the horrors of not falling off the path or then mis-shifting while driving up a steep hill of loose rocks.  But all was manageable and, yes, I survived.
Miss Jill ready to roll

Looking up from a canyon
Miss Jill also had a blast as she soared ahead at speeds up to and over 40 mph.  Go, Mommy, go!!!  I managed to pass Cousin Ryan and Uncle Greg to catch up to her.  Ah, nothing like having dirt-crusted faces at the end of the day.  But oh the sites to be seen.  After visiting an old mine (later filled in by the Bureau of Land Management, a seeming enemy of the people of Utah), we all rode a steep hill of rocks to get to an incredible mesa.  From there I briefly taped a video of the sweeping landscape.

At least the boots we brought for the hiking worked out for the rides as well.  My boots were initially black... I think they're a touch grey now.  Then again I might want to wash them.
Mister John decked out in glorious splendor

Monday, April 1, 2013

No Fooling! Erb Family Back at Home

The Venetian, where we stayed last night
After a long vacation in Utah (no worries, many pics and videos to be placed on the blog in the next few days), the Erb family stayed one night in Las Vegas before heading home this afternoon.  There is no truth to the rumor that Mommy taught Mary Jane to say, "Vegas, baby!"  Mary Jane only can say, "Las Vegas!"  And no, Daddy did not teach her to say, "Viva Las Vegas!" either.

Before leaving for home this morning, Daddy wisely placed some action on the Dodgers this afternoon.  A 4-0 victory over the Hated Ones gave Daddy, a lifelong Dodger fan, double satisfaction: an Opening Day victory as well as money in the pockets.  As the old saying goes, "Baby needs a new pair of shoes!"  Indeed, I think Betsy Jo does.
The Dodgers iconic logo