Category Archives: Kids

Deseret Peak with Isaac, Charlotte, and their grandma

After our hiking adventures in Arches National Park a couple of weeks ago, I started getting the thought that the kids (especially Charlotte) could take on a serious hike. I had a really great hike on Deseret Peak a few years ago, and the week after Labor Day seemed like a good time, but I hadn’t really committed to anything until the night before. It all felt like it was a little impulsive, but I invited my mom, told the kids, and we set off at 6:30 on Saturday the 12th. It’s a bit of a drive out to the trailhead; we got started hiking around 8:30.


One thing about Deseret Peak is that it’s an alpine wilderness surrounded by Utah’s desert. There are lots of woods on the way up, and even though it was late in the year, the stream was still running. A view of North Willow Peak through the trees from the trail:DSC02430-01

We took it easy on the way up, with lots of stops for rest and snacks:DSC02433

I said this is a serious hike. Well, for folks more athletic than I am (and that’s most of you!), it’s not so bad. A little over 4 miles to the summit, but a lot of elevation gain: about 3600′. Here’s the crew climbing up some switchbacks:DSC02441

There’s a tough climb up to a ridge that’s right around 10,000′. Once on the ridge, a big meadow opens up, with some nice rocks for having lunch:


Isaac was pleased to note that no one had thrown up at this point. (Isaac threw up on our Delicate Arch hike, and I have a little history of barfing when I get to about 9500′.) After our lunch break, we hit the trail up toward the summit. At this point, there’s still another 1000′ to climb, and after the switchbacks up to the ridge, it can be a little tiring. We met some nice folks from Florida who called it quits at about 10,500′.

I kept telling Isaac and Charlotte that they’d know we’d made it when they looked around and there was nothing higher than them. I could tell they were hurting a little on this last stretch. You really feel the altitude, and it takes some commitment to keep going up. There was a little complaining, but I kept telling them to think about the positives: think about telling your friends how you toughed it out; think about being higher than you’ve ever been before; look at how far up we’ve come already.DSC02449

Here we are just a bit below the summit:


Finally, I was able to shout: “CHILDREN! Is there ANYTHING higher than you are?” (There was not.)DSC02479



The view from 11,031 feet:


Time to head back down:



We made pretty good time back down to the ridge, where I got a nice picture of the kids enjoying the view to the north. The van is 2600′  down and 3 miles away still (somewhere behind Charlotte’s head, I think):DSC02513

Here we are at the sign post at the top of the ridge, just before heading down the switchbacks (this is looking the other way, to the south):DSC02515

Coming down wears you out, and we were all starting to feel it. Here we are making our way down the switchbacks below the ridge:DSC02528

The trail back always seems twice as long when you’re tired, and we were all glad to be back at the van. Charlotte was proud of how dirty her feet were:DSC02546

Our final obstacle was this ridiculous deer. She just looked at me when I beeped the horn at her, but the kids thought it was pretty funny. DSC02553

I was proud of how well Isaac and Charlotte (not to mention my mom!) did with this hike. It’s a lot of climbing for a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old, and they toughed it out. I’m always pleased when they’re willing to do tough things, and this hike will prime them for more adventures. Assuming I can keep up with them.

Trip to Huntington and Arches with Dan and Bethani

I’m a murderer. A mur-diddly-urgler.

Well, that’s how I feel sometimes after underestimating the desert. But let’s not get too far ahead! Let’s go back to August 4th.

With my sister and her husband visiting us from California, the time was right to get out to the red rock. Dan hadn’t ever had the chance to see it, and Bethani hadn’t been to Huntington in many years. For those who aren’t aware, Huntington, UT is where I lived until I was 8 years old. My dad taught at the LDS seminary there (and did about 40 other jobs as well). And since we weren’t able to make the trip to Seattle this year, I thought that the children could use an adventure. So we loaded selected children (those I figured could do some hiking) into the Sienna and headed south and east. Read more »

Cedar Point 2014

Ever since I married Kathleen and we started visiting Ohio occasionally we’ve made it a point to go to Cedar Point. I like roller coasters (though I wouldn’t say I’m as hard-core as some of the nerds on the internet), and Cedar Point is probably the best single collection of coasters on the planet. So with our trip to Ohio this summer, we made plans to go and bring Isaac and Charlotte along.

Charlotte is just barely 48″ in shoes, which means she wasn’t tall enough for many rides, but she was tall enough for some of the best. Isaac was just short of the 52″ requirement for that next tier of rides as well. So we planned accordingly.

We wanted to give Isaac and Charlotte a chance to experience some really great coasters, and we wanted to break them in gently so they’d have a good time and not be too intimidated. We loaded up and headed for Sandusky with Bryan, Grandpa Bird, and Cousin Paul to hit the park.

It turned out Paul was too small to ride anything big, which was disappointing for him, but he still had a chance to ride a lot of smaller rides with his grandpa. We split up to try our first coaster – Paul and Grandpa to some smaller rides, and the rest of us to a pretty mild coaster, the Iron Dragon, that we’d picked as our starter.

Isaac, Kathleen, Charlotte, and Bryan in line to ride the Iron Dragon

Isaac, Kathleen, Charlotte, and Bryan in line to ride the Iron Dragon

Charlotte was pretty nervous, but she tried hard to be brave, and it seemed like she had a pretty good time. We took a break from coasters to drive the antique cars:

Isaac drove me around.

Isaac drove me around.

Charlotte was nervous about this at first, too.

Charlotte was nervous about this at first, too.

From there, we thought the mine ride would be a good next stop.

Isaac, Kathleen, Charlotte, and Bryan waiting to ride.

Isaac, Kathleen, Charlotte, and Bryan waiting to ride.

Then it was time for lunch. We had a quick snack in the van, than a too-long line for bumper cars, and then Charlotte went with Paul and Grandpa Bird for some more gentle rides while Kathleen, Bryan, Isaac and I went to ride a coaster.

We opted for the Magnum XL-200, which was one of the early “hypercoasters”, built back in 1989. It was the first coaster higher than 200 feet and was the tallest, fastest, and steepest coaster when it opened. It’s still a pretty great ride. But sadly, it broke down while we were in line, so we wound up jumping out of line and riding a new ride, the Pipe Scream:

It was OK, but the line was kind of long. But when we got off, we saw that the Magnum was running again, so we headed over there to give it a ride. Isaac was a little nervous, but he seemed to have a good time, and more than that, he was pretty proud of himself for being brave and riding it. Here’s the official video so you can get a sense for it:

We also took the time to re-create a famous picture, with Kathleen as a stand-in for another participant:

Bryan, Isaac, Kathleen, and Zach reproduce a prior photo.

Bryan, Isaac, Kathleen, and Zach reproduce a prior photo.

After this ride, things got a little muddled. Kathleen and I had really poor phone reception (in fact, we wound up borrowing phones from people at points during the day), so we had trouble connecting with Grandpa Bird and meeting up again. But we wound up going to the van to get some snacks and drinks, and then getting Charlotte again to try to hit some more rides. We didn’t want to abandon Grandpa Bird, but since Paul couldn’t ride anything while Isaac and Charlotte could, we thought we’d try to get Charlotte a chance at another big coaster. Kathleen and I also decided to try the parent’s pass thing, which lets one parent ride while the other one is with the kids, then they trade off and the other parent rides without waiting in line. We were able to try a couple of new rides this way:

Somewhere in this mix we lost Bryan, though, and then we weren’t able to connect with our next meeting. After looking around for a while, Kathleen, Isaac, Charlotte and I went on to try to ride the Millennium Force.

Millennium Force was a new coaster when Kathleen and I first visited Cedar Point, and it was another record breaker. It’s still impressively high and fast, and Charlotte was pretty intimidated. The track runs past the line, so you are quite close to the trains whipping by at close to 90 mph. Pretty soon into our wait in line it was clear that Charlotte was too scared to try this time. So when we got to the station, Isaac and I got on while Kathleen and Charlotte went around to the exit platform.

Isaac was pretty scared; the lift is very high and very fast, and the cars are really open. He spent the lift looking at his shoes, and I didn’t blame him; when I was his age I was scared to death of the Colossus at Lagoon, which is 85 feet high with a top speed of maybe 55 mph. Millennium Force is 310 feet high, by comparison. It’s a scary hill. But once we were over the top, he started to really enjoy it. I love this coaster; it’s very fast, very smooth, with huge sweeping turns. Isaac had a good time too. Here’s the official video so you can get a sense:

As we came into the exit platform, Kathleen and Charlotte were waiting. Kathleen hopped on to ride while Isaac, Charlotte, and I exited. As we were waiting for Kathleen’s ride, Charlotte started to cry.

“Dad, can I have another chance?” In spite of everything, being so frightened, and getting right up to the ride, Charlotte still wanted to go.

“Of course you can!” So when Kathleen got off, they went right into the line to try again. I was proud of Charlotte for giving it another try in spite of being scared.

We’d promised Charlotte she could have Panda Express for dinner if she gave it a try, and that’s where Isaac and I went. Unfortunately, just as Isaac and I got our food, they shut down the restaurant, so Charlotte didn’t get her reward. (Coincidentally, I’m finishing this post after returning from lunch with Charlotte at Panda Express; we finally kept our promise!)

Charlotte and Kathleen came off the ride, and then we started heading for the exit as the park was shutting down. Kathleen and Charlotte ran one way to hit Charlotte’s favorite ride (the Matterhorn, a spinny flat ride) and Isaac and I went to ride the Blue Streak, which we regretted since we got knocked around a ton and got a headache (still fun, though).

So we came with the hope that Isaac and Charlotte would get a chance to try some roller coasters, and just maybe they’d be brave enough to ride a big one. In the end, they both got a chance to ride one of the biggest and best in the world, which I call a successful day at Cedar Point.

Zach at 37 – the Oldening

Birthday Songs:

Bon Jovi – Just Older
Robert Earl Keen – Feelin’ Good Again
Semisonic – This Will Be My Year
Taj Mahal – Further on Down the Road
Stars – Changes
The Soul Stirrers – God is Standing By
Leon Russel – Say Yes To Jesus
Harry Connick, Jr. – S’pposed To Be
Johnny Winter – Johnny B. Goode
OMD – Metroland
Billy Joe Shaver – Ride Me Down Easy
Slaid Cleaves – Hard to Believe
Bob Marley – Coming In From the Cold
The Rentals – Please Let That Be You
Weezer – Memories
Sly and the Family Stone – I Want to Take You Higher
Willaim Elliott Whitmore – Not Feeling Any Pain
Daft Punk – Fragments of Time
Guy Clark – Maybe I Can Paint Over That


Height – 5’ 9 5/8”
Weight – 190
Build – Muppet


Hair – Brown. Needs a haircut.
Eyes – Brown
Teeth – No cavities



Name – Sandy (from the Bruce Springsteen song, “4th of July, Asbury Park”)
Age – about 6 months
Color – grayish
Behavior – pretty bad (mothers-in-law strongly cautioned!)



Year: 1988
Make: Honda
Model: Accord LXi Hatchback, 2.0l, 5-speed
Color: Montreal Blue
Status: Runs great, but needs struts, CV axles, maybe a clutch, and an oil change. Also needs a new glove box.




I think there are five of them.


I still play piano, guitar, and harmonica, all pretty badly, but I have fun.

I still write a little.

I still like computer games. Favorites these days are Starbound (I like to play that one with Isaac), Xcom (I usually play on the Classic level, with Ironman enabled, which means I get slaughtered), and anything in the Total War series.

I enjoy music, especially odd-balls like Belle and Sebastian, Texas country, rock, blues, and whatever. I don’t listen to as much jazz these days, but I still enjoy it.

I like to watch sports, especially the Colts, the Jazz, BYU, and the Vols.

Thomas’s 4-month Well Check


Name:  Thomas Deane Cochran

Age: 4 months, 6 days

Weight: 13 lbs 7 oz.     20th percentile

Length:   23 1/4 inches       Less than 5th percentile

Head Circumference:   17 7/8 inches     90th percentile

Last well check (2 months) comparison:

Age = +2 months and 3 days, weight = +2 lb 7 oz, length = +1 1/4 inches, head = +2 3/8 inches

A Video of Thomas

Ok, here’s the live version to accompany last night’s post.  I took a video of him smiling.  It’s a little long (more than 3 min) so I assume that the only people who will want to watch the whole thing are close family members or people who just like looking at babies.  This video is uncut and does include spit-up and possibly some embarrassing baby talk by me, but it does start off with a smile:

Christmas Thoughts: Presents

Our family has celebrated Christmas in what seemed like tough circumstances the last couple of years. In 2009, we’d just moved to Tennessee and didn’t really know many people. We missed our families a lot. We’d just had a new baby and so we didn’t put a lot of effort into making the time special for the kids. It just seemed kind of lonely and anticlimactic. Then, in 2010, we were in the midst of packing up for our move to Seattle. We had Christmas on the floor amid piles of boxes, eating on paper plates. Kathleen and I both had talks to give in church the next day, and on top of that was the immense stress of packing for a cross-country move with all the uncertainty that brought with it.

This year, I’ve wanted to make it memorable. I’ve been buying gifts here and there since summer; the children have lots of great gifts, and I’ve probably spent a little too much. I’ve been trying to think of new traditions and events we can have. I’ve badgered my parents and sisters into driving here and spending Christmas with us.

But something has still been a little bit off.

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Bedtime at our house

I did my rounds checking on the kids and thought I’d just snap a fairly typical scene about an hour after formal bedtime.

Isaac read a LOT, and had come out to tell Kathleen all about the book:


Charlotte was asleep. Often she’s awake with her cat or just thinking, but sometimes she falls asleep quickly. Usually her bed is a mess; I fixed her blankets for her so she’d be warm.


Nicole almost always falls asleep looking at books. This is a huge Curious George book from the library.


Ila is often in a very silly mood when she ought to be asleep.


5 Things about Isaac

Isaac had an assignment to bring in 5 things about himself that fit into a brown paper lunch sack.  Here is what he put in his sack:9.5.11 5 things about IsaacThe book represents his love of reading and his love of space.  The cat food was his idea for a way to symbolize having cats.  If I had left this assignment to him, it might have been all lego creations because he wanted to put more of his creations in the bag and pictures of the ones that wouldn’t fit.  The cards are filled with states that he has visited (the top card shows the ones he’s lived in and where his grandparents live).

Ila Rides

Ila is finally big enough for a riding toy.  She can only go forward and in a straight line and her little feet barely touch the ground.  She pushes her riding toy backwards and then sits on it and rides towards me. IMG_0606 Sometimes she likes to stop and put her feet up:

IMG_0625She also likes to climb up on her toy and as soon as she does she says “get down, Ila” until I tell her to get down.  Then she smiles real big and sits down.IMG_0617

The Boys Have Adventures–Part 2

Saturday last week I got tickets to go to the air show and hydroplane races. I imagine you can still get a good view without tickets, but I wanted to be front and center. Isaac and I took the light rail to Othello, then took a shuttle over to Genesee Park on Lake Washington. We just grabbed a spot in the grass along the shore to watch.

We watched a couple of heats of the hydroplanes first, which was a lot of fun. My camera was acting up a little, but I did get a few videos:

Here’s Isaac with his binoculars trying to get a better look at the hydroplanes:

Seafair 2011 (2)

The air show came next, with a few really neat demonstrations. Air shows present some unique photography challenges, and my little camera wasn’t up to capturing a lot of good images, but I did snap a few shots. Things I didn’t get good shots of were a visit from a P-51 Mustang and a Spitfire. I couldn’t have captured the really great sound of those Merlin engines anyway. The did several low passes for us.

After the WWII planes, we had a demonstration by Vietnam-era choppers, a Cobra and a Huey. They did several maneuvers showing us tactics that were used in Vietnam. The Huey would go in first, low and fast, snaking back and forth, scaring up ground fire, while the Cobra would arc up high and take out any VCs who were shooting. Great demonstration, and some really low flying.

The Coast Guard did a nice demo, where a rescue swimmer jumped into the water and was then picked up. My picture is terrible, but you may be able to click through and see them hoisting him back in.Seafair 2011 (9)

Next up was a demo from an AV-8B Harrier, which was really cool. It was also very loud, as loud as all the Blue Angels together. Isaac kept his ears covered. Here’s a video I took of its departure:

After this, they had a routine by a stunt pilot named Sean D. Tucker, in a little custom built plane for the Oracle team. Holy carp. I have seen some ridiculous things, but he was bonkers. He was doing prop stalls, strange high-angle ultra-slow passes, outside loops (-6g!), and a really silly series of front flips where he literally just whipped the tail around over the cockpit. Ridiculous. Amazing. My video stinks, so here’s a better shot of his routine if you’re interested:

Isaac LOVED this, and I thought it was amazing too.

We had a demo from the C-130 attached to the Blue Angels, Fat Albert. Here’s a video of their big climb-out:

They used to use RATO for this, but from what I hear they’re running low on those; not as much need for them these days.

Finally, we had the Blue Angels. I’d seen the Thunderbirds before at Hill AFB in Ogden, but this was my first time seeing the Blue Angels. We’d been watching them and hearing them fly around the city all week, so Isaac and I were ready. It was a great setting; they zipped all over the lake and over Mercer Island for their routine. Isaac was getting a little worn out by the time they were flying, so he wasn’t as excited as I expected, but he still enjoyed it. I was able to get one fairly decent shot of them in formation:

Seafair 2011 (34)

Once they were done, we headed back to a long, hot line for the shuttle, and then the train home.

There’s one picture I kept even though it didn’t turn out, and even though I’m looking a little scruffy. The reason I kept it was because Isaac took it. He’s getting more independent, and I sent him out with my camera to take pictures. Most of them were of the camera strap, or the ground, but he got everything but the focus right here.

Seafair 2011

It was a busy week, but a lot of great fun with Isaac.

The Boys Have Adventures–Part 1

Last week was the main week of Seafair here in Seattle. That means parades, hydroplane races, an air show, and visits from the Navy. Isaac and I took advantage, and went on some fun adventures.

On Thursday, Isaac came to work with me. After I got through my morning meetings, we hopped on a bus and headed down to the pier to get a tour of the USS Bonhomme Richard, LHD-6. This is named after John Paul Jones’ famous ship, which itself was named to honor Benjamin Franklin.6016437915_25e6d8e2f3_b

First I should probably explain what an LHD is, for those who don’t know. An LHD looks a lot like an aircraft carrier, and it is in a sense. In fact, it displaces nearly twice as much water as HMS Invincible, the lead British aircraft carrier, and nearly as much as the largest carrier outside the US, the French Charles de Gaulle. The big distinction is the role.

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Student of the Week/VIP continued

For Isaac’s Student of the week/VIP week we were provided with a list of things we could bring in.  We decided to make two small posters of pictures and bring in a few beloved possessions.  The first one is mostly full of Isaac at different places (Arches, mountain top, Washington DC, Norris Dam, ect) the second one lists things he likes to do.  The middle one you should recognize from my earlier post:5.9.11 Isaac's VIP at schoolHere are the possessions that he chose to bring:5.9.11 Isaac's VIP at school (3) (He loves maps and wanted to bring the instruction booklet to a set of toys that he has because it had a map of what they looked like all put together.)

He was also allowed to bring in a favorite snack to share.  He wanted to bring in corndogs and chips, but I didn’t want to provide all that for 25 kids so we made sugar cookies in the shapes of things Isaac likes and frosted them in his favorite colors.  After we made them, I thought it would have been even neater if we made them in the shape of little gears.5.9.11 Isaac's VIP at school (1)On Thursday, Charlotte and I went to Isaac’s class just before lunch for his VIP presentation (many thanks to Jess for watching the other girls).  He demonstrated how to build a snap circuit and showed the class how it worked.  He seemed flustered and nervous.  He stumbled over his words a little, but he was happy to show off his things.5.9.11 Isaac's VIP at school (4)
He showed them his posters and talked about them: 5.9.11 Isaac's VIP at school (6)After the presentation, the kids got a chance to ask questions or give compliments, Isaac called on students with their hands up.  Then he got to pick 4 kids to join us for lunch at a table in the back of the room.
5.9.11 Isaac's VIP at school (5)After we ate, Charlotte and I stayed for recess.  Isaac was very excited to show Charlotte all the things he liked to do on the playground. 5.9.11 Isaac's VIP at school (17)

5.9.11 Isaac's VIP at school (16)
Charlotte had a blast.  She ran from one set of equipment to another and attracted a small group of followers (a few girls that followed her around and tried to help her). 5.9.11 Isaac's VIP at school (12)I also learned that I was not allowed to take pictures on the playground because I didn’t have permission from the other kid’s parents.

Student of the Week/VIP

Isaac was student of the week last week.  They sent home a poster for us to fill out information about him.  The following are his answers:5.9.11 Isaac's VIP at school

my favorites:
color:  blue and green
place:  a french fry store with a play place
toy:  Legos
book:  The Polar Express
tv show:  Tangled
sport:  football
food:  mac n’ cheese and corn, potato, and bacon soup

(Lately he has been telling me that everything I cook is his favorite food.  He’s a great kid to have at meal time because he raves over every meal and tells me that I’m such a good cook and he loves everything I make.)

One question asked him to list 3 wishes.  He insisted that he didn’t wish for anything and when I pressed him he said;  “I’m not the kind of kid that has wishes.”  I asked him if he wished that he had more Lego sets and he said yes.  Here are the wishes he came up with:

1.  I wish I had all the Legos for Lego city
2.  I wish we had a train set that ran through the walls
3.  I wish my friend Ryan lived next door

(I cheated a little on this list because he couldn’t think of anything and then when I suggested Leogs, he wanted two wishes about Legos and to leave the third one blank.  So I suggested several things and he told me which things he wished).

The last question was about what he wanted to be when he grew up.  He said that he wanted to design buildings that people would build so I wrote “architect” on the poster. 

Over the weekend, Zach made Isaac frozen burritos.  Isaac raved about how wonderful they tasted and said he thought his Dad should open up a restaurant to make and sell burritos.  On Monday morning, just before he went to school, Isaac asked me to cross out “architect” and write “make burritos”.  He was insistent, so I added "or burrito engineer" to his poster.  When I mentioned this exchange over dinner, Isaac explained he that that he could do both.  Some days he would be an architect and other days he would make burritos.


Charlotte and Nicole are learning to appreciate each other.  They like to be together and they like to hug.  I would still rank Isaac #1 in Charlotte’s choices for a playmate, but I can see the bond growing between my two oldest girls.  Nicole looks up to Charlotte and tries to imitate her and wants to wear Charlotte’s clothes.  It brings joy to my heart to see them love each other

3.30.11 Charlotte and Nicole (1)

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Birthday Cards for Grandma Bunny

Once again.  Here are some birthday cards the kids made for their other grandma.  I can say “other” because she never reads my blog.image2

Text (including random capitalization and punctuation errors):  Dear Grandma Bunny,

are you having a good Day!  It’s your BIRTHDAY!  Banana.  HAHA I made you read banana!  I mIss you

Love Isaac

Charlotte:image1 image0-2 image0-1 image1-1 I always love Charlotte’s cards because they’re unique and random, but usually include a box of bananas.image0image3


I really wanted a good picture of my four kids together.  I ended up buying a few more pictures as well because they did such a good job. 

The following were taken on March 22, 2011 at Portrait Innovations:image0

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Ila’s talking

Ila is a good little talker.  Her vocabulary is growing everyday and it’s often surprising what she can say.  I have recorded a little sample of her vocabulary here:

Listen for the following words:  unbuckle, no, walk, have a good day, and thank you.  She prefers to say “have a good day” over “good-bye” as you may notice at the end.

Here she is saying “Peek-a-boo”  I love that she says all three syllables:

Here she says “apple.”  Apples have become one of her favorite and she requests them everyday.

Here she is calling for Isaac:

Her vocabulary includes:  Charlotte, banana, bubble (when she wants a bath), stinky bottom (she has said these words together as I change her diaper), Mommy, kitty, meow (sounds like mnow), more, Daddy (Daddy always gives her a big kiss so she now says Daddy then makes kissy lips), hi, hello, oh no, uh oh, cracker, and my all time favorite is her “I love you” which she says as she gives me a hug and kiss.

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