CLICK HERE FOR BLOGGER TEMPLATES AND MYSPACE LAYOUTS »

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year's End

We're wrapping up a healthy and fairly happy 2008. While it seems that everyone here has stuffy noses and the kids can't stop coughing, we had nothing major happen here. We survived another year of me being in seminary and even had some fun times here and there to break up the monotony of life.

Noah is my new charmer at Sam's Club. Lily doesn't really want to go with me anymore unless she is going to get a cookie. Unfortunately, she doesn't get cookies until tomorrow because of a night when she had a cookie in the afternoon and wouldn't eat her dinner. Noah does his share of charming, even though most of his speech is with those big brown eyes.

Lily and I finished the story of the game we were working on. I'm trying to do more interactive stuff with her and less PS2 gaming. Last night as a family we played some Rat-a-tat-cat. She absolutely loves it and is learning about how the game works. We're looking forward to trying some Crazy 8's too. I can't wait to teach her about Gin and Cribbage, but those can wait.

As a family we pray that you would have a blessed 2009. Thanks for reading this blog!

Monday, December 29, 2008

French Toast is Dead...

Long live stuffed french toast! I made some of this after church yesterday and it was terrific. Here's what I did:

  • 1 wide baguette
  • 6 eggs
  • milk to taste
  • orange liqueur
  • cream cheese
  • peach jam
Mix the eggs, milk, and liqueur. Cut the baguette into approximately 1/2 inch thick slices. Make little cream cheese and jam sandwiches. Dip both sides of them in the batter and then cook on a lightly-greased griddle. Season with cinnamon and/or cardamom.

Yesterday was a good day. I spent a lot of time hanging out with Lily. We took a walk while Noah napped. She thought it was a short walk until we had to finish going uphill and then she thought we'd get home faster if I carried her.

I took Noah outside while I vacuumed out the cars. He was pretty good except for the time I looked up and he was halfway across the cul-de-sac. The little guy can really motor when he wants to.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Strange Taste

Since most of our quick meals are in the freezer we had a problem with dinner last night. Fortunately, I could enjoy a last piece of leftover lasagna, but that wasn't enough for all of us. Lily and I went to the local Jamaican place and got one of Lily's favorite foods -- beef patty.

You wouldn't think that Lily would like something so spicy, but she does. Amanda and I love them too. It wasn't the most nutritious meal we've had, but it was good.

I think tonight I'm going to cash in on a couple more freebies we have. I have a coupon for a free cup of queso at Moe's and a free sandwich at Cafe Carolina. That should be just about enough. The good news is that I'm going to pick up our frozen food from its temporary home today.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Back to Living

The Pierces left today. It was nice to have them visit, but it's always nice to get the house back too. Christmas brought with it a little conundrum regarding the kids' toys. As you might imagine, Lily has accumulated quite a collection of toys over the years. We finally had to start drawing some lines. We did a great purge of her toys as well as of the books that have been making such a mess in the living room. We also purged some of Noah's toys. Most are now in the attic.

Lily was pretty good when she was in her room with Amanda going through her closet. She only freaked out and slammed a door once. It's tough when you discover a toy that you forgot that you had only to be told that it's going away because you haven't been playing with it. There were concessions made on both sides.

We'll see how it ends up going. As I look around the man-cave I see the equivalent of old animal bones that need to get cleaned up. I'm not sure if I have the energy for it today though, especially not after plunking down $226 to get our refrigerator working again. Now we have to deal with that funky smell...

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Chamberlain Christmas

We had a nice Christmas day, though of course it was not perfectly smooth. Lily got overtired on Christmas Eve and we had some conflict before bed. Then she woke up several times during the night complaining of an earache. We aren't sure if she has an infection, but we are monitoring it. She threw up one time as she was crying and coughing simultaneously. Given Lily's hyper-sensitive gag reflex, we don't consider it cause for alarm.

She and Noah enjoyed their gifts. Noah loved the piano we got him on Black Friday. Lily liked her new collection of 6 pairs of princess high-heel dress-up shoes, but was happiest with the My Little Pony stocking stuffer. Funny, but last year she was happiest with the $4 electric toothbrush that Amanda got her. We need to remember that when shopping next year.

We spent Christmas Day with Natalie, Eric, and Eric's parents. We enjoyed a nice spread featuring a spiral-sliced ham. Lily did throw up a couple of times there too, but we think that it was more due to being a little overexcited and eating too many treats. Again, we are monitoring the situation.

Lily and Noah went to bed at 6:30 last night, but we could hear Noah singing well into the 7 o'clock hour. Hopefully Lily slept through it. I haven't heard a whole lot coming out of the baby monitor this morning, which I consider to be a good sign.

It's back to "work" for me today. Hopefully it will be another short day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Pieces are in Place

We're just about ready for the Chamberlain family Christmas. We have all the ingredients for the soup Amanda is going to make today. We have just about all the gifts that are going to be given. Lily is getting properly excited. She is also having a fun time with Grandpa Jack and Nana.

I read this today and thought I'd share since we're getting ready to celebrate its fulfillment tomorrow:

Micah 5:2-3
(2) But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.
(3) Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel.


Have a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Holidays March On

Jack and Melanie arrived today. They will be staying until Saturday or Sunday. I got the cookie cake for Jesus' birthday made while working from home and Amanda is working on some bread for tonight and eventually for Christmas morning (can't beat homemade chocolate bread on Christmas morning).

We're hosting a simple Christmas Eve dinner tomorrow night. Amanda is going to make some baked potato soup in the Crock Pot and we're going to have a full house. Then on Christmas we're going over to Natalie and Eric's house.

It just feels like a whirlwind of activity each year. Sometimes I think it would be simpler just to get a pizza...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Weekend Activities

We had a great time yesterday celebrating our early Christmas at the McKenzies' house. I'd say the only negative is that we ate a few too many treats and ended up having kind of a weird eating day. We ate a "Lily dinner" of lunchmeat, cheese, and crackers at around 8:30 while watching a movie. However, overall it was a great time of celebration of the Incarnation.

Amanda and Lily had a great time at the Nutcracker on Saturday. It was good for Lily to see what it looks like when real people do ballet instead of just seeing it on her Barbie animated DVDs. To Barbie's credit, those DVDs do a great job of telling the story, but there is nothing like seeing it live. The videos have made it difficult for Lily to appreciate good stagecraft though. Amanda said that she and the other little girls did a great job of sitting still and paying attention through the whole thing.

On a side note, at the intermission Amanda gave Lily her choice of treats at the concession stand. Lily wanted a bag of chips. Grandma Judy would be proud.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Early Christmas

Traditionally we've had Christmas morning at our house and we've gone to the McKenzies for Christmas Day. The problem with that plan this year is that they are going to Cleveland for Christmas to see Bill's mom. Therefore, we're doing Christmas morning this afternoon.

I'm excited to do it. I love exchanging gifts, eating good food, and enjoying some time with family. However, I think it almost caught us a little flat-footed. Amanda and I had to make a couple of batches of fudge. I typically lead the singing of a few carols on the guitar and it dawned on me that I had better practice a little bit. I'm glad I did because I was a little rusty on some of the chord changes in "Angels We Have Heard on High."

At least we got most of the Christmas cards out yesterday. There is a fighting chance that even some of the remote ones will arrive by Wednesday, but I'm not holding my breath on that.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Forms of Sugar

I took Lily to a birthday party this morning. It was for a neighbor who just turned 5. It was a really great party. The only negative was that Noah was kind of overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of kids running around. We had some great cake and a good time was generally had by all.

The other form of sugar is in the form of a plum fairy. Lily and Amanda are going to a matinee at the Carolina Ballet for the Nutcracker. This is another one of those times when Noah and I need to find a sport to watch and some cigars to smoke. Sadly, I think that once he wakes up I will be making a batch of fudge to prepare for tomorrow's family Christmas celebration at the McKenzies. We may go out though, depending on how he is doing. It's oddly warm today (around 60) and he generally does better when we get out a little bit.

At the very least he can toddle around the driveway and cul-de-sac while I review flashcards.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Last Day

Today is Lily's last day of school before the two-week break. It seems strange to talk to someone who is not particularly excited about a vacation like that. I think she actually prefers going to school over vacation. I know that Amanda prefers it.

The good news is that Grandpa Jack and Nana are coming for a visit next week. We'll have the break for Christmas and the following week will have the break for New Year's. I suspect there will be other moms in similar predicaments who want play dates to break up the time. Hopefully I'll get off work a little early on the Wednesdays as well as on the 26th. And maybe we'll even be lucky enough to catch a break on the 2nd. I mean, who wants to start something new on a day like that?

I'm just excited for the possibility of good blogging material. It seems like days with Lily often result in a story worth telling.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wow -- Another Date Night!

Lily's dance teacher watched the kids last night and Amanda and I had a nice, though not super-exciting date night. It started with a romantic dinner at Chick Fil-A and then we moved to Target to finish up our Christmas shopping. We did enjoy a great banana nutella crepe at Coffee and Crepes. We finished up at AC Moore to get a few stocking-stuffers.

The funny thing is that AC Moore is in the same strip as Bed, Bath, and Beyond. We didn't make it there though...

Apparently the kids were great for Miss April. It's always nice to get that report, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Choppers

Noah is officially getting his seventh tooth. It is coming in next to the two he already had on the bottom. I asked Amanda if she had felt for any molars and she asked if I was crazy. You see, Noah has a tendency to bite down on anything in his mouth...

I am reminded of the scene in "Live and Let Die" where James Bond is advised on the two ways to disable an alligator. One is to stick a pencil in the nerve behind one of its eyes. The other is "twice as simple" in that you just reach into his mouth and pull out all his teeth.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Neighborhood Drama

We had a little incident yesterday in the 'hood. Lily was out playing with Cooper, his older sister Kelsey, Sarah, and Katie. This is what I call "the posse." Everything was fine until Cooper and Kelsey had to go inside. Their mom has a rule that there can only be 4 kids in the house at a time. The problem is that Lily is always the one excluded when they go inside.

We found her sitting on the curb crying her little head off. Amanda went out to her and then Cooper's mom came out to talk to Lily. I don't think that her words did much to comfort Lily and Amanda didn't feel like it was a good time to discuss what was going on.

We certainly respect the rule, but we need to find out why Lily seems to be the odd person out every time. Obviously there are times like this in every child's life (and grownups too), but we need to sort this out.

The good news is that once Lily came in she had a good time doing stuff with Grandma Judy.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lily's Discourse

video

Various Photos

Here are some photos of the kids. Enjoy!





Friday, December 12, 2008

Stormy Arrival

Mom arrived safely yesterday, but it was in the middle of a nasty storm. Lily and I got soaked as we went out to the car. It's tough to stay dry when it's raining sideways. The rain let up for a while, but then it was doing the same thing when we got home.

Amanda made some great treats yesterday for my birthday. We had pecan caramel rolls for breakfast and after dinner we had some chocolate chip cookie chocolate bombs with ice cream. We plan on doing the big birthday bash tonight with a trip to Five Guys. I was going to do something fancier, but then I realized that a trip to Five Guys without kids is what I really want to celebrate my birthday.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

All Done

I finished my last final last night and was able to get home before Lily went to sleep. She greeted me at the door excitedly and explained that she was upstairs with Amanda and they had candles going. She also said that they were "your favorite color, red" which is "like Jesus' blood." I was kind of surprised by this, but was glad that she was thinking along those lines.

It turns out that she had this idea of red from us telling her the story of the candy cane. Although that wasn't the original meaning of the candy cane, I do think that it is good to see the potential for discussion in it. Either way, she's having fun with Christmastime this year.

The weather here is crazy now. I just got back from running in shorts and short sleeves. It was 28 when I went out Monday morning, but 60 this morning. If I go running tomorrow morning then I will be able to wear shorts on my birthday, which is a small goal of mine every year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

In the Home Stretch

I took my first of two finals last night. It went OK. I didn't have to do that well to get an A in the course, so I wasn't too worried. I did fine on it. Now the trick will be to keep up with the material so that I'm not lost when we start back up in January.

Lily had a good time at dance class. I was able to get home early enough to put her to bed. When I asked her what she learned in dance class she put up a hand and "shushed" me. They are getting ready for a show, so it's all top secret now. I hope to make it to the show next Friday afternoon. It should be fun. Plus, it's a handy excuse to get out of work a little bit early.

Noah is still a tornado going through the living room. It's amazing how fast he can get all of his toys out of the drawers. I realize that is what 17 month-olds do, but sometimes we wonder if we have it in us to pick up the living room one more time. The good news is that the tree is still fairly intact, though I did notice a hook on the tree that lacked an ornament.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Santa Train

We took Lily and Noah for a ride on the Santa Train today. There is a local railroad society that puts this on. The train we were on was pulled by a steam locomotive, which was fun but smoky. The problem was that we were in an open-air car and it was in the 40s. It felt a little bit like being at a Browns game, except we didn't have to watch anyone lose.

Lily and Brenna had a great time. Noah not so much so. Part of the problem was that it was around lunchtime and he was so out of sorts that he wouldn't eat. He ended up eating a cookie on the train. He wasn't allowed to walk around while the train was in motion, so he didn't like that much either. Fortunately, Uncle Bill kept him entertained on the first half of the trip and Amanda worked with him on the second half.

We went back to the McKenzies for some homemade hot chocolate to warm up. I highly recommend this recipe, but be prepared for some very thick hot chocolate. Also be prepared to find Swiss Miss completely unappealing once you've had this.

I took Noah out with me to Moe's to get my free birthday burrito. I'm learning that you can't put him down for very long without him looking for trouble. If I had let him go he would have been in the back welcoming people to Moe's and pouring out bowls of queso. By the way, check this out if you want to get some good freebies on your birthday.

It was a fun day. I have my finals tomorrow and Tuesday. I'm ready for a break.

The Halls are Decked

I was waiting to write this because I planned on posting some pics, but I realize that they are the same just about every year. Lily and I ended up picking out a tree that required a bit of trimming at the top to fit in the house. The good news is that it isn't too full. The decorations aren't as balanced as in some years because Lily played a more active role. I think it's a good trade-off though. She really enjoyed helping with the ornaments.

Noah and I put up the outside lights yesterday while Lily attended a birthday party. Noah decided that walking in our yard is not as interesting as walking in the street. I don't get too worried since we live in a cul-de-sac, but he is pretty little and would be easy to miss if you were driving and not paying attention. That meant that my work was a little work on the lights, retrieving Noah, more work on the lights, retrieving Noah, etc.

Lily had fun at the birthday party. The theme was Power Wheels. Lily had fun driving one and was telling me about how we could set up our back yard to have a course like they did for the birthday party. I had to explain that we don't have a good yard for that. It's nice when the yard serves as a good excuse not to acquire more stuff.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Latest Song

Noah may not talk, but he does sing. He kind of sings "Happy Birthday," though you have to be really listening to identify it. The tune is unmistakable, but the words are a little shaky. It sort of comes out as "Hap...bdah...tah...yah."

Amanda called me at work today to let me know that he has added this song to his repertoire. How did he learn that? I thought Lily would enjoy it given her love for all things Star Wars. Since the tune is so catchy she walks around the house singing the chorus sometimes. Of course, we've also been known to substitute "N-O-A-H Noah" as well. The funny thing is that he can actually say the same "Yoda."

He hasn't gone to sleep very well tonight. Part of the problem is that we can hear him singing.

Favorite Broadcaster

Noah has just about every Cleveland Indians giveaway from 2007 and 2008 in his room thanks to the efforts of Grandpa E and Grandma Judy. One of those things is a Tom Hamilton bobblehead doll. What makes this unique is that you can push the "microphone" on the little desk he sits at and you can hear one of three pre-recorded calls.

If you want to get a little sense of what that means, you can listen to this. The call at 0:24 is vintage Hammy. If you want a copy of his call of Victor Martinez's HR of Chien-Ming Wang in game 1 of the 2007 ALDS email me and I will be happy to send it you. If you want more, you can listen to this one too.

Anyhow, Noah can't get enough of it. He insists that we play it for him when we're in his room. Amanda says that he will point at his door and make his little "I want that" noise. He loves it. He also likes the teddy bear that sings "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" when Amanda changes his diaper.

(personal confession: I get tears in my eyes as I listen to this)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Homework

Lily had a minor fit yesterday over her homework. It seems that she was kind of just mailing it in and not really trying when she wrote her letters. Amanda was trying to get her to fix it and she didn't like it.

We're trying to keep the bar somewhat high for her. At first it was great that she would even make an effort. Now that we know she can form the letters we expect her to keep trying her best when she does it. There may be times in public school where merely showing up is adequate, but we don't plan on letting that fly in our household.

Fortunately, I was home at the time and was able to play the "good cop." It seems that whenever one of us gets into a disagreement with Lily the other one can talk her down. I've certainly been the "bad cop" enough times. I completely supported what Amanda was asking her to do, but I was able to get the tension turned back down. Parenting is definitely a team sport.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Taking a Walk

Here's a video of Noah walking. His stiff legs and arms kind of makes me sing this song though.


video

Monday, December 1, 2008

Signs of the Season

We had our first fires of the season over the weekend. Saturday was pretty much tailor-made for a fire because it was in the 40s, gray, windy, and rainy. Sunday was pretty similar, though it actually got warmer in the evening. Nevertheless, it was a good night for a fire.

Noah likes looking at the fire, but fortunately he does not try to get too close. We still need to keep an eye on him. Lily enjoys helping to ball up newspaper when we get the fire going. She also is fascinated with the tongs that I use to move fallen pieces of wood.

Yesterday was a very mellow day. Jack and Melanie left in the morning and we went to church. We had our usual brunch of pancakes, though next week we are going to try some stuffed french toast. Lily and I played a new game that she is already getting into. We'll see if she ends up sneaking around the house.

I'm looking forward to putting up the tree this week sometime. It's time for it to be Christmasy around here. Some of our neighbors already have lights up!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Growing Up

We had a retirement celebration for Jack and Melanie yesterday. I was really struck by how much Lily is growing up. Brenna sat next to Lily and did what three-year old girls tend to do with drama and tears. She wasn't terrible by any means, but she did have a few moments. She certainly had fewer than Lily used to have.

It just reminded me of what it was like to be with Lily at a restaurant and how she is so much better now. We still have our moments of drama both home and away, but I think that we have turned a corner with Lily. The good news is that she takes the threat of punishment quite seriously now. She knows that we aren't kidding when we tell her about coming consequences.

Lily has had a great time with Grandpa and Nana's visit. She particularly likes walking the dogs. She doesn't even mind when the dogs act up and snap at her for no reason, though it does give her pause.

Noah was really crabby last night. He keeps wanting to suck on ice and to chew on his fingers. We jacked him up with some Motrin before bed, which seemed to help. I was happily surprised to find that they don't put dye in the infant's ibuprofen that Amanda got. Toddlers don't know that berry is supposed to be pink, do they?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Just Say No

Since I know a lot of parents read this blog I thought you might be interested in this article. Can't we just say no?

Back to Autumn

We had a little respite from our autumnal weather yesterday. I think we hit 64 in the sun. It was definitely a good day for Black Friday shoppers. It was also a good day for Lily to take the dogs for as many walks as she could. Jack has two dogs. One is a tiny little thing and Lily loves walking her. It also helps that she is getting into her sunset years and has slowed down quite a bit. However, she still has enough spunk to pull Lily over when she sees a squirrel that she wants to chase. Lily ended up with a slightly skinned knee.

Seeing how much Lily enjoys the dogs almost makes me want to get a dog for her. Then I remember what owning a dog entails and I am again in no rush to get one. Besides, Noah is not at a good age for us to add a dog to the house.

We'll have to get more video of Noah toddling around. He's improved quite a bit since Halloween. I think he's about ready to do a stunt like rearranging the price tags on all the beads at the craft store. That's what I did when I was around his age, I think.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

Jack and I partook of the Black Friday festivities at Wal-Mart this morning. We got a late start and were not in the parking lot until around 5:10. It was crazy there. I managed to get the toy for Noah we wanted, but Jack was not able to get the laptop he was looking for. Of course, I didn't know that we couldn't get it until I had waited in line for about 30 minutes and was able to ask someone who worked there. He was surprisingly helpful for a Wal-Mart employee and saved me another 30 minutes in line.

We then went to Sam's Club to get a dress for Amanda and a gallon of milk. We also enjoyed the free breakfast there. I had fun chatting with the ladies who do the demos. Thanks to Lily I'm pretty tight with some of them. They all love Lily and now I have Noah to charm them as well.

I got another early release from work today. One more reason to be thankful.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving

We're almost ready here. Amanda has the cheesecake made. I have to make a green bean casserole, but that won't be a big deal. Jack is going to make some oyster stew. Otherwise, we're in good shape and it's just a matter of being ready to leave by noon or so.

What do you have to be thankful for? Here is a list off the top of my head:

  • Psalm 111 expresses a lot of it.
  • 10 years of marriage
  • We're all healthy apart from sniffles and coughs
  • We have fresh water to drink right out of a faucet
  • We have a cupboard and a refridgerator full of food
  • We slept in a warm house last night
  • We have more stuff than we know what to do with
  • We own enough copies of the Bible to get us shot on sight in Indonesia
  • Stacks and stacks of books
  • The pitter-patter of Lily's feet as she runs around upstairs
  • The gentle cooing of Noah as he wakes up
  • Seeing family
  • Being able to pick up a small appliance and instantly speak to friends and family we can't see
Actually, bacon salt sums a good bit of it up. Not only do I enjoy eating food seasoned with it, but I think it speaks to how blessed we are. We live in a nation where people can take the time to develop a product like bacon salt.

Take some time to think about what your life looks like. Think about the hopes and fears you have. Then compare it to someone who doesn't know where his next drink, let alone his next meal is coming from.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Begins

Jack and Melanie arrived late last night after a traffic-filled trip down from Pennsylvania. To me, this means that we are just about officially into Thanksgiving holiday mode. Lily is off from school today and Friday, so it will be good for Grandma and Grandpa to be able to spend some time with her.

We have a lot to be thankful for this year and I'll get into that more tomorrow. We are immediately thankful that Bill and Tiffany are hosting Thanksgiving and that we don't have to prepare too much for the meal.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mr. Bassman

I'm still fighting the lingering effects of the cold I had last week. One of those effects is that my voice is much lower than usual. For me, it's a fun change from my normal squeaky NE Ohio sound. I've been trying to have some fun with it by playing P.A. Announcer ("now batting...the first baseman..."), singing Barry White songs, and old spirituals. Amanda, on the other hand, is not as amused by my rendition of "Old Man River." Apparently, she's not alone.

Lily enjoys typing on my Blackberry. Since she took so long with her bath tonight we didn't have time for any games. The three of us were sitting on the snuggler together and Lily was typing on my blackberry. This is what she ended up typing (with help):

What is 9 + 9?
It equals 18.
What is 3 + 3?
It equals 6.
I love mom. Please stop. Singing.

Amanda and I thought that was very funny. Well, more Amanda than me actually. It freaks Lily out a little bit when my voice doesn't sound right. I also think it freaks her out when someone can't stay on the right pitch. I'm glad she has more of her mommy's ear for music than her daddy's.

By the way, we've got Noah to start addressing me as "Dah" now. It's a step in the right direction.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Change Someone Else Needs

We had some time after dinner today, so I got the idea of rolling the change in our overflowing change urn. By the way, if you use Coinstar at the grocery store I will only charge you 5% to roll your change instead of the 7% they charge.

At any rate, as we did this we naturally discussed what we would do with the money. Normally we do something like go out to dinner with it. Surprisingly, it occurred to me that we should give an animal to someone through World Vision, Heifer International, or Samaritan's Purse. Having read this blog a few weeks ago probably helped.

We ended up with a little over $74 in change. For $75 we could give a goat to someone. We asked Lily to look in her "give" envelope to see what she had (she breaks her small allowance into give, save, and spend buckets). She had $1, which is just what we needed. At first she was hesitant to give the money because she wanted to give it at church. She decided it was a good idea when I put it to her in terms of milk. I said, "You know how in the morning we open up the refrigerator and get you a glass of milk?" She did. I then explained, "Well, this goat will make it so that someone who doesn't have milk can have some." That made things connect for her.

At one point in our discussion she said that she thought we were going to buy a llama for us to keep. We got a good chuckle out of that. We had to explain that we don't have anywhere we could put a llama. She then thought we could go to the hardware store and get some wood. Her plan was for me to build a pen for our new llama. She's very creative.

Incidentally, $35/month will feed, clothe, shelter, and educate an orphan in Uganda through World Vision. The $75 we scraped together from our loose change jar was enough to provide fresh dairy to a family. Check out the gift catalog with World Vision and see if there is a way that you might be able to help. In case you're wondering what happens to donations to this organization you can read reports on it here and here.

I apologize if this post makes it seem like we are tooting our horns. I just thought it was newsworthy and I like to get the word out about real ways we can more or less directly help those who were not fortunate enough to be born in one of the richest nations in the world. My rule of thumb for wealth is that if you do not drink the same water you pee in then you are pretty rich by the world's standards.

Yes we can!

Nap Time

Amanda took Lily out for a bike ride today as we are enjoying some nice fall weather (sunny and in the 50s). I stayed home to take advantage of Noah's nap time and get a little homework done. My Hebrew professor is out of town so we do not have class tomorrow. Rather than have three people come in for a proctored exam, he sent one home with us. As far as I know, it was still to be closed-book and we did it on the honor system (at least that's how I did it).

Noah started to wake up as I was reviewing my work. I figured he could make a little noise for a few minutes. He let out a few quick yells here and there, but then got quiet. I came into his room to get him and this is what I found:



He has learned that napping is a great way to kill time. That's my boy!

He has made a few other little noises, but he isn't serious about getting up yet. I'm not about to go after him.

Profiles in Courage

Lily's Sunday School talked about the story of Queen Esther. They discussed times when they had to show courage. Lily told about a time when the light bulb in her night light burned out and she had to get through the night without it.

I don't mean to trivialize this at all because this was a big deal to Lily. I just thought it was a funny story. It's not quite like the threat of execution if the king isn't in a good mood, but it still took a lot of courage for her.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Buckeyes

In anticipation of the Ohio State-Michigan game, I made my semi-annual batch of buckeyes. Technically, if I put an FDA-approved label on them I could call them "low-sugar" because I use 25% less sugar than the recipe calls for. They're still very sweet. This year I dipped them in Ghiradelli 60% cocoa bittersweet chocolate instead of the regular Nestle's semisweet. The contrast is great.

Not much to report on here. Noah is walking more, but he is about 50-50 on crawling and walking. He still communicates with pointing and grunting. It sounds like he is trying to say some things, but it still isn't quite happening. We're starting to tell him that he has to say what he wants rather than us guessing. We feel like maybe he doesn't have much motivation to talk if we interpret his grunts and pointings for him.

He does like to read. The problem is that one can only read Teletubbies Love to Jump so many times. Amanda has made him dig more deeply into the bookshelf for other titles. He just loves the sheer repetition of just about any book. The problem is that he doesn't have the patience for slightly more interesting titles.

We're looking forward to watching the game at the McKenzies. More specifically, I'm looking forward to watching the game, Amanda and Tiffany are looking forward to possibly going out, Lily and Brenna are looking forward to seeing each other, and Noah doesn't realize that he is expected to nap through much of it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Getting Out

Amanda and I had a nice long date last night. We left the house around 4:00 and enjoyed looking through the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. The way they do it is pretty clever with a wand that plays prerecorded bits at the various stages of the exhibit. You type in the number, hit play, and listen as you look at the exhibit. It took us a little over an hour to see the exhibit and then we hit the streets of Raleigh to get some dinner. We ended up at a cajun restaurant which was tasty.

We made it back to the museum in plenty of time for a lecture about the scrolls. We got to see Emmanuel Tov give a lecture about text-criticism, which is his specialty. It was interesting, but we didn't stay for all of the Q & A since we wanted to get dessert. We ended up stopping at the Cheesecake Factory and brought it home. No time for Bed, Bath, & Beyond.

Amanda commented later that she missed the daily interaction with Lily about her day. Still, it was good to get out for a long date. I don't think she missed spending the evening with Noah as the days can get pretty long. He is generally really good, but it is good to get a break.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Turn

Lily made it back to school yesterday. She still has a cough, but she isn't throwing up anymore. On the other hand, I went to bed early last night as I have some kind of cold. I feel better today, but I'm clearly not at my best yet.

I need to get it together by 4:00 PM today since we have tickets to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. I've been looking forward to this for weeks and I don't plan on missing it. Fortunately today is my regular day to work from home, so I can enjoy the comfort of home without spreading germs around the office.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Change We Need

Something has to give here. Lily missed school yesterday too. She was all set to go to school and then threw up on the kitchen floor. Amanda is getting a little stir-crazy with the kids all day. The good news is that, although she did nap, Lily did not act particularly sick all day.

It's pretty chilly this morning by North Carolina standards. It's going to take some serious bundling to get Lily and Noah out there to the bus stop in our sub-30s weather. It won't quite be Christmas Story, but it will be more bundling than usual.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sick Day

Lily stayed home from school yesterday. Her temperature was 98.5 first-thing in the morning measured in her armpit, so we added a couple of degrees. She has this awful barking cough that sounds like her chest is really congested. She also threw up after dinner last night. Fortunately, it was in the kitchen.

One of her friends had something similar and it took a few days for it to run its course. We'll see how it goes today, but we're not optimistic about her going to school.

Meanwhile, Noah seems to be cutting molars on both sides. He isn't eating very well lately, which is always a sign of trouble for him.

It may be a long day for Amanda today since I have class tonight. Fortunately, Lily was really good yesterday. She might not have had the energy to be difficult. I hope that she will be just as good today.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Autumn

I finally got around to raking leaves yesterday. I missed the first run of the city vacuum, but they will be around later. I try to wait until my pear tree is mostly done dropping its leaves so I don't have to rake more than one time.

I did this yesterday morning while Amanda was preparing for the tea party. At first I was going to take Noah, Lily, and Brenna out to Wal Mart or some other errand, but then I realized it was a perfect day for raking leaves -- 50 degrees, sunny, and not too windy. I brought Noah out so he could enjoy this. He really liked it when I put him in a short pile of leaves. He kept grabbing handfuls of leaves and throwing them back down. He loved it.

I figured he would like a big pile even more, so when it was time to rake that pile I put him in the big pile out in the street. I was wrong about that though. He didn't enjoy it as much. Nor did he like having leaves raked over him like I thought he might. We'll see how it goes next year. I am sorry that I didn't get a photo of him standing in the leaf pile though.

The tea party was a success. In fact, one of the girls was crying when it was time to go home.

Later in the day Lily was outside playing with the neighborhood kids. There is one boy who is a couple of years younger than Lily (I think) named Michael. He's a good kid, but apparently he got a little rough with Lily and hit her with a stick. His parents made him apologize. I learned about all of this when Lily came in to the house completely out of breath and coughing. She sprinted as hard as she could to get away from Michael.

It seems like she is getting sick. She got up around 9:00 last night and needed some mommy snuggle time. We gave her some Motrin and put her back to bed. We'll see how it goes today, but she may miss school.

As for the title of this post, it seems like autumn is here in full force. It was 65 when I went out jogging Saturday morning, but only 38 this morning. It's supposed to be in the 20s Wednesday morning. Personally, I think a little crisp weather makes it feel more seasonal.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Chocolate Chip Pancas


Amanda slept in a little bit this morning after a late night of babysitting. I placated the kids with some chocolate chip pancakes. Noah of course ate like a little champ. Here is the aftermath.

I think he still has some chocolate on one of his eyelids...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

No More Drips

We really like living in Cary, but there is one minor drawback. I don't know all the chemistry of it (to my embarrassment), but whatever they use to treat the water slowly dissolves the rubber used in washers and toilet flappers. Because of this we've had a slow leak from one of the bolts coming out of one of our toilet tanks. I picked up the replacement kit about a week ago, but never got around to doing it.

This morning I finally conquered the drip. Getting the old corroded one off took about a quart of WD-40 and a lot of work. Now begins the paranoia of wondering if it is going to leak. I'm funny that way with plumbing work.

We have Brenna spending the night tonight while her parents make her room pink instead of purple. I wonder how long it will be before she decides that purple is her favorite color instead? Either way, I think she is going to have pink for a long while now...

Lily is hosting a tea party tomorrow for some of her kindergarten friends. This was kind of sprung on Amanda while Lily was talking to a friend on the phone. I've explained to Amanda that this is what you get when you make tea parties look so effortless to Lily. We're going to keep it simple though, so it should be a pretty easy affair for Amanda. Easy except for the aftermath of having 3 sugar-crazed 5 year-old girls in the house, that is. The party is during Noah's nap time, but once he wakes up we're out of here. We may have to go to a firing range or something similarly masculine.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Taking My Cues

Lily is getting better at what I would call "freestyle prayer." In fact, she doesn't use the canned prayers at night anymore. Last night she wanted to start and have me finish. When she was done with her part she said, "And now my daddy will continue."

I couldn't help but smile.

Also, after we got back home from the bus and were ready to go in the house this afternoon she wanted to "collapse" her umbrella. She's a vocabulary sponge that Lily.

So It Begins

Lily got a really cute ladybug raincoat and boots a few years ago. She also got the matching umbrella, but that has long since bit the dust. Lily used to love wearing the ladybug set any time it rained.

It's raining today and I told her that she should wear her ladybug raincoat today. She has decided that it is too babyish for her and she won't wear it. She also won't wear Dora the Explorer shoes for the same reason. I tried to convince her that she could be a trendsetter since she is pretty popular. She wasn't buying it.

I guess it's a good thing for her to be outgrowing some of these little girl things as she gets used to school culture. We are not going to give in to all the fashion nonsense though. At least, we don't plan to.

Prepping for the Weekend

It's nice not to have too crazy of a weekend planned. Amanda is babysitting for Lily's dance teacher on Saturday evening and I'm going to watch Brenna while her parents get her bedroom painted pink. We may go to church on Saturday since there is going to be a big rush on Sunday. We have Josh Hamilton and his wife telling their stories this weekend, so it promises to be a bit crazy.

It's nice to be mostly done with the semester and not have too much planned for this weekend. Hopefully it will be at least somewhat restful. Oh, and I get to work from home today too. I'm very glad for that.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Being a Boy

I previously lamented Noah's status as a "sweet little boy". He is that and it is OK. However, he is still a boy. I know that there are those who believe that gender roles are merely societal constructs, but my kids tell me otherwise. Lily has always been one to be a nurturer with her baby dolls. Noah doesn't really show any interest in Lily's dolls other than to try to chew on them and smack them around.

Lily got a magic princess wand for her birthday. It's pretty neat in that you can rotate the top and it makes different sounds depending on the princess. Lily wants to use it to transform us into something else. Noah wields it like a club. He also found a broken taper candle in a drawer and started smacking things with that too.

I can't wait until we can start having fires in the fireplace. The boy has the instincts to beat off predators. I'm teaching him about hunting and gathering. Now he just has to learn how to keep the family warm and we're all good.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Diet of Worms



This tasted really, really good.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Finding our Marbles

I got to enjoy a Federal Reserve holiday today for Veterans Day (thanks Dad, E, Jack, and any other vets out there!). We decided that we should do something together as a family since Lily was off school too. I had my normal early start on a Tuesday morning with my small group at church, but was back home by 8:00 for breakfast. I made some french toast which we topped with a combination of homemade bittersweet hot fudge and white chocolate. Everyone enjoyed it thoroughly, though it led to quite a sugar rush and eventual crash for me.

We then loaded the kids up and went to Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh. Lily had a voucher for when we went for the Kindergarten Kickoff. It ended up costing us $15 for tickets for Amanda, Noah, and me, but it was worth it. They had a great time with all the stuff there. The ground floor is really like a glorified mall play area, complete with pirate ship. However, the upstairs has some pretty educational stuff. Noah had fun with some of the things too.

We then stopped at Pizza Hut to pick up lunch. Lily had a coupon for a free personal pan pizza that she got as a reward for being read to at least 5 times/week for a month. This is not a big deal for us since she reads "sections" almost every night. It's nice when you get a prize for something you already do.

Noah got down for a late nap at 2:00 and then Amanda and Lily took a bike ride to Lake Crabtree while I did some homework and napped. Lily will be ready to lose the training wheels by next spring. Noah took a good long nap. I then made a cake that I meant to make in time for October 31. It will be fun either way though.

I had a good class tonight. It's nice to be done with my paper, my paper presentation, and all my quizzes for one of my classes. I just have to be ready for the final on 12/9. Amanda says that the kids were good tonight. Now it's back to the regular week.

All in all, it was a great day off. These midweek days off are tough to recover from though.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lunch Rules

You may recall that we initially had much resistance from Lily regarding the purchase of lunch at school. Now we seem to have turned that around 180 degrees. We now have to limit the days that she buys her lunch to two/week.

The lunches are not too expensive at $1.75/day. We figure that it is worth it if Lily actually eats what she buys. The problem is that she spends so much time talking that she forgets to eat. Nevertheless, she now prefers to buy. Since this is kind of an expensive option, Amanda has sought a middle ground. You see, Lily isn't content with a sandwich like many kids. In fact, we've had problems finding anything that she will consistently eat.

Amanda has come up with what we hope to be a solution. She made a big batch of cornbread sausage muffins that Lily really likes. She also made a bunch of "pigs in a blanket." The traditional way of doing this is to take Pillsbury crescent rolls and wrap them around hot dogs. However, this doesn't really save us much money since we have to buy the crescent rolls. Amanda found some recipes online for the dough. We split one three ways last night and found that the dough tastes kind of like a soft pretzel. They're pretty good.

Now we are armed with a freezer full of pigs in a blanket and sausage cornbread muffins. Hopefully this will get Lily at least through November if not through December as well.

Lily is certainly a young lady of discerning taste.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Walker

I would call Noah an official walker now. He still crawls a fair amount, but he will also walk without coaxing. He isn't great at it yet, but he's getting there. The day is soon coming (maybe even today) when I take him out in the afternoon for a time-killer and I let him slowly walk around a store. He even will pull his hand away when you try to hold his to help his balance. He seems motivated to get it now.

He still doesn't talk intelligibly yet. He does a lot of pointing and makes a lot of spirited sounds, but he doesn't really say words. If you guess what he wants he will smile and thrash his legs and hands around for joy though.

Yesterday was gorgeous in the afternoon and Lily took advantage of it by playing with her friends. It's always nice when Noah's nap time turns into real quiet time at our house. It certainly helps with my studies.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Poor Attitude

And I bet you think this is going to be about Lily, right? I'm afraid that it is about Noah. Amanda is having some Lily flashbacks with him today. He has been especially whiny and clingy, but she has things she needs to get done. It's hard to write emails and call people when you have a whiny 16 month-old tugging at you constantly.

Fortunately, I'm working from home today. I took him for a short walk up and down our street (he's getting better at shoulder riding). I put him down for a second upstairs, but he got all whiny again. Now I have him in the basement with me and I put up the baby gate. He can stand at the baby gate all morning and whine if he wants. I don't mind. Right now he is playing with whatever he can find.

I just hope he doesn't try to eat any dead cockroaches...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

More Mannerisms

As I was putting Lily to bed last night I discovered that her normal Bible wasn't under her bed. I sent her to look for it. She couldn't find it with her normal "thorough" search and came back into the bedroom. She stood near the dresser side of her bed, crossed her left arm across her middle and stroked her chin with her hand and said, "that's unusual."

It's always fun to see yourself in the kids, at least when it is one of your innocuous traits. When she starts to use biting sarcasm it won't be as cute.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Visiting Daddy

Amanda brought the kids to the bank on Monday for lunch and a mid-day distraction. Here is a photo I took of them:


They loved spinning on my desk chair. At one point I spun Noah by himself. When I finished his little eyes made these quick circles as he got over being dizzy. I wish that I could have captured it on video because it had to be seen to be fully understood. It looked like something from a cartoon.

At any rate, they were a big hit at the office. Lily was glad to see what the Bank looks like. It had been a couple of years since she visited.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Parent-Teacher Conference

Amanda went for the conference with Ms Snoots today. Lily is doing very well, as we expected. She is not doing incredibly well, but she is either at or above expectations with everything. She does well socially. She really enjoys "reading" and she does like to write. One of her favorite games at home is to practice writing her letters. She asks us how to spell words and then she writes out the letters. This is good stuff for her.

The goal is for her to be able to read a very basic book by mid-year. Lily has shown a little bit of reluctance to read things on her own. I think it's that she doesn't like to do anything unless she can already do it. Lily doesn't deal so well with adversity sometimes.

Amanda asked about her relationship with Jada at school. Turns out that Jada is the boss at school. We're not quite sure what to make of that. It's good that Lily doesn't try to be the boss all the time. Maybe Lily felt more comfortable with bossing her around here because she was on her home turf and Jada was out of her element. It's hard to say.

The good news is that Lily is doing well, as we expected. They have her doing more advanced work, so she isn't bored. That's all we really want to make sure of. After all, homeschooling Lily would not be a good option.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Learning to Lose

We had a really nice day yesterday. The sun was shining and it was in the low 70s. Lily and Amanda rode their bikes and I took care of a few small projects while Noah napped. Lily and I played a game of chess out on the deck while Noah finished his nap. I told her that we would stop if she had any temper tantrums.

She is doing well with knowing how the pieces move and is starting to understand how they protect each other. She is also starting to learn the relative value on the pieces so that she doesn't trade a rook for a pawn. However, she still needs a lot of help with basic strategy, but we're working on it. I checkmated her once and then we took back a few moves and kept playing. I ended up winning again eventually, but she didn't freak out.

This was a pretty big step for Lily. She really hates to lose, which I guess is not so bad. However, it doesn't take much life experience to know that losing is a part of life sometimes. Hopefully our little chess games will help her with that. Hopefully she will someday win legitimately too.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Chip Off the Old Block

I found this scene on the dining room table. This is Lily's Halloween candy. Note how it is now sorted so she knows what she has.




Amanda just made the statement that no one will believe that it wasn't me who did this.

By the way, what you can't see in the photo is the one Butterfinger bar I told her to get at one house. There has to be some benefit to taking her around, right?

Actually, just taking her out was reward enough. It would be nice get a bit of that Butterfinger bar though...

The Conference

Amanda worked at our church's big women's conference yesterday. This meant that she left the house at around 7:30 and didn't get home until around 3:00. Therefore, I was on kid duty all day.

Our day started with a trip to the Krispy Kreme. It's always good to get to the store as the variety is better than at the grocery. You get the highlights at the grocery, but you can only get pumpkin spice at the store.

Then we made a trip down to my library. I wanted to look at a book, but of course it wasn't on the shelf. We're getting there.

From there we went to Petsmart and doggie day-camp. We also hit Lifeway to browse a bit.

Finally, we went to Sam's Club for samples and some groceries. We had some eggs for lunch and then Noah went down for his nap. Lily watched her YouTube playlist while I took a quick nap and got some work done on my paper.

Overall, it was a good day. Now my only problem is that Noah doesn't know about Daylight Savings.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Pics

Here are a few photos for your enjoyment. There is also a very menacing video at the end. Enjoy!

First, you get the cutest Sith Lord in the galaxy.

Don't mess with the princess



"Father" and daughter


You must be strong in the Force to hold your lightsaber that way.


This is pretty much like Vader's entrance onto Leia's ship, don't you think?

video

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tea Party

Lily finally got her tea party with Jada yesterday. It was an interesting window into their relationship. Jada is a very quiet and very sweet girl. Lily bossed her around quite a bit. In fact, Amanda had to stop her several times because of the way she behaved. We're going to talk to Lily's teachers to see if it's like that at school too.

Overall, I think it's a good thing to see stuff like this. We can try to nip it in the bud now before it gets to be too much of a problem later on. We certainly have seen it before. Her sort of bossy attitude is not necessarily such a bad thing as long as it is channeled properly. That's probably going to be Lily's lifelong challenge.

No real news about Noah other than a slightly annoying habit he is developing. He's started waking up screaming at 3:30 AM. Amanda goes in, picks him up, and he is fine. This may be one of those things where he is training us and we have to let him go.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Big Day

All Hallows Eve is fast approaching and we need to complete costume for Lily. She wants to go as Princess Leia and Amanda is getting close on the costume. She has a wig that she can put into the cinnamon roll buns. The trick is coming up with some kind of white outfit. Amanda has been combing the thrift stores for a white men's turtleneck, but has come up empty so far. We hate to buy something new for this, but it may come to that.

One thing is certain -- we're not sending her out in a gold bikini.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Running Weekend

This is a big weekend for the Chamberlain family legs. I ran my first 5k yesterday and did much better than I expected (24:01). Amanda and her sisters are running in this one today. The highlight for me may be our dinner plans afterward as an extended family.

Amanda and her sisters have a pretty good outfit planned for the race. I'll post pics when I have some available.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pajama Party

Lily has a pajama party at church today. I guess they're going to wear pajamas, bring sleeping bags, and hang out from 6:00 to 8:00 this evening. They also will eat pizza.

I am going to hang out at the church and try to get some homework done. I find that I look at every situation now through the lens of whether or not it will facilitate the completion of homework. This is one that certainly will.

On a fitness note, Amanda took Noah for a bike ride today. He really enjoyed it, but Amanda needs to get the hang of the gears on a ten-speed. I'm running in my first 5k tomorrow and Amanda has hers with her sisters on Sunday. Fortunately, the weather should be OK for the races.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The First Fall

I had written that there wasn't much to report about Noah. I did forget something that happened this weekend. We don't put the baby gate up as often anymore. He is fine going up the stairs and he has a system he uses to scoot down them as well. That system failed him one time though and he took a tumble.

What's amazing is that he cried for less than a minute when it happened. He's a tough little cookie.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Where's Noah?

Noah wandered into the bathroom cabinet yesterday. Amanda managed to get a few action shots. Enjoy!




Monday, October 20, 2008

Mina Meals

Amanda and I are participating in what our church has called the "5-Day Meal Challenge." It's kind of an exciting thing to try as it helps to give us some perspective on how a good bit of the world lives.

Give it a try and see what you think. And for further perspective, try plugging your salary into this calculator. Be sure to change the units to dollars instead of the default pounds.

Sorry I don't have anything more fun to report. Lily and Noah had pretty good days. Lily called me at work and, despite putting me on hold once and hanging up on me once, we had a nice little chat. Noah was kind of fussy this weekend, but was better today.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Enduring Saturday

Yesterday was not the best day here. Fortunately, the children behaved well. However, I was feverish all day. Amanda went to the McKenzies to do their periodic freezer cooking. I took the kids to buy some green coffee beans in the morning since we were running low and as we were killing time at Sam Ash I got paged. I had to get back home and take care of some business before I made the kids some scrambled eggs for lunch. Again, fortunately they ate really well (even Lily).

I put Noah down for his nap and tried to do some reading, but the Motrin started wearing off and I had a hard time staying awake. I laid down for what was supposed to be a short nap, but I just couldn't get up. Amanda came home around 2:30 or so and was very tired from all the cooking. We ended up just hanging out in the bedroom until dinnertime. I put the kids to bed and then was finally able to get a little bit of studying done.

I feel better this morning, though my throat still feels a bit tight. I'm hoping that today is a better day. This should help. It's a great opportunity for those of us in the area who love Jesus and Goodberry's.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Fair Time

Lily and I had a good time at the fair last night, though we didn't get to see fireworks. The cool rains had come in and they don't do the fireworks in the rain. Hopefully we'll get to do them next Friday. The nice thing is that you don't have to pay admission to see the fireworks. You can't very well hide fireworks.

Our menu last night included:

  • Hushpuppy samples at the grist mill
  • Roasted corn on the cob
  • Corn dog on a stick
  • Italian sausage sandwich with peppers, onions, and mushrooms
  • Deep-fried Oreos
  • Deep-fried Snickers
  • Lemonade
We passed on the free sample of fudge that was offered to us. We were pretty full after the deep-fried dessert. It's amazing what batter can do to things that are already good. It turns out that Lily likes powdered sugar too.

Lily wouldn't ride any of the rides, not even the ponies. However, she did like looking at them. She enjoyed the blacksmith shop. She also enjoyed the NC State Animal Sciences milking area. They brought in cows and people could pay $2 to milk them. Lily ended up getting a free milk even though she didn't milk a cow because someone didn't want her milk. I tried to get Lily to step up to the udder, but she wouldn't do it. She did enjoy it though.

I guess I shouldn't complain too much though -- Lily's tentative nature saved me quite a bit of money.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Tale of Two Lilys

Yesterday was quite a day for Lily. We were going to have that tea party, but it didn't happen because of a meltdown she had before she went off to school. Basically, she had planned to buy her lunch but changed her mind just as they were ready to go out the door. Amanda wouldn't change and Lily freaked out. I think she was scared of the lunch line because she pulled basically the same stunt the day before, but with more notice. Anyhow, it led to the cancellation of the tea party. She had to apologize to Jada over the phone.

I spoke to her later in the day and she told me that she "changed her attitude." She was very sweet. She even managed to control her anger when she didn't get what she wanted. We know that the self-control is there, but it's a matter of her exercising it.

I took her and Noah to the grocery store in anticipation of Amanda and Tiffany's periodic freezer cooking that will happen Saturday. Noah was pretty whiny after his shots (he is fine, BTW) so I took him home after Food Lion. I then took Lily to Sam's Club. She stood on the front of the cart while I flew through the store to get what we needed. Then we finished by splitting a sundae with dark chocolate sauce.

A big part of me is ready for it to be 2011 so I can be done with seminary and starting my new career in ministry. However, I don't want to wish these next 3 years away. There's nothing quite like being on a date with your little girl and splitting a sundae. In some ways she seems older than her years, but then as I saw her get her hands and face all smeared with chocolate I was reminded that she is still just 5 and still my little Peanut.

In the same way, it would be nice if Noah were a bit more independent. But I also know that these are precious times where he is tottering in his first steps and looking at everything with a sense of awe. You just can't beat the nearly unquenchable curiosity of a toddler. Yes, it's difficult, but it's a fun time too.

Sorry to depart from straight news, but I was feeling a bit introspective this morning.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tea Party

Lily has another early release day today. That means she will be home shortly after lunchtime. This tends to be a bit of a dilemma for Amanda because it means that she gets an afternoon with Lily. As you know, that can be a recipe for disaster.

Amanda decided it would be fun to have a little distraction today. Lily got to invite her friend Jada and her sister Kamaya (not sure about the spelling, but that is it phonetically) over. Amanda said that Lily was pretty funny on the phone with the most notable line being, "Jada, I've got to tell you something..." Once she finished inviting Jada she said, "OK, now I need to talk to Kamaya." We suspect their mom will not mind having them somewhere else for the afternoon.

Lily also invited her friends Chloe and Claire from the bus stop as well as their babysitter. The three of them were disappointed when Amanda told them it would have to be another time. There were a couple of reasons for this. One is that the babysitter is hardly authorized to have a tea party at someone's house. The other is that Amanda wants to put a limit on the number of simultaneous guests for these tea parties. They will do it another time.

Meanwhile, Noah has his 15 month checkup today. It was supposed to be closer to his actual 15 month birthday, but we had to go to Pennsylvania. I hope to post news of his appointment as well as the tea party tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Earning Her Heart

Amanda set up a system where Lily can earn hearts for good behavior. She managed to earn one yesterday. However, since she is also able to lose previous hearts for extremely bad behavior that means she only has 1 in the bowl right now. Still, it's better than nothing.

We're finding that Lily cannot get very much slack. If we give her an inch she takes a mile. She can make her case sometimes, but once she gets loud and whiny that is the end of the discussion. Our job now is to be consistent.

I think I understand where Homer was coming from. However, we're not going to let up.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Gimmie Three Steps

video

Still Visiting

Grandma Judy arrived on Friday and we're having a great visit. She watched Noah yesterday afternoon so that Amanda, Lily, and I could go to a picnic for my seminary. These are mandatory chapel events, so I certainly had to go. It was a lot more fun this year without Noah there. Amanda and I could actually sit and listen to the message, chat with grown-ups, and just generally enjoy the day. Lily played on the playground the whole time. We all had a great time.

Noah is walking more, though not much on his own. He will do it with great encouragement. I'm considering putting him in the early walkers room this week rather than the crawlers room. I'm hoping that it will inspire him to walk more.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Taking a Walk

We just got Noah to take about 7 steps on his own. If he holds someone's hand he can walk fine, but he seems a bit tentative. We think that he is afraid to fall.

I'm really looking forward to him being able to walk. I love to see people at Sam's Club with their walkers stomping around the warehouse. Talk about a great place to practice! And not to mention a great way to kill some time when he is in a fussy mood and Amanda needs a break.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

More Academic

October has brought homework into Lily's life. She gets assignments Monday - Thursday. She can do them every day or she can do them all at once. So far we are trying the every day approach. Each day has a regular assignment and a challenge. We're having Lily try the challenge.

Monday was math. She had to count as high as she could. The challenge was to write out the numbers. Unfortunately, with dance class Amanda had her doing this at Chick Fil-A and all Amanda had was her fountain pen. The writing wasn't pretty.

Yesterday she had to write the words "we" and "it" 5 times. The challenge was to use them in a sentence and write the sentence. Lily wrote "We went to dance class" and "It is purple." Her writing was pretty good, but I think we need to get her some of the fat pencils they use. A regular #2 breaks too easily.

She's getting it. So far it is fun, which is good. Hopefully that will last.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Duo

Yesterday went fairly well. I took all 3 kids out to run an errand and kill some time all morning. We started at my seminary library, which was actually very fun for the girls as they chased each other around the stacks. Fortunately, no one else was there.

From there we went across the street to the Harris Teeter. I didn't have too many groceries to buy, but it was good for killing time. Our next stop was the music store so I could get some new guitar strings. Lily created a game where she hid a couple of hair clips in the store and wanted Brenna to find them. Brenna was completely disinterested, but did get upset when Lily told her that she would feed the hairclips to the monsters. Being an only child myself, I find it fascinating to watch these psychological torture games.

After that we went over to Petsmart for Doggie Day Camp. Brenna wasn't into it as much as I'd hoped, but everyone still had fun looking at dogs, cats, birds, fish, and snakes. Someone was there holding a bearded lizard and all the kids got to touch it. Lily is getting a lot more brave.

We walked over to the Lifeway and killed more time. Since the girls were behaving so well we stopped at Quiznos for a bag of chips and then headed over to Play N' Trade to see if I could use the coupon I downloaded.

We finally arrived back home at lunchtime and both girls ate a good lunch, which was a happy surprise. Noah was fussy because he dozed off in the van on the way back home. Who could blame him? It was a beautiful sunny day and I was driving with the windows down. I could have dozed off myself!

The afternoon went pretty well too, as did dinner. They took a bath together. The only problem with that was when Lily loaded Brenna's hair down with shampoo. That took a lot of rinsing to get out, but we did it. Finally, they bedded down before 7:30, but separately this time. Brenna did some crying for her mommy and daddy, but Auntie Dee talked her down.

We plan to do a picnic today after church. We'll see how that goes...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Home Safe - again

Three days and roughly 1100 miles later, we arrived home safely last night. The ceremony was a great celebration of her life and the weather could not have been better. We enjoyed nice weather and mostly clear roads for the trip home as well.

Overall, it was as good a trip as it could be given the circumstances.

Meanwhile, we have Brenna and Lily pretending to go to sleep in Noah's bed while Noah sleeps peacefully in Lily's room. I told them they could have donuts for breakfast tomorrow if they kept quiet. It looks like we're having cold cereal...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Spirit Sprint

I am amazed at how many fundraisers we have already had for Lily's school. Not that 2 is a lot, but it seems like a lot in a month. First there was the blind photo purchase that counted as a fundraiser. We had to buy the photos before we got to see the proofs. However, we did buy a small package since it was supposedly a fundraiser.

Now Lily is embarking on the Spirit Sprint (or Spirit Spread as she calls it). This is where she just asks for money from people. So far she has raised over $100 in pledges from family. Grandpa E asked a great question when he wondered if they were going to get candy bars or something. I had to explain that this is just a donation to the school.

The "sprint" part comes when they have sort of a field day for the school and everyone gets to run around the track in matching T-shirts. Unfortunately, Lily won't be there for that because we are making an unexpected trip to Pennsylvania for a funeral. Amanda's maternal grandmother passed away yesterday, so it looks like we're driving up Tuesday and returning Thursday. The blog probably won't get updated much this week.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Volatile Combo

We had Brenna for a sleepover Friday night. It gave Bill and Tiffany a chance to get out for an evening. Plus, we've certainly taken advantage of their hospitality with Lily several times.

Overall, it went pretty well. Amanda spent the evening at a friend's house, so it was pretty much the girls and me for the night. I didn't expect them to go right to sleep, but they ended up staying up much later than I had hoped. I don't think they were both asleep until 10:00. And, true to form, Lily was up at 7-zero-zero even though they were sleeping in Noah's very dark room.

There were two particularly notable incidents. The first came when Lily decided that she had to get up to go potty. Brenna declared "I have to go potty too," which was obviously just her joining Lily. She ended up not going potty, of course.

The other was when Lily took Brenna's blanket. I took her into our room to get the story. She was worried that she would get spanked, but I just talked to her. Turns out that she was trying to help Brenna go without a blanket. In other words, she took it to help Brenna mature a bit faster. I don't think Lily would have responded much better had the roles been reversed 2 years ago, given how Lily was with her blanket.

Lily was pretty grouchy Saturday morning, but we got through it. She figures that today will be a better day because we're going to church. Little does she know that I am taking her on a car ride up to Wake Forest so I can turn in some library books...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Surprising Deference

If you've read much of this blog you know that we sometimes have problems with Lily's attitude. Amanda is trying a new system where Lily earns a heart for every day that she is consistently respectful. Once she gets 10 she will get a special treat like a meal at Chick Fil-A or maybe a milkshake. If nothing else, these hearts have helped us to show her when she is starting to go down the wrong road so we can nip some of the outbursts in the bud.

We're having some rainy weather here, which is good for a number of reasons (we're getting out of the 2007 drought and I put down grass seed Wednesday). Lily got a new umbrella for her birthday with the Disney princesses and the handle looks like an unopened rose. She used it yesterday and was taking it to the bus stop today. Fortunately, it wasn't raining.

I offered to hang on to it for her so she wouldn't take it to school and potentially lose it. I told her that I would have it for her when I picked her up at the bus stop later today. She explained that she had it at school yesterday. We talked about it a little bit more and she said, "whatever you think is best, daddy."

That was a combination of very cute and very encouraging. Maybe she is starting to understand that we do know a few things. Either way, I let her hang on to it. Hopefully it will come home with her.

Early Release

Yesterday was Lily's first early release day from school. The bus got in around 12:45, which made for a potentially long afternoon for Amanda. Fortunately Lily behaved well. They had some hot cocoa and shortbread as a snack when she got home and they played Disney princess bingo. I could hear Amanda calling the game when I spoke to her on the phone. It's strange to hear "I-Belle", but that's how the game works.

I explained to Lily that she had some great-grandparents who would have loved to play bingo with her. I don't know if any of the churches around here have bingo like they did up in Cleveland when I was little. I'm sure that Lily would be a shark though. After all, it's in here genes.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Noah's Song

Amanda and I both independently sang the chorus of this song to Noah yesterday. We're working on it...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Plugging Along

We survived the birthday weekend. The party went very well on Saturday and everyone had a great time. We had some technical problems with the camera, so please be patient for pictures. We also had a good time with a very informal family BBQ on Sunday.

Amanda and Noah are at church for Amanda's small group. I'm working from home.

Not a lot to report, but I did want to make sure that I kept the heartbeat of the blog going.

School is going well, but keeping me busy.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Party!

Today is the day of Lily's big ballet party. In fact, she and Amanda are waist-deep in it now. Amanda planned only one major activity that required preparation and that wasn't too bad. It gave us a reason to get out the hot glue gun (thanks Cija!). The mouse ear headbands look great.

Noah is finishing up his nap upstairs. I took this chance to take a nap and do some homework. It's so great to have a quiet house. In fact, I should probably get a bit of work done on my paper for this semester. It's nice to get ahead a little bit for a change.

I told Amanda that once Noah woke up we would have to do some guy things. We're going to watch football, smoke cigars, pass gas, etc. We have to offset the princess ballet party somehow. Actually, we've watered the tomato plants (Noah tried to bite into a roma that was on the end table) and we've read some books. It's so nice that he can entertain himself for the most part.

I'll post some pics once we have them. I'm very happy with how the cake turned out.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New Vocabulary

Lily has started calling us "weirdo" sometimes. I guess if this is the worst thing she picks up in kindergarten we'll be OK. I know that it won't be though.

Amanda and I had a good discussion at lunch today about the merits of homeschooling and private Christian school. We agreed that Lily would not do well in a homeschooling environment. We're also pretty sure that the only real benefit of private Christian school would be better academics and potentially fewer questionable things taught to the class. We are not naive enough to think that all peer-related problems go away because these little "angels" are being raised in Christian homes.

Lily still flashes a lot of 'tude at times. I think our job is helping her to harness that.

Noah can kind of take a few steps now. He's still pretty tentative and plops down on his bottom all-too readily, but he can take a few steps. It also seems like he is about ready to talk, but he's in no rush for that either. We will definitely post some video once he starts walking.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lily Art



Lily drew this in church on Sunday. Lily has many gifts but art has not been one of them. Many kids her age (or even younger) color much better than she does. She also has shown almost no inclination to improve in her coloring. That is why we were extremely impressed with this piece that she brought home from church.

In case you're wondering about the red near the bottom of her dress, she had a little stumble in the parking lot on the way to church. That little bit of red is her boo-boo, even though her boo-boo never bled and barely scraped the skin.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Coming Down

It's been a very tough week here. Amanda had a terrible virus that laid her out for Tuesday and Wednesday. It wasn't exactly my finest hour in juggling family with work and school, but we have survived and I am hopefully a bit wiser for it. Amanda's grandma is in town and Amanda is visiting with her at the McKenzie's house. (thanks again Tiff!)

I went to the open house for Lily's school yesterday and got to meet her teacher and her teacher's assistant. Ms Snoots (her teacher) seems like an excellent kindergarten teacher. I see why she needs an assistant with all the stuff they keep track of. They send home a weekly report of how the kids do with keeping their "promises" (classroom rules). They have to keep track of attendance and mark absences as either excused or unexcused. They have a way of keeping track of lunch money. They send a folder home with the kids each day and have to keep track of that stuff too. Not to mention they are always herding a class full of kindergartners! Learning about their recordkeeping reminded me of my summer of keeping score for mlb.com.

It's finally sinking in that Lily is in school and it's for real now. She can't just miss a day without an excuse anymore. Amanda has to notify the school next week when she takes Lily to the dentist. Taking Lily on a non-educational vacation will be considered an unexcused absence. It's kind of like work now!

One thing that struck me at the open house is that Lily is in a very diverse environment. One of the first things they had the kids do was a "self-portrait" where they selected a circle of paper, glued on yarn for their hair, and colored in their features. These are up on the wall. Most of the faces were a shade of brown rather than cream. This is in pretty stark contrast to how it was for me in elementary school. Hopefully she will just see people as people regardless of the color of their skin. Given that her best friend at school is black, I think we're off to a good start with this.