Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rise and Shine

Today is Thursday, which means that it is also the second consecutive day for me to have class in the evening. This morning it dawned on me that I had not seen Noah since I put him to bed Tuesday evening. I got to see Lily briefly yesterday morning because she was already awake. We got to go through the "flash the lights, beep the horn, wave, and don't forget" routine.

This morning was a bit different. Amanda was awake and Noah was making his little noises, but Lily was still out. I find that I leave about 15 minutes later on class nights since I hang around the office anyway. It just doesn't buy me anything to get to work early. Since it was pushing 7:30 I came upstairs to see if Lily was awake. She wasn't, but Amanda suggested I wake her to say goodbye. I appreciated this offer since I certainly was not going to give Amanda more Lily time without permission.

Lily was still sleeping pretty soundly when I came into her room. She had a tough time waking up. However, she was very glad to give me a hug and a kiss before I left. I also got to see Noah very briefly before leaving for work. It's great to get his big gummy smile and a happy little squeal.

Now instead of just giving Amanda a quiet "I love you" (so as not to rouse any children) and leaving I got to see the whole family walking down the stairs before I left. I also got to see Lily stand at the front window and wave as I flashed the lights and beeped the horn and waved and didn't forget.

I'm really enjoying seminary this semester, but I don't like being away two nights/week.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Capping the Gusher

Noah is now well into his second month of solid food. As I wrote before, he has enjoyed a variety of fruits and vegetables. The latest has been bananas, which he is warming up to. He is gaining weight like crazy. In fact, he is starting to remind me of Ernie's old tenant Al. Al was a crusty old Polish guy who served in WWII and Korea. I believe that he had two purple hearts, and would have had a third if they would have credited his bleeding ears from the shock of a bomb going off near him at Pearl Harbor. Al had sort of the prototypical old Polish man build with no wrists or neck.

Noah is similar. The only thing really separating his forearms from his hands is a little fold in the skin and fat. Cleaning his face is a matter of counting chins. The boy can eat.

The problem is that he still can spew. It does seem to still matter what Amanda eats or drinks. After green beans I am reminded of "The Exorcist." After carrots or sweet potatoes it's like he makes warm orange sherbet all over the place. Either way, it is pretty gross. It's starting to look like we won't see the complete end of spitting up until he is weaned.

It is better than it was, but it's still gross. It's also very inconvenient. Amanda is always doing laundry because we rarely can wear the same pair of pants twice. You do get used to the sour smell after a while though.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New Bern House

Amanda's small group has mostly completed their two day project at the New Bern House. Yesterday's painting went fairly well, but there was a complication when the residents of the room didn't know that they were coming. Another complication was that all the painting didn't get done yesterday. This meant that today became more difficult even though it was supposed to be the easy day.

To further complicate matters, several members of Amanda's group had sick children and couldn't come. Fortunately, Amanda called up some reserves who found ways to be there. It wasn't easy for them, but they did get the painting done and they got some window treatments up. It's good to have this done for now.

My part in this was pretty simple. I took Lily to preschool today and I kept Noah at the house. He napped this morning and then I fed him when he woke up. I took him to pick up Lily and then Lily and I enjoyed lunch at a local McDonald's (her request). I took Lily and Noah to Lily's dance class, met Amanda, swapped cars, and then came home. Amanda, Lily, and Noah crashed shortly after their return.

Sometimes I wonder if the difficulty of these projects shows that our lives are too complex. Either way, it was definitely a sacrifice for Amanda to help with this.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Unusually Restful

We're actually having a fairly restful Sunday. Amanda is kind of busy getting ready for her small group's project of renovating a room in a nearby house, but it's still not as stressful as many of our Sundays. We're enjoying a sunny day with temps in the high 40s. Noah is trying to nap, but is having a hard time with Lily and Sarah playing in her bedroom. This may not be a surprise, but Lily likes to boss around a girl that is 7.

A bit more on this service project -- there is a house in Raleigh that we call the "New Bern House" (it's on New Bern Avenue). It's a big old house that serves as a place for people to go. I don't think I'd quite call it a runaway shelter or homeless shelter. It's not just a place for abused women and families to go, though it serves as that too. I guess it's a place for people who need a home. Since it is so old it's also pretty run-down in places. Amanda's small group is going to paint and decorate a room in it.

As you might imagine, this requires much coordination. As small group leader Amanda gets to be the project manager. Fortunately, she does not have to be the main person for any one thing. Tomorrow she needs to show up and paint. The problem is juggling the kids. Someone else in the group will watch Noah in the morning while Lily is in preschool. On Tuesday I'm going to be more involved as I'm working from home. It's going to be a crazy two days.

In the meantime, we'll enjoy our Sunday as much as we can.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ready to Move On

We had a kindergarten preparedness meeting with Lily's preschool teachers yesterday. Pretty much the only concern is that she is so small. However, they said that they have seen her make great strides in how she interacts with the other kids. Apparently she was very tentative when school first started, but now she jumps in each day with both feet. Academically she is ready. She counted up to 39 for Miss Sue, which is good. I guess we need to teach her about 40, 50, etc. She also can identify all the letters of the alphabet.

Apparently kindergarten moves more quickly than Amanda and I remember. Some kids are reading at the end of it now. They practice writing letters on lines now. I always thought that was more of a first grade thing. Are we moving toward the idea in Star Trek: The Next Generation where a child in elementary school is studying calculus?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Our Little Slugger

Cija took this great photo of Lily playing T-Ball. I tried to embed it in this post, but I think that Flickr prevents downloads.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Give Me More!

You may recall that Noah's first solid food didn't go so well. Our little boy has turned into quite the eater. He has now enjoyed the following foods:

  • Rice cereal
  • Baby oatmeal
  • Pears
  • Applesauce (unsweetened)
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Peas
  • Carrots
Well, to write that he has enjoyed peas may be a stretch, but he did eat them. That's more than we could say for Lily sometimes. It's also been good to make some of our own baby food. Those little containers from Gerber are nice and all, but it's a lot cheaper to buy a single sweet potato, nuke it for about 10 minutes, and have him eat that for the better part of a week.

Amanda had a brilliant idea for storing the homemade food. It only lasts for 2-3 days in the fridge, so we put it in ice cube trays. It's a little tricky to get out (you've got to run warm water on the backside) but it does make for nice little servings. You should see Noah's face when we thaw out sweet potatoes!

Sorry for double-posting today, but I thought Noah should get his own post for a change.

A Brave New Girl

We have big news with Lily. On Sunday she decided to eschew her night light. This started when Amanda was going through the couch looking for a checker that goes with the backgammon set. As she pulled up the couch cushions she found all kinds of Lily treasures in there. One was a small flashlight. Remembering Thanksgiving I had an idea. I asked her if we could turn off the nightlight if she had the flashlight in her room. She agreed.

I thought that she might back out in the end, but she decided to go through with it. She unplugged the nightlight, but had it handy in case she changed her mind. She ended up not needing the flashlight because we have a street light not far from our house and it provided plenty of light in Lily's room. On Monday night she declared that she didn't even need the flashlight anymore. Now she brags about how she doesn't need the flashlight.

This is pretty exciting for a few reasons. One is that I think I was in junior high before I gave up my nightlight. The other is that she gave up her blanket not a month ago. She is already going potty by herself first-thing in the morning. All we need to do now is put the cereal on a lower shelf and have a small container for her to pour milk and she may be able to take care of herself for the first part of the day. I realize that we're already fortunate to have her stick to the "seven-zero-zero rule," but I think we've got to keep encouraging more independence.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Snow Days

I apologize for not posting yesterday. It was a fun day with family, though Amanda and Noah stayed home from church. Amanda had a pretty consistent cough in the morning and she didn't want to be hacking all through the service. Noah also has a little bit of a runny nose and cough, which we didn't want the nursery volunteers to experience.

The big news here is the snow we had Saturday night. Of course, being Raleigh it started off as a cold rain which turned into sleet which turned into a wet snow. Lily had fun playing in it with the neighborhood kids. Fortunately, it was warm enough on Friday that the snow didn't really stick to the roads. Plus, the local communities did a good job of getting salt on the roads. I had to go out Saturday night to fete the departure of a coworker who is getting recalled by the Navy. The snow was coming down in big, thick chunks, but it wasn't sticking to the road. I discovered yesterday that my car is now covered in road salt. I'm not one for washing my car too often, but I think it's time.

It really wasn't a lot of fun to scrape the ice off the windows of the Camry before we could go to church. However, it has been nice for it to feel a little bit like "real" winter. It was sunny and cool (around freezing) yesterday and I got to watch water drip off the roof as well as see the icicles melt off the mudflaps on the Camry. We don't get icicles too often around these parts.

I don't miss living in the snow and having to deal with "challenging weather" as Grandpa E likes to call it, but I still prefer getting in a cold car over a really overheated one. I can clap my hands and blow on them to get the circulation going, but there isn't much you can do but sweat when it's 95 degrees, humid, and your car has been out in the sun.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Day Off

Amanda got a day off yesterday. When I got back from class on Thursday I found her at her wit's end. It seems that Lily had a tantrum at dinner and went to bed at 6:30 Thursday night. Meanwhile, Noah screamed the whole night. I took the day off yesterday so I could take Lily away from her while she recovered a little bit.

Lily and I got some shopping done which kept us out of the house for a while. We took Noah to the grocery store after lunch. All this was good to give Amanda a break.

Today we're having a very dreary and wet day. It may even snow this afternoon, which of course has some in the area a little bit scared. Our church postponed its Small Group Leader appreciation banquet because of the wintry forecast. I think today will be a good one to hunker down with a fire.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Video Fever

We are having the closest thing to a winter storm that Raleigh experiences. There was a chance for a little bit of snow last night as well as some potential freezing rain. Therefore, Wake County schools made the decision last night to delay for 2 hours. Amanda and I never thought to check this out because while the weather is nasty (35 and rainy) it is not the kind of weather we think of when we think of delaying or canceling school. I took Lily to preschool today only to discover that it was closed because of the 2 hour delay.

This created a problem for Amanda because she is fighting the onset of a cold and was looking forward to a break from Lily. She was not too pleased to hear Lily come in the door while she was up in bed reading. What do we do when we want a break from Lily? We put in a video. Actually, we don't do it every time we want a break because then she would often do nothing but watch videos. However, given how I am supposed to be working from home it seemed like the thing to do.

I put Noah down for a nap around 10:00 and Lily started Cinderella. I did some work, but then decided that I had put off showering long enough. As I came back down from the bedroom around 11:00 I noticed something odd with the video. It seems that Lily had managed to turn the Chinese subtitles on. I felt compelled to turn those off.

All's well that ends well (at least in the middle) though. One of Lily's friends from preschool is coming by to pick her up (her mom is anyway) to take her over to her house for a playdate. This is a relief like manna from heaven for Amanda.

Noah is developing a fondness for peas. It's like the old bumper sticker says -- "Visualize Whirled Peas".

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Slightly Better Day

Yesterday was slightly better than Monday, but not significantly so. Now it seems that Amanda is battling the early stages of a cold. It didn't help that we had a cool, dry night last night and she woke up with a raging sore throat. I asked Lily to be particularly good for Mommy today. I have doubts about whether she did that.

I start my semester tonight. Today is the beginning of my final semester of Greek. Tomorrow will be the Foundations of Biblical Counseling. I have to do a Personal Improvement Plan for the counseling class. This is one project that I suspect Amanda would be glad to help me with. Not so much that I have so many glaring flaws (though I'm sure I do that I don't realize) but that it's always nice when a spouse wants to improve and asks for help.

Noah continues to do well. Amanda introduced peas yesterday. She even sings the "Peas, Glorious Peas" song to him. He is not wild about the baby food form of peas, but I guess he is eating them. It seems to me that we could do homemade baby food with peas like we did with sweet potatoes.

It's refreshing to have such a good little eater. By the way, it seems that Lily cannot get enough kielbasa. She absolutely loves it!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Beat Down

Amanda had a rough day yesterday. Lily has started acting up again. As you saw, she didn't finish her dinner Sunday night. We had slow roaster chicken yesterday and she wouldn't eat it. Unfortunately, this was accompanied by a couple of fits. She is actually starting to get used to having timeouts in the basement now. I'm not sure if that is such a good thing.

I ended up taking Lily and Noah out shopping yesterday evening. Amanda desperately needed the solitude. When I get home I hope to hear that today was a better day...

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Mina Project

Mom asked about this and I figured that others may want to know, so I thought I would write a little article about it. This project was based on the parable found in Luke 19. The church normally gives a lot of money away in December, but does it mainly through Target and Wal-Mart gift cards. This year they instead decided to give $35,000 to the congregation and they asked us to increase it and give it away. They gave the money away in the form of cash in sealed envelopes. Some people only got $10, some got $20, but some got as much as $500.

Yesterday was the celebration for this. Amanda and I matched our cash and then Amanda used it for a project that Lily's preschool was doing. However, some people did some very exciting stuff. The church has only accounted for about 30% of the $35K given out, but what they do know is that small sum has already grown into about $140K in charity. In other words, entrusting this to the congregation was better in the long run.

BTW, there is a relief fund sponsored by the National Guard. I highly recommend donating to this if you have some extra cash. It really helps a lot of servicemen and -women out.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ending the Madness

What a weekend! We basically got to enjoy about 5 hours of actual family weekend time. Let me break down what has transpired since Friday --

Saturday morning I was out of the house at 7:30 AM to get to class. I got home at 11:30 AM to find that Amanda and Lily had cleaned the house. Jack and Melanie arrived shortly thereafter. We enjoyed a nice lunch together and then Jack and I went to Sam's Club. By the time we got home the McKenzies had arrived. I played in a couple of games of Pinochle with Bill, Jack, and Tiffany before I had to get to the convocation. The convocation was very nice. However, it turns out that I had missed the major drama.

While I was gone the family enjoyed some pizza together. As you may know, our dining room is kind of tiny. It gets even tinier when people are sitting in the chairs. Lily and Brenna tried to squeeze through and Brenna cut her head open on a corner of the china cabinet. They took her to the ER and fortunately she just needed some glue and analgesics. Shortly after that incident Amanda had to go and babysit for our friends with whom we swap babysitting. I met her there as soon as the convocation ended, heard the story about Brenna, picked up Noah, came home, put Noah down, then made some creme brulee french toast for today.

Amanda didn't get home until around midnight and I had trouble sleeping until she came to bed. Once she was in bed we managed to fall asleep. I'll be honest and admit that I didn't get up at 5 when my alarm went off, but slept in until almost 7-zero-zero. So much for my run today. We all got ready and headed off to church. Church was great as we got to hear the results of the Mina Project (email me if you want to know what that was). We got home from church and then got ready for some guests that arrived around 12:30. These are new friends that we met through Lily's dance class. Their names are Scott and Lynn. They have two daughters, Hannah (age 4) and Emma (age 2), but are sure to have a son within a month. Scott has a Master's of Ministry from Gordon-Conwell seminary, so he and I had a good time talking about various theological matters as well as the state of the contemporary church. I look forward to hanging out with them again. We wouldn't have had them over today, but Lynn is due any day now and we figured we'd better squeeze this in now before she gets somewhat sequestered for several weeks.

They left just before 3:00. Lily, Noah, and I went to the grocery to get a couple of things while Amanda rested a little bit. We had one of our normally eventful dinners. Lily gagged on her last chicken nugget, which meant instant bedtime. She went down at 7:00. Noah got fussy around 7:30 and was in bed around 7:45. Amanda and I chatted on the couch for about 45 minutes and then she went up to bed. I came down here to review my Greek flashcards, catch up on my weekly financial bookkeeping, and to do some email.

Speaking of which, I should probably get to that email now. At any rate, now you know what our weekend has been like. I hope that yours was a bit less stressful.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Ending the Week

It's almost over. I feel like Amanda has earned these 2 credit hours as much as I have. Today became even more dramatic as Amanda hosted Brenna. They got together with Tiffany and Brenna for a late breakfast at our local Panera Bread. Tiffany and Bill wanted to shop for a little computer desk, so Amanda volunteered to watch Brenna while they did that. You can imagine my surprise when I came home from Fuquay (doing some bank business there) to find Brenna in the house.

If there is one word that characterizes life with Lily it is drama. Add a 2 1/2 year-old who is hitting the stride of the "terrible twos" and I think it multiplies rather than adds. Still, Brenna was pretty good. It usually seems to be Lily.

What's wonderful is that Amanda got a reprieve. Our neighbor Lynn (mother of Sarah and Katie) called to see if Lily wanted to come and play. Considering that Lily became hysterical at the idea of a nap, this was a gift from above. Amanda is looking forward to a little quiet time when Noah takes his nap.

Tomorrow will have its share of craziness too. Jack and Melanie arrive for a one night stay while they drive down to Florida. I have my class from 8-noon and then convocation at 6:00 PM. Everyone will be at our house for family time. Amanda has to babysit for a friend at 7:30 PM. We're hosting guests after church on Sunday.

I have to find some way to reward Amanda after this week. Please feel free to email me with any ideas you might have!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Today has been going pretty much full-bore for me. Last night ended at around 12:30 after I got back from the disappointment of watching OSU lose yet another BCS Championship Game. I find it hard to sleep after these games and I found myself awake at 5:30 unable to go back to sleep. I realized that I was going to need a nap today as well as some time to do some reading for school, so I got up and started working. Then once Lily got up I had breakfast with her and Amanda. I managed to squeeze in some weightlifting in the middle of my morning. Then I took a shower and did some more work. I met Amanda and Lily for lunch at Five Guys, hit Sam's Club for some milk and bread, and then came back home. I did manage to nap a little bit after they got home from dance class. That seems to have made a world of difference in how I feel.

I guess it's only fair that I get a small taste of what Amanda experiences each Tuesday. She has to take Lily to preschool, rush over to church, lead her small group, go back to preschool, get Lily, eat, take Lily to dance, then come home. It makes for a pretty crazy day. I'm glad that I've been around today only because Lily had a fit this morning on the potty. It seems that she wanted some company. She comes and goes with that.

Meanwhile, Noah keeps eating like a little champ. He's generally a mellow little man except when Amanda gives him to the babysitters at church. Then he freaks out. This time she put him in their Baby Bjorn and he probably forgot that he wasn't with mommy because he got quiet.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Posse

Lily is pretty much an official member of the neighborhood posse now. The problem is that she seems to prefer talking to the older girl (Sarah) who will be 7 in July. They both seem to exclude Katie (1 month younger than Lily) from their reindeer games, though they do play together.

We have heard good things about Lily's compassionate spirit from her preschool teachers and I hope that carries over to her relationships with other kids. I have fears that Lily is going to be a popular girl that will pick and choose who gets the honor of spending time with her. I think that we can nip that in the bud, but left unabated I could see that happening. That is not because of anything special about Lily other than she seems to be very popular with other kids. Rather, it is because of the fact that she is a person and we're all innately selfish unless told otherwise.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


As you know, Lily has some friends from up the street. Sarah, Katie, and Lily are quite the little trio now. Sarah and Katie are more established with the other neighborhood kids and Lily has met others through them (including the infamous Cooper). They were playing outside today and Lily came by to ask us if it was OK for them to play in our backyard. Our backyard is very steep and wooded, so it is by no means toddler-friendly, but it is late-preschooler to early elementary friendly. The three of them have all kinds of pretend "adventures" back there. One of Lily's favorite activities is "building a campfire" where she makes a big pile of sticks. I'm not sure how she did it, but she has some sticks on her "campfire" that must be 4 feet long.

The other adventure today was dinnertime. We got some doughnuts this morning, but of course we don't eat a dozen among the three of us. I thought we could get Lily to eat her dinner tonight (quesadilla) knowing that she would not be able to have a doughnut tomorrow morning. She also has to wear pants the day after she refuses dinner. It turns out that she dislikes the meal so much that she is willing to go without doughnuts and she is willing to wear pants to church.

She's a tough nut to crack our Lily.

On a brighter note, Noah has started to use Cousin Brenna's exersaucer. It's pretty cute to see him try to bite all the toys on the rim.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year

Amanda and I actually were awake at midnight on New Year's Eve. We figure that was the first time in probably six years. We had a great time at the party we went to that evening, though Lily got to bed extremely late (10:45). I told her she couldn't get up until 8:00 AM, and she was up right then. That child amazes us sometimes.

New Year's Day was our usual time of football, pork, and sauerkraut. We did manage to get Lily to take a nap, which was a nice respite.

We had another landmark moment with Lily this morning. She has taken to talking about "poopie" lately. Amanda warned her that would have to stop, or she would have to get soap in her mouth. This happened just as I was leaving for work this morning. I heard all kinds of screaming, so I felt like I had to investigate. When I got up there I saw Lily sitting on our bed screaming about how "it's going to hurt" and Amanda standing with a bar of soap. I explained to Lily that she had to do this. She wasn't happy about it, as you might imagine. What's funny is that she protests punishment by telling us that she doesn't like it. We keep telling her that is the whole idea of it.

I just got off the phone with Amanda. Lily is at preschool and she just got back from a walk with Noah. It's great to have Lily back in the preschool routine. It was getting tough for Amanda. We know that the teachers need a break, but we were ready for their break to end!