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Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Enigmatic Peanut

You don't need to have read many entries in this blog to know that Lily is something of a discerning eater. That is, of course, when she eats at all. That is why today was such a surprise for me. First, at Harris Teeter she tried some spareribs. Turns out that she really likes them and couldn't get enough. That's what we ended up eating for dinner.

Then at Sam's Club she surprised me further. They had a demo of pretzel crackers. Basically, these were small, flat pretzels. To make the pretzels more interesting they added a small slice of mild cheddar and a little bit of chipolte chicken salad. Lily absolutely loved the chicken salad. I explained to her that she was eating cheddar cheese. She even ate a black bean or two with it! She decided that she only likes those things when they are all together. She's quick in justifying her decisions, that's for sure.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Magic of Photo Shop



unretouched photo

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Last Day

We got some good news in class last night. As long as we remain diligent we will not have to meet on Friday. This is particularly good news for us because Lily is becoming increasingly difficult. She had a meltdown yesterday at the McKenzies' house where she called Amanda "stupid" again and also told her that she "hated" her. While you don't want to take a 4 1/2 year-old too seriously in her anger, these are still very biting words. It is wearing Amanda out.

What we're trying to communicate to Lily is that we still love her even when she misbehaves, even if we don't like what she is doing. We also are trying to explain that words like that have meaning and that they hurt. Amanda made her apologize 20 times and say that she loved her 20 times so that Lily would start to understand that it takes a lot more effort to build up than to destroy.

We'll keep you posted...

Meanwhile, apparently Noah had trouble sleeping yesterday and last night. Of course, I always suspect a tooth. He has been eating like a horse lately, so maybe there are some growing pains going on too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Back to the Grind

My class restarted yesterday, so it's back to some long days for me. Amanda has managed to find some good distractions for the kids. Yesterday she spent the morning at a friend's house to celebrate a birthday. Lily had her dance class yesterday afternoon and by all accounts she behaved well for the day.

Today Amanda is spending the morning at Tiffany's and then babysitting at a friend's house in the afternoon. That just leaves tomorrow as I hope to work from home on Friday.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Mealtime

Lily was up to her old tricks today. Since today was my mom's last day here I decided to make breakfast. We had bacon, egg, and cheese bagels. Lily had scrambled eggs with "door cheese." Unfortunately, she only ate the door cheese. Then for lunch she had a turkey and "door cheese" sandwich with butter, but she declared that she was only going to eat the cheese.

By the time it was all said and done, Lily dug herself into a fairly deep hole of consequences. Couple these mealtimes with her decisions to call Amanda "stupid," to tell Amanda that she "hated her," to throw a shoe at Amanda, and to hit Amanda when Amanda took her bike away as a result of her lack of moving and you have a pretty rough day with the Peanut.

As usual, she became more charming after these meltdowns. Dinner ended up being very pleasant. Lily ate her sandwich for dinner while Amanda and I enjoyed some grilled pork chops and some sweet potatoes with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Lily has decided that she likes sweet potatoes with butter and sugar. We knew it was just a matter of her trying them.

Meanwhile, Noah ate everything that wasn't tied down. He had his usual yogurt and applesauce. He had a handful of cheerios as well as some canned green beans. He ate some sweet potato and about four Ritz crackers. He also ate about half a piece of bread. The boy can pack it away.

Amanda and I enjoyed a dessert of my homemade chocolate ice cream with chunks of peanut butter fudge. I figured that was a good way to use up the leftover peanut butter fudge from the beach. I crumbled some chocolate chip cookies in mine for good measure. Quite a treat.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Noah in the Pool

video

Here is the much-anticipated video!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Pomp and Circumstance

Yesterday was Lily's last day of preschool. She even had a commencement ceremony, which Aunt Tiff and Cousin Brenna attended. I understand that there was some singing at the ceremony and Lily did a good job holding her flower and singing. The teachers put together a DVD with a bunch of photos on it.

Lily keeps talking like she is glad that she doesn't have school anymore. This is confusing because she likes school. I asked her about this and she explained that she is glad because she won't have to leave early anymore. I think somewhere she got the idea that summer vacation is this great thing, no matter how much she likes school.

Lily is definitely starting to act more like a little girl and less like a preschooler. It's hard to quantify exactly, but if you spend much time with her you will see it. It's a little sad to see some of the old her go, but we also know that this is part of her growing up.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Parties!

Lily had quite the social schedule yesterday. First, they had a water party at her preschool to celebrate the end of the year. Amanda tells me it was a good time. Plus, they got to give their teachers gifts. I believe everyone got together on gift cards for them.

The horse party also happened yesterday. Lily got to ride on a horse, not a pony. I guess she was a little tentative at first, but she really enjoyed it. Amanda says that she was on the tallest horse too. It was a beautiful day for it.

Unfortunately, this morning has not gone quite as well. Lily woke up and came downstairs while Amanda caught a little extra rest. I told her to go potty and to make her bed. Making her bed is one of her few chores. She didn't want to do it because it "isn't fun." Welcome to the world, kid.

Several spankings and stern talkings-to later, she finally made her bed. What's interesting is that she needed a hug from me before she could do it. I'll have to remember that. It's good that she wants to connect after these conflicts.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A New Prayer

A landmark night tonight - Lily has veered away from just saying "God bless" everyone. Some of you may know that Lily has a litany of people she prays for every night. A long, long list. Tonight she stopped in the middle of the list to pray for a good final day of preschool and that she would learn a lot about kindergarten. Given how much she is a slave to routine, I was pretty amazed that she deviated. Maybe my influence is finally being expressed. In any case, I'm glad she feels she can tell God what's on her heart.

Still Difficult

Lily has been a pill lately. We're not sure what has come over her, but yesterday at dinner wasn't much better than yesterday in the morning. She made up her mind that she wasn't going to eat the crock pot chicken I made. She tends to do this, even though she likes it. She got a timeout in her room with some spankings for trying to escape.

The good news is that Amanda reported that she was pretty mellow after that. She did end up eating her dinner including the corn and peas she had on her plate. She ended up being pretty good while I was in class, which was what I was most concerned about anyway.

Noah still isn't crawling, but if you put him down on the floor you can be sure that he will not be in the same place in 5 minutes. He literally backs himself into a corner such as the space between the couch and the basket of old magazines we have by the window. Then he gets upset when he can't get out. He'll figure it out one of these days.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Regressing a Bit

We're not entirely sure why, but Lily has had some behavior problems in the past 24 hours or so. Tiffany very kindly invited Amanda and the kids over for dinner. They ended up staying until 8:00, which was maybe a bit too late for Lily's attitude to hold up. She had Amanda's keys and wouldn't give them back. She was also very intrigued by "Dancing With the Stars" which was coming on at 8:00 and didn't want to leave. Amanda and Lily had a talk about that in the car.

I got back from my small group at around 8:00 this morning and everyone was enjoying breakfast. Things began to spiral downhill quickly. Amanda had bought a book for a friend's 2 year-old, but she couldn't find it. She asked Lily if she knew where it was, but she said she didn't. I came upstairs to see if I could help and then started to call Lily to talk to her. She didn't respond, which was odd. Amanda thought she was hiding. Turns out she had to go to Cooper's house to get the book. She took it over there yesterday. Apparently she didn't realize it was a gift.

We had a sit-down over this one. Lily learned that the penalties are much less if you are honest about doing something wrong than if you lie. The problem is that we didn't want a punishment that would end up being a punishment to Amanda. We decided that Lily can't take any toys outside for a week. Lily was OK with that and said that it was what she was thinking.

Amazing how charming she became as they got ready to drive off to preschool. Got to watch that one.

Monday, May 19, 2008

It Begins...

Today is the first day of my two week class. The good news is that I am taking off Friday for my mom's visit and I should be able to work from home tomorrow. Nevertheless, this will be four consecutive bedtimes where Amanda has to deal with both kids. Normally we divide and conquer at bedtime. Fortunately, Amanda isn't nursing Noah just before bed anymore, so he can go down before Lily. That should simplify things a bit.

On top of all this we have some added uncertainty and stress. We'd appreciate prayers for Amanda's grandmother Phyllis who is not doing well in Pennsylvania. It's uncertain right now if she will recover from the infections her body is fighting. We may be traveling for a funeral sometime soon, but it is hard to say.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Back Home

We arrived home yesterday around 2:30, but Amanda and Lily had to turnaround almost immediately for the birthday party. Lily had a great time looking at a lemur, a gibbon, a macaw, and an alligator. Wild Dan the Animal Man certainly captured her attention and she learned a lot about the various animals. On top of all this, she was supposed to go to a party at a horse stable with pony rides today, but it got postponed because of the threat of afternoon thunderstorms (more on that later). It's just as well because Amanda needed to get ready for the week ahead while I am in class every night.

Lily spent the day playing with Cooper. He came in for a quick snack and some drinks. Lily did a great job as a hostess in getting out cups for them to use. We have a ton of plastic cups. Cooper didn't express a color preference, but I suggested orange since that was on top. Lily went digging through to get blue. As I look back, it really is quite remarkable that she thought about that. I gave Cooper some Ritz crackers. He didn't thank me for them. Strike one, Coop.

Amanda tells me that Lily tried to take him up to her bedroom so that she could have her baby up there. Amanda stopped that one cold. That must have happened while I had Noah out for our hunting and gathering for the family's food.

I had committed to doing brats on the BBQ today. Overall, it was a beautiful day, but as the charcoal was getting hot it started to get dark. By the time I put the brats on it was pouring rain. I kept thinking of how crazy it was to be out there on the BBQ in a thunderstorm.

Lily decided that she wasn't going to eat her hot dog, so she got a time out. She never did finish it so she didn't get any treat. Funny how her "mark" always causes such agony for her when it is time to eat something she doesn't want. For the uninitiated, the "mark" is where the elastic on her panties digs into her skin a little bit. You would think someone had seared her skin with a hot iron the way she acts.

At least everyone got to bed at a decent hour. I need to get to bed in good order tonight. Let's hope we don't have to deal with Lily's contrived "fear" of the "sparkles" again like we did last night.

Wow, that was a long one today. I hope to be able to keep up during this week, but it may be tough with my nightly class.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Packing Up

Sorry for not blogging about Days 6 and 7. We had some good times, which is one of the reasons why I didn't do any blogging. We were busy with the pool and the hot tub as well as movie watching, going out to dinner, and going to the beach. Let me try to hit some of the highlights:

Thursday was gray, but warm. We swam in the pool for a bit, but it wasn't very comfortable. Amanda and I had a nice walk on the beach in the morning. I went jogging on the beach early Thursday morning and my legs are still sore. The McKenzies went out for dinner and we got to put both girls to bed. Fortunately, it ended up working out OK.

Yesterday started off a little rough with much rain in the morning. In fact, we made a try at going to the beach, but got chased off by the rain. It got sunny about an hour after that. We spent some time in the pool and in the hot tub. We went out for dinner as a family since we were getting low on meal food. There is always some food left over at the end of these trips, but not always enough to feed 7 grownups and 2 little ones. Bill and I watched some of the Cavs game and everyone else watched a movie.

I'm really not particularly looking forward to going home. I often am at the end of trips like this, but as I sit here on the top of the house with the sun shining in the window I hate to leave. I really liked this house. I also have a sense of trying to delay the inevitable as things will be quite busy when we go home.

Lily is going to be a social butterfly this weekend. Her friend Niki (I probably messed up the spelling) has her party today at 3. A friend from dance class has a party tomorrow afternoon. Today's party will feature someone who brings animals and closes with a gospel presentation. Tomorrow's party will have pony rides. These parties are fun and all, but we're afraid that they give Lily the idea that her birthday parties must be really elaborate.

Oh, and did I mention that I have class all this week? I'm excited for the class, but not about being in class.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Day 5

We finally had some perfect beach weather today. We spent time on the beach and at the pool. The heated pool is fantastic, though it was a bit chilly to get out of it. Noah got his first taste of the pool and loved kicking around in his floating ring. Lily actually started to dog paddle with her water wings on. We consider this a major accomplishment because she has been pretty afraid in the water up until now.

The weather was OK yesterday, though it was still extremely windy. There was no beach to walk on yesterday because of the high tides. Lily did still enjoy playing on the three square feet of playable sand though. I think her favorite game was to take a handful of sand and watch the wind blow it away. The hard part was not getting it in my face.

I have to record a funny moment from last night as well. Bill and I picked up some beer at the local Harris Teeter. One of the beers we got is called Three Philosophers and we enjoyed that with our meal. Before the meal Jack had one of his Natural Light Ices, but he didn't finish it before we started. Later as we were playing cards we were surprised to see Jack produce his glass from the freezer. He then poured in the remainder of his good beer to make what I have since named a "redneck black and tan." We were all aghast at this, but he just took it in stride. Yet another Jack Pierce "blend."

The only negative today is that the ocean washed some of the sunscreen off my toes and they are now sunburned. I'll live.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Day 3

The weather got really nasty yesterday. According to Jack, the weather folks declared the storm to be a true Nor'easter. We had some 45 degree rain that came down in sheets. One of the great features of this house is that we can see the ocean from the living room. The waves are quite impressive. It's still very windy this morning, but I still plan to hit the beach with Lily. Hopefully there is a beach to walk on. The waves may be going all the way to the sea oats.

We made Lily and Brenna nap yesterday afternoon. There is a sitting area in the ground floor in between Noah's room and the girls' room. Naptime was interesting. Noah never really did go to sleep other than a brief time that was interrupted when Amanda had to knock on Tiffany's door above his room. The girls took a while to go to sleep. Brenna kept wanting to talk to Lily. I went in a few times and even gave her some stern looks, which seemed to ultimately get her attention. There is no way to capture the moment in writing unless you know Brenna, so I won't try.

Lily actually did try to nap. They had to because they have been waking up really early. When I came in to quiet Brenna Lily was quick to point out that Brenna kept talking to her and wouldn't let her sleep. Lily definitely has a well-developed sense of justice.

Fortunately, Noah was really pleasant yesterday evening despite not napping in the afternoon. Let's hope today is a better day. It may be a good one for me to take Lily to the lighthouse. We shall see.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Day 2

We had a nice Mother's Day morning with some creme brulee french toast and bacon. I took Lily and Brenna to the beach, but one wave was a little high and it got Brenna's rolled-up jeans wet. After breakfast I took Lily and she is now officially into splashing in the surf and collecting shells. We have set a three-shell bagging limit for what we take home.

The afternoon has been very mellow inside the house. There has been much napping and reading. However, outside is a different story. If I were a surfer I'd be out there right now. We have some sustained winds at probably around 25 MPH, which is making the waves kind of interesting. There is a tornado watch for our area as well. It may not be a good thing to be in a house that has tons of windows in it, but I think we'll be OK. These houses are built for wind, though of course a tornado doesn't care about such things.

I hope that the weather improves as we go through the week. I don't think it's ever going to be really warm, but hopefully it will be less cold.

Day 1

We arrived safely at the beach. We were ahead of everyone else, so we had to kill some time. Amanda hung out with Noah at the pool and I took Lily down to the beach. We enjoyed Amanda's deep-dish pizza for dinner. I wish I could write that we had a quiet evening, but Lily had something to say about that.

We have Lily and Brenna sleeping in the same bedroom in twin beds. We thought this would be fun for them, but Lily had three meltdowns. We heard the two of them talking when they first went down and then Lily started screaming for us. I went down and found that she didn't want to sleep with Brenna. She wanted to sleep with us, which was not going to happen. I gave her a choice between sleeping in Noah's room and sleeping with Brenna, but she "didn't like those choices."

Several spankings later, Amanda came down to see if she could help. Amanda laid in bed with her for a few minutes and Lily seemed to settle down. Sure enough, she had another meltdown shortly thereafter. Then Amanda went down and told an "Ella Story." These are stories Amanda makes up about a girl named Ella who visits various planets. Lily seemed OK, so she came back up. However, there was then another meltdown.

We finally just let her scream for another 10-15 minutes and then she settled down. Amanda and I spent some time in the hot tub to relax, which was nice.

Today has started better from a Lily perspective. Noah has been pretty good too.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ready to Roll

We have just about everything packed up and we are ready to roll. Lily pulled her late-night stunt again last night at around 2:30. This was with one of her shades open and a night light in the room. I threatened her with a spanking if she got up again. This may seem harsh, but she is sleeping in the exact same conditions as last night. We didn't hear another peep out of her.

Call my cynical, but I think this was a Lily power-play. Her track record is enough to give one pause, don't you think?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Tough Morning

It's starting to look like Lily is just going to need a night light in her room. No matter what we do she insists that she is scared of the "sparkles" she sees. You know a room looks when it is dark and you see the tiny black spots? She is afraid of them, or at least that is how she expresses it. Amanda was at a baby shower, so I tried to go to bed a bit early. I started to fall asleep and Lily cried. I had her comforted, I was almost asleep again, and then she started crying again. Then Amanda came home and I woke up again. I was almost asleep when Amanda had to cough, which woke me up again. So basically I got about four short naps in between 10:00 and 11:00 last night.

We have some storms coming through this morning and we had a couple of pretty good thunder boomers. Lily came in to our room at 4:25 asking if she could sleep with us. She is currently sleeping with Amanda. We also had a brief power outage this morning, which made everything reset.

Consequently, as I was in the bathroom this morning I thought I heard voices. I wondered if Amanda and Lily were talking about something, but the voices didn't seem right. Then I heard steel drums. It turns out that "The Little Mermaid" had automatically started in the DVD player and the sound was coming out. I turned that off and came back downstairs.

Let's hope the rest of the day goes better. It's going to be another full one.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Sprint

We're in our customary pre-vacation sprint. I've been trying to get some things done at work before I go incommunicado for a week. Amanda has had all manner of social obligations. I think if Hillary Clinton saw Amanda's day she would say, "Wow, that's pretty busy." It's not quite as bad as campaigning, but she is pretty busy.

Lily has been something of a pill lately. She keeps waking us up at night to tell us that she is afraid of the dark. She is now sleeping with a Mag-Lite. I taught her how to completely unscrew the top so it is kind of a candle. I also told her that if she was really scared she could turn on her lamp. Hopefully it doesn't come to that. All I know is that I don't want for her to wake us up!

I hope to blog about our vacation as things happen. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Ups and Downs

It always seems like it is feast or famine with Lily. Today was a big day at preschool with a Mother's Day celebration complete with a class rendition of "You Are My Sunshine" for all the moms. It was punctuated with a blown kiss and a surprise flower for the moms. The problem was that it was also someone's birthday party and Lily had a LOT of treats.

That set the stage for their visit at the McKenzie house. Apparently Lily was quite a handful. She hit Brenna and then wouldn't apologize. This led to a meltdown, which she hasn't really had in a long time. We did have a pretty good evening here though.

As I look back, today got off to a rough start at 3:00 AM when Lily woke up scared in the dark. I was just about back to sleep when she came to tell us that she saw a bug in her room. I convinced her that the bug spray would eventually kill it, and she was surprisingly satisfied with that answer. She is sleeping with a mini MagLite tonight.

On the other hand, Noah was particularly sunny at bedtime tonight.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Four Days!

Yes, I'm counting down to the beach. Here is where we are staying. Cute name, eh?

I'm really looking forward to it, though not the drive. It will take us about 4 or 4 1/2 hours to travel the 224 miles to NC-12, which is the road that runs parallel to the ocean. Then it will probably take well over an hour to go the last 18 miles to the house because the traffic is so terrible. Still, it's worth it.

I'm really hoping for a time of rest and renewal for us. Life is normally pretty hectic here and it will be nice not to have to worry about much more than taking care of the kids and preparing the occasional meal.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Day at the Lake

We spent the early afternoon at Lake Crabtree today. We used Amanda's
picnic basket to take a nice lunch out there. I picked up some cheese
at Trader Joe's and we enjoyed a nice meal with that and some of
Amanda's homemade spinach feta bread. We finished out the time with a
rowboat ride around the lake. The original idea was for me to row us
around the lake, but when I paused to mop my brow Amanda said she wanted
to take over. She actually did the bulk of the rowing while I held Noah.

In retrospect, it was a little too sunny for Noah. He was just off
today. He was fussy at church and didn't have good morning or afternoon
naps. We hit him up with some Motrin before bed, so hopefully that will
do the trick.

Meanwhile, it seems that there is something going on between Lily and
the neighborhood posse. I'll write more when we have some details.
Something isn't right there though...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Bedtime

Tiffany watched the kids last night so Amanda and I could go out for a post-semester celebration. We had a nice meal at Biaggi's and then did a little shopping sans kids. No, Laura, we did not go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

Tiffany is fairly well-acquainted with Lily's bedtime routine and of course Lily has no problem with correction when something is not right. As Tiffany looked for Lily's Bible to read her "sections" she started with Lily's bookcase. We keep it under her bed, which Lily pointed out. Lily also told her that if she was here more she would know that.

We think Lily's misses the time when they were staying with us. We're also more than happy to have Aunt Tiff babysit more often, but I suspect it won't be as often as Lily would like.

Noah seemed a little off yesterday. We wonder if maybe a tooth is trying to poke through, but we don't feel anything yet. He has been particularly bitey and drooley lately.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Finishing Up

Today is my last day of class for a couple of weeks. I just have to take a final and I'm done. It feels great to wind the semester up. Of course, there is always more reading to do so I'm ready for the next class (starting on May 18), but I have plenty of time to do that.

I've been meaning to post about one of Lily's new sayings. She has started to start sentences with, "Speaking of..." or "That reminds me..." I know that she got this from us, but it is neat to see her starting to put these things together appropriately. She speaks so well that sometimes I am surprised when she doesn't know what a word means. It's great that she is like a vocabulary sponge right now. Unfortunately, she is probably going to get teased for it some day. I guess we all get teased for something at some point, so she may as well carry on the family tradition.