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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!