Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Long Trip

I was a little concerned that I didn't hear from Amanda on Sunday night.  She called me early yesterday at work. It seems that what should have been a 10 hour trip took about 14 hours (with stops).  There was a lot of traffic and several accidents along the way.  Fortunately, they're safe and sound.  She didn't call me because they got in after I had gone to bed.

The good news is that the kids slept well the first night.  Noah woke up screaming, but some cuddling with mommy helped.  Amanda said it was very hard to keep driving when Noah kept asking to snuggle with her.  He got a little tired of his seat.  Fortunately, he did watch DVDs.  Lily enjoyed watching movies on my old iPod as well.

I just hope that the trip back home goes more smoothly.  It just has to, right?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Two Christmas Pics

Here are a couple of photos from this past Christmas. Unfortunately, I didn't think to snag the photos off of the camera before Amanda left for Florida, so Christmas Day photos will have to wait.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

After Christmas

I apologize for not posting lately. Wednesday morning is my usual morning off because of my small group meeting early in the morning. The Pierces arrived on Wednesday and we've been pretty busy since then with all of the Christmas festivities.

Lily was very happy with her primary gifts. She got the Target version of an American Girl doll and loves it. She also got some faux Barbie dolls and is enjoying them. I got her a copy of LEGO Indiana Jones and we played that some yesterday. Overall, she's been very happy.

Noah's highlight has to be the hockey stick that Uncle Eric and Aunt Nat got him. The only problem is that the rubber blade is curved for a righty, so we've had to keep working with him on that. I figure that it's a new motion, so we can train him. He also loves the assortment of 3 mini NCAA balls (basketball, football, and soccer ball). He's a happy little guy.

I think it may be time to reinforce an important point to Lily. It's easy to get caught up in the new stuff and forget that we exchange gifts because Jesus was the best gift ever.

By the way, this blog is likely to be quiet this week as Amanda is taking the kids to Florida to stay with Grandpa and Nana for the week. They will see Amanda's grandmother and uncle and aunt as well. They also will see an uncle and aunt from Melanie's side. They will keep busy, but it is likely to be a long trip down I-95 today. I doubt I'll have much to report on, but I may upload some pics during the week.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Play Date

Lily had her friend Courtney over for a play date yesterday. As a bonus, her sister Megan came too (Noah calls her Mey-mey). Amanda did the ironman triathlon of play dates. They did a craft, they baked cookies, and they played games. As a bonus, they also had lunch. It was a pretty long day for Amanda, but Lily had a great time.

The good news is that it was a good time to get some teaching in with Lily. I think she is starting to understand that these play dates have some costs. She has a better idea now of how much work it is for Amanda to do this and is now a little more appreciative. One way we fostered that is by making her clean up her room last night. When we got ready for bed it looked like a princess bomb had gone off with all of the play clothes in piles. She actually did a pretty good job, though her closet is now booby-trapped.

Today should be a much more mellow day. Lily has offered to vacuum in anticipation of Grandpa and Nana's visit. They may make some fudge. I don't think that they are going to do cut-out sugar cookies again.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Biggie Girl

It's difficult to quantify this in a blog post, but I'm starting to notice that Lily is getting a bit more grown-up in how she talks. It's not just the vocabulary, though that is impressive. It is more in her mannerisms. She is starting to use her hands in more subtle ways when she talks. She is also becoming even more expressive with her eyes. It's really something to see.

She is also growing quite a bit physically. As you know, she got off to a very late start when it came to growing. Amanda keeps marks on the doorway to the kitchen and we've found that Lily has grown around 3/4 of an inch since October. Maybe she won't be so tiny after all. She's not even the shortest girl in ballet class anymore.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


This is the video of Lily's ballet dance yesterday. The teacher is the Snow Queen and each of the girls are snowflakes. It's pretty long, but you'll see Lily doing her thing. She's definitely getting more graceful than she once was!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Lily had a mini-recital in dance class today. Here is a clip of them playing a tap dancing game. One person taps out a pattern and the class tries to repeat it. Lily is doing pretty well, though she does tend to favor her right foot just a bit.

The Big Snow

Lily's Christmas vacation started an hour early because of weather. We had a big cold front come through and it dumped upwards of 3-4 centimeters of snow on the region. The snow came down around lunchtime and it was in big, thick flakes. The highlight was Noah trying to catch them on his tongue. According to Amanda, he did manage to get a few.

We were all braced for a big ice storm, but so far it hasn't happened. It's not exactly nice outside, but it's a bit too warm for a good glazing. Now I feel silly for sleeping in instead of going running this morning. It just looked nasty when we went to bed last night and I figured we'd be iced in today. The good news is that we can now get out for Lily's mini-recital this morning!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Amanda has not been feeling well the past two evenings, but I've had to make salsa for my Mina project. Therefore, I ended up taking the kids out with me. I bribed them with the promise of a milkshake on Tuesday night, which we got from Chick-fil-A (where else?). Last night we just hit one of the local Food Lions and the Dollar Store so I could get supplies for the latest batch.

Lily got very upset on Tuesday because Noah got to ride in the racecar cart at Harris Teeter and she didn't. I told her that she was too big for it. Then she started doing the math and realized that Noah ended up with more treats than her (down to holding the receipt at Sam's Club).

She proactively said something as we pulled into the Food Lion parking lot yesterday and spotted the car carts. I decided that I would go for equity and I put Noah in a regular cart, which upset him to no end. He whined and cried the whole time we were in Food Lion. I explained to Lily that this was because we couldn't use the car cart.

Looking back, I realize that this may have been a missed opportunity to teach Lily about a little charity. We'll work on it. I figure that the day is coming when we will have to count jellybeans in Easter baskets.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Lily came home from school with a surprise for us. She made a coupon book of services that she will do for us. For example, she has an offer for us to sleep in. She has another for breakfast in bed. Amanda and I are trying to figure out how she would pull that one off, but it's a sweet gesture.

She tried to get me to use one yesterday. I was changing the bag out of Noah's diaper champ. I would guess that the bag probably weighs around 20 pounds once it is full of wet and poopy diapers. They add up. She wanted to take it out for me. That was a sweet offer, but I couldn't see how she would get the bag downstairs, out to the trash can, get the lid of the can open, and then put the bag in. We'll find something for her to do.

The important thing is that her heart is in the right place with this.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Shot

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Get Tough

Lily is a girlie-girl through and through. This is great for the most part. However, when she has the slightest injury it can be a little annoying. And sometimes it is downright funny.

Last night at bedtime we read a children's paraphrase of this passage:

2 Corinthians 11:23-27
(23) Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one--I am talking like a madman--with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.
(24) Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.
(25) Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea;
(26) on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers;
(27) in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

This was Paul explaining to the Corinthians the hardships he has suffered for his faith. As we went through the list I talked to Lily about some of these things so she could understand what happened to him and why. I think she got the picture.

Then when it came time to pray she could barely let me hold her hand because she had a nick out of one of her nails and it hurt her. I know that it hurts when a nail is cut into the nail bed, but she made a very big deal out of it. I couldn't help but chuckle inside as I juxtaposed that with this passage that we read.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


As I wrote yesterday, we had Lilly's Pizza for dinner. Actually, Amanda and I had that and the kids had a cheese pizza from Little Caesar's (word to the wise: avoid Little Caesar's at 6:00 PM on a Friday). Lily of course finds it fascinating that the pizza place shares her name, but she doesn't like the spelling. I explained to her that it was named after the founder's dog. She wasn't quite sure what to make of that.

She decided that she wants to have her own place and spell Lily correctly. Or maybe it was that she wanted to buy Lilly's Pizza and change the name. Either way, she has an idea of how Lily should be spelled. The neat thing is that when we parked and walked back to the restaurant she was able to read the name on their window.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Free Day

I'm enjoying my birthday so far. Amanda prepared some pecan rolls that I baked this morning. She got me a lovely 36" raised fire pit, which is very exciting to me. I'm looking forward to having some free time to just sit and read for a little bit. It sounds a bit dorky, but I may also work on the take-home test that I need to get done by next Wednesday. Why would I do this on my birthday? I can't think of a much better present than to be completely done with the semester, which is what that would represent.

I'm looking forward to my free sub from Firehouse today. I'm also looking forward to some Lilly's Pizza and a gelato cake from Henry's Gelato. I've decided that it is good to formally take the day off. I need a little sabbath after finishing up the semester.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

They're Here!

They've been knocking on the door for a while now, but I think that the terrible twos have arrived at our house. Noah is still easier than Lily was, but his attitude has not been good lately. On Monday he threw two different breakfasts on the floor. The english muffin with peanut butter wasn't so bad, but I don't think Amanda appreciated the small bowl of cheerios.

The Pook is turning into a little person and he is "announcing his presence with authority," to borrow a term from Nuke LaLoosh. He likes to say "no" a lot now too. He is spending time-out time in his crib now. His little hand gets slapped from time to time as well. Amanda finds herself counting to 3 a lot.

We knew that this day would eventually arrive. We'll get through it, but it won't be a lot of fun. Fortunately, we're veterans. The other good thing is that he is still very sweet in general, but the sour times are just becoming more frequent than we'd like.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Little Commentator

This is one of Noah's favorite videos because it combines two of his great passions -- Elmo and basketball. I recommend watching this for a little context.

We have Noah's present from Grandpa E hanging on the closet door in our foyer. The rim is maybe 5 1/2 feet up from the floor, which of course is a bit high for Noah. We've been trying to get him to shoot from the step, but he apparently doesn't like the look from the baseline. His solution yesterday was to bring in the small stool from the bathroom.

Lily took advantage of this as well. She brought it up to the rim and then "dunked," which was really a dunk in the Manute Bol sense since she didn't really have to jump. She did this a couple of times and commented on her dunking prowess. Noah commented, "You got game!"

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Rack for the Pook

The sleeping situation will soon become untenable. While Noah has room to grow in his crib we don't want him in there forever. Plus, Amanda's youngest sister has a baby due in March and we would like to give them Noah's crib. After all, we don't need it anymore. We decided that the best way to go would be to put bunk beds in Noah's room and give Lily the queen-size bed.

To that end Amanda has been keeping an eye on Craigslist. Yesterday she found a beautiful wood set complete with mattresses for $200. What made it even better was that the mattresses were hardly used (they did a great job getting the stains out if they were used by bedwetters), the owners were only 2 minutes away from our house, he had a truck and was willing to bring it over, it was a perfect morning for moving furniture (sunny in the 40s), and they threw in bedding.

I'm not sure when it will happen, but we will soon be moving some furniture. The real adventure will start when Noah is sleeping in a bed instead of a crib. There is something comforting about knowing that he is caged.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Slam Dunk

Grandpa E got Noah a very nice over-the-door basketball hoop for Christmas. It's adjustable and we have it on the lowest setting for him now. It's not easy for him to make shots, but he did make a couple in the few minutes he had before bed last night. As I was putting him down he announced his desire to "play with my basketball." I told him that he could do that in the morning and he simply said, "OK."

The boy is pretty easy to please. You just have to be strategic about how you take basketball away from him.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Seen and Heard

I was playing a plug and play game on the TV today with Noah. Nothing particularly strange was happening, but Noah kept saying, "Oh my goodness, that's a big mess!"

I made the mistake of letting him take his basketball upstairs at naptime. He ended up taking it to bed with him. He wouldn't go to sleep though as he kept playing. Amanda went in and changed a poopy diaper, but didn't give him his ball back. He started yelling, "I need my ball!"

He still doesn't say a whole lot, but he is saying more than he did. And, for the most part, it's very cute.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Raleigh Weather

It may prove to be an interesting weekend. My mom is coming to town today and will be staying until Monday morning. However, in the meantime we're supposed to get a lot of rain on Saturday with lows in the high 20s. This is the formula for an old-fashioned Raleigh ice storm. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Heard at the Table

Lily needed a bath last night and we discussed that at dinner time. Bath time tends to interfere with daddy play time, but that's just a normal part of the week. Last night Lily was thinking though. Amanda was baking some cookies and Lily asked when they would be ready. Amanda explained that she would have to bake them, so it would be a while yet. Lily announced that she would, "take my bath in the meantime."

Noah was sitting in his booster as I prepared lunch today. He started singing, which is pretty normal. He usually sings the alphabet (which he sometimes tries to use as a prayer) or some other song. This time he was singing, "Da, da, da, da..." to the tune of Darth Vader's theme. I'm not sure what made him think of that as he was not around for any LEGO Star Wars yesterday, but it was pretty funny.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Math Wizard

Lily came home with a big red paper apple that reads, "Great job in math!" She got this from her math teacher today because she got everything right. It isn't her regular teacher because they're trying something new where her teacher is working with the remedial kids and the other kids go to other classrooms. Her math teacher was thoroughly impressed with her today.

Lily explained that she has been playing blackjack with her daddy and that is why she is doing so well. She told me that the teacher was amazed. I suspect she was amazed at several levels, for better or worse.

All I know is that I remember learning about blackjack from my grandfather (the same one who taught me Rummy) and it was part of my ongoing fascination with numbers. Lily is enjoying it now and it's helping her in math. Plus, I hope that in the long run it will help her to understand probability a little bit better than the average Jane.

Putting up Christmas

With Thanksgiving being a bit later than usual this year we decided to get a quick jump on putting up Christmas. This will end up saving us from a little bit of the hectic pace that December tends to bring anyway. Besides, I like having the tree up before my birthday on the 11th.

Lily and I went down the street to the Christmas Tree lot that we usually patronize. We are officially in charge of picking out the tree. Last year we got a little crazy (I keep thinking of the old man in "Christmas Story" asking, "Don't you have a big tree?"). This year's edition fits better in the corner. Lily is getting the hang of putting on the ornaments, though she still tends to bunch them up a bit. Nevertheless, she is getting pretty good at it. She also had some very creative ideas for using bows and ribbons around the house.

I got the outside lights up too. While it may have felt a bit strange, there is something to be said for weather in the high 60s when putting up lights. It doesn't feel particularly Christmasy, but we'll take it for now.

Noah likes the decorations too. I think he is slowly getting trained about not playing with them. We're also working on him not throwing balls near the tree too. It's a process. I think that things will go better than they did last year anyway.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Going Out

Lily had the day off yesterday, but fortunately the weather was nice, albeit a bit blustery. Amanda took the kids out on a picnic, which of course they really enjoyed. It turns out that Noah really likes a Wendy's jr. cheeseburger. I think the boy has Ohio in his blood.

As I type this the kids are at Uncle Bill & Aunt Tiff's house. I took Amanda out to dinner last night and then we headed to Target to nearly complete our Christmas shopping. It feels good to have things mostly done for everyone on our lists, though there will be some small things for teachers at school and Sunday school teachers.

In a couple of hours we're going to get our kids and then take Brenna for the day and night. I'm planning on doing a little bit more shopping for Amanda so that Amanda's morning is mostly child-free. These child-free mornings are nice to have once in a while. I enjoyed not going out running until 6:40 after sleeping in until 6:00. And now I can get some reading done for school without worrying about getting breakfast together.

I do enjoy hanging out with our kids, but the breaks make the heart grow fonder.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Few More Pics

This is Noah in his rain gear.

Our sun fairy.

Noah sporting his puppy jammies.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving from the Chamberlain household. As this blog chronicles the ups and downs of our household it is sometimes easy to lose sight of the big picture. We have much to be thankful for including, but not limited to:

  • A roof over our head
  • Clothes on our backs
  • Food on our table
  • Good health
  • The freedom to worship as we choose
  • The security that comes from living where we do
  • Most of all, salvation purchased for us by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross
I hope that you take time today to consider all that you have to be thankful for.

Big Game

I took Noah and Lily to the Cary High men's basketball game on Tuesday evening. We got there partway through the first quarter of the JV game. Noah sat in rapt attention through the whole first half. Then the Cary High dance team performed at halftime and Lily was thrilled. Noah started to get a little squirmy as the second half went on and was downright antsy by the end of the game. I found out that the dancers were going to perform during halftime of the varsity game too, so per Lily's request we stuck around. We sat on the bottom row and I had to put Noah on my shoulders for the whole varsity game.

Noah really wanted to get out on the floor with the players. He also wanted to play with the ball. He didn't understand why that couldn't happen. Despite the squirminess and complaining, he clearly had a really good time. He spent the better part of yesterday evening asking me about going to another game.

Lily wants to go to another women's game. If we're going to see women's basketball I'm going to look into going to a college game. I think that might be more fun for both of us as I think it would be a better product. Plus, the cheerleaders should be more talented and Lily will enjoy that.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gapes of Wrath

Noah is officially 2. He has been for 5 months now, but he is becoming a bit more terrible each day. He kind of woke up with a chip on his shoulder this morning and it hasn't quite gone away. For example, at lunch today Amanda gave him some grapes (or "gapes" as he calls them). She wanted him to thank her for giving them to her and he wouldn't do it. She took them away and he still wouldn't do it. We coaxed him for a good 5 minutes and he just wouldn't give in. He kept using his new favorite phrase which is, "I don't think so." I'll try to get that recorded so you can enjoy it.

I wish that this was an isolated incident, but it's not. He is becoming more wild and vocal about things. Last night he bumped his head in his crib because of his thrashing when I put him down. Yes, raising a boy is a lot different than raising a girl. On the bright side, I think it's good that he isn't too docile. Boys should have a little bit of fire in them.

Monday, November 23, 2009


The Band of Brothers from our church did a benefit concert for the Hope for Haiti Foundation. They cover a lot of rock songs from the 70s and 80s. The venue was not quite as good as the last one because we had to go outside to hear them. It was sort of gray and not quite drizzling, though it did start a bit as we left. Nevertheless, Lily and I had a great time there. The original plan was for Amanda and Noah to come for the show and we would have dinner there. It just would not have been good with Noah, so I picked up some Moe's on the way back.

Lily had a really good time dancing. She's not quite got the hang of following, but she is getting there. She has a strange proclivity for back-leading. Amanda thought that was quite funny.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


The highlight of the day yesterday was taking in the annual tilt between OSU and Michigan. I brought Lily and Noah over to Uncle Bill & Aunt Tiff's house to watch the game. Bill made breakfast and I brought buckeyes. He went all-out this year and invited some friends from a former job over. We even had a Michigan fan in the mix, though she was fairly quickly resigned to her team's fate as the second half progressed.

Noah is still at the stage where he just repeats back "O-H" to you when trying to get him to say "I-O." Nevertheless, he is extremely cute in his little OSU jersey. It's a number 28 and he turned into a little Beanie Wells at church last night when he decided that he wanted to run through all the people who were milling around. At his size it's pretty easy to navigate quickly through a crowd. It's a bit harder for dad to catch up.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I had a late evening at work yesterday that kept me from getting home until 7:00. When I got home I found Lily and Amanda watching "Stomp" thanks to the Roku. There's nothing quite like watching one of your children laugh hysterically. She thought it was really great. Of course, some of the humor went over her head, but that's OK.

She was very upset when it was 8:10 and she had to go to bed with no card-playing. She still doesn't quite have a good sense of time, but instead things in terms of activities. I think in her mind she watched a video, should be able to get ready for bed, and then do what she normally does before bed. We got through it though. We still deal with the occasional hysterics, but usually we just get a scowl and some whining before she is resigned to whatever fate she has been assigned.

It seems that our years of not backing down are starting to pay off. As I watch how some folks at my office deal with news I think learning to accept unpleasant decisions is a life-skill she will very much appreciate someday.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Lily's school had a fundraiser at Chick-Fil-A tonight. I'm not sure what the cut was, but we filled out a little card with her information and some portion of the take from tonight will go to her school. Her gym teacher was there serving drinks when we got there. He spoke very well of Lily.

We had our usual high-quality Chick-Fil-A meal, but the atmosphere was lacking. I have to think that we were breaking some fire codes in that restaurant. Noah had a meltdown while I was waiting in line to get dessert. Lily got upset at the end because she saw some of her friends in the play area and wanted to play with them. We realized that we had to get out of there both for the common courtesy of freeing a table and because Amanda and I were ready to freak out.

I've been in Lily's cafeteria and that is way more orderly than what we experienced tonight. No matter what we got a good meal out of it and Northwoods made some money. The fact that Chick-Fil-A sponsors these events is reason #859 to eat there, I think.

Spa Treatment

I had a little bit of a surprise when I came to bed Tuesday night. My side of the bed smelled very strongly of Bath & Body Works lotion. It seems that Lily and Amanda gave each other spa treatments. Lily likes having her feet massaged. She also likes the little wood "happy massager," but she doesn't like having it pressed on her too hard. She'll work up to it.

Amanda is a very proud mommy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Playing Cars

Noah did something kind of funny yesterday. Amanda usually plays with him for a few minutes between the end of lunch and his nap time. He decided that he wanted to play cars. While she may not enjoy it quite like the tea parties with Lily, she was happy to play cars with Noah. Noah led her downstairs and she figured that he had some cars down here that they could play with.

It turns out that he wanted for her to play some Burnout. That was definitely not going to happen. It does warm my heart that Noah enjoys it so much. When I restart a race or a crash event Noah always asks, "We try again?" It's very cute to see him sitting on the couch in rapt attention holding a PS2 remote that isn't plugged in.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Block Party

We hosted a fairly informal block party yesterday. Our church encouraged us to do something to get to know our neighbors since it is impossible to love those you do not know. We had maybe a third of the houses in our street represented. Many folks were out of town. Two households dropped by when they got back from their trips just to say hi. It was good to talk to some people that we have lived near for 6 1/2 years, but never really got to know.

Amanda came up with the theme of a chili cookoff. We had a total of 4 pots of chili, including ours. As you might expect, some were better than others. Nevertheless, it was a good time. I think it's something we may try to do next year as well. We need to recover from this one first though.

Noah did have a little bit of a rough patch in the middle. He somehow found his way into the backyard and got stuck. Amanda had to rescue him. It still amazes me at how quickly he recovers from small traumas like that compared to Lily. The boy is resilient.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Long Night

Thursday night was a very long one. Noah kept waking up crying. I got up a couple of times and Amanda did as well. She ended up bringing him into the bed with us. It wasn't a big deal for me, but he kept snuggling up to her and kind of pinching at her to make sure she was still there. He slept for a couple of hours.

We knew when he woke up because he started crawling around our pillows. He saw us sleeping and asked, "Are you feeling sick, daddy?" and, "Are you feeling sick, mommy?" I put him back in his crib and he cried yet again. This time we gave him a few minutes and he settled down.

The strange thing is that he wasn't sick yesterday. We're not sure what happened, but it wasn't a good night. Fortunately last night was much better.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Day Off

I apologize for the lack of updates this week. My morning schedule has been disrupted and if I don't blog before work it generally doesn't happen.

We all had the day off for Veterans' Day yesterday. I took a jog in Hurricane Ida, which was an interesting experience. Afterwards I got cleaned up and took the kids out shopping. We went to Big Lots and got some stuff for our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. Then we went to Crabtree Valley Mall to look around and do some tea shopping at the Teavana store.

Noah is just adorable at the mall, though he is also kind of a pill. He doesn't like to have his hand held. But if I don't hold his hand he gets very easily distracted and doesn't keep up. He can be pretty high-maintenance at times, but I'm still very glad to bring him. Lily seemed to have fun too.

Lily's friend Ruby came over in the late afternoon. Amanda baked them some scones that she had in the freezer and they had a little tea party. The two of them get pretty rambunctious together. It's not so much that they fight (though that happens), but that they just work themselves up into a frenzy as they play. I do think that they both had good times though.

Back to work for me today. It's a little strange having Wednesday off, but I'll take it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Card Shark

Lily and I have been playing cards rather than video games lately. We usually play a game or two of crazy-8s, then some go fish, and usually finish with a little blackjack. She understands the basic concepts of crazy-8s, but needs to work on the strategy. The problem is that she doesn't really care about it that much.

She is getting quite good at go fish. Of course, her powers of recall are somewhat legend. The problem is that go fish with two people is not a lot of fun. It usually comes down to one card in the pile. But Lily enjoys it and it is something we can do together.

Blackjack is coming along. You may wonder why I would teach Lily how to play blackjack. Well, I suppose I could be argued out of it, but it is helping her practice her addition. Frankly, I think that it is good for the kids to understand how games of chance work. A basic understanding of probability theory will help them navigate life a bit more rationally than they otherwise would have. That, and there is a part of me that likes the story that Kate Bosworth's character told about learning blackjack from her dad in the movie "21."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Few Pics

Here is Noah in all of his rain gear.

Lily in her sun princess regalia.

The shorn Pook.

Friday, November 6, 2009


I had to do some research at Duke yesterday. I went after dinner and took Lily along with me for the ride. I sold it by her being able to play with my iPod touch. Of course, parking is always at a premium at a college campus. Duke has a couple of circles in the long road leading up to the chapel. I found a spot and wedged the little Civic in there. I asked someone near his car parked in a similar spot if I'd be OK and he thought I would be.

It turns out that I was in a fire lane because I got a ticket. It was just a warning ticket though. It did tell me that next time my car would be towed. This made Lily very nervous. We had to spend about 10 minutes talking about this. She wasn't quite in tears, but she did keep saying, "next time you should park where you usually do." Normally I park in the parking deck for their clinic, but it is a good 5-10 minute walk from there to the library and I didn't want to spend that kind of time with Lily in tow in the dark.

Lily's anxiety about this reminded me of the time my mom and I were driving back from the Browns' playoff game in January of 1981. Mom got a little distracted and accidentally got on I-480 W at the split near the airport. I saw the signs for Toledo and was crying because I thought we were going to end up in Toledo. She got off at the next exit (incidentally, this is where we get off to go to Uncle Chris and Aunt Krissy's house), turned around, and got us back on track for home. It was still a lot for my 7 year-old mind to comprehend though. Amanda told me that I shouldn't have mentioned towing to Lily. In retrospect I think she's right.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Better Late than Never

A while back Grandpa E gave Lily some foam balls. They're a little bit hard to describe, but you've seen them. They're a little bigger than a softball and are covered with vinyl. These in particular have a Spider=Man theme to them. One has the Spider-Man red and blue. Another has yellow and green for Doc. Oc. Lily played with them a little bit, but now Noah is really into them.

If you ever have a chance to watch Noah and he asks for his "piderman ball," you'll know what he means now. Noah is still working on the "s" to start a word. While he needs practice with that, he doesn't need a lot more practice with basic throwing a catching. It's uncanny how well he can do that. He may catch better than Lily. When he does a two-handed underhand throw he does quite well. However, what he often wants to do is throw with one hand, which he does with a Nomar Garciaparra-like whip (though left-handed and not nearly as accurately). He also likes to pat the ball into his hand like a quarterback does with a football. It's very cute to see.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

First Thing

I am of the belief that what we think of first-thing in the morning tells us a little bit of who we are and what is on our minds. I've noticed a trend with Noah. It's pretty common to hear him giggling in his crib while talking about basketball.

I look forward to takin him to a high school game this year.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Parent-Teacher Conference

I met with Lily's teacher this morning. As expected, Lily is doing well and Mrs. Turner described her as a "sweetheart." Lily's main behavioral problem is that she does like to chat. She comes by that pretty honestly. I told Mrs. Turner that I usually had a desk off on my own. They have tables now and are pretty crowded, so they can't do that. The good news is that Lily gets a green dot every day for good behavior, so it's not that big of a deal.

Lily does need to improve her writing a little bit, both the mechanics of writing and communicating stories. She is pretty much where she needs to be, but it's something that could use a little work. She gets a little frustrated when she has to slow down with her writing. We'll work on it. She certainly has no lack of notebooks or pencils for writing.

I think Lily has a good teacher and will learn lots from Mrs. Turner. And hopefully Mrs. Wiggins can help her stay a little more focused at lunch time so she will actually eat the meals that Amanda packs for her.

Little Astronomer

I had to take Noah to Lowe's yesterday to get a couple of things. We went after dinner, so it was already very dark. As we got out of the van he pointed at a star and called it the moon. Fortunately we had a nice clear night, so it was easy to show him the full moon. I then explained that what he saw before was a star. Or, as he says, "tar." Hopefully he'll stop calling everything the moon. He also calls the sun "the moon." He's trying to figure it all out.

Either way, he was extremely cute in the car cart at Lowe's. It's nice that he enjoys going to the stores. Lily makes a point of saying that she doesn't want to go now.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Yesterday was a cool and rainy one. I took Noah to Sam's with his full rain gear on. He got a lot of compliments on his frog raincoat and boots. I carried him in to the store through the mist and the wind, but he still wasn't very happy. I tried to get him to growl and show how tough he is, but that just made him giggle. I guess a giggle is better than a grimace.

We have Noah's Christmas shopping done, but Lily is a bit tougher. We have a lot of stocking stuffers for her, but nothing big. I took her to Toys 'R Us for a little shopping and made a list. Her eye immediately landed on the $150 Millennium Falcon. I admit that it looked very, very cool. However, she's not going to get that. We saw some other things that looked interesting, but it was hard to find anything that got her really excited.

I guess it's good that she doesn't want for too much. If we had her spend a day in front of the TV I bet she could come up with more things she would want.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Pics

This is Lily in her Princess and the Pea regalia. This was for "fairy tale day" at school, which should never be confused with Halloween. I wonder if this is a case where political correctness is the result of overzealous Christians instead of some other group?

This is the jack-o-lantern that I lovingly carved Friday night. I was afraid that the nose wouldn't show up and I was right. I learned a valuable lesson for next year.

Here we have the annual Diet of Worms cake. I tried to explain the 95 theses to Lily tonight, but I'm not sure that she quite got it yet. Her only context for "church" is our church, so it's kind of hard to explain how there was just one church for a long time (we won't get into the Eastern/Roman schism), etc. Either way, she and Noah both really liked this cake.

"You've grown up Annie."

I can't even begin to count how many compliments Lily got on her costume. The yellow face paint didn't show up in the dark, but it did make for a good photo. Amanda is getting pretty adept at the face painting. This costume was a reprise of her ballet recital outfit. She didn't have the wings or the face paint then, but she did have the pretty barrette and the dress.
I took Noah and Lily around our cul-de-sac. Noah was done with a house or two to go. He was glad to be home, get undressed, and get into bed. Lily and I went back out to do the neighborhood up right. Her plastic pumpkin bucket got heavy enough that she complained about carrying it. There is much chocolate to be eaten in the next several months.

I don't know why I do such a poor job of estimating how much candy we need. This year I only got one big bag at Sam's and that still ended up being way too much. I also bought a bag of peanut butter cups and a bag of butterfingers today, just in case. Coincidentally, both types of candy will be good in ice cream. Funny how that works out.

Getting Ready

We spent some time yesterday evening getting ready for today. This is the first time that we have carved a pumpkin as a family. Amanda found some templates online and after much discussion with Lily we found one that we could all agree on. We ended up with a pretty silly face. Lily is looking forward to seeing it lit up and, frankly, so am I.

Today is just a big day all around because it is also Reformation Day. In the spirit of that we are going to have a Diet of Worms cake. We may sing the Reformation Polka as well since Lily certainly knows the tune. There is also a helpful explanation of all the lyrics here. We may also listen to "Here I Stand" on the way to church today.

Of course, we're also going to go Trick or Treating tonight. Noah is going to reprise his Darth Vader costume and Lily is going to be a sun princess, which will recycle her costume from the last dance recital. Noah is only going to make a lap in our cul-de-sac, but Lily and I will go farther afield in the pursuit of sugar. Hopefully the rain will hold off.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Play Date

Lily got invited to her friend Ruby's house yesterday for a play date. It was a good use of the early release time that Lily gets every Wednesday. She had a lot of fun decorating little pumpkins and just generally playing with her friend. Ruby is even coming over Friday to play with Lily while she is off for a teacher workday. This will be a good distraction for Lily in what might otherwise be a long day for Amanda.

Today is "fairy tale day" at Lily's school. Lily's costume is from "The Princess and the Pea." She is going to wear a dress-up dress, pink tights, play high heels, a tiara, and carry around a pea in a gold jewelry box as well as a blanket to suggest bedtime. I'll post a picture once I have one.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pook Quotes

When we were at the Pumpkin Patch Noah spent some time in the smaller inflatable bouncer. He wasn't quite sure what to make of it, but he was having a good time. Then a bigger boy of maybe 4 came in. He knew just what to do in a bouncer and had a great time. Noah was a little unsteady at first, but seemed to enjoy getting bounced. Then the boy jumped up and landed on his butt. This concerned Noah and he asked, "Are you OK?" It was very sweet.

We had a little trouble with Lily yesterday over her not eating her lunch at school. Of course, there was much drama and tears. Noah said, "Don't worry, Sissy," and kept trying to reassure her.

As of right now, Noah seems like he has some physical toughness in that a little bump here and there may slow him down, but it doesn't set him off screaming. He also seems to have a tender side in how he deals with others. Maybe when he starts playing football he can be a Mike Singletary type of guy. Got to work on his crazed look first though.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkin Patch

We went to a local pumpkin patch and corn maze yesterday evening. Here are some pics from the event.

First, our beloved leader and standard-bearer. Like any good leader, she knew when to listen to her people. Sometimes Daddy actually knows the right way to turn in the corn maze. We did find all 10 waypoints and got ourselves a free ticket. I may take her back some evening so we can try it in the dark.

The men of the family.

Queen of the hay bales.

Someone may usurp her crown one of these days soon. You can't tell from this photo, but Noah's feet are about 5 1/2 feet off the ground when standing on top of this pile of hay.

They had a tube approximately 5 yards long under the hay. Lily was pretty fearless.

Noah was not quite as fearless, but he did do it eventually.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


These really need no introduction nor is any introduction going to do them justice. Enjoy!

At the Fair

I took Lily to the 10th Avenue North/Jeremy Camp concert last night. We left almost as soon as she got off the bus so we had plenty of time to take in the things she likes. We watched the blacksmiths for a few minutes and then went off in search of the cows. Lily milked a cow this time and was very brave about it. She thoroughly enjoyed her chocolate milk that she got after she was done.

Then it was time for dinner. We ate some corn on the cob. I got a sausage sandwich and Lily had a piece of cheese pizza. For dessert I had ice cream and she had frozen cheesecake dipped in chocolate. We had some time to kill before the concert and Lily wanted to watch the blacksmiths again.

The concert was very good, though we had to deal with the safety police. They won't let anyone stand on a chair, which is understandable. However, they won't let you put your child on your shoulders either. I ended up having to hold Lily for a lot of the concert. They played a lot of songs that Lily knew and she enjoyed that. We hustled out just as the concert ended in time to see the fireworks. Lily really liked that.

It made for a late evening, but it was worth it. Hopefully my ears will get back to normal soon!

Friday, October 23, 2009

More Car Windows

We're enjoying summer's last gasp here. This morning it was in the low 60s. That's windows-down weather when driving, as far as I'm concerned. The problem is that the driver's window in the old Civic has been sticking more and more lately. Normally there is a sticky spot in the middle and I can just fight through it. Today as I tried to roll it up in anticipation of the highway it just stuck. When I got to work I realized that it was completely out of the track.

I was thinking about taking this afternoon off anyway so I could get a few things done. I didn't really bargain for having to do some DIY repair on the car. Thanks to the internet, the advice of some knowledgeable coworkers, and the right tool I am now back in business with a working window. I don't like the sound it makes when it is near the top, but I can live with that for now. Sadly, I used up most of that productive time trying to put my inside door panel back on. Now that I know the trick it will be quicker next time.

Now I'm hoping that the rain stays away long enough for Lily and I to enjoy the fair tonight.

Two Coats

Amanda took Lily and Noah shopping yesterday. Our church participates in a program called "boot buddies" where congregants take a name of a child and buy winter clothes for that child. Amanda intentionally chooses a girl around Lily's age. Lily used to have a real problem with this because she would want the stuff that Amanda would buy for the little girl.

This may seem like a form of torture, but this is slowly teaching Lily about how other kids don't have the stuff that she does. Based on what Amanda tells me, it went pretty well last night. The good news is that Lily needed a coat for the winter too and Amanda found them on sale.

Lily seems to be getting better at this idea of giving stuff away. We'll see how it goes someday if we take Noah to buy a ball for a little boy who needs one.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Spirit Sprint

Today is the annual Spirit Sprint at Lily's school. This is the annual fundraiser for the PTA. Rather than selling chintzy candles, etc, they are very forthright about the need to raise money. The kids then do laps around a course laid out with cones. I'd guess that the course was maybe 1/16 of a mile or so. They had about 20 minutes to do as many laps as they could. Lily ended up with 11 rubber bands (Update: the first thing she said to me upon alighting from the bus is that she dropped 3, so she made it through 14 laps). They get a rubber band after each lap, but the teachers are very explicit about the need to turn the rubber bands back in when done.

I'm glad that I was working from home today and was able to attend the event. Lily walked more than she ran, but she seemed to have a good time. First-graders don't really get the concept of pacing yourself. She was all-out or nothing. One thing for sure -- she will need a bath tonight!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Passing the Torch

We've had a few cool evenings lately, so Grandpa Jack has taken advantage of our wood-burning fireplace. Our fireplace is sort of like watching the grandkids in that he gets to relive some of the fun that he had with the wood stoves at their old house, but he doesn't have the ongoing responsibility of keeping the fire going day in and day out. We all enjoy the fires too, so it's fun for everyone.

Noah in particular is enjoying the fires. He also likes to help Grandpa build them. He balls up newspaper and tries to throw it in to the fireplace. He really enjoys the process. He and Grandpa had the fire prepared during the day, but they didn't light it until the evening. He kept saying, "We build fire? We build fire?" He was ready to see it go.

Obviously at 2 Noah is not quite ready to handle fire. However, it's good to see that he has a boy's interest in it. This is something being passed down from grandfathers on both sides as well as his dad. We've got to keep this going.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Let's Bowl!

We had a joint birthday celebration yesterday for Melanie and Tiffany. Since yesterday was cool and drizzly Tiffany decided that we would go bowling. We had a lot of fun. The advances in bowling technology for children amaze me. I don't remember automatic bumpers protecting the gutters when I was a little kid. Nor do I remember a metal ramp to help get the ball down the lane.

Noah used a 15 pound ball because I knew that he couldn't lift any of them on to the ramp. That actually helped make the ball roll a little more true. He actually had a strike with his first ball. Lily, on the other hand, used a 9 pound ball and it would often hang a right as it approached the pins. We did manage to get her a spare once.

Overall, it was a good time. It looked nothing like this.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Caring Boy

We were driving home from church this evening and Grandpa Jack had a big cough. Noah asked, "Are you OK Grandpa?" It was very sweet.

Third Day

Yesterday was an eventful one here, but not in a bad way at all. Amanda's parents are in town for their annual trek down to the Sunshine State and are staying with us for a few nights. They arrived in the early afternoon. Then almost as soon as I came home from work Amanda and I left for the state fair to see the Third Day concert.

We saw them a few years ago at the fair and enjoyed the show, but were not that impressed. This time the show was very good. We finally learned our lesson and got seats on the floor instead of up in the grandstand. The acoustics were much better and we could actually hear the vocals without a ton of echo.

Of course, no trip to the fair is complete without some fair food. I eschewed the fried snickers bar this year and instead opted for a waffle cone of pumpkin pie ice cream. Amanda got some fudge. Overall, it was a very nice time and it was good to get out sans kids.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Small Feat

We are starting to reevaluate some of our menu choices since Lily's doctor's visit. We need to cut down on the fish sticks and nuggets and go with some healthier foods. The main problem with this is that nuggets and fish sticks are easy to prepare and the kids will eat them.

Last night we had a dish that is adapted from something we got out of Real Simple magazine. Basically, you carmelize some onions with garlic in olive oil, add some sausage of your choice (it calls for italian, but I used chicken sausage yesterday), add cooked pasta (it calls for gnocchi, but we used whole-wheat penne), fresh spinach, and grated parmesan. It's easy and with our modifications it is fairly healthy.

The problem is that Lily hates pasta. There is something about the texture that she just can't handle. Last night I told her that she had to eat 2 noodles. Normally she pitches a huge fit about this, but last night she just did it by eating some of the sausage with it. We've been trying to get her to do that for a while, but something seemed to click yesterday and she did it without fighting or gagging. Hopefully this means she is on the road to actually eating pasta, but I'm counting on nothing.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Little Hiccup

Amanda called me at work yesterday morning with some surprising news. The back window in our van had been smashed in. We called the insurance company and it is getting repaired today. She called the police just to let them know and it seems that we are not the only ones to have this happen. The officer found a rock in our driveway that was likely used for the smashing.

It's one of those little annoying things in life, but we're not particularly rattled by it. I don't think that Cary is going to turn into Compton any time soon. Still, there is a part of me that would like to sit outside in the dark and try to catch the punks that did this.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Well Child

Lily had her 6 year checkup yesterday. She has caught up to the 50th percentile in height at 45 1/2 inches and is in the 50-75 range for weight at 49 pounds. The doctor is a bit concerned about her weight because she gained it faster than height. It looks like we may have to change a few things and watch her portion size. It's such a shift for us because she has always been so tiny and we wanted her to eat as much as she was willing. Now it looks like we may have to cut her off at one bowl of risotto.

The good news is that she is in good health overall. It's a good reminder of what a blessing it is to enjoy good health and not take it for granted.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Making Statements

Noah is getting better and better at talking, though his diction is still such that it usually takes Amanda or me to understand him. One of my favorites is when I ask him if he wants to be carried somewhere and he says, "I will walk." There is a certainty about his tone that is very cute.

It is also clear that he wants to express more than he is able to say. He will say "because...because...because..." while he is groping for words to express something. This is usually after being asked "why?" but not always.

He has also started to get into the "how come?" or "why?" loop himself. He'll start asking, "how come?" about something and just keep asking that no matter how we answer. I'll play along for a while, but eventually you just have to stop.

While these things are cute, he is also definitely a two year-old now. He is starting to form more definite opinions about how he wants to spend his time (watching videos, for example) and what he does and does not want to eat. The good news is that we can usually find a way to get him to try various foods and once he tries them he likes a lot of them. He is definitely off proteins now, but I'm sure he'll be more interested when he's ready to have another growth spurt. Small children and babies definitely give credence to the verse in Psalm 139 that states that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Love Me Do

We're wrapping up Grandma Judy's visit today. She and Lily have had a really great time. On Saturday they went to Crabtree Valley Mall to buy Lily's birthday present. Lily ended up getting a LEGO Star Wars set. She also got three extra LEGO people and has been having a great time with them. It also helps that we've been playing a lot of LEGO Star Wars II lately as well.

Yesterday I had to attend a meeting at church, but I found something fun for them to do. Cameron Village was having its annual Groove Fest and they had a Beatles' cover band there. I dropped them off, went to the meeting, and then picked them up so we could come home for dinner. They had a great time. Lily wasn't even trying and she ended up getting about 6 feet of glow sticks. Grandma says that Lily was a bit tentative for around 20 minutes, but she warmed up to the show and was dancing like crazy after a while. That's our Lily.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Grandma in Town

Lily, Noah, and I picked up Grandma Judy from the airport yesterday. We had some homemade pizza and then Amanda had to run to get to a pesto-making party at a friend's house. Grandma and Lily had fun together. Lily was of course up to her usual tricks of extending bedtime as long as possible. With Noah in the room she ended up going to sleep in our bed and I transferred her before I went to bed. Noah popped up, but after a quick tucking-in he settled back down.

Lily's attitude was not the best last night, but we had some talks about it. She was very tired from being up so late on Thursday night. I knew that would happen, but I'm still glad that she got to go to the concert. She is getting better at learning how to control her reactions when she gets frustrated.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Our church hosted a stop on a Christian music tour last night. The original plan was for Amanda and I to go, but Amanda was sick and I took Lily. We had a pretty good time, though there were a couple of snags.

I bought her a glowstick for $2 so she could play with a blue glowing ring. She had a lot of fun with it until she managed to break it. The glowing stuff inside splattered around, which looked kind of surreal. It reminded me of the blood in Predator.

Building 429 ended their set with "O Happy Day," which is a song that Lily really likes. She stood on her chair for it, but got a little too far to the back and the chair folded on her. You'd think that she had a compound fracture of her lower leg, but oddly enough she was able to stand on it.

Lily's favorite part was the girl group "Kimber Rising." I was pretty unimpressed with them, though they did sound nice. She didn't want to talk to them afterwards though. She never does.

I really enjoyed Todd Agnew's show. He's very funny, but he's also quite challenging and deep. The main problem was that it was getting pretty late by the time he came on. We stayed until the end and then pretty much bolted. Lily didn't get to bed until nearly 10:30. Hopefully she has done OK in school today. I also hope that her attitude is OK with Grandma Judy tonight.

I wish I could have got video of Lily standing on her chair singing one of the songs she knew. She really gets into it. I think I'll have my chance either at the fair or at Winter Jam.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Change of Heart

Lily made a fairly stunning announcement a couple of weeks ago. She declared that she "hates the princesses now." When you consider that there was a time when everything she had involved the Disney princesses, that is quite a change of heart. She also decided a few months ago that she doesn't like Hannah Montana. That was just fine with us. We explained why Hannah Montana was not good for her and she seemed to accept it.

The princess news is a bit hard to take. I will admit to getting pretty tired of them. I think an argument can be made that they set up some pretty unrealistic expectations in little girls, but that isn't much different than all of us boys who want to be superheroes and save the world. While I won't miss them I will miss the Lily who loved them. I don't want to hold on to the past, but it's a good reminder to enjoy the stage that she is in now.

Meanwhile, the Pook is still obsessed with sports and I hope he stays that way for a long time.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Noah's Future?

I can envision Noah doing this someday.


Amanda tells me that Lily almost had a hole-in-one when they played mini golf on Sunday. In fact, she was so close to the hole that she counted it as a hole-in-one. Amanda had to tell her that was lying and that she really had a "2" for the hole. She understands that now.

Maybe golf is a good game for her to learn how to be consistently honest. Then again...

Monday, October 5, 2009


We had Lily's birthday party yesterday. She wanted to play mini golf, so that is what we did. Three friends came over. Amanda has been trying to scale the parties back a bit since setting the bar so high with the airport party and the tea party. This time we just had cupcakes and ice cream bars. Lily opened up her gifts as each guest arrived and we got a photo right then. Amanda did some face painting and then they went off to play mini golf. As you can see from the photos, a good time was had by all.

Left-to-right: Lily, Hannah, Courtney, Nikki.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Lily and I were reading the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 with five loaves and two fish. I try to talk to her about the story after we read it to make sure that she understands it. She came up with a scenario where there were 200 people at our house, but the Crock-Pot with risotto never got empty.

In other words, a bottomless pot of risotto is Lily's dream.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

More Growth

I'm not sure how Noah is going to handle it once baseball season is over. Now he actually asks for "recap." I asked him if he could say "recapitulation," but he wasn't keen on that.

I'm working from home today. I just overheard this from Amanda:

"Noah, what are you doing? GET OFF THE TABLE, NOW!"

Ah, life with a 2 year-old. Overall, he's very good, but there are moments.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Quick Vid

Nothing earth-shattering here, but I took this with my Blackberry today. I thought it would be fun to put it up.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Noah is starting to get a sense for how to work someone for what he wants. I worked from home yesterday and he came downstairs hoping to play. He usually starts with, "I want..." and then declares his desire. Lately he has been exploring his options by saying, "How 'bout..." and then giving an alternative.

It was easy to underestimate his brain when he wasn't talking beyond grunts. Now in addition to improved speech he shows a thirst for knowledge that we didn't see with Lily. She was really good at picking up things as she observed them. Noah is interested in more formal learning. He loves going through shapes, colors, and numbers. He knows his numbers up to ten and is starting to try to go beyond. He still doesn't quite have the hang of counting, but he is getting there. All in all, he's doing really well.

In fact, he can almost say "basketball" smoothly now. You've come a long way, Pookie!

Monday, September 28, 2009


Lily is off of school today for a teacher workday. Brenna doesn't have preschool either, so the two of them have been playing. The weather is beautiful here today and I suggested that they play outside this morning. Lily captured a pretty decent-sized spider in her bug jar and brought it into the house so we could see it.

Everything was going great until, for some reason, Lily decided to put some water in her jar. The spider crawled out on to her hand. The only indication I had that something was going on was the two shrieks I heard from the bathroom as they both came running out. Lily got brave and we looked for the spider. We found it crawling on the floor and I tried to put it back in the jar so she could let it go outside. Sadly, in my attempt to capture it I ended up killing it.

All in all she was at least as brave as I would have been if not a bit more. I don't think she'll be eager to catch another spider though.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Being Sneaky

We've got Brenna here this weekend. It was cool and rainy last night, but I had planned to take Lily to a football game. She was ready to brave the elements, but Brenna was not interested. By the time we got home Brenna was all sprawled out on the bed and I had to move her so Lily could get in. That wasn't a problem.

Of course, they eventually started talking and Amanda put a stop to that. They seemed to go to sleep OK.

I'm on call for work and got paged last night. Consequently, I slept in until nearly 6:00. I thought I heard some voices, but I wasn't sure. As I opened our bedroom door I heard Lily say, "Oops!" and I saw two little people come running up the stairs. Amanda left the baby monitor in their room and I could hear them on it when I went down to the basement. I told them that they had to go to sleep and stay in the room until 7:30.

I don't think anyone would be surprised to read that I hear little noises on the monitor right now at 6:55. Today is going to be a long day. My plan is to wear them out and get them to sleep at a decent hour tonight. We'll see how that goes.

Friday, September 25, 2009

On and Off

Noah has been doing something kind of confusing at bedtime. We tend to have the ceiling fans on all summer to draw the cool air up through the house. Despite my general miserliness, we do keep the house relatively cool at night for sleeping, which is partly a product of the room I slept in growing up and the house Amanda grew up in. However, it's still warm enough that a ceiling fan makes sleeping a lot more comfortable.

Every night Noah wants the fan changed. If it is on, he asks to have it turned off. If it's off, he wants the fan turned on. I've started to convince him that it is just better to have the fan on. I think early on I was just glad that he could articulate a desire so well. Now I think he just wants to see me do something that he asks me to do. We leave the fan on now.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Style Points

Now that Lily is a bit more self-sufficient we've taken a different approach to dinner. When we think she won't like what we're eating becuase it's too spicy we give her an alternative. If she doesn't like the alternative she can make her own dinner. That usually means PB & J, which is what she made tonight.

She had gobs and gobs of jelly on her sandwich and as she was trying to spread it she tipped the plate over the edge of the table. She and Amanda managed to catch it, but some jelly ended up on Lily and on the floor. No use crying over spilled jelly, right?

We told Lily that she had to change her pants, and Amanda suggested a pair of denim capris. Lily protested because she said that it wouldn't be a matching outfit. We had to explain to her that it was OK for an hour around the house. She is becoming more and more conscious of such things.

Noah is really enamored of his Indians cap of late (thanks Grandpa E). He threw it in the surf during one of our trips to the beach, so now it has a nice weathered look to it. He insisted on wearing it tonight at bedtime. So there he was completely naked on the changing pad except for his Indians hat and looking as happy as could be.

Red Alert

Amanda got the kids some new toothbrushes a couple of weeks ago. She wanted to avoid a Barbie toothbrush for Lily, so she got her a 2-pack of these toothbrushes that have a red LED in them. You press down on the rubber end of the handle and they blink for the length of time you should brush your teeth. As you might imagine, Lily has really got into this.

The problem is that we have a fairly traditional toothbrush holder in the kids' bathroom. It is your standard little ceramic canister with 4 holes in it. The handle on the toothbrush is too big to go down into the hole. Lily compensated by sticking it in the hole as far as she could. It did stay and she had something of a bouquet of toothbrushes going.

However, this had an unforseen consequence. Now there are times when the toothbrush will just start to flash even though it sits on the counter. I don't know if it's the air conditioner blowing, a bug running over it, or maybe just the tiny shiftings of a house in the wind, but something gives the handle just enough of a nudge to make it start blinking. In fact, Lily got up shortly after being put to bed last night complaining of being scared from something flashing. Amanda saw it after we went to bed last night. It's a little disconcerting, to say the least.

We put the toothbrush in their drawer. This is one time when it is good to hide your light under a bushel, so to speak.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Birthday Pics

Here are a few photos from Lily's birthday celebration. There were others, but they need some red-eye touchups and I don't have time for that right now. There's also a free picture of Noah. Enjoy!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cleanup, Cleanup

Yesterday ended up being a rather cleansing one. I vacuumed the basement and the cars. Amanda and Lily spent about 30 minutes picking up her room and you wouldn't know it's the same one she woke up in that morning. Although it's a challenge, we have Noah picking up all of his balls when it is time to stop playing. Unfortunately, he never thinks it's time to stop playing!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lunch Date

I met Lily for lunch on Friday. I had a chili dog and some slaw, while Lily had a plain hot dog with ketchup, a few baked fries, and a few bits of applesauce. I'm not quite sure how it happened, but Lily's friend Evelyn ended up eating with us too. There is a special table in the corner where kids can eat with their parents.

I found the cafeteria to be a bit overwhelming. The kids behaved just fine, but it was extremely loud. It was not quite as loud as a club, but you did have to raise your voice to be heard. I don't think I could handle that on a daily basis.

It was fun to see Lily in line. I got there as her class was marching to the cafeteria. Even when her teacher told her that she could walk with me she did not break rank. Nor did she talk. She collected the little compliment card that teachers give each other's classes when they behave because she was near the back of the line.

The class stops at the bathroom on the way back from lunch and that is when I took my leave of Lily. It was fun to see her in her element at school. It was also good to hear that Mrs. Turner thinks that Lily is a delight. She generally is, after all.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Aim High

The weather is getting nicer, so Amanda moved Noah's basketball hoop back out to the driveway. The boy loves to shoot baskets, but he's not quite satisfied with his Little Tikes hoop. Yesterday I had the kids outside while I put some fertilizer down in anticipation of the rain we got last night. By the time I put the spreader away I found Noah out in the cul-de-sac standing by the 10 foot hoop. He really wants to shoot a basket in the big hoop. He tries, but all he can do is get the ball maybe 6 feet in the air.

He'll be laying it in there before I know it and I'm in no particular rush. He, on the other hand, is ready to start knocking down 3s.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The "Helper"

Amanda had a funny story about Lily tonight. When she did her prayer of confession tonight she mentioned how she didn't get all of her work done today. Amanda asked her why and Lily went on to tell quite a story.

It seems that she was unable to get all of her work done because she had to help the librarian. She called Lily's teacher and specifically requested her to help her find a book that some kid had lost. Apparently there was a bookmark involved in all of this too.

Amanda called Lily on this story and Lily admitted that she didn't get her work done because she wasn't paying attention when Mrs. Turner drew some shapes on the board. Obviously this lying has got to stop and we're working on it. However, we do give her credit for being incredibly creative, if not particularly credible.

The Duffer

You may recall that Noah used to wield Lily's princess wand as a club. He is still using it as a club, but in a different way. He likes to hit golf balls with it now. He proudly yells, "I'm golfing!" as he does this.

I cannot in good consicence pursue golf as a hobby right now. I barely have enough time to do the bare essentials, so I don't think spending a few hours a month chasing a ball around a golf course is the best use of my time. But if Noah gets into it...

What excites me is that we have not done that much to foster a love of sports in him. He certainly gets exposed to them, but he is the one who is into them. He is still obsessed with basketball. I hope for his sake that he got some of his Grandpa Jack's and his Great-Grandpa Chamberlain's genes if he is going to play basketball. It wouldn't hurt to have some of his Great-Grandpa Cole's athleticism too. We'll have to get Noah out on the horshoe pitch sometime when he is older to see what he's got.

Monday, September 14, 2009

An Accident

We had a little bit of a rough time with Lily yesterday afternoon. She was playing with Katie and Sarah in our backyard. Our backyard is pretty fun now that the Town of Cary cut down all the trees to make room for the sewer easement. However, it is also filled with weeds because I don't want to take the mower back there.

Amanda was surprised to find Katie on our deck with red arms. It seems that they found a bush with berries on it and were playing with them. Lily got some on her dress and declared it to be "an accident." That's her excuse for just about everything now. I have explained to her than accident would be walking along and falling into the bush. What she and her friends did was make a bad decision.

It's been kind of tough to explain this to her. We want her to know that there are consequences for poor decisions, but we also want her to be comfortable with owning up to her mistakes. Ultimately, I think society will be better off with someone who understands that there are consequences to poor decisions.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Commentator

We went over to the McKenzies last night for dinner and then I stayed around to watch the disappointing OSU game. When we got there the Notre Dame - Michigan game was still going on. Noah was not quite as mesmerized with football as he is with basketball, but he did still enjoy watching it. His favorite thing is to observe after nearly play, "He fall down!"

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cranking Up

Amanda and Noah had a very productive day yesterday. Amanda took him out and they got a bunch of errands ran. Then they had a fairly quiet afternoon. It was a beautiful day too, so they enjoyed it.

We're getting ready for a busy day today. Lily's dance classes (ballet and tap now) are at 9:00 on Saturdays. I'm going to take her for that and try to get some homework done while she dances. Then this afternoon we have church. After that we are going to the McKenzies for some pre-game nachos and buckeyes. Then Bill and I are going somewhere to watch OSU play against USC.

It's times like these when I'm glad that Lily doesn't play a sport. Her life is busy enough as it is. Noah, however, will have to play a sport. I think there will come a time when he will go crazy if he learns that there are organized sports and we aren't letting him participate. The boy loves to play.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Architect

Noah and I had a nice time taking Lily to the bus yesterday. We would have picked her up too, but the bus came a bit earlier than I expected and we met Lily and her friends walking down our street. Noah always insists on taking a ball with him. It was a soccer ball in the morning and a racquetball in the afternoon.

There is a place on the street that connects our street to the street Lily's bus comes on where the pavement is darker. It looks like there might have been a trench dug for something and then it was repaved. When Noah saw this yesterday he yelled out, "rectangle!" He also did this when we were at Lake Crabtree and he saw the faux lighthouse they have there. The boy likes his rectangles.

He is also getting pretty good with colors. He gets some confused, but the fact that he gets any right is pretty remarkable in our book.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sick Day

I had an interesting evening when I got home from class last night. I got to bed around 9:45 and as I was trying to fall asleep I heard Lily coughing. This was not particularly unusual, but she just kept on doing it. I brought her a glass of water only to discover that she had thrown up in bed. She has had allergies lately and I think she gagged while coughing.

She stayed home from school today because she complained of a sore throat. In retrospect, she probably could have gone in as she was just stuffy. She says that she feels much better now. Meanwhile, all day I've felt like I've been around a cat.

As I was writing this Lily bumped into Noah and he fell down so hard he hit his head on the hardwood floor. Lily was very apologetic and Noah bounced back after maybe a minute of crying. He's a tough little Pook.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sailor Girl

We had a big family picnic at Lake Crabtree yesterday. The Pierces are in town, so we met them, the McKenzies, and Natalie for a picnic and some fun on the water. I took Amanda sailing on Saturday, but it was pretty boring with almost no wind. Yesterday was a lot more dynamic as we had some rain coming in an a little wind ahead of the front.

I asked Lily if she was interested in sailing and she said she was. Brenna and Bill wanted to go too, but I was told that we could only have 2 people on the Sunfish. The McKenzies took out a canoe and I took Lily out on the boat.

She did fine at first. She was a little scared, but she enjoyed it. The problem was that it got kind of windy. When it gets windy on a little sailboat the boat leans toward the boom. There were a couple of times when we were leaning over pretty good and Lily thought she was going to fall out. She held on, I leaned out, and then I steered back into the wind so that we would slow down. We spent maybe 10 minutes out on the lake before getting back to the beach. I'm not sure that she is going to leap at the opportunity to sail again soon. It doesn't much matter because the boat rental is closed for the winter now.

I then took Amanda out and it was a lot more interesting than it was on Saturday. We had one time when we nearly went in, but Amanda leaned out enough to save us. I think that there is a happy medium between the winds of Saturday and what we had yesterday, but we still had a good time.

Finally, after lunch we took the kids out on a pedalboat. Lily particularly enjoyed that. Noah liked it too, but he did get a little squirmy. It was a beautiful day to be out on the water and I'm glad to say that no one got baptized. I look forward to next May when we can do this again.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Yesterday was a pretty big day. The morning wasn't so exciting, but things picked up around lunchtime. We went over to Aunt Nat and Uncle Eric's house to celebrate Natalie's birthday. Then we hurried over to the DBAP to take in a concert put on by our church's band. We hung out there for an hour and then the Bulls played a game. They had already clinched their division championship, so we didn't see their absolute best team. Nevertheless, they ended up coming back to tie the game at 2 in the 7th inning and then they won it with back-to-back grounders just inside the bag at first with 2 out in the 9th. It was a great way to finish the day.

The only negative was that Noah wouldn't eat at the game. I got a cheese pizza for them to split and he wouldn't have any of it. He was getting pretty fussy since he was running with almost no nap other than the 15 minutes he caught in the van on the way to the game. He did, however, drink almost a quart of lemonade single-handed.

Lily had a good time too. It was great to see a bunch of people from church. This was our last chance to do something together before we launch our new campus in Holly Springs and it was a really nice time.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Very Big Boy

Since we go to church on Saturdays, Friday has become kind of an assumed bath night. I gave Noah his bath last night and as he got out he kept grabbing himself. He's been doing that more lately as he kind of explores what's attached to him. However, this time it seemed like he had more purpose to it.

I asked him if he wanted to put pee-pee in the potty and he said "yes," so I thought we'd give it a try. I held him on so he didn't fall through. Sure enough, he put several squirts in the toilet. This morning as I was changing him he asked to put pee-pee in the potty. He put a few more squirts in.

I don't think that we are going to try to potty train him this weekend, but this is certainly encouraging. I was thinking that we'd have to wait until after Christmas, but maybe we can do it sooner since he seems interested. All I know is that I've about had it with buying diapers.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Amanda moved the Little Tykes basketball hoop into the basement a while ago. This is generally a good thing except when Noah goes crazy at my desk. Nevertheless, he loves playing with it. He likes to say, "I want shoots." That means that he wants to shoot baskets.

I took Lily to the bus this Tuesday when I was working from home. Noah declared his intention to come with us by saying "I want to take ball." He just assumed he was going. On the way back he saw the big basketball hoop and asked to do "shoots." I explained that it's too tall for him, but he wouldn't have it. The boy loves his sports!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Getting Sorted

Noah is starting to look much smarter than he sounds. Actually, he is starting to sound a bit smarter too, but his long silence made it tough to gauge what was going on in his head. A long time ago we bought some developmental books from a college student who was going door-to-door. They really are very nice, colorful books. One of them has to do with shapes.

Noah can identify circle, square, triangle, rectangle, star, diamond, oval, and semicircle. When he says the words he does it with the gusto of an umpire yelling "strike one!" It's uncanny how well he can identify the shapes in the book and in the world. He is particularly fond of the rectangle. He also is starting to get a sense of color. He is good with red, but keeps getting green and blue confused. With him being a boy I'm slightly concerned, but I think it's a little too early to be seriously worried about color-blindness.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Packed Full

Yesterday ended up being an extremely busy one for me. Amanda woke up with a sore throat and headache, so I got in a lot of time with the kids. I made some pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Then I took the kids out to get Amanda some medicine, which helped (she seems to be on the mend). The big activity was setting up our new camping tent. Lily was actually fairly helpful in the setup, though it would be a lot easier with an adult. I'm looking forward to taking this thing out to the campground. We should even be able to get Noah's pack-n-play in it.

Besides that, my day had a lot of homework in it. You wouldn't think I'd be so busy after just one week of classes, but part of the problem is that I'm finishing up a class I took over DVD this summer. I take the test Tuesday afternoon, after which I just need to finish editing my paper. It will feel good to put this one to bed, as it does with all of them.

Here are a few photos of the kids. The one with Lily and me was taken by me at the top of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. The others were from our trip to the Akron Zoo (thanks Uncle Chris and Aunt Krissy!).