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!).

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Busy Day

We had a busy day as a family. I took Noah shopping for provisions on Saturday morning. He got very whiny at Wal-Mart when we had to leave the sportings goods area. He of course wanted to play with every ball and every bat. Next time I have to go near the sporting goods section I'll be sure to have a tissue in my pocket. He was pretty messy.

Meanwhile, Lily and Amanda baked up a storm. Amanda is trying to get ahead so that Lily has food prepared during the week. They baked granola bars, ham and cheese wraps, and some peanut butter oatmeal bake. Now we will see if Lily eats what she says she will eat.

Today should be fairly quiet. I have some studying to do. I don't have any pressing yardwork needs. Hopefully a good day will be had by all. I plan to start the day with pancakes, so that's always a good way to get things going.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Major Award

Lily came home from school with a new keychain flashlight yesterday. She got it from the "surprise box." This is the box with prizes for those kids who get green lights every day. Lily gets a calendar sent back with her every day and on each day we find a dot. Green is the best because it means that she kept all the rules and didn't need to get spoken to. I hope we don't find out what the other colors mean. However, given last year and given her parentage (specifically me) there is a good chance that she will get caught talking when she shouldn't at some point. I think she's going to bring home a lot more green dots than any other color though.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Amanda watched Brenna yesterday for most of the day. This was different than before in that Lily was at school for most of the visit. The good news is that Noah and Brenna are far enough apart in age that there is little tension there. Amanda took them to the park and they loved splashing in the creek. Then they played at the playground for a while. Overall, it was a good day according to Amanda. I missed out on the end because I had class last night.

Amanda says that Noah is becoming quite shape-minded. He loves pointing out shapes including ovals and rectangles. What's amazing to us is that he can even say these words considering where he was just a couple of months ago. He learned the shapes from one of the books we bought Lily a while back. Lily never quite got into it as she seemed to learn the stuff in the book from someplace else and kind of jumped past it. Noah, on the other hand, loves it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First Day of First Grade

Here are a few photos from Lily's first day. As you can see from the video, there is a stark contrast with last year!

On a completely unrelated Noah note, he said something funny yesterday. Amanda asked him if he was ready for his nap and he said, "No, thank you." At least he's being polite while he's fighting.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Last Day of Vacation

Yesterday was Lily's last day of summer vacation. It wasn't a particularly exciting one since Amanda was catching up from our trip. However, the good news is that both Lily and Noah generally behaved themselves while Amanda got a bunch done.

Our little Peanut starts first grade today. Fortunately, she got to go to meet the teacher night last Thursday. She knew where her classroom was better than Amanda because she says that she had been there before to visit a friend who was in first grade. Amanda says that Mrs. Turner seems nice and that she also seems organized. A few of Lily's core friends are in her class with her too, so that is good news as well.

We'll post some pics tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy this walk down memory lane.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sliding Rock

This is a brief video of my first trip down Sliding Rock. It's a natural water slide on US-276. The water is rather cold, but you really do get used to it quickly. We're trying to sell Lily on the idea of going down this with Mommy.


We're back from our trip to the mountains. We camped at Mt. Pisgah, which was nice except for the rain both nights. Our tent held up pretty well overall. I felt kind of silly for forgetting my fleece and got pretty chilly a couple of times. However, it was a great camping experience. In fact, we had such a nice time Amanda is itching to go back already which is something that rarely happens right after a trip.

The goal for this trip was to see some waterfalls. We hiked quite a bit and got a few good photos. I didn't include the photos for the waterfalls that we didn't have to work much for. There are some that don't require any hiking and there are some that will reward your persistence. Captions follow each photo.

This was Moore's Cave falls. The hike was only about 3/4 mile each way and not too tough. In fact, we found a mom and little girl there when we arrived. The girl was about 4 and was having a great time splashing around under the falls and in the little pools near it. The water is not particularly impressive, but the drop is and there is a small cave behind the falls as well.

I don't remember the name of this one, but I do remember that we had to hike for 10-15 minutes to get to it. Getting down to it was probably the hardest part. Fortunately, there are so many roots and rocks that they form something of a natural staircase.

This is where we had our picnic. It was hard to get a really good photo of this falls because it is really high. We had our lunch on a rock much closer to it. Getting down to this one was an adventure that involved walking off trail for a bit. I am happy to say that we never got our feet wet though. This falls was maybe 1/3 to 1/2 way into a 4.5 mile loop hike.

This is one of the waterfalls used in the filming of "Last of the Mohicans". We saw this after a fairly brief hike at Chimney Rock Park. After paying $14/person to get into the park we felt compelled to look around the park as well. We also climbed the stairs to the top of Chimney Rock, which afforded us a really nice view. They also have an elevator, but that would not have been quite as satisfying.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Asking for Games

A while back I downloaded a Commodore 64 emulator to play some of the games of my youth. One of my favorites was Impossible Mission and Impossible Mission 2. One of the things that made these games distinct was the speech synthesis. When the game starts you hear a diabolical voice say, "Another visitor! Stay awhile...stay forever!"

Noah has picked up on that. He says, "Mishin...Mishin." And then he follows that with, "stay forever...tch tch tch." The "tch" is the rough phonetic of the sound the main character makes when he walks on the floor.

Also, in the sequel your character picks up short sequences of a song. All the pieces are the same tune, but they are played differently. One sounds like a harpsichord, another like an organ, etc. Noah and Lily love listening to the music and Noah even tried to hum along.

Yes, he is definitely my son.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Keeping Score

I took Lily to the Bulls game last night. I still had a ticket left from my season ticket package, so I figured we'd better go before we ran out of season. Plus, this is the last week before school starts and I knew we'd get home late.

Last time we went Lily was fascinated with the idea of keeping score. I got her a program and we were all set to go. They post the lineups outside of the gift shop where you first come in and Lily said that she didn't want to write the names. I did that for her. She had her pencil and was all set.

The first batter singled. They have diamonds written in the boxes on the program, so I told her to fill in the line from home to first and showed her on mine. She did that. Then I told her to write "1B" in the corner to show that it was a single. She didn't like that idea at all. She didn't realize that she would have to write a bunch of little letters.

A subsequent batter grounded out to third, so I told her to write "53" for him. She didn't want to do that either. In the end, "keeping score" meant making little patterns on the various boxes. In fact, she chided me for leaving some of my boxes blank.

She enjoyed herself though. The Bulls got pounded 9-3 by the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees, but at least Chris Richard hit a meaningless (though quite impressive) home run in the ninth. That was good because the big bull's eyes turn red, smoke comes out of his nose, and the tail moves up and down when a Bulls player hits one out. Lily was ecstatic about that.

All in all, it was a good evening, but a very late one. Lily didn't get to bed until about 10:45. I hope she sleeps in today.

Monday, August 17, 2009

New Wheels

Lily got her own version of "cash for clunkers" this weekend. Our neighbor Emily came into possession of a secondhand bike with 16 inch wheels. The problem is that Emily is barely 3 and can't ride it yet. Her mom suggested that we swap this new bike for Lily's tiny bike. That was a no-brainer for us.

The only problem with Lily's new bike is that it has a new back tire. That would be good except the front tire is white and the back tire is black. Lily doesn't seem to mind too much though. Plus, the good news is that it is the front tire we would replace which is significantly easier to do than a back tire. I put some air in the tires for her yesterday and she was off to the races with Sarah and Katie.

It's going to take some getting used to, but she seems to be fine. Her feet just barely touch the ground even with the seat all the way down. I advised her to lean to one side to put her foot down. She seems to be getting it and has much less fear about it than I might have expected. She's kind of in a strange spot because she would fit a bike with 14 inch wheels perfectly, but I don't think they make those.

Now the hard part is coming up with a birthday present for her. She's thinking of a scooter.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

What To Do?

Amanda and Lily are out at Target getting some shoes for the new school year. I asked Noah, "What are we going to do?"

His response? "We do...BALL!"


Noah and Lily give us a good perspective on how things were and now are at church. It used to be that Lily would scream like crazy when we dropped her off. In fact, the first time we came on Saturday night she had a very hard time going into the room and she was 5 at the time. Now she practically runs into the room from the moment we get into the hallway leading up to it.

Noah, on the other hand, is not so easy. We basically have to peel him off and then make a run for it. He must settle down OK since we never get paged for him in the service. It's very cute when we pick him up though. They have one of the nice permanent baby gates set up in the door of the room. It's the kind that swings to let the little ones through. That way it's easy to hand the kids back to their parents. The kids look like dogs in the pound when the parents come to get them. We love the look Noah gets when he spots us.

The good news is that he seems to enjoy his time in church. Our church may not do everything perfectly, but we sure do a great job of taking care of the kids.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


I had a pretty mellow evening last night. Amanda took Lily to a mock pajama party in Fuquay, which is about 45 minutes away. It was a mock party because they didn't actually sleep there, but they did come in pajamas and get loaded up with pizza and treats. I was asleep when they came home, so all I know from Amanda is that she got a little shopping done while Lily partied.

Meanwhile, Noah and I had a guy's evening at home. After dinner we played some baseball with his foam ball and bat set. I also extricated a colored pencil from one of his toys so the balls would flow through it properly. We ended the evening with a bubble bath and he went to sleep pretty quickly after going to bed. This was good because it gave me a chance to get a lot of work done on a paper I've been writing for the class I took over the summer.

I'm not sure what the weekend has in store for us, but I do know that we need to get ready for next weekend. Amanda and I are going camping in Pisgah National Forest to look at waterfalls. I'm particularly looking forward to trying out Slippery Rock, which is a natural 60 foot waterslide.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

All is Well

Today was a much better day. Noah had his doctor's appointment and is in great health. He is growing and gaining weight well, which is encouraging considering the slow start he got. The doctor said that he was doing just fine with his various developmental milestones.

The kids behaved better for Amanda too. It also helped that they went down to the creek this morning. They had a lot of fun splashing around in the water. We're really glad for Noah's faux Crocs now.

My sailing class also went better. There was practically no wind, so it was like a regatta on Quaaludes. Amanda brought the kids out to watch and have a picnic dinner. Fortunately I managed to stay in my boat this evening. I feel like I'm getting the hang of the basics. Someone has told me that it is easy to learn how to sail, but it is very difficult to learn how to sail well. I can see that. They gave us a free hour to use at the rental facility, so I may use it this weekend, weather permitting.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stormy Day

Amanda took the kids to the free movies today. They got to see "Charlotte's Web." Lily didn't like how it ended very well, but obviously there is a good lesson in there for her. For a little kid she has a pretty good sense of what dying is about as she has been to the funerals of two great-grandparents. Noah was pretty good through most of the movie, but at the end he got mad when Amanda wouldn't let him eat food off of the floor. She had to take him out and wait for everyone to get out.

At lunchtime he and Lily made a huge mess of the play-doh. Noah got banished to his crib and Lily had to write sentences. Amanda tried to nap, but Lily kept coming in to see if she was doing the sentences correctly. Meanwhile, Noah slept very little.

In the evening Noah was extremely clingy when Amanda tried to cook dinner. He got sent to his crib again. Also at some point he got a hold of a marker and wrote on the walls and the floor. Fortunately, the magic eraser did the trick, but Noah still was a mess. I had to give him a bath tonight since he has his doctor's appointment tomorrow.

Keeping with the title of this post, I had an interesting sailing lesson. We learned how to gybe today. I actually felt like I was getting the hang of handling the boat when the wind picked up. I was trying to bring it back in, but I capsized. Since I did that yesterday I knew just what to do. I swam around to the other side and pulled on the daggerboard. I think my sail was stuck in the mud because I couldn't budge. Eventually it did start to right itself, but as it was coming up I realized that I was also drifting toward another boat that was stuck on the dock. I abandoned ship and swam away.

I couldn't get myself up on the dock, so I realized that I had a little problem. Meanwhile, my boat slipped away from the other one and it upset that boat enough that its pilot went in the drink too. I swam over to a rowboat on the dock, climbed in, and then with the help of another student we pulled the lady out of the water. The three of us watched the carnage out on the lake. It seemed that everyone had gone in at least once, including our instructor. Many got stuck in the mud and had to be rescued by motorboat.

The sad thing is that I felt like I was starting to get the hang of it. And then the wind died down at the end, so it was actually pretty good for sailing. The only problem at the end is that the wind kept changing. Nevertheless, it ended up being quite an adventure.

Let's hope tomorrow is a calmer day all around.


Amanda and the kids enjoyed the morning at the pool courtesy of the Zwahrs. It is blisteringly hot here (around 100 and muggy), so this was a welcome respite from being stuck inside all day. They had a great time. Noah loves kicking balls into the pool and he also likes jumping into mommy's arms from the side of the pool. He's much braver than Lily was at that age.

I also ended up going swimming yesterday. I had my first sailing class on Lake Crabtree. It didn't go so great. I can't tell you how many times I made the sail stall, though I was generally able to get out of it. I think I did a gybe one time without meaning to. I nearly capsized once, but then at the end I did capsize. My guess is that I had the sail in too tight, but it's hard to say. All I know is that the boat started to tip toward me and I remembered my instructor telling us that if we're capsizing the best thing we can do is go with it. I'm just glad that my sunglasses stayed on after rolling backwards into the water. Given the extreme heat lately the dip in the lake actually felt pretty good.

Amanda really wants me to take her out on the lake, so I'm determined to get the hang of this. I can totally see the appeal of sailing. And for $10/hour to rent a boat, you just can't beat the price. Let's just hope I get better at it today and tomorrow.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


As many of you know, we don't watch TV. We have a TV and it serves as a monitor for DVDs, the occasional VHS tape, the odd video game, and the Roku. If you've ever wondered why we are crazy like this, Randy Alcorn published a great article explaining how his family watches TV.

Long Weekend

Actually, the weekend was pretty good overall. However, it was a bit draining on me because I really took the kids. Amanda didn't feel well yesterday, so I took them out for the weekly errands and then took them to church. I had them outside with me this morning while I did yardwork, vacuumed the cars, and did other little outdoor tasks. I had them while Amanda went shopping with her family since her parents were in town. Finally, I had them after dinner.

The way I see it, I had nearly a whole week off and Amanda was fully engaged. Plus, I'm going to get home late on Monday-Wednesday this week because I'm going to learn how to sail sunfish sailboats. My goal was to let Amanda recharge a little bit.

The problem is that the kids seemed to be particularly emotional this weekend. Lily was flipping out over a ton of little stuff. Noah is getting more communicative, which includes being more whiny. Having to wake him from his nap both days didn't help the afternoons either. I think I got a good taste of what some of Amanda's days are like, and I can't say that I envy her much. Work can be annoying, but it's certainly an easier flavor of annoying to swallow.

Time to start a new week...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Getting Loquacious

Noah is a talking machine now. He's not always understandable, but it's even better than he was before the beach trip. He actually asks for stuff by name now. Sometimes there will even be a verb thrown in for good measure. It's really fun to see this develop.

He also is getting much better at stairs. He can walk down our front steps without scooting on his butt now. He also can climb steps without going down to his knees or using his hands. He's much faster when he crawls, but he can do it without.

And, perhaps most importantly, he turned when getting ready to hit with the big foam baseball bat. Previously he had a very, very wide-open stance. Think Tony Batista wide. Now, like Tony, he actually turns a little bit before you pitch. So that's something.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Home Again

Everyone got back home safely yesterday. I understand that it was kind of a long trip through some storms and a whiny Noah. However, everyone is back safe and sound now.

I'm working from home today and it feels like we haven't missed a beat. Noah was whiny before breakfast and lunch. Lily got a time out before lunch because of a bad attitude about putting away her laundry. Overall, things are great, but it's definitely back to business as usual.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Radio Silence

As much as I enjoy updating this blog every day while I cool down from exercise, there isn't much point. I don't think many of you will care to read about how I spent yesterday working on a paper or how I overslept this morning before running. I don't have any good news to share about the kids since they are at the beach.

However, it does occur to me that I could post some photos of the kids that I may not have posted before.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Entertaining Day

I may have doubled my movie intake for 2009 yesterday. At lunchtime we took the kids over to the McKenzies so Bill could watch them while Amanda, Tiffany, and I went to see the new Harry Potter. We liked it. We had planned on seeing it in IMAX, but it was sold out. The regular movie theater was fine though.

Then yesterday evening Amanda and I watched "21" courtesy of Netflix. I really enjoyed it, but then again I've always been fascinated by blackjack. I told Amanda that the geeks at MIT were pretty accurately written as far as I could tell.

Overall, it was a good day. Amanda was thinking about going to the beach yesterday, but just didn't have the energy for the long drive after dinner last night. She is going to go after lunch today. Let's hope that Noah takes a good, long nap.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Tee it Up

We got a bunch of old toys back from the McKenzies. One of them is the Elmo potty training chair. This is a tiny potty seat that Elmo can sit on. There's even an Elmo that tells you when he needs to go potty and if you get him on the seat in time he affirms that. Lily enjoyed playing with it.

Noah may not be quite ready for potty training, but he is ready to use the little potty seat in his own way. He used it as a tee for his foam baseballs. He put a baseball on a tee and then smacked it with his oversized foam bat.

I'm all for him playing like this!