Monday, May 31, 2010

Cleaning Up

Yesterday was a very sweaty day.  Now that I'm out of school I've run out of excuses not to get ahead on the yard.  I trimmed up some bushes and did some major pruning on the pear tree in the front yard.  I also did some powerwashing of the front of the house.  I actually started with the trimming and powerwashing, but changed to pruning so I could have the kids out with me.  Lily actually was quite helpful in cleaning up all the fallen limbs.  I look forward to burning all this stuff in the fire pit.

After that we all napped, particularly after the late night Saturday night.  Finally, Amanda and I went out for a very simple date.  We just had dinner and then went to our favorite cafe for dessert.  It was nice to get out sans kids and chat a little bit.  Aunt Tiff had a good time watching the kids.  In fact, Noah was asking about her this morning when he got up.

Today was an adventure too, but I will save that for tomorrow's post.

Thrill Seeker

I took the kids to the Bulls' game Saturday night for a few reasons.  One is that the weather was pretty good, but even more compelling was a combination of Thomas and Friends night combined with fireworks night.  Noah had never seen fireworks, so I figured this was a good chance to break him in.  After all, the show there is good, but not overly-long.  It is certainly minor-league compared to what I've seen after games in Oakland and Cleveland, but it was good when Lily and I saw it last year (her first exposure to fireworks).

Noah wasn't quite sure what to expect.  He kept talking about the jet-powered schoolbus.  I think he expected long tongues of fire and billowing smoke.  I had him on my lap with my hands over his ears, but he was still terrified.  I ended up holding him with one ear pressed against my cheek and my hand over his other ear.  He cried and screamed through the whole show, but never took his eyes off the fireworks.  I was afraid that he was permanently scarred from fireworks after that.

In the morning I asked him what his favorite thing was from going to the game and he said it was the fireworks.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Days Three and Four

Sorry for not updating the past two days.  As you can imagine, I'm running a bit behind in the mornings.  I didn't have time for my regular exercise on Wednesday or Thursday.  I got something in on Wednesday, but had to punt on Thursday.  I'm ready to be done with this class.

The good news is that the kids have behaved well for Amanda.  It has not been easy, but they are doing well.  Lily got a lighted hula hoop on Wednesday and really likes it.  Noah still can't get enough bowling.  In fact, he keeps talking about when we went bowling back in February and he is excited to go bowling for his birthday.  The boy just can't get enough.

We just have to get through tonight and then Saturday morning.  I'm looking forward to the weekend.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day Two

We made it through day two, though just barely.  I got to work from home yesterday and that was nice. I even got to play a little pool with Noah, as you can see here (click to enlarge):

Noah putting the pool balls away.

The time right after school was not as good.  On Tuesdays Lily has to write sentences and this is the one thing she struggles with the most.  She has a hard time putting her thoughts into words.  Between 4:30 and 5:00 we had the following going on simultaneously:

  • Noah playing with his new bowling set
  • Lily freaking out
  • Katie and Sarah hanging out (usually their presence motivates Lily to get her homework done faster)
  • Amanda making animal balloons
  • I was making dinner
It was a little chaotic, but we survived.  After a timeout Lily settled down enough to get things done and have a pleasant remainder of the evening.  I was pretty eager to get to class after all that.  I hope that today goes more smoothly.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day One

We made it through the first evening of my week-long marathon class.  Amanda has a little surprise ready for the kids each night.  Last night it was animal balloons.  Amanda is quite adept at making basic things and she is working to perfect her butterfly.  She made swords for the kids, which worked well until their weapons broke (popped).

I'm working from home today, which is nice.  I hope to be able to work from home on Friday as well.  It's good to get some time with the kids, even if it is kind of short.  I just wish that the sun would come out so I could get the grass mowed!

Monday, May 24, 2010

No Show

I had toyed with the idea of taking the kids to the air show yesterday.  The problem is that it is a 2:30 drive each way.  The weather was pretty unstable yesterday and I decided not to go.  We made the best of it though.  Amanda made us scones for breakfast.  I played with Noah all morning and then I took the kids out after lunch.  We hit a bunch of stores at Brier Creek, went to Sam's, and then hit the Dollar Tree for the kids to pick out something.  Lily got another pair of cheap flip-flops and Noah picked out a plastic bat and ball.  Both were very pleased.

I think my decision ended up being the right one.  I don't know it was out at Havelock, but here we alternated between thunderstorms and blue skies.  I would not have wanted to be in an airplane in the weather, that's for sure.  Overall, it was a fun day.  Plus, Amanda got out of the house for a few hours.  This is good because tonight is the first night of my week long module class.  I have class every night from 6:00 - 10:00 all week and then from 8:00 - 12:00 on Saturday morning.  I suspect we won't go that late every night, but we'll see.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Well, we finally had the big day.  First, here is Lily's ballet recital:

Ballet Recital 2010 from Jason Chamberlain on Vimeo.

And here is the tap recital:

Tap Recital 2010 from Jason Chamberlain on Vimeo.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Lily's Education

Amanda was talking to Lily about the spring fling tonight.  She asked Lily if she saw Carson and she said that she did.  You may recall that Carson has a crush on Lily.  Lily said, "He doesn't know that I'm an educated girl."

We have no idea exactly what that means, but it seemed blog-worthy.

Spring Fling

Tonight was the annual carnival at Lily's school.  I took the kids and we had a nice time, though I did waste some money buying Noah a wristband for the inflatables.  He said that he wanted to do them, but when it came time to get in he freaked out.  Nevertheless, we ate some Chick-Fil-A, Lily played a lot, and Noah got to watch kids play basketball.  Plus, the weather was really nice.  Last year we had rain off and on.  This year it was in the high 70s and not too muggy.

Below you can see a photo of Lily going down a slide. She's getting braver!  Click on it to see a bigger version.

Lily at the spring fling. Much braver than years past.

Recital Practice

Saturday is Lily's big dance recital.  I took her to the final practice for it.  I picked her up from the bus and we drove straight down to the Holly Springs library and cultural center.  It was a bit rushed, but we made it more or less on time.  It was nice for me to hang out in the library there and get some reading done for next week's class.

I asked Lily how it went and how she thinks it will go.  She said that she will keep her neck straight, her chin up, and smile.  I asked her if she was going to step in time with the music.  She isn't as sure about that part.  At least she'll look good either way.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

New Taste

Amanda had a little bit of a stomach bug last night so I took the kids out to dinner and Sam's Club.  I was originally going to get pizza at Sam's, but I decided that it would be better to eat some place a little nicer since the kids can get a little needy.  We went to a restaurant near us called NY Pizza.  I got a small pizza that was 3/4 everything and 1/4 cheese.

Once I taught Lily the secret of folding a slice of NY-style pizza lengthwise she was in pretty good shape.  She actually ate the everything pizza, minus the black olives.  In fact, in retrospect she was torn between which she liked better.  She has come a very long way since eating fish sticks and chicken nuggets exclusively.  Of course, there was a milkshake at stake for her too.  That may have made a difference.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Search and Rescue

Lily has been pretty helpful in the neighborhood lately.  On Sunday morning her friends' dog Derby went missing.  Derby is a big golden lab, so he's pretty easy to find.  They found him pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, yesterday Cooper's dog Pearl went missing.  She is either all beagle or a beagle mix.  She has not been found yet, as far as I know.  But Lily did her part in helping to scour the neighborhood for her.

It's fun to see Lily able to get involved in things like this.  I trust her to romp around the woods looking for a lost dog.  Of course, I don't know what she would do if she found the dog.  It's not like she could catch it and keep it.  But I am glad that she wants to help.  It's an adventure for her anyway.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Card Shark

Lily really wanted to play a game of Rat-a-Tat-Cat with Amanda yesterday.  She had the cards all dealt out on the floor when I came home from work, but the game had to wait for us to have dinner.  She moved the cards to the dining room table and they started to play while I took Noah downstairs to play pool.

What I heard next reminded me a little bit of Indiana Jones playing poker with Short Round in the jungle.  Suddenly I heard accusations from Amanda.  It seems that Lily intentionally went through the deck and dealt herself a favorable hand.  Amanda was suspicious because Lily knew what all of her cards were, but that's not how the game works.  Lily of course denied the accusations, but it was clear what she was doing.

I told Amanda that was the kind of thing I could have seen myself doing.  That doesn't make it right, of course.  It is clear that much shuffling is in order before playing any games with Lily.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I took Noah to his first airshow yesterday.  Lily, Noah, and I went to the Mid-Atlantic Fly-In and Sport Aviation Convention.  Amanda was very glad for a day of peace and quiet.  We left around 11:30 and got there a little after 1:00.  The weather was supposed to be a bit cooler than it had been, but unfortunately it was around 90, muggy, and partly cloudy.  The occasional clouds were a nice break from the hot sun.  Noah got pretty fussy by 3:00, as you might imagine.  We walked back to the van, cooled off in the air conditioning for a few minutes, watched some more of the air show, and headed back home.

If you were to ask Noah, he would say that the highlights were getting lemonade and seeing the jet school bus.  The video is pretty much the same show we saw except it went left to right for the fast run.  It was pretty fast.  We got to see the school bus up close when we got there and he really enjoyed that.  I actually got Lily to sit in a helicopter this time.  Noah, on the other hand, didn't even want to go near the choppers.  That's pretty much how Lily was when she was his age.  I remember a time when the Blue Angels were performing and she was more interested in throwing rocks.  I'll keep taking them to airshows and he will get used to it.

We saw a lot of good performers, though after a while the shows kind of run together.  There was supposed to be a F-15E flyby, but they didn't show up for some reason.  At least they didn't by the time we left and the security folks told us that they were in the middle of the show on Saturday.  That was a little disappointing, but to be honest I could probably choreograph one of their shows since I've seen them so many times.  I still don't get tired of it though!

I had toyed with the idea of taking them to the airshow at Cherry Point next weekend, but given how Noah did I don't think we will.  There will be more next year.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Night Out

Aunt Tiff came by yesterday to sit with the kids so Amanda and I could attend a wedding.  One of my coworkers married one of my former coworkers.  The wedding was nice, though not particularly remarkable.  We were looking forward to some dancing, but the music was not really suited to us and the facility was having problems with their air conditioning.  Being sweaty just sitting is not conducive to dancing.

Tiffany reported that the kids were very good.  Lily miraculously came back from playing with Katie at exactly the time she was supposed to.  She and Noah behaved very well.  Plus, Lily actually did a cartwheel.  This was quite an achievement for her.  Her friend Katie is practically Mary Lou Retton doing a floor routine down our street.  Lily -- not so much.

The kids were still awake when we got back from the wedding, though they were in bed.  It was nice to be able to tuck them in and say good night.  It wasn't the greatest date night, but it was nice to get out.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Loving Others

As any parent knows, there are times when children can be really exasperating.  But there are also some really sweet times that make you feel like you're doing your job right.  I had one of those with Lily last night.  Her school is going through the End of Grade tests (EOG for short).  Students must pass these to advance to the next grade.  I think they start in 3rd grade, but I'm not sure about that.  It's a big deal for the whole school because their special each day (PE, Art, Music, or Library) was canceled because of the EOGs.

Every night we pray before Lily goes to bed.  Last night she prayed specifically for the students at Northwoods and especially for those who were taking their EOGs.  That was completely unprompted, but very thoughtful.  It was great to see her "get it" at that moment.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Standing Tough

Lily had something of a Marsha Brady moment at the bus stop yesterday. She was playing catch with Noah and Chloe and took a soft baseball off her nose.  Apparently it even bled a little bit.  Amanda was happily surprised that she still got on the bus.  Fortunately, it never got purple or swollen and you would never know it happened.  We were happily surprised by her toughness.

Meanwhile, Noah ended a little bit of a strike that took great toughness to maintain.  He hadn't pooped since Saturday, but I got him to go yesterday.  I told him that he was going to sit on the potty until he went.  I had sat with him for about 10 minutes and then I left the room.  I wasn't gone for 30 seconds before he proudly announced, "Daddy, I'm done!"  Sure enough, he finally took care of business.  I got him to do a bit more before he got up.  Let's hope that he goes again today.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Blue Dot

It took the better part of the year, but Lily finally got her first blue dot in class yesterday (instead of green for great behavior).  Apparently she was talking to a friend, Mrs. Turner told her to stop, and she kept doing it.  While I'm not proud of her doing this I am reminded that she is my child.  I used to get into trouble for the same thing.  In fact, I understand that my first-grade teacher threatened to rip out my tongue.  She's had warnings before, but never got the blue dot.  It's probably just as well that she not have a perfect record for the year.

Lily seems to be going through something of a transitional time right now as she has been displaying more attitude than usual.  I don't think that my prolonged absences have helped either.  I'm looking forward to being home for the next two nights.  We have a busy weekend ahead in the evenings (commencement and a wedding), but my plan right now is to take the kids to a small air show on Sunday, weather permitting.  If the weather doesn't permit we'll do something else.  Amanda deserves some quiet.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Long March

Amanda took the kids on a walk Sunday afternoon.  The weather was beautiful, so they had a picnic at North Cary park.  Her plan was to put Noah in the seat of her bike and she would ride with Lily down to Lake Crabtree.  The problem was that the bike had a flat tire.  They ended up walking a very long way.  Then Noah had an accident and wouldn't walk, so Amanda walked with him on her shoulders.  At least it wasn't a solid accident!

The good news is that Lily made it through the whole walk.  That was a lot of miles on those young legs.  When she's motivated she is quite a little trooper.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Unk!

Here is the video we recorded to wish Uncle Mark a happy birthday.

Happy Birthday Unk! from Jason Chamberlain on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tora! Tora! Tora!

I apologize for the long silence on the blog, but it was necessary for strategic and tactical purposes.  It is a common practice for a military force to maintain radio silence in the time leading up to a major offensive.  In this case, I didn't want to tip my hand that I was going to be in the Cleveland area for my stepbrother's surprise 40th birthday party.  He was definitely surprised by the many who came.

Meanwhile, back on the home front, Amanda had a very busy day with the kids including ballet practice, a tea party, and church.  Here in South Euclid we are going to take my mom to Maggiano's and then come home to hopefully see the Cavs take a commanding lead in their playoff series.  Tomorrow is the drive back home.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Healthy Choices

We are slowly going through a transformation in our household.  As soon as we finish our current bags of fish sticks and chicken nuggets we are not going to replace them.  Amanda is looking for things that she can prepare ahead of time so that we still have convenient food, but food that is much healthier than fish sticks or chicken nuggets.

I don't think that the reality of this has sunk in with Lily.  I'm sure it hasn't with Noah.

Breakfasts are also changing.  I typically make pancakes on Sunday morning and I usually make 6-8 extra chocolate chip pancakes for the kids to have for breakfast during the week.  Now I'm going to make plain pancakes with the leftovers.  Amanda made a big batch of peanut butter oatmeal bake on Sunday evening and the kids had that yesterday.  Healthy eating is definitely not as convenient, but we think it will pay off in the long run.

Meanwhile, while I was at Sam's with Noah yesterday he wondered about the box of chocolate cheerios that he saw.  At least they don't see TV!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tower of Flame

We did an early Mother's Day celebration yesterday at the local Japanese hibachi restaurant.  We had been talking about taking the kids to one for a while and yesterday seemed like a good time.  I would probably rate this at the bottom of the shows that we have seen while cooking the food.  The shrimp were already de-veined, so he didn't have to do anything fancy with throwing a tail in his hat, for example.

But he did do a great thing for the kids.  He made a little tower out of the rings of an onion, filled it with oil, and then set it on fire.  It's a shame that we didn't have a camera ready to catch Noah's face as he put his little hands over his eyes.  The fire shot all the way up to the hood over the grill and the heat made you want to recoil.  He loved it.

Lily ate fried rice like there was no tomorrow.  She gets her love of salt naturally from me and from my mom.  Apparently if we put enough soy sauce in something she will eat it.  In fact, we had to tear her away from her plate because she wouldn't stop.  She's funny that way.  Some foods we practically have to cram down her throat.  Others we can't get her to stop.  You wouldn't have thought it based on how she was as a little one, but we're going to have to keep an eye on her lest she starts going overboard.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sleepy Boy

Noah did something particularly funny before bath time last night.  As I was trying to get him to come to me so I could undress him he sat on the edge of his bed as far from me as he could get.  He then buried his face in his little hands and then rubbed his face.  He then tilted his head back with his eyes closed, let out a fake little yawn, and said, "I just want to sleep a little bit."  He sat there with his eyes closed pretending to catch a few Zs.

I'm about 99% sure that he picked that up from me as he has seen me nap in all kinds of places.  I've been known to lay down on the living room floor and doze off even with the kids running around.

Why was he so sleepy?  He didn't get a nap.  He is in a middle place right now.  A lot of times he won't sleep when he goes down for a nap.  He can make it until bedtime and then he goes to sleep better at bedtime.  But he still gets pretty tired and the results with his sister can be a bit ugly.