Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Better Day

It's nice to report some good news.  Lily managed to eat her boiled egg and grapes yesterday.  Therefore, Amanda got a Little Caesar's pizza for dinner last night.  It was a nice break from Lily spending every night in her room.

Meanwhile, my team at work likes Isabella.  She may become something of a team mascot.  Hopefully her stay at the office will only be for a month.

On a much lighter note, Noah and I have nicknames for each other thanks to all the pinball we play on the PS2.  He refers to me as "Player 1" and I call him "Player 2."  When I call home during the day Amanda will say, "Hey Noah!  Player 1 is on the phone."  When she says that he will run and say, "Hey Player 1!"  I don't know how long this will last, but it's fun for right now.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Isabella, We Hardly Knew Ye

Looking back, I should have put a poll on the blog to see who thought Lily would eat her lunch yesterday.  As we feared, she chose not to.  She was not happy to lose Isabella, but I'm afraid that she is going to be living at my office until Lily can have a perfect month of eating lunch.  This also serves to change the dog clock because now Lily won't get a dog until she is 8.  We are going to put it back another month for every day that she does not eat her lunch.  I think I'm going to have to make a chart that we put on the fridge so she can visually understand where she stands with the whole dog thing.

We had a good spiritual discussion last night too.  I asked her if she wants for Jesus to be in charge of her life and she frankly answered, "no."  At least she's honest about it.  I'd say that puts her ahead of millions of Americans who show up to church each week with a false sense of security.  My hope is that this whole business of lunch will turn into meaningful conversations with her about the gospel.  Ultimately that is what will change this hard little heart of hers.

Monday, September 27, 2010


I had a busy day yesterday.  Lily had a free kids meal from Red Robin coming to her for her birthday, so we went there for lunch.  We also hit doggie day camp, the carousel at Cary Town Center (she rode it by herself!), the used book store, and Lowes.  The highlight at Lowes is that she got to see one of the kindergarten teachers from Northwoods who works there.  In fact, we waited in her line specifically so we could see her.

After that I took Amanda out to dinner and dessert.  We were supposed to go on a canoe trip on Lake Crabtree, but we were getting some much-needed rain.  That has been postponed for a month.  Hopefully the weather will be better then.  I really would not mind having to wear sleeves.

Today is the big day for Lily to eat her lunch.  I really don't want to have to take away Isabella.  But the good news is that this may delay her getting a dog for another year.  She has to decide if it is really worth it for her to put up this fight.  Look for an update tomorrow.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Boys Night Out

As expected, Lily did not eat her lunch and so was relegated to her room, though she made excellent use of her time by voluntarily cleaning up her room. She chose not to partake of dinner.  We're ratcheting up the consequences to something she actually cares about.  She has to pack this week and if she doesn't eat she will lose Isabella.  I will likely take her to my office, so she will have a good home.  Nevertheless, this frightens Lily as she knows I will go through with it.  Of course, this doesn't really deal with the problem as we're just talking about strict behavior modification.  Lily and I have had some good talks about her heart.  She came up with a good illustration that I used -- she is going the way of Anakin on this.

Since Lily was in gulag I took Noah out for the evening.  We went to the local bowling alley and played some pinball, which he enjoyed.  Then we went to Goodberry's and split a parfait.  We had strawberry custard on the bottom, followed with banana chunks, vanilla custard, pineapple, and whipped cream.  Noah asked to eat the cherry on top.  That's my boy!

After that we went to Play N' Trade to look around and finished with a stop at Harris Teeter to get Amanda a little dessert.  We had a great time out and Noah was still talking about it this morning.  That's when I know that we did well.

Today will be a busy one with my seminary picnic at Jordan Lake at lunchtime.  Then I will have to go to church a little early to work in the bookstore.  Tomorrow three of us will have pancakes for breakfast and one will have oatmeal, but I think I'm still going to take her out on a daddy-daughter date.  We need to connect.

Friday, September 24, 2010


As longtime readers of this blog know, we have had some pretty epic battles with Lily.  Overall, Lily is an extremely sweet girl.  She often demonstrates compassion that surprises us and moves us.  Those who interact with her often describe her with words like "sweet" and "wonderful."

But there is also the strong-willed side that we're constantly fighting and have been since 11:06 AM on September 21, 2003.   The latest battle is over her lunch.  She now packs her own lunch because Amanda is tired of bending over backwards to make special things (special bread, various foods) and have Lily spurn them at lunchtime.  Last week I helped her make tuna salad (which she loves) and this week it was chicken salad (which she also loves).  She hasn't eaten them either day she packed this week and she already said that she doesn't plan on eating them today.

We're not quite sure where to go from here.  She's not getting dessert most nights.  I've already told her that she is not getting any treats this weekend if she doesn't eat her lunch.  One thing I've considered is putting her on a third-world diet of rice and beans for a few days (with vitamin supplements) to help her appreciate how good she has it.  I sort of feel like we're dealing with a finicky cat.

We are sure of one thing -- we've come this far with her and we're not about to back down now.  We don't negotiate with terrorists.

Any good ideas?

Thursday, September 23, 2010


It's been an extraordinarily busy week for me, so I apologize for not posting.  Work has actually been the culprit this time, but I see light at the end of the tunnel and it's not a train.

I wanted to write a bit about Lily's birthday proper.  I had class that day, so we celebrated in the morning.  I got some doughnuts from Harris Teeter and we greeted Lily in her room with candles in her doughnuts.  She enjoyed eating in her room and unwrapping presents.  She had a good day at school and enjoyed some cake with leftover pizza for dinner.  Sadly, for various reasons that was the last she got to enjoy of that cake, but at least she got some.

She keeps looking for more surprises, but they have run out for at least another 3 months.  Nevertheless, she was very happy with her gifts.  The highlight was probably the nail polish that changes color in the sun.  I had a coworker pick some up when she went to St. Maarten for her honeymoon and Lily is loving it.  She has turquoise nails inside, but they are purple outside.

We also have been playing some Monopoly, Jr.  So far Lily is 0 for 2 in games, but we'll keep at it.  It's fun, but it requires no skill.  I think she'll be ready for big Monopoly fairly soon.  Those games have the potential to get a bit ugly someday.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Lily's birthday celebration continued yesterday.  Grandpa Jack and Nana were in town on their way to Florida and they spent the night at the McKenzies.  The McKenzies were kind enough to have us over for a little party.  Amanda made a cake for Lily and brought over pizza.  I met them there from work.  We had a great time.  Her favorite gift was probably the rainbow projector, but ultimately I'm sure that she will like other things more.

She was a little disappointed that we couldn't play LEGO Star Wars after we got home, but it was time for bed. Of course, Noah was not to be denied either.  When I told her that we couldn't play LEGO Star Wars he asked, "How about a little pinball?"  Good try, kid.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Spelling Bee

We're quite proud of Lily's spelling acumen that has carried over from last year.  If nothing else, she can retain words long enough to take a test.  Last week she got a supplemental test because she aced the pre-test.  Here were the words she spelled:

  1. vote
  2. airplane
  3. trace
  4. flute
  5. guide
  6. throne
  7. hike
  8. taste
  9. tape
  10. knife
  11. sunshine
  12. mistake
  13. scene
  14. rule
Some of these were pretty tricky for her, but she did it.  Since you can't see the paper I figured that the blog was the next best way to brag as a dad.


We had a couple of those moments yesterday where you feel like the kids have turned a corner.  As you might imagine, the kids needed baths after camping.  Noah had his regular bath and then Lily took over the water.  I checked in on Lily to find her with three bottles lined up on the side of the tub.  Amanda has started buying the tea tree tingle products from Trader Joe's and Lily really likes them.  She had her shampoo, conditioner, and body wash all ready.  Apparently she has gone beyond the Suave strawberry smoothie shampoo/conditioner/body wash.

Meanwhile, Noah announced that he wanted to try sleeping with covers.  I put a comforter on his bed since he is nowhere near ready for a top sheet.  Lily fell in the tub and that interrupted my routine with Noah.  When I got back I found him snuggled under the comforter.  But then when it was really bedtime and he got his blanket he didn't want the comforter anymore.  I put it down at the foot of his bed, but when I came in to have him pee one last time I found the comforter on the floor.  I covered him up with it after I put him back to bed.  I will be shocked if it is still on his bed this morning.  Nevertheless, I feel like he is making progress.  This is good because he is going to need the covers in a couple of months.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I apologize for the long hiatus from blogging, but we were camping over the weekend.  Add to that I've been kind of busy with work and you have the ingredients for a long spell of radio silence.

The camping trip was in lieu of a party for Lily's birthday.  She will turn 7 on Tuesday the 21st, Lord willing.  In year's past we've had increasingly complex parties.  Last year Amanda swore that there would be no party, but we did take a few close friends to play miniature golf.  This year we went camping at Jordan Lake with the McKenzies.

We had nice spots right by the lake, which was fun for the kids.  Amanda took them down to the lake a couple of times to play in the sand/mud.  We also took them swimming yesterday afternoon.  We thoroughly enjoyed being by the lake.

Amanda made the weekend special for Lily by getting several little surprises at the dollar store.  The first night they played with squirt guns.  Last night they had glow sticks with butterflies on the ends to be fairy wands (Noah got a glowing ball).  Lily also got a butterfly net and keeper for our walk in the woods.  She is still sporting her butterfly tattoo as well.

Of course, any time you keep Lily and Brenna together for an extended period (read: more than 5 minutes) of time there will be drama coming from both directions.  Nevertheless, I think a good time was generally had by all.  Brenna slept with us in tentasaurus and things went much better the second night than the first.  Noah had a lot of fun peeing in the woods.  I enjoyed eating cherry hobo pies for dessert last night.

We got Lily to say that it was as good as having a party, so I don't think we can beat that.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

All About Noah

Noah did his "all about me" book at preschool.  His self-portrait is a bunch of orange scribbles.  This is actually quite encouraging as it means that he put more than a few marks on the page.  When we did his placemat we had to force him to make marks on the page, so this is a good development.  Not surprisingly, his favorite toy at home is the Wii.  The only real surprise is that he said his favorite color was purple. It's actually orange, but he probably was not motivated to say so.

Meanwhile, he had another "craft" which was a sheet of paper that he was supposed to decorate somehow.  It has a sticker of a volleyball on it and another with a basketball.  That's more like what we've come to expect from him.  He just doesn't like to color or do crafty things very much.  He's going to get lots of practice in preschool!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Lily seems to be enjoying second grade.  She's doing well with her schoolwork and likes her teacher.  However, she is still having problems with eating lunch.  We made some tuna salad for her this week and she did eat a little, but left quite a bit.  She claims that she was talking to people and didn't get to eat it.

The second grade still has a snack time, so we've decided not to send her a snack.  Hopefully this will help her to be hungry enough to eat her lunch.  Lunch seems to be the primary power struggle for her.  On one hand, we look forward to getting through this, but on the other I know that future things may end up being more difficult.  We'll see how it goes today.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Out and About

Amanda pretty much got the day off yesterday.  We started the day with a late breakfast of apricot-stuffed french toast.  Basically, you make french toast sandwiches with cream cheese and apricot jam in the middle.  They were lovely.  I took Noah down to the basement and we played video games until around noon and then I took the kids out.

We didn't make it to Dick's Sporting Goods on Saturday, so that was our first stop.  We also popped into PetSmart, but the one at Brier Creek does not have a doggy day camp.  Lily enjoys watching the dogs get groomed though.  After that we went up to the Streets at Southpoint.  We got some smoothies for a late lunch and then hit some stores.  The trips to Justice are fun because they help Lily see the value of a dollar.  I tell her that she is welcome to spend her money on things there, but she never wants to do that.  After a couple of hours at the mall we hit Sam's Club and then came home for dinner.

I was pretty tired by the end of it all, but it was well worth it as Amanda got to enjoy the beautiful day and recharge a little bit.  It's a good thing too, because it's time to start a new week!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Back at It

I was blessed to spend all day Friday and half of Saturday at a conference up at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest.  It's about 40 minutes away from our house.  I got to hear some great teaching and enjoyed some wonderful fellowship.  However, there was a part of me that was afraid of what was going on back home.  The kids can get a little unruly when I'm not around, but the good news is that they were well-behaved. Fortunately, my fears went unrealized this time.

Amanda got some Papa Murphy's pizza on Friday night, which the kids enjoyed.  Then on Saturday morning our neighbors took Lily to some kind of fair.  Meanwhile, Noah stayed home to play Wii and watch videos.  I got home a little after lunchtime and took the kids out for the afternoon.  We hit our normal haunts including PetSmart and Play N Trade games.  I took the kids home after church because Amanda stayed behind to help collect clothes for our upcoming clothing swap.  We enjoyed risotto and watched the second half of the Ohio State game online.  The kids and I finished the day with some PS2 games.  Overall, it was a good one.

Today is going to break our streak of hiking on Sunday mornings because it is foggy and drizzly.  However, I do think that I am going to take the kids out.  There has been another request for Chuck E. Cheese.  We'll see what happens.  All I know is that I'm glad to be back in the swing.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

School Days

Things are looking up for Noah at preschool.  As you know, it did not go so well on Tuesday.  When Amanda dropped him off on Thursday he let out a little whimper, but did not cry.  Yesterday he just walked into the room.  Apparently he's warming to the idea of preschool.  We'll see if he can make it two weeks in a row of doing well at church tonight.

Meanwhile, Lily had an eventful day at school yesterday.  The details are a bit fuzzy, but she got into a little bit of a fight.  Apparently some boy was threatening to throw her over a fence, so she hit him.  In response he picked her up and threw her down, hurting her knee.  This donnybrook was not enough to warrant a note from the teacher, but she did only get 2 out of 3 for "keeps body parts to herself."  Hopefully the boy was given more severe consequences.

I'm afraid that Lily's mouth may be writing checks that her body can't cash, but it's hard to say what happened.  The details get pretty fuzzy by the time she gets home from school.  We're not too concerned yet. She knows that it's wrong to hit someone, even when they threaten her.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Picture Day

Yesterday was picture day for Lily.  She wore a very cute dress and Amanda did her hair for her.  This was the same style she wore for my convocation where she had a small braid on one side and her hair parted.  It's a good look for her.  I offered to yank out her tooth with pliers so that she would have both teeth out in her smile, but she was not interested.  Go figure.

Between Lily and Noah it feels like we're starting to get into the rhythm of school now.  We have been told by several people to savor and enjoy these days when the kids are both really little.  Some days that is easier said than done, but it's good to be reminded of what a blessing these two really are.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Noah had his first day of preschool yesterday. Of course, it did not go as smoothly as we would have liked. Not only did he cry when Amanda was ready to leave, but he tried to make a break for it and chase her down the hall. Amanda took our cell phone and expected a call to get him, but it never came. Apparently he settled down fairly quickly.

Upon later review, Noah said that he liked preschool. His favorite part was when they went outside to play. When asked if he wanted to go back he said, "No." Too bad, kid. It's going to happen Thursday and Friday this week too.

When you consider that it took him roughly two months to get used to the three year-old room at church, I would expect that he would have the hang of the preschool drop-off by the end of next week or early the week after.

Here are some pics for your enjoyment. As always, drop me an email if you want the original for quality printing.

Here he is with the obligatory sign. Amanda rocks out with MS Publisher.

Standing by the gate near the entrance to the school.  Not the happiest face, is it?
Walking in the parking lot. We got that backpack when we took Lily to the pre-K event at Marbles museum.  Yay!
This is the one craft he would do.  Those markers look an awful lot like the markers I remember my Grandparents Shrenkel using for bingo.  Perhaps it is in his blood?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Shouldering the Load

Noah and I were very close yesterday in a very literal sense.  As a family we went to Eno River State Park for a little hiking.  It was a beautiful morning with clear skies and low humidity.  Noah is of course not quite ready for much hiking, so he rode on my shoulders.  He also rode on Amanda's for a little bit as well.  What's funny is that after we climbed the hill back to the parking lot Noah said that he needed a drink  Why was he thirsty?

Later in the evening I picked up Grandpa Jack and we took the kids to the Bulls' game.  Noah just wanted to play the games in the kids' area they have set up, but I explained to him that he's not quite ready yet.  It would have been a waste of money.  Then he said that he wanted me to put him down so he could go back to the car.  Basically, he just wanted to come home and play the Wii.

Our seats were standing room only, but we did find four together in the outfield for the bottom of the sixth inning.  We sat there through the rest of the game, which was a minor miracle given how Noah was acting.  The exciting part came in the bottom of the eighth when the Bulls rallied for three runs to take the lead 6-5.  The highlight of that was a two-run triple that should have been a one-run single were it not for the center fielder getting a little too aggressive.  Lily actually seemed to follow the game a little better thanks to playing Wii baseball.

After carrying Noah around the state park and the DBAP my shoulders are a little tired today.  But frankly I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Boy of Letters

Noah is getting pretty proficient at the alphabet.  There is a sandwich board at church to show where to pick up the shuttle for the offsite parking.  Of course Noah can't read the sign, but we went through the letters.  He is not so good at the lowercase letters, so we worked on it together.  It was fascinating to go through the word "Shuttle" with him.  When we got to the first "t" I had to tell him what it was.  Then when we got to the second he still was not sure.  I said, "If this is a 't' (pointing at the first one) then what is the other one?"  He figured it out.

This is in stark contrast with Lily who would have started stomping her feet and crying, "I don't know!"  It takes a lot more get to Noah frustrated.  You should see him work the menus on the Wii.  He very methodically works through them to get the game that he wants.  The boy is much smarter than he sounds.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Meet the Teacher

Note: I apologize for the delay in updating.  I've been rather busy in the mornings and have not had a chance.

We had Noah's meet the teacher on Thursday.  We were a little surprised that the two teachers were not who we expected.  His planned teachers had even sent him a post card saying how much they looked forward to having him in the class.  At any rate, these two seemed like they will be fine.  The class should be interesting for them as it will be 7 boys and 2 girls.  Noah is not quite the youngest, but he is very close.

He was concerned at first because there were no balls to play with.  He also was very nervous when we got there because he probably thought we would leave him there.  He eventually warmed to the place and started playing and having fun.  The biggest challenge now will be to get him to color on his placemat that they will laminate for him.  So far he has made a total of three inches of crayon mark on it.  Class starts Tuesday and we've been talking it up.

In a shocking, but very good development, Noah did not cry at all when he went to church today.  Normally he screams for a minute when we drop him off, but not today.  In fact, he said how much he enjoyed playing basketball tonight.  Hopefully he has turned a corner.  We'll see if that translates to preschool success, but I won't count on it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Yesterday was a fun one for the kids because we had some guests.  Lily's ballet studio is moving to a new location and Miss April had some work to do.  Amanda volunteered to babysit her two kids (age 7 and 4).  She would have anyway, but it was also nice to give at least a little bit back after the free week of fairytale camp Lily enjoyed earlier.

We got some food and took a picnic to North Cary Park.  It would have been an extremely nice time, but Noah spilled lemonade on himself and was quite upset.  It was still a nice time though.  The kids had a great time back at the studio as there are fun steps and ramps around the building.  We came home and the kids went to bed after a little Wii.