Friday, December 31, 2010

A Little Vanity

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that when you saw the title of this post you thought it would be about Lily.  Well, you're wrong.  Amanda had a doctor's appointment yesterday morning, so Aunt Nat came by to sit with the kids for a little while.  She reported some of Noah's funny little sayings.  It seems that he felt compelled to keep drawing attention to how cute he looked.  He was basically fishing for compliments.

We're not entirely sure where this comes from other than we do compliment him as often as we can.  We try to do that with both kids.  I think it's a good practice when appropriate.  I don't think that we have Noah puffed up too much.  Rather, I think he was in a flirty mood.  He gets like that sometimes.

We're going to have to watch this boy with those big brown puppy-dog eyes.  Once we teach him how to dance the girls will never stand a chance.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Date Night

I took Lily out on a date tonight.  While we were in Ohio Amanda discovered that you can get a kid's hot chocolate at Starbucks for $1.20.  Since we have a Starbucks a mile away in two different directions, we did that with Lily's new Mancala board.

Lily actually won two of the games and I was not letting her win at all.  We also tied one game.  I think that this is going to be good for her concentration.  Eventually we will work our way up to chess, but we need to take this slowly.  I think we went for chess way too soon.  That was the overzealous father in me a couple of years ago.

All I know is that for less than $5 we both had a great time.  I hope to make this a regular practice.  Noah and I do lots of things together already, so it's good that Lily and I have something we can do.  I get the sense that we are entering that critical stage where I need to make sure I have her heart or it could get ugly in a few years.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Yet Another Medium

We're still having problems with our used copy of Mario Kart for the Wii, so Noah and I made a trip down to Play N Trade.  They polished it again and we hope that fixes it.  If not, I may have to replace the whole drive in the Wii.  I replaced the laser back in the fall, but replacing the whole drive will almost certainly fix the problem.  It's still cheaper than buying a new Wii.

While there I browsed through the old PS2 games.  I picked up 4 games for about $8.  One of those is a new bowling game.  Noah is pretty excited about this.  This means that he can now bowl the following ways:

  • With the pins from the Target set
  • With his Christmas present
  • On Wii Sports
  • On the PS2
  • Three different games on the iPod Touch (or iTod Pouch, if you prefer)
He's pretty stoked.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Bonus Time

Today is one of the few days when a two-hour delay can work for Amanda's good.  My office is operating on one this morning.  However, since there is no school, it's all the same for the kids.  It will be nice to enjoy breakfast with the kids today instead of having to rush into work and the perils of ice on a dark road.

I suspect that everything is pretty clear today, but I'm not going to push it when given a gift of time like this.  Besides, there is little for me to do in the office that I cannot do from home this morning.  If only the snow had waited a day I'd be off work!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

More Surprises

The hits keep on coming.  First, we enjoyed a nice Christmas day as a family.  We had some chocolate brioche from the dough leftover from my birthday's pecan rolls.  Everyone was happy with their gifts.  Then we went over to the McKenzies' and enjoyed a lovely dinner and time with family.  But as we came home the weather was starting to turn.

We managed to try out Noah's stomp rocket in the light drizzle.  By the time the kids went to bed it had started to lightly snow.  By the time we got up this morning we probably had about 4 inches of snow and by the time it finished we had around 6.  This was not ideal packing snow, but pretty good and we used it to build a snowman (woman - we used Amanda's pink hat).  The kids got cold after a while, so we retired to the house.  The snow was a lovely surprise to Noah in particular as he doesn't really get it when we talk about the weather.

Meanwhile, Lily had another wiggly tooth.  Shortly after going to bed she came down to announce that it too had come out.  She has permanent teeth for her front 4 incisors, but the two on either side of the bottom front two are now missing.  Maybe one of these days she will be able to bit directly into something.  The poor tooth fairy is working overtime these days.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Small Surprise

When I spoke to Amanda from work today she told me that Lily had a surprise.  It turns out that she lost a tooth on the bottom.  She has 1 1/2 front teeth for Christmas, but she is now missing one on the bottom.  The problem is that she is sleeping in Noah's room with Grandpa and Nana visiting from Florida.

I think Lily may be on to the Tooth Fairy.  She suggested that she leave her tooth pillow on the shelves in Noah's room.  That was right after Amanda said that she should leave her tooth pillow in a place that is easy to get to.  Good thinking, kid.  I need all the help I can get tonight.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Prep

Today was a fairly significant day in our Christmas preparations because we got around to icing our sugar cookies.  Amanda made a bunch with Lily on Thursday and we iced them today.  We tried a new technique with very thin icing poured over them.  This makes for much prettier cookies, though the icing isn't quite as tasty as true buttercream icing.  We also made our annual sheet of peppermint bark.

I served at the bookstore this evening and Amanda had to babysit, so the kids got to spend the second service in an area called "intersection."  They don't get a class there, but just hang out and play games.  They also get fed some dinner.  Apparently Lily was quite nervous about going because she's "not used to it."  That's my girl right there as I was just like that (and still am to a degree now, but much higher-functioning).  Noah freaked out when they brought him over, but I was told that reading a book settled him down.  As always, when I came to get him he was watching Veggie Tales.

We came home and enjoyed a few cookies before their bedtime.  Tomorrow I plan to take Noah out and finish up my Christmas shopping.  I got close last week, but not quite there.  Hopefully the weather will hold.  We've had a lot of nasty "wintry mix" lately.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


The local weather forecasters are predicting a dusting of snow tomorrow morning followed by freezing rain.  Therefore, many school districts are closed and Lily will be on a two-hour delay.  I suspect that the whole day will be canceled if the forecast holds.  Perhaps we can have french toast.  Here in Raleigh the threat of snow sends everyone to the store for milk, bread, and eggs.  I can only presume that everyone eats french toast.

I apologize for the lack of posts lately.  I managed to turn in a draft of my thesis on Friday, which was exciting.  Saturday was busy with lots of reading and then going out to celebrate my birthday.  Sunday and Monday were errand days.  Now I'm back at it with work during the day and some projects at night.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Journey to Bethlehem

We did something last night that is sure to become a family tradition.  A local church puts on something called "Journey to Bethlehem" each year.  It takes a long time, but it's worth it.  First, you register and each family member is given a "shekel."  Your family gets a number and then you hang out while waiting for your number to be called.  Once it's called you move to the fellowship hall where you have 30 minutes to buy concessions.  We ate dogs and popcorn for dinner.  They make a little money on this, but not a lot.  Then you finally get called to begin your journey.

Our shepherd was named Jacob and he was in full costume.  Our tour started with a walk through the marketplace where we got to spend our shekels.  Noah bought juice.  Amanda bought bread.  Lily bought "leeches" (gummy worms).  I bought "fish" (goldfish crackers).  After we enjoyed our 2 oz servings we then moved to Herod's Palace.  There the story began to unfold.  Our goal was to find the Messiah who we heard had been born that night somewhere in Bethlehem.  The narrative at each station got us closer and closer.

Eventually we got outside and met the shepherds.  We got to see the vision of the angels with them.  Fortunately for the shepherds, they had a campfire going as it was legitimately cold last night, particularly in costume.  We made it to the inn and Lily got to be one of the kids to knock on the door.  Finally we made it to the stable with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.  They had a real baby and he was eating from a bottle when we got there.

It was a great production and something worth repeating each year.  Noah had such a good time that he was talking about it at preschool today.  When I asked him last night he said his favorite part was "eating."  Lily said her favorite part was "Harold's palace."  She liked Herod's palace because there were dancing girls.  Their dance was very simple and very family-friendly.  I doubt it was the same for Herod, but I like the tame way better.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Noah the Star

Here is a video of Noah in yesterday's Christmas performance at preschool.  He didn't sing much, but was quite emphatic with the motions.  I think you can even hear him yell "NO!"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sick Day

Sadly, Lily ended up getting what Brenna had Saturday night.  She didn't eat anything all day yesterday and watched TV in her jammies.  Noah did likewise, with a little Wii thrown in for good measure.  Of course, we hope that it stops with Lily.  So far, Amanda and I feel fine.  I think if we were going to get it we'd have it by now.

Today is my last night of class for the semester, which brings us all great joy.  The only downside is that I really need to be focused on my thesis and a project I'm working on.  I have not had too many late nights since starting seminary, but I think one or two may be coming this week.  The good news is that I have only 5 or 6 more hours of work to do before I can turn in a draft.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Changed Plans

Today has been a weird one.  Last night Amanda and I met friends for dinner.  However, because of job schedules we had to meet them pretty late, which got us to bed later than usual.  Then I got up and drove to Wendell for our biweekly church planting meeting.  I got back home around 9:30, exercised, played with Noah, then took a little nap before lunch.  After lunch Amanda took a little nap and I got a few things done before going to church.

The plan was for a babysitting swap this weekend.  Tiffany watched our kids last night and we were going to keep Brenna tonight.  Unfortunately, Brenna got sick at church and then on the way home as well.  So we ended up having a Saturday as a family.  Although Lily was sad to see Brenna go she was glad to eat some chocolate chip cookies I made.  They came out pretty good, if I do say so.

The other weird thing today was the snow.  We got 1-2 inches of heavy, wet snow that has made all the trees look really pretty.  Fortunately, the roads were too warm for it to stick, but it is wet and damp out.  Running tomorrow morning should be interesting.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Slot Machine

It's been a rough week for Lily and lunches.  She did better today, but this was the first day she ate.  We have decided to change our tactics a bit.  In the past we've told her ahead of time what would happen if she failed to eat.  Now we're going to give her the punishment afterwards.

You see, Lily is something like the Cooler King in The Great Escape.  She is good at deciding if the punishment is enough to change her behavior.  This way, she is going to have to gamble every time.  If there is one thing she hates it's gambling.  We have told her that the punishment could range from:

  • Extra chores
  • Grounding from seeing Katie for a week
  • Missing out on a special meal that we had not planned (i.e. doughnuts)
  • Time out
You get the idea.  Of course, now the challenge is on us to come up with good ideas.  If variable rewards work with slot machines, we hope that variable punishments work with lunches.  Nothing else seems to take.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Long Trip

We made it home safely from our trip to Cleveland.  It was good to visit with family.  We saw my mom on Thanksgiving and then spent time with the other side of my family Friday and Saturday.  My dad and stepmom have a new house in the Cleveland area and it was great to see their new digs.  We're going to have some very efficient visiting the next time we go to Ohio.

The trip home was brutal.  We got through most of the miles without incident.  Then as we hit the last 25 or so miles of Virginia traffic started to back up.  It turns out that there are a lot of people who have never seen a minor fender-bender before.  At least that's all I could imagine given how they slowed down.  The same thing happened as soon as we hit I-40.  What should have taken us about 3 hours took about 4.5.  But we did make it home after all.

We had a little problem with our new HVAC system Sunday night.  It got pretty cold, so the gas furnace should have kicked on.  Unfortunately, there was a problem with a wire and it never did, so it got very cold in the house.  They came out and fixed it on Monday, but we won't know if it worked until tomorrow night.  Until then we will enjoy the balmy weather.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ready to Roll

Amanda spent the day packing and I spent the evening prepping the van.  The kids are very intrigued by my setup of the DVD player.  I have it hanging on the driver's seat so Noah can see it hands-free.  This way he can play a plug and play video game without a problem.  Or so my theory goes, anyway.  I've thought about bringing the Atari, but I don't think that he can handle it yet.  It will be a gametime decision, but I am leaning away from it.

What's funny is that he is ready to go right now.  He just wants to play video games.  I figure that between music we all listen to, DVDs, games on the iPod Touch, the Leapster, and various flavors of Pac-Man, he should be good.  Meanwhile, Lily has about 8 hours of video she can watch on our respective iPod Touches.  The only problem with that plan is that she can watch the whole Star Wars trilogy in about 3 hours because she skips "the scary parts."  If you even mention Han Solo getting frozen she tenses up.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Getting Baked

Today was one of preparation.  Amanda is feeling much better thanks to the magic of antibiotics.  It turns out that Lily's ears are fine, but she is just now getting her six-year molars.  That's what is causing the pain in her ears.  A little Tylenol does the trick there.

Noah and I ran a few errands in anticipation of our trip.  We got a power inverter for the car from Tiger Direct/CompUSA.  I also got a Y-connector from Radio Shack so now we can play video games on the DVD player in the car.  Noah was ready to leave tonight because he is so excited about this.  He is very upset that it isn't Wednesday yet.

Meanwhile, Amanda baked, baked, and baked some more.  She baked a variety of breads and we look forward to enjoying them with our family in Ohio.  We just have to get through a couple of days here.  The big event tomorrow is Harry Potter on IMAX.  It will be nice to have a little date after Amanda being sick for about 10 days.


I apologize for the prolonged silence on the blog.  It's been quite a week.  Amanda has been laid up with a sinus infection, but we got her some antibiotics yesterday and she should be back on her feet soon.  Lily seems to have an ear infection and we will likely be taking her to the doctor today.  Noah still has a runny nose, but he and I have been spared the nasty stuff so far.

I've spent most of my free time working on my thesis.  I was hoping to have a draft done before our upcoming trip to Cleveland, but I don't think that will happen unless I forgo sleep for the next three nights.  Given the 9 hour car trip ahead of us I think that would be unwise.  Nevertheless, I hope to make some progress today.

That's been life at casa de Chamberlain.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hot Stuff

We have recently had something of a home improvement.  You may recall that back in the spring we had a leak in our air conditioner coil and it had to get charged.  Since Uncle Sam has generously offered us a $1500 tax credit for installing a new high-efficiency air conditioner, we decided to do it this year.  We had service people at our house all day Monday, most of the day Tuesday, and part of the day today, but it is done and working.

The beauty of this is that we now have a heat pump with a gas furnace supplement.  This means that we can keep the house warmer than 64 degrees in the winter without spending as much money.  It's still going to be cool at night though.  Given that I grew up in a room over the garage with windows that did not seal well in NE Ohio, that's how I like it when I sleep.  Fortunately, the family has adapted.

The big adaptation has been for Noah to sleep under a comforter.  I convinced him to do this with the carrot that almost always works -- the Wii.  So far, the Wii has been a tremendous discipline tool with him.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Eating with Noah

When Noah really likes something it's quite a bit like this:

It gets a bit annoying after a while, but you must appreciate his passion for food that he likes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

DIY Fever

We had something annoying start last Sunday.  The blower on the fireplace started coming on spontaneously.  I tried turning it off with the remote, but it would turn itself back on.  I didn't really have time to deal with it, so I put it off until today.  After a lot of messy disassembly I discovered that there was a remote-controlled outlet under there.  I took Noah down to Lowe's and got a replacement for about $15 with tax.  Problem solved.

Noah had a great idea after I finished fixing the fireplace.  My copy of Burnout 3 stopped working some time ago and Noah thought today was a good day to fix it. 45 minutes and an ounce of Brasso later, we're back in business and Noah is happily crashing his car into other cards now.

I think I'm about maxed out for my DIY mojo for now.  I've got to get a few regular things done this afternoon.

Friday, November 12, 2010

New Duffers

I had yesterday off and it was a beautiful day, so I took the kids for a new experience.  We hit the driving range. Noah doesn't know that he is getting golf clubs for Christmas, so I thought we would get a little preview in.  He did fairly well, though he's still not sure if he is right- or left-handed when he golfs.

Lily had trouble for a while until I really emphasized the need to keep her eyes on the ball the whole time.  She actually hit a couple maybe 25 yards in the air.  Both of them said that they enjoyed the experience.  I'm trying to plant a seed here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Don't Make Me Count to Three

I had today off for Veteran's Day.  I took Lily and Noah out for the afternoon, but I realized on the porch that I needed to look up directions on my iPod Touch.  Noah was not happy with the delay, so as he stood in the driveway he started saying, "One...Two..." and when I started to come he said, "Good, you listened to me!"

He's a sharp little guy.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Speaker of the House

Preschool has been good for Noah in the sense that we had hoped.  He's still very quiet when at school and he isn't particularly loquacious at home either, but he is definitely becoming more articulate when he does choose to speak.  Lily was watching something on the laptop this evening and I was trying to talk to her.  It was obvious that she was engrossed in her show by how she ignored me.  Noah was in the living room and as he was playing with the Elmo chair he said, "She's not listening."

That sentence is not going to change the course of human history, but for Noah it was quite an improvement.  Normally the only way to get more than two syllables out of him is when he wants a "basketball" instead of a "baseball."  He's making some strides with his language skills.

Sadly, he seems to be a bit under the weather this evening.  He didn't eat his dinner and was very snuggly with Amanda.  He also went right to sleep when I put him down, which he doesn't usually do.  He's even sleeping under a comforter.  We've been working on that in anticipation of winter.  Hopefully he feels better tomorrow.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Making the Grade

Lily got her first report card yesterday.  She got all 3s, which is good.  It's hard to read these crazy report cards with numbers on them because I'm not sure how to translate them into letter grades.  Last year she got 3+ in math, but not this time.  It's hard to say why that is, but we're not concerned.  Mrs. Slocum had nothing but good things to say about her too.

We have heard that Lily will sometimes "cut up" in class.  I feel like my genes are being expressed pretty clearly here.  I think we'll be fine as long as she doesn't end up with a desk by herself somewhere.  That's what happened to me in elementary school.  Then again, we didn't have these clusters of desks with "stations" either.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Circle Time

We are told that Noah is extremely quiet in preschool.  He behaves very well, but he doesn't say much.  This is very consistent with what we see at home.  He generally speaks only when he wants something, usually to play the Wii or to have a snack.

However, Amanda told me that he decided to be the teacher last night.  He was on the bed with Amanda and Lily and he decided to play "circle time."  This is when they all sit on the floor in a circle on their colored shapes. He didn't have the shapes, but he did ask who wanted to volunteer for a job.  It was good to see him doing some kind of imaginary game besides something with a ball or based on a video game.

It's also encouraging that Noah already knows his colors and his shapes.  He's not going to learn a ton at preschool, but he will hopefully get better in social situations.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Noah had his first ever birthday party for a friend yesterday.  Shawn from preschool invited him and there were a lot of his preschool cronies there as well.  Amanda said that he had a tough time getting into the flow of the party and was quite clingy.  He had a pretty good time overall, but he was not at his best.  But this is one of the main reasons why he is in preschool so he can get more social time.  Amanda said that the saddest part happened when Noah pulled the string on the piñata, broke it, but didn't understand about grabbing candy.  He ended up with very little and in fact got hit on the head when Shawn's mom threw more candy into the ground.  It's a shame that they didn't have a regular piñata since Noah is pretty adept with a bat/club.

Meanwhile, I took Lily on something of a daddy/daughter date.  We drove out to Knightdale to pick up a new kitchen table and chairs.  We've been looking on Craigslist for months and finally found something appropriate.  Then Lily and I checked out a new game store in Knightdale that I highly recommend.  I told the owner that I had seen his ad but that I didn't have the coupon with me.  Yet he gave me 25% off as if I had the coupon.  That was good and something I want to make sure I tell the world.  I like it when local game stores flourish.  If you're in that part of town you should check them out.

I think I'm going to take Noah out today.  He wants to play some Skee-Ball.  Of course, that means him throwing the balls around or not quite up the ramp and me ultimately playing Skee-Ball, but that's OK.  He'll have fun either way.  I know that I will, particularly if I can find my 10,000 point groove.

Friday, October 29, 2010


They had the costume parade at Noah's preschool yesterday.  Apparently he loves his stormtrooper outfit, which makes me glad.  He also says that he can't see in it.  That's somewhat expected.  He may be more like Han Solo on Halloween in that he will have the basic outfit, but will not wear the mask much.

Amanda and I are talking about how we can regulate his Wii intake.  He is a very sweet little guy and is a lot easier to deal with than Lily.  He generally does what he's told and will even go to his room for a time-out without having to be carried kicking and screaming.  But he does put up quite a fight when it's time to turn off the Wii.  He may need to have a Wii fast at some point.  He won't like it, but it seems to be time for an intervention.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween and Hockey

Noah in his homemade Halloween costume. We got the idea from a blog and made it happen. Amanda cut the milk jugs, glued them, and spray painted them. I did the detailing with black electrical tape and some markers.

I got the idea for this when Lily lost her front teeth. Of course, she is nowhere near tough enough to really be a hockey player, but I still think it's funny.

A closeup of the fangs.

Gearing Up

Today should be a pretty busy day at the Chamberlains.  Amanda is watching Noah's two friends this morning and then she is also babysitting for a friend in the afternoon.  Meanwhile, she needs to get a few pieces for Noah's stormtrooper outfit.  We're making a mask out of milk jugs that is quite the thing.  It should be very cute to see Noah as a stormtrooper, if he will wear the mask.  At the very least he will be like Han Solo carrying the mask around.

Overall, things are pretty good right now.  I apologize for the irregular posts lately, but there has not been a ton to write about.  I still owe you that pic of Lily with her tooth though!

Monday, October 25, 2010

No More Snaggle

It was a busy day yesterday.  So busy that I didn't even get a blog post written.  I took Lily to a benefit concert for an orphanage in Kenya.  We got to hear some cool drumming and then Lily enjoyed the ballet that followed. It's neat that she knew some of the dancers.

The highlight of our day yesterday was the canoe trip that got postponed from a month or so prior.  We were scheduled to do a sunset canoe tour of Lake Crabtree one Sunday evening, but it got thunderstormed out.  The weather could not have been better yesterday.  It was in the mid 70s with a breeze.  We spent a couple of hours in a canoe on Lake Crabtree while Aunt Nat sat with the kids.  It was nice to get out.

Meanwhile, Lily lost her other tooth.  She had been actively wiggling it all weekend, and finally let Amanda yank it out last night.  I had a hard time finding the tooth fairy pillow and Lily actually woke up when I came into her room the second time (I had to ask Amanda where it was).  I told her that I heard she lost a tooth and wanted to see it.  That's when I surreptitiously exchanged the tooth for a dollar.  I'll post a pic when one is available.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


We took Lily to see Chris Tomlin last night.  The music was excellent.  He doesn't put on the best show, but the music was great and it was a nice time of worship.  Sadly, Lily didn't seem to enjoy it much.  She decided partway through that she simply had to go to the bathroom and Amanda took her.  She complained about wanting water all the time.  She sat in her chair through most of it too.  We're not sure what the problem was as she tends to like his music, but it was clear that she did not enjoy herself very much.

I guess we can't win them all.  At least she ate her lunch at school yesterday.  She took PB & J in separate containers and made the sandwich at school.  She had to finish a few grapes when she got home, but that's OK. At least she ate her protein.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Isabella, We Hardly Knew Ye

So it's come down to this.  I told Lily that she had to eat her lunch today, tomorrow, and all next week or she would never see Isabella again.  It didn't happen.  I sent her grapes and chicken salad.  She loves chicken salad, particularly from Sam's.  That's what it was, but she didn't eat it because she said that she couldn't remember what it tasted like and she doesn't want to eat anything when she doesn't remember how it tastes.  The good news is that she managed to get through 7 grapes today instead of the 3 she did the other day.

I've found a couple of potential good homes for Isabella, so I feel better about that than flushing her.  I had thought about offering her to Brenna, but the point was for Lily not to see her again.  And so it ends.

Lily is learning about consequences for her actions.  She was crying that, "I want Isabella!" and I kept telling her, "Apparently not.  If you did, you would have eaten your lunch."  I think she's starting to make the connection.  Like all of us, she wants things both ways (I would love to be fit without exercising, educated without reading books, etc), but she is learning that life doesn't work that way.

Salutations and Valedictions

Watching your preschooler develop with language is a bit like working out.  One day you step on the scale and discover that you've lost 20 pounds since you started.  In the same way, one day you notice that the little guy is starting to get the hang of this language thing.  As we left for preschool this morning Noah extended his right arm and turned his little hand as he looked up the stairs at Amanda and said, "Bye, Mommy!"

It's not a big deal, but it was incredibly cute.  Incidentally, a little girl said goodbye to him in the hall at preschool today.  He didn't seem to notice.  I hope that she doesn't think him aloof.  He's just three.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Little Ghandi

We're having a rough week with lunches.  Lily has yet to eat a lunch.  She says that she finds the time to eat her lunch when she buys, but somehow she gets distracted when she packs.  Therefore, she is going to pack until she figures it out.  We've also raised the stakes with Isabella.  If she misses a meal once between now and next Friday Isabella is gone forever.  I even went so far as to print a picture of Isabella with a note reminding Lily that Isabella wants to come home and be with her.  That didn't help today.

Besides that, things are pretty good.  Lily ran in the Spirit Sprint today and managed either 18 or 19 laps (we're not sure).  Amanda was there to help hand out rubber bands to the kids and said that Lily ran really well.  The kids get a rubber band after every lap.  The course they run is very small, but it's still a big improvement for Lily. Thank you to those who supported her.  Our contribution tipped her into the $101+ category, so she is getting lots of prizes.  The only one she really cares about is the one everyone gets -- a Chick-Fil-A sandwich coupon.  The girl knows what she likes.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fair Night

I took my bride to the NC State Fair last night to see Casting Crowns in concert.  Frankly, I am starting to sour a bit on the whole CCM scene because so much of it is saccharine.  But I have to say that they put on a pretty good show.  They weren't real high on showmanship (Third Day is very much worth seeing in that respect as are the Newsboys).  The performances were basically like listening to a mix tape of their big hits, just really really loud.  But it was great to pray with them and hear about their heart for the church.  Plus, I really enjoyed my piece of deep-fried pecan pie before the show.

Uncle Bill sat with the kids.  He of course got sucked into playing Wii with them.  He said that the kids behaved well, which is all we could ask for.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

All is Well

Amanda survived her whirlwind day on Tuesday, though it was pretty exhausting.  Lily's doctor's appointment went very well, though she was not happy to get a shot.  They gave her a Hep A shot.  We realize that the chances of her getting Hep A are pretty slim, but if she were to get it she would be sick for three months.  It seemed like a minute of discomfort was worth it.  Lily is now exactly average for height and weight.  She is in the 50-70 percentile for both.  I don't have her exact dimensions handy, but she's right about at 48 inches.  This is pretty good for someone who was historically a tiny peanut.

The kids enjoyed Veggie Tales Live.  Apparently the show went a bit long because they had some sound board problems at the beginning.  But the kids enjoyed it, particularly Lily and Brenna.  Noah enjoyed it too, but was getting antsy near the end.  The kids got to bed late, but I think they considered it a worthwhile sacrifice.

I dragged Lily and Noah to Sam's Club yesterday evening, but we did enjoy some ice cream there.  It's certainly a cheap place to get dessert.  And it's also a lot lower-key at Sam's on a Wednesday evening than Saturday or Sunday afternoon.  Lily doesn't like going to Sam's anymore, but ice cream seems to help.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Busy Weekend

I apologize for the blog silence, but it's been a busy time since my last.  Saturday was full of Ohio State football and church.  Sunday had pancakes and some errands.  First, we visited Isabella at my office to feed her.  I was off for Columbus Day yesterday, so the long weekend would have been too much.  Then we did some of our usual stuff like Doggy Day Camp, Play N Trade, etc.  The highlight for Lily was stopping at Target to use some birthday money.  She got herself a Disney princess whose outfit changes color in the bath.  The highlight of the day was Amanda being home when we got back.

Yesterday I did homework in the morning and then went to Durham to donate platelets in the afternoon.  By the time I got back I had to get Lily from the bus and then take her to ballet.  I managed to drag Noah along even though he was barely awake from his nap.  It's kind of funny to see him all dazed.

Today should be a busy one too.  Amanda is watching Noah's friends Reid and Halle today.  Lily has a doctor's appointment.  Then in the evening she is taking Lily, Noah, and Brenna to see Veggie Tales Live at our church.  Meanwhile, I will have class.  Hopefully tomorrow will be a little more mellow.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Corn Maze

I took the kids to the corn maze last night.  The maze seemed a little tougher than last year's.  We did fairly well finding the various stations and we took a community approach in shamelessly asking others where they found some of the stations we needed.  The goal of the maze is to get a punch at each of the ten stations on a sheet that they give you when you start.

Lily got pretty tired of walking in the maze and I offered to have us quit, but she wanted to press on.  I was very proud of her.  Fortunately, we still had sunshine when we finished.  I am very glad that we went last night instead of on Sunday when the high is supposed to be in the low 80s.  It gets kind of hot with Noah on my shoulders.

We also took advantage of the other things at the farm.  We took a very mellow hayride, which both kids enjoyed.  Lily was asking me questions about farming that pushed the limits of my expertise.  Fortunately, I can tell the difference between a cow and a horse.  I also know what a cow patty looks like from firsthand experience.  But when we start getting into "what's that" when she sees farm equipment that gets pulled behind a tractor I have to start guessing.  Next time we go on a hayride at a working farm we need either Grandpa Gary or Nana around as consultants.

Lily really enjoyed the big inflatable.  They had one with a long obstacle course that finished with a climbing wall and slide.  Noah decided to do it.  He kept trying to stop with the climbing wall, but I talked him into doing it.  He kind of wiped out at the bottom of the slide, which was a bit of a sour end.  Nevertheless, I was extremely proud of his courage in climbing what had to be about a 12 foot wall.  He's a lot braver than Lily was at 3.  For that matter, he's a lot braver than I was at 3 too.

Today should be a fairly mellow day.  We need to hit Sam's.  We're probably going to watch the OSU game online.  Then we will spend all afternoon and early evening at church while I serve at the bookstore.  Lily is still unsure about intersection (the class for kids who have to be there for 2 service), but I think she will have fun.  I also think I'll find Noah glued to the big TV.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Weekend Begins

Amanda left this morning for a women's retreat with the ladies of our church.  She won't be back until Sunday night, so it is just the kids and me.  I'm taking advantage of this morning by hanging out at Panera Bread and doing some work on a project for school while Noah enjoys preschool.  So far it's been a productive time, but it will soon be time to get back to work.

I haven't quite decided what we're going to do this weekend, but I do know that we're going to hit a corn maze at some point.  That may be this evening.  We'll have church tomorrow.  We'll probably go shopping on Sunday afternoon, but we may also do something outside in the morning.  We've got to take advantage of the nice weather while it lasts.

I find myself looking forward to weekends with the kids.  I suspect I would feel differently if I got to spend all my days with them.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Game Night

Lily ended up in her room tonight for not eating a perfectly good dinner (she says that she will never eat noodles), which left lots of time for Noah.  I didn't want to just go down to the basement for another night of PS2 games, so we tried a couple of board games.

First, we gave Memory a shot.  You may recall that Lily was an ace when it came to Memory.  Sadly, Noah can't quite pay enough attention to do it.  He likes the idea of playing it, but can't stay focused.  We then moved to Trouble.  That went better, but we still didn't finish.

I don't think that this is necessarily a bad thing.  We can't expect a little boy to sit still like a little girl.  Nevertheless, we're going to keep trying.  He needs to get focused on other things besides the Wii.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Two in a Row

Amanda went to Lily's school for the program called "A Book and a Bite."  This is where a parent comes in to read to the kids at lunchtime.  This was also good because the child of the parent gets to join in on this.  This means that Lily dutifully ate her lunch, though she did drop some of her egg on the floor.  Nevertheless, we called it a success.

Lily had a good day at ballet and tap class as well.  It's nice when we get to bedtime and we don't have any major sins to confess.  Frankly, that's good for any of us, isn't it?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Boys Afternoon Out

It was time to get a few errands done yesterday.  I took Noah and dragged Lily to Wal-Mart and Sam's for some grocery shopping.  Lily brought her purse and I had to talk her out of making what seemed like would be a foolish purchase.  Ultimately, I think she was happy I did.

Lily and Katie were playing in the afternoon so I took Noah out.  We hit Play 'N Trade and I picked up 4 PS2 games for $10.  He's very excited to play them.  Then we went to the local music store as well as to a store that sells board games, puzzles, role-playing games, cards, etc.  It was fun to hang with the Pook.  Of course, we're going to get lots of time next week when Amanda is out of town.

Lily said something particularly funny at bedtime.  We couldn't think of anything she did yesterday that was particularly naughty, which is good.  But I did point out that we still haven't had a day without whining or crying.  I asked her when she thought she would be able to do that and she pointed up.  What she was saying was that she will go without whining when Christ returns in glory.  I had to laugh at that.  It's good that she has a keen sense of her own sinfulness in that regard though.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ending Well

This ended up being a pretty good week for Lily.  She ate her lunch on Tuesday.  She got to enjoy a teachers' workday holiday yesterday.  The highlight was going to Target and using the gift cards she got for her birthday.  She got some clothes, a Barbie doll, and a zhu zhu pet.  I think she thought the idea of the zhu zhu pet was better than actually having one, but she is still happy.

We are enjoying that time of the year when the weather is just about perfect.  As of right now, life is good in Cary.

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.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Getting Fixed

I worked from home yesterday and completed two fairly major repairs.  One was to replace the window regulator in the left door of the Civic.  Now the window actually cranks up and down!  The other was to fix the Wii.  One guess as to which repair was more popular in our house.

I tested the Wii with Noah just before he went to bed.  He was furious that we didn't play more.  We did bowl a game and we played 3 holes of golf, but he wanted to do the training mode.  In fact, the first thing he said to Amanda this morning when she came into his room was, "Can we play Wii training?"  She told him that "good morning" would have been more appropriate.

I'm glad to have this repair behind us, though there is a part of me that keeps waiting for the disc read error to reappear.  Here's hoping that we enjoy several years of play out of our Wii.

Monday, August 30, 2010


We had a relatively nice morning for late August yesterday, so we went out as a family for a hike at Umstead Park.  It was a nice walk in the woods to a really beautiful spot.  Lily was complaining a lot when we finished, so we went over to Lake Crabtree and got a boat for an hour.  We rowed around the lake a bit and then came home for lunch.

Lily was not a big fan of the rowboat.  We had her sit in the bow and she was pretty nervous as the boat rocked.  She also didn't like the sound of the clamps for the oars squeaking as we rowed.  It was too bad as it was a great day for it, though a bit hot.  She also complained that we only do what the adults want to do.  I asked her what she wanted to do that afternoon.

I ended up taking her to Chuck E. Cheese.  I spent $5 on tokens and she had a ball.  She doesn't really like playing the games of skill, but she really enjoys playing what is basically like a slot machine.  There is a big wheel with lights that go around it.  You pull a level to start the lights.  You hit a big red button to stop the lights and wherever they stop determines how many tickets you get.  If you time it just right you can get 250 tickets, but if you just miss you only get 2.  She got 2 quite a lot, but had fun doing it.  It's funny to see how miserly she is with the tokens.  She hates spending tokens on anything that will not give her tickets.

It's good to see that she is learning thrift.  Being responsible for your own resources will tend to do that.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lazy Daze

I took the kids to Lazy Daze yesterday.  This is Cary's annual art festival.  I'm not sure where someone got the the idea to have an outdoor art festival in late August, but that's the tradition and it is a big deal in these parts.  The weather was less oppressively hot than usual, but it was still hot even in the morning.  The whole point was so that Lily could try a funnel cake.  We split it three ways.  She enjoyed it, but hopefully we won't have to get another one anytime soon.

We saw a great magician in the kids' booth.  Noah didn't like it very well, but he was getting hot and antsy.  We met a town councilman who is running for NC House and we visited the booth of another.  It was nice to talk to some candidates I support.  Somehow it feels a bit more "real" at the local level like that.  Lily and Noah were happy to get balloons and Lily enjoyed the fan we got.  Every year the various candidates pass out fans with their campaign logo on them.  Good plan for a hot day, I say.

We came home, had a small lunch, and then Noah took a nap while I did some work on my thesis.  We went to church and then attended a surprise party for one of Amanda's good friends.  There were a lot of kids there and Lily had fun in the pool.  Noah had fun playing with my iPod Touch.  It was another late night for the kids though as they were not in bed until 9:00.  Lily slept in a little bit this morning and Noah is still sleeping.

Hopefully we can take advantage of the slightly cooler weather today and do something fun outside.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Last night was my seminary's fall convocation.  We have one of these at the beginning of each semester to get together and kick things off.  Amanda had a prior commitment, so I had to take the kids.  They had childcare for kids up to 5, which meant that Lily had to be with me.

I managed to sell the event to her pretty well.  I told her that she could get dressed up, which she did.  Amanda did her hair with a braid on one side and it looked very cute.  She enjoyed the food we had for dinner and the dessert was incredible.  Then she helped me pass out programs for the service.  We sat down in front because as the student council president I had to give a brief welcome to the students.  She was excited that I was going to speak, but I think the anticipation was better than the event.

The only problem was that the service took about 90 minutes between the singing, the updates on how the seminary is doing, introductions of faculty, and then the fairly brief message our guest speaker gave us.  Lily played games on my iPod Touch, which was OK except that she periodically let out a little noise when she would lose a game of Connect Four.  Overall, she did well.

Meanwhile, Noah did his regular act of crying when getting dropped off, but he settled down and had fun.  He said that he bowled.  I don't know if there were actual bowling pins or if he made something up.  If it can stand vertically it can be a bowling pin to Noah.  Either way, he had a good time.  The kids didn't get to bed until around 9:30 and are still in bed now.

Today should be a very busy one for us, but it will be filled with fun things.  More on that tomorrow.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

First Day Photos

Here are a few pics from Lily's first day of school. We hear that it went well. She likes her teacher. The only problem now is that she doesn't have any of her old friends in her class, but she will certainly make some. She always does.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Last Day

Today is the last day of summer vacation.  Sadly, it is an overcast and rainy one.  I am glad that I can work from home today as there was enough rain this morning to cause the NWS to issue flash flood advisories.  When it rains like this I'm glad that we live on such a steep hill, though we do lose a little bit of back yard every time too.

Amanda made some pancakes this morning so that there would be leftovers for tomorrow.  Although the details are yet undefined, they will do some fun things today.  They started the morning by reading more of Heidi in bed.  After all, today is the last one of unfettered leisure for a while.

I, on the other hand, have my first day of class this evening.  The class should be fairly easy and I am not too concerned.  It just means the beginning of yet another semester and the pressures that go along with it.  But with only one class night this semester it should be better than most.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back Home

We made it home yesterday with very little incident other than some construction west of Winston-Salem.  We started the day with another outstanding breakfast.  After checking out we headed over to Fontana Dam.  It was pretty neat to see this engineering marvel of the TVA.  The lake was gorgeous and we enjoyed a pleasant walk back and forth across the dam.  Unfortunately they were not letting much water through at the time as I understand it can be quite spectacular when they do.

The kids met us outside when we arrived at the McKenzies'.  Word is that they had a good time and were reasonably well-behaved.  I guess that's about all we can ask for.

Today will be a catch-up day for Amanda as she gets back into the groove.  It's hard to believe that second grade starts on Wednesday, but it is fast-approaching!  At least Labor Day is later this year so she doesn't have three days of school and then a holiday.  Noah starts the Tuesday after Labor Day.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Falling Water

Yesterday was all about falling water.  One of the main reasons we come out this way is to see waterfalls.  We were very successful with that on Friday in seeing the three that are very close to where we're staying.  Since the weather looked a little iffy for tubing we chose to venture out to see some of the best waterfalls out this way.

We started with a trip out to Whitewater Falls.  I was rather proud of myself for getting there without having Amanda obsessively check the map.  The problem was that it was raining when we arrived.  We hung out in the car for a while, but we eventually decided to just go out and see the falls.  It alternated between light drizzle and fairly heavy rain.  Amanda took an umbrella and I had a hat.  The falls were completely worth seeing, but we didn't go down to the river or do the short hike to another waterfall because we knew that the trail would be fairly treacherous.

We were going to try to see Rainbow Falls, but that involved a 3-mile round-trip hike.  That would not normally be a big deal, but it didn't sound like much fun in the rain.  We skipped that and went past Bridal Veil Falls (driving behind it, of course) to Dry Falls.

We ended up waiting in the car for quite a while as the skies had completely opened up.  Think Caddyshack when Carl Spackler caddies for the bishop, except we didn't have as much thunder and lightning.  We did have a little bit of it, but nothing too scary.  We ate our picnic lunch in the car and waited some more.  I had enough coverage on my blackberry to see that the storm was in no hurry to pass through, so we just went for it.

I was completely drenched in about 30 seconds.  We got bonus waterfalls as we watched water stream down the steps and out of the side of the hill.  We also got a bonus in that the flow over Dry Falls was quite spectacular.  I was raised on Niagara Falls, so my image of a waterfall is a LOT of water going over the cliff.  Here the waterfalls tend to be more broken up with less water, but very pretty in a different way.  Dry Falls kind of gave us the best of both worlds.  Despite the description you read in the link, we actually were much drier behind the falls because we were shielded from the rain.  We stayed for a few minutes, but left when we were getting cold.  It was strange to be cold on August 21 in North Carolina, but we were.

We finished the evening with a very nice dinner.  Overall, it was a good day, though the weather was not ideal.  Today is not shaping up to be much better, but it should not hinder our drive home.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

On the Lake

We made it to the mountains safely after an uneventful trip.  The B&B where we're staying is quite nice and we like our room.  We hiked a little bit in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and saw three waterfalls.  It's nice when you don't have to hike for hours to get to them.  We also scouted out the tubing options, of which we may avail ourselves today.

The highlight of the day was our kayaking trip on Fontana Lake.  This is a lake courtesy of the TVA and Fontana Dam.  The water levels are a bit lower than normal because of extra demand for electricity as well as the need to fill downstream rivers.  Nevertheless, there was plenty of water for us.  We decided that we like the kayaks.  We had an older guide named "Sarge" who was of course extremely friendly and helpful.  It was also nice that it was just the three of us rather than a big group.

The weather today is a bit foreboding, so we are going to have to play it by ear or just take a chance.  No matter what, we have reservations for a nice dinner tonight.  And there are worse things than being stuck in a nice B&B.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Open House

Yesterday was an open house at Lily's school and she got to meet her teacher.  We think that we're going to like Mrs. Slocum.  The big science project this year is that they are going to get a butterfly chrysalis.  Mrs. Slocum made the point yesterday that second grade is kind of like a chrysalis year for the kids because as their reading improves they just grow tremendously.  It's nice that Lily has an experienced teacher again this year.  We really liked Mrs. Turner.

Lily is a little bit sad because none of her close friends are in her class.  She only knows one girl and they are not particularly close.  They don't dislike each other, but they aren't particularly friends.  We keep trying to reassure her that she will make new friends.  I can't understand where Lily gets this fear of the unknown from...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Being a Kid

Amanda took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese yesterday.  They met Aunt Tiff and Brenna for some pizza and games.  Lily was a bit reluctant to play the games because of her fear of not doing them well.  She did eventually do them though.  She was more interested in games of chance.  I wonder where she learned that?

Noah loved the games, as you might imagine.  They have Whack-a-Mole for toddlers and he enjoyed that.  He really wanted to play Skee Ball, but he just isn't strong enough to get the ball up into the rings.  Amanda had to help him. He managed to get a few lollipops as prizes and Lily got some little things as well.  Lily enjoyed it so much she wants to go there as a date sometime.  I can do that.

Here are a few photos from Tuesday's shoot at North Cary Park.  We have a bunch more, but these are three of the highlights.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Smile

Lily has a new smile, as you can see here:

The new smile.

She was wiggling the tooth at the pool yesterday and it eventually stuck out at nearly a right angle.  Amanda pulled it out for her.  The tooth fairy is getting the hand of the creaky floor in Lily's room and should only get better with time.  I imagine that Lily will be happy this morning.

I would not be surprised if she was singing, "All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth" this year.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

An Old Pasttime

Our DVD player is in its death throes, so we've been using the old PS2 to watch DVDs.  That means it is in the living room.  Over the weekend I got a binder for DVDs and put all my PS2 discs in it.  That means that my entire game library is at our fingertips in the living room.  And to Lily that means LEGO Star Wars.

Lily really enjoys the LEGO games, as any longtime reader of this blog will know.  She can do most of the episodes by herself, but there are still some challenges.  Today I found her crying and stomping her feet because she couldn't get past something.  It was driving her crazy.  The poor thing has got to learn how to bridle the temper, but now is the time to do it.  Better now than later in life!

The good news is that she and Noah are having fun with the old PS2 while we wait for the return of the Wii.  I look forward to playing a lot of those games with them.  Noah can even kind of play Burnout already.  He's way ahead of where she was at his age.  He's got good gaming genes.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back Home

Amanda came home safely last night from her quick mountain retreat.  She had a great time with friends, both old and new ones.  It was good for her to get out of the grind for a weekend.

Meanwhile, we had a pretty good time here.  I cleaned some of the rugs on Saturday and did a couple of other little chores.  We went to church and came home for Lily's favorite meal - slow cooker risotto.  Yesterday we went out bowling in the afternoon.  Noah didn't do so well at bowling and at some of the stores we went to.  He's right on the bubble with naps.  He doesn't absolutely need one and when he does get one he can't go to sleep at night.  But sometimes he has some behavior problems when he doesn't get one.  Yesterday was one of those days.  We made it through though.

It's good to have Amanda home.  I hear Lily using the bathroom now.  I think she's particularly excited.  I'm just proud of the fact that her hair was brushed every time we went out of the house.  That's a big step up for me.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

First Evening

Amanda had a whirlwind day yesterday.  She spent the day preparing for a trip and then took that trip late in the evening.  Before she could travel she had to speak on a panel at our church's "Girls' Night Out."  The trip was to Blowing Rock.  I'd like to hear how the trip went, but I don't dare call her.  I suspect that she got in some time after midnight.  She is in Blowing Rock because a friend invited her to join a birthday celebration.  I expect her back late Sunday evening.

So while Amanda hangs out with her pals the kids and I are making the best of it here.  We had what is becoming our typical Friday night.  We went bowling, to Chick-Fil-A, to Marmalade Skies, to Play-N-Trade, and for something new we also went to Target to pick up a few things.  My plan is for today to be a mixture of fun and chores.  There are a couple of things I'd like to get done around the house as a surprise for Amanda when she gets back.  We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tale of the Tape

Noah had his well-child visit today.  He is 37 3/4 inches tall and weighs 34 pounds.  I'm not sure what his reach is as they didn't record that for us.

He is perfectly healthy.  He saw Dr. Adams, who may be the most laid-back pediatrician in the world, though I don't think he is related to Michael McKean.  It's probably a bit of an exaggeration when he describes our children as "perfect," but he does suit our style.  He was impressed when Noah did his vision test.  They don't have letters for the little guys and gals, so they have shapes.    Noah was supposed to identify a house, but when asked what he saw he said, "a PENTAGON!"  Dr. Adams asked Lily if she taught him that and she said that she didn't, but she taught him what a rhombus is.

Meanwhile, Lily is about to lose one of her front teeth.  It wiggles sideways a little and it will also go forward nicely.  When she smiles she has a distinctly redneck look about her.  I would be surprised if she still has it on Monday.

Quiet Night

Amanda had a meeting at church last night, so I stayed in with the kids.  I was thinking about taking them bowling, but with all the hustle and bustle of Tuesday night I decided it was better to stay in.  I ate some leftover homemade pizza from Monday evening and the kids had mac & cheese.  It warms my heart to see how much they like it, particularly Noah.  When I was little I could never decide if I that or pizza was my favorite food.

I did do a little parental cheating.  Noah played games on my iPod Touch for about 45 minutes and Lily caught up on her episodes of the Backyardigans on the Roku.  Noah went down fighting when I took the iPod Touch away and I have to remember that I told him no games tonight because of how he reacted.  Lily took a bath and went down peacefully.  I then settled into getting the formatting right for a paper I need to turn in.  It's a little frustrating to spend 5-6 hours writing and then have to spend another 1-2 hours getting the spacing just right.  I guess I shouldn't complain too much because it's a little easier to do this with Word than it would be with a typewriter.

Overall, it was a pretty uneventful evening.  The day was a little more busy as Amanda took our kids and Brenna on a picnic.  Today will be even busier with the final swim lesson in the morning, Noah's 3-year checkup at 2:00, and Lily's dance class at 3:00.  I will post an update on Noah tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


We had Brenna spend the night last night.  Tiffany had to get some work done in the afternoon, so Amanda just offered to keep her overnight.  They had fun in the afternoon and we had a nice dinner together, though the girls missed out on a lovely treat because they refused to finish their vegetables.  More chocolate and peanut butter for us!

Amanda had a few errands to run as did I, so we split up.  I took the kids to Lowes so I could get the parts for some workout gear I wanted to make.  They behaved really well considering that it had to be pretty boring for them.  Noah is happy as long as he is in a racecar cart.

I wish I could say that everyone settled down immediately to sleep, but of course that didn't happen.  Nevertheless, it was a pretty good evening.  Yesterday Amanda and our kids met Tiffany and Brenna at the planetarium in Chapel Hill.  They saw a pretty neat show, though Noah was a little scared.  Today should be Lily's swim lesson and then a dollar movie.  We are now officially 14 days from the start of second grade!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Our Little Dolphin

Lily has three more days of swim lessons, including today.  Yesterday she started learning the backstroke.  Apparently she's doing pretty well, but she doesn't quite understand about cupping her hand to scoop the water under her.  She's just kind of doing a reverse pinwheel.  The good news is that she is doing it.

Amanda and the kids spent the afternoon at Aunt Tiff's pool.  This is good because it gave Lily a chance to practice her strokes, besides it just being a great day for the pool (the high was around 99).  I don't think we're quite ready to throw her into the deep end of the pool, but she is making great progress.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Date Day

I took Lily out for something of a daddy-daughter date yesterday.  We left around 1:00 and did not get back until 4:00.  The highlights were shopping for a new leotard and getting yogurt at Marmalade Skies.  We also had fun at a local used book store.  I had wanted to check the store out for a while and it seemed like a good opportunity.  Lily had fun reading while I browsed.  It's great that she can actually read now.

This was not Lily's first choice of how to spend the afternoon, but she went along with it.  She is very much interested in what is in it for her.  Her dream date right now is to go to a Bulls' game.  It's not that she wants to see the game, but she wants to get a funnel cake.  She heard about her cousin Brenna having a funnel cake at a game she went to with her dad and now Lily wants to try one.  I've promised her one when we go to Lazy Daze.    She does not want to wait three weeks.

Anyone in the Triangle know where one can get a funnel cake besides the Fair or some other festival?

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Amanda was fighting a summer cold yesterday and was kind of down for the count.  Fortunately, I worked from home and was able to take the kids out pretty early.  We left the house at 4:30 for a fun-filled evening.  First, we went bowling.  Lily got pretty down about it until she had a spare in the 9th frame of the last game.  Noah still beat her, but then again he did have my help.  I had a few doubles through the course of the two games, so that made me happy.

Next, we ate at Chick-Fil-A, which as anyone knows is practically like tithing.  The kids were a little disappointed that they couldn't play in the playground, but we were just getting started.  We next went to Marmalade Skies for yogurt.  Then the fun really began because we went to the library for me to do some research for my thesis.  Overall, that went well though Lily got into some trouble when she punched Noah over a game of tic-tac-toe.  It seems that he was not playing well and was messing up her stats against the computer on my iPod Touch.

We got home around 8:30 and everyone went to bed.  Today I plan a trip up to Wake Forest to use the big library.  Lily may or may not join me.