Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ballet Practice

Every year Lily's ballet studio has kind of a mini-recital. Parents were invited to watch some of the class and see what they've been working on all year. I took a lot of short videos. Here is the result of knitting them all together.

Christmas 2011

Here is a compilation of the kids opening their gifts. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Little Duffer

We had some beautiful weather today, so this is one thing we did with it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


We are slowly working our way back to real life after the two weeks of funerals. We had church this morning, which went fairly well considering we had several people out. It was just a blessing to be back with our church family.

We enjoyed particularly nice weather today, so we picked up some sandwiches from Firehouse and took them to Lake Crabtree. The kids wanted to play on the "beach" after we ate. I guess wading ankle-deep in That water won't kill them. Here are a few shots from this time.

Amanda had a little rest when we got home and I took the kids out to play some tennis. Lily nearly took my head off with one shot. I was quite proud.

It's back to the routine tomorrow. I'm not super-excited, but it is time to get back to real life.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Nimble Noah

I took today off because I have some extra PTO that must be taken by the end of the year lest I lose it. I have already planned on taking off the last two days of the year as a buffer in case of sickness, so this was just a day to take off more or less at random. It was nice to have a three-day weekend.

Today was also something of a day off for Amanda as I took over the duties of time before school while she stayed in bed and read. Lily is more helpful that she was a year ago, particularly in terms of knowing what needs to be done. I even put her hair in a pony tail, with her help. I'm sure it didn't look as good as if Amanda would have done it, but I think it was passable.

We are having a Chamber of Commerce day here with the weather, so to take advantage of it I packed a picnic for Noah and we headed over to North Cary Park right after preschool. After eating lunch he played on the playground for a while. After that we headed over to the soccer field for some time with his giant styrofoam airplane and the stomp rockets. We managed to stay for a little over an hour.

I took some video of Noah playing on the equipment. I never would have done this when I was 4, but he moved with confidence. Despite my narration, Amanda tells me that he plays on these frequently. She doesn't know why he was so tentative before. At any rate, you can see that the kid has some balance and sense of motion.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


It's customary for a traveling businessman to bring back gifts for his family or at least leave gifts for his family. Since I knew that I likely wouldn't find anything suitable for Amanda while in Anaheim, I took advantage of an Amazon Local deal for a zipline tour. This is something Amanda has wanted to do for a while anyway, so this worked out well for us. We set up babysitting with Uncle Bill and Aunt Tiff and then headed out to High Point.

I didn't take many photos since the video on their website really does a great job of showing you the experience. I did take one of Amanda getting suited up.

Although the various guides had some scheduling problems, the operation as a whole felt very safe and professional. I would be shocked if anyone had an accident there. Here you can see Amanda's first flight. The hollering and other random noises are from the people below. This facility has a corn maze and a bunch of other family things to do.

Here I am coming in for a landing. Note that I am so cool I do it 90 degrees differently than everyone else:

Finally, here is Amanda coming in for a landing at another platform:

Our final take is that we had fun, but we are not eager to do it again. Neither one of us found it to be that thrilling. Amanda is fairly fearless about such things and I trust physics. The reason I came in so slow in my video is that I tried to hold myself up by grabbing the trolley. You really can just hang and be fine. All it requires is picking up your feet and letting gravity do its thing.

Date Night With Lily

Lily has been on me all year to take her to a football game. Last night was senior night at Cary High, so we finally went after having dinner at Chick-fil-A and getting a cupcake for dessert at Harris Teeter. Lily insisted on the doggie cupcake, which was interesting because she was talking to it and making up stories about it just before I split it with a knife. I thought it was kind of macabre, but she enjoyed it.

The weather was a little cool, particularly sitting on aluminum bleachers, but we made it into the 3rd quarter. Lily enjoyed the halftime show, but I thought that the flag corps was dressed inappropriately. I also found it fascinating that the show was based on the idea that Stonhenge and Easter Island were left by aliens who are still living among us. Part of the show was members of the band making circles around these false stone monuments and bowing to them. Combine that with the uniforms that made the flag corps look like they were to be guests at a Roman orgy and I was left shaking my head.

When we left Cary was beating Green Hope 21-0, but it was 21-2 as we walked through the lot back to the car. In case you're wondering, Cary held on to win 28-8. Green Hope's football team is nicknamed "No Hope" for a reason.

Normally Lily insists that we stay for the whole game (that's my girl!), but we left early to head up to the fairgrounds. We finally got to see the fireworks show. We found a good spot to watch it from the parking lot and then were able to beat the traffic out. When it was all over Lily got to bed around 10:20, but it was worth it. Let's hope she sleeps in a little bit this morning as tonight could turn into a late one too.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Lily's school had a fundraiser at a local McDonald's yesterday. Amanda had a concert to go to, so it was up to me to take the kids. This was not easy for two reasons. One is that I really don't care for McDonald's much anymore. The other is that I woke up sick and still was not 100% when we went. Nevertheless, we went and the kids enjoyed their meal. As for me, I couldn't finish my salad, but I did enjoy my mango pineapple smoothie.

Here is some photographic documentation of the event. For some reason, Lily wouldn't sit still. This was even before she got her chocolate milkshake. She and Noah split one while I had the smoothie. I was impressed that McDonald's now puts milkshakes in a clear cup with whipped cream and a cherry. This whole event made me miss the days when they had these at Chick-fil-A. The problem is that McDonald's gives the school a much better cut of the night's income.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Big Girl

Lily had her annual checkup today. I'm always interested in the tale of the tape. She is now 51 inches tall and weighs 66 pounds. She has caught up to average quite well after being a tiny peanut for so long. I don't know what her reach is though.

She had to get a shot and by her account was very brave about it. It's hard to believe, but our little girl is really growing up.

The doctor also cleared up something we had misunderstood. The rule for booster seats is that the child has to be 8 years old or 80 pounds. We thought that it was both. This means that as long as the seat belt does not cut across her neck she does not need a booster. This makes things a bit easier for us.

I find that this is a good annual reminder of how blessed we are. Not everyone enjoys good health like we have. May we never take it for granted.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For

I have been into video games since I was 5 or 6 when we got an Atari 2600 console. It was supposed to be a present for my dad, but I ended up more or less taking it over. Later we got a Commodore 64 and I still have fond memories of times spent with that. Up until fairly recently I pretty much always had a game going on. I figured that this would be something I could do with kids too.

I used to play more video games with Lily, but she doesn't care much anymore. She will play Super Mario Galaxy 2 with Noah and me. Frankly, she is a lot more help as Player 2 than Noah. We have some fun with this.

Noah, on the other hand, is a full-fledged addict. He gets a total of an hour of electronics time every day. He can spend that playing games on an iPhone, on the laptop, or watching videos. The time we spend together does not count against this time. It serves as a nice way for Amanda to break up the afternoon with him, but it can cause some strife when it is time to quit. He doesn't always quit a good session of Angry Birds easily.

Where it gets me is how this dominates his thoughts and conversation. We'll be talking about something as a family and then Noah will just start talking about Bee Mario. It is at these times I realize that I have created a little mini-me.

This particularly annoys Amanda. We got used to Lily and how complex she can be. She thinks high and philosophical thoughts. Or she comes up with these imaginative worlds and stories. Noah just keeps talking about Bowser's Castle in Mario Kart Wii. We realize that this is a boy/girl thing and that it will get better, but for now it makes me realize that I am responsible for this and that we need to be glad that he wants to talk about stuff. It was touch and go for a while there with Noah and talking.

One funny bit that came from this though. The boss at the end of World 3 is Bowser Jr. Noah kept calling him, "Bowser Junior Mints."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

At the Fair

Watching the blacksmiths at work.

Noah was very excited to see the pumpkin after I talked it up. I think it's impressive to see a pumpkin that weighs over 500 pounds. There was a watermelon over 300 pounds behind it.

Noah and Lily getting in touch with their roots.

Lily still loves butterflies.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fair Weather

We enjoyed some stunning fall weather this weekend. It would be like normal early summer weather in Ohio. We had highs in the mid 70s with low humidity and it got down into the 50s at night. This worked out really well for fall activities here.

Saturday I took the kids to the NC State Fair. This is a big deal in these parts, though the kids don't really like to take full advantage of the Fair. We checked out the blacksmith shop and the FFA barn for starters. We were all fascinated by the prize geese. One of them had a neck about as thick as my forearm. Noah was very excited to learn that you kill a goose by chopping its head off. He and Lily both milked a cow, though Noah only gave a couple of tugs. He was afraid, but was still much braver than Lily was at 4. Noah also really enjoyed seeing a pumpkin that weighed over 500 pounds.

The kids didn't really want to ride any rides, but they did want to eat. Noah wanted me to buy something from just about every stand, but we managed to settle on just getting some corn on the cob, meat (Lily ate an enormous rib sandwich), and some ribbon fries. We were really intrigued by pig lickers (chocolate-covered bacon), but I told Lily that we would make that at home. I know I want to try it.

Yesterday we played some more tennis. Lily came with her rollerblades and did a great job skating around the double tennis courts. She also was a big help in retrieving balls. She tried using Noah's racquet and really enjoyed it. In fact, she enjoyed it so much that we went out and she spent some birthday money on one for herself. Now she and Noah want to hit balls to each other. We'll see how that goes, but at least they're excited.

I have a few pics from the Fair that I'll post from home. Also, I now have a way to get online from work, which means I should be able to post more regularly from now on.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Litte Connors

We've had some beautiful weather this weekend which just begged for outside activity. Noah has a tennis racket that he's been dying to try out, so this was an easy choice. We walked to the local court with some balls.

We started with me bouncing balls to him. He didn't do so well with that and really wanted to try serving. He got a few of them over the net, but didn't do too well. The hard sell was getting him to face the right way to start.

He wanted to go back today, so we did that after lunch. I bounced a couple of balls to him and he hit them pretty weakly. Then I had an idea.

I had him turn around and hit them left-handed. He started to really crank them after that. He hit them at my head and between my legs. He even hit a few over the net and in play.

He's pretty excited about this. We will have to do this again soon.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Her First Parody

After dinner Lily and Noah were getting treats from their buckets. Their buckets hold all the candy accumulated from Easter, Halloween, and birthday parties. Noah went for a bag of fruit chews and called them "fruit gummies." Lily immediately chimed in by singing, "Fruit gummies...yummy yummy."

She was obviously thinking of this when she did it. Lily has always been good at making associations, but this is a new thing for her. I have to say that this is one of my prouder moments as a dad. She's ready to join in the cheesiness. What great family fun!

Monday, September 26, 2011

History Lesson

Today we got a rare treat in that Lily spoke at length about something she learned at school. She read a book about Blackbeard the pirate and we learned all about him. She knew about his ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge and how he hid in an inlet somewhere in the Outer Banks. When he saw a ship laden with cargo he would strike.

Apparently his undoing was from a man named Maynard (perhaps this is who the road near our house is named after?). Maynard very cleverly hid his crew below deck and lured Blackbeard in. Lily also knew that it took three balls to fell Blackbeard. I didn't know that.

She got all of this from a book she read. I find this very encouraging. She is a voracious reader, like her mom. But I have been wondering about how much she's getting out of her reading. It turns out that she is getting plenty.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Little Crusader

Lily's friend Katie came over to play today. Katie and her sister both go to school at St. Michael the Archangel. Their parents are members of that parish. It's a solid Catholic family.

I'm not sure how it came up, but while they were playing in the basement Lily said, "Jesus had brothers and sisters." Katie was very surprised and asked, "He did?" Since I was there I tried to diffuse the situation. I explained that Katie's family believes that Mary never had any other children, but that we think the Bible says that He did. I didn't go into great detail, but I think I described both sides fairly.

Although I have pretty firm beliefs about this I didn't think it was time to tack 95 theses on our neighbor's door. I'm glad that Lily is thinking about this though? How could she have known that this was such a hot-button issue?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Not Camping

We had planned on camping this weekend to celebrate Lily's birthday. We thought that yesterday was going to be a teacher's workday, so I was going to take yesterday off. Noah doesn't have school on Friday. It all seemed perfect.

We had to change our plans. It turns out that Lily had school yesterday. It also turns out that we have had terrible camping weather. Since Thursday it has been so humid you could practically cut the air with a knife. I took a little walk up our street at around 6:30 this morning and the fog made the street lights shining through the trees look quite eerie. Everything is warm and damp. It has not been very hot, but it has been rainy and muggy.

We have made the best of it though. I took Lily out for her free Red Robin burger on Thursday and we went shopping to spend some of her gift cards. Then last night Brenna came over to spend the night. They actually got quiet when they were supposed to, which is a huge win for us. Once everyone gets up we're going to have some pancakes. Hopefully today will be a relatively quiet one where we can relax.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Here is the video of us coming into Lily's bedroom with scones and tea:

Here is Lily with a couple of her gifts:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lily's Birthday

It's hard to believe, but the Peanut turned 8 today. Her day started with freshly-made scones in her bedroom. She opened her gifts from us and was very happy. We got her an art book, a faux Ken doll, a messenger bag, and an iPod Mini. We thought that she would be most excited about the iPod, but the thing she liked best was the Ken doll. I guess she needed more boys when she played with her Barbie dolls.

She had a good day at school which ended with she and her friend Grace taking a ride with Amanda and Noah to the Jump Zone. As we feared, she is outgrowing the jump places. I picked up a Papa Murphy's pizza on the way home and we enjoyed that with her friend Grace. The meal ended with an amazing chocolate cake.As I write this she and Grace are listening to Amanda tell a story and Noah is in the bath.

Lily also got various gift cards as well as some cash for shopping. We are going to make use of those on Friday evening with a special daddy-daughter date. We originally planned on going camping, but the weather forecast is not good. We'll make the best of it instead and go camping later. One of the great things about living in North Carolina is that you can go camping well into November as long as you bundle up a little bit.

Overall, Lily seemed to have a great day. Amanda pulled another one off.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Shine On

Noah had an accident at the bus stop today. He was running around like he normally does, but this time he fell face-first on the sidewalk. He had band-aids on his knee and face when I came home.

Tonight is bath night and we took them off. His wounds were just abrasions, so he didn't really need the band-aids anymore. Amanda wanted me to leave them on and once I took them off I saw why. Noah has a good shiner going next to his left eye.

He cried a little bit when I washed his hair, but quickly recovered when he resumed play with the duckies. He's a tough little Pook. I even got him to growl while crying. That's what we do when we're being tough.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Starting and Finishing

We had our first church service yesterday as the new plant. It was hardly as smooth as you would find in an established church, but we did OK. We were most concerned about the children's ministry, but we got some help with that. I'd say that right now this is our biggest hurdle to overcome. We'll get there.

We had a lovely picnic after the service at a local park. One of our members coordinated the catering of some fried chicken, BBQ, and appropriate sides. We also had a cake with the church logo on it, which was nice. It was a little chilly when we started, but the weather did warm up and everyone seemed to have a good time. It was a good way to commemorate our first ever gathering as an assembly.

After we got home I took a little nap and Noah finished his reading lessons with Amanda. To celebrate that achievement we went to Sam's and got him a Wii game that he really wanted. The bad news is that he can't play by himself very well, so we do it in partnership. There actually is something for him to do and he is pretty helpful. The problem for me is that it reminds me that I am getting older. I played it with him for about 30 minutes and I feel pretty funky from all the spinning and flying. But now I'm committed to playing through it with him.

I always wanted to have a child with whom I could play video games. Lily is more or less disinterested in them. Noah really likes them. At least I won't be too tempted to keep pressing on as I will be glad to quit.

A Small Milestone

A great thing happened this morning/last night, depending on how you view 4:30 AM. I was contemplating getting out of bed and starting my day when I heard one of the kids' doors open. I figured it was probably Lily, but I didn't want to stir lest we get into a conversation and wake up Amanda. Then I noticed that the light in the bathroom came on and I heard the distinctive sound of Noah, not Lily using the bathroom. The light went off and on a few times, which I'm not sure was due to playing with it or concern for making too much light.

It was very cute to see him go back to his room, close the door, and lay back down. Anyone who has been through potty training should be able to appreciate this story. It was not very long ago that this would have involved screaming, me leaping out of bed, and Noah being very disoriented as we hope for him not to spray down the walls.

This is one of those little things in life that you've got to take a moment to enjoy. The Pook is turning into a big boy!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Sorry for the long outage to the blog. It was not intentional and I don't plan on giving up. However, I've been trying to get to work earlier in the morning so I can come home earlier in the afternoon. This has cut into my normal blogging time. I'm going to look for ways to work the blog into the daily routine.

One of the reasons I haven't written is that there has not been too much of note lately. Noah is enjoying his return to preschool. Amanda likes having her Monday through Thursday mornings free. She is still exchanging babysitting with a friend on Friday mornings too.

Today Noah completed day 99 of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Lessons. He will get some kind of reward when he finishes it tomorrow. He is doing really well with it. We were at Sam's a week ago and he asked me what "gift cards" means when he saw the display selling gift cards.

Lily is enjoying third grade. She has a little trouble with the boy who sits next to her. It seems that Christian Cooper has a crush on her. I saw him at the open house this past Wednesday and his mom told me that he has a crush on her. I told her that we knew, but that Lily didn't believe it. Lily is not impressed with this kid. So far, Lily does not have much use for boys who struggle with keeping the rules. That's just fine with us though.

Tomorrow is the first meeting for our church plant. This is where I should invite you to join us if you're in the area, but frankly we're not quite ready yet. We could use a few more weeks to iron out the bugs. But by mid-October we should be in pretty good shape.

That's the high level of what is going on with the Chamberlains as of late. I will try to write more consistently.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Anyone who has read this blog or met him knows that Noah is a gaming freak. I suppose he comes by that naturally. He loves to play the Wii and any game on the iPod Touch (or iTod Poch, if you will). If he can, he really enjoys games on an iPad. He likes the Nintendo DS and will play Angry Birds on a laptop for as long as you let him.

Lily is not so fanatical. She will play video games, but can take them or leave them. That's fine, of course. She is turning into a voracious reader, which is certainly preferable. She still likes watching videos of course.

Lately, however, she is turning into a big fan of Monopoly, Jr. She got it last year for either her birthday or for Christmas. She has started dragging Noah into the games. Fortunately, there is no skill involved in playing it. She loves being the banker and is actually pretty good at it. She will probably be ready for the real thing one of these days.

We had a family game night on Monday where we all played Monopoly, Jr. Lily ended up being the tycoon. Amanda and I figured that was fine since she cared the most. Frankly, I didn't mind being the one who went out either. But even though it is not much of a game it was some good time together as a family. We're thinking that Mondays may be family game nights. We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Carolina Girl

It all started several weeks ago while browsing the used book store as we waited for an oil change. There I discovered the book NASCAR for Dummies. As a general sports fan and an eight-year resident of North Carolina I feel like I should understand this incredibly popular sport. I got the book at the library and have been reading it. I'm not ready to put a driver's number on my back window, but I do find it interesting.

One thing I learned about was what I can only imagine is one of the most famous crashes in NASCAR history. This was in the chapter about how the cars were made. That clip is worth watching. The amazing thing is that the driver was not seriously injured. After reading about it I of course had to watch it, and the kids were around and interested. It is unquestionably spectacular. That led us to watch this video about the crashes that have changed NASCAR.

Lily was very intrigued by the idea of racing. This then led me to ESPN3 to see what auto racing they had archived. We found a replay of an Indy Racing League race in New Hampshire. Lily was so fascinated by this that she sat through 2 hours of it. Of course, she has decided that she is a big fan of Danica Patrick. After all, she is a girl who has long brown hair and she drives race cars for a living. We're not going to watch any of her GoDaddy commercials anytime soon though. It's better if Lily doesn't know, I think.

So even if racing is not in her blood, perhaps it's in the water. I suspect that she won't care about this much past today, but it made for a fun afternoon.

Visiting with Irene

We spent the day with Hurricane Irene yesterday. As I expected, it was not a big deal for us. It got windy, but no more than the wind we get before a nasty thunderstorm. We didn't have any lightning. It rained, but it was hardly a sustained driving rain. It was generally a consistent drizzle with short bursts of driving rain. If you've seen the news you will notice that the eastern part of NC was not so fortunate. The Outer Banks got hammered, but fortunately it is what they build for and I'm sure that they will rebound.

For those unfamiliar with NC, you can think of the state as divided into thirds with respect to weather. The mountains are the areas west of Winston-Salem. We're in what is known as the Piedmont area, though we're on the eastern edge of it. I-95 is the eastern boundary of our area. In this case, Irene really hit east of I-95 pretty hard.

Noah and I did some grocery shopping in the morning. Wal-Mart and Sam's were both pretty quiet, which was nice. I taught Noah to be tough by growling when he walks in a windy rain. It's pretty cute, as you might imagine.

I figured it would be a good afternoon for more bowling. I took the kids bowling on Friday and Lily set a personal best with 77, including a key spare in the 10th frame to propel her past Noah for the first time. Since Noah uses a ramp and I help him aim, this was quite an accomplishment for her. I thought we could build on this success, but sadly the bowling alley was having electrical problems. Apparently their 220v circuit was out, which is what the lanes use. I'm not sure how that all works, but the point was that we needed to find something else to do.

I got a few used books at the Shepherds library and then took the kids to Dick's Sporting Goods. We enjoyed some time there and then came home. This morning as I went running I saw lots of leaves, pine straw, and some sticks laying around, but no displaced cars or anything like that. A few small branches fell, but that was it. Overall, Irene was pretty much a non-event for the Triangle area and we are very thankful for that.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Come on Irene

Based on the YouTube comments, I'm not the only one who has been thinking of this song. I'm sure those of you who read this and don't live in NC are wondering about the impending storm. I realize that I tend to be one to downplay such things, but really this should not be a big deal to us in Raleigh. It may be a much larger deal to folks on the beach, but we're pretty far inland. Unless Irene decides to hang a left we should just get some wind and rain. And by wind I mean that it will be like a fairly bad thunderstorm that lasts all day. Rain will come and go with the bands of the storm, but we should be fine. I wouldn't plan anything outside tomorrow, but other than that it should be fine.

Of course, if you read the news sites you would think that this is impending Armageddon. It may very well cause bigger problems further north up the east coast, but here in the City of Oaks we should weather it fairly well. I will of course post updates as necessary.

Average Pook

Noah had his four year-old checkup on Wednesday and it turns out that he is just an ordinary average guy. He is right in the middle for height and weight. He tipped the scales at 39 pounds, which means that we are just about ready to ditch the five-point harness carseat and move to the high-back booster. We're excited about that, but would be even more excited if he could do the seatbelt himself. It does mean that we can do more errands in the Civic now and won't have to use the van for everything.

The tricky thing was that he had to get 4 shots. Amanda chose not to tell him about them in advance, but just held him in anticipation of them. The nurses are so good that it was over almost before he realized what was happening. Amanda said that he had this horrible look of shock when he got the shots. It was kind of, "What are you doing to me?" He cried for about five seconds and then was done. He's pretty resilient.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Searching for Mrs. Dunbar

Lily had her meet the teacher yesterday. She got Mrs. Dunbar, which seems good so far. Lily likes her because she has long hair and was wearing a dress. Amanda said that she made a good first impression, so that's good. Lily is also excited because her friend Grace is in her class. We're happy about that too because we like Grace and are happy to have Lily play with her.

Our vacation wound up well. We got an early start out of Boone and used the afternoon to see the last Harry Potter movie in IMAX. It was great and wrapped up the series well, even if there were some liberties taken with the book. The kids were happy to see us, but Noah said that the highlight was getting his gift. We got him an old-fashioned slingshot from the Mast General Store. He is already envisioning how he is going to do Angry Birds with it. We may end up regretting this decision, but it will be a while before he can pull the band back.

Today is the last day of summer vacation. Noah has his 4 year well-child appointment today. After that the plan is to head over to the McKenzies for the last swim of the summer. It's hard to believe that Lily is going into third grade.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Falling Water

Today was the day to take in some waterfalls. We started off with a beautiful drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway and started with these two waterfalls. Setrock was a little disappointing, but Roaring Fork was quite lovely. It's not the most water you will ever see going over a cliff and it's not the highest, but the varied drops as the water comes down is really nice. I would have to rate it as one of my favorite NC waterfalls, if not my favorite overall (yes, that includes Niagara). After that we went to Crabtree Falls. Finding the trailhead was a little tricky, but once we found it we had a nice hike. The only trouble is that Amanda's hiking sandals gave her some nasty blisters. We had our picnic on a couple of rocks near the base of the falls then began the long climb back.

We were going to take in Linville Falls as well, but given the condition of Amanda's feet we decided to skip it and head back home. Plus, Amanda had seen them before. We figure that we will be back here at some point and the falls are not going anywhere. Perhaps we can even see them with the kids.

We got cleaned up and then headed out for dinner at Crippen's Country Inn. If you're ever in Blowing Rock and are in the mood for a very nice meal I cannot recommend this highly enough. My caesar salad was very good and Amanda got the salad with the chocolate. She loved it. I got the salmon and Amanda got the tenderloin. The best way to describe her entree was a beef sundae. We broke tradition and actually got two different desserts. Amanda got the bread pudding and I got the figs and pigs (homemade fig ice cream with candied bacon bits). Both were outstanding. We also broke tradition by getting beverages, though both were non-alcoholic. Amanda got some kind of ginger fizz that was really good and I got habanero sweet tea. It wasn't as spicy as I had hoped, but it was still good.

We're ready to get home tomorrow. It will be good to see the kids and it will be nice to rescue Aunt Tiff.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Greetings from Banner Elk!

I am writing this from our room in Banner Elk, NC. We got a Groupon to stay at a resort for 3 nights and are enjoying that now. It's a timeshare, but since we bought the Groupon we were spared the "property preview." It's nice to have a full kitchen to stash our stuff. It has certainly saved us some money on breakfast and lunch.

Yesterday we arrived and walked around Boone for a bit. I was looking for a used book store, but we didn't find any. There is one more we may check out, but I am not going to go out of our way for it. We got dinner at a cute little restaurant in Banner Elk that I recommend called The Monkey and the Frog. It was just nice to enjoy a good meal without having to cut anyone's food.

We got off to a fairly early start today and hit a couple of waterfalls. It was a good hike for us. It was basically 1.6 miles down and 1.6 miles back up. We both agreed that the views were worth the hike. We were pretty sweaty by the time we got back to the car, but that's all part of the experience.

After that we went kayaking on the New River. We were given three options for our tour and we chose the long one. The man who explained it told us it would be 4 - 4 1/2 hours, but we did it in about 3 1/2. I think that we probably paddled faster than many. We would have done it in about 3, but there were a number of shallow areas where we either had to start punting or get out and pull the kayaks. It was fun to negotiate the small rapids to figure out how to miss the rocks. I started making up a story about how my people had been navigating rivers for centuries. Of course, I'm more likely to be from Delhi than I am to be a Cherokee.

It was a great time on the river though. But by the time we finished we were both pretty well spent. We stopped at Chick-fil-A and got a large lemonade to split. Then I checked out an independent Christian bookstore that had used books.  I was very disappointed with the used book selection, but it's always interesting to browse. The store wasn't all bad. Unlike our local Lifeway, you could at least get a copy of Calvin's Institutes there.

We thought about going to see Harry Potter tonight, but it's not showing in Boone anymore. I got us a calzone and some salads and that was our evening. Amanda has just availed herself of the giant whirlpool tub in our room. I was just glad to shower off the day's funk.

Tomorrow should be more waterfalls and then a nice meal in Blowing Rock. Nothing like some good hikes to work up an appetite.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Amanda and the kids visited me at work yesterday. Amanda was not feeling well as she has been fighting a sinus thing for the past couple of days, but she went because it was the only chance the kids would have this week. They really like coming to my office. They certainly like it more than I do, but of course there are good reasons for that.

I met them in our building's rotunda which is visually appealing, but an acoustic nightmare. Imagine a round granite room with 30 foot ceilings. Fortunately, the kids kept it down. We went up to the cafeteria where the kids enjoyed their lunches. Then we stopped by my desk to see "where the magic happens," as I put it. They really like having an image of where I work. Of course, Noah just wanted to play with the stress balls on my desk. They didn't like having to leave, but it was still a good visit.

I know that I enjoy any distraction to the grind of the week. It will get even better as I am off Friday and Monday for the annual anniversary trip to the mountains.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Quiet Day

I noticed on Sunday that Lily's voice was a little scratchy and that Amanda didn't sound quite right either. It caught up to them today. Lily wasn't feeling well in the morning and Amanda ended up napping most of the day. Fortunately, I got into work early and was able to come home a bit early. I made some dinner and sent Amanda off to bed with a DVD.

Noah and I played some Wii while Lily read. Then we did bath night. Lily insisted on taking a bath, so I had her use Amanda's tub. That girl can really take a long time in the tub. She comes by that naturally from her mom. Noah likes to play games and Lily likes to read and luxuriate. It warms our hearts.

Monday, August 15, 2011


I have a couple of Noah stories that just warm my heart. The first is that while at the beach Noah found Chris doing some work on his laptop. Noah noticed that Chris was using Google Chrome. What does Google Chrome mean to Noah? Angry Birds. He asked Chris if he liked Angry Birds. When Chris answered in the affirmative Noah told him that he could play Angry Birds using Google Chrome. Chris did a quick search and found that he could. Noah tends to have Angry Birds pretty close to the front of his consciousness.

When I got back from our church core group meeting Amanda was doing laundry, Lily was playing or reading, and Noah was playing Wii. After all, he had gone a week without it. He was playing bowling and was doing the training. He figured out how to do the cheat on the power throws. I consider that a pretty good accomplishment for a little Pook.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Home Safe

Amanda and the kids are home from the beach. They brought Brenna back home, which I guess made packing interesting. They did it though.

I got to preach this morning and then went to a Core Group meeting for our church plant. They were home when I got back. It was nice to have Lily greet me before I opened my car door.

It's good to have the house filled up again I enjoyed the solitude, but I had enough. Now we need to get ready for our anniversary trip next weekend.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Beach Update

I've exchanged some texts with Amanda to get the skinny on what is happening at the beach. Tuesday was so hot that they stayed inside most of the day, but they did get out to the beach, the pool, and the hot tub yesterday. The weather was really nice in Raleigh, so I can only imagine how wonderful it must have been at Outer Banks.

Today and the rest of the week should prove interesting. The McKenzies had a water heater leak Monday morning and are getting some repairs done on their house. Jack had gone back to visit his dog who hurt her paw and decided to bring Brenna to the beach as a way of helping out and to give Brenna a little trip to the beach. They will travel back today. Amanda will now get to share a bedroom with all three children.

Cue the music.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Safe Trip

Amanda reported that they had a safe and uneventful trip to the beach. The plan was to celebrate Aunt Claudia's birthday with a cake from Once in a Blue Moon bakery. Follow that link and read about the Milky Way. Good stuff.

Apparently Amanda's cousin Zach now has an iPad. Amanda reports that it has captured the children's imagination. The house reportedly has a game room with foosball, ping pong, and pool. Between the iPad and the game room Noah is never going to want to leave the house.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Noah had a birthday party for his friend Scott this afternoon. There was a cowboy theme that would have been great if the party was at the farm it was supposed to be at. However, we got some much-needed rain that forced the party to a local jump zone. Noah had fun on all the inflatables and still enjoyed his favors. The boy just looks good in a hat of any kind. You should have seen him jump out of his classroom on March 17 in his green leprechaun hat!

Meanwhile, Lily and I did a little shopping and then met a friend at Chick-fil-A. This was the third of the three Amigos' 6 year-old sister and het dad. She and Lily played while we chatted.

Things are a bit crazy here now as we are getting ready for a beach trip. Amanda is taking the kids and I'm holding down the fort. I'm looking forward to some time to just sit and read a while.

Friday, August 5, 2011


I apologize for not blogging much of late. Since the camping trip I took the kids up to Ohio to visit family while Amanda had a summer vacation vacation. Overall, it went well despite Lily missing Amanda. The drives were good and it was nice to visit everyone.

Since then we have just been living life. Amanda has been keeping busy with the kids. I've been working. Next week Amanda and the kids are off to Outer Banks to stay with family in the annual beach house rental Amanda's aunt does. I'll stay here and do a lot of reading.

I'll work on updating this blog, but I may end up moving it someplace else to make it easier to update from my iPod Touch. We will see. Stay tuned!

Monday, July 18, 2011


We are back home after a great trip to the mountains of NC. The weather could have been better, but we managed. It was raining when we arrived in the area, so we decided that it made more sense to see some waterfalls than to set up our camp. The good news is that it was a very light drizzle or mist rather than a driving rain. We got a little wet, but we enjoyed the views of Hooker Falls and Triple Falls. The rain let up and we set up camp. We enjoyed a nice dinner made on the campfire and waited for the arrival of the rest of our party.

As you may recall, Noah is very tight with two other little boys from preschool. One of them is named Scott and his family joined us at the adjacent campsite. They arrived pretty late on Friday and we helped them get set up. Everyone got to bed around 10:30 or so, which of course was pretty late. It rained all night Friday, but we managed to stay dry in Tentasaurus. Fortunately, the McClouds brought a 10' canopy that we all huddled under for breakfast. We took them to see the same waterfalls in the light rain and even hiked a bit further to High Falls. It was great that Lily and Scott's older brother Grant got along so well because it kept her distracted from complaining about the length of the hike. Noah and Scott got carried quite a bit because the trail was pretty steep.

We were supposed to go tubing, but it didn't seem like a very good idea in 68 degrees and drizzle. We tried really hard to find one more waterfall, but couldn't find the trail. We enjoyed a nice picnic lunch and then eventually headed back to camp. The weather was very nice in the afternoon and evening, so we enjoyed that. Our inflatable kayak got a lot of use as well since we were right on the lake. The highlight was that we could take the kayak all the way to Hooker Falls. It was pretty neat to see the falls from the river. We joked with Lily that we were going to go over it.

We thought about tubing on Sunday, but the morning was not a good one for it. We decided to go to Chimney Rock instead. Lily was disappointed by the flow over Hickory Nut Falls, but did enjoy hanging out at the bottom. We convinced Lily to make the climb up to the spot with the flag (roughly 472 steps) with the promise of buying her ice cream if she didn't complain. She got an ice cream sandwich made from two chocolate chip cookies for her effort.

After several hours at the park it was time to head home. We didn't get in until almost 9:00. Everyone was told not to get up until 8:00 this morning. We will see how that goes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

More Busy Days

Has it really been a week since my last post? I find it ironic that after finishing seminary I actually blog less, but that is because with my newfound freedom I find myself enjoying more time with the family. I assure you that if there was actual news I would post it.

We have had a couple of notable things going on. Lily and Noah have their last day of VBS today. They're going to the same church where they attended preschool, which is good. They were a little reluctant on Monday, but yesterday afternoon they regaled me with the dances that they've learned. Noah's interpretation is quite something.

We had an extremely busy Sunday. We left the house around 9:00 to go to Colonial Baptist Church to hear D.A. Carson speak. Then we went to a little church in Cary called Piney Plains for me to preach. I did my first ever sermon in front of people who were not seminary students and professors. I preached on Philippians 3:1-11 and Amanda loosely titled it, "The Rock or the Cow Patty." It was well-received and I look forward to my next sermon on July 31.

After that we headed down to Crowder Park in Apex/Holly Springs for a core group meeting for our church plant. I spoke on discipleship and after the discussion we realized that we need to slow some things down a bit. It's hard when two people have been casting vision for a year or so and then try to impart this vision to some people in a few weeks. Amanda helped with the kids, which was OK except that we have been experiencing some incredible heat. To give you an idea, when I went running at 6:00 AM today it was already 78 degrees and the relative humidity is 82%.

The good news is that we're going camping this weekend near Brevard. We have reservations to go tubing on Saturday and we plan to take in Brevard and some of the waterfalls. We also plan on going to the Last of the Mohicans waterfall at Chimney Rock. It should be pretty quiet at the top because according to the website the elevator is being repaired.

As you can see, busy times behind and ahead. The good news is that there isn't a lot of idleness which leads to a lot of squabbling here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Yesterday was a day with lots of movies. Amanda took the kids to the cheap theater to see "Marmaduke." Obviously this was not great cinema, but everyone enjoyed it. Amanda even found some things to laugh at, which is good for a kids' movie. Apparently there is a scene near the end where Marmaduke passes gas in the bed. Noah thought that was hilarious. I suspect that potty humor is just around the corner.

After dinner I took the kids out for some errands while Amanda went to another movie with her sisters. This one was a bit more sophisticated. Amanda had read the book and said that the movie was pretty good. Ironically, we did not do any fireworks on the 4th because we wanted to avoid crowds, but Amanda got caught in traffic near the fairgrounds while there was a fireworks show.

The kids and I went to Staples to retrieve my bound thesis. I'm happy to have it bound in book form, even if it was not done exactly how I had hoped. Then we went to Sam's to get some essentials and stopped at Neomonde for pita on the way back from Sam's. We had some excitement coming out of Staples as we got caught in a brief downpour. Unfortunately, these storms came out of the east and brought in some smoke from the eastern NC wildfires. We'll get to enjoy that today.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Complete Game

We went to last night's Durham Bulls game as a family. This was how we were going to take in fireworks this year as they had a show after the game that lasted maybe 10 minutes. It certainly beat trying to get out of Regency in Cary. Noah still does not like fireworks very well though. Amanda gave him earplugs, but he still cried weakly through the show. Perhaps one factor was that the show started at around 9:45, which is about 2 hours later than he is usually in bed.

The highlight of the evening for me is that Lily and I kept score. she seemed really interested this time, so we did it together. I kept one scoresheet and she kept the other. We just used the scorecard in the programs, but that was enough to get started. I filled in the names, but Lily filled in everything else.

She started to run out of gas around the 8th inning, but she plugged away at it. As you can see (you will have to download it), not much happened offensively after the first couple of innings. This was a good first try for her. We'll work on being more specific on outs later (i.e. 3/g instead of just 3 to indicate a grounder that the first baseman fielded unassisted) and by the time she's a teenager we will be ready to track pitch counts. But this is a great start for her.

When I put her to bed she asked if she would be able to remember how to keep score after she's married. She will if I have anything to say about it. Of course, Noah's days are coming too, but it will take a few years. For right now, this is a daddy-daughter dream come true for me.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Social Day

Amanda and the kids had a big day yesterday. They met Scott, his brother Grant, and a female friend of Grant's at Jordan Lake. They had a great morning there and enjoyed a picnic lunch. Then they came home and went to Noah's friend Reid's birthday party. The theme was firefighters and the highlight was a tour of the local fire station. Everyone liked that, including Lily.

I'm going to try to make a habit of including some photos of the kids on the weekends, particularly when I don't have much to write. Enjoy!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tuckered Out

As I predicted yesterday, the day got to Lily and Noah. They got back from the pool around 1:30 and everyone was very tired. Amanda laid down for a little nap. Lily went to her room to lie down. Noah insisted on playing a few minutes of Super Smash Brothers Brawl and was very unhappy when I told him it was time to stop. Lily angrily came out of her room and said, "I just fell asleep." It took Noah a while to settle down, but eventually he did take a little nap.

Lily definitely woke up on the wrong side of the bed, but we got out of the house for a few minutes. I had to get the emissions checked on the van, so we did that and checked out the used book store there. Lily didn't like the children's section because she felt like the books were not organized by age very well. Nevertheless, she pulled it together. She doesn't nap very often, so it was hard for her.

She loved the fact that we ate corn on the cob with our meal though. Pretty much any day involving corn on the cob is a good day in Lily's book.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Lily's friend Ruby spent the night last night. Calling it a sleepover is a bit of a misnomer. We actually got them to go to sleep at a reasonable hour. I think that they were asleep by 9:30 or so. However, when I got up at 5:45 I already heard voices. At breakfast this morning they said that they were awake "at 3:00." On a normal night Lily goes to bed around 8:00 and is asleep by 8:30 or so. She then gets up at 7:00, which is how it's been for years.

The plan for today is a trip to Noah's friend Scott's pool. I think between the sleep deprivation and being at the pool all morning these are going to be two tired little girls this afternoon. There may have to be some downtime later. Lily doesn't nap very often, but today may have to be an exception.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Boys' Night Out

Noah had a free Red Robin kids meal coming to him, so he and I went out last night. At first Lily was mad but then I pointed out that she and I went to a baseball game last week. Amanda tried to convince her to see "Soul Surfer" at the cheap movies, but Lily didn't like the idea of seeing a movie about a girl who lost an arm. Like so many other things, it "creeped her out."

Noah had a great time at Red Robin, particularly because we were near a TV with ESPN on it. I kept hearing, "Look Dad! Tennis!" or "Look Dad! Soccer!" Plus, the meal ended with some of the wait staff singing to him and giving him a hot fudge sundae. He really enjoyed that.

Afterwards we headed over to AMF Lanes for some free bowling. Noah used an 8 pound ball with the ramp and we had much better results than usual. He bowled a 135 in the second game, which included 2 strikes and 4 spares. He really enjoyed that and kept yelling to the folks next to us whenever he would get a strike or a spare. They thought he was adorable like most people do. I was pretty happy with my 158 too.

It was a good night of hanging out with my son. Got to love free bowling!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Church Picnic

Yesterday was a very social one. We went to church at a tiny church not far from our old one. It is possible that we will be able to use this building for our church plant, which would be great. The sanctuary is a bit smaller than the church Amanda grew up in, but the style (and the smell) of the building is extremely similar. To give you an idea of what the church is like, Amanda and I increased the attendance to 9. It would have been 10, but Rob's wife worked with the kids. We hope we can partner with these folks and use this great old building to further God's Kingdom.

After that we had a picnic with most of the core group for our church plant. It was great to put some faces with names and get to know these folks a little bit. The kids had a great time, though after they were done playing everyone dove for the water. It was pleasant in the shade of the pavilion, but pretty hot in the sun.

Once we got home from that Amanda and I crashed a little bit. We had dinner, did bath time, and put the kids to bed. It was nice to crash after the picnic. We're starting to get this 18-wheeler moving, but getting through the first few gears is tough.


Saturday was a big day here. I left the house early for a meeting about the church plant. I got home around noon and then we went to the local bowling alley around 1:30. Noah's friends from preschool were there as well as his friend Reid from Wednesday mornings. His friend John who is a year older than him also came.

We only had them bowl a single game, which was more than enough for most of them. We discovered that Noah can carry a 9-pound ball, even if he can't throw it. That does a little better on the ramp as it has a little more momentum to push through the oil near the pins. I think that will be his ball of choice in the future. Amanda and I didn't bowl, but we did play host. I helped all the boys with the ramp and Amanda made sure everyone was fed and enjoyed some lemonade.

After we finished bowling everyone hung out in the arcade for a while. I think everyone got to go home with some cheesy little prize in addition to the T-shirts that Amanda made for everyone. One of Noah's friends from preschool is obviously a veteran of birthday parties as he asked, "Do we get a goody bag?" He was thrilled with his T-shirt and wanted to wear it immediately.

Noah really enjoyed the party and is enjoying his gifts. Now if we can just get he and Lily to stop fighting over the lightsaber.


We had tickets to the Bulls game on Thursday, so I took Lily. As much as I love Noah and want to encourage his passion for sports, I'd rather take Lily so we can watch the game. She did a great job with that and is starting to understand what is going on.

We started off the evening with dinner at Chick-fil-A so I could use a coupon I had for a free sandwich. We got milkshakes for dessert, which saved me from having to eat a funnel cake at the ballgame. We did get lemonade and a pretzel, but Lily was full enough that she didn't really get into it too much. That was fine.

Lily Ready for a Ball

The only downside for Lily was that she got annoyed at the boys behind us who kept yelling for no good reason. An example was when there were men on first and second with less than two outs. Someone hit a fly ball to the center fielder and the boys were yelling "RUN! RUN!" Lily wondered why they would want to run since it was a fly ball. I was very proud of her question, as you might imagine.

Lily did her fair share of glaring at them. I'm not sure if it helped, but it made her feel better. Sadly, I'm afraid that she inherited this from me as I was like that as a kid. Hopefully she will grow out of it.

We saw the Bulls win 4-1 and overall it was a good game. At the end of the game the Bulls throw out "victory balls," which are vinyl balls stuffed with batting. The catcher tried to throw one to Lily, but it landed a couple of rows short. Fortunately, a college-age girl gave it to Lily. That was a nice way to end the evening.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

At the Park

This was Amanda's Wednesday to have the kids, so they hung out at North Cary Park. Sadly, they could not get any of Lily's friends to come for various reasons. It was not for a lack of trying. Lily expected to be very bored because none of her friends were going to come. Fortunately, she had a good time after all.

The kids spent most of their time playing in the creek. I think this is something that they boys particularly love. It's also times like this when we are thankful for Crocs. I still say that grownups should never be seen in public with them on, but they are wonderful for kids. Noah loved splashing in the creek and I think the others did as well.

Amanda said it was very hot when they trudged back up the hill around lunchtime, but overall it was a good time. Today should be another fun day as they're supposed to go to Scott's pool. Noah claims he is going to go down the slide this time. Amanda said that this is the first time he volunteered this, so perhaps he actually will. Time will tell.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Pook!

We celebrated four years of Noah yesterday. Fortunately, the schedule worked out so that I could work from home. I got an early start so that when he woke up we went out to get donuts. We started at Kroger, but they said that they didn't have any sprinkles and were waiting for the truck. That made no sense to me, but fortunately Lowe's took care of us. That got his day started off right.

After much time on the Wii, Noah went to the park to play with his friend Scott. They came back after lunch and then played more Wii. We eventually went bowling as a family and the kids enjoyed their cheap kids meals through the free bowling program. We came home and enjoyed some great cupcakes before bed.

Noah said that the day was a good one. To him, the highlight is that he is now the proud owner of Super Smash Brothers Brawl. He enjoyed all of his gifts, but that was the highlight.

Now it's back to normal life with only 30 minutes of time on the Wii each day. It can't be your birthday every day.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Top Ten Lists

Amanda made me cards with the kids' "Top Ten Reasons You are the Best Dad." Here  is Noah's list:

  1. You kiss me
  2. You squeezie me
  3. You play Force Unleashed
  4. You take me out for milkshakes
  5. You let me play at Dick's Sporting Goods
  6. You take me to get a cookie at Sam's Club
  7. You and I look around at Play N Trade
  8. You bowl with me
  9. You look for Goldbug with me at bedtime
  10. You build campfires
Here is Lily's list:
  1. You let me play with your iPod Touch
  2. You take me out on dates
  3. You play Playstation 2 games with me
  4. You show me how to roller skate
  5. You make the best chocolate chip cookies
  6. You take us to Doggie Day Camp/Petsmart to see the pets
  7. You take us to get samples at Sam's Club
  8. You tickle me
  9. You have a goofy smile
  10. You give me piggyback rides to bed
I feel pretty good about these. Amanda said that the kids just brainstormed and came up with them.

Fathers Day

I had a really nice day yesterday. We got up early and headed to church to hear what we thought was going to be a guest speaker, but we were confused about the schedule. Lily was very upset that we went to a different church and the speaker wasn't there. We are going to try again when he does come to town in July. It was a useful trip though because I got to meet some people who will be involved in our church plant.

Since I stayed and Amanda came home with the kids we took two cars. I was confused to get out to the parking lot and find the van rather than the Civic. When I got home I had a lovely surprise in that Amanda and the kids detailed my car. Lily did the Armor-All in the interior. Steering should be interesting for a few days, but her heart was in the right place. She also got all the brake dust off the hubcaps.

I grilled a rack of ribs, corn on the cob, chicken breasts for Amanda, and four skewers of veggies. We enjoyed the feast immensely, though Noah still isn't ready for messy food like corn or ribs. I took a nap and listened to the Indians game while the kids watched a video. After a light dinner I took the kids to Goodberry's where I enjoyed a mocha mountain sundae. That was a brownie with two scoops of jamocha custard, hot fudge, macadamia nuts, whipped cream, and a cherry. It was lovely.

Overall, it was a great day. It was a fantastic reminder of the blessings of having the kids. It may not always feel like a blessing, but it really is. Apparently the Psalmist knew what he was talking about.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Pookie Evening

I had planned on taking Noah and Lily to Red Robin as a combined celebration. Noah got a free kids meal for his upcoming birthday and I wanted to celebrate Lily's excellent report card. Amanda was not feeling well, so it seemed like a good idea. The problem was that I then wanted to combine it with a trip to Sam's and Wal-Mart, which Lily did not like. She ended up staying home with Amanda and reading in her room.

Noah and I ended up eating at the McDonald's in Wal-Mart. He loved sitting at one of the high tables and watching everyone. We took care of our business and then went to Sam's for dessert and more shopping. I had a 4-berry sundae and Noah got a chocolate milkshake. At the table next to us was a woman who was probably in her early 50s with a man I presumed to be her dad in his 80s. As they got up to leave he came over and complimented Noah as a "fine young man" or something like that. Then he gave Noah a quarter for his piggy bank. Noah thanked him as did I.

You can understand how this happened when you look at this photo. It doesn't get much cuter than that!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Wet Summer

So far the summer vacation is off to a good start. That is because Amanda has found ways for the kids to go to a pool most days. Yesterday they went over to the McKenzies' house to watch Brenna while Tiffany got ready for their trip. The weather has been much milder lately and the kids have enjoyed the time in the pool.

Noah is making great strides in the water. He can now take a deep breath and dunk his head completely underwater. He jumps in from the side of the pool to Amanda and she lets him go under. Lily is swimming around like a little frog girl. They're hoping to spend time at Scott's pool today.

Meanwhile, Noah and Amanda just completed day 15 of this book. He is soaking it all up like a sponge and we are delighted. Amanda has a routine where they do this every day and it seems to be working. I'm here to tell you that reading at an early age is a good thing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer Days

We're two days into summer vacation and so far things have gone well. Amanda has a routine where the kids start off the day with some chores and educational time. Amanda is teaching Noah how to read with a book that is supposed to work with 100 steps. That may sound like a gimmick, but Noah eats it up every day. He's probably going to be reading by the time preschool starts, if not shortly thereafter.

Today they went to Lake Crabtree to enjoy the stretch of mild weather we're enjoying this week. Noah got to play with his friend Scott and Lily took Katie from up the street. A good time was had by all.

Tomorrow Amanda gets to drop the kids off with a friend and she plans to use the morning to take the kayak out on Lake Crabtree. It's not every June day that the low dips below 60, so we've got to take advantage of these times while they last.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Moving On

Friday was a big day for Lily. It was the end of second grade, which is a milestone to be sure. We understand that third grade is going to be tougher and more will be expected of her regarding personal responsibility. That is likely to be her biggest challenge. The good news is that she finished second grade very well. She got a 3* in reading and 4s in both math and science. They gave us the results of some kind of standardized reading test and she scored well above her grade for reading. Once again, we give a lot of credit to her teacher Mrs. Slocum who forced her to read a lot this year. She has developed a hunger for books, which is something that is kind of expected in our household.

The other big thing is that she lost another tooth. This was the incisor on her left next to her front teeth. Now her smile is symmetrical, which is good. She is kind of at a Hermione Granger stage where she needs to grow into her front teeth. That is not the big deal though. What is a big deal is that she didn't want to leave the tooth under her pillow for the Tooth Fairy. She had a long conversation where she accused Amanda of putting money under her pillow. Amanda could honestly say that she never put money under Lily's pillow. Lily is on to us though. That's fine with me, though it is one more way in which she is growing up.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Social Butterflies

Amanda and Noah had quite a day yesterday. It started with 9:00 AM playdate at Bond Park. This was Amanda's week to watch a friend's kids, which she likes to do at a park when possible. This week they added Noah's friend Scott to the mix so that his mom could work at his older brother's field day. Amanda said that everything went really well, though Noah did push Scott down once. Noah got a timeout for that one. There's a fine line between physical play and being too rough and Noah and Scott don't have very good boundaries for that.

After they finished at the park they headed over to Aunt Tiff's pool to hang out with her, Aunt Nat, and Clark. They spent a good bit of the afternoon there. Noah is getting braver in the water and went so far as to dunk his head completely under. Amanda plans for him to get some swim lessons this summer along with Scott.

Lily got to eat dinner at Katie's house, which led to greater peace in the afternoon. After Amanda, Noah, and I finished dinner we all went to the Streets and Southpoint so Amanda could do a little shopping. The kids got to bed a little bit late, but overall it was a good day. Today should be a little more calm since all Amanda wants to do is work on an end-of-year gift for Mrs. Slocum.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Yesterday was Amanda's birthday and we packed in quite a bit. It started when I brought her some breakfast in bed that is also compatible with her diet. This was a slice of french toast covered in melted dark chocolate with sliced strawberries on top. After getting Lily off to school I took Noah shopping to Wal-Mart and Sam's. Noah got some pool toys which should come in handy this summer.

After that Noah and I went to a friend of Amanda's house where I watched Noah and their five year-old son and the ladies went out to tea. Sadly, the tea room was disappointing, but they enjoyed their time together. Since the tea room was a bust I got some take-out from Biaggi's and we took it as a picnic to Lake Crabtree. Amanda and Lily went out on the kayak and I took Noah to the playground.

Noah Being Brave
The photo above is a landmark moment in Noah's playing life. Those little platforms are maybe two feet off the ground and are a bit wobbly. I think that is intentional as they help to develop balance. At first I had to hold his hand as he walked across them. But as time wore on he became more confident. Amanda was pleasantly surprised by the news that he did this.

Next to the playground there was a girl practicing volleyball with her dad. Noah actually found that more interesting than the play equipment. He loved it when their ball went into the woods and I retrieved it for them. He wanted to retrieve it and throw it, but I don't think he understands how hard it is for a little guy to throw a volleyball.

We retrieved the girls, loaded up the kayak, and then came home for bath and bed. Amanda was fast asleep by the time I came to bed a little before 10:00. That's good because today will be a busy one too. More on that tomorrow.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Picnic and a Party

The first week in June is usually quite celebratory around here. We had Amanda's celebration on Saturday and our nice Brenna's yesterday. Brenna turned 6, which is kind of hard to believe sometimes. We started off our day as usual with pancakes and then church. After church we took a picnic to Apex Community Park. Noah was quite intrigued by the fact that they have batting cages there. They don't have pitching machines, but they do have the nets for pitching BP. We saw one father and son playing catch in one section, which is a great idea since balls tend to get loose and the nets would keep them from rolling too far away.

After our picnic we went to the McKenzies' and had some cookie cake and ice cream. We gave Brenna a snorkel set for her birthday, which seemed to be a hit. The ladies and Noah went to the pool while the uncles and dads stayed home and watched baseball. Apparently the only time Brenna took off the snorkel was when she let Lily borrow it. I guess we can call that a successful gift.

We came home and I took the kids back out to do a little last-minute shopping for Amanda's birthday. She is enjoying her kayak, but I think she should have something to open tomorrow. The kids got to eat out, which seems to be the most important thing to them.

Today should feature a trip to Noah's friend Scott's pool. Nathan may be coming too, but I'm not sure. All this sun and water helps to tire him out, which is good. Plus, we're fortunate that our children have a lot more melanin in their skin than I do. They wear sunscreen, but they still get a nice tan. You'll find me with a hat and under an umbrella.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

You Tube?

Yesterday I spent a good part of the morning humming this song, but with "tubing" instead of "surfing." We took Amanda for a float down the Dan River through Dan River Adventures. I made everyone some turkey and gouda wraps with pesto, roasted red peppers, and spinach. The kids got PB&J. The McKenzies brought chips and Natalie brought drinks. We met at the campground, got sunscreened up, and hit the river.

We had a lovely picnic on the river. The only negative is that we hit one of the three sets of small rapids while we were eating lunch. We also ran into a little trouble while enjoying Amanda's birthday cupcakes as we got drawn into some obstacles in the river. Nevertheless, we all had a great time floating down the river with the possible exception of Noah who didn't like the rapids very well. He called them "the waves." We tried to sell them as being the best part, but he wasn't buying it. I hope he has a better attitude the next time we go. We hope to hit the river again before the end of summer.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Date Night

We have date nights coming up tonight. I'm taking Lily to the Bulls game to see the Columbus Clippers take on the Bulls. Normally I would take Noah too, but I'd like to watch this game rather than spend all of it at the playground. I only really care about seeing the Clippers since they are the Indians' farm team and I know the names of many players. Lily is excited about eating hot dogs for dinner. We'll see what kind of treat we end up getting. I plan to put my foot down before we delve into cotton candy.

Meanwhile, Amanda is going to take Noah out. He says that he wants to go to Burger King. I'm not sure what his fascination with Burger King is, but he does like to identify them as we drive by. At any rate, he should be a pretty cheap date.

The only negative to this is the weather. It's supposed to be 95 today. The good news is that our seats are under a giant fan. I can't say that I'm real excited about the heat, but we'll manage. I'm also not real excited about getting Lily up for school tomorrow, but she will survive.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


One of the carrots I've used with the kids lately is playing Force Unleashed on the PS2. I had passed over this game a couple of years ago because I thought it would be too dark for Lily. It's still just as dark, but she can handle it now. Noah is completely nonplussed. We've almost finished the story, which has been fun. We are likely to go back through and see if we can find all the hidden stuff. It's also provided some good talking points with Lily as we see this character go from being a complete slave of Darth Vader to finding some independence and compassion.

The highlight of the evening was dessert. Amanda made a key lime pie with a meringue topping. We didn't have actual key limes, but the Sam's Club limes were just fine. It was good enough that Amanda even took a break from her daily chocolate to have this as her dessert instead.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Holiday Weekend

We had a busy weekend where I was not on the computer much. Therefore, I did very little blogging. Let me try to sum it up.

Friday evening we went to a small party where the kids watched Peter Pan and the adults hung out. It was originally going to be outside, but we had some really nasty storms Friday that moved the party inside. The kids got to bed late and slept in a bit, which was just fine with us.

Saturday we cleaned out the garage. That led to a trip to Goodwill as well as some trips to local stores to get some storage supplies. I assembled some steel shelving which should help with our clutter problem. We now have two trash cans chock full of trash and recycling. The local waste convenience area was quite hopping on Saturday, as you might imagine.

Sunday was church. I took the kids out for some errands and Amanda took her kayak out. That evening we met up with our friends the Stansberrys (the people with whom we are planting a church) for a little picnic and hanging out. The kids had a great time. It was another late evening that led to them sleeping in.

Monday I played video games with the kids in the morning, took Lily out on a mini-date for frozen yogurt (I've decided that Skinny Dip is the premier frozen yogurt place I've tried), and then took Noah to Dick's for a legitimate purchase. I bought padded hooks for the kayak so we can mount it on the wall of the garage and get it out of the way. I came home and we grilled some chicken breasts, corn on the cob, and purple asparagus. I never had purple asparagus before, but if you see some and like asparagus I cannot recommend it too highly. Even the thick stalks are really tender.

So why no blogging in the evenings? We spent the last three evenings watching this on Netflix Watch it Now. If you like Sherlock Holmes at all you owe it to yourself to watch it. Now we're just a little sad that we're going to have to wait a year to see the next season.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Singing and Dancing

The Northwoods PTA had its annual general meeting last night. We approved next year's budget, elected officers, and approved bylaws. Now we are members of the PTA, but not particularly active. Amanda volunteers to do "book and a bite" where she comes in to school to read to the class. Other than that, we have not been very active. So why attend this meeting?

The PTA does something brilliant. They coordinate with the music teacher to put on a little show so that at least one class will come to the meeting. This year it was second grade. I don't know if it's second grade every year, but it was this year. Lily had the option of not going, but how could she pass up an opportunity to perform?

She started off a bit tentative, but found her stride pretty quickly. She did particularly well with the little dance routine they had, though she hammed up one of the motions too much and actually hurt her arms as she slapped the floor. At any rate, we were very proud of her as she did a great job. She said that she enjoyed it as well. I'm pretty sure that Great-Grandpa Cole, Great-Grandma Cole, and Great-Grandma Chamberlain are smiling in heaven. She comes from a line of performers, after all.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Our Houseguest

Tonight is the last night for us hosting the little corgi named Piper. He is really a wonderful dog. He is very gentle with the children, does not bark excessively, and is affectionate as well. He follows Amanda around like a shadow.

But therein lies his one flaw. It seems that most of us are allergic to him to some degree. Amanda keeps getting sinus headaches. My eyes itch a little bit and my throat is scratchy. Lily keeps sneezing and wiping her nose. Noah seems to be immune so far, which is nice. It's great that he wants to be close, but we get into trouble with his dander.

I'm pretty sure that if we powered through this for a few weeks we would all adapt and feel fine. However, we are not going to have that opportunity. Sadly, Lily has not quite got sick of taking care of him yet. I was hoping that she would. I think it will take more than a few days for that to happen. But all of us sneezing and getting stuffy is more ammunition against getting a dog. I'll take all of that I can get.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Here are two videos from Lily's recital. This year the recital was "Wizard of Oz." In the first video she is a poppy. In the second she is part of the Emerald City. Look for her on the right as a poppy. Look for the dark green dress in the back at Emerald City.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Here are two videos from my graduation. The first is me walking to get my diploma. The second is a short testimony I gave about my experience at Shepherds.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Spring Fling

Yesterday was Northwoods Elementary's annual carnival that they call "Spring Fling." They typically have inflatables for bouncing, lots of music, popcorn, assorted treats, etc. Lily has enjoyed it to varying degrees in the previous two years. But this year she got to go with a classmate who invited her.Amanda said that she was pretty giddy when she picked her up.

I took Noah out for a milkshake since I had taken Lily out earlier in the week. Plus, Amanda wanted the house to herself. Noah has decided that he too likes Chick-fil-A's banana pudding milkshake. We split that, went to Sam's Club to get gas, and then hit Play N Trade just to hang out.

Today is a big day with Lily's dance recital. After that we'll probably eat a meal out to celebrate a successful end to another year of dance. After that Brenna is coming over to spend the night. And after that we are welcoming a very special house guest for a week. We're watching a corgi named Piper that belongs to our friends the Stansberrys. They have an opportunity to spend a week at the beach for free, so we're helping out with the dog. He's a great dog, but I suspect that he will send the adrenaline levels to 11 with the kids. That's OK as we don't have to get up early tomorrow.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Date Night

Lily had some problems with acting up while we had Grandpa and Bubbe here for their visit. I took her for a ride  and we talked about what was going on with her. Obviously she wanted attention and she was not seeking it in a healthy way. One thing we discussed was that she wanted to do more things alone with Amanda or me. Amanda and I agreed that this was fair as Noah tends to get the spotlight, which drives her crazy.

To that end I took her out for dessert last night. We went to Pink Frozen Yogurt, which is not as good as Marmalade Skies, but has the advantage of being a 3 minute drive from our house. Their flavors were better than usual this time as they had peanut butter and red velvet cake. We had a couple of great sundaes and enjoyed chatting. It was only a 30 minute date, but Lily said that she enjoyed it. That's the important thing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Right Place

I need to share a little story that came from the party on Saturday. We had it in a park with a shelter and there were some areas for the kids to play in around us. One of the highlights was a baseball field that was unlocked. The kids played some soccer in it, which was of course a lot of fun for them.

In between the shelter and the baseball field is a short sidewalk of maybe 50 yards. The sidewalk goes through a very narrow band of trees and slightly downhill. Basically, when they made the park they left some trees rather than cutting them all down. It is a nice little spot.

Through the course of the party I felt the need to periodically get a sense of where the kids were. I was surprised one time in my search for Noah. As I walked down this little sidewalk I found him standing on the grass near the woods. His pants and underwear were down by his knees and when I asked him what was going on he said, "I found a good place to poo."

Sure enough, he had left two little piles of poo on the ground. He managed to do this without making a mess of himself, which was quite something considering he just had to squat down. I retrieved some wipes we had and when I came back I found him very angrily shooing away flies from his two piles. He was very upset about the "bugs."

It's not quite like one of the more famous declarations of finding the right place, but this was much funnier.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New Groove

I apologize for the long silence on the blog, but the weekend was kind of busy. After my final final on Wednesday I went with a friend up to Wake Forest to get a loveseat we bought off of craigslist. On Thursday I ran some errands with Noah to use my day off well and to get him away while Amanda cleaned. My dad and stepmom arrived on Thursday evening.

We went out to brunch Friday morning, Sam's Friday afternoon, and then to commencement Friday evening. Saturday was dominated by a party at Bond Park. We had a mix of family, folks that I know from seminary, and friends from work. The weather held just long enough for us to get the party in. We went to church on Sunday, came home and had a big dinner, then the men and women did their respective shopping. Noah of course wanted to go to Dick's and grandpa Gary started scouting out a potential first rifle for him.

I was originally going to write that we're "back in the groove" now, but that's not true. The old groove for the past five years no longer applies. We are very thankful to move to this new stage of life. We know that church planting is a lot of work too, but it's a different flavor of work and will have a different rhythm. It's just nice to move to the next stage of life.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Social Butterfly

One of the benefits of preschool is that Noah now has a pretty good base of friends. Specifically, he is becoming pretty close to Scott and Nathan. He sees a little more of Scott because his mom has a kayak and she goes out with Scott while Amanda goes out with Noah. In fact, Scott, Nathan, and Noah are now known as the "Three Amigos" at preschool.

Nathan had a birthday party yesterday at the park. That meant another chance for Noah to eat pizza and cupcakes. As you might expect, he had a good time. I'd say that the only drawback was that he got some paint on his T-shirt, but Amanda can deal with that.

Life without the Wii is going ok for him. I do find that he has left the basement a bit disheveled most days, but we'll take that. In fact, he's probably going to be able to get the Wii back soon. Besides, he need show off his Mario Kart Wii skills for Grandpa Gary and Bubbe.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Early Mother's Day

We had planned on going to Falls Lake today for Mother's Day, but the weather forecast was not very good. On the other hand, yesterday was a perfect day to be outside. The humidity was low, the sun was shining, and the air was in the high 70s. We packed up a picnic and went to Falls Lake with the kayaks.

I can say that we heartily endorse the Beaver Dam area of Falls Lake. We had lunch at a picnic table right by the water. Then we got to work on the kayaks. The only negative was that Noah had to poop not once, but twice while we were setting them up. Amanda looked on the bright side in that he didn't have to while we were out on the boats.

Amanda and Lily manned the hard kayak while Noah sat in the back of the inflatable. It took me a little time to get used to it, but once I did I had a nice time. We spent about an hour and a half on the lake. Noah napped through most of it. I guess he wanted to be like Jesus taking a nap in the stern of the boat.

We had a great time as a family, but we were certainly tired by the end of it all. The way the day is shaping up today it may end up being something of a dud, so I'm glad that we got out yesterday. The important thing is that Amanda said that she had a good time.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Lily got to attend a particularly fun birthday party yesterday. Her friend Adele from the bus stop turned 7 and had her party at Marbles Museum. Amanda dropped her off to start and then I picked her up around 8:00. I hung around the office and got some dinner while I prepared for my last exam. I'm going to be very glad when that is behind us.

Lily was not very glad to see me when I showed up because she was having so much fun. The good news is that years of "it's time to leave now" and sticking to it has paid off. She was not happy, but she went and didn't put up a fight. She ended up not getting to bed until around 9:00, but that won't kill her once in a while. The problem is that she didn't sleep in much today.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Noah has been rather obsessed with Mario Kart lately. It has come to the point where he sees all of life in terms of Mario Kart. He basically tries to draw parallels to Mario Kart with everything he sees. We decided it was time for some detox. He has not been allowed to play it for over a week while he learns how to play with toys again.

Mondays are Amanda's laundry days, which means that they spend a lot of time together. She said that he did a little better with toys, but really took his media energy and focused it on mischief. I don't remember all the things he did. I do know that when I came home he had green dry erase marker on his legs. One of the problems was that during a time-out he decided to take a nap in his room. He then had to be roused to get Lily from the bus. That never goes well.

Lily has been a good sport about this media fast, though I suspect she wants to finish watching Liberty's Kids. Lily likes playing video games, but isn't quite as obsessed as Noah. I can't imagine where he gets this obsession from!