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.