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!