Monday, February 27, 2012

Playing Tough

We had a very nice day yesterday. After church we finally went out to the Japanese steakhouse to celebrate Lily's report card and my ordination. A couple of families from church joined us, which was very nice. The kids all enjoyed the show, though Noah was a little scared about the fire. It doesn't get much more fun than a volcano coming out of an onion tower. It even smokes nicely after the oil finishes burning.

The weather was nice and mild, so Noah and I played outside while Lily rode her bike and then played with her friend Katie. We threw the football, practiced his bike riding, and played catch with what he calls "target ball." This is where you hold a plastic disc that has velcro on the inside and use that disc to catch a particularly fuzzy tennis ball. Noah is not so good at catching, but the boy can bring it. He's still not that good on his bike either, but we are very thankful for the balance buddy loaned to us by his friend Scott's family. Given his general athleticism, I'm kind of surprised that he is not taking to bike riding more quickly, but we'll keep practicing.

Amanda took a little nap and did some reading while I watched Searching for Bobby Fischer with the kids. My hopes were realized when Lily decided that she wanted to play chess after watching it. We set up a game where she got 10 minutes and I only got 2. I beat her the first time, but lost the next two on time. She's really enjoying this so far. She liked the bit in the movie where when you take the opponent's queen you hit the button on the clock with the queen. Since we're using my phone to keep the time we won't be doing that.

I certainly don't expect her to be a USCF champion or anything. I doubt she'll ever play in a tournament. But I do think that she could be fairly good since she has a sharp memory and is good at spotting patterns. It may help her learn a little patience too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Snow Day

We had our first snowfall of the winter Sunday night. Amanda and I were watching some Star Trek and the rain started sounding really intense. Turns out that is because it was transforming from rain to sleet to ice pellets to snow. By the morning we had upwards of a half-inch of snow on the grass.

The kids were off school anyway for President's Day, but were still thrilled with the snow. They ate breakfast as quickly as they could so they could enjoy it. Lily begged me to get a fire going, so we had one as early as 8:30 AM. I got a bunch of wood from our neighbor, so we kept a fire going all day, though I had a couple of times when it needed to be resurrected. I never had to add paper though!

Lily enjoys the snow, but as with many things lacks a certain amount of toughness. She compensated by doubling-up her cloth gloves. She then kept coming in to rotate them. She would put 2 pairs on the fireplace glass to warm up and then wear the other 2 pairs. Meanwhile, Noah just went with his one pair. I don't know if that is being tough or just a boy who doesn't realize that you can address discomfort.

The big drama came when Noah got Lily in the face with a snowball. We explained to her that is the ideal shot in a snowball fight. Amanda then went on to explain how the worst is when someone puts a snowball down your collar. Lily took this information, made a snowball. pulled Noah's hood off, and jammed a snowball down his neck. Amanda was a little upset, but as I thought about it I defended Lily's ignorance to a degree. We forgot to tell her that it is a really rotten thing to do. She was sorry about it and Noah was then done with the snow.

The day ended up being sunny with a high around 50, so the only snow left was behind the house on the north side. It was fun while it lasted. I'll take that over lingering ice anytime.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Emotional Day

Yesterday was a big day for our church as it ordained two of us. Basically, what that means is that this congregation has affirmed that we are to be elders. We're also now licensed by the state to officiate weddings. Here is a link to some photos.

What you see in those photos is Jerry and me kneeling and having folks come up and say encouraging things and pray for us. Then the big group is the commissioning as we try to follow the model of the book of Acts in the laying on of hands to commission men to ministry.We don't think that any magic happens there, but there is some symbolism as we do this.

It was a really sweet time. When Amanda came up I really started to lose it. I don't think that the photos capture the puddle of snot and tears that formed as person after person came up. I was a wreck afterwards, but I wouldn't change it for anything. Amanda and I were exhausted by the time we got home.

The weather was cold and rainy, so we enjoyed a nice fire for the afternoon and evening. It was a really great day, but I am very glad for a holiday today to recover. For those of you who work in jobs not related to the Federal Reserve, today is President's Day.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Lucky Shot

Noah's friend Nathan came over to play yesterday afternoon. Noah normally has a standing Thursday playdate with Scott and Nathan, but Scott has pinkeye. Since Nathan's mom took Noah last Thursday when Amanda wasn't feeling well, Amanda returned the favor this week.

Nathan's valentine card was a paper airplane, so Amanda helped Noah fold his so the boys could play with it. When Nathan tried it out he did something remarkable. We have a hole in our wall that is maybe 1/16 of an inch from something that the previous owners had hung. I didn't even realize it was there until yesterday. Apparently Nathan threw his airplane and the point stuck in this tiny hole in the wall.

Of course, the boys tried to repeat this feat several times, but were unsuccessful. This is one of those things that just happens sometimes.Or maybe it was more like this.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Amanda made valentines for the kids this year by taking some photos and doing some clever arranging with Publisher. Lily thought it was a fine idea at first, but then when she thought it through she got upset because the cards read "LOVE." She was afraid that some people in her class would get the wrong idea.

There is still that one boy in her class who has a severe crush on her. I asked Lily if Christian Cooper tried to walk her home today. She of course didn't get the reference, but that never stops me.

She did report that Christian Cooper had a particularly nice valentine for Mrs. Dunbar. He crossed out Mrs. Dunbar's name, wrote in Lily, and tried to give it to her. Lily refused, so he put it back how it was. I suspect that Lily has the honor of being the first girl to like this boy as a friend.

On Sunday as we drove around town I played my blues station on Pandora. Lily wondered why the singers sounded "so mean about girls." I explained about how they had their hearts broken and were sad. I also cautioned Lily about to whom she gives her affections because these are the effects after breaking things off. We'll talk more later.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Clean Machine

We had a milestone event in our house last night. Noah took his first shower with Lily's help. We installed a hand shower a few weeks ago and Lily has really enjoyed using that. Apparently they "practiced" one night last week and then last night Noah asked to shower with her.

Of course, they got a lot of water outside the shower as Noah needed frequent breaks to wipe his eyes. The bath mat was soaked as were their towels. But they clearly had a lot of fun playing with the water. And, perhaps best of all, I could sit and read while they did this.

Lily asked for me to take video of the event. I simply told her "no" without getting into all the details of why I didn't think it was a good idea. Most "firsts" are good to put on the blog, but I'm in no hurry to go to jail.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


We helped out our friends the Stansberrys by watching their three kids Friday night. We also did a babysitting swap with the McKenzies for Valentine's Day, so we had Brenna here as well. If you're keeping score, that means we had a total of six children in our house.

I got some Little Caesar's Pizzas and baked some leftover cookie dough from Thursday night. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food and after some pretty crazy running around, the kids settled into their places. The youngest was 3 year-old Katie Stansberry, who ended up watching Cinderella with Amanda and me. The others ended up playing video games in the basement.

Of course, the evening had a few incidents. I had to rescue 6 year-old Ben after he got himself stuck on my pull-up bar. Katie managed to climb up onto the pool table and couldn't get down. This was after she found her way up to Noah's top bunk and couldn't get down. We didn't get anything outrageous like Jake asking to borrow a reciprocating saw, so it really was a good time.

The only downside was that it was the second consecutive night of our kids going to bed around 10:00. As she was getting ready for bed Lily seemed really frustrated. She asked us, "Do you have any idea how hard it is to control all those crazy kids?" I was really glad she couldn't see my face when she said that because I was rolling around laughing. She felt like it was her job to keep order.

Last night Bill and Brenna came over while Amanda and I went out. Lily got to bed at her normal time, which was good. I still think she and Noah are going to bed a little early tonight.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Work from Home

As Ernie used to say, "Don't you just love it when a plan falls together?" Of course, that was a quote, but it was one of his favorite lines, starting on their wedding day. Today was one of those days for us.

Amanda went to bed thinking that she might be getting sick and woke up with confirmation. She has had a sinus headache all day. Fortunately, in God's providential care, I worked from home today. I got the kids ready for school (though Lily pointed out that I failed to give them the inspection at 8:00 AM) and got Noah to preschool. Noah has a standing playdate with his friends Nathan and Scott (aka The Three Amigos) which was in jeopardy, but Nathan's mom picked up Noah from preschool and brought him back here at 2:45. He's happily using his electronics time now.

This evening we have our first small group meeting, so I will likely be taking the kids while Amanda convalesces. I'm baking chocolate-chip cookies, so I know that no matter what happens it will be a good time overall. Won't Noah be excited to find that he will be playing Wii or watching videos there.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Getting Pushy

As anyone with multiple children will tell you, the things you do for one will not necessarily work for the other. Our struggles with Lily are pretty well-known by anyone who has spent much time with us. Of course, this is always a surprise to folks who only know us casually since she can be such an angel too. It's all part of growing up.

Noah, on the other hand, has generally been easier. We have had one problem with him at school in that he likes to play rougher than some of the other kids do. Lately he has been getting into trouble with a classmate because he keeps pushing him. His teachers tell us that they do not see any signs of Noah being a bully, but that he just needs to learn what is appropriate. There is a time for tackling, but that is the exception rather than the rule.

He lost electronics for a couple of days after this last incident. That usually gets his attention pretty well. We'll see how it goes from here.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The 1%

We're having a gray and rainy day, so I built a fire and we're playing games as a family. First we played a game of Hiss. Lily won, which was fine with me since Noah barely let me get a snake the last time we played. It's a great game for Noah, but it does get old pretty quick for the adults.

After that we played a game of Monopoly, Jr. I was ready to occupy the theme park because I got cleaned out pretty quick. Lily wouldn't take rent from me because she knew that once I went bankrupt Noah would win. She also lamented how Noah just kept accumulating more money. We explained that is often the way of things. Unlike real life, Noah could not generate jobs or innovation with all his capital, so he was like a Dead Sea of cash.

Noah is the 1%.


I have a semi-regular tradition with a friend where we have a bonfire in his backyard with his accumulated yard waste for the year. The crowning piece of the pile is the year's Christmas tree, which of course makes the bonfire quite spectacular. The last time we did this was 2 years ago and Noah was a little scared when he saw the fire.

We did it again last night. I took the kids out to Clayton for the festivities. Noah was excited because he got to use his headlamp. This year's pile had 2 Christmas trees and probably 30' of garland on it too. I'd guess that we got flames a good 12' in the air this time.

When asked what he thought of the fire Noah said, "" High praise indeed from the Pook. We got some milkshakes on the way home to cap off the whole experience.

Friday, February 3, 2012

It's a Chore

As I wrote before, Amanda has implemented a schedule for the kids and for herself. This way the various household chores get done. It's gone well so far. The house is a lot more orderly and the kids know what they are getting into each day. Amanda prepared lists for them and so far, so good.

What's really great is that when either of them give Amanda any trouble she can assign extra chores. For example, Lily ended up washing the wallpaper and the baseboards by the kitchen table the other day. She actually seemed to enjoy doing it. We don't need for her to be miserable since we're just glad that she's doing the job.

Of course, we still have moments of hysteria from both of them. Noah tends to sob and run away when he gets into trouble. Lily can still throw herself a pretty good fit when the mood strikes. Nevertheless, overall it has been pretty good. Around the first of the year Amanda suggested that anyone who yells needs to put money in the jar. I feel like the various tantrums are easier to manage when we don't yell. Meanwhile, there are days when I think Lily will be able to single-handedly feed a whole village.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Explanation

I got an email back from Lily's PE teacher (and then ran into him at Aldi as well). He explained that Lily always gives her best in PE and that he really appreciates that. He also said that she always follows directions while some of the kids can get a little rambunctious during PE time. He appreciates that, so he bumped her grade a little bit.

It would be nice if Lily had that attitude about jogging with Amanda. Sometimes we wonder if we're pushing her too hard with this. She always has a horrible attitude when she starts, but then is sunny when she finishes. She usually announces that it was not a big deal by the time she finishes. Of course, anyone who has done much exercise can attest that is pretty normal. I rarely want to go out when I run in the morning, but I'm always glad I did when I finish.

We've decided that she is only going to have to do this until she can run the full loop without stopping. That is going to take several months at the rate she is increasing the time she runs, so we'll have time for this. Once she's done that she can choose to continue or stop. We hope that she will want to continue.