Sunday, November 25, 2012


Since we were going to be in NE Ohio for Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fun to do something seasonal that I remember fondly from my teenage years. The Cleveland Metroparks toboggan chutes are open for the season on the day after Thanksgiving. Amanda and I had done this a long time ago with my mom and Ernie and with the McKenzies long before any of us had kids. Amanda is always up for a thrill, so we made the trip out there on the way to visiting my stepbrother and his family in Fairview Park.

The day started out warm, which was contrary to the forecast. I got worried that they wouldn't be running because it was too warm even for the refrigerated chutes, but as the cold front came through the day stopped being Raleigh and started being NE Ohio in late November. 

I talked up the experience and everyone was excited. Lily got nervous when she saw that the pass on her zipper read, "Ride at your own risk." They were pretty scared at the top, but we talked them into going. We all went down together on the first run. It ended with Noah bawling and Lily on the verge of tears. That was Noah's only run for the day. 

I talked Lily into going again with me and she did, albeit reluctantly. She was a little less scared, but still pretty frightened. We went in for some hot chocolate to regroup. Since Amanda is the one who enjoys this the most I wanted to find a way for her to go down, so I talked Lily into going with her. The condition was that I would film her. Here is the result:

She was thrilled at the end of this. Then she decided that she wanted to go yet again! In fact, in retrospect her favorite thing about the visit was going tobogganing. We batted .500 on getting the kids into it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Date Night

In an effort to stay connected to Lily I am trying to make a regular practice of going out for coffee after dance class. It didn't work last week when the cafe closed at 8:00, so this week we went to our local Starbucks. As offensive as I find most things about Starbucks (there was an ad on the board asking for meat for the Carolina Tiger Rescue - if you hit a deer with your car give them a buzz!), it is a good place to hang out. We got a couple of hot cocoas, split a cinnamon roll, and played some Mancala.

Lily won the first game pretty handily. I think we tied the next, I won, then we tied. Finally, I won the last game. She had some master plan to beat me, but I foiled it. She is pretty good at that game and is ready for bigger challenges. We need to play more chess and backgammon. I think it's also time to get her into cards. Hopefully she can be the Cribbage partner I have longed for all these years. We will start with Crazy-8s and various flavors of Rummy though.

We had a nice time. I'm finding that it gets harder and harder to connect to Lily as she gets older. I can hardly talk about High School Musical with her, nor do I want to. This has been fun so far.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Family Day

As noted previously, we had a lovely walk in the woods on Saturday. Here are some photos from that walk.

Oreo loves a walk

Mom and her Pook

Imperious Lily

He insisted that we take this photo

This is unrelated to the walk, but as I am including photos I thought I would include this one. Lily's famously long hair needed some conditioning, so Amanda whipped up some goop from a recipe she got from Pinterest or some other online source. She turned yesterday evening into full-on spa time. Here is Lily getting the royal treatment.

Amanda putting a magnet to the toenails

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ghost Writer

Yesterday we had a bit of Indian Summer with highs around 70, so we took a walk in a local park called Hemlock Bluffs. It was a relatively short hike and not strenuous at all. In fact, we think it would be a fun one to do with any visitors.

When we got home Noah wrote up some notes on his thoughts on the hike. Lily took those and expanded them into a story. Here is a reproduction of what she wrote, spelling errors and all.

One day my family and I went on a hike at Hamlock (sic) Bluffs. On the first part of the hike we all stayed together then we seperated. Lily (my sister) went with Oreo (our puppy) ahead on the second part. Later Lily, Oreo and me raced. Lily would choose a spot to start then, find a landmark to stop. Lily would find landmarks like a sign, a tree or a bench. I loved running but, Lily always won with Oreo. My favorite character is Mario. I like to pretend to be him but we are very differnt. My second favorite character is Sonic, he is really fast. So when I'm him I'm really fast but, Lily still beats me. On the last race Lily told me to save my energy for the end because, it was a long race. At the end I asked if I should run fast. Lily said "Noah we're done." Then when we were walking back to the parking lot a ran really fast. I asked my mom "did you see how fast I ran?" "Yes you ran really fast!" said my mom.


So that was our time at Hemlock Bluffs as described by Lily. I think she captured the spirit of the thing.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Smart Girl

I'm especially proud of Lily today for a couple of reasons. Yesterday the kids received their awards from the Spirit Sprint. Lily got a card to Monkey Joe's (a bounce house) and one for YoLo (frozen yogurt). She found a classmate whose family does not like frozen yogurt, but they do like bounce houses. She traded him her Monkey Joe's coupon for his YoLo. Lily, Noah, and I ate dinner at Sam's last night and finished with dessert at YoLo. It was nice to get six ounces for free.

Lily got her first quarter report card today. Her teacher describes her as a "breath of fresh air." Apparently she not only does her work well, but she also helps her classmates with theirs. She got a 4 in reading and a 3* in every subject but science. Everyone got a 3 in science because they didn't do science this quarter. There are only so many hours in the day, so they use a portion of the day for either science or social studies. Last quarter was social studies.

Her AIG (gifted class) is doing a play based on the story of the Trojan Horse. They are going to act it for the first-graders. They had a choice between acting or using stick puppets, but they chose to do real acting. Lily is going to be Aphrodite. Before I knew that I asked her if she was going to be Helen since she is pretty enough for the role. Apparently she has gone one better by being a goddess.

The good news is that she is rather matter-of-factish about all of this stuff. It doesn't seem to be going to her head too much, as far as I can tell. It's probably going to mine more than hers. That is good in that she is not becoming too proud, but it is stuff when you set excellence as your baseline. Since both of her parents tended to strive for the A+++++ in graduate school, she comes by it naturally.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I'm working from home today and the kids are off from school. They didn't get up until around 8:00, which was just fine. Amanda was getting ready for her appointment with Noah's teacher and I was showering while Lily got breakfast together for them. She heated up some pumpkin donuts Amanda had in the freezer and poured them some milk. Shortly thereafter we heard a cry from Noah.

He came upstairs seeking justice. It seems that Lily took his glass of milk away from him. Lily then followed and explained that she heard Noah say, "I got the big one!" Apparently one cup had a little more than the other and Noah was happy to get more. Lily didn't like his attitude, which was somewhat understandable. Noah then said something like, "I was only talking to myself," or, "you weren't supposed to hear that."

This is reminiscent of a time when Amanda and I were watching a show and Noah was supposed to be doing something educational on the laptop. I got up to go to the bathroom and saw that he was watching YouTube videos. I said something to him and he quickly hit the power button. As he did it he said, "You weren't supposed to see that!"

I think we are going to have bigger problems when he gets older and understands more about being sneaky. Right now he is not subtle enough to be sneaky and we will use that to our advantage.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Halloween Photos

After much anticipation (mostly for Noah), Halloween 2012 came and went. Lily recycled another ballet recital outfit, while Noah wanted to go as Boba Fett. I'm not quite sure why he wanted to be Boba Fett, but he really got a lot of use out of the mask this year. Amanda also got him a small Nerf gun in a Star Wars style for him to carry. He had a lot of fun playing with that with Grandpa Jack too.

Our Spanish Dancer and Bounty Hunter

Amanda took the kids along with some of the neighbor kids. I stayed behind to pass out candy. I did make it a bit more festive by getting out the fire pit and making a campfire in the driveway. All the adults who came by appreciated that on a chilly evening. It didn't rain like last year, but it was still pretty chilly.

I'd say the only one who didn't enjoy the evening was Oreo. He hung out on the love seat and barked at everyone who came by. They didn't ring the bell, but they still got into his space. He didn't appreciate that much.

Pinterest represented in the middle

Now is the time to brag on Amanda's artistic flair a bit. She did the pirate pumpkin on the right. She also did the pineapple in the middle. She got the idea for that off of Pinterest, of course. Amanda did the nose for the one on the left, but the rest was all Lily's work. It's hard to be much prouder of my little artist with that.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fall Fun

There was a little Halloween/Harvest/Autumn festival in the shopping area of downtown Cary on Saturday. Amanda heard about it and wanted to take the kids, so we braved the pre-Sandy bluster and headed down. They had a bunch of little games set up for the kids so that they could win candy. Of course, everyone won candy every time, but it was still fun.

Lily excelled at the game where they had two big blocks of foam painted as dice. The idea was to throw a 7 or 11. It took her a long time to throw an 11, but she did make at least 3 passes. I want to take that girl to a craps table when she gets a little older.

Noah excelled at two games in particular. One was where you had to throw a beanbag through one of three square holes in a piece of plywood cut and painted to look like a 6 foot piece of candy corn. Noah threw one through a hole on his first try. Lily tried about nine times and I think she may have hit the wood once. The other game was one where you were supposed to bounce a tennis ball into a plastic witch's cauldron. Noah didn't know you were supposed to bounce it, so he just threw the ball into the cauldron from about 6 feet away.

We're not sure where it comes from, but the boy is definitely a natural athlete. He also seems to be something of a scholar in that he can already read very well. We just have to teach him how to dance and the girls won't stand a chance.