Category Archives: Normal Life

Rockets and Multi-Million Dollar Homes

From Family 2010

Over the past few months I have personally been submerged in some of the greatest work-related stress storms I’ve ever encountered. I hope the worst of it is over. To anyone who may have detected a sour note or two coming from my direction, I offer my apologies. Rochelle and the kids have handled it all very well, and we are glad to have pulled through the bulk of it.

Of course, during the mess, life went on. Though there isn’t much of anything exciting to share, I hope that this post can entertain you long enough to get to the end.

My favorite thing to do during times of stress is escape the chaos by retreating to dreams and fantasies where I retain more control over my world than I do in the real world. One of my favorite tools to do that is the computer, where I can run various “world creation” programs that give me complete control, total freedom and endless possibilities. I remember my father expressing a similar sentiment toward a blank sheet of paper. I was recently able to share this passion for my digital paper when Micah became interested in one of my favorite tools – Google SketchUp.

Earlier this week Micah and I sat down together and I walked him through the task of creating an object from scratch in the program. It was a tedious, often frustrating period spanning over four hours, but several times I saw him light up with excitement at how powerful the program could be. It is, in my opinion, one of the best, easiest to use 3D content creation tool. The best part is, the basic program is free. Here is Micah’s creation (he especially enjoyed adjusting the shadows by himself):

From Family 2010

Though I have used the program for many years, I only recently became interested in learning more about it. In researching SketchUp, I happened upon an interesting project the program is involved in. This project resonated deep inside of me, and I wonder what might have become of me had I had the opportunity to use SketchUp earlier in life, as a child.

Anyhow, for the last week or two I have been using SketchUp to build a dream house for Rochelle and I to build in Italy someday. It’s one of the most modest homes I have ever dreamed up, at a mere 18,000 square feet, but it is also only a rough draft. This time, Rochelle has been involved in many of the design decisions. We hope to reduce its size a tad and improve the design over the years. We are designing it around a single master bedroom and no bedrooms for children – we will retire there. It will, however, have two nicely outfitted guest rooms, and you, dear reader/friend/family member will be welcome to stay with us any time you wish.

Finally, by the next posting (or possibly the one after that in October) I hope to have video and photos of our first family camping trip and our next family project. We’ve begun researching local campgrounds and are waiting for a clear forecast on a mostly free weekend to get out and spend the night with the bugs. Also, we are pulling together the supplies necessary to construct a compressed air rocket launcher. While Estes rockets with their little burning engines are fun, they are also more of a hassle when you wish to launch – they require engines. If you’ve run out, you have to go to the store for more. While they aren’t all that expensive, the cost does add up over time. The compressed air launching system will be a little more expensive at first, but it will also be more fun to build, it will last a lot longer, and it’s practically free to operate. Rockets are made out of any paper you have lying around the house (reinforced with packing tape so they don’t explode when the air is released). We will document the whole experience visually and share it here afterward.

Books We are Reading


I’ve been spending most of my time working on the dream house or learning about electronics to make some small modifications to the compressed air rocket launcher design (today I calculated the values for the resistor I will need to prevent the 12 volt power indicator light I’m adding from blowing up on the 18 volt circuit it will be on). However, very soon I plan on attacking the growing pile of books I want to read. Newly added are two recommendations from a medical professional who has been seeing me regarding a few issues I was going through. The first is something about zebras and ulcers, and the other has to do with emotions.


When she is sick, Rochelle goes through books like a thirsty man in the desert. She finished a Harry Potter book in less than a day recently. I think she’s still finishing that series. Before picking Harry Potter back up for the hundredth time, she finished a book or two that she can’t recall because they weren’t great. She didn’t not like Peter Pan though.

How the Kids Are


From Family 2010

In all the excitement of the last four weeks, I neglected to have Micah write anything for the blog. I know you were really looking forward to another one of his candid, choppy contributions, but I promise he’ll have double the trouble ready for next month. School starts back up in just one more week, so he’ll be doing plenty of writing.

Actually, I can’t promise anything. Things could get crazy again and I might even forget to write. So scratch that. No promises except that we’ll try really hard.

As for updates, Micah has been excited because we’re letting him keep his handheld video game systems in his room. Therefore we haven’t seen too much of him lately, except that he does come down to watch movies with Sophie or go out with the family. He’ll also occasionally get on the computer and mess around with SketchUp or browse the websites we’ve authorized for his use.


From Family 2010

I really should have taken more video of Sophie for this month’s post. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any. If I had taken any video the first thing you would notice is that she’s talking a lot. I mean, she is super expressive, very funny, and dangerously articulate. She asks the funniest questions, has the oddest comments, and knows exactly how to get what she wants. She doesn’t always get it, but she knows how to request it.

Also, her ability to come up with random, vaguely funny saying has improved. Her old favorite saying was completely random: “Apple in the sky with Landon.” (Landon is a friend of hers.) I think that saying was born when we misunderstood something she was trying to say before she learned to pronounce words better. Today though she kept repeating the following: “Guess what? Hercules is going to fight… IN THE CAR!” She knows it’s funny, she loves to say it, and we’ve all heard it several times already.

Yesterday Sophie was walking around in her diaper when we noticed it was sagging especially low. This generally indicates that it needs to be changed. Wondering if she was poopy, we asked, “What do you have in that diaper, Sophie?” She responded, “My booty.”

Until Later

There weren’t many photos this month because I thought the camera was a goner at the beginning of the month, and we just didn’t do many photo-worthy things. The camera is working fine though, and we have some really fun plans for the next month or two, so watch our YouTube channel and Picasa Album for updates.


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Filed under Normal Life, Unexciting

Together Again

From Stuff That Happened: 2010 version

If I were to ask you what the ugliest car on the road was, what would you choose? Here, let’s do a poll:

I picked a random coworker (a female) and without hesitation she replied, “The Cube.”

Nissan Cube

I have to agree.

So for Rochelle’s trip down to Mississippi, we reserved a compact four-door car, but little did we know the place we were renting from didn’t actually have any cars to rent. They are a little Avis satellite location nestled into the corner of a Sears Auto Center store. They get their cars from… elsewhere. So, we show up and the lady at the counter suddenly realizes that she had no idea what vehicle she could give us. She called up her… other location and asked what they had in the compact four-door category. Nothing. Guess what Rochelle got to drive down to Mississippi? That’s right, the ugliest darn car on the road.

The funniest part about this is that we had just seen a Cube on the road a couple days earlier and both of us had commented unanimously that it is the ugliest car on the road. I hope Rochelle enjoyed showing it off to her family.

Funny thing is, the interior is just as ugly, gaudy and annoying as the exterior. I wish I didn’t know that, but I do.

While Rochelle and the kids were gone I had some time to myself, which usually drives me mad. Since I was finishing up a Network + class the first few days of their trip, I took the opportunity to play with our wireless router since I’d have time to get it working again before it affected anyone but me. It needed a few adjustments, but I had long since forgotten the administrator password. For a fun read about how I figured it all out and got it tuned up, you’ll have to check my personal blog. Funny thing about the whole experience is that I don’t understand a lick of Swedish.

Books We are Reading


I just managed to get my Network+ Certification, which involved lots of boring text to read. I’m preparing to take another big, required test for work (two, actually, but one doesn’t require any knowledge), so all recreational reading activities are on hold.


Rochelle is busy retelling her life story to a close friend on the phone, so I’m not going to bother asking what she’s reading right now. Last I saw she was reading something on her nook, meaning she must have finally finished that Anne series of books. I do know that, since I have been working twelve hour shifts lately and haven’t been able to read to Micah for a while, she has started reading that “Series of Unfortunate Events” book to Micah (the first one, obviously – or at least, I hope).

Next month I’ll cover more of what she’s read that’s interesting. For a moment I thought she was going to be done, but she just launched into another long episode that is going to last longer than I want to be awake. I’m glad she has people to talk to, because if she were talking to me (which would be welcome most of the time) I’d never get this done.

How the Kids Are


From Stuff That Happened: 2010 version

And now, for Micah’s segment:

There’s so much to write!

Sophie, Mom and I drove to Mississippi. So while Sophie was reading a book, I played my Didj (1). We finally came to Mississippi. It was a BLAST!!! My mom’s cousin Sarah played spy with me. Do you know why we played spy? Because my almost-aunt Emily (2) was putting on extra makeup (3). If you really know me call me S. A. M. (3) I got to touch clay mixed with sand. We went to a baby shower, and a birthday. We went to Ruby Tuesdays. We saw my two cousins. Grandma came with us! (4) We went home. Have a good summer, folks!

  1. The Didj is a little handheld game system made by Leapfrog.
  2. Almost-aunt because Rochelle’s mother has plans to marry Emily’s father.
  3. I don’t get it either.
  4. Rochelle’s mother accompanied them back home to Maryland, then she took a military hop flight back to Mississippi (she’s in the Army National Guard).

Lately I’ve been at work every time he’s written these things and he’s gone to bed before I could review them with him. Our next lesson is going to be on overusing the exclamation point and paragraph formation.


From Stuff That Happened: 2010 version

A few days before Rochelle and the kids went to Mississippi for the weekend, Sophie was supposed to be taking a nap one afternoon when it was discovered that she had stripped herself of all clothing, removed her diaper, and relieved her bladder on the carpet, creating a fun little puddle to stomp around in and poke at. I thought it was funny, Rochelle did not. The best part was, when I went to get the little girl dressed, I couldn’t find the clothes she had removed from her body. She was on the ground waiting for me to dress her and I asked her where her clothes were. She pointed to the closet and said, “Right there.” Indeed they were put away rather neatly inside her closet, packed into a drawer of her dresser. I was impressed. So was Rochelle.

More recently Sophie has become even more cute. She will now randomly announce, “I have a superpower.” When asked what the superpower is, she responds, “good.” She also tenderly puts her baby down for a nap. She tucks the doll into her big girl bed, turns on the CD player for the baby, and puts up the gate in the doorway so the baby can’t get out (well, she leans the gate in place, but does an excellent job). I’m telling you, every moment I spend away from this little girl is a moment I could have been witnessing something cuter than anything anyone else has ever seen.

She is also beginning to take more of an interest in potty training. She will now request a diaper change at the proper time (after doing her business, unfortunately). Sometimes she even asks to go on the toilet. If we don’t get to her the very instant she wants to go, she removes all of her clothes (not just her pants and diaper), climbs up on the toilet, and does her thing. Unfortunately she only does it for number one, not the other one. She did, however, hand Rochelle a nice, full, stinky diaper full of number two the other day. Luckily none of the poo strayed from the diaper.

Until Later

Last month was interesting. Micah, Rochelle and I all survived an awful 48 hour stomach bug that made us throw up like a cement truck laying the foundation for a new Super Wal-Mart. It was no fun. So, we shared it with our good friend on the day before her birthday (sorry about that again). Sophie somehow managed to dodge that illness, thankfully.

Tomorrow we’re going back to the pool. I’ll try to remember to take more photos this month. You’ll notice that this month all of the photos come from Rochelle’s album. A big thanks to her for doing something interesting enough to photograph, otherwise I wouldn’t have had any good photos for you.

Have a wonderful Summer month, enjoy life, and we’ll see you next month. Not physically, unfortunately, but we’ll see you nonetheless. On here, the blog. Just making sure. Alright, later.

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Filed under Milestones, Normal Life, Travels

Five Days Late

From Cell Photos 2010

Wow, where did the last week go? On the 13th I remember thinking, “I’m going to write up that post for the family site,” and it didn’t happen. Then one thing led to another thing and here I am posting five days later than I ever wanted to. While not an official rule, I always hope to have something posted for you by the 15th of every month. So, here is an underwhelming and unforgivably late collection of goings on from the Haddad family.

Yes, we’ve engaged in various activities of varying levels of excitement, but we have, on every single occasion, neglected to bring out the camera and record anything for you to see. I know, we’ve failed you, and I also know you don’t really care. It seems you can’t make up your mind. I understand your frustration, even if it is only the frustration that I feel, superimposed unwittingly upon you in the wildly distorted version of the world that lives safely confined to my head.

For any of you who are still wondering, I am no longer working the night shift. This is a good thing. As of a few weeks ago, I am working days again. There has been much rejoicing. Micah’s final day of school was last Wednesday, Sophie’s 6 month MRI was a couple of weeks before Micah’s last day of school, and the local pool is open so Rochelle and the kids have been visiting it with much frequency. So, with more details on all of that, let’s get into the individual sections.

Books We are Reading


I haven’t read any books in so long, it’s starting to eat at me. How can I call myself an intelligent person if I can’t even make time to read? I’ll get there, I promise myself. I was doing so well for a while, then everything fell apart. When I finally pick a book back up with the intention of finishing it, I’ll let you know.


She recently reread Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island, which she just finished today. I remember we purchased the entire set of Anne books a while back, and, though I haven’t been counting, I’m pretty sure she’s read every book in the series at least fifty times since we bought the set two years ago. She really loves those books.

Tonight, before going to sleep, she will have to read, which means she’ll be picking out a new book. This usually involves several long moments of agony, in which she wishes she could simultaneously read several books that she wants to read equally, all while longing that her book collection were vastly larger. She’ll stand for what feels like hours in front of the bookshelf, staring at its contents, and if she can’t find anything there she’ll turn on her Nook and browse through the many books she’s downloaded onto the device, or peruse through the online selection, carefully pondering what she might purchase with her monthly book budget. In the end, if she isn’t feeling terribly adventurous, she’ll make her choice from among a very narrow set of books that she loves because she’s read them a hundred times or more.

Never mind, she’s not done with the Anne series. She’s on Anne of Windy Poplars. She’s reading it right now, as I type.

How the Kids Are


I haven’t taken any photos of Micah recently, and I would go in and take one of him sleeping right now if it weren’t for two potential problems. First, he’s been staying up incredibly late these days. So, I don’t want to barge in there with my flash blazing if he is still awake or just falling asleep. Secondly, he has been very hot in his room, so he hasn’t been covering himself very modestly. Sure, he’s got underwear on, but you don’t need to see it. And if he’s asleep, and I take a photo of him, you’ll probably wind up seeing some tighty whities. I’ll get photos of him up for next month. Promise.

Now, his self written content. For next month, I’m going to try to get him to write a little bit more. Also, I didn’t get a chance to go over this with him before writing up this post, so I’m just leaving all the errors in there (though I’m changing the letters that look like other letters to reflect the intended letters).

Almost everyday my family goes to the pool. We just went to the shallow part and of coarse, we went to the deep end. (1) Then at school, we had a picnic. And we had the last day of school with a pizza party. And we had feild day. (2) Have a great sumer folks!

  1. Just to shine a little light on why this is significant to him – he’s developed a borderline phobia of deep water. I remember him carelessly splashing around in deep water with those floaty things on just a couple of years ago, but something happened since then. Now, when we take him into deeper water, he literally freaks out – getting very tense, clinging on to anything he can as though letting go will mean instant death, and he becomes incapable of reasoning. This is often accompanied by sobbing and screaming bloody murder. Last time we went to the pool together, just yesterday, I worked with him for over an hour (at my own expense, since I was the only one not wearing sunscreen) and got him to calm down enough to be able to reason with him a bit. Though he remained very nervous, I managed to get him out to the deep end without him clinging violently to me, and once he stopped screaming hysterically, he even called out to his mother to show her how brave he was being. However, I had to keep at least one hand firmly gripping him at all times, preferably two. Every time I changed my hand configuration I explained very clearly what I was going to do in a calm, loving voice, I went over how I was going to do it several times, and I made sure he was ok with it. Then, when I actually executed the change, he lost it and it took many minutes to get him to stop screaming. Hopefully, if I can work with him with any regularity, we can prevent him from developing a real phobia that carries over to adulthood. I certainly identify with his feelings though, because, as many of you know, I am currently dealing with a phobia of needles that I developed as a child.
  2. The picnic, pizza party and field day didn’t happen in that order. I didn’t get all the details on the field day, but I think it was just a big outdoor sporting extravaganza at the school. It wasn’t a field trip (which, to me, would have been much more exciting). Now that I think about it, I think they had their field day, then the picnic, then the pizza party. Not that it matters, of course.

Like I said, I want Micah to write a little more for next month, so if you have any inspiring questions for him to write about, ask away in the comments. He may complain about having to write more, but he loves the attention, and he doesn’t have any school work to worry about, so it’s no big deal, right?


From Cell Photos 2010

First off, Sophie had her six month MRI on Wednesday, the second day of June. She went down fine for the scan, but woke up afterward a little early due to a coughing fit. She had been somewhat congested, which was a concern with putting her under for the scan, but the doctors decided it was safe. She was safe, but the mucous had collected a bit in her throat, causing her body to want to eject it, inducing a coughing fit. She was still very groggy, and we had to endure a very cranky little girl for over an hour before she was able to show the nurses that she could keep fluids down and they let us go home.

The following Friday, I called to see what her scans looked like. They looked great. Thank goodness.

Other than that, she’s been very healthy and very happy. She enjoys going to the pool, and she has become a lot more vocal and expressive over the last month or so. Most recently, she has decided that she doesn’t want to go to bed on time. This is fine with us, as long as she plays quietly in her room. We put the gate up, sealing her inside, and for the first few days she would stand at the gate and cry for a few minutes until deciding that we weren’t coming. At that point, she would go play with toys. She would often take one particular toy that makes music into her bed with her and fall asleep listening to it. She’s very sweet.

The last couple of nights have been different though, with her deciding that she’d rather scream and cry than play and get in bed. Tonight I stood outside her door for several minutes listening to her cry like a mad woman before she started pitifully calling out, “Guys, come here right now. I’m crying. Pweeeeeeese.” Her voice was sobbing and whiny. It was really cute to me. Eventually, these calls turned into, “I need help. Please, I need help!” It’s quite entertaining. With it being Father’s Day and all, I decided to go in and comfort her for a minute. I held her, walked around her room for a minute, then sat by her bed until she fell asleep (which didn’t take long at all because she was really tired). That’s when I snapped the photo above. She always goes to sleep with her bear, her cat, and her Elmo doll. She is a very sweet little girl.

The other day we got some Summer entertainment equipment. The adults got roller blades and the kids got skates. We all have or purchased helmets too. Sophie’s skates are the type that snap on over the shoes. She loves looking at them and wearing them (they have Tinkerbell all over them), but not skating in them. She enjoys watching us skate, but she gets very nervous when we put her down on the ground with them on. I figure she’ll feel more confident after watching us get better at it for a while. I remember being very good at roller blading at one time, but now every time I strap them on I feel like I’m going to fall on my rump the whole time. It’s frightening.

Oh yeah, the only new video I’ve posted recently is of Sophie making silly faces. It’s fun, but it was taken on Rochelle’s old camera phone, so the quality isn’t great. Next time we go skating I’ll have to take some photos and video. And I’ll try to capture us doing other interesting things as well. No promises though, we’re still very busy with other life stuff.

Until Later

I know you don’t mind the post being late, but I am striving to post regularly enough that you can always come around the middle of the month and see the latest news. This month, I apologize for posting late, and I will do better next month.

Rochelle is taking the kids to see her family in Mississippi this next week, so we should have news and pictures from that trip to post next month. I would love to join them on the trip, but there is no way I can take any time off work right now. Plus, even if I could get away, it’s better for me to save the time off for later in the year when the holidays start coming.

We love all of you, and want to wish every father in our family a happy Father’s Day today (even though most of you are probably reading this after Father’s Day).


Filed under Normal Life, Sophie PMA, Unexciting

Off Balance

From Cell Photos 2010

I will do my best to keep the tone of this post from getting negative.

I will do my best to keep the tone of this post from getting negative.

I will do my…

You get the point.  This post is titled “Off Balance” because that’s the way we all feel around here. I’ve been on a night shift working from seven pm to seven am. It’s the same nice Panama schedule from before (two days on, two days off, three on, two off, two on, three off, etc. – I only work 50% of the days in a two week period). The only problem is, even on my “days” off, I still have to keep the same night-life schedule. I do not like the night-life, and it is not family friendly. I’m beginning to feel like a guest in my own home. This night shift won’t last forever, and when it’s over we’ll all feel better.

On a lighter note, let’s dive into some Haddad family news!

Some of you may remember that Rochelle got a Fitbit for her birthday last month. She has really been enjoying it, and it does a good job helping her track how much physical activity she gets and how well she’s sleeping. Her only complaint is that it isn’t an implant – there have been times that she’s gone out and done a lot of walking (like when she went with a friend and Sophie to an Air Show) but left the Fitbit at home. While she can go in to the online application and manually log the activity (guessing as best she can at how much and how intense the activity was), the Fitbit’s automatic tracking of your movements is much more reliable and easier.

So, she really likes all of the information that it makes available to her automatically. Apart from occasionally forgetting to put it on, she hasn’t had too many problems with it falling off. She hasn’t done any serious jogging outdoors with it on, so that sort of activity might be more likely to cause it to fall off. Knowing how much she detests jogging, I doubt we’ll ever know.

Hum… There really isn’t much else to report in the general notes, so let’s get into those sections.

Books We are Reading


I have made laughable progress in the Philosophy book that I am “reading.” Most of my reading time has been poured into catching up with my growing stack of magazines. The rest of my time has been spent on less productive entertainment endeavors. Basically, after midnight, I lose all motivation to do anything productive. I really want to sleep. No matter how much sleep I get during the day, it just feels wrong to be awake all night. Reading can often make me want to sleep even more. So, I just haven’t gotten much reading done.


Rochelle recently enjoyed Hunger Games and Water for Elephants (she warns it had some adult themes). She is currently reading Morning Glory. It is also after seven in the morning and I want to post this before I go to sleep. So if you want details or her opinions on any of those books, post your questions in the comments and we’ll get back to you.

How the Kids Are


Stock Photo (not recent) From Cell Phone Photos

Yesterday (1) I went to my friends (2) house to have a brownie sundae. I watched Matthew and Clay’s brother play a video game. Then Austin said it was time to eat a brownie sundae. Then everyone jumped up and eat (2). Then we left. (3)

  1. Yesterday, meaning Friday evening. Thus this was written on Saturday, for those of you who can’t do day math. 😉
  2. As you can see, I didn’t bother editing this. I will go over the mistakes with Micah later, probably when I wake up Sunday evening.
  3. Micah’s update is short this month for several reasons, most related to the basic fact that life is out of balance for us at the moment. He will likely be writing more about the past month, and you can look for that to be posted sometime between monthly posts, if not along with next month’s post.


From Cell Photos 2010

Sophie is probably the most exciting of all of us. Most recently, she is being weened from her pacifier. Rochelle and I had both expressed a desire last year to take the pacifier away when she turned two, but just a couple months prior to her second birthday she had brain surgery, and her comforting pacifier became more important than ever. We didn’t want to rip it away in her time of need, so we held off.

Shortly after her surgery, though, we did begin restricting the pacifier’s use to nights and nap-time only. This worked well, and she quickly ceased asking for it during the day. So, with my three-day weekend falling on this weekend, and since my night-time schedule requires me to be awake all night anyhow, we decided this would be a good weekend to take away the pacifier for good.

Friday morning when I got home from working the previous night, we took Sophie and her pacifier to the kitchen trashcan. We explained what was going to happen and why, then we had her help us cut the pacifier to render it unusable (she called it “yucky” afterward). After she inspected the two pieces, we had her throw them away in the trash. Then we took the whole trash bag out of the can and she helped me walk it out to the dumpster. We had her say her final goodbyes, and that was the end.

I went to bed, and Rochelle kept the kids busy enough that Sophie didn’t even get a nap in (so she didn’t get to see how well she would nap without it). Due to her excessive exhaustion, Sophie slept through the night without a hitch. When we first tucked her into bed she did ask for the pacifier, but we reminded her that it was gone. She recited, “yucky,” and, “trash.” Then she turned onto her side and went to sleep.

Rochelle and I were shocked and amazed. Maybe we didn’t need to have waited for me to have a three-day weekend at home after all.

Then, Saturday night came. Nap time came late enough in the day that she fell asleep on her own, never even asking for the pacifier. At night when we tucked her in, she asked for it again. Once more I said it was all gone. She said, “go get it.” I said, “it’s in the trash, remember?” She said, “yucky.” I said, “that’s right. You’re a big girl now and you don’t need it so we threw it away.”

She went to bed right away after that. Another amazing night? No. Around midnight she began screaming and crying. Our air conditioner runs so loud that I didn’t hear Sophie until the screaming got really intense. By that time Rochelle was already out of bed trying to comfort the little girl. I relieved her of duty and tried to calm the hysterical princess myself.

“What do you want?” I asked.


“It’s gone, remember?”

Her screaming intensified. I decided to avoid that subject, but she continually brought it up.

Eventually, I got her to lie down on my chest (like she did when she was a little baby). She protested loudly at first, but eventually calmed down and got comfortable. We talked about what she might want to do the next day. Coloring on the sidewalk with chalk is fun. Singing songs can be fun. What songs would you want to sing? ABC song. Popcorn song. Twinkle Little Star song. Our conversation went on for a little longer. I also deliberately avoided talking about anything on the television, because somehow she is smart enough to know that I’m awake anyway, and if I deemed it necessary, I could take her down to watch a show until she fell asleep. I didn’t want to set that precedent though since it would not be an option for Rochelle when I am at work. Eventually Sophie said, “I’m sleepy. Sleep in bed?” After tucking her back in she quietly asked, “Pacifier?”

I ignored the inquiry, asking her instead about her plans for the morning again. We talked a little more. Eventually she told me “good night.” She asked for several kisses, gave me some kisses on my scruffy cheeks, and I left quietly. Our stairs creak horribly. You can’t sneak up or down them unless you’re floating. I did my best.

An hour later she cried out. I called softly up the stairs, “Go to sleep, Sophie.” She did, I guess. It’s now just after one in the morning. No longer am I amazed. This is what I expected the first night, and after that impossibly perfect night, I began to suspect that the second night might be the hardest. I was right. I’m also beginning to wonder if skipping the nap for a while might make night time sleep easier on everyone. I’ll bring that up with Rochelle in the morning. I’m hoping that Sunday night will go better, because Monday night I work. I hope we haven’t opened a can of worms with this. If Monday night is still hard, Rochelle will be on her own until Wednesday night.

In other Sophie news, we finally got some great video of her singing. It’s almost three minutes of super-cuteness.

Also, and I’ll try to get video of it for next month, Sophie is starting to whistle fairly well.

Within the next couple of months we will be taking her in for her six month post-operative MRI. We are somewhat nervous about this one. Not because of anything we’ve observed in Sophie, but because most of the surgery related inflammation should be largely gone, and if they see anything unusual it will be a tumor. We are confident that she has been healthy and normal, so we are 70% confident that she will be clean. There is so much that we do not know though, and we are constantly praying for the best. We also are aware of and grateful for all of your prayers.

Until Later

I just haven’t had a lot of time to make notes of what is going on, so most of this is straight from memory and I’m afraid I’ve left out some good stuff that has escaped me.

As always, we appreciate your readership and love.


Filed under Milestones, Normal Life, Sophie PMA


From Family 2010

Wow. It feels like so much has happened in the last month, but when I try to think about the details, there really isn’t much to tell.

For me, one of the most exciting events of the month took place today. After owning our 2003 Ford Taurus for about a year now, I finally got around to figuring out how to set the door keypad code. I always thought it would be horrible to have that keypad by the door handle laughing at us in the event that we locked the keys in the car – taunting us with the promise of being able to unlock the car if we had only received the code from the dealer.

Since we didn’t get any papers from the dealer with the code or instructions on how to reset the code (no manual was found anywhere in the car), I had to scour the Internet and the underside of the dashboard for information. Eventually I found the factory code, and fifteen minutes later (after several failed attempts) found the correct instructions for setting your own code. Now we have a code so that keypad can be useful if we ever lock the keys in there. No more locksmiths for our vehicle. Of course, we’re not going to lock the keys in the car, so I like to think of these as precautionary measures.

Let’s see… There’s got to be more to tell.

Ah, yes. Rochelle and I attended our first concert together on Friday night (the 12th). After discovering the wonderful world of Jonathan Coulton several months ago, I began following his blog and discovered that he was going to do a live show in Alexandria, Virginia (about half an hour away from us). So, we bought the tickets immediately.

We had so much fun. Even his opening band (Paul and Storm), the wild card of the evening since I couldn’t find any solid info on them, was a bunch of fun. They are, to me anyhow, primarily a comedy duo with some pretty respectable musical ability. Jonathan Coulton is the other way around – a gifted musician who has some comedic ability. Overall, the evening was full of great music, healthy comedy (definitely rated PG-13 though) and decent food (the show was at the Birchmere).

Well, I’ll pause to think for a minute while you read about Micah and Sophie. Then, if I think of anything else, I’ll add it in the farewell section.

How the Kids Are


From now on I’m going to try to get Micah to write his own updates. I’ll try to prompt him to include things you’ll be interested in, and if you leave questions in the comments, I’ll have him answer them next month.

Without any questions or prompting from me, here’s what he wrote this month (if you only read the bold text, that’s exactly what he wrote). After he finished writing it out on paper, we edited it together for his benefit. I’m including my edits here and making them apparent through the use of strikeouts, [brackets] and numbered comments/footnotes in parenthesis and italicised (1).Obviously, if he misses something of significance, I’ll include it in italics as an intro to his writing. Also, I’m hoping that, with time, his entries will get longer, because this month his contribution is meager, cryptic and… “fun.”

  1. Footnotes look like this.
From Family 2010

A few weeks before this week, I’ve been haveing fun watch[ing] my dad play Endless Ocean Blue World. Also I liked playing Wii Sport[s] Resort. The sport I liked was Swordplay.

School was fun. I got to play with the hundred block. I got to push the cart (1). You should read the books at my school. We went to [on] a field trip. We watched a screen (2) about The Star Who Could. It was fun.

There was a[n] MSA (3) at school. We sang to a 3rd grade and a 5th grade class. It was fun too. (4)

  1. The cart he’s referring to here is the lunch cart carrying all of the lunches that the students bring from home. The students all rotate through this position of “lunch cart pusher” and it was his turn recently.
  2. He meant video – he decided on “screen” after pondering for several minutes about what to call it.
  3. He wasn’t sure what the MSA was since only the older kids participated, but when I guessed “Maryland State Assessment” he recognized it as the correct meaning of MSA, though he still didn’t know that there was any testing going on.
  4. Notice how he failed to mention anything about getting in trouble in school TWICE in the last week? He had been doing quite well for a while, and then, last week, something inside him snapped. We’re working with him, and he didn’t do anything too terrible, but it was an unwanted surprise after so many days of doing so well.


From Family 2010

Not much to report on Sophie. She can tell you everything I can’t if you just check out this video of her reading, and the new pictures I added to our Family Album (new photos can always be found at the end of that album).

If you recall, Sophie will be having MRI scans every three months this year, and she had her first one since the surgery last Monday. Within a few hours of the MRI, we were lucky to have our surgeon call us. He had seen the scans, and even though the radiologist hadn’t issued the “final reading,” they had spoken on the phone and they agreed her images look great. Everything appears almost back to normal. There is a bit of inflammation around the area of the surgery (not scar tissue, just the brain’s reaction to being poked around in), but it was much worse right after the surgery than it is now, and Dr. Magge believes it will be almost gone by the six month scan.

There were no other abnormalities present in the scan. All of the cavities, drainage pathways and everything else were in the right place, they were the right size, and there were no signs of new tumor growth. We were relieved.

Of course, that’s just one small leg of the journey ahead.

In other Sophie news, a couple of weeks ago Sophie had a “big girl day.” She went a whole day without soiling a single diaper. She had several instances of urinary tract activity, and even had a rectal egression. She did well, but the next day and ever since, she’s returned to her casual, indifferent relationship with the toilet.

Until Later

I remembered a couple more things to share before I let you go.

Micah and I did some work on our table last weekend. The table had two sliding ends to accommodate extension leafs, but we didn’t get the extenders with the table when we bought it used. This left a part on each end of the table for Sophie and Micah to pull on and play with, and one side never quite went in all the way, leaving a crack for food and spills to fall into.

So, I got some bolts and had Micah help me secure the sliding parts underneath the table. He had a good time, and learned a little in the process. That day ended up being one of the best he and I have had together this year (so far). To round it off that evening, we played a few minutes of a new Nerf game we got for the Wii.

As he mentioned in his section, Micah has enjoyed watching me play a game I got to help manage my stress levels. When I get home from work, sometimes I can be a little edgy with people, and I don’t like it. So, after doing some research and finding that this game has some therapeutic value, I bought the newest Endless Ocean game.

Oh, and Luke? If you don’t have it, you should get it! (You can train and dive with dolphin friends/partners! I named my first one Gandolphin.) When or if you have it, we can dive together over the Internet and use Wii Speak to chat while we dive. I think it would be fun to try sometime, so give me a call when you’re ready. Seriously, at $30, this game is too cheap not to get.

Anyhow, even Rochelle has noted that the game seems to have helped my edginess a little, and I have been feeling better.

If you have any questions that you would like to see Micah answer next month, please leave your questions in the comments.

Thanks for reading. Remember that we all love you, and we are grateful to call you a friend or family member (circle the appropriate response on your screen, but please don’t use a permanent marker if you’re borrowing my computer).


Filed under Normal Life, Sophie PMA

Christmas 2009

From Holidays 2009

In an elbow-slapping twist of irony, our car wouldn’t start this morning. The significance of our misfortune is that I wanted to write this post, and Rochelle wanted to go out. I feel bad for her, because she really would have had a good time going out, and I gave it my best effort to get the car running. Unfortunately I’m no mechanic, and the mechanic won’t be open again until Monday.

The benefit of this is that we get to reflect back on all of the many blessings we received this holiday season. Within one week Sophie went from having brain surgery (Friday, 18 December) to opening presents (Friday, 25 December). We were blessed with gifts from heaven and gifts from friends, Santa and family. So, despite our heavenly perspective on the way 2009 closed out for us, I’m going to share the most worldly aspect of the season with you. Here are some of the cool gifts we received.

Rochelle got one big gift from the kids and me. She has been needing a good set of knives for a while, and I recently read some reviews about a line of Victorinox knives that inspired me. So, she got kitchen knives. Of course, she didn’t only get this one gift. Her main gift was received and opened long before Christmas. She got a Barnes and Noble Nook. We pre-ordered it shortly after it went on sale in October, and it arrived around the beginning of December.

Christmas this year took me back to my childhood (in a good way). One of my favorite shows and characters when I was younger was Darkwing Duck, and Rochelle got me the volume one set on DVD. I also got a GameBoy game and a Lego set. It was a pretty rad Christmas for me, dude. 😀

All this nostalgia has really made me realize how much I wish I had kept all of my old toys. Come to think of it… I don’t remember getting rid of my old toys. I think my parents did that for me at some point (or at various points in my upbringing). I think I shall attempt to box up my children’s most iconic toys in anticipation of them becoming all nostalgic like I have been for the last year. At times I can use eBay to track down the things I once had, but many of my old toys are going for over $30 for an opened, damaged toy with parts missing that I got for less than $10 brand new. Especially the Darkwing Duck toys I had. They are extremely difficult to find.

In addition to the Children getting gifts from Santa, the family also received a super-cool gift from Santa. We got Wii Sports Resort. It’s a lot of fun. If you have a Wii, you should check it out. Also, the family got a big board game that you spread out on the carpet. Oh, and we got the Kung Fu Panda movie. Sophie likes it. She says, “panda.”

If you’re not using a dial-up connection (ehem, Grandma) and you’ve got some time, you should head over to our YouTube channel where you can watch a mind-numbing 14 videos of us opening gifts and enjoying Christmas. If it’s easier for you, I’ve assembled all fourteen of them into a YouTube playlist that can be accessed via this link.

How the Kids Are


From Holidays 2009

Micah has been enjoying my Darkwing Duck cartoons, although we recently set up and loaded the new MP3 player that Santa brought him. Now he listens to the Darkwing Duck intro song and the Pokemon TV show theme over and over again (despite the fact that I loaded almost two dozen fun songs on there). He’s also been reading the Pokemon book we got him, and he likes it when I take out and fly the little remote-controlled helicopter his uncle got for him and me to enjoy together.

Tonight, fifteen minutes after we put the kids to bed, I had to go check on Sophie (who was calling my name from her room). As I passed Micah’s room on the way to check on Sophie, I saw light coming from under Micah’s door. Upon peeking inside, I saw him lying awake on his belly with his feet toward his pillow (obviously not the position of someone who has the intention of going to sleep soon) listening to music on his MP3 player.

Soon, on nights when he doesn’t have school, we’re planning on becoming a little more lenient on his bedtime routine, but for now the rule is that when we tell him to go to bed, the lights should be out and he should be trying to fall asleep. He’s been really good about it for a long time now (only occasionally do we find him still awake when we go to bed a few hours after his bedtime), but the temptation to listen to the Pokemon theme and the Darkwing Duck song over and over again was just too great to resist. When I asked him what he was doing, he said, “I, uh, um. I was, um. Uh. Well, I … um. I was just, um.” This vocal performance was the tune to his dance routine, erect on his tiptoes and teetering from side to side like a street performer on stilts. I cut the performance short (as he was obviously failing at attempting to formulate a suitable lie to justify the situation) and I informed him that the rule of turning the light off and going to sleep when we send him to bed was still in effect and that his next offense would bring the immediate confiscation of his MP3 player.

Micah also got a cool Nintendo hat that we picked up in the Nintendo World Store in NYC, two Pokemon books, some Lego Star Wars figurines with magnetic stands for sticking them to things, the first three Pokemon movies on one disk, and a Superman action figure.


From Holidays 2009

Sophie is doing really well. I am obligated to inform you that her recovery from brain surgery is going well (in the photo above her wound looks worse than it was at the time, and a week later it looks much better still) and there has still not been any word from the lab on her biopsy report. This is most likely due to the holidays. I am sure that the report is complete and sitting on the desk of someone who is on vacation. As soon as I have the results, I will let people know. At the latest, you can look for our normal January post (should come around the middle of the month) and I will include the results there.

If you saw our Christmas YouTube videos, you know that Sophie really had a good time opening presents. She was tired because we did it first thing in the morning, but she had fun (and got really proficient at getting at the goods under the wrapping paper). Perhaps her favorite gift is the new Tinker Bell movie we got her.

I believe I’ve mentioned before that Sophie “likes crying.” Every time she hears or sees crying (or something that she believes looks like crying) she says, “I like crying.” Even after she’s been crying for a while, the first thing she says (usually) is, “I like crying,” or, “I crying.” In this new Tinker Bell movie, Tinker Bell actually cries. This makes Sophie extremely excited. We’re still puzzled about why she loves crying so much, but we never would have dreamed that Tinker Bell would actually cry in this new movie.

From Santa, Sophie received two boxes of her very own Duplos. She likes the one with the little animals the best. She had been getting into Micah’s Duplos for so long, it was getting to the point that she needed some of her own. She loves playing with them, and because we don’t let her play alone in her room yet, her Duplos are all over the house. Now it’s Micah’s turn though, as he plays with her Duplos all the time but doesn’t ever pull his own out.

She also got a bunch of other various Tinker Bell products (not too many), a set of Disney Princess board books, two puzzles, a Grover doll and an Elmo/Cookie Monster ball (from Sesame Street). She loved all of her gifts, and she is terrified of the remote-controlled helicopter that Micah and I got.

Until Later

Well, between the time that I began writing this in the morning and now, the car issue has been resolved. We replaced the battery (it was getting old anyway) and the car works great now.

I want to remind you that the Christmas videos aren’t the only way to see our Christmas morning. I posted a few more photos to the Holidays 2009 album that you should check out.

Also, I wrote two posts on my other blog that you may want to read. The first one is a short, text-only story about a special feeling I had Christmas morning. The second is a post with lots of embedded videos (and almost no text – it’s not dial-up-friendly though) that I think are funny.

Finally, as you may already know, my NaNoWriMo story this year was another winner, and this time I actually liked what I wrote (mostly). Once again, I’m self-publishing the book. I wouldn’t dare encourage anyone to purchase the book I wrote in 2008, but my 2009 book is actually something that (if you find the premise interesting in the least bit) I think it’s worth paying the money to read. I could be horribly wrong, so don’t get upset with me if you buy it and don’t end up liking it. All I’m saying is that I’m proud enough of it to deliberately provide you with the link to the e-store where it will go on sale later this month. If it seems like your cup of whatever you like to drink, I would like you to consider making the purchase. I get something like five whole dollars (not Euros, unfortunately) every time someone buys it at my e-store, and two or three dollars when they buy it on Amazon. So don’t buy it on Amazon. 😀

OK, thanks for enduring my shameless self-tooting pitch, and thank you for taking such a sincere interest in our family. We are forever grateful for your prayers, thoughts and smiles. We love you. We really do. ‘Till next time.

1 Comment

Filed under Holidays, Normal Life

Let the Holidays Begin

From Holidays 2009

This is mostly a time of finishing. I finished my NaNoWriMo novel (which is why I haven’t updated here in so long), we finished our Christmas shopping, I finished waiting to get an awesome phone, we finished waiting for the New Super Mario Brothers for the Wii, and we’re nearly done waiting for Rochelle’s Nook.

We love the new Mario game. Sophie loves watching (she says “yario” for Mario and “peetch” for Princess Peach), Micah loves playing (even though he loses all five of his guys in each level and has to use a new continue every few minutes), and Rochelle and I play with or without the kids and still have fun. In this game they really went back to what made the original Mario fun and added a whole lot of even funner stuff. It’s really a great game.

Check our new Holidays 2009 album from time to time until sometime around January. Also, we got a few more videos up to YouTube, so check our channel out. A final note before talking about the kids, notice in the side bar that you can now subscribe via e-mail if you like. WordPress has made the feature especially friendly for non-WordPress users, so that all you have to do is type in your e-mail address and hit the “Sign me up!” button. Any time you want to stop your subscription, they’ve made that easy too. So try it out if you don’t want to use an RSS feed reader.

How the Kids Are


This month Micah got to present a project of his on his school’s morning news production. His class had a long lesson on habitats and he made his report/project about scorpions in the desert. Then he got to tell his whole school about it on the television in the morning. Rochelle got to go see him do it. She said he got super nervous and bashful in front of the camera. Funny, because that’s the opposite of what he does when I hold a camera around him.

We’ve seen excellent improvement in the areas of telling the truth and working harder at school. Overall I’ve been very proud of him lately.


Sophie is a booger. She’s really been exploring how to use words to communicate. Sometimes her efficiency at letting us know what’s going on is a little scary. She’s too cute and I just can’t think of a good way to tell you about her other than pointing you to our photo albums and YouTube channel.

Until Later

Look forward to more holiday posts (we should have one about our Christmas tree soon, once we get it up), watch our photo albums, and don’t forget you can get automatic e-mail notification of new posts using the widget in the upper-right-hand corner. We love you.


If you haven’t seen it yet, check out our Santa Letters.


Filed under Celebrations, Holidays, Normal Life, Site Changes