Really, Really Late

From Family 2010

I have AIDS. No, not THAT AIDS! I have Ambition Imbalance and Deficiency Syndrome. Sometimes I get a little overambitious, and other times I can’t muster enough ambition to even think about starting something. Often my ambition is killed off during the process of planning and anticipating an event.

For example, over two months ago I posted that we had some exciting things planned – and we did. And we did them. However, when it came time to do my favorite part – write about those events – my ambition was dead. I had planned on writing, I had anticipated writing, but when it came time to do it, I lacked the ambition to actually write about all the cool things we did.

So now, two months later, I’ll be scraping the bottom of my rusty memory bucket to attempt a portrayal of our exciting activities without leaving out the most important ingredient – the fun.

The first activity we had planned was the construction and use of a compressed air rocket launching system. The details of the build and our adventures launching the rockets can be found at my other blog in two parts. The first part details the building of the system and presents a few problems with it. The second part has some video of our launches, and includes solutions to most of the problems we encountered.

The cool thing about this system is that everything is reusable (no burning engines to replace for each flight) and the rockets can be made from common papers and things you have in your home already.

From Family 2010

Going out to launch rockets is a good excuse for a picnic.

In all, we uploaded five videos of the rocket launches ranging in length from ten seconds to a minute and a half each, plus two compilations – one lasting over two and a half minutes, the other being only forty five seconds. I suppose I could edit them into a single video for you, but I completely lack the ambition. So, instead I will take the time to list and link to each of them here.

Note that the first round of rocket launches were unsuccessful due to the rockets exploding. These launches were still fun though.

In addition to launching paper rockets, we took the kids camping finally. More about that under each child’s section.

The rest of the time since August has been spent doing nothing. Not really, but that sure simplifies the process of writing this post for you. I’d get input from Rochelle on what she wants to include in here, but it’s three thirty in the morning and I doubt she’d enjoy me waking her to ask what I should write about. If I don’t do this now, it won’t get done until next month.

Oh, and I’m not staying up late for fun – I’m on a night shift schedule this month. Hopefully, this should be the last round of night shifts for about nine months. I’m not holding my breath though.

Books We are Reading

Brian

Nothing. Still trying to tackle the ever growing pile of magazines that I subscribe to. My RAI (reading ambition index) is at a zero lately. I did manage to model a more modest dream home than the one I featured last time. Maybe I’ll make a video of this new one for next months post. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll actually start reading a book soon. There are so many that I want to read.

Rochelle

Rochelle has read or reread hundreds, maybe trillions of books since I last wrote, so we’ll leave this blank until next month when I will actually consult with her on what to put here.

How the Kids Are

Micah

From Family 2010

Micah has been struggling to come to terms with the fact that nearly everything Sophie does to annoy him she learned from him. I’m hoping he’s learning lessons that he’ll actually take and use from all of this.

Micah really enjoys the rocket launching, and he had a pretty good time on our camping trip. See for yourself:

From Family 2010

Really though, he had fun. He especially had fun when… well, I’ll get to that in a minute. It has more to do with Sophie than Micah.

Sophie

From Family 2010

Sophie also had a good time launching the rockets, and she was the one who insisted we take that cute picture of her and Rochelle above.

On the camping trip she was especially good and very cute (took lots of video – see the links below). She especially enjoyed trips to the camp restroom.

From Family 2010

We did have one minor incident on the trip though – Sophie burnt her hand while roasting hot dogs for dinner.

Funny story actually, she was really excited to eat the hot dog, and before we could properly instruct her on how to remove and eat the hot dog, she grabbed for it. The hot dog wasn’t what burned her though, it was the metal stick it had been cooking on. We had warned her that it would be hot, but she’s only two and these things are easy to forget. Actually, while she was still cooking the hot dog I decided to pull out my camera and take some video since everyone was doing such a good job and following directions so well. Just as I hit the record button, Sophie decided she couldn’t wait to eat any longer, and I got video of the whole thing. It’s the saddest camping video I’ve ever recorded.

Of course, when she dropped her stick it landed on Micah’s arm. While he tried to play it up for a bit of a bigger deal than it was, his burn was minor compared to Sophie’s. He looked like he got a light sunburn through a hole in a long sleeved shirt.

Sophie’s burn, though, was a pretty serious light burn. It wasn’t anything we had to go to the hospital for, but it hurt bad and took nearly a week to fully heal. After a little while she recognized it for the cool battle scar that it was.

From Family 2010

She had a great time climbing around and talking about Toy Story.

From Family 2010

Here are the links to the videos I took at the camping trip:

Finally, make sure you check out all of the new photos on this year’s family web album.

Until Later

Obviously, that’s not everything we’ve done for the last two months, but it’s more than enough update for you, I’m sure. If you’ve been counting months, you know that we should have taken Sophie in for an MRI recently. It didn’t happen yet, but we’re scheduling it this week (the referrals were just approved at the end of last week). As soon as we know what the results are, we’ll post something on this blog (just a quick update).

I can’t shake the feeling that there are big, fun things I’ve left out. Such is the nature of really, really late blog posting. I’ll be sure to post something next month. Thank you for all of your love and support. We love all of you, our dear family, friends and random Internet citizens.

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Filed under Exciting, Travels, Vacation

Sorry

I’m going to bed right now. That’s been the story for the last several weeks. My deepest apologies for not posting in the middle of September, but you’ll have two great posts within the next two-and-a-half weeks to make up for it.

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Filed under Supplemental, Unexciting

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

Brian

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.

Rochelle

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

Micah

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.

Sophie

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

Brian

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

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

Micah

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.

Sophie

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

Brian

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.

Rochelle

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

Micah

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?

Sophie

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).

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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

Brian

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

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

Micah

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.

Sophie

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.

“Pacifier.”

“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.

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Filed under Milestones, Normal Life, Sophie PMA

April Showers

From Family 2010

As always, we’ve had an interesting month. It seems we do everything humanly possible to avoid boring you with our monthly updates. To keep things particularly “banging” around here (just coined that phrase myself, if you use it please reference me) I’m adding a new feature. And to keep you guessing, I’m not going to tell you what that new feature is until you happen upon it by yourself.

In summary, I’m giving myself a headache trying to remember everything that we’ve done in the last thirty some-odd days. Micah and Rochelle both had and celebrated their birthdays. We finally finished accumulating the rest of our camping gear, and we broke it in.

In more detail now, late last month we held a party for Micah and some of his friends in honor of his birthday. That’s when Rochelle made the fun cake you see above. We also stayed up waaaaaay too late the night before preparing some pretty nifty decorations that are still up. The party went pretty well, and Micah got several cool gifts. Among them, he got not one, but TWO Nerf guns from us, a few action figures and books from friends, and a party that lasted most of the day and nearly hospitalized his dear parents.

On April first, his real birthday, we gave him an apparently disappointing card that contained nothing but a lousy voucher coupon to freely spend thirty of his parents’ hard-earned dollars at the Lego store. He was not impressed. We decided he will not be getting any more coupons from his parents.

Rochelle got some fun stuff for her birthday. The main gift was a neat little device that she never knew she needed called the Fitbit. She had been wanting a pedometer for quite some time, and was interested in some kind of device that would help keep track of how much sleep she was getting. So, I found a device that does both (and more). Plus, it has a very impressive, magical screen that you would never know is there until it displays something. Very cool. She has been using it religiously to track stuff, and it is helping her feel a little better about being capable of executing some kind of regular fitness regiment.

I also gave her a massive bag of Twizzlers for her birthday. You know, to offset the “healthy” aspect of her gifts.

Her birthday was on Friday, and that night we all unrolled our sleeping bags in the living room and slept on solid ground. The following Saturday was “Outdoor Survival and Enjoyment Day.” I’m proud to say I didn’t even touch the computer OR my phone all day long. We went on a mile-and-a-half walk, we learned about the contents of our camping day-packs and survival kits, and I surprised everyone with the fact that I had already purchased our tent. We set it up (which wasn’t all that hard) and slept in it that night. The kids handled everything pretty well, and we’re looking forward to setting up a real camping trip before too long. I didn’t take any pictures at all, so next time I’ll be sure to better document our adventure so you can see the kids enjoying the outdoors.

And now, for the new feature.

Books We are Reading

Brian

The truth is, I claim to love reading, but I don’t make nearly enough time for it. Part of my problem is that I love to read books that teach rather than just entertain. I read a lot of nonfiction, which can be dry while still providing barely enough entertainment to prevent me from abandoning it altogether. So while I may want to finish a book, I have to force myself to pick it up every time I read until it’s done, at which point I am glad I read it.

I currently have book marks in at least six books (and perhaps more that I’ve forgotten about) and I have a stack of four additional books by my bed that I intend on reading soon. In addition to those books, I have an entire shelf in my bookshelf that is dedicated to books I plan on reading as soon as I can. This is all just the tip of the iceberg, as I have hoards of books listed in wishlists online that I just haven’t gotten around to purchasing yet.

So, I just recently forced myself to finish a somewhat dry but very informative book by Alice Cary called “A TrailSide Series Guide: Parent’s Guide to Hiking and Camping.” It came highly recommended in other books I had read, and got rave reviews online, but it is out of print so finding it was something of a challenge. It is packed full of useful information, but you have to weed through the author’s exuberant love of hiking, which she assumes you share with her.

The most recent book I put a bookmark in and started reading is “Philosophy for Dummies” by Tom Morris, Ph.D. (fancy, huh?). So far I’ve learned that the word philosophy means “a love of wisdom.” Being one who loves wisdom myself, and being one of religious faith who is willing and able to reconcile whatever facts man presents with the truth taught by God, I’ve decided that philosophy is something that I might enjoy dabbling in. So, I’m reading the “For Dummies” introduction before investigating more serious books and classes, should I wish to do so.

Rochelle

Rochelle recently enjoyed “Have a Little Faith” by Mitch Albom. It was a short read and she probably wouldn’t have read it if it weren’t for the book club she joined. Apart from the book club, she read “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult and finally got around to reading “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen (which she will probably never read again). She reads a ton of books every month, but I’ll be sure to make sure she mentions the ones she actually recommends here.

Currently, she is reading “Julie and Julia” by Julie Powell. She is reading it on her nook, which she still loves.

How the Kids Are

Micah

As promised, Micah wrote his own update this time, and he responded to the questions he got last month. Look for footnotes below.

From Stuff That Happened: 2010 version

One day, my friend Madison came to the park close to our house. She was nice. I also watched My Side of the Mountain (1). I played Bakugon (2) with my friends, but I didn’t get to battle. I also played Hot Potato, Soccer, and Basketball and Hoorse (3). And we’re going camping! (4)

My favorite Wii game is the Nerf Elite game (5). I like this game because I like Nerf guns. I do recommend this game for girls because girls would like to shoot the darts.

I like two colors.

They are blue and purple.

My favorite subject at school is science, because we do a lot of things that are fun. (6)

I do like to read.

My alltime favorite book is Campout. (7)

  1. We watched this movie in preparation for learning about camping and survival skills. We watched it after sleeping all together in sleeping bags in our living room, on the day of our dry run where we slept out in the tent in our backyard. Micah really enjoyed the movie despite it being forty-one years old and littered with clumsily delivered awkward lines.
  2. As far as I’m concerned, this is a cheap knock-off of Pokemon that has gained unusual popularity in recent years among children Micah’s age.
  3. He insisted on spelling it this way. His all-knowing, expert, erudite of a friend said that you spell it with two ohs when its the game. In attempting to verify this “fact,” Google offered to correct me – “Did you mean HORSE?” I’m siding with Google on this one.
  4. He seems genuinely excited about the prospect of really going camping, yet he has failed to adhere to certain “Leave No Trace” rules that I’m attempting to instill in him. He understands that I can’t take him camping unless he can show me that he can follow the rules, but his efforts thus far have been trivial. If we ever make it out on a real camping trip, we’ll have a pretty great post to share.
  5. Neft N-Strike Elite. If you’re even remotely interested in getting this, don’t hesitate. Right now on Amazon the package with the game and one Nerf blaster is selling for $17.54 – a whole .44 cents cheaper than the same Nerf blaster without the game disk. I’m not kidding. Go buy it. We paid thirty dollars for it.
  6. He wrote, “My favorite subject in school is science, because we do a lot of things.” I asked him to add just a little more information than that.
  7. The fact is, Micah is addicted to reading. This most recent book that I’ve actually asked him to read is designed to help prepare him for going camping. It covers things like the “Hug-a-tree” program so that kids can be safe when they go camping. Obviously we’re covering a lot more than that with him, but the book is a good way for him to take in some of the information on his own.

Sophie

From Cell Photos 2010

The biggest new things with Sophie are singing, jumping and repeating. Lately, she can’t play or pass time effectively without singing loudly and sweetly the whole while. It is one of the most amazingly adorable things she does, and it hurts my feelings to spend all day at work and miss her hours and hours of beautiful music. She truly loves singing, and her songs are often as humorous as they are cute.

She is also jumping, a lot. Not just jumping straight up, but jumping off the bottom step of the stairs, and off the curb, and flying as far forward as she can. She is still a little apprehensive about it, and won’t do it unless she’s holding your hand, but with your hand in hers, she’s got the confidence to leap several feet ahead of herself. It’s really fun.

Also, she has lost nearly all of her apprehension when it comes to speaking. She’ll repeat just about anything you say now, and it’s often the cutest thing you’ve ever heard. She’s getting pretty good at forming her own sentences now as well, and she has officially said three full prayers all by herself without any prompting from adults. She’s growing up so big, and she’s getting even cuter every day.

Her interest in potty training is still minimal, and in the last month I’ve only taken her to the toilet a couple of times at most. Rochelle has maybe taken her a few more times on top of that. Sophie just hasn’t shown much interest, so we’re not pushing the issue. Of course, when she has an especially stinky diaper that causes even her to cry out in disgust, we do mention that she could have dropped her package off in the toilet before squeezing it into her diaper, and that would have avoided most of the mess and some of the smell. She hasn’t really caught on to the logic at work there, but she’s considering our proposals.

Until Later

One final note. If you didn’t notice, one of the photos featured in this post is from Rochelle’s new online album – Stuff that Happened: 2010 version. She’s started using her own digital camera a little, and will be posting her photos to her own online Picasaweb account. The link can be found in the family section of our links on the blog page (you can’t see the links in a feed reader, you need to view the article at our website address at https://brhaddad.wordpress.com).

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you liked the new segment I added about what we’re reading. Micah answered two people’s burning questions this month. If you’ve got anything you’d like to hear from Micah or anyone else, just leave a note in the comments. We love hearing from you, our favorite friends and family!

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Filed under Celebrations, Exciting, Site Changes