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Five Month Radio Silence

From Family 2011

It seems I suddenly became a terrible blog administrator. I was doing fairly well for quite some time, only missing a month or two every once in a while, but then 2011 happened and it’s been five months since my last post (almost to the day!). I did do one little post on my personal blog in April, but that one wasn’t a very good one. So within the next couple of days I hope to have this one and my personal blog updated.

Going off our Family 2011 photo album, I can see that we’ve done quite a few things already this year. We’ve been to the tunnels of Crystal City, we went ice skating in Pentagon City, we’ve been to the Smithsonian, the Supreme Court, the National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy hangar complex, and we enjoyed a visit from Grandma and Grandpa Haddad for Micah’s baptism. We all enjoyed our birthdays (they are all within the first four-and-a-half months of the year), Rochelle’s family had a wedding and a funeral (both of which she attended), and I may have finally decided on a career path (this is a big deal). Some friends of ours left the area, some came to visit, and we’ve made a few new ones. Overall, everyone has enjoyed good health, and we are doing well.

Oh, and I got to ride in a helicopter.

Books We are Reading

Brian

Despite the recently circulating rumors, I can read. In fact, I recently finished a book, and afterward decided it was time to catch up on the last eight months worth of magazines I had been letting pile up.

I’ve always been an avid reader of Popular Science and Popular Mechanics, the former being my favorite, and the latter having several practical elements that prevent me from being able to ignore it entirely. As a subscriber, upon the arrival of either, I would have it finished before the day’s end under normal circumstances, but with work being as stressful as it has been, I began piling them up back in August and hadn’t gotten around to reading them until this month.

For more about the book that I read, you’ll have to wait to read about it at my personal blog (that post is up now).

Rochelle

Rochelle just finished reading the Harry Potter series again. This is something she does regularly.

After finishing that, she began reading The Poisonwood Bible. It took until about the  halfway point before she really got into it, but she seems to be enjoying it quite thoroughly now.

How the Kids Are

Micah

From Family 2011

While many of you share our religious views, much of our family may not be familiar with our beliefs.

In an attempt to quickly and briefly address any questions, I will share our views on what I think are the most common differences between religions when it comes to baptism: how to do it and who should do it (at what age).

We believe in baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, as taught in the New Testament. We also believe that the ordinance should be performed by one holding the authority of the priesthood, that same priesthood that John the Baptist held (he being a descendant of Aaron, the brother of Moses).

Finally, we believe that young children, before they are accountable for their own actions, have no need for baptism since they are not yet in need of a remission of their sins. Yes, we believe that baptism is a necessary step in our journey to Heaven, but small children are innocent before the Lord. Therefore, only after they become accountable for their own sins, knowing and choosing their own actions, are they able to make the decision to be baptized.

Micah, having reached the age of accountability, decided that he wanted to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He made this decision knowing that it was not something we required of him and knowing that he could wait to make the decision later if he should so choose.

The photo above is just moments after coming out of the chilly water.

I have to tell you, I felt bad for him. That water was cold. Preparations had been made so that the water would be warm. They filled the baptismal font earlier that morning with nice, warm water. Before dunking him in the water, we had a small service in which we prayed, sang and listened to some remarks about baptism from my father. He smeared peanut butter on his face. The children loved it. Then we all went into the room where the font is located and were shocked to find that all of the water had drained!

So, with only a little water in the hot water heater’s tank, they began to fill the font again. Of course, rather than wait several hours to fill it full of warm water, we had to settle for a little hot water and mostly cool water. We didn’t even wait for it to fill to the optimal depth. Having served a mission for our church and having done a few baptisms before, I knew that I could get him under water no deeper than my knees. So we filled the font until just after my mother’s remarks (she spoke about the Holy Ghost, a gift we receive after baptism as part of our confirmation into the Church). Then we all went back in to the font room. The water was pretty cool. Micah shivered pretty hard. With just one good dunk though he was baptized.

Because the immersion under the water must be complete, people often have to be dunked more than once if any part of them fails to submerge. Micah only had to endure the biting cold water for one submersion though. He was glad.

In addition to his baptism, he has enjoyed seeing the museums with us, he enjoyed the ice skating, and he’s been doing well in school.

Sophie

From Family 2011

Whether she’s cracking her mother up with the angry mean face, getting an MRI, or hanging out with me after work, Sophie is the brightest star in our home. She can cheer anyone up with a hug, melt anyone’s heart with a smile, or make even the angriest parent crack a smile with her antics. Undeniably, she has the cutest toes in the house, and she gives the best hugs.

Obviously, with five months having gone by, a lot has happened to tell about, but I can’t possibly remember it all. I’m really terrible about keeping a journal (these blogs are the best I can do most of the time, and we all see how well that’s working out).

In February she turned three. She is very aware of how old she is, and she knows she’ll be turning four next. She tells people this from time to time. Also, she understands relative age fairly well, tagging anyone younger than her as being one or two years old, and anyone older as at least four or five. Just recently she informed me that I am older than her, estimating my age as being four, then (seeing that I am obviously more than just one year older than she is) changing her guess to five (with an “oops, silly me” giggle).

Every now and then Rochelle and I share short little blurbs about Sophie on Facebook. Here are a few from each of us (more recent ones come first):

Rochelle:

I was watching a movie with Sophie. Two people started kissing in the movie and she said, “Look at those two people kissing.”
I asked her how that made her feel and she said, “Huhuhu, jealous.”

Sophie: Don’t sing anymore. It’s my turn to sing.
Me: Okay, you sing it then.
Sophie: I don’t know how to sing this song!

Me: We’re going on a toad trip tomorrow.
Sophie: Rearry!?!
Me: Really.
Sophie: Rearry!?!
Me:Yes. Really.
Sophie with a wistful look in her eyes: Can you take me to see the lanterns?

Brian:

Sophie (playing by herself) – “I did it! I am AWESOME!”

Sophie (holding MY flashlight): “I’m going to play with it.”
Me: “Can I please have it back? It’s mine.”
Sophie: “No, it’s mine.”
Me: “No it’s not.”
Sophie: “I’m Sophie and I’m the lost princess. It’s mine.”
I took it back. She’s getting better at this.

Rochelle: Sophie, say Wild Thornberrys.
Sophie: Wild Thornbabies. Wild Thornbabies to the sky!

As you can tell, we thoroughly enjoy having her in our family. She can be difficult, but it’s worth it.

Oh, and she’s in this video.

Also, her latest MRI looked clean again, so we won’t be going in for an MRI after three months like we had been. We get to wait six months instead.

Until Later

Despite five months worth of activity to report on, I wanted to keep this post short-ish to prevent you from taking one look and turning back out of fright. I promise I’ll try to be more regular than I have been so far this year. If you have anything you’d like to tell us, leave a comment or contact us using the contact information on the blog’s main page.

We love you all and hope you’re having as awesome a year as we are so far. Be sure to check out our Family 2011 photo album to see a few of the things we’ve seen thus far.

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Filed under Exciting, Travels

Christmas Card

From Family 2010

We are terrible about sending cards out, so consider this your holiday card.

In a lot of ways, this is better than any of the other cards you have received this holiday season. This one has links to videos that are long and full of kids opening presents.

So go check out the final version of our Family 2010 album at Picasaweb, and watch the videos below.

Oh, and I’m not going to embed it here, but on our channel you can watch a really cute video of Sophie praying in her sleep.

We are continuing a family tradition from when I was a kid in which we open one non-Santa present on Christmas Eve before going to bed. Both of these presents came from a program at work where gifts are purchased specifically for children using donated funds. Pretty neat stuff.

The next two videos will immerse you in our Christmas morning present opening extravaganza. Many thanks to all the friends and relatives who helped make this possible. We love you all.

Later that evening I went around to see what the kids were doing. This is what I found.

That’s all for this year, folks. Halfway through next month y0u can expect our January blog post. Until then, many thanks and much love from the Haddad family.

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Filed under Celebrations, Holidays

Christmas is Coming

From Family 2010

While there may have been no excuse for my negligence in posting here during the month of September, I hope that all of you know by now that I do not post normally during November. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and I have participated for the last three years (and finished a winner every time).

Be sure to visit our Family 2010 album as the year is drawing to a close. There you will find photos from our recent date (no kids!) to an ice skating rink at the Pentagon Row in Pentagon City. Also be sure to visit our YouTube channel where you can see three videos that were uploaded since the last post.

Books We are Reading

Brian

I just finished NaNoWriMo. Give me a break. I’m still looking with guilt at my unchanging pile of books to read, and every day I feel that I inch closer to actually reading one. However, in the short term I really want to see if I can edit my NaNoWriMo novel into something bearable to read.

On a nostalgic note, I’d like to add that I’ve been enjoying playing an updated version of an old game I loved when I was younger. Nintendo recently re-released GoldenEye 007 for the Wii. It was originally one of the best Nintendo 64 games ever made, and they did a wonderful job refreshing it for the new system. If you ever played and loved GoldenEye 64, you must try it on the Wii.

Rochelle

Rochelle is currently re-reading “Reading Lolita in Tehran” for the third time. Reading has been relatively routine for her during the last several months, so she doesn’t really recall anything worth sharing. Keep watching this space for something interesting though, because I still haven’t been reading squat.

How the Kids Are

Micah

From 020

For the time being, I am giving up on trying to get Micah to write anything for this thing. Maybe it will be a summer only event. Until then, I’ll just fill you in on what he’s been up to.

He won three awards at school today. One for attendance because he thinks we’d sell him if he ever skipped school, one for being nice (while he is nice most of the time, we are a little surprised he got that one), and one for getting a 4.0 (the one in the picture, where he’s posing with his teacher, Ms. Reynolds).

He is both excited for and dreading Christmas, mostly because he really, REALLY wants a Nintendo DSi, but we’ve made it very clear to him that they are way too expensive for us to get right now, and we constantly remind him that he has a history of abusing electronics, and we wouldn’t want to let him have a DSi unless we knew he could handle it without breaking it. Plus, he manages to convince himself every year that he’s getting coal (and someday we’re going to get it for him as a prank, but when he’s older and won’t be scarred for life). Overall, he’s absolutely sure he’s not getting a DSi, but he’s still holding on to a last shred of hope that Santa will put one under the tree in spite of all we’ve said.

What he doesn’t know is that we have had a DSi for him sitting in my closet for over three months. We’re really excited about giving it to him, and we REALLY hope he doesn’t break it. We also got him a certain Pokemon game that he wants. I’m going to try to get good video of him getting this gift, because we’re sure he’s going to freak out. We are hoping for a reaction like this kid (YouTube Video), but it’s probably going to be more like this kid (YouTube Video).

I was going to just let you be excited with him, but in this case I decided to take you on our journey as the parents who are waiting as patiently as we can to give our child a gift he really, really wants.

Sophie

From Family 2010

No news for Sophie. She’s still just being cute. She now finds interesting words to append, “ies” to the end of (“pearsies for pears, “friendsies,” and many more). She has become quite a funny little girl. She even gets a lot more jokes now, and her little, “I get it” laugh is super cute.

Sophie has learned how to button buttons, and she helped extensively with the tree decorating (which happened almost two weeks late this year).

A long while back, when Sophie was learning not to be afraid of water, we used to have her lie down in the tub with a little water and we’d move her around “like a mermaid” (in her own words). I took a video with my phone, and finally posted it to YouTube. Yeah, it’s got a naked girl in it, but it doesn’t show anything she’d be too embarrassed about later in life, I hope.

She has had a strong interest in letters recently, learning to spell her name and recognize most of the letters in her name. Of course, when she spells her name, she goes through the, “S – O – P – H – I,” then she gets distracted by the “H, I” and continues with, “J, K, L…” She recognizes the “S” the “O” and the “P” most of the time, though sometimes “corrects” herself and says that the “O” is a circle (which it is, but not when that circle is being a letter).

For Sophie’s gifts, you get to be with her on her journey. I’m not telling what we got her, but it’s going to be good.

Oh, and in November we took Sophie in for yet another MRI. Things are looking great in that little girl’s head. No new tumor growth, and her brain is finally starting to look more like a normal one (some of the cavities that expanded when the fluid built up and where the tumor was may never go completely away, but they are minor and hardly noticeable now). Also, the one year anniversary of her surgery is this Saturday (the surgery was on a Friday last year). We are full of gratitude this year for all that happened last year and we are looking forward to spending the holidays with that beautiful little girl again.

As for what lies ahead, we still don’t know. We’re waiting to get an appointment with the man who can help determine what to do from here. We’ll let you know as soon as we know anything.

Until Later

Well, that’s it for this month. Shortly after Christmas I’ll make an effort to get all of the videos and photos we take posted. Thanks in advance to all of you who may or may not have sent or are sending gifts, money or love. We appreciate all that you do as our cherished and beloved family, friends and blog readers.

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Filed under Exciting, Holidays, Milestones, Sophie PMA

Craziness

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

Micah

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.

Sophie

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).

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Filed under Normal Life, Sophie PMA

Home Again

From Family 2010

This last month has been a lot of fun. Sophie has been recovering superbly from her surgery, and her excitement, energy, laughter and happiness have contributed significantly to the spirit in our home.

Last week we flew out and spent a week with my parents in Arizona. They also enjoyed her random giggles, overpowering cuteness, and comical chatter. I know, you’re jealous. It’s OK. You should be. She’s cute. As a consolation prize for taking the time to read this post, I’ve added two super-cute videos of her on our YouTube channel.

Now, there are only six photos in it for now (and most of the good ones are embedded here), but I’ve started a new family album for the year 2010. I figure that some of you may be using dial-up, and a page with over 100 photos probably loads too slowly to be of use to you. So, I will do a new album every year to prevent them from getting so large.

How the Kids Are

Micah

I just have to say, Micah actually started a sentence like this today: “I can’t believe you’re forcing me to…” Now, it doesn’t matter what followed (the fact is, he was being asked to do something extremely lenient and easy, with a follow-up option to do something he really wanted to do). I just can’t believe (to use his words) that he’s talking that way to his mother.

In other Micah news, his jumping on our couch has finally paid off, and the whole thing collapsed yesterday. I managed to mash it back together for now, and once I’m feeling a bit better I’m going to wrap the broken areas up with a healthy dose of duct tape to hold it together until tax return season buys us some new furniture. We kept telling him that if he wasn’t gentle with the couch it would break one day. He must not have believed us, because when he saw that it broke, his face was hilarious. I wish I had the camera out then.

Micah dropped his jaw two times yesterday, in fact.  Later that evening he was in a bit of trouble and was being very rude (angry faces and all) to his mother and father. I carried the book we are reading at night into his room hoping his attitude had changed so I could read to him, but I was met by an angry troll face curled up in the corner of his room. So, I turned around to leave. He yelled something at me (it seems he wanted to talk about it), and it came up that he feels like his memory isn’t good enough to remember the few simple things we ask of him every day. So, I reached into his bookshelf and pulled out one of his favorite new books – a Pokemon reference book with over two hundred different pokemon in it. He’s got almost the whole thing memorized. I held it up and said, “I’ll bet you can tell me which Pokemon is number 150 in this book, but you’re telling me your memory isn’t very good?”

His eyes nearly fell out of his head and his jaw was jammed open for a moment. He was stunned into silence. Victory! I feel bad, because I used to use the same “I forget – my memory isn’t very good” argument with my parents, and I don’t remember them ever winning such a stunningly brilliant victory against me in that department. The moment was almost too perfect, and perhaps his feelings of defeat in the memory department are the driving force behind his rebellious statement this morning (“I can’t believe you’re forcing me to…”).

Either way, he seems to have realized the error of his ways from the two incidents yesterday, and it showed in his behavior a bit today. When he learns a lesson, he learns it well.

In completely unrelated news, it turns out Micah has a photographic curse. I just can’t get good photos of him. I try, I really do. He and Sophie could be right next to each other, doing exactly the same thing, and the photo of Sophie will invariably come out hundreds of times better than the photo of Micah.

Case in point: Take a second to scroll up to the top photo of Sophie playing on the rope web. Good, now look at this photo of Micah on the exact same web, from the same vantage point, at the exact same moment in the exact same lighting (no shadow caused the problem, I promise).

From Family 2010

I promise I didn’t alter either image in Photoshop or any other image editing software. Both photos were uploaded directly from the camera. It’s sad, isn’t it? I take a lot of photos of Micah, but as soon as he realizes he’s in the lens, he goes bonkers, and even if I get a decently lit and framed photo of him, I can’t post it. Either he’s blurred from moving too fast while going crazy, or his face is a grotesque mutation of the truth. So, from now on I’ll just post the photos of him that I get, even though I rarely get anything that I’m happy with for him.

Sophie

Sophie is cute. She has begun a real rambling streak, and we all love it. It can happen during play, during meal times, or whenever else she feels like it. She just starts “talking.” It sounds like talking, but it’s the most varied, random collection of fun noises and sounds that I’ve ever heard. It closely resembles what I once heard from a child (who is her age, but this was a year ago or so) who listened to talk radio with her mother all day. The baby would imitate the talk radio, and it was really funny. Sophie’s sounds area a little more varied than the noises that little baby could make, and Sophie really seems to know what she’s saying.

Of course, she’s also turned into a magnificent communicator. She tries hard to assemble whole sentences and a lot of her more recent attempts are much longer than the usual, “I like (insert something here).”

She’s more curious than ever before, thinking that there’s something interesting everywhere she can’t see, reach or be. She follows instructions really well, and understands a lot better than we thought she could.

I must say, after her brain surgery it was like watching a flower bloom. The child we thought we had opened up before our eyes and became something much more spectacular and beautiful. We are all happy for her and next month you can look forward to news about her future after the surgery as we are going to be meeting with her surgeon at the end of the month to discuss those things. For now, know that the biopsy did come back, but it was frustratingly inconclusive, so consider no news good news until we have something more definite.

From Family 2010

Until Later

On my other blog I wrote a single review for the two awesome movies we saw out in Arizona. The post is short, so if you’ve got a few more minutes, I’d encourage you to take a look.

I don’t want to overdo it, but I am too excited about it not to mention it – I’ve decided to reformat the interior and exterior design of my book, and the changes are making me feel all giddy inside (which is unusual for me). The redesign is meant to give the whole book a much more professional feel. I’m really feeling quite proud of the outcome, but the changes won’t show up in the product for a while. In the mean time the book is no longer for sale. The first edition was purchased zero times, so once I get the second edition up I’m hoping to market it a little to see where it goes. And if you own a bookstore (wink wink, hint hint) I might be possibly shipping you a couple of copies someday to see if they sell. We’ll talk more about that later though. 😉

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Filed under Celebrations, Travels, Vacation

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

Micah

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.

Sophie

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.

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