30 December 2004
Yesterday Kate Cosby wed Howie Cockrill and had quite a shindig to boot. Today saw our return to Geege's. (Pictures Below)
The good picture ...
... and the silly picture.
... and the soon to be newlyweds?
28 December 2004
Tuesday was a long, long day. We awoke at Geege's and then Cara and the girls went to Kate's shower while Maxwell and me dined on crabs with Packie, Poppy and Jaime's boyfriend Amir. Then Alora and Brittan rehearsed with everyone else for Kate & Howie's wedding. After that it was on to the Sheraton where we had the rehearsal dinner, where everyone in Howie's family had written a monologue about the great Howie.
Brittan rests on Kate at the Bridal Shower
The mother of the bride (MOB) and her sister
Ned (the FOB) laughs at his future son-in-law's humor
Natalie (the MOH) and husband Brady
Kate and Howie play the shoe game
Jaime & Amir
27 December 2004
Monday was a busy day. We bowled with Hannah, our cousin who's just two years older than Alora and Brittan, her mom Brenna, Brenna's husband Steve and Hannah's cousin Maddie. Kate and Howie came, too.
...and the silly picture
Newlyweds Steve and Brenna
Soon to be newlyweds Howie and Kate
For dinner we went to Big Nana's for steaks. The house was all abuzz with preparations for Kate and Howie's wedding Wednesday.
Maxwell loves his Uncle Packie
Storytime with Aunt Amy
Alora, Brittan and Maxwell spent the evening with Nanny and Poppy while Cara, Packie and I went to Kate's Sendoff/Bachelorette Party.
26 December 2004
|Nothing like a lazy day at Geege's. Christie and Bobby came over and we got to meet Bobby's girlfriend Aaren. Geege treated us all to her chicken parmesan. After dinner, Brittan and Geege got a little silly...||
Bobby & Aaren
There's nothing quite like a choclate syrup eskimo kiss.
25 December 2004
Today we took the long drive to Maryland - at 7½ hours (+ a 1 hr stop for dinner), it was the shortest drive here I've ever taken. It's nice to start 4 hours further north! The girls thought it was a bit too long anyway, although watching movies on daddy's laptop did help pass the time. We are staying at Grandma Ginny's house while we're not attending events surrounding K8's impending nuptials.
I have reached something of a "milestone" in my professional development: my first nutty letter from a wannabe physicist in a third world country. A fellow by the name of Bing-Xin Gong hailing from Guangzhou, China claims he has disproven Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle with a thought experiment. Such letters have a long history and have spurred many developments. For example, an Indian named Bose realized that quantum mechanics allowed two kinds of statistics, but the idea was so far-fetched he couldn't get published. He wrote Einstein who realized the correctness of what are now called Bose-Einstein statistics - applicable for particles having integer spin. Unfortunately, such letters are few and far between. Most letters are from crackpots with perpetual motion machines or proofs of the incorrectness of some aspect of modern physics like Mr. Gong. The internet makes the whole process much, much easier. Nevertheless, it's a nice ego boost to know they've heard of me in China.
so we put him in the aquarium in Gatlinburg...
but he called Elmo...
and got ready for Christmas with sisters...
who are wild about climbing trees...
and love opening presents.
Grammy, Papa Ray, Keeters and Jack are all coming to visit this weekend to celebrate Cara's Birthday (#25 today!) and Christmas. This morning I was telling Maxwell about it so he would know what was going on and Molly was asleep on the couch next to us. When I said "Jack" she sat up and looked around excitedly. When Jack actually arrived Molly was beside herself with excitement.
There are few things more satisfying to a parent than to have a child who exceeds your abilities, that is, solves a problem in a given situation faster than you. Today the five of us hopped in the car and decided to take a drive around the north side of Knoxville. It wasn't long before we got rather lost (although we fortunately remained on the north side of Knoxville). I was driving along discussing with Cara about which way we ought to go that was most likely to lead to a familiar road when Alora interjected that we should of course take 131 South, the turn for which was coming up. (131 runs by our house at about a mile's distance as the crow flies.) Maybe I should let her plan next summer's road trip...
As you may be aware, one of Maxwell's middle names, Andric, is similar to that of his uncle Packie. Apparently this nomenclature was well-chosen, as Maxwell has already exhibited many similarities to his uncle:
10. Likes to talk on his cell phone.
9. Has a large selection of Georgia Tech clothing in his wardrobe.
8. Knows his way around the kitchen.
7. Asthma - unfortunate, but nevertheless true.
6. Sensitive & Sweet
5. Has a favorite stuffed animal (elephant though, not Winnie-the-Pooh).
4. Allergic to milk and peanuts.
3. Buzz cut
2. Little brother & Middle child
1. The unstoppable desire to put fuzzies in his ear.
...and while we're talking about siblings, I must say that Alora and Brittan's favorite hairpiece is a nasty, ripped, old pink bow attached to a hairclip, the only redeeming quality of which appears to be that it says "Jaime" on it in puffypaint. I have tried several times to dispose of it without success.
Today while mom baked the turkey, Alora, Brittan, Maxwell and me built a pirate ship from the lawnmower box, complete with sail and steering wheel. Naturally this precipitated the usual pirate beard drawing on faces, which was a first for Maxwell. He thought it tickled quite a bit and then tried to rub Brittan's mustache off her face. Apparently pirates fall off their ships alot, because there were an awful lot of cries of "man overboard!" in addition to "chips ahoy!" and "land hoy!" Perhaps this is because most of the time there was a 16 month old at the helm.
Also today: Cara's first massive Thanksgiving dinner went off without a hitch. Everything came out just as it was supposed to: beans, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pie, green bean cassarole, rolls, cranberry sauce and, of course, turkey. Mmmm...tryptophan...zzzzzz....
Kudos to Brittan... This past week she won an award at Cedar Bluff Primary School for best exemplifying responsibility. Given by the prinicipal, the award entailed a certificate, ribbon and, most importantly, ice cream. We are all very proud of her.
So it seems there are two types of copper pipes: "soft" and "hard". "Hard" is the kind which should be in your house (I'm guessing it's actually an alloy). When you supply sufficient torque to one end of a "soft" copper pipe, it can be deformed rather terrificly. This can be accomplished with a simple wrench acting on a corroded valve attached to one end. Instead of removing the valve to replace it as one might expect, the torque applied via the wrench twists the "soft" copper pipe into a terrible mess. Fortunately, a proffessional can come to your house and replace this deformed "soft" pipe with a "hard" one for as little as $345.
PBS can sometimes be worse than the scariest of movies when it comes to nightmares. Perhaps this is because it's so real. Last week we watched a program about volcanos - it is fortunate for me that Brittan and Alora share of love of Geology with their father. There was a segment it the middle of the program about predicting volcanic eruptions wherein the two competing theories were outlined (gas emmissions vs. long period seismic events). Then examples where given of cases where each theory made a correct prediction, highlighting the greater exactitude of of the long period seismic event method. Most PBS specials would have ended here, but vulcanology is a particularly dangerous profession. The leading propnent of the gas emission theory took a group of vulcanologists onto an active volcano his theory said was safe. He was wrong, and one of only two to come back alive. Brittan found this very disturbing. The show went on to demonstrate the success the competing long period seismic event theory has had since, but the gory part was what stuck in her mind.
I talked to Brittan about her nightmares, and she knows there are no volcanos in the Appalachians. I think she understands on some level that it is not really a logical fear, only one her mind has not yet been able to find a solution to. Nevertheless, she has decided she never wants to visit Hawaii.
Alora is my daughter. We started moving into our new house this weekend, and there is a swingset in the backyard. Naturally the kids are all very excited about it. In addition to swings there are monkeybars for my two little monkeys and a slide which Maxwell loves (and goes down all by himself!). Now it is very important for monkeys to demonstrate their prowess to other monkeys. Alora decided the best way to do this on the morning-dew-covered monkeybars was to climb atop them; wearing gloves, of course, so that the dew doesn't make your hands cold. Gravity is not very forgiving to monkeys. Alora slipped and landed on her face. However, after an hour's convalescense (and time enough for the dew to dry up), she was back in action, none the worse for the wear.
Ray and Bev are on their way to Ireland today. We told the girls this in the car and Alora had the following to say:
"That's not a communist country is it?"
"Good, 'cause I wouldn't want to go to one of those."
The main event of this past week was Alora and Brittan's 7th birthday, for which we took them out to dinner at their favorite nice restaurant where they don't actually eat the food: O'Charley's. Friday was a costume ball for math & physics Ph.D. students (all adults; bores you straight to sleep). Then five extra people, all adults, came to stay in our 3-bedroom apartment for the weekend. They came to attend the party we had Saturday at McDonald's for Alora & Brittan, the first time we tried this. At $3.50 a head, it's actually quite a deal for cake, ice cream, hats and goodie bags. Then it was out for a dance performance at UT set to some of the girls' favorite Bollywood songs. Somehow we managed to fit present opening in between all this mayhem.
Then Sunday came trick-or-treating - in our new neighborhood! The girls are old hats at this, but it was Maxwell's first year. At first he was rather confused. Why does dad keep putting this bucket on my arm? Whose house is this? Who is that lady? What did sisters say? Hey, what's that she just dropped in my bucket? Oh, we're leaving already... Another house? More in the bucket? Look dad's getting something out of the bucket...and unwrapping... He gave it to me. I wonder what it is. I guess I'll put it in my mouth. Mmmmmm! Okay, I understand now. Next house! Soon all I had to do was set him down on a driveway and he'd make a beeline for the front door. After a while he got tired and just sat in the stroller eating candy. Cara admonished me for feeding it to him as she gave the girls a second round of empty bags to fill.
Maxwell the Potato Thief: This morning Maxwell, feeling the need for a snack, got into the potatoes and stole one. His sisters thought nothing of his gnawing on a dirty potato and said nothing until I questioned them about the potatoes on the floor by the cabinet just outside the kitchen. They then showed me where he had hidden the potato. If I were a normal parent the story would have ended here, with me chucking a gnawed potato, but I couldn't think of a good reason for Maxwell not to have the potato. So I washed it real good and gave it back to him. (Yes, I did just say "real good"; if I had washed it "really well" I certainly wouldn't have given it to my 14-month-old afterword.) Now the potato has become Maxwell's new favorite toy. He throws it, he chases it, he carries it around, he uses it to play fetch with Alora, and, of course, he sinks his teeth into it at random intervals, always careful to never actually bite any off. Maybe I can get them into stores in time for Christmas...
The Vaagslandhus was constructed in 1985. It is a brick and vinyl house with a new roof located on a level corner lot. This two-story house has 4 bedrooms, 2 full baths, and spacious kitchen, dining and family rooms. In the back yard is swing set and several good climbing trees. These are all-important attributes for the barns. A few hundred yards behind the house is one of the wooded ridges characteristic of Eastern Tennessee.
The girls are excited about their new house; especially the swingset and many little neighbor children we've seen there. Maxwell is oblivious, but we are looking forward to him having his own room (he's currently sharing with us). Cara loves the kitchen and the overall architecture - the house has got quite a bit of character. Unfortunately there is very little work for me to do on it other than flooring the attic. Naturally this means I'm going to have to do alot of yard work.
And the incredible coincidence for people who like that sort of thing: The day before we heard about the house I started calling Maxwell weeblow because I thought it sounded like a good epsilon term with the "wee" and all. I didn't know what it meant though, so I asked Cara if she knew. She didn't either. The next day we were both surprised to learn that one of the houses we were looking at was on a street called Wiebelo, which Judy, our real estate agent, mispronounced as "weeblow" when she first mentioned it to us. Naturally, it was a perfect house and we put an offer on it the next day.
My Grandma came to visit this past week, and Brittan brought home head lice from school to festivize the occasion. The louse is a nasty little bloodsucking creature, but fortunately a true parasite, ie it can't survive without a live human host. Molly, our dog, was completely immune. All of us humans, however, Brittan was kind enough to share with. Maxwell and my own infestions we wiped out with buzz-cuts (no hair = no louse habitat). The girls on the other hand endured a nasty chemical shampoo and then daily ritual combing with a special fine-toothed comb. Grandma hopes she didn't take any home when she left today, but she bought some more of the special shampoo just in case...
Crazy Ivan the Hurricane came through East Tennessee last night and this morning, and apparently there was some flooding, so most area schools were closed. Brittan, never one to waste time, decided to write a book about the experience. Yes, there is a bit of confusion between hurricanes and tornados. Maxwell on the other hand enjoyed a gleefull romp on the patio in the rain with his big orange ball.
Maxwell's new obsession: naked time! He has finally reached that milestone that every parent dreads but no baby book mentions; he can now take off his own diaper. This is one of the many cases where a baby's abilities outstrip their understanding. I am taken back 6 years to the mornings when I entered Alora & Brittan's room greeted by the smell of poop recently removed from taken-off diapers and played with. There was nothing quite like sterilizing the crib and the mattress and the wall and the floor and the children every few mornings. After trying a few things, we learned that several layers of masking tape around the diaper were enough to stop the girls' morning brown art ... at least for a while. When they learned to take off the tape, we started putting tape around their sleepers as well - always ending on the back to make the tape harder to remove. This usually gave us enough time to hear them before they could get out the poop. Usually...
Yester evening was the first time Maxwell removed his own diaper. He kept taking it off when I'd put it back on so finally I gave up and just let him have naked time. Ah, naked time. Doesn't every kid love it? I got a little worried, though, when he drained his sippy cup. Fortunely the excitment of naked time had worn off by this point so I was able to convince Maxwell of the virtue of diaper wearing. Heretofore naked time had always followed a bath or trip to the pool.
Oh yeah, and he's getting pretty good at walking,too:
Did you know that "leave" is actually the singular of that green foliage one finds on trees, shrubs, etc.? At least that's what Alora's 1st grade teacher told her. Admittedly it could have been the student teacher doing her practicum with with Alora's teacher, but I'd like to think that someone with most of a college education wouldn't identify a picture of a leaf with the word "leave". At least someone that plans to help my children learn how to read! It is, unfortunately, what we've come to expect from the Knox County daycare service they call schools. Well, at least they get enough time to play and socialize. Maybe they'll even learn a healthy disrespect for authority...
We try to keep our TV viewing to a minimum at our house because it can be such a time-waster. Nevertheless, cutting it out completely can actually be disadvantageous as well. The past few months we have been so busy with the move we haven't taken the time to introduce Maxwell to any of the various little kid shows available to him. Yesterday we rectified this by letting him watch an old Teletubbies video of the girls. He was, quite literally, enthralled - I don't think a muscle on his body moved during the show. Not only did we find a way to make the wigglebear sit still for an extended period (the usual intended use of such videos), but it also led him to make a surprising connection with his toys, many of which are hand-me-downs from his sisters. Maxwell searched through the stuffed animals this morning and pulled out Alora's old talking La-La Teletubby doll. I found him sitting on the floor in the family room babbling to it and giving it hugs. Much of this morning's play focused on this heretofore uninteresting stuffed toy, Maxwell enjoying it greatly when I pulled out Brittan's old Poe as well and made the two Teletubbies dance together.
Building on this success, I thought I'd introduce a Disney movie this afternoon and see if he got as much enjoyment out of that. Naturally, I made the worst of all possible choices: Fantasia. At no point during the half an hour it was on did this film hold Maxwell's attention for more than three seconds. Maybe we'll pick better next time...
Maxwell is finally a walker - two solo steps yesterday on the Knoville Riverwalk downtown by the play fountains. At this point I puff out out my chest and beat the ground with my fists to let the others known of my great virility in fathering such a magnificent child. Doubtless the US Olymic Committee will soon be calling to beg me to let him run the 100m in Athens.
We moved from Georgia to Tennessee this past weekend, and I have to say it's cooler up here. Not to mention that the pool across the street is like ice - a far cry from the lukewarm bath that was our neighborhood pool in Georgia.
The girls have already made friends with three little girls living nearby - and play with them every day! Tomorrow school will start for them. I hope that our lack of time this past summer doesn't adversely affect them. I guess we did read to them everyday and spent several days building and firing off rockets, but I just don't feel that we did enough. Mainly I lament virtually ignoring mathematics, which you'd think I wouldn't do with a subject I'm so passionate about.
Maxwell has also dealt rather well with the move. He has his own room (actually closet), which is a much better set up than the playroom/familyroom where he slept in our old home. Now we have a door to close to protect his napping from the noisiness of the rest of us! He still hasn't taken to bipedal motion though, although he does frequently taunt us by standing alone and just grinning
It's often humorous how similar our children are to us. For example, my son looks freakishly like baby pictures of my grandfather. My parents tell me that, as a baby, I was notorious for getting myself stuck places from which it was difficult to extricate me. Today Maxwell lived up to his father. It was naptime and I had laid him down only to hear the sound of cribtoys coming from his room a few minutes later. Periodically there'd be a fuss followed by a few minutes of quiet. This went on for a while, and then one time the fussing didn't stop before I could stand up from what I was doing. Figuring he'd most likely lost his pacy I went to his room to fetch it for him and lay him back down. There I found him, frustrated and exhausted, standing with his bent knee between the bars by his toys. I suppose he'd tried to climb them or something. 20 minutes later, with Brittan standing in the crib to hold him up while I tried to find the right position for his knee, we managed to extricate it and I laid the poor tired boy down for a much needed nap.
Maxwell turned 1 this past week. He's still not walking on his own, but he will if you hold his hands or if he's pushing something. I have, however, pioneered a method to force him to walk by using his own momentum: holding both his hands I force him to walk very fast and then let go. Maxwell is forced to take a step or two before dropping to his knees to slow down and avoid falling on his face. While this technically counts as walking (he's taking a step holding onto nothing), no one, myself included, will really count it until Maxwell walks of his own volition.
Ah...rollerblading: the world flying by; the wind in your hair; the sun on your face; the teddybears on your knees? Yes, that's right, Brittan and Alora have teddybear kneepads ... and elbow pads ... and wristguards. They've been rollerblading since they were three with the same size-adjustable rollerblades, and their skills have grown immensely over the years. Unfortunately, so have their feet. Today those very sore feet decided it was time to retire the adjustable kid rollerblades. (Hopefully Maxwell won't mind the fact that that they're purple and pink in a few years when he's old enough to use them.) Now I have to justify to the wife buying 2 new pair that will probably only last a year on our evergrowing children - a tough sell. Perhaps we'll just do more biking.
Today we had a garage sale, and the girls made mucho bucks selling their old junk ($2 apiece). They're going to spend it at the dollar store, their favorite place to shop. Nothing makes deciding between two objects easier than if they have the same price.
One of Maxwell's newest tricks is shaking his head to indicate "no". He throws his food on the floor and shakes his head no. He bites Cara's shirt and shakes his head no. It is rather difficult to restrain oneself from showing amusment at such circumstances.
My children love the pool. Alora and Brittan are like 2 little fish: sometimes
they swim laps, Sometimes they get thrown by dad, and sometimes they have jumping
contests. It's a great workout to throw one's children several feet above the water's
surface about fifty times. In high school I played sports and lifted weights, even
holding the JV football bench press record for a time. I was weak then compared to
now, merely from hoisting 2 fifty pound weights in the air every day!
Since it has grown rather too hot (and I avoid sunburn like the plague) we've established
an evening routine of a visit to the Farmbrook pool after dinner. Monday night
we were down there, along with several of the neighbors. Maxwell, who has learned
to love the pool this summer, was holding around my neck playing "turtle"
as we often do. As he has mastered balancing while sitting on my shoulders (I just
hold his legs), I thought it was high time he learned to play turtle without my
hands under his butt to keep him from sliding off - just one step further on the
road to becoming a fish. For a time, Maxwell remembered to hold on. Then he got
distracted and slowly slid off my wet back and under the water. I quickly spun around
and fished him out, but the wife was none to happy with me. Maxwell, for his part,
was none the worse for the wear. Nevertheless, we've limited fish training to bubble
blowing for the time being. . .
I have three: Alora, Brittan and Maxwell. Herein I shall detail their exploits.
Maxwell is almost a year old. Lately we have dubbed him the Cherriomancer, because of his habit of smacking a pile of Cherrios placed on the coffee table so that they fly off to the far corners of the house. Clearly there is magic involved. Not even Molly (our dog) ever finds them all. Just when you think they're all cleaned up, he'll pull another out of a truck or something.