Sunday, March 29, 2009

Noah's New Game

Noah is slowly mastering his body. He moves around (a little too quickly) by crawling, he pulls up on everything from legs to ledges, and he can get little bits of food into his mouth. He's also naturally started reaching for me or Joy when he's in someone else's arms. This has led to a new game this week we've taken to calling "pass the baby."

If either Joy or I stands next to the other while holding Noah, he gets a glint in his eye (his right one) and makes a wild lunge, hoping to be caught. One successfully passed, he cackles, wiggles his way around, and makes a second lunge back to where he started. He really likes starting with me and flinging himself to Joy because there is a significant height difference so he gets a little air time. I usually end up having to catch him around my waist because he likes that feeling of falling so much. There is no end to this game, and Noah laughs during it more than at any other time of the day. Let's just hope he doesn't try to play it when one of us isn't paying attention.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pictures to Fill the Void

We've been on Spring Break for the past week, and while I haven't been teaching, I've been writing up a storm. I've put together a presentation next week for a conference at Millikin University (my old stomping grounds), substantially revised a chapter of my book, and rewritten an article after getting reader comments back from a journal. Needless to say, at the end of the day I've been trying to have fun with Joy and the boys with every spare minute.

Still, I wanted to quickly share some fantastic pictures with you. Two weekends ago we were in Wichita visiting Heather and Adam and Ana, and we scheduled a photo shoot for the three kids with the wonderful photographer who has done all of Ana's portraits, Sarah Shah. She chased our kids around for a few hours on that Sunday and just posted a sneak peak of the results at her site. Just follow the link and click on "enter blog;" the portraits of the kids are under the March 22nd entry.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Walking a New Path

During the first weekend of Lent, our church hosted a spiritual formation retreat, two days devoted to exploring new spiritual practices with the idea that you would latch on to one and instead of just giving up something for the season, take on a new practice. Joy was one of the organizers and helped us in praying the hours, a practice stretching back to antiquity that forms the basis of much of Western music.

One of the greatest things about the retreat was the inclusion of our children. Childcare was provided both down the hall for older kids and in the nursery for the babies, but the children joined us at every meal and for the hours and they practiced the disciplines on their own as well. Since we did things like praying in color you can easily imagine the children taking part, but what about walking a labyrinth? Walking a labyrinth is an ancient prayer technique that lends itself to quiet meditation, reflection, and communion. Children running on the labyrinth seems antithetical, but my church is now realizing that no matter if you actively stay in the lines as you walk:or strike off on your own:
you are participating and striving to know God. As a parent, leading my children intellectually comes naturally; leading them spiritually takes work. It is nice to be part of a church that makes it a little bit easier.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Son is a Chipmunk

This past weekend, we traveled to visit Joy's sister Heather and her family. Heather and Adam's daughter just turned one, so between Ana and Noah, not to mention Sam, we had our hands full, especially when it came to mealtime.

Noah's just starting to eat table food and Ana is a pro at it, so each meal, we would sit around the table and tear up bits of our food to throw to the kids. Noah was a bottomless pit, eating fruit and bread and vegetables as fast as we could put them on his tray. By far, his favorite food of the weekend was green beans, and he and Ana sat at the table long after the rest of us were finished with supper downing every stray bean that came their way.

After we ate, the kids were playing on the floor and the adults were talking, when Heather heard Noah picking up the air vent on the floor. She stopped him, and I came over to gently guide him to safer exploration. As I was urging him along, he sneezed, and I saw a green bean fly out of his mouth. "That's strange," I thought to myself, but took no action. Then he bumped his head and cried out. More green beans fell out of his mouth. This concerned me a little, so I reached my finger inside his mouth to discover that Noah had filled his cheeks with green beans and was slowly eating them as he played on the floor.

He's continued this trend since getting home (we found pear stuck up there yesterday), though it could have been going on for weeks. My best guess is that living with Sam, who constantly grabs cheerios and other goodies off Noah's tray, has taught my youngest a survival mechanism of stuffing all his food in his cheeks and storing it there until needed. He's either a chipmunk or a gerbil, but quite funny no matter which you decide.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Our Daily Lives

Some of you asked for photographic proof of Sam's new penchant to use himself as a human canvas. I'll refrain from the bottom shots for modesty and to protect myself from any lawsuits, but I thought you might enjoy seeing the unibrow he regularly gives himself now:I'm not sure if he's hoping to play the Wolfman in a remake - Child of the Wolfman or something along those lines - or preparing for a career in body art. Either way, it certainly keeps our lives interesting.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lost Generation

This video made my day in a week in which it does seem that work is more important than anything else just because I've had so much going on there outside the normal hours. Watch all the way through, and enjoy:

Friday, March 13, 2009

New Listening Journals

It's Friday, I'm finally done with my mountains of grading (at least until the next batch comes in on Monday), so it's time to share what my students are writing. The latest listening journals are up over at my class's blog and they range the gamut from obscure American composers in the Romantic period to unjustly neglected masterworks. I'll let you decide which is which. So take a few minutes and join in the conversation we've been having about the works.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

We Live in a Nudist Colony

Over the past week, Sam has rediscovered a penchant he had when he was 18 months old for taking off his clothes. Several evenings over the past few days we've heard him rummaging in his closet after we've put him to bed and had gone up to see what he was doing. Most of those evenings we've found him getting toys out of his closet completely naked, no pajamas, no pull-up. We help him get dressed and back to bed, but the process is a bit disturbing.

This newfound freedom of Sam's does have its humorous side, though. At bedtime, I always read to him, Joy joins us in prayers, and then we share hugs and kisses all around. Often Sam will have to hunt for the hugs and kisses he's going to give us - I've had mine be out in the hall, and Joy's have been under the bed. This past week, though, the hugs and kisses have been in his pajamas. "Wait," he'll proclaim, "I've found them!" and then proceed to zip open his pajamas, reach down to his knees, pretend to pull something out, put it on his lips, and then turn to give us hugs and kisses.

The best story comes from Monday night. I was at dinner with a job candidate, so Joy was putting the boys to bed by herself. She left Sam happily playing in his room as she put Noah to bed, and when she came out Sam had left both his room and his box of markers empty. She hunted him down only to find him without pants or diaper, marking all over himself. He had decided to draw on his big cardboard box that currently serves as an elevator and must have decided the box shouldn't have all the fun. He had given himself a unibrow, his knees were different colors, the tops of his feet looked like those of hobbits. But Joy found the best part when Sam turned to go upstairs. Evidently, his bottom had begun to itch, so he took a marker and scratched it. The results were as you can imagine - his bottom was covered with marker, fortunately the washable kind.

We'll see where this nudity goes next.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Everyone Needs a Little Raisin Brahms

In my undergraduate class, we've been discussing the creation of the canon of Western music. (One reason why they are writing listening journals is to explore items outside that canon) When we got to Johannes Brahms on Monday, we discussed how instrumental he was in solidifying the notion that older composers needed to be studied, performed, and performed properly. This kind of veneration of older composers froze Brahms when he went to write his own symphonies; he saw himself in Beethoven's long shadow and took twenty years to finish his first symphony. I'm sure, then, that he'd be glad to see the same kind of veneration continues today, just now directed at him:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New Tooth!

Since early December, Noah has been showing the classic signs of teething - he drools constantly, he rubs his tongue over his gums and sucks in his lips over them, he sighs and relaxes when you rub his gums. But for the past three months there has been no tooth. His doctor told us it was coming, family members told us it was coming, basically everyone who spends time with him said it was coming. But still no tooth.

As of yesterday morning, my son is no longer dentally challenged. His top left tooth poked through and is now just peeking out from the gum line. Of course, you all know what this means now. Sam has to be careful biting Noah because he can return the favor.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Just a Reminder That He's Going to Take Over the World

Remember when I mentioned that Noah's sign for "more" looks more like Mr. Burns evilly cackling "excellent" than the traditional sign? Several of you have asked for photographic proof, so here, for your morning's entertainment, is Noah asking for more of the camera:Don't let the innocent expression fool you - he's looking at you, sizing you up, and plotting ways to subjugate you to his will.

Monday, March 2, 2009

New Blog Added

Just a quick note to point you to a new blog I added to our "Friends and Family" blogroll. One of our good friends in town, Leslie, has started blogging (and has actually been blogging since October, but it took a spiritual enrichment retreat at church for us to find out). She is the mother of one of Sam's best friends, Cole, who is a month younger than Sam, and has another son, Micah, who is a month older than Noah. So yes, we have lots of stories to share. Hope you enjoy.