I mostly just wanted to post this for posterity, but Calvin is riding a bike! Yay!

I suggested it to him a few weeks ago, that we could go up to Meg’s old elementary school asphalt and he could ride around in circles, getting some practice in. We tried doing something similar last year at his old school, and while he was able to do some light biking, he didn’t have much control, confidence, and couldn’t really start the bike by himself.

What a difference a year makes! This time, I think I held the bike once to get him started. After that, he listened to my instructions (“Start with your right foot down, and put your left foot on the pedal so you can push down with it and get yourself started”…stuff like that…) and just kinda did it! To be fair, he also had his knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist pads on this time, so maybe he just felt invincible?

After a few times around the black top, he took off the pads to get a bit more flexibility and, again, he just kinda did it! He really didn’t struggle at all, except for the occasional pause when he’s trying to get his feet in the right position to get started.

That first day, he wasn’t great at using his brakes, but he asked to go again later that week (“Well, of course we can go biking again!!!” said the very proud father), so that time, he focused on gradually pushing backwards on the pedals to slow down a bit, rather than coming to a complete stop.

That day, he also went down the hill on the road a bit, so that’s probably the fastest he’s gone. We went again yesterday and he did the hill one more time. We also brought Brooke along so she could see him in action.

We’re talking about getting another bike now, as this one is a little on the small side for Calvin, and it most definitely won’t fit him next Summer. We’re still working on convincing Meg to actually put forth an effort on riding a bike (she’s pretty stubborn about it….wonder where she gets that from?), but I think seeing Calvin doing it so easily and having fun makes her think that she could probably do it without falling and hurting herself.

Regardless, I’m not officially not a failure as a parent. I’ve got at least one kid riding a bike, and enjoying it. ūüôā

Calvin Said Something Funny

Just eating a popsicle… #nbd

We went to the Mexican place up the street a few weeks ago while Meg was at Kids for Christ and, while Brooke and I were having a conversation, the following ensued:

Calvin: “What’s a ‘teenager’?”

Brooke: “Well, a ‘teenager’ is a big kid. Like Cooper from church.”

Calvin: “Then what’s a ‘Ghostbuster?'”

After this, Brooke and I could barely contain ourselves, so we couldn’t really inquire further. ¬†We can only assume Calvin equates teenagers with Ghostbusters, though how exactly Calvin learned of “Ghostbusters,” in the first place, eludes us.

Perhaps you had to be there…

Calvin’s Common Phrases: Age 2 Edition




“No. Yet me do it!”


“I climb up der!”

“Pweas, can I have a cookie, pweas?”

“No! ¬†<stomp>”

“I¬†did it!”


Our most common response to Calvin, age 2?

“No, Calvin…”

Knocking on wood…

It's February. Seriously.
It’s February. Seriously.

I know it’s been awhile since I posted anything, but this particular post has been bouncing around for a bit and I didn’t want to jinx anything.

So far this season, “sickness” has passed us by. ¬†This isn’t to say we haven’t felt ill or anything, but the week-long, knock-out D.B.D. that we tend to experience each Winter has, thus far, eluded us. ¬†Meg had a bout of strep throat two weeks ago that kept her out of school for 3 days, but the antibiotics took care of it, and really, by the third day, she was back to normal and just couldn’t go to school.

Calvin, somehow, hasn’t really come down with¬†anything. ¬†He’s had a lot of gunk in his eyes the last few days, but that’s begun to subside. ¬†It was probably connected with the runny nose he’s had, but again, nothing to keep him from school. ¬†Thus far, he hasn’t missed any days because he’s been sick, which is¬†craziness compared to the last few Winters.

I can only assume that he’s been infected by literally all childhood diseases at this point and he’s now built up an immunity.

Regardless, we’ve been pretty good on the illness front. ¬†Even Brooke and I have resisted sickness pretty well, with the exception of the odd runny nose and headache.

The weather is the other story of the season, where we had a high of 72 F yesterday.  On February 20th.  In Missouri.  It was nice enough late this week that I pulled out the bike trailer and hooked it up to take the kids to the park on Thursday and Friday (pictured above).  Yesterday, since the sun was out and the temperature broached the 70 F mark, we went out to the garden and started working the soil a bit.

There's Calvin..."helping"...
There’s Calvin…”helping”…

Brooke went ahead and started on the new garden plot, a third one to complement the other two we made last year. ¬†She nearly completed it too, as the ground was soft enough to work efficiently and turn it over in a few hours that morning. ¬†I turned over about half the old, large plot to prepare the way for some carrots, radishes and peas Brooke wants to get started with. ¬†The weather should be in the 50 F range this week, so while it’s going to get colder again, I’m hopeful I’ll have at least one warmer day over Spring Break in a few weeks so I can get out there and turn over more of the garden.

It's mostly herbs. I promise.
It’s mostly herbs. I promise.

For now, Brooke started up her seed warmer and a lamp down in the cellar. ¬†So far, she’s got mostly herbs planted, as well as peppers, tomatoes and some flowers. ¬†This is a bit sooner than she started them last year, and we had them on the back porch last year, where the temperatures got a bit hotter¬†earlier than we expected. ¬†Hopefully, the cellar will maintain it’s temperature better and the seeds will be a bit happier.

Feels like Spring is just around the corner!

The Boy Who Never Sleeps

Two cute kids. Not sleeping.
Two cute kids. Not sleeping.

I’ve been writing this post in my head for weeks now, but things never seemed to settle down perfectly, so I kept putting it off.

Basically, Brooke and I split time sleeping on Calvin’s floor for, like, 8 months this year. ¬†He simply did¬†not want to sleep alone, and while you could get him to sleep, the minute he’d wake up, he wouldn’t go back down (willingly) unless someone was with him. ¬†This also made it nearly impossible to leave his room (or we’d fall asleep waiting for¬†him to finally pass out). ¬†We tried a few things, including removing his crib because he was getting too large to lay in there without waking him up. ¬†He fell asleep on the floor one night, so we went with it and made a little “nest,” of sorts, in the corner for him to sleep on.

Ultimately, we relented and began just sleeping on the floor with him.  I moved a backpacking-style air mattress in there, Brooke laid down multiple comforters, and one of us would just take turns going in sometime between 1:00 am and 4:00 am and staying with him until it was time to get up.

Finally,¬†finally, we got sick of it. ¬†On Calvin’s birthday, we gave him a small toddler bed. ¬†We figured this would be the opportunity to start fresh in a “new situation,” where we rearrange his room a bit, put him in the bed, and make him sleep in it.

Shockingly, the process of getting him to sleep in it didn’t go as terribly as we’d expected. ¬†That first night was somewhat challenging, but even within the first few days, he was sleeping in the bed by himself for 6 hours at a time. ¬†It took us a bit to get into a routine of one of us sitting with him with books or YouTube videos before he’d let us leave his room without crying. ¬†There were some times when he’d try to follow us out and we’d have to sit there, holding his door shut, so he couldn’t escape. ¬†Early on, this didn’t happen all that often though, and he’d actually stay in his bed for awhile.

“Awhile” is a critical point, though, as 4:00 am would roll around and he’d decide “I’m awake!” and he’d leave his room. ¬†We had a door knob protector on, but those old door knobs are useless and the protector would stick in such a way that Calvin could get right past it.

Occasionally, he’d go into Meg’s room and wake her up, wanting to play.

More recently, we picked up a special alarm clock that changes colors depending on whether it’s time to get up or not. ¬†He mostly ignores whether it’s “yellow” (stay in bed) or “green” (time to get up), even though he’ll tell you what those colors mean. ¬†We think the clock has helped, to some degree, as¬†we know what time it is so, if he’s crying at 5:00 am and wants to leave his room, we can use the walkie-talkie function on the baby monitor and tell him to stay in bed “until the light turns ‘green’.”

Overall, we’re doing much better. ¬†Both of us are getting¬†far more sleep than we were at this time last year, and we’re getting to stay in our beds for longer on successive nights than we have since Calvin was born. ¬†Occasionally, we still need to go in there and help him find his lost stuffed animal in the middle of the night, but for the most part, he’s sleeping quite a bit better than he has in awhile!

As a brief aside, over Thanksgiving this year, Meg and Calvin slept in the same rooms for 4 nights and actually did remarkably well! ¬†We tried it once at our house a few weeks ago and it was a literal nightmare, but on the road, Meg was actually pretty good at keeping him in his room and knowing whether it was okay to get up and play or not. ¬†Since she can actually tell time, she knew whether it was okay to get up and play with toys in their room but¬†not actually¬†leave¬†the room, and other policies like that. ¬†Perhaps we’ll be able to move to bunk beds sometime in 2016!


The real thing...
The real thing…

We had a few names rolling around in our heads when we settled upon “Calvin,” but while there are a few reasons why we ultimately went with it, the most obvious reference for our generation is the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. ¬†I was a relatively big fan growing up and still have multiple book compilations in my office.

Well, when the “Calvin” name was announced, the comic strip was obviously mentioned, and we were asked whether we were going to give him a “Hobbes.” ¬†Famously, Bill Watterson, author of the comic, never licensed his materials to third-parties, so you can’t buy an official “Hobbes” stuff animal. ¬†Etsy has had some recently, but when I just searched, they were no longer available, so perhaps the lawyers made a few phone calls…

Anyway, Calvin was going to turn 2 (today, as of this posting, incidentally…happy birthday, buddy!) and Brooke and I wanted to get him the stuffed animal. ¬†Brooke found a pattern at Instructables and wanted to give it a try, as the material was reasonable and the stuffed animals on Etsy were generally not (some reaching as high as $150).

Every project has a beginning...
Every project has a beginning…

She actually took care of the initial work when I was gone at work for an evening,taking care of the bulk of the work before the kids were even in bed (as the sewing machine is right outside their bedrooms). ¬†This didn’t take all that long, though if she were going to do it again, she’d watch the head a bit more closely, as it’s more round than the real thing.

A little closer...
A little closer…

She had to sew the arms, legs and head on by hand, but that wasn’t the time-consuming part: that went to the stripes. ¬†Each stripe had to be done by hand, so she spent¬†many evenings sitting in front of the TV, sewing each stripe on. ¬†The whole thing wasn’t quite done by the time we had Calvin’s birthday party this past weekend in Columbia, so she took all her materials along to work on. ¬†Finally, after many nights of work (most nights for around three weeks?), she finished up, just in time to give it to him.

All done!
All done!

Pretty good, right?! ¬†For my part, I’m pretty impressed. ¬†It looks quite a bit like the real thing and just as good as most of the options available on Etsy (when you can find them). ¬†Brooke also personalized a little “Cal” onto the bottom of it, forever marking this “Hobbes” for this “Calvin.”


At least, to the only person that matters, he’s perfect.¬†ūüôā

Happy birthday, Calvin (and Hobbes)!

Boys and their Toys

Calvin and a lot of cars...many of them old...
Calvin and a few cars…

We’ve done our best to ensure that Meg and Calvin don’t get pigeon-holed into gender-specific stereotypes. ¬†That is to say, “princesses” were largely avoided for the first few years of Meg’s life (can’t avoid them now). ¬†We avoided pink clothes and toys for Meg early on (again…hard to avoid…). ¬†There were some toys that Meg fell into, like “Julia” (her doll that she was inseparable from for a few years), that weren’t exactly “gender neutral,” but we also made sure Calvin had a doll to play with (which he largely hasn’t). ¬†The idea was to allow them to choose the toys¬†they want to play with without filling their rooms with princesses and superheroes, respectively.

Weirdly, though, Calvin likes cars.  Always has.

Our house is near a relatively busy road, so shortly after he started walking, he made his way near that street. ¬†One of his first words was “cars,” followed shortly thereafter by “trucks.” ¬†Many afternoons, waiting for Mama to get home, Calvin and I sat on the corner waiting for her to drive up, listening for cars about to come up over the hill.

Since then, he’s liked playing with toy cars (including two small ones he fell asleep with tonight), he likes watching rally car racing on YouTube, and he’ll even watch me play Gran Turismo 6 with a PS3 controller in his hand.

It’s just one of those things we think about. ¬†With Meg, she’s started gravitating in the direction of princesses slowly over time as she’s met new friends, so now she has an interest (recently because of Sofia the First). ¬†But Calvin’s one year old, so he doesn’t exactly have meaningful conversation about whether an STI is better than an Evo.

So is it inherent that boys must like cars? ¬†Maybe. ¬†I guess there are just some things “gender neutral” won’t work for.

Calvin’s Word List

"I don't know!"
“I don’t know!”

Though Calvin started off pretty slowly, so far as the whole “talking” thing goes, he’s been picking up pretty rapidly in the past month. Meg had 35¬†at this point in her development, but Calvin’s been able to rely on his big sister to help him out up until now. ¬†Still, it looks like he’s running a bit ahead on language than she was (though, again, it feels like an¬†explosion in the last month, whereas Meg got them a bit more gradually).

Anyway, here’s a non-exhaustive list. ¬†I’m probably missing a few…


  • Mama (“Mama”)
  • Daddy (“Dada”)
  • Meg (“Meh”)
  • Sam (“Hem”)
  • Nana (“Nana”)
  • Mimi (“Meh-meh”)
  • Harper (“Hah-pah”)
  • Emma
  • Banana (also “Nana”)
  • Milk (“Mah”)
  • More (“Moh”)
  • No (“Nooooo”)
  • “Cow” (“Boo”)
  • Pig (“Pih”)
  • Snow (“No”)
  • Snowman (“No-MEN”)
  • Please (“Peas”)
  • Baby (“Beh-beh”)
  • Books (“Boo”)
  • Bed (“Beh”)
  • Bath (“Bah”)
  • Shoes (“Soos”)
  • Socks (“Hoks”)
  • Moon (“Moo”)
  • “Shh” (“Ssss”)
  • Water (“Wah-wah”)
  • “Rock rock” (also “Wah-wah”)
  • Elmo (“Meh-mo”)
  • Bye bye (“Bah-bah”)
  • Night night (“Nah-nah”)
  • Tractor (“Tac-tah”)
  • Bird (“Bih”)
  • Truck (“Tuh”)
  • Dog (“Dah”)

Body Parts (Identification, mostly):

  • Mouth
  • Nose (“Noh”)
  • Belly (“Beh-beh”)
  • Toes
  • Feet
  • Head
  • Hair
  • Cheeks
  • Hands
  • Arms
  • Knees
  • Eyes
  • Teeth
  • Ears
  • Fingers

The Boy Turns One

Here's our Little Man
Here’s our Little Man

A year ago today, we welcomed Calvin into the world. ¬†And what a year it’s been.

Granted, the last half of this past year blew by incredibly quickly because of Life Changes for the whole family.  I barely remember what we did 4 months ago, as most of our time was spent packing and cleaning and looking into buying houses.

Through all that time, though, Calvin kept getting bigger! ¬†It’s amazing how much progress he’s made, especially in comparison with his big sister. ¬†Due to ear infections, it took her a bit longer to be mobile. ¬†Perhaps Calvin is more motivated to follow Meg around though, because he’s been crawling for a few months now and late last week started to try taking a few steps for the first time. ¬†He’s routinely standing up from a squat all by himself, standing for nearly a minute at a time before sitting back down again. ¬†He’s¬†ready to walk, but hasn’t quite taken the plunge yet.

Within the last month or so, he’s also finally,¬†finally,¬†slept consistently through the night. ¬†He’ll cry out occasionally but can usually get himself back to sleep. ¬†I’m thinking the creepy peacock wallpaper in his room has something to do with it, but it seems like shortly after the move to the new house in Marshall, his sleeping situation (and ours…) improved dramatically.

Now that he’s a year old, we’re also in the process of weaning him off of Brooke faster than we were before. ¬†Meg was on a bottle long before this point in her life, but Brooke’s been able to keep feeding Calvin. ¬†Generally, she’s only doing it first thing in the morning and right before bedtime. ¬†We don’t even have to do it at naptime anymore to calm him down. ¬†She’ll slowly scale it back, but at this point, it seems like he can make it pretty well without needing that particular form of comfort. ¬†Big boy finally growing up a bit!

Other than his progress, life has been busy for the rest of us. ¬†They say your first semester is the hardest and they aren’t kidding. ¬†I’m frequently working 12 hr days during the week in order to stay ahead, but I don’t mind it so far. ¬†Brooke’s still getting settled with her job in Sedalia, but things are starting to look up on that front, too. ¬†I’ll post more about the house later, but we’ve got half of the electrical system done, some important plumbing done, some new appliances, and we re-did the bathroom upstairs by ourselves in a little over a week (there will¬†definitely be a post on that one). ¬†Long-story short, we’re making progress with the house and are nearly “settled.”

Because of that, we were able to have a birthday party for Calvin this past weekend at the house. ¬†We had around 16 people over and, as the weather was¬†gorgeous, we set things up outside. ¬†Grilled burgers, had many sides, and of course, birthday cake. ¬†Calvin napped through half the party and wasn’t exactly “smiley” after he woke up, but I think he still had a fun time, and definitely got some fun toys.

Regardless, Calvin’s done well this past year and, though his sleeping schedule was terrible for, oh, 10 months of his life, I think we’re finally past it. ¬†At least we’re to the point when he and Meg can play together in their room(s) by themselves, giving us a few extra moments of peace.

It’s worth something, for sure.

Oh, it’s been awhile…

So, it’s been quite awhile since I last posted something. ¬†There’s¬†a lot I could delve into, but for now, I’m going to bullet a few points of “updates” to get you a cross-section of how things have been going.

1). We closed on our house on August 6th, and there’s a whole story behind how that went down, but suffice to say, we successfully closed and got everything moved in. ¬†The house is doing pretty well, but we’ve got some long-term projects in process that prevent us from unpacking¬†all the boxes. ¬†I’ll go into this in a later post, but for now, know that we had some plumbing done, getting me all squared away for brewing and getting us a new (more functional) toilet installed upstairs. ¬†Hopefully tomorrow, we will have electrical work done, where our house is going to be effectively re-wired. ¬†This is stuff that needs to get done and we’re glad we can get it moving within a month of moving in!

2). Brooke’s new job (with the same company) is going well, but she has her work cut out for her. ¬†Lots of things to get done, so she’s been busy incorporating her old duties at Bridges CSS (St. Louis) into her new duties at Bridges of Missouri (Sedalia). ¬†She’s enjoying it and things have been steadily improving this past month, but there’s lots more to do!

3). My job is going well so far, but this is only the second week of school. ¬†Our first exams will start late next week and continue into the following week, so while I’m trying to keep ahead on lectures for three separate classes, I’ve also got to do the “in the present” kinds of stuff like grading and test design. ¬†It’s work, but I’m enjoying it so far!

4).¬†Calvin is sleeping through the night. ¬†It started August 23rd, on his 11 month birthday, and has continue on and off. ¬†Some nights are better than others, but aside from a few cries in the middle of the night, he’s staying down from 7:00 pm to 6:00/6:30 am. ¬†Oh, how long we’ve waited for this…and we hope and pray it continues…

5). Meg and Calvin are enjoying their days at the Missouri Valley Lab School. ¬†They started on August 18th and Meg took to it¬†immediately.¬†¬†Like, I’m surprised just how well she’s done there. ¬†Compared with previous places, where she’d cry for 2-3 weeks as I’d leave her there, she’s been nothing but easy to deal with there. ¬†Calvin, on the other hand, took about a week-and-a-half to get settled where I can leave him with a teacher and not have him scream as I walked away. ¬†Still, that’s been better in recent days, too.

6). I got a new router and a new Linux server, so that’s why the site’s been down recently. ¬†I think I figured it out so it¬†should be working fine, albeit a slight bit slower than it used to be. ¬†We’ll see how it goes…

That’s enough for now! ¬†I’ll expand on some of these points in the future, but this should tide you over for awhile!