Sunday, November 24, 2013


Carver may be the most enthusiastic boy I've ever met. When it is time to eat, I'll say, "Carver want bread with butter?" He will nod his head and grin while his response seems to burst from his vocal cords, "Bread! Butter! Yeah! Okay!" He is the same way about going outside, playing with his great uncle George, and finding anything that is spherical (He will carefully pronounce each syllable at the top of his lungs, "Ball!").
It seems that sometimes during his scheming he is not quite sure what to say. He is still wildly enthusiastic, though, so he must need some way to express it. Somehow, he recently settled on the word, "Chobalai!" to scream out his excitement. It is a multipurpose set of syllables, apparently. He uses it as his war cry, as a celebratory shout, and sometimes in passing as he simply moves from one task to the next. 
We cannot seem to figure out if he is really saying something that we just cannot make out, or if it is a word he's invented. I keep thinking that maybe the "bolai" part has something to do with "play", but I suppose we may never know. He also uses a version that sounds more like "troublai", but as far as we can tell he uses the two interchangeably. 
We are also shouting "Chobalai!" in anticipation of Thanksgiving this week! Avey gets the week off of school, but I still have to teach on Wednesday, not to mention I have a dissertation lingering over my head day and night. Although we do not get to leave town for the holiday, we fortunately have relatives in town who are also pie and turkey enthusiasts. 
We are reminded again of the fortunate circumstances in which we find ourselves. We are healthy, and our home is full of love. There is not much more for us to want (Although I've got my heart set on another graduation soon...).

Sunday, November 17, 2013


For some time it has been apparent that our little station wagon is not entirely suited for a family of four. It got us from point A to point B, but with two small children it was a bit cramped to have to squat into to put the little ones into car seats and buckle them in. Thus, it is with great pleasure that we announce our recent upgrade:
Ha ha. Just kidding. Here is the real thing:
This is the van that we've heretofore borrowed from my aunt and uncle whenever we've gone on long road trips. They made us a generous offer we could not refuse, so we sold our wagon and bought the van from them last Sunday.

Its best two features for road trips are the cruise control and the DVD player (although I suppose having four wheels is a nice perk too).
Avey, although saddened by the parting of our station wagon she has known since birth, is thrilled with the van. It feels like a new room to our home. She and Carver have made a new game of exploring the van while it is parked - trying out all of the seats, opening compartments, and pushing buttons to see what happens.
We may need to figure out a road trip before Christmas so the kids don't go crazy.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Battles, Bruises, and a Birthday

Carver is still an early riser. He did well waiting until around 6 for a while there, and then we changed the clocks. On Friday morning, it was my turn to get up with him. As I emptied my water bottle from the night, I noticed a dark spot contrasted with our kitchen's light floor. Closer inspection revealed that the spot was in fact a scorpion! We had heard that they are one of the unfortunate consequences of living in El Paso, but we had never actually seen one. I wished very much for a moment that I had put shoes on before leaving the bedroom, and then made sure Carver was clear of the kitchen, while I tried to come up with a quick plan. As I approached the fiend to dispose of it, it outsmarted me and scurried under the dishwasher.
Kids at a Picnic
I spent the rest of the morning in a minor state of anxiety, and made sure to keep my eyes on the floor in case of a blitzkrieg. We opted not to inform Avey of my little encounter, lest she never enter the kitchen for the remainder of her life. Once she was safely away at school, I took out the dishwasher and coaxed the pest out into the open where we had our final face-off. I was eventually crowned victor.
Future Source of Embarrassment
Avey rented Kung Fu Panda from the library last week, and Carver has caught martial art fever. I remembered that I still have a set of escrima sticks from my Tae Kwon Do days, so I handed him one to see what he could do. He turned out to be a natural:
I'm not sure where he learned to say "trouble", but it sure fits!

In the last bit of news from this week, I had yet another birthday. It was less traumatic than other years, perhaps because I am slowly running out of the energy to resist the aging process. I am slowly accepting my fate to be middle aged. I received wonderful gifts, and a lot of (good) attention from my kids and wife. My aunt in town baked me a delicious cake, we tried out a local restaurant with amazing food, and we actually had a date to see Ender's Game (very well done). I still aged, but at least I had fun doing it.
My Birthday Cake

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fruits of Labors

As parents, we occasionally have brief moments of clarity - where the enormity of our parental duty becomes overwhelmingly obvious. These moments contrast the complexity and size of the rest of the world with our ever-shrinking influence on our children. In some of those moments, our children shock us with how seemingly little they have retained from hours of teaching and guidance. But other times, they amaze us with independent, unsolicited feats of insight, thereby showing us that they do listen and learn when we speak.
I had just such a moment earlier this week. My mother brought us up to be particularly mindful of grammar, spelling, and word choice. For that reason, I have also tried to train Avey in the careful use of words. For example, I'll often tease her when she says something that could be misinterpreted by acting as if I misunderstand. 
Avey's Pumpkin Design on Left, Dad's on Right
Finally, I witnessed the fruits of my labors this week. Avey has a chart from her dentist with rows of boxes that she can mark after brushing her teeth. Below the chart, the instructions state, "Check each box after brushing teeth." Avey was brushing her teeth one day, reading the chart, when she commented to Kira, "Mom, I think a kid could think that means they could brush their teeth just once, and then check off all of the boxes. I think it should say, 'Check the next box after brushing teeth.'"
Carver's Pumpkin (Dad's Creation)
When Kira told me about it that night, I had never been prouder of Avey. Finally, I found some evidence that she will be a distinguished member of the Grammar Police in the near future, just as her father. She will spend countless hours biting her tongue while her friends and teachers misplace modifiers, incorrectly conjugate pronouns after prepositions, and throw reflexives about willy-nilly. I must emphasize to her that it is not an easy burden to bear. It has driven more than a few to madness, what with the current state our nation's schools, and the constant damage to the language that texting causes.

But she can hopefully take comfort in the fact that at least most of her college professors, and perhaps a few of her friends and fans, will appreciate her reverence with and mastery of our language.

Or if nothing else, at least she won't drive her father crazy.