Special Family Time

This past weekend, Kate and I got on unexpected break from the kids. Murray had grand plans with them during the day on Sunday, and my mom offered to have them sleep over on Saturday night. From all accounts, they had a grand time. Murray made a gingerbread house with the kids, and then took them for a ride to see Christmas lights before bringing them home. The kids had a ton of fun. I’m sure this will be one of those fond memories of Christmas that they have down the road.

Murray and the kids

Oh, and we learned one more important lesson: Place gingerbread houses up high enough that the dog doesn’t eat the gingerbread bushes and gingerbread men!

Somebody Turns Five Today

It hasn’t really been five years since Simon was born, has it? Insert appropriate cliche about time going by really fast. So here are the highlights.

I got the idea for this post from Kristen when she did it for her son last month. She’s a better writer than I am, so I’m going to let pictures do most of the talking. Thanks, Kristen.

Brand New

Simon and Casey

Casey wasn’t quite sure what to make of this new creature that had invaded her home. We weren’t quite sure either. All I knew is that he was cute as a button during the day and infuriatingly AWAKE at night. We solved that problem during the first year. One of many new parent learning experiences.


Simon's First Birthday Cupcake

You turned one and the cuteness had only begun. Your exploded into a blur of motion and sound as you learned to walk and talk with gusto. It is right around the 1-2 transition that kids hit their “peak cuteness” and you did so with style, charming everybody from your grandparents to the grocery store clerk. You set a high bar for your sister.


Simon Enjoying his Hot Chocolate

I feel bad for whoever coined the term the “terrible twos,” because I thought they were pretty fantastic. You were old enough to be able to communicate what you wanted, but not old enough to really be testing limits with any seriousness. This was an awesome age, and I wish I could remember more if it more clearly.


Simon and Erin Working on the Compost Bin

Three was a big year for you. You got a sister (not pictured!), and you LOVE her. Sometimes a little too much. But man is she lucky to have a big brother like you. You spent some time in New York and Texas visiting your grandparents this year, and you’re still asking me when you can go on a plane again. Apparently it made a lasting impression.


Simon and Mary

You started going to preschool at 4 (well, technically the first month you were 3). After one or two teary mornings, you settled right in. You also decided to seriously test some limits and cop an attitude. It was a rough couple of months, but you seemed to get over it, and are generally a very pleasant, sensitive, loving child. You ESPECIALLY love your sister. I love that you two are so close in age, and I hope that you remain close as you get older.


Sandy Simon

So here you go at five. You’re getting bolder, but no less sensitive, and this time next year you’ll be in kindergarten. You’re getting so big so fast, I simply can’t believe it. I just have one request. SLOW. DOWN. But thanks for a great first five years. It’s been a blast.

That’s “Coach Campbell” to you!

Impeccable Form

Simon is reaching the age where it is appropriate for his parents to push him into activities in which he would otherwise have absolutely no interest. Er. . . that is, Simon is SO excited that he’s going to be playing Bantam (read peewee) soccer this fall. I was so excited about getting him involved, that I went out and signed up to get certified by the Virginia Youth Soccer Association as a U8-U10 coach (there was nobody offering the U6-U8 course locally).

The course was very valuable, and immediately shattered all notions of coaching youth soccer that I had from my elementary school soccer days. Kids want to have fun? What?! Shocker! No laps?! No LINES?! Half of my time spent in peewee soccer was running laps and standing in lines for certain drills.

The course was run by a coach with over 25 years of coaching experience, and boy did it show. We spent the afternoon out on the field. He first showed us some drills (and quickly exposed our beer guts and poor conditioning), and then we spent a couple of hours watching him actually work with the kids. And I learned that coaching youth soccer is probably more of an art form than anything else.

I have my doubts about coaching a team that Simon is on. I’m not sure how he will respond to an environment where his father is an authority figure outside of “Dad.” But we’ll give it a go this fall and see what happens. Next step? World Cup 2026!

Another VT Graduation

It seems like just yesterday that I was writing about my sister’s graduation from UVA. That was, in fact, five years ago. Wow. That went by really fast.

Today, it’s Murray’s turn. A couple weeks ago, Kate, Mary, Simon, and I made the trek down to Blacksburg to help Murray celebrate his college graduation. It was a fun couple of days, and I really enjoyed meeting Murray’s friends and hanging out as a family at my (and Kate’s and my Dad’s) alma mater.

Graduate and Proud Parents

Murray has grown into a young man that any parent would be proud of. If my kids turn out half as well as their Uncle Murray, we’ll be doing pretty well. What strikes me about Murray is the awesome balance he has struck. He has been a solid student, while also getting involved in a number of extracurriculars at Tech, while still making plenty of time for his relationships with his friends and family. He is pretty unflappable, and is going to make a great addition in his new job this fall (working for PWC). They are lucky to have him.

I also count myself among the people who are lucky to have Murray. I’m really excited that he’s going to be in in NoVA to start his career, and I’m looking forward to getting some time to hang out here and there. I know my kids are looking forward to it, too. Yes, that means we’ll be hitting you up for babysitting oh. . . constantly. Mom and Dad will be glad for the time off.

Congratulations, Murray!

Overheard in my House

So the blog is neglected. Woefully neglected. I owe Murray a “happy graduation” post, and I could write reams and reams about how Simon is “going through a stage” (dear God, don’t let it be permanent!), but instead I will throw out this little exchange that took place in our hotel in Blacksburg over the weekend.

Simon: Mommy, when will I be 60?
Kate:Not for a very long time, Simon.
Simon: <thinks for a moment > – Mommy, I will miss you when I’m 60.

Proof positive that he has a long term plan. . .

Casey’s Stalker

Casey has developed an unlikely friendship. . . with a cat. This stray has been appearing more and more frequently around our house, often catching me and Casey on her morning walks. I opened the door this evening to find the cat sitting on our porch, meowing pitifully. We let Casey out for a minute so I could get a picture of this unlikely couple.

Anybody want a cat?

Casey's Stalker

iPad Thoughts

iPadApple announced their tablet computing device yesterday, and the general consensus around the web seems to be “meh.” A coworker of mine said (paraphrasing here) “why would I buy this if I already have an iPhone and a laptop?” I agree. If you’re already a laptop toting iPhone wielding Apple fanboy, then this has to be a bit of a letdown. There doesn’t appear to be anything vastly innovative or different about the iPad. The iPad appears to be little more than a bigger, faster, iPod Touch. People wanted more. More innovation. More pizazz. Apple didn’t want to shake the boat too much though, and went with what has worked for them in the past.

But for me? I am intrigued. Not blown away. Just intrigued. We have one computer in our house. It’s a somewhat aging desktop, and it’s located in our basement. I don’t have smart phone. I don’t have a Kindle or other e-reader. I do have an iPod Nano. Kate doesn’t understand the appeal of a device like the iPad. Here’s what I see.

  • Portable Web Browsing: Not mobile web browsing, because I’m not willing to front the extra $130 up front and $30/mo that the 3G versions of these devices require. But portable web browsing I can get behind. Need to send a recipe to your friend, but don’t want to trek down to the basement? iPad. Want to check the directions to your event that night but don’t want to trek down to the basement? iPad. Want to check your fantasy football score while watching the game? Ipad. Send a quick email, update twitter, or check facebook? iPad, iPad, iPad.

    Yes, there is a certain laziness implied in the above paragraph. It IS only a flight of stairs, after all. Let me put this another way. Want to do any of the above but can’t because your spouse/kids/dog/cat/gerbil is using the computer? iPad.
  • Portable Video: Watch an episode of Chuck in the comfort of my own bed before I go to sleep? Or on an airplane ride? Or on the beach? Or on my way to New York while the kids sleep and Kate drives? Heck yeah!

    Oh who am I kidding? I never let Kate drive.
  • Calendar, Contacts, Notes, etc. The functions and form of the iPad point towards it making a pretty decent PDA, especially if it syncs nicely with Google Calendar and Google Contacts. This is something that I always thought would be nice about having an iPhone. The successfulness (or lack thereof) of the on-screen keyboard will likely affect the iPad’s usefulness in this category.
  • Photo Sharing: If I’m toting this back and forth from work every day (see the previous bullet), which I would, you’re darn right I’m going to use it to show off my kids. Heck, I’d prop it in my cube when it’s not actively in use and it’ll be a digital picture frame. Because my coworkers don’t get enough pictures of my kids already.
  • Light Gaming: I’m kidding everybody if I don’t include gaming. I (and yes, probably the kids) will play a few games on this device. Not like I would on a gaming console or a full blown PC, but I bet there will be a couple of ways to waste some time with this bad boy.
  • Digital Books, Magazines, and Newspapers: As much as I hate to admit it, digital magazines, newspapers, and yes, books are the wave of the future. I don’t think I’ll ever give up on reading a hardcopy book, but magazines and newspapers make pretty good sense for a device like this. It remains to be seen if the technology is to a point where I can read on a device like this without getting a headache, but I’m willing to give it a shot.

So while it might not make sense for others, this device might make sense for me. Does it have shortcomings? Absolutely. Might I wait a while for the price to drop and for the next version to come out in a year or two? I might. But this device definitely fits a hole in my electronics devices arsenal. Is it a hole that I absolutely have to fill? Ask me in March.