Thursday, March 30, 2006


Eleanor made her first music video today. They Might Be Giants, one of Matt's favorite bands, has two children's albums: No and Here Comes the ABC's. They have ingenius songs like "Alphabet of Nations" and "C is for Conifer." "QU" was Eleanor's song of choice for this video. We hope you enjoy.

Video Sharing at

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Banana

This morning I left innocent Eleanor in her booster seat for a minute while I stepped into the kitchen to mix up some oatmeal for her breakfast.

She clearly had other ideas about breakfast. I didn't realize this was within reach.

Since it was requested, I broke off some bite size pieces for her to try to eat.

It took awhile for her to catch all those slimey bits, but the reward was sweet.

And a totally unrelated picture. Eleanor loves licking mirrors. We don't know if she is trying to kiss herself or taste herself.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Toy of the Day

Eleanor discovered Ralph.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Take Things Out of the Basket Game

Eleanor's new favorite game is taking things out of containers. She has a basket of small board books, a basket of toys, and a mixing bowl full of ducks. All are emptied (and refilled) numerous times a day. She has begun to show preference for a certain toy (a giraffe) and will work with the agility of the toy claw at an arcade to get it out.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


A few days ago I picked up Frank Miller's graphic novel/comic anthology "Batman: the Dark Knight Returns".

It was great. I couldn't put it down. If you liked last year's Summer film, "Batman Begins," then you might want to pick it up and see where a lot of the ideas came from for fleshing out Batman's psychological depth.

It reminded me how much I used to love comics. Last year I read a graphic novel entitled "Blankets" by Craig Thompson. It is perhaps the most powerful use of the graphic medium for narrative purposes I've ever seen. Beautiful. It got me thinking that I might like to try again at my childhood ambition of drawing a comic (if not a 600 page novel). And I did have hundreds of minutes to kill working at the clinic. Below is what happened.


My problem is that I never finished it, and I'd like to. So I'm taking creative input on what should happen next. You, our loyal readership, must help me finish what I started. What should happen next? I'm trying to stick with the theme of no dialogue, but I can be swayed. Let me know what you think and I promise I won't leave you hanging. But in the mean time, I'll have to find that legal pad again...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Daffy Dills

We took Eleanor to Wye Mountain today to see the flowers.

She looked at them,

felt of them,

and, of course, tasted them.

Our good friend Chessie sent Eleanor this adorable outfit months ago. Thanks Chessie!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Sophie and Eleanor

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Don't worry. Sophie had just brushed her teeth.

Monday, March 06, 2006

A Beautiful Monday

Matt stayed home from work today. Since he worked all weekend, he has quite a few extra hours to take off when he wants. We decided to take advantage of the lovely weather and go for a picnic. The last time I took Eleanor to the park, I let her play in the grass. My mom saw those pictures and said, "That poor girl needs some toys so she doesn't have to play with just grass." (Just for the record, we have toys coming out the qua-zoo.)

Thanks to her Mimi, Eleanor has fun little cars intended for outside play (and chewing).

She played with them for a while, but then went back to playing with (and eating) the grass.

Then Eleanor's good friend Sophie came over to play. Sophie is a very patient beagle. Eleanor was eager to explore this strange new animal. Sophie felt the same towards Eleanor. I think they will get along well.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

On Call

When you get assigned to weekend call as a chaplain at Baptist Hospital, you are responsible for Pastoral Care needs from 8PM Friday night until 8AM Saturday and then again from 4PM Saturday until 8AM Sunday morning. I was on such an assignment this weekend and had perhaps the busiest weekends of call I’ve ever had. But nevertheless it is a good example of the kinds of work we do in terms of crisis response.

Without getting into too much detail (and violating the privacy of our patients and their families), Friday night at 9PM I was called in and didn’t finish until 4:30AM. I worked with the families of two trauma victims flown by helicopter (Med-Flight) to our hospital from scenes of accidents, one “code-blue” patient (either their heart or breathing have stopped and the staff is attempting to revive them), one brain dead patient whose family was continuing to arrive, and two deaths. Saturday night I was called at about 7:10PM and came home at 9:15 for thirty minutes before getting called back and staying until 3:30AM. Last night I worked with the families of two Med-Flights, the same brain-dead patient, and one other death.

People often ask what exactly that we do as chaplains in situations such as these and that’s difficult to explain in detail but it can mostly be summed up by our being present with families in crisis. At times we pray with and for patients and families, at times we help people know what to expect when their family members are coding, or have died. Other times we act as liaisons between medical staff and patients. We sit with husbands of wives who have been whisked away into emergency surgery in the middle of the night. We walk with grieving mothers who can’t bear being confined in small rooms laden with news of death. We listen to mothers exclaim their raging incomprehension at the meaninglessness of a bullet inside the heads of their sons (twice this weekend, actually). We look on with helplessness as a mother learns that her baby did not survive the accident* and she groans in incomprehensible pain. Today I am glad the baton of “call” has been passed to another chaplain as I am exhausted physically and emotionally, but knowing what its like to feel alone in the midst of the fear of a medical crisis, I’m glad I was able to be there for these people this weekend.

* I spent a few extra minutes this morning making sure Eleanor’s car-seat was properly configured. Perhaps this is making me a bit paranoid but I don’t want any of my friends with babies to go through what I saw last night. Here are a few notes (courtesy of Melody) on car seat safety.

A Few Notes on Car Seat Safety

- The safest place for a baby is the center of the back seat. Never put a car seat in a front seat with an airbag.
- Watch weight and height limits. If the baby’s head is within an inch of the top of the car seat, the seat is too small.
- The carrying handle on infant car seats needs to be locked down (not above the baby’s head) when driving. The principle at work here is that in an accident the seat will flip up towards the back of the car, creating a kind of safe, shell of hard plastic around the baby, covering the top opening. If the handle is up it will interfere with this protective action.
- The little plastic clip that holds the straps together should be at armpit level.
- For rear facing babies, the straps should be at or below the shoulders. For forward facing babies/children, the straps should be at or above the shoulders.
- An infant is safest when facing the rear. To protect little neck muscles, keep the baby facing the rear for as long as possible. One year AND 20 pounds is the minimum for turning them around.
- If the seat can move an inch in any direction after installed, it is not installed properly.
- The straps need to fit snug on the baby. If you can pinch it together, it’s too loose.
- for more information

Friday, March 03, 2006

Tujuh Bulan

Originally uploaded by bendblock.
Seven months. We celebrated by going to a nice park and sitting in the grass. Eleanor loved the grass and watching a mob of preschoolers play.

I was looking at the shirt that she is wearing this morning and thinking, "if this were in my size, I would wear it." I don't think I would wear the matching hat though.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Video of the Day - Party in Realtime

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Okay. So I don't blame you all for not commenting on that last one. A little dark and self-indulgent and really 66% rerun photos but I wanted you to get the effect of them all together.

On Tuesday, February 28nd, 2006, Melody surprised me with the a 1/2 birthday party (to make up for the one we altogether ignored in the wake of Eleanor's arrival). It was amazing. This video is a little bit of the fun from that night. For inquiring minds the folks at the party are depicted as follows:

Matt Cleveland, Allison Cleveland, Kim Cleveland, Tiffany Stephenson, Donnie Stephenson, Meg Baumgardner, Eleanor Lumpkin, Melody Lumpkin, Joey Utter, Ben Utter, Josh Williams, Ayumi Williams, Brandy Ussery, Joel Anderson and again, Ben Utter. Hah, and you thought you all could attend my surprise 24 & 1/2 birthday party in anonymity.

I just have to brag that I have a good wife who still manages to surprise me (though I am terribly gullible). And she made a chocolate cheese-cake, to boot (or rather, to eat). And I stil have 1/2 a slice.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006