Josh’s Morning Routine

When Josh is getting ready for a school day, I can only imagine how he processes his to do list.

“Lets see, I have to

A. Bug Joe
B. Bug Amy
C. Bug Lauryn
D. Change underwear
E. Get dressed
F. Put on socks AND shoes
G. Brush teeth

Wow, that’s a lot. Time to prioritize. A-C are non-negotiables, but that’s going to leave me pressed. D is optional, so I’ll put that off til next week. I can manage to squeeze in E and F as long as I leave out the sock part. If I just run my toothbrush under the faucet, that might just leave me enough time for another round of A-C. This should work.”

Happy 2012!

Well, Joe and Amy, my two older children, are finally quiet in bed after staying up to welcome in the new year. My younger son Josh gave out around 10, and my youngest, Lauryn, made it to 11. Of course, the four dogs zonked out as soon as the food stopped flowing.

I’ve taken a hiatus from blogging during a really busy fall semester–lots of work projects going on in addition to my regular teaching load, and the kids had a busy fall school schedule with homework, projects, and performances. We stuck around town this year for Christmas, and I’ve been slowly “rediscovering” our house, getting caught up on laundry and clearing out the clutter that accumulates over a semester. There have been a lot of topics I’ve wanted to write about, but just haven’t had the time. I’m hoping to get back into a regular shedule of posting in 2012.

For a quick snapshot, here’s what I’m watching and reading:

Book–The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach. A wonderfully written first novel, sort of about baseball, mostly about life. Funny and poignant.

Movies–I’m on a Martin Scorcese kick these days. Watched The Aviator and Gangs of New York on DVD and saw Hugo over Thanksgiving. Love his eye–the guy just knows how to tell a story in pure cinematic language. Saw Hugo with the kids and was impressed with how riveted they were to the Harold Lloyd sequences: good film doesn’t have to have lots of special effects; intelligent humor will grab an audience every time. I also just watched Midnight in Paris and Beginners and liked both.

TV–I finally decided to sample Downton Abbey on Netflix and ended up watching all seven episodes of Season One in a single day. The multi-layered plot involving multiple social levels hooked me immediately. I also got interested because I’m not as well-versed in the years leading up to World War I as I’d like to be. The series begins the day after the sinking of the Titanic and ends with Britain declaring war on Germany. Season Two starts up this month and covers the war years.

Oh, and I’ve been playing on the Wii a lot in the past few days with the kids–getting creamed mostly but having fun.

Ninja Josh

Josh's Signature MoveI called Josh in to supper the other night.

He was busy fighting invisible enemies with a three-foot dowel rod.

I called again.

He dropped the dowel rod, charged toward me, and struck  a pose, holding plastic knives.

He then looked me in the eye and said, “that’s my signature move.”

Afterschool Debriefings

The kids began the new school year a week ago, so we are getting settled into a routine of sorts.  We now have two middle-schoolers (6th and 7th) and two in elementary (1st and 2nd), so we have consolidated the number of car lines we wait in (hallelujah to not giving in to road rage trying to beat the tardy bell).

Some of the best debriefing occurs in the car, I find.  When I asked Josh how his day went recently, he replied,


“Have you made any new friends?”

“Yes, I played with [ambiguous name] at recess.”

“Is [ambiguous name] a boy or girl?”

“She’s a girl.  We played chase.”

“So you chased each other around the playground.”

“No, she chased me.  She chased me the whole recess, and she didn’t even get tired.  I guess girls are good at chasing.”

I smiled and said nothing.

How to Land Your Kid in Therapy – The Atlantic

I just started reading the current issue of The Atlantic, the cover of which carries the intriguing title “How the Cult of Self-Esteem is Ruining Our Kids.”  Inside, there’s an article by Lori Gottlieb, “How to Land Your Kid in Therapy,” in which she describes how the parental search for happiness for one’s children actually leads to vaguely unfulfilled, anxious adults.

It gave me a lot of things to think about; at times in the article, I found myself saying, “yeah, I got that part right,” and at other times I thought, “ouch–I can see how I’ve messed that up.”  In essence, she argues that being too present in our kids’ lives (or, rather, being present in the wrong ways) can be just as destructive as being absent.

The article also reminded me of a funny incident involving my late father.  I should preface this by saying that one of Gottlieb’s beefs is that we have culturally tried to remove the possibility of disappointment from our kids lives, in part by removing from them the experience of competition: we tell our kids that they’re all winners, all the time.

So, back to my dad.  When my wife and I were newly married, we were spending a weekend with my sister’s family and my parents at a hotel.  At one point, we were teaching the kids how to play Scrabble (they were in the 6-8 year-old range) by just playing around and making words.  My dad wandered into the room, observed for a few minutes, and then asked, “Who’s winning?”  We replied that we weren’t keeping score.  He paused a moment then said, “Well, what’s the point of that?”  That probably told my wife all she needed to know about my family of origin.

I’m looking forward to reading another article in the issue: “The Trophy Generation,” by James Bennet.  Perhaps after reading it, I’ll have some further thoughts on both his and Gottlieb’s piece.

Memorial Day 2011

IMAG0612 This was a good but hot Memorial Day weekend here in Kentucky.  We hung out at home most of the time.  I took the kids to Quest Saturday night for the Man Series 2.0, and Sunday morning we went as a family to Mount Zion and heard a good sermon on the importance of IMAG0621remembering.

We watched the Memorial Day Concert in Washington on PBS—the music is always good, and the narratives they read are really well done.  It also makes me think I’m in D.C. having a picnic on the Mall—one of my favorite cities to visit.IMAG0613

Monday morning we did some cleaning around the house, since we were in danger of not remembering what the floor and counters looked like, IMAG0614and in the afternoon we carried out another Gobin/Bowman tradition—getting the annual pool pass!  The pool was packed out—cars out the driveway, but it was a good cool off.

IMAG0615Lauryn has lost whatever reticence she used to have with the water.  IMAG0616She’s always  loved the pool but has been cautious in the past.  Last summer, I couldn’t talk her into going down the slide.  Those days are gone.  She went down the slide on her own initiative about ten times and was jumping off the side of the pool IMAG0617into water over her head.  Needless to say, I was on lifeguard duty the whole time, since there were about a thousand people in this pool, and she moves fast.IMAG0618

I took these pictures during a safety check, when the kids went up to play on the “sprayground.”  I also took a short video where Joe, Amy, IMAG0619and Lauryn were waiting to get drenched by buckets filling over their heads, and Josh was doing his best to keep out of camera range.IMAG0620  I finally got him coming in to enjoy getting dunked, too, while Lauryn took a minute to sit on the side and suck her thumb.

I guess the little girl took over the big girl for a moment.

Snow Days

IMAG0505 Today marked the ninth snow day for Jessamine County Schools this year.  My kids have stopped thinking of school as their default Mon-Fri daytime location—it’s now the exception.

IMAG0506On the plus side, it’s meant opportunities to bake cookies, play outside, have fires, and watch movies.  On the not-s0-plus side, it’s meant cabin fever, lots more clutter around the house at the end of the day, and a worn-out mom and dad.

IMAG0507Talking with other parents, it’s the unpredictability that makes it stressful, not having the kids at home.  I’d rather not have to wait until 5:45 each morning to find out how to plan the rest of the day.

2010 in review

I haven’t posted much in the last month–I’ll have  a few thoughts about the Christmas holidays in the next few days.

In the meantime, check out some of the more popular posts from this past year.  The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s an overall summary:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire! (We all know how accurate the Blog-Health-o-Meter is.)

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2010. That’s about 3 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 33 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 40 posts. There were 35 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 13mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was May 27th with 273 views. The most popular post that day was Running with scissors, glasses, and dogs.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for c. gobin wordpress,, c. gobin wordpress running with scissors, c. gobin homepage wordpress, and josh gobin.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Running with scissors, glasses, and dogs May 2010


Happy Birthday, “Breathless.” May 2010


Joe Crosses Over! May 2010


When a third of the family goes to camp June 2010
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My response to Jacques Steinberg’s column May 2010

Cleaning up on Saturdays

WARNING: the following contains a fair amount of griping and moaning.  I’ve edited out objectionable language.

I remember Saturdays growing up being a rather calm affair.  Waking up relatively early to watch cartoons most weeks, except for the occasional attempt at sleeping in, which was usually interrupted by my dad standing at the end of the bed, waiting for a few minutes and then exclaiming, “you gonna sleep your life away?”  Apparently, there was much to be lost by 8:00 am.

Fast forward forty-five years.  At 6:30 the dogs begin their day, which sets the five-year-old in motion.  One might think she’d simply go out to the family room, turn on the tv, and entertain herself for a half hour while I get my eyes open.  And, in fact, she’s happy to do that, as well as helping herself to a jar of peanut butter, which she’s happy to share with the dogs.  In other words, sleeping in at this point, if possible, is not advisable.

Melissa does most of the cooking around here, but Saturdays are pancakes or waffles a la Dad.  Things move relatively smoothly through this phase, as long as I don’t get too much “help.”  Then comes the dreaded phrase, “ok, guys, it’s time to pick up the house a bit.”  Suddenly, it appears as if I am the only who lives in this house, since the air is filled with rhetoric straight out of the courtroom or negotiating table: “I did not play with that,” “she’s not helping,” “I will clean up this half of the room because that’s the only place I was.”

At which point Dad begins to turn a bilious shade of green, his biceps and chest begin expanding, and the buttons pop off his shirt.  I think of all those helpful lists of house rules  the supernanny claims does the trick, and I cast a resentful glance at the copies of Real Simple lying around: “De-clutter in 15 Minutes!” “Organizing that works!”  These articles always feature some Nordic-looking mom sitting in an all-white kitchen with a bowl of fresh lemons on the counter, while her surely-drugged, J. Crew-dressed kids bake cookies on their own and help each other with their homework.  If there are pets, they are busy wiping their own feet before coming in.

I have yet to see a picture featuring Legos strewn on the floor, a cute beagle chewing a Croc, while a kindergartner with a sticky face eats dog food out of the pantry.  I’m not saying any of that happens around here, of course, just that I never see it in a magazine.

So, after getting thirty minutes of straightening out of them (if I’m lucky and the stars are aligned), chaos resumes.  What keeps me off the ledge are moments of seeing them play well together, such as Joe trying to show Josh how a game on Wii works, or Amy challenging Lauryn to a game of arcade ball in the hallway.  Maybe we can have a fire later; I have some magazines that will work well to get it started.