Thursday, January 5, 2017

Rough Start

December is in the rear view mirror and here we are looking ahead at most of January ahead of us. As I've spent about 75% of 2017 either in bed or reclining on a chair so far, I'm going to call today my New Year's Day.

More on that later.

Drawing with Nana

In the lead up to Christmas the boys' excitement was hard to contain. Every day they excitedly asked if tomorrow was the big day. Their inability to really understand time yet leads to frequent questions to calibrate where they are in the Christmas season. I suspect next year they will know exactly where they are and that will only make the agony of waiting even worse.

Leaving Treats For Santa

They selected some cookies, milk, and beer for Santa. I suggested the beer but by the time they were in bed I just returned the beer to the fridge and collapsed into bed.

Martin and Elliott were so excited that they decided to sleep together in the same bed. In the middle of the night when I went to check on them Martin sat up, mumbled then collapsed on Elliott. I found this to be a dangerous position to leave them in, not wanting them to wake prematurely, so I moved Martin to his bed where he mumbled about Elliott and the cold and then eventually fell asleep. In the morning I would find him returned to his brother's bed.

Christmas Morning

The stage was set, we just needed to wait for them to wake up. I awoke at 5:00 AM due to a work related emergency then anticipated they would be up any minute. By 7:30 AM we actually needed to wake them all up.

Martin with Stocking

They pawed through their stockings with groggy enthusiasm.

Josie Too Tired for Christmas

Josie was very happy to receive Play-DOH, her favorite substance on this planet, but she was slow to understand why we had woken her up.

Elliott Loves His Gift From Martin

Upon opening the gift Martin had gotten him, a pizza making set, Elliott was so excited that he hugged it joyfully.

Elliott Hugs Martin After Getting His Present

Then he got up and gave Martin a huge hug. Given the fact that Elliott's response to "I love you" from his brother is usually, "You stink!" I think this hug may have been Martin's best Christmas present.

The AFtermath

After a few moments of present unwrapping, the living room was destroyed and would only get worse over the course of the next two weeks.

Cousins on Toboggan

We got a toboggan from Aunt Pat and all the cousins posed on it, though I don't think they will be all riding this together for another few years.

Christmas Charcuterie Spread

For dinner I did my second annual charcuterie spread, breaking the different platters into themes.

Standing Rib Roast

We scaled back dinner even farther than last year, simply making this rib roast and some roasted Brussels sprouts to go with it. I'm confident we will keep this radition for many years, at least while the kids are young. It gives me the ability to enjoy every moment of Christmas with the kids, not enter the kitchen until 4:00 PM, and yet still enjoy a ton of delicious foods.

Kids Table

The kids, newly convinced of their love of the kids' table, enjoyed their self-imposed exile as the adults sat at the big table, and we didn't have to bring in an auxiliary table for the first Christmas yet, despite the addition of Josephine and Oliver.

Christmas Dinner Table

The actual sit down portion of dinner was for small plate, dessert, and attempted uninterrupted conversation between adults. We only got two of those three things.

I'll leave it to you to guess what two.

Connect Four

The next day the kids had fun just playing with all their new toys, including Connect Four.

"We Both Win!"

Elliott and Martin split the game pretty evenly and waited until the other completed his row to declare, "We both win!" When I tried to show them how to actually play they were disgusted by the competitive nature of the game. I think it may come from being twins. They are generally very good at sharing with each other -- GENERALLY -- and usually consider the other when making moves or playing games. It could just be because they've never experienced anything other than having their brother nearby and having to experience a lot of give and take.

Grandpa and Elliott working on TIE Fighter

Elliott dutifully built his TIE fighter with minimal help from Grandpa. Martin didn't quite have the attention span to get his done.

Making Note for Great Grandpa

They wrote notes to Great Grandpa and Great Nana to thank then for their Christmas gifts and wish them a happy new year.

On New Year's Eve I woke up feeling terrible. At first I thought maybe it was because I'd had a couple of drinks the night before though I'd certainly done that in the past with consequences far less dire. Then I thought maybe it was because Josephine had woken us up in the night. Again, this was not a something I've never experienced before.

I quickly realized I must be getting sick. This was pretty annoying because I'd never fully kicked the cold that knocked me out of work for a day just a few days shy of Christmas. While at work I put myself on a regimen of cold medicine, vitamins, caffeine, tea, and anything else I could think of to perk myself up.

Nothing worked.

New Year's Eve Hats

While I was at work, Jen, Caolan, Paul, and Lauren worked tirelessly planning an extremely last minute New Year's Eve party for the kids.

Chocolate Fountain

The party was awesome, filled with food, decorations, and a chocolate fountain. The chocolate fountain may have been the single greatest thing that the children had enjoyed in their lives.

Countdown to "Midnight"

The countdown to "midnight" went pretty well and we were able to get the children to bed with relative ease. Perhaps the work of planning and executing the party had taken the fight out of them.

Playing Masterpiece by the Fire on New Year's Eve

After dinner we sat by the fire and played Masterpiece. It was so much fun but after a round of the game I quickly realized I was not going to make it to see midnight. In fact I was not going to make it to see ten o'clock and I turned in for the night. I awoke once to the sound of adults celebrating the ringing in of 2017 and then quickly fell back asleep where I did not leave bed other than for a quick check-in downstairs until 3:30 PM. This was supremely disappointing given how I'd arranged my work schedule to take full advantage of Caolan, Paul, and Jane visiting. Instead I stayed in bed for most of my time with them.

Asleep in the Megabed

The kids all slept in one giant bed after a fair amount of fooling around.

Paul Clouet Champagne

Apparently this was consumed while I was unconscious in bed.

Christmas Cookies

The kids had a lot of fun on the first day of the year. They went to the park with Paul, Caolan, and Jane, they played, they iced Christmas cookies, and presumably other things while I slept all day.

Sick Under the Tree

Eventually I got enough energy to descend from the bedroom and lie down under the Christmas tree, propped up on Mr. Beow, the kids' insanely large stuffed bear. While I felt awful it was good to at least hear the kids having fun an be a minor part of conversation (and pity) rather than just wallowing in my own misery alone.

Unfortunately our friends left early the next morning and I could barely summon the will to come down and see them off. Jen, who'd been hoping to have some help with the child activities, unfortunately, was left high and dry by all of this.

As I write this I am feeling a lot better and returning to work tomorrow. I always say that I wish I had more time off around the holidays.

I'm going to stop saying that.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Goose is Getting Fat

As December rolls on each year, it becomes evident how much more excited hte boys are about the very prospect of Christmas. It's not surprising from their father who once began Christmas morning at 4 o'clock in the morning after receiving a fair amount of pushback from my parents.

Catching Ditto

With cooling temperatures we were able to take a final Pokemon jaunt downtown where Elliott caught a Ditto and Martin's ran away. He was not happy about this but dealt with it much better than the Arbok incident at Adler Planetarium earlier this fall where his anguish could not be healed by any means known to me.

Milkshake Thief

I had a cavity replaced on the second day of the month and had to receive a triple dose of novocaine in order for the work to be done. As such my face was numb for about five hours and I had to have a milkshake for lunch. Josephine, upon getting a glimpse of the milkshake cared nothing for my pain and drank about half of it while I looked longingly upon my only available sustenance.

Illuminations at the Arboretum

We took the kids to the Arboretum for Illuminations and it was a far better success than last year and a bit better than three years ago. We were fortunate to do it on the absolute warmest day of the month and without the precipitation present in previous years.

Giant Cookie Break

The next morning Jen traveled to Florida and I won the kids over with giant cookies the size of their heads.

Trip to the Arboretum

We returned to the Arboretum but the chill in the air ended up keeping us mostly indoors to catch Pokemon in the warmth.

Gingerbread House Time

When I got Josephine to sleep for her nap we were able to make gingerbread houses. The boys kept their end of the bargain by being silent while I got her to sleep.

Gingerbread House Time

I kept my end of the bargain by letting them mostly get icing over every inch of the dining room.

Josie and Peppa

After a good nap Josie was in great spirits and ready to mix it up with her brothers once again.

Martin's One Man Band

We got to play a bit in the basement where Martin put on an incredible performance for all of us.

Gonna Hear Electric Music

Josie took to the piano instantly and whined in true eighteen-month-old fashion whenever the piano stool was not placed adequately close to the piano.

Dinner and a Movie

We watched Home Alone, a movie they thought was okay last year but were in hysterics during the entire movie this year. As an adult the things that Kevin does to the burglars at the end is a little disturbing but nothing was too violent to stop the peals of laughter filling our living room.

Advent Calendars!

The kids got to start their advent calendars, a newfound passion for Josie. She now just stands below the shelf where they are kept looking longingly at it and muttering her best approximation of the world "calendar" over and over.

Beervent Calendar

Additionally, I got a chance to start my second annual beervent calendar which Jen did a fantastic job on just as last year.

Pre Holiday Home Cleaning

I was also able to do a pre-holiday clean, getting the house organized enough to last nearly 48 hours before being completely trashed.

Kids by the Fire

We had an unexpected visit from Auntie Lauren and cousins who were able to enjoy the first fire of the year with us.

Pierre the Crossfit Snowman

The first snowfall of the year happened conveniently while Auntie Lisa was visiting for Oliver's first birthday and, while I worked, they were able to build their first snowman who they named Pierre the Crossfit Snowman.

First Snow at Daycare

We also got to enjoy the first snowfall of the year on our way to daycare.

Daddy Daughter Museum Trip

Daddy Daughter Museum Trip

My week off work began with me taking Josie to the children's museum for the morning after which she took a three hour nap.

Afternoon Snuggle

The next day the kids were all off school and we were able to snuggle for warmth.

Christmas Tree Farm

The warmth dissipated quickly as we ventured out on our first trip of my vacation to cut down a Christmas tree.

Christmas Tree Farm

Unfortunately the tree farm was a pretty big disappointment and the only thing that got cut was Elliott's hand when a cat scratched him. He declared that he wished to never, ever return to the vile tree farm as we left.

Christmas Tree Farm

Josie did not tolerate the farm much better, kicking us with muddy boots as we tried to usher her through the rows and rows of disappointing trees.

Christkindlmarket

Jen and I were able to get a rare night out where we got to sip mugs of hot glühwein while braving the freezing cold of the Christkindlmarket.

Two Brothers Pecan Apple Beer

We later ventured out to the new Two Brothers location downtown and had a fantastic dinner free of children and worry.

Little Tree Decorating

The next day the kids decorated their mini trees by the fireplace.

Santa's Sleigh

They also rearranged every chair and toy they owned in order to stage the perfect recreating of Santa's sleigh.

Snowy Day Play Time

We had about twenty-four hours of snow and I was fortunate enough to have some pretty good helpers in clearing the driveway. Unfortunately, after completing the driveway they wished to continue shoveling the lawn rather than going inside to warm up, my preferred way to close out a round of shoveling.

Christmas Shoot

We also did a Christmas photo shoot with the kids after canceling the shoot we had scheduled with a pro because of the dire weather warnings we're received from our unreliable meteorologists.

Christmas Tree Hunt

We decided to brave the elements on Sunday night and took the kids out to finally get a Christmas tree in the driving snow. The kids did better on this expedition, probably because there were fewer roosters and cats to attack them.

Week Off To Do List

Overall the week I took off of work was highly productive. I didn't get everything on my list done, but I was pretty happy with the things that I was able to cross off.

Cold Morning Breakfast

The temperatures plunged into the negative numbers and waking the children up and to school became more of a challenge than normal, sometimes requiring extra layers during breakfast.

Brothers Drawing Brothers

At school Elliott drew a picture of Martin and gave it to him. When we got home Martin wordlessly go the crayons and scissors and went into the other room. He came out with a picture of Elliott. Elliott was so happy that he just ran circles around the house squealing with delight. Then they posed for this picture.

If you ask Elliott he'll still say that he thinks Martin stinks.

Lego Advent Calendar

The Lego advent calendar we got the boys in Montreal has been a huge hit. They run downstairs every morning to open it up and see what they get to build for the day.

Elliott with Lego

Elliott is remarkably good at building the daily items even without any instructions.

Last Swim Class Waterslide

Today they had their last swim class of the session and the year which means they got to use the water slide.

Last Swim Class Snack Machine

It also meant that they got to get snacks from the snack machine. Normally we take them home and I make them a wonderful lunch. Sometimes we go out to a restaurant. However, the thing that they always want more than anything is to get something nasty, like Cheetos, from the snack machine in the hallway outside the pool. We never let them do it but I gave them a special treat and let them do it today and they could not have been happier.

Sadly, Jen, who had to stay at home with a very sick Josephine, did not get a chance to witness the sheer joy in her sons' hearts after this special treat.

Popcorn

After swim class we took the boys to see the Nutcracker. Due to an extremely rough departure we were almost late to the production. We let our hungry sons know the price for their tomfoolery was no snacks until intermission. They were not thrilled about this reality but dealt with it much better than I would have expected.

At intermission I took them out to get popcorn and they were extremely well behaved throughout the entire show.

The Nutcracker

Martin Poses with the Cast of the Nutcracker

After the show Martin got to pose with several performers, including the lead. Elliott, well, he generally doesn't go for stuff like that.

Nutcrackers Standing Guard

As a special surprise Grandma got them their very own nutcrackers and they put them on the shelf overlooking their beds to stand watch for the sneaky mouse king.

Martin fell asleep in under five minutes, even with Elliott intentionally trying to keep him awake. That is always the mark of a truly successful day.