Friday, August 28, 2015

Dirty Nelson

August is nearly behind us. Another mild summer is coming to a close. I'm thankful for the temperate weather. It would figure that the first two summers of my life living with central air conditioning are two of the summers that I've needed it the least.

Concert at the Park

We took the kids to a concert at the Morton Arboretum for their summer concert series. There was a giant squirrel there that intrigued and frightened the boys. I guess it's possible it was a man in a squirrel costume but either way it was alarming.

Josie with Crinkle Giraffe

Josephine has really begun enjoying her crinkle giraffe though silky scarves still remain her number one most fun experience.

Fettuccine Alfredo on a Hot Summer Day

On a fairly hot and humid day, given the temperate nature of this summer, Lauren developed a pregnancy craving for Fettuccine Alfredo. Against my better judgment I cooked up a big pot and we ate it outside as if it were burgers and hot dogs.

Grandad Brings Donuts

Grandad Brings Donuts

Grandad returned from an outing to Kalamazoo to visit Auntie Lisa with a selection of delicious donuts and stopped by to let the boys each pick one, thus ruining their lunch. What else are grandparents for? Or aunts? Or parents?

Josie Loves Sheep

Josie has been smiling almost nonstop for the past month. She smiles primarily at Mummy, then at her sheep mobile, then -- in distant third place -- Daddy.


The other day, while having dinner, we heard the unmistakable sound of an ice cream truck. The boys always ask what the sound is and we usually play dumb. Living on a cul de sac we never really get any trucks down our street, so why get their hopes up. This night, however, I could hear them making the turn and I dashed out front to stop the truck and the boys' minds were blown.

Day Care Picnic

The day care summer picnic also happened which meant hot dogs, chips, and a tumble in an enormous bouncy house with dozens of other children. This sounds like a recipe for disaster but it ended surprisingly well with very few ill children and no blunt force head trauma.

Day Care Picnic

The night ended with some more frozen treats. The average amoutn of frozen treats they have consumed this summer is approximately five per day.

Martin has created an alter ego named Dirty Nelson and he often changes into him while singing his new single, Hey, Don't Hurt Me.

Farm Vegetable Share

The farm share has continued, though our documentation of it, along with our utilization of its ingredients, has been lackluster at best.

Putting Up the Tent

One Saturday, after work, we set up a tent and me and the boys camped in the backyard.

Dinner by the Fire

Toasting Marshmallows

We made hot dogs and baked beans in the fire pit and then slept all night in the tent in the backyard. We got to sleep around midnight but Elliott had a bit of a cough which kept him up. Overall I was not expecting it to go as well as it did. They kept trying to make a break for it and run back int the house but eventually gave up and we had a good time camping out.

Morning by the Fire

Cinnamon Rolls Cooked in Campfire

The next morning we started another fire and baked cinnamon rolls in the fire pit, encased in grapefruit skins.

Ugliest Garden Tomato

We also got our first tomato of the year. It also happened to be the ugliest tomato of the year, perhaps of all time.

Elliott With Headphones on in the Studio

Elliott Playing Telecaster

Martin Playing Ernie Ball Music Man Stingray

The Makeshift Jail in the Basement

The boys have had a blast playing in the studio. This usually means they play with guitars for a little bit, then Elliott uses a güiro to poke at some boxes. He believes this to accurately simulate what it looks like when someone robs a bank. Then I pick him up and toss him into the jail we've made out of their old playpen walls. He promises not to rob the jail again. I let him out and he does it again.

He can play this game for an infinite amount of time without getting bored.

Last Day of Beginners

They had their last day at the Beginners classroom this month, and begun tthe new Intermediates classroom the following week.

Last day old Beginners Dinner

We took them out for a celebratory dinner and ice cream adventure.

Josephine also rolled over for the first time but neither of us saw it. A few days later Jen saw it happen but I have still not witnessed it. I have, however, recorded lots of video of her not rolling over, just like I did with her two brothers.

Grilled Avocado with Sriracha Crab Corn Salad

Tomato Feta Salad

Spatchcock Jerk Chicken

Pimientos de Padron

For Doug's birthday we made a summer feast. Compared to what we've been having lately it was very nice. There was Sriracha crab salad in grilled avocados, jerk grilled spatchcock chicken, pimientos de Padron, and tomato feta salad.

It's nice to have time to make something more exciting than pasta for dinner.

Knights with Shields

I made shields for both of them out of cardboard and they think they are just about the best things since their foam swords. Elliott will only use it when he has on his gardening gloves, and usually his boots for authenticity. They spend about seventy-five percent of their waking hours pretending to be knights. The other twenty-five is spent pretending to be jedis.

Saying Goodbye to Bubses

Last Wednesday I had to say goodbye to the boys as I wouldn't see them again until Monday night. We left on Friday morning for our trip to Washington D.C.

Josephine's First Plane Ride

We too the baby with us and Josephine got to have her first plane ride. She has now spent quality time in Illinois, Wisconsin, Washington D.C., and Virginia.

China Garden with Josephine

We had a Chinese feast at the China Garden in Arlington, Virginia.

Josephine in Hotel Room

And Josephine got to enjoy the luxury of hotel living in Washington D.C.'s Chinatown.

The Canadian Embassy and the Capitol

The wedding we attended, of our good friend Debbie, was located at the top of the Newseum in D.C. overlooking the Canadian embassy and the capitol building.

Josephine's First Subway Ride

Josephine got to have her first subway ride as we ventured back out to Virginia later that night.

Josephine in The Tombs

She also got to experience the Georgetown eatery, The Tombs, which no Georgetown alumn can resist when in town.

Duke Otherwise at the Morton Arboretum

Last night we went back to the Morton Arboretum for the conclusion of their family concert night and saw Duke Otherwise who put on a heck of a show. Martin and Elliott both participated enthusiastically, though they did it safely on the blanket with Mummy and Daddy and did not join the flock of children gathered around the performer.

Waiting for the Train

Today we executed our ambitious plan of taking the train to the Brookfield Zoo. This was my idea because, taking the train downtown to work back in June, I was surprised that it was a mere thirty minute train ride to the zoo. The problem, of course, was that I didn't have children with me when I discovered that. I also did not realize that the zoo stop on the train was no exactly across the street from the zoo. This resulted in a two hour door-to-door trip.

Elliott and Martin in Giant Kangaroo Pouch

The guys had a pretty good time at the zoo, even though we got there at nearly 11 o'clock, a full hour ahead of plan.

Butterfly on Martin's Head

We got to go to the butterfly exhibit and a butterfly landed right on Martin's head where it remained for about two full minutes. I had visions of him swatting at it, killing it, and having our newly purchased family membership cards revoked.

Instead he was a great sport and the butterfly will now live a long life or potentially die at the hands of someone else's child.

Push Pop Tantrum Aversion Technique

I told them they could go on the carousel but the ticketing process combined with us needing to make our train made me go back on my word. Elliott was fine with this but Martin was about to lose it when we stumbled upon an ice cream vendor and I distracted both of them with supremely messy push pops.

It took an entire package of wipes to clean them off while we waited for the train but it was money well spent. Apart from Martin losing his mind when I lifted him down the steps from the train the rest of the trip home was fine.

Time did not allow for a nap. Martin generally does okay in these situations, Elliott is a little more unable to cope.

An important lesson was learned today: taking the train to the zoo is a fool's errand. It was a romantic idea, and the kids had fun on the train, but I don't think we would ever make the decision to do this again. Last time we went the line for parking took a while so we thought this would be easier.

Sometimes we are so stupid.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Renaissance Men

On Friday we took the boys on a trip to Grandad's farm to see his vegetables.

Helping on Grandad's Farm

Along with their cousin they had a good time helping Grandad. Most of their help came in the form of stomping on his plants.

Helping on Grandad's Farm

They also helped haul a zucchini roughly 50% their own size.

Snack Break

But mostly they stayed in the cool of the air conditioned car eating snacks.

Martin Learns to Make Whipped Cream

I was making some whipped cream for dessert and Martin was very insisted on helping. He actually made most of it and was fascinated by the process as it slowly came together.

Whipped Cream with Berries on Sponge Cake

We topped it with fresh berries all on sponge cakes and it was pretty popular. Not ice cream popular, but popular.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

On Saturday the day finally came when we gave the boys their birthday present: a trip to the Renaissance Faire in Wisconsin.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

We lucked out in getting there early and securing a boss parking spot. Initially the faire was fairly empty as we traversed its thirty acres. The boys enjoyed playing on thrones and watching a jester belittle me in front of them.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

Grandma and Josie enjoyed finding any shaded area possible in the 95 degree heat. Thankfully it was overcast and extremely shady. Even with those factors in our favor it was on the outer borders of bearable.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

Elliott declared himself captain of the pirate ship and agreed to have me serve as his first mate.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

After watching the 1938 Robin Hood with Mummy the night before Elliott took to the bows and wanted one. Thankfully we were able to distract him and save ourselves from either spending $90 on two bows for the children or enduring a massive tantrum.

I'm not sure which would have been preferable.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

Jen did, however, get them some Robin Hood hats with feathers of their favorite colors. Not the preferred hat for 95 degree heat but they will get a lot of play in the cooler months.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

I thought Martin's favorite part would have been the turkey leg given his intense love of meat on the bone. It may have been the heat or the fact that he was unable to lift it but he only made it through a few bites.

I took Martin to get lemonades which were an impossible distance away. They served me three without lids of a carrier and I had to carefully balance them on the long trip back, all the while having to convince Martin to carry on through the high temperatures, at one point stopping and placing them on the dirt ground to adjust his pants.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

When we returned Elliott was having a tantrum due to me leaving, the heat, and the fact that we had waited too long to feed them. Eventually a large man dressed as a guard starting mimicking his cries and he just stopped, defeated, and sulked until we convinced him to get a sno cone.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

We finally made it to the jousting stage after a lady rubbed some sort of perfumed oil on Jen's hand against her will. I was pretty sure Jen was going to use her free hand to knock the lady out so we could see the jousting before it ended and save the children from complete rebellion.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

It finished up with an impressive acrobat troupe called Barely Balanced. After peeing for the first time in six hours and seeing this Elliott was sold on this and he chatted about it the entire way home while Martin slept.

Knight Castle

There was no nap to be had but they did made a castle in the shed to protect themselves from dragons.

Trips like this teeter on the brink of disaster but with some careful management of snacks and distractions they can be quite a lot of fun. The upside is that it shortened the time it took for them to go to bed to about twelve seconds after the door was closed.

Days like this are fun but they make you glad that they do not happen more than once a year. You truly need every moment of time to gear up the nerve to try it again.