Thursday, July 17, 2014

Birthday Cake, Birthday Cake, Friends, and Birthday Cake

July kicked off with a celebration of Canada Day.

Canada Day

The celebration consisted mostly of the boys wearing their Canada shirts to day care. Sadly, we didn't have time for much else.

Elliott Multitasking with Emergency Radio

The day before Canada day we had some pretty nasty tornadoes and 80 mile per hour winds in the area. We spend the next few days preparing our basement emergency kits. Elliott took a great deal of interest in the emergency radio which he carried around with him for the better part of a day.

In these trying times you can never be too safe.

Martin with First Garden Tomato

We got our first tomato from the garden which excited Martin greatly. We asked him to share it with his brother.

Martin Eating First Garden Tomato

He did not respect our wishes.

Tour de France and Biscuits

July also marks the beginning of the Tour de France and our ceremonial breakfast of biscuits with cream cheese and jam. Surprisingly the boys took more interest in the bicycles than in the delicious morning biscuits.

Sandbox Supplies

In advance of their birthday I went to Home Depot where I purchased 700 pounds of sand for their new sand box along with a wheelbarrow and about 300 pounds of garden soil. This required the rental of a Home Depot truck and several hours of heavy lifting.

Family Pic at Eyes to the Skies

On July 4th we went to Eyes to the Skies, a local celebration of hot air balloons, greasy food, and covery bands. The boys had a blast on the big school bus shuttle and checking out the various balloons.

Boys at Eyes to the Skies

As much as they enjoyed the balloons the highlight, strangely, was the cover band who performed a surprisingly faithful version of Kiss From a Rose.

Peacock at the Zoo

Over the holiday weekend we also took the boys to the zoo where they got to yell at some peacocks, a wolf, a bald eagle, and some reptiles.

Martin with Statue

That night we went to a barbecue at some friends' house where Martin discovered a statue in the back yard.

Elliott Standing in Grass

Elliott had fun trying to blend in with the local flora and fauna.

Beanbag Time

They didn't quite grasp the concept of the beanbag game but they did enjoy it when the neighbor came by and brought them some Tonka trucks to play with.

Pool Pary

After I left for work they had a little pool party with Jen and Grandma in the backyard.

Birthday Books!

Their birthday was on Tuesday and we celebrated by opening a huge box of books in the morning.

Birthday Book Reading with Miss Angie

They took some of their favorite books to day care to donate them to the school library, but not before making Miss Angie read them.

Pushing Evelyn on Zebra

After school Evelyn came over and the birthday boys took turns, and worked together, to push her unsafely about on their learning zebra.

Birthday Cake

After cupcakes at school they rounded out the day with a birthday cake made my Jen.

Buddies Getting Birthday Presents from Grandma

They even got some pre-birthday party presents from Grandma.

Lately they have taken some self-responsibility in putting themselves on time out when they misbehave. The problem is that they really enjoy time out. Above is a video where Martin, who hadn't actually done anything wrong, tried to pretend he was really mad and stood on time out.

He didn't do the world's best job of convincing us he was mad, however.

Sleepy Evelyn in Highchar

After all this Evelyn was just about ready to drop. I can relate because I slept well that night.

Big Boy Bed

We attempted to let them sleep in a big boy bed for the night but this went horribly wrong and after a few minutes of shrieking and banging on the door we put them in their cribs for the night. This started the latest trend of them demanding to sleep in the other's crib. For some reason they think it's hilarious to sleep in their brothers' crib.

Katherine, Sylvain, and Maya at the Park

Later in the week we got a visit form Katherine, Sylvain, and their daughter Maya. The last time we saw them there were no children and Jen was a few weeks away from giving birth. This visit was slightly more chaotic but a heck of a lot of fun.

Elliott Ladder

Martin Ladder

We all went to the nearby playground where Elliott figured out how to climb ladders and Martin followed a few minutes later. This severely upped the danger factor of going to the park.

Happily they quickly forgot about ladders after discovering how much fun it was to go on the slide by themselves.

Sylvain Teaching Martin Proper Table Manners

Back at home Sylvain attempted to teach Martin proper table manners. This had no effect on him as he continued to shovel pasta in his mouth by hand. Martin did find this exchange to be highly entertaining nonetheless.

Chin Chin!

They also learned how to say, "Chin chin!"

Elliott in Ottoman

Elliott mostly avoided this, much preferring to climb in and out of the ottoman where we store our blankets.

Maya Standing Unassisted

Maya also took her first attempts at standing unassisted. She would have had better success if not being occasionally bumped by a rampaging wombat.

Martin and Pete

Elliott and Pete

On Saturday we had a sad morning as we went to say goodbye to Pete. Pete has not been feeling well for a while and Grandma was going to take him to the vet. Martin and Elliott wanted a chance to give him some goodbye pats and kisses.


Few dogs experience the joy and pampering that Pete has experienced over the years. He will be deeply missed by all.

Especially Elliott.

Grandpa Pulling Elliott in Wagon

Later in the day Nana and Grandpa came over to give free wagon rides.

Martin with Hose and Big Ball

They also brought the world's largest ball with them, an instant hit.

Lauren and Evelyn

That evening we celebrated Evelyn's first birthday.

The Boys Inspect Evelyn's Birthday Card

The boys worked diligently as a card inspector. They found this automated card with some sort of rotating gopher to be of extremely high quality.

Evelyn's Smash Cake

Evelyn was more interested in decimating her cake.

Birthday Breakfast

The following morning we had a great breakfast with Nana and Grandpa.

Elliott Opening Cards

Martin Opening Cards

The wombats opened their own cards including a singing farm card which was almost as cool as the spinning gopher card Evelyn got.

Exciting Backyard Water Park

While the boys napped we worked diligently to turn the backyard into a makeshift water park.

Daddy's Old Tonka Trucks

My parents also brought my old Tonka trucks. They're a little rusted and broken but after our experience the previous weekend we were sure that they would be just fine with that.

Elliott Reading His Book from Nana

Mummy and Martin Reading His Alphabet Book from Nana

They boys got a lot of books for their birthday including personalized alphabet books that Nana drew for them.

Family Sand Box Time

The sandbox was also an instant hit which is good because after the back-breaking labor associated with assembly and transport of sand I think I would have forced them to play in against their will if they weren't interested.

2nd Birthday Cake

All in all it was a very successful, and busy, beginning to July. We've received a second polar vortex so in the past few days the temperature hasn't even gotten into the 70s. As far as I'm concerned this has been a fantastic development. Needing to wear pants and hoodie in July is something I am not opposed to.

It makes pool parties difficult but mowing the lawn is a treat.

Monday, June 30, 2014

New York Wedding, Illinois Birthday

The best part of kids is that they start doing weird things all the time. Constantly they start doing and saying things and you have no idea where it has come from or what inspired them to do it.

Recently Elliott has taken to saying, "Oh no, Dude!" He says this usually when laughing and mostly when he's cracking up. I'm pretty sure Jen and I haven't said this. So where did it come from? Are people saying this at day care? If so, then why does Martin not say it at all? No one may ever solve this mystery but it's hilarious so who cares?

Grilled Ribeye

Ridge 2011 Three Valleys

Stilton and Cana de Cabra

Since the boys have lately (mostly) been getting to sleep with little incident we've been able to enjoy some slightly earlier and nicer dinners. Recently we got to crack open a nice bottle of wine and even have some cheese and grilled ribeye out on the deck. This would have been a five-day-a-week dinner before children.

Wombats with Spray Bottles

The boys have gotten the best new toys which are $0.99 spray bottles that they get to run around the yard squirting. They also hole up by the deck and fire their bottles at the imaginary invaders who have taken over our house.

Bubs Hugs in the Garden

They've taken to gardening and have also been enjoying many more unsolicited hugs than in the past.

Elliott Eating Strawberry in Spider-Man Shirt

Each night Jen picks the strawberries which grow along the front of our house and share some with the boys.

Fighting Over Garden Strawberries

Then they put them in a giant container and they fight over control of the container.

Depressing Aviation Woes

Last weekend we woke up super early and got to the airport to take a 6:45 AM flight to New York to celebrate the wedding of our good friends Joe and Ryan. When we got to the airport the flight had been canceled and they'd stealthily changed the flight time from AM to PM resulting in a minor panic that we'd actually purchased the wrong tickets. After several frustrating calls we were re-booked to a flight about six hours later which meant we got to go back home, sleep for two hours, then drive back to the airport and get into New York (now New Jersey) six hours later than we'd planned. This, sadly, meant no time to do anything or see anyone we had plans with.

American Airlines cited weather as the reason for the flight being canceled. It was a little cloudy and apparently the weather that was so dangerous as to cancel our flight didn't so much as delay the flight to LaGuardia that arrived 20 minutes after ours was scheduled to.

That's some sneaky weather.

Joe & Ryan in Hot Air Balloon

Dancing at Joe & Ryan's Wedding

Eventually we did arrive, got to keep our dinner plans with our friends in New Jersey, then head out to the wedding in the Catskills the next morning.

The Worst Place on Planet Earth

Then, the next morning, there was the terrible drive back to the airport. All the nostalgia and homesickness we felt at the wedding and driving through upstate New York was quickly erased by the horrors and misery of New York/New Jersey traffic.

Nate and Baby Jane

Jen Feeding Baby Jane Strawberries

Thanks to the traffic our planned two hour lunch with Paul and Caolan and Baby Jane changed to about twenty minutes of getting to snuggle Jane and feed her a few strawberries before dashing out to LaGuardia and flying back home.

This would have been entirely unsatisfying if it weren't for Jane's cuteness and the fact that she created a funny little dance to celebrate the brief meeting.

Back home, aside from our house being entirely infested with houseflies, all was well. Martin had continued to work on his puppet show act and show us his new routine.

Martin in Mirror Room

The next day we took the boys to the Children's museum in the morning where they had a great time.

Elliott Riding Cow at Colonial Cafe

This was followed by a trip to the restaurant for lunch where Jen got to sit and have lunch with Martin and I had to chase Elliott all over the dining room. They also discovered that the waitress was the source of food so they took to yelling, "Lady! More chocolate milk!"

I think their age and charm will only get them by a little longer with manners like that.

Jen's New Tooth

Jen left mid morning on Friday, her birthday, to go to the dentist. Most people would not consider this a treat but since the trip was the final appointment in the two-year saga of having her dental implant finished she was pretty excited. And now that Elliott's head is a little more stable he probably won't knock it out again. Unless he kicks her in the mouth while he's sleeping which is entirely possible.

Jen is Excited About New Composter

While Jen was at the dentist I assembled the horrible new composter we got, another thrill for Jen. Apparently only terrible things make her happy on her birthday.

Green Earth Institute CSA 2014 (Week 2)

We also got to pick up the second week of our new farm share from Green Earth Institute. We missed week one as we were in New York but we'd probably be overflowing with lettuce if we had picked it up.

At Morton Arboretum Watching Chicago Symphony Orchestra

We did have some fun by watching the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform at the Morton Arboretum and having a picnic dinner, some of Jen's favorite things to do.

Lowe's Delivering to Neighbors = Wombats' Best Morning Ever

Sunday morning a giant truck arrived. The boys ran out to the front yard to check it out and this quickly became the best morning they ever had as they got to watcha man lower a little truck off the back of a big truck and then move around some pallets of mulch. They yelled, "More!" after he was done but, sadly, our neighbors had not ordered any more.

Playing at the Beach

After this excitement, chatting with our new neighbors and looking at the tree that had fallen in their yard earlier that morning, we took off to the beach downtown. It was the reverse of their swim lessons. Elliott was a little more timid about approaching the water but soon they were both having a blast.

Elliott Eating Chicken Tender at Beach

Then we enjoyed some lunch at the snack bar and headed home.

Martin Zonked Out After Day at Beach

Elliott Napping, Reluctantly, After Beach

They fell asleep three minutes into our car ride home then slept pretty solidly after that. Elliott put up a fight a little later but Jen was able to get him to sleep on our bed.

Elliott Carrying Flower Pot

After the nap Grandma came over with some flowers for Jen which Elliott took great joy in helping her move to the back yard.

Martin at Table

Elliott and Grandad

Grandma and Grandad came over for dinner and we had a late celebration of Jen's birthday.

Lobster Rolls with Green Onion and Garden Herbs

Greek Quinoa Salad

Southwest Corn and Black Bean Salad

Pretty much everything for dinner was made by Jen's parents, I simply put together some lobster rolls. While wrangling these lunatic monkey men that is just my speed.

Jen's Birthday Cake

Lemon Curd with Fresh Berries

Post Thunder Storm Lounging

There was a terrific lightning and thunder storm overnight which kept the guys up for a lot of the wee hours. We all slept in this morning after Jen left for work and since we'd slept in so late I gave them some French toast to eat in the stroller on the walk to day care.

The next birthday that comes up will be theirs. This may be the last time they are really not aware of that so it makes present buying a snap. I'm guessing things will get a little trickier when we can't hide their presents in plain sight.

I'm guessing a lot of things will get trickier as well.