Thursday, June 18, 2015

When the Rain Comes

In the past three weeks we may have had two days where it did not rain. There have, however, been plenty of brief periods where we've been able to get the boys outside to tire them out before nap or bed.

Bird that Flew Into Our Window

One day, while sheltering from the rain we heard a loud noise bang against the window. We couldn't figure out what it was until I went outside the next day and found this poor little guy in the mulch beneath the window. I quickly discarded of the evidence before the boys could start asking questions. Strangely, they still talk about the noise that hit the window. At this age they are captivated by the strangest most inconsequential events.

Ice Cream Buddies

Ice cream has become a near daily ritual after eating dinner. It may sometimes be a battle to get them to eat their dinner but the prospect of a full cone or bowl of ice cream generally motivates them to make good choices and enjoy the sweet, sweet reward.

Sprinkler Fun

One one extremely hot day we set up the sprinkler for them. Last year I did the same but both of them were borderline offended by the action. They hated everything about it and cried. This year had quite a different result and, basically, they look for the opportunity every day. One day they even ran into the sprinkler fully clothed while Jen attempted to water the garden.

We haven't put the sprinkler on in weeks since the ground is saturated to the point that we have giant puddles in the grass.

Best Buds at the Zoo

Grandad with Elliott and Evelyn

A couple of weeks ago we were going to go to the annual Cavalcade of Planes. We went last year and had a blast.

Unfortunately we found out about ten minutes before we were about to leave that it had been canceled. Apparently they posted something on their Facebook page about canceling it a few months ago but even after having lunch there several times a month for the past six months we never saw any notification about it.

After dealing with Martin's breakdown and telling him about the "nasty men" who "took the planes away" we made different plans and went to the zoo and had lunch in the park.

Martin and Michel Dancing

Grandad's friend, Michel, was also visiting again so Martin got a chance to do a fun dance with him.

They've also become obsessed with knights and swords so we've been trying to find any sorts of activities we can that feature such things. They've become big fans of the movie "Justin and the Knights of Valour" and quote it liberally while they fence with their rapiers and cutlasses.

Rainy Anniversary Grilled Sirloin with Sea Scallops, Boiled Potatoes, and Zucchini

It also rained on our anniversary so I grilled in the rain and we had a nice dinner with the boys inside.

Elliott's Watermelon Feast

They have packed down tremendous amounts of watermelon in the hours leading up to dinner in the past weeks, a holdover from last year when I had to feed them watermelon just to keep them calm on the late walk home from daycare. Now that Jen works from home things are much more relaxed and she actually has a chance to see them for more than thirty minutes a day during the week.

Buddies on the Hammock

I also installed a new hammock and the boys had a great time lounging around in it after filling their bellies with watermelon.

Martin with Squirt Guns

We busted out some squirt guns for the boys and Evelyn and though we've convinced them all that they have varying favorite colors Martin has still been somewhat of a hoarder.

Ice Cream Disaster

A continued tradition is that anytime Auntie comes over we get ice cream. They usually have ice cream when she doesn't come over too but they just get a lot more when she's around.

First Strawberries of the Season

The first strawberries in our strawberry patch have begun coming in and the boys have had a blast picking them and then yelling at the bugs whenever they find one that has been compromised.

Wild Coyote Sign

We went for a hike at a nearby trail where they warned of wild coyotes.

Parts of the trail were flooded and the most dangerous creatures we came across were the crawfish scurrying by. They boys both had a cautious fascination with them and now do crawfish impersonations any chance they get. It looks a lot more like a Richard Nixon impression though. They're like adorable little impeached presidents.

The Mysterious Cities of Gold

We've begun showing the boys The Mysterious Cities of Gold, one of my favorite childhood cartoons. I didn't know if they'd care for it but they are fascinated and sit quietly on the floor watching the entire episode without a peep. Martin was a little afraid of the costume that Tao wears in one of the earlier episodes and has had some bad dreams about it but after I convinced him that Tao was a nice boy and not scary he seems to be doing a little better.

I gave Martin his first guitar lesson last night, practicing playing a single note, and he took to it quickly. He woke up this morning and picked up the guitar and rehashed the lesson right away. I have no idea how to teach a two-year-old (or any age person) how to play guitar, but if he continues to remain interested I suppose I can keep showing him a few things until he needs a real teacher.

Martin Snuggling Josephine Before Bed

Elliott Snuggling Josephine Before Bed

Before bed the highlight has been snuggling baby Josephine before saying goodnight. The lowlight is Martin yelling, "I have to pee and poop!" the second the lights are turned off then Elliott following suit. They don't actually have to use the bathroom. This actually translates as, "I wish to stall the bedtime process at any cost!"

After this is done Martin has taken to saying, "Daddy, I have to tell you something!"

When I say, "What's that, Buddy?" He says, "Ummm. Ummm. Ummm."

This lasts about five or ten minutes until he finally gives up.

All in all bedtime has gotten much, much better lately. They've been much more agreeable. There's rarely been any crying. The only thing has been that sometimes they are a bit hyper and wild, and they try all sorts of stalling tactics.

I'm so glad that phase is coming to a close. Life has been infinitely better with this change.

Pride cometh before the fall.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Meat with Bones

Ah, June, a month many associate with summer fun, grilling, and sunny weather. This June, as most, starts with temperatures in the forties and is ushered in by soaking rain. We were married, seven years ago, in early June and it was 59 degrees two days before our wedding. Of course it was 96 on the day of our wedding, but the 59 degree was more typical.

Martin, Elliott, and Evelyn Swinging at the Bouncy Park

As my paternity leave wrapped up we took the kids to a brand new park which they have dubbed the "jumping park" because of its cushy, springy ground made out of recycled tires. It also features an extremely dangerous rock-climbing wall which means I have to scale it behind the kids to make sure they don't fall and bounce their skulls on the soft rubber ground.

Martin's Chicken Wing Triumph

We had chicken legs one night on the grill and Martin became obsessed. When we went out to eat the next night he asked our server if they had chicken legs. Chicken wings were an adequate substitute. Also, he and Elliott were obsessed with the fact that there was a mosquito in Grandpa's water and asked to see it no fewer than twenty times over the course of the meal.

Elliott Eating Stripey Cheese

Elliott went on a special Mummy-Son shopping trip and found a new obsession as well: stripey cheese.

Morning Fun with Nana and Grandpa

The last few mornings with Nana and Grandpa were filled with pajamas, Storybots, and puzzles with Grandpa.

Elliott Weeding with Grandpa

Elliott helped Grandpa weed an enormous swath of garden, a task which has been the back burner so long I was pretty much ready to give up and allow the Creeping Charlie to take over our entire yard and maybe just sell our house and move.

Making Crumpets

I made a batch of homemade crumpets to try to satiate the boys' crumpet obsession. They liked them okay, but even though they were ten times more delicious than storebought I think they still prefer the ones out of a package.

Grandfathers Throwing Back Some Aperitruffe

Jen lost her mind and brought out all sorts of booze for our rainy Memorial Day barbecue including some Aperitruffe, a liqueur we'd purchased at a market in Dieulefit, France. We've been slowly tricking dinner guests into taking small sips of it over the years and our fathers were the latest victims. Jen thought I was crazy for purchasing this seven years ago but it has easily earned its worth through conversation and grimaces since then.

Watermelon at the Kids Table

The next night we had all the leftovers and were able to enjoy a bit more of the weather outside.

Saying Goodbye to Nana and Grandpa

Sadly, Nana and Grandpa had to leave but they will be back soon enough for the upcoming birthday bonanza that is the three cousins' birthdays.

Naked Stair Buddies

The nightly showering ritual has become a bare-assed nightmare with the boys running like insane lunatics around the entire second floor of our house. It's a miracle we are able to get through it each night. Well, most nights. Some nights we don't survive.

Elliott Playing Recorder in the Studio

The other night, Jen left the door to the basement open and the boys' quickly picked up on this and took over my studio, trying to break the guitars of mine that they haven't yet broken. Martin desperately wanted to play a bass and Elliott quickly figured out how to equal his father in skill on the recorder.

Heather and Josephine

Our friends from New York came to visit on Sunday morning and meet the baby. We had a quick brunch before they had to leave and I had to go to work.

Playing with Friends

It was a very cold day so we had to stay inside and Martin and Elliott got to attack them with their swords. Not only do the swords work as a monster deterrent but they also work as a helpful aid in greeting friends.

I love a tool with multiple uses.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Reality is Sinking In

The last few weeks have been fun. Not particularly relaxing, but quite fun. Tomorrow I return to work full time and the true reality of having three children will slowly start to sink in. Actually, it will probably sink in rather rapidly, particularly for Jen as she is tasked with somehow balancing baby feedings with getting the Bubses ready for school.

Thankfully my parents are staying one more week as a nice buffer and that will give us a little time to get our act together.

Ridding the Backyard of Monsters

We had a fun Daddy/Son morning where Jen took the baby for a doctor's appointment and I led an expedition with the boys to rid the yard of all potentially dangerous monsters.

Searching the Neighborhood for Monsters

The mission extended out into the street where we ran the length of our small court and made sure that no offending creatures threatened any of our defenseless neighbors.

Play Room (Before)

The toy situation had gotten completely out of hand. We finally got time to go to IKEA and get some shelving to organize their toys into activity centers, just like they have at school.

Play Room (After)

This worked far better than I could have possibly hoped. Things have been much neater and easier to find. A bonus is that the boys were incredibly excited that they now had centers at home.

Martin's Ice Cream Face

Before Nana and Grandpa came we took the kids out for ice cream.

Elliott's Ice Cream Face

They made a horrific mess of themselves and showed their subtle differences in eating styles. Martin just inhales whatever treat he is given and makes a huge mess while Elliott is much neater and carefully savors every bite. This backfires on him, however, as Martin expects him to share with him when he has finished his dessert.

Elliott Climbing the Rock Wall

Elliott's climbing prowess has been on display since he discovered the rock wall at the park and scaled it completely unassisted.

Nana Holding Josephine

Grandpa Holding Josephine

Nana and Grandpa arrived during nap time and got a chance to each snuggle the baby briefly before the Bubses awoke and spread disaster with their chaos.

Painting with Nana

Nana tended to the boys after they woke up by showing them how to paint with watercolors.

Grandpa Napping with Josephine

Grandpa took on the taxing job of watching Josephine.

Grandad Jamming Out

Grandad showed them a thing or two about rocking out on the guitar.

Beds with Guards

Lately they've taken to climbing the "safety rails" on their beds and it became evident that they would both probably end up breaking a leg as they insanely climbed up and bounced along on their beds. The safety features were now more of a liability.

Beds with Guards

So we took off the rails, another milestone in their growing up. I'm happy to report there have been no cracked skulls or legs as a result.

Another milestone is that they are now both happy with taking a shower at night rather than a bath. This technically saves me a lot of time, however, I'm already looking a little forward to being able to reclaim that small amount of alone time I get each day.

The Owl on the Way Home From School

Every day we walk home from school the boys are fascinated with a small black owl who lives in one of our neighbor's back yards, perched upon a small yellow slide. Unfortunately our neighbor recently built a fence. We knew it was coming and prepared them for it. One day the fence finally appeared.

Now the daily ritual of greeting the owl has been replaced by angrily yelling at the fence and demanding that it give us our owl back.

Mother's Day Brunch Table

Mother's Day saw us hosting a brunch. They boys enjoyed this immensely because it meant they got to wear their pajamas until about 3:00 in the afternoon.

Jamming with Grandad

After brunch Grandad took the opportunity to rock out with the boys and how them a thing or two about how to play their 3/4 scale guitars.

Terrible Mother's Day Photo

Then we posed all the mothers and children and tried to take a halfway decent photo of them. This is the best one I got, which is pretty pitiful.

Swordfighting with Grandpa

After dinner the kids all got their swords and launched a vicious offensive against Grandpa. He was able to hold them off and, despite it being a wildly inappropriate activity right before an already late bedtime, the evening closed with little incident.

Grandpa Sitting By His Handiwork

I was able to get quite a bit done in my time off. Most of all we were able to replace a lot of rotted boards on our deck in the preparation to wash it and get some weatherproof paint on it so that hopefully it will last a few more years before we have to sink some money into a replacement.

The immense satisfaction that comes with fixing or building something with your own hands will be short lived as I return to work tomorrow and any chance at free time disappears with that transition.

At least I'll always have time to relax when I shower.

Damn it.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Three Under Three

Tomorrow marks the two week birthday of Uncle Dee Dee, also known as Josephine. The boys have taken to the transition brilliantly. Apart from being just a little more whiny than usual they have really embraced their new sister. Martin just is a little clingy and Elliott thinks it is hilarious to pee in his pants. He only does it at home for peak humor value. He knows that out in public it wouldn't be anywhere near as funny.

Welcome Home, Josephine & Mummy

When we got home we were greeted with a lovely welcome for the baby.

Presents from the Baby

The baby even had the foresight to pick up some gifts for the boys. Sadly she didn't have the foresight to buy two swords of the same color and now her brothers ruthlessly fight over the blue and red sword and try to give the nasty "Green goblin" sword to the other one.

Also, they have linked these toys together and think that football is played by someone tossing them the football from the grass as they stand on the deck and swing at it with their swords.

I think their idea of football is way better than the way it's normally played.

Feeding the Babies

The boys also had a fun time feeding their babies with Mummy.

Elliott Feeding Josephine

Dee Dee has eaten from a bottle about three times so far and Elliott was fortunate enough to be one of the lucky people that got a chance to feed her. Like most things with the baby I think one time will be enough and then he'll get bored and move on to other things.

Martin and Josephine

Martin has done the bulk of the holding and snuggling. Every time she moved a quarter of an inch he pats her head and says, "Okay, okay. Martin's here."

Backyard Sword Fight

With beautiful weather the boys have gone nuts in the backyard, mostly dueling all over the landscape just like Westley and Inigo though who is who is often under debate.

Josephine Sleeping in Daddy's Studio

During nap time I've had a chance to snuggle Josephine while I monkey around in the studio, or sometimes I've put her in her Rock and Play in a tight swaddle so she gets a really good sleep in.

Late Night Oberweiss Treat

Late nights, after the boys are in bed, we've been enjoying some of our plentiful supply of Oberweiss ice cream and homemade cookies as Jen give her a last feed, I change her, then we try to get some sleep. She's been doing really well. She wakes up ever 2-3 hours but eats with little incident and goes back to sleep pretty easily.

Dee Dee and Mummy's First Real Walk

On Friday Jen was feeling healed enough to go for a little walk to check out a neighborhood garage sale. Since we got there later than 9am on the first day of the sale most of the good stuff had been taken but it was great to get out and about. So far Dee Dee has gotten more sunshine in her first two weeks of life than the boys did in their first year.

Martin Watching the Kentucky Derby

Later on Saturday, after an epic no-nap meltdown, we did our annual tradition of pretending to care about the Kentucky Derby. We thought the boys would think it was fun to watch the horses. We were wrong. Martin brought out his rocking horse for a minute so I thought he'd be all excited and ride it for the duration of the ten minutes that we chose to watch. This lasted about thirty seconds and then he was off to color in the other room.

Elliott Draws Iceman

Elliott stayed on the deck the whole time drawing with chalk. He drew this picture of Iceman. I thought it showed some pretty good control as he drew a head, neck, two eyes, and even pupils in the same eyes. I have no idea at what level children develop artistic abilities or can interpret things but to me it seemed pretty impressive. Perhaps that is just because of my lack of artistic skills.

Elliott Contemplates Cookie Beside Firetruck

It was Elliott's turn to go grocery shopping with me on Saturday. I let him pick a treat and he picked cookies. Much like Martin the week before with cupcakes (or pupcakes, as he calls them) he held onto his single cookie with the love and nurturing touch of a mother holding a newborn. Outside we saw a firetruck and he was psyched to go up to it. When the fireman came out to say hi and ask him if he wanted to sit in the driver's seat he got a little shy and refused. It was a missed opportunity. It was only the shame that society has taught me to have over the course of my life that prevented me from asking if it would be okay if I sat in the seat.

Petting a Chicken

On Sunday we went to the Green Earth Institute, down the road, and they got to pet chickens. All day they were asking me if they could see a polar bear at the zoo. I'd tell them that we were going to a farm, not a zoo, and that there probably wouldn't be any polar bears. Then they'd ask me if we were going to see a sea lion or a rhino.

Dee Dee's First Home Bath

After thirteen days of being at home, being the responsible parents that we are, we thought maybe it would be time to give Dee Dee her first bath. The thing I forgot about babies is that they can go a seemingly infinite amount of time without a bath and still feel and smell fresh. It's easy to forget that when you have two rampaging toddlers who become sweaty, sticky, and stinky in the time it takes them to get from the bath to their bedroom, twelve paces away.

Going back to work will complicate things. Dee Dee sleeping less than twenty-one hours a day will complicate things further. But for now we'll enjoy the hectic but enjoyable life of having three children under three.

We're going to pay for this soon.