Monday, February 8, 2016

Corn Bats

An unseasonably warm February has brought with it some unwelcome creatures to our yard.

Backyard Fox Invasion

We weren't sure how these foxes got into our yard until Jen spotted one on top of the fence. I had my money on them burrowing under the fence. That was until Jen got a photo of one casually strolling on top of the fence. I have not studied the fox in great detail but I did not know they possessed the leaping power for such things. I thought they just ran around in the woods, made silly noises, and were hunted by Englishmen for sport.

Elliott Learning to Sleep Without His Mine

In two short nights Elliott went from being dependent on his mine (what he calls his pacifier) to sleeping completely without it. It meant a night or two of him holding them and whimpering himself to sleep but he finally broke himself of his habit.

Martin Relaxing in Bed

Martin was as cool as a cucumber while his brother whimpered, keeping with the tradition of neither of them giving a crap if the other is crying, whimpering, shrieking, or yelling in anger beside them.

One & Done Beer Festival

Daddy and Uncle Doug made their way to the second annual one off beer festival which they enjoyed a little too much. Luckily there were two free Uber rides getting us there and back.

Ninja Turtle Pancake Collection

Ninja Turtle Pancake Collection

Ninja Turtle Pancake Collection

The following morning I poorly made some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pancakes for the boys. I enjoy doing this for them for special occasions. However, after making them I usually make round pancakes with the remaining batter then freezing them. Then they whine when they get plain old round pancakes the rest of the time. This is because three-year-olds are among the most ungrateful forms of life in the entire universe.

Sleeping in the TIE Fighter

Before going to work they tore the cushions off one of our couches (one of their favorite pastimes) and built a TIE fighter. I don't know why I bothered mentioning that last part. It's so obviously a TIE fighter that I could have just let this picture stand for itself.

Daddy Playing Guitar for Josie

On my days off, on days when the boys are at school, Josie has enjoyed piano and guitar time. She's been a great audience but soon she will be at the stage the boys were at where she just wants to cover the strings with her hands and try to eat my pick.

I'm enjoying this phase while it lasts.

Martin Draws Luke, Darth Vader, and the Emperor Shooting Luke with Force Lightning

Martin was up late one night and the next morning he told me he had drawn this picture for me of the Emperor shooting Luke with Force lightning and Darth Vader throwing him into the pit.

I'd be lying if I did not recognize this as one of my happiest parenting moments to date.

Martin with Pepperoni and Pickle Pizza

To celebrate their new found love of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I made pepperoni and pickle pizza for the boys. It turned out to be much better than I'd even anticipated. Jen and I enjoyed it quite a bit as well.

Evelyn's "Keep Your Chin Up" Cake

Evelyn missed two weeks of swim class. One week from smashing her chin open, the following week for getting her stitches out. I got her a cake to celebrate her bravery and the boys had a nice tea party with her to celebrate her recovery.

Josie's First Broccoli

Among many other foods this month Josie had her first broccoli. It was a huge hit, much more so than I could have imagined.

Martin and Elliott's obsession with the musical "Hamilton" has continued to grow. Here's a video of Martin singing the hook from "My Shot" on an endless loop. Elliott likes to sing what he calls the "Mean King Song" but is a little more shy about performing it.

Husky Heroes at the Arboretum

We lined up at the Arboretum to participate in Husky Heroes, an event where you get to meet, get knocked over by, and watch sled dogs. Elliott met them, Jen got knocked over by one, and I watched as I tried to balance four hot chocolates that I foolishly purchased and push the stroller over perilous terrain as Jen fed Josie.

Husky Heroes at the Arboretum

Some of the magic of the event was lost due to the fact that there was no snow on the ground. At this time last year we would have needed skis to get to the dogsled track.

Lunch at the Arboretum

We had pizza for lunch which prompted Martin and Elliott to sing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song the entire time.

Trains at the Arboretum

Then we went to go see the train exhibit, an indoor, much warmer exhibit that was a bit more engrossing than the huskies given that it wasn't so dependent on the weather.

Trains at the Arboretum

Josephine snatched a piece of Martin's pizza crust at the cafeteria and chewed on it for the next hour. We're thinking she may have a strong fondness for garlic, olive oil, and tomato sauce, the staples of her ancestors.

Elliott's Daniel Tiger Outfit

For school Elliott wanted to wear a watch and a red sweater so he could be like one of his personal heroes: Daniel Tiger. When he got home he took off his shoes, unzipped his sweater, and sang "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood."

Cake at the Gym

When we got to swim class there was a table covered in cupcakes. I told the boys we couldn't have them before we swam but maybe after if there were any left. Elliott said, "I sure hope there's some cupcakes when we're done." I did too because I didn't want to deal with a meltdown if there wasn't.

When we came out there were no more cupcakes. Elliott said, "Oh well, maybe next time." Then a forty-year-old woman came out and saw the same scene and errupted in complaints. "No more cupcakes? Are you kidding me? I wanted a cupcake"

Someone consoled her by alerting her to the fact that there was, in fact, a whole cake there waiting to be cut. Then she grumbled, "Cake is not as good as cupcakes." This was followed by a pout which had a lot of energy put into it.

The boys patiently waiting for their cake and ate it while sitting on the floor in the hallway.

Josie in Bears Gear

For the Super Bowl we dressed Josephine up in some Bears gear. Every so often it's fun to dress the kids up in sports gear when to consider how little Jen or I care about sports, particularly football.

Josephine, on the other hand, is a huge fan of football, particularly the coaching style of Mike Ditka.

Denver Green Chili Wings

This year I made a Denver Green Chili sauce for some chicken wings.

Carolina Pulled Pork Shoulder

Doug made some Carolina barbecue.

Both were quite tasty.

A Day at the Field Museum

Today we headed off to the Field Museum, something we've been threatening to do for a year. It had free admission and was almost entirely empty. We actually got the first spot in the entire parking garage, the closest possible spot to the Field Museum.

A Day at the Field Museum

There was a lot of cool stuff at the Field Museum but nothing at the museum made them happier than when they dressed up like bats and played with fake corn.

A Day at the Field Museum

They created a narrative about being good bats and sharing corn with all the other children around. Martin called another child there "little fellow" while they leapt around the pueblo gathering up all the corn.

A Day at the Field Museum

Josephine also had the time of her life stacking corn up and preparing to grind it into flour.

A Day at the Field Museum

Josephine had a total of 6 minutes of nap time so by the end of the day she was totally spent.

A Day at the Field Museum

Martin and Elliott weren't far behind her and all three children slept the entire ride home leaving Jen and I to actually talk to each other for more than five minutes for the first time this year.

The year that will be forever known as the Year of the Corn Bat.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Having an Epiphany

After a couple of very mild snowstorms temperatures have finally dipped to what you would expect from winter. The tiny amount of snow has stuck around outside which has been just enough for the boys to enjoy the only moment of their life where they will think shoveling is any fun.

Josie Plays with Snow

Jen took some snow in for Josephine to play with for the first time and it was a huge hit.

Elliott and Martin on New Year's Countdown at the Library

On New Year's Eve we took the kids to the library where they do a countdown until noon at which time they make noise with shakers and give each other hugs.

New Year's Bubses

Jen also did a New Year's celebration before bed as I was at work.

Oysters Rockefeller

Getting home from work I threw some Oysters Rockefeller in the oven.

Avocado, Radish and Citrus Salad

Jen put together her traditional avocado and citrus salad, this year added radishes from the farm.

Surf and Turf with Sirloin Tip, Scallops, Lobster, and Garlic Herb Butter

I grilled up some surf and turf with sirloin tip, lobster tail, and scallops.

Chocolate Mousse and Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookie with Chocolate and Almonds

Jen also served up some chocolate mousse with brown sugar shortbread cookies. Due to a problem with the TV we weren't able to watch the normal terrible New Year's Eve programming so we watched Trainwreck instead. While it wasn't traditional it was far more enjoyable than watching the terrible countdown shows.

Our fortune would not be long-lived as Josephine woke up ready to rock just as we were about to go to bed meaning we really didn't get any sleep until about 4:00 AM which made for a very groggy New Year's Day. I felt like I had a horrible hangover all day despite only having 2 beers.

New Year's Day Nap with Martin and Mummy

Jen and Martin were able to snatch a nap on New Year's Day.

Elliott as Donatello

During Christmas the boys came home from school talking about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We showed them some episodes and they became instantly obsessed, shoving anything into the backs of their shirts to emulate the weapons used by the turtle teens.

Martin Flipping Me Off To Show Me Finger He Hurt

Martin was feeling emotionally fragile and I accidentally brushed against his finger when he was flailing around on the floor. He freaked out and showed me the finger that I had so viciously stomped on (according to him). Trying to avoid a meltdown I threw a Hail Mary by offering up an "invisible Band-Aid" which was just some Scotch Tape. He completely bought into this, ended his tantrum, and now occasionally asks for invisible Band-Aids.

Rare parenting win.

Gnome Hunt at the Arboretum

We took the boys out for a freezing cold gnome hunt at the arboretum. It was a slow start but they got really into reading the riddles, clues, and stories about the gnomes.

I used my Christmas gift cards to purchase a BB-8 droid for the boys to play with. It was in no way to satisfy my own boylike curiosity about this toy whatsoever. Since my Christmas gift cards usually end up going to diapers or paper towels, it was an opportunity to actually enjoy it with a toy this year.

BB-8 was a huge hit. I prepped them beforehand by showing them some videos where Martin asked: "Is that R2-D2's baby?" They both refer to BB-8 as "Baby 8" and treat him with a care and tenderness they show no other living or inanimate objects in our home. At night they are quiet around him and whisper while he "sleeps" in his charger.

If only they showed that same level of care around their sleeping sister.

Josie with BB-8

Josephine was pretty entertained by BB-8 as well.

Josie with BB-8

Mostly she enjoyed picking his head off his body and trying to eat it.

Excited For Tumbling Class

Jen headed out to her annual trip to Salt Lake City while I watched the kids. I took them to gymnastics class. I've never seen the boys more excited about anything as they got ready to head in.

They had a blast. Martin took a conservative approach to many of challenges while Elliott went into the same obstacles with his normal reckless abandon.

Josephine Smiling About Not Eating From Bottle

Josephine, as predicted, refused to eat any milk from a bottle the entire time Jen was gone. Here she is smiling in delight after a night of no sleep where Martin woke up every 30 minutes being afraid of the dark and settled down each time only seconds before his sister would wake up.

During class they both rushed out to tell me they had to pee then ten minutes later Martin rushed out to tell me he had to poop, went to the toilet, then told me he was empty of poop and that he'd have to pick up more poop at the poop store.

Sibling Puzzle Time

After work Grandma was entertaining the crew who had taken off their shirts (because Ninja Turtles don't wear shirts) and were making a puzzle.

Epiphany came and went and Jen was a little sad that I had undecorated the tree, removed it from the house, cleaned all the needles, and put all the toys away. She was only a little sad because while she missed the tree she was smart enough to realize that I'd done all of that one afternoon while watching all the kids and now she didn't have to do any of it.

Don't cry for her.

Josie's First Tofu

Josephine liked her first tofu farm more than anyone could have predicted.

Elliott's Own Dinner Table

During dinner last night Elliott dragged their table over to the other room so he could be by himself at his own table eating dinner, yet still be close enough to us that we would feel loved.

Elliott Eating Sticky Toffee Pudding by the Fire

After dinner he was very excited to go sit by the fire eating sticky toffee pudding and watching the flames while the rest of us stayed in the dining room.

Best Friends Before School

Jen asked Martin who he would see at school this morning and asked him about one of his classmates. He told her that that classmate was not his best friend. Jen asked who his best friend was and he said, "Elliott is my best, best friend!"

That is until the next time he accidentally hits him in the face with a lightsaber.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Very Bubsy Christmas

As Christmas approached we came closer and closer to that point of no return where your realize all your preparation and planning must soon be abandoned. This usually happens about mid day on Christmas Eve. No more decorating. No more cooking. No more shopping. We just have to go into it with all we have and hope for the best.

As in all years past this is always quite sufficient for an excellent holiday.

Making Christmas Cookies

The boys helped Jen with her holiday baking which meant she got about 75% as much baking done as normal. However, the boys were courteous enough to consume just as much icing as ended up on cookies. When asked to stop Elliott gave his traditional response of, "But it's so yummy!"

Iron Man Shooting Donald the Duck as Interpreted by Martin

Martin has taken to drawing in his room when it's time to be sleeping. The other night he drew what he described as Iron Man shooting Donald Duck. Not sure I see Donald but the Iron Man is pretty spot on.

Uncle Joe and Uncle Ryan with Josie

Uncle Joe and Uncle Ryan came over to meet Josephine for the first time. She was quite fond of both of them.

Elliott and Martin with Star Wars Cookies

They brought Star Wars cookies and Star Wars toys for the boys. They got an A+ rating from the boys for this visit. Flawlessly done, gentlemen.

Auntie Lisa Helping Open Gifts

Aunt Lisa came over on Christmas Eve and participated in the pre-game at Grandma and Grandad's house.

Elliott Bowling at Grandma and Grandad's

Martin and Elliott immediately set up their new bowling set in the hallway to make sure they were completely underfoot int he lead up to dinner.

Storytime with Grandma

Before dinner Grandma read from one of the books to three captivated children.

Santa's Cookie and Bar Assortment

The boys selected an assortment of bars and milk for Santa and Elliott even pulled up a chair so he could take a load off.

Christmas Eve Tree

Santa arrived after a stint in Brazil to head to the next logical place: the Midwest of the United States. There he did a pretty good job of setting up the tree. He used tinsel this year, something he has threatened to do for many years running but often was just too lazy to follow through on.

Christmas Present Overflow Room

Since the gathering is growing each year the presents for adults had to be held in a separate overflow room.

Martin Opening Stocking

Elliott Opening Stocking

On Christmas Morning the stockings were discovered by the boys and even the normally groggy Elliott couldn't help but perk up instantly as he rifled through his first gifts.

Martin with Uncle Doug and Oliver

The best gift of all was that cousin Oliver (no relation to the cousin Oliver in The Brady Bunch) was released from the hospital a day early on Christmas Eve and got to spend the day with us being the sleepiest and most well behaved child of the cousins.

Captain AmeriThor

Already a Christmas tradition is Elliott deciding he's had enough excitement and needing some alone time. He had a blast breaking free to use his new Thor hammer and Captain America shield outside. Since it was so unseasonably warm he was able to do this all in just his pajamas.

Grilling on Christmas Day in a T-shirt

I even got to grill outside in a T-shirt. It was even a little too warm in the house from the oven running, something I've never had to contend with on Christmas. Personally I prefer ice cold, snowy days for Christmas but it was a nice novelty.

Christmas Cheese/Salami Platter

I put some time into the Christmas cheese platter which extended most of the length of our counter and was a great start to keeping everyone occupied and fed until the relatively light dinner was served.

2011 La Togata Brunello di Montalcino

We opened this wonderful bottle of wine purchased for us by Jen's Nana which paired perfectly with the meats and cheeses.

For dinner we had Beef Wellington, roasted vegetables, and duck fat roasted potatoes. Dinner definitely took a backseat to the first course.

Grandparents Chat in Dining Room on Christmas

The lights I'd hung (unsafely, as many friends and family would later tell me) in the sun room made for a wonderful atmosphere, negating the need for our horrible, oppressive overhead lights.

Storybots with Nana

The next morning Nana took over with the three highest maintenance children by reading them Storybots. She even got a new iPad for Christmas in order to be able to hold even more Storybots for the kids.

Sleeping Bags and Star Wars

The boys had a great morning and afternoon as they watched Star Wars, and The Empire Strikes Back while hanging out in their brand new Rylo Ken sleeping bags while holding their light up lightsabers.

Martin and Nana with New Art Set

Martin and Elliott both got really nice art sets from Nana and they had a fun afternoon using them to color with Nana.

Elliott Bounces Back!

Elliott woke up in the night after Nana and Grandpa headed home feeling sick. The next morning would have been his first back at school but he spent most of the morning on the couch being extremely lethargic and watching Dragons. Then all of a sudden he perked up and decided he was perfectly fine and consumed huge amounts of food after eating nothing all morning.

The wellness was short lived but overall he was better by the following morning.

Helping Shovel

Helping Shovel

We got a pretty horrible ice storm followed by a snowstorm which meant a little shoveling. Elliott was so excited to shovel that he just pestered me to go out and shovel the entire time I was meeting with a contractor to get a quote on carpeting the basement. I think he may have chased the nice man away just so that we could get to the joy of shoveling.

I'm pretty sure this behavior will not be replicated when he is fourteen.

Nate with Auntie Vi and Teddy Bear

Monday I received news that my Auntie Vi had passed away. Auntie Vi was an amazing woman and like a second grandmother to me. She bought me my favorite teddy bear when I was a baby, the teddy bear I posed with in the above picture a few years back.

Auntie Vi with Elliott

When the boys were about six months old we made the drive to Rhode Island and she was able to meet them for the first time.

Auntie Vi with Martin

I'm glad she was able to meet the boys a couple of times and always enjoyed seeing pictures of them. It's unfortunate that she didn't get a chance to meet Josephine. She would have loved her.

I spent every Christmas of my life with my Auntie Vi until the boys were born in 2012. Christmas for me was always spent at her house, and later my cousin Lisa's. While I love spending Christmas with my family I always miss those family members that I no longer get to see during the holidays.

Despite reminding me that I was a "rotten kid" every time she had the chance, she was a kind and loving woman who was always laughing loudly about something or another. I've never known her to be in a bad mood or to say a bad word about anyone.

Except for me as a kid.

We'll miss you, Auntie Vi.