Sunday, January 28, 2018

Christmas in January

December started with me being able to enjoy my birthday gift, a trip back to Rhode Island to see friends!

Leg Room!

I got first class on the way there and a space with so much legroom on the way back that it might as well have been first class.


I had some nice beer while I was there but, for the second trip in a row, I did not purchase this Rhode Soda at the airport.


As I went through security with the rest of the plebes I got to watch as my fellow Rhode Islander, Sean Spicery, was ushered through the high-speed TSA Pre-Check line.

Beervent 2017

When I returned home I was greeted with my third annual Beervent where 24 brand new beers awaited me!

gingerbread houses

gingerbread josie

This year's gingerbread house decorating was probably the smoothest and most complete to date. The boys finally had the attention span and manual dexterity to realy decorate their houses instead of just sitting there and eating the candy. Josephine even did a pretty good job. For the first year ever Jen even got to join us.

charcuterie board

Charcueterie Board Final Polish

I also put the final touches on my charcuterie board, the project that dominated all of the fall months for me.

Working For Extra Prizes at the Hair Salon

The boys learned the value of hard work. After requesting additional prizes at the hair salon (I don't remember getting any prizes at the hair salon when I was a kid) they were made to work for them. They then eagerly swept the floor for the first time in their lives.

Hot Cocoa Social at Day Care

While Jen got her first time doing gingerbread houses, my schedule finally allowed me to get my first chance to meet Josie at school for her hot cocoa social.

The Last Jedi

We were able to go see The Last Jedi on opening weekend. I have a lot to say about it but not here.

2017 Christkindlemarket

We even got to go to the Christkindlemarket and have glugwein, eat delicious raclette sandwiches, and watch an up and coming teen pop star perform. It was a great night.

Asleep with all the lights on

When we returned home from the market and our friends' Christmas party we found the boys completely asleep in their beds with the all the lights on seemingly unbothered.

Naperville Christmas Light Tour 2017

We also had our best ever Christmas Light Tour where the kids were all in very good spirits and really loved seeing all the lights.

Snowy Backyard

Jedi Pics

We got a good amount of snow in December and the boys took advantage of it by staging a "Jedi on Hoth" photoshoot.

Leaving Treats for Santa

This is the first year where the kids were beyond excited for Christmas morning. It's hard not to remember that feeling. Sometimes they would just lie there in their beds and weep about how far away Christmas was. I remember that feeling as well. Lately I know the feeling of a parent who can't believe Christmas is already here and how unprepared I am for it. This year was particularly difficult for both me and Jen with more work than normal to do and even less time to prepare for the big day. However, by Christmas Eve night, when they laid out Santa's snacks, we were in pretty good shape for a great day.

sitting by tree in dark

The day came after only a few hours of sleep for us. The boys woke up around 4am and I was able to keep them at bay for while with their stockings in the upstairs playroom but they were far too excited to get back to sleep. Last year we had to wake them up fairly late.

family by fire

So it was we ended up finishing unwrapping their gifts well before I would have hoped to even be awake.

Christmas Morning grandma and josie

Christmas Morning breakfast

We had a great morning with delicious food and great times. By the time noon hit the kids were fading fast. We'd been up for eight hours so I decided that in order to save Christmas I had to force them to nap. Elliott was easily convinced but I literally had to hold Martin down until he passed out. Luckily this lasted only a couple of minutes before he stopped protesting and went into a deep sleep. After a couple of hours of intense napping they woke up rejuvinated and ready for the rest of the day.

Christmas was saved!

christmas charcuterie spread

That night I was able to give my charcuterie board its inaugural run and it was a huge success. The board didn't come out perfect but it has done its first of what I hope are many Christmas spreads.

christmas dinner

Our dinner was merely a beef roast with some potatoes and vegetables. I'm hoping this can be our last Christmas dinner as the charcuterie spread is usually more than enough to make everyone uncomfortably full.

Playing Pokemon on the Switch

The next morning the boys got to play one of their first games on the Nintendo Switch which they enjoyed a lot, that was until Elliott displayed clear dominance and crushed his brother's morale.

Freezing Cold Walk

After an emotional morning and afternoon we took the kids out for a very short walk seeing that temperatures had just barely crept into the positve numbers. They came back in with a renewed appreciation for being inside.

Making Maple Candy

We also made maple candy with some cold snow which was a bigger hit with the adults than the children.

New Year's Eve

For New Year's we had a party again for the kids. This year I was not suffering from the flu so it was much more enjoyable for me than last year. We played movies in the basement and once Elliott catches a glimpse of Captain Underpants he is immediately siezed with an uncontrollable urge to roleplay.

nye dinner

After the kids were asleep me, Jen, Nana, and Grandpa all settled down for a proper adult dinner. This year was grilled beef ribeye, mashed potato with duck fat, and hot buttered king crab legs.

Jen Getting Back Into The Sims Game

Jen was able to spend a good chunk of time on New Year's Day getting back into playing The Sims with The Sims 4. Here she is creating a character that is an uncanny representation of herself.

No Spend January

In January we decided to partake in "No Spend January" whereby we try to spend little to no money on anything, including food. This resulted in the first of many lunches like this at work where I took some leftover peanut butter and jelly from my fridge and ate them alongside crackers that had expired in September.


After a long winter break the kids returned to school. You can see the joy in Jen's face as she gets a brief break after nearly 20 days alone with the kids. I had a mere four of those days off of work if you include Christmas Day.


The stars were able to align enough so that we could take the kids sledding for the first time in years. Last year we got essentially no snow. The time around Christmas was so cold that we didn't take the kids out for fear of only being able to spend ten minutes outside in the negative temperatures. One day temperatures got into the forties and there was still enough snow on the ground to sled and have a great time.

Oliver's Birthday

With Christmas and a new house to move into we weren't able to celebrate Oliver's second birthday until part way through January but he did not seem bothered in the least and had a great time.

Two Brothers Collaboration Dinner with Whiskey Acres

One exception to No Spend January was having a great whiskey dinner collaboration between Two Brothers and Whiskey Acres with some friends.

Paddington 2

After a night of much whiskey we had committed to taking all of our kids to see Paddington 2 the next morning since the kids were all off school. I have to say this was not something I was really looking forward to but I'm pretty sure the adults liked this movie even more than the kids did. The praise that this movie is getting is not without merit. Go see it!

Homework with Martin

Schools are starting to wise up about giving kids homework. Unfortunately our kids get homework because parents complained when their kids weren't given any. Thanks, guys. We were really running out of tasks and chores to fight with our kids about. Thanks to the great parents in our school district we have one more thing to add to the list!

Laying Down Some Vocal Tracks

I was even able to convince the kids to lay down some vocal tracks int he studio. Expect their new EP to be dropping this summer!

The Chicago Wolves Game

The Chicago Wolves Game

Last year we took the kids to their first hockey game. This year we upped the ante and took them to see The Chicago Wolves! Martin was so excited when they won. Elliott was devastated because, apparently, he is a huge Cleveland Monsters fan.

I'm not sure what that's all about.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

November in a Nutshell

After Halloween, as normal, came my birthday. It sneaks up on everyone, including me. Unfortunately a case of food poisoning also snuck up on Jen so it wasn't quite as joyful as we would have hoped. Other than that it was pretty much the perfect birthday.

Oh No Four O

Except for which one it was.

Refinishing the Basement

Refinishing the Basement

My dad and I spent a lot of time refinishing the basement after our basement flood almost two years ago. Not only are the rusty carpet tacks no longer poking out of the floor but it's actually extremely comfortable down there and the kids can go play without me being worried about stepping on a rusty nail or smashing their head on cold concrete.

Final Baby Gate (Before)

Final Baby Gate (After)

A much simpler project, though just as gratifying, was removing the final baby gate. This simple change provides an obvious aesthetic improvement but the most satisfying bit is how luxurious and wide our staircase feels now. Added bonus: carrying laundry or other items up the stairs is no longer fraught with peril.

Elliott Spells out "Come On" in Glow Sticks

Elliott spent much of my birthday party writing "COME ON" on pieces of paper and handing it to Jen. At the end of the night he spelled it out in Halloween glow sticks and called me in.

Jen has made a huge tactical error in sharing how much she hates it when they say this to her so, obviously, they have doubled their efforts. While this isn't unusual for kids it is amplified by the DNA coming specifically from her side of the family tree. Once Jen and her sisters learned how much her mother hated monkeys they have never stopped getting her monkey-themed cards, wines, pictures, or anything else they can get their hands on.

Payback is coming hard for Jen.

Jen Becomes an American Citizen

The following week Jen and I headed downtown for her to be sworn in as an American citizen. Personally, I think she's making a huge mistake. That being said, she is very excited to get to vote out of pure anger and rage.

Saying Goodbye to Mr. Tim

We had to bid a sad farewell to our neighbors Mr. Tim and Ms. Anita. They have been absolutely the most perfect neighbors anyone could hope for and we will miss them dearly.

Goodbye Card for Mr. Tim

Elliott drew a card of his favorite memory with Mr. Tim. Of course that memory was of the day Tim came over with a giant box of their son's old toys and gave them to the boys. Elliott still gets choked up when he thinks about it but mostly because he knows it will never happen again.

Inaugural Basement Theater Viewing of Return of the Jedi

One night when Jen was out we had the inaugural movie night in the basement. The boys actually requested Return of the Jedi. I was more than happy to oblige.

At Wild Kratts Live

The following day we surprised the kids by bringing them to a live show of the Wild Kratts. The kids were blown away by the show and spent the next few days reenacting scenes and dressing up in their costumes. I've got to say it was a pretty incredible show. I'm not really sure how those guys keep up their enthusiasm levels for ten minutes let alone for an entire live show. They definitely had complete control over the audience. It was like watching a band at the peak of their popularity play a stadium. The kids in the room were in awe.

Charcuterie Board Project

Charcuterie Board Project

I also finally got to work on my charcuterie board project, something that is slow going. My complete lack of woodworking skill is certainly contributing to the pace of the project but my hopes are that it will still turn out okay.

Mummy and Josie at Daycare Thanksgiving Feast

This year marks the first time my work schedule has allowed me to go to the Thanksgiving feast at day care. Josie had a really fun time with us there and against all odds did not freak out when we didn't take her home with us after it was over.


We also did our fifth year at the Illuminations at Morton Arboretum. We discovered the secret to doing this after five long, hard years at this event: have children that are five or older.


The boys did great. There was a brief period where they were unhappy about how hot their hot chocolate was but they walked the whole way, were up for viewing the entire display, and in very good spirits. Josephine, on the other hand, melted down about halfway through. It was better than the freezing cold year, and far better than the year it rained on us, but still not quite ideal for the under five set. Cousins Evelyn and Oliver were similarly cranky and it was understandable. It's a tough thing for a kid. When the final cousin is five years old it's going to be an amazing Illuminations experience.


Illuminations 2021 is going to be lit. Literally. Literally. Literally lit.

Family Photo Shoot

We also did a family photo shoot. The kids did great but after a solid hour of pictures were pretty done but we rewarded them with lunch downtown. Cousins were sick so they weren't fully into it.

Sick Josie Napping

The sickness spread and Josie came down with hand, foot, and mouth for the second time. Third time? I don't know but with the kids we've gone through it about ten times now. Each time gets easier. Each time is still profoundly crappy.

Sick Josie Decorating Tree

Jen flew out for work and Josie spent a day with daddy decorating our new advent calendar tree which she is obsessed with. Also, we watched Frozen four times before the boys got home from school. Then one more time with them for good measure.

The cold never bothered me anyway.