Saturday, February 14, 2015

Snow, Spa, and Sis Boom Bah

At the end of last month Jen left again for a work trip. This meant, of course, that I would have late night events to attend downtown which wouldn't bring me home until late at night. It's a strange phenomenon that has developed where I only ever have to go downtown on days when it is impossible for Jen to pick the boys up from day care even though with her new job she is available to do it nearly 100 percent of the time.

Nude Martin Snacking

This also meant I got a full daddy day with the boys and that Martin would exercise some newfound independence by taking off all his clothes and his diaper and eating dinner in the buff.

Bulk Pancake Production

An exciting development is Jen's mum letting me borrow her electric griddle so I could mass produce some pancakes for the boys who now eat them at an alarming rate. I don't know how this piece of kitchen gagetry has evaded me for so long. This has made a task I hate into a task that is actually quite enjoyable. The griddle offers a lot more control and even cooking than our terrible, horrible, no good, very bad electric stove.

Bulk Pancake Production

After making a sextuple batch of batter I was able to easily make and freeze several bags for quick defrosting in the morning.

Elliott's Jake Placemat

As a special treat for the boys I made placemats for them thinking that this would make after dinner cleanup a little easier. I was wrong, but elliott enjoyed his Jake and the Never Land Pirates placemat.

Martin's Mark Knopfler Dire Straits Placemat

Martin enjoyed his Mark Knopfler from the Dire Straits 1983 Alchemy tour placemat even more. The only downside was that since they had some of their favorite things in front of them they didn't want you placing any sort of food or drink on top of them.

Additionally this didn't seem to make the perpetual disgusting state of our table and dining area any better.

Playing in Snow

We got some good snow at the end of January which meant lots of time for the guys to explore the frozen wonderland with a lot more flexibility. Last year they could basically only take a few steps and fall over.

Puppy Bowl

There was so much snow leading up to the Super Bowl that we were snowed in and couldn't have guests over for our annual Super Bowl party. I'd prepared my usual dishes to celebrate the opposing teams' cities but instead we simply watched the Puppy Bowl with the boys. I had never watched this before which means that maybe I had some faint glimmer of hope for America.

After watching the Puppy Bowl I now know that all is lost.

Super Bowl Nachos

Instead of celebrating Seattle and New England we celebrated Chili's with a big plate of nachos.

Care Packages for Bubses

Soon after we rushed away for a pre-baby spa "weekend." The last time we did this was three years ago when Jen was also pregnant and unable to enjoy alcohol. Someday we'll have to do it when Jen's not pregnant.

Ducks in the Moonlight

From the window of our beautiful hotel room we had a view of the moonlight annd the river littered with geese.

Cookies and Milk

Each night they brought us warm cookies and chilled milk from a local dairy. The idea was so romantic to me that I even tried sipping on some of the milk but was reminded that I still think milk is disgusting.

Inn Bathroom

The bathroom in our room was fantastic. It was actually about the same size as our master bathroom at home except laid out in a manner that would lead me to believe it was designed by a human being that has used a bathroom before instead of a blind toddler just randomly dropping blocks using Minecraft.

Jen Having Breakfast by the Fire

Before returning home we had one last breakfast by the fire, in peace. We were missing the boys quite a bit by then but I must admit the luxury of having breakfast by a fire paled in comparison to just being able to have breakfast sitting down.

Doug Installing QRD Diffusers

When we returned home Uncle Doug gave me a hand in finally installing the QRD diffusers I'd begun making in November. Step by step the basement studio is coming together.

QRD Diffuser Installed

I'm sure when Uncle Dee Dee is born I'll have plenty of time to spend in my home studio.

Snow Fun

Upon returning home we were able to go out into the backyard and play around with the boys in the paths I'd shoveled before leaving. They had fun building a snowman and Martin got to do his second favorite activity in the world: throwing snowballs at me and his mother.

His favorite activity: pretending to throw snowballs at us.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Part Caretaker, All Servant

New Year's Eve came quickly and Jen and I planned (and hoped) to have our normal grown-up New Year's Eve dinner after the boys were nestled (passed out) in their beds.

Toddler New Year's Eve Countdown

In the afternoon Jen put on a countdown to New Year's that she found on Netflix and apparently the boys had a blast watching it. I didn't get the chance to watch as I was at work.

Bacon Wrapped Beef Tenderloin with Bairdi Crab Legs, Grilled Asparagus and Mashed Potatoes

For dinner I got home and quickly cooked bacon-wrapped tenderloin, grilled asparagus, truffled mashed potatoes, and steamed Biardi crab legs.

Chocolate Mousse

Jen made her traditional New Year's chocolate mousse, this year flavored with Grand Marnier

No Nap Quiet Time Watching "The Princess Bride" with Mummy

The following morning we had a sleepy New Year's Day where the boys snuggled up on the couch with Mummy and watched The Princess Bride for the second time. Despite the picture showing Martin asleep they loved this movie far more than we could have hoped. This was nice because it gave us an opportunity to not watch another kid's cartoon with them for a change.

New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp

That evening we made an impromptu, last minute New Orleans themed meal with barbecue shrimp . . .

Hoppin' John

. . . Hoppin' John . . .

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

. . . Chicken Andouille Gumbo . . .

Collard Greens with Ham

. . . Collard Greens . . .

Roasted Garlic Clouds

. . . and roasted garlic biscuits.

A Day at the Shedd Aquarium

The following day we all took the kids to the Shedd Aquarium which was a pretty big hit, other than the horrible over-priced lunch experience. Lesson learned. Next time we pack lunches.

A Day at the Shedd Aquarium

A Day at the Shedd Aquarium

A Day at the Shedd Aquarium

A Day at the Shedd Aquarium

A Day at the Shedd Aquarium

The love for Dire Straits continues. It also continues to mystify us. Neither Jen or I are all that crazy about Dire Straits. We like them okay but I'm secretly worried that people are going to think I'm forcing my love of my favorite band on my children, trying to get them to have the same tastes as me. Nothing could be further from the truth. They're only lukewarm about my favorite bands. They love Dire Straits.

I'd say a solid 80% of the Dire Straits I've listened to in my entire life has been in the last year, almost entirely at the request of one or both of my sons.

After a Christmas with Toddlers

Soon enough it was Epiphany and time to take down the trees. The front room tree was easy enough as Martin and Elliott had done their best to denude it of 75% of its ornaments in advance.

Thanks, Guys!

Daddy Shoveling

The next day we got our first snow. My this time last year I had already shoveled about twenty times so I was not too broken up about the decrease in accumulation this year.

Martin Throwing Snow

We got to play in the snow. This was great for Martin whose favorite activity lately has been pretending to throw snow at people and asking them to pretend to throw it back. Now he got to experience the real thing.

Elliott in the Snow

Elliott enjoyed it too, despite the 45 minute long battle about whether or not he was going to wear his jacket outside. I think you can see who won this argument based on the above picture.

Lately Martin has developed this crazy running style where he swings his right arm wildly with bent elbow while leaving his left arm straight. It's been a cause for great enjoyment by all who get the opportunity to watch it.

Grandma and Elliott with Grandma's Retirement Cake

Grandma had a sudden and unexpected retirement which meant we had a sudden and unexpected retirement dinner part complete with Black Forest Cake.

Big Brother Practice

This morning the boys woke up and decided they wanted to care for Martin's doll, perhaps in practice to become older brothers. Elliott went to the other room and retrieved a Boppy. I had no idea that Boppy was even around or that Elliott even knew what it was for.

After breakfast they erupted into a celebration of Dire Straits and sang along to "So Far Away," a song that I'm pretty sure I didn't even know was a Dire Straits song until a few months ago.

Elliott Making Crafts

We spent a great deal of the morning making crafts as well. They ended up being Christmas-themed as much of the stickers and things we had around were from the holidays.

Martin's Craft

They both commanded me to draw certain things. Martin told me to draw a Santa, a little Santa, and a Santa in a sleigh. Perhaps this drawing is meant to recall the Great Christmas Schism of 1068 which brought so much war and devastation to the North Pole.

We live in simpler times now.

After their snack of peanut butter French toast they decided to have a Dire Straits slow jam where they really grooved to the moody guitar licks of Mark Knopfler.

I wish I could love and appreciate any music as much as they enjoyed Dire Straits. They don't listen to Dire Straits. They feel it.

Ruff Ruff's Lunch

Grandma came over for lunch and they both took care of Martin's dog, Ruff Ruff, by giving him Elliott's bowl of cous cous and then Elliott's milk. When Grandma told them that dogs don't drink milk they made me go get him some water.

That it what's like being a parent. You are part caretaker, all servant.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Uncle Dee Dee

Shortly before Christmas we decided to announce to the world that Jen was pregnant again, this time with a girl.

Baby #3 Ultrasound Pics (It's a Girl!)

Baby #3 goes by many names but Elliott prefers, predominantly, to refer to her as Uncle Dee Dee. This would be more remarkable if he hadn't started referring to just about everyone as Uncle Dee Dee. He says it with the sly smile of an unpolished stand up comic who is maybe a little too confident in the hilarity of his material.

No one knows where this Uncle Dee Dee thing came from. We asked if there was a book at day care that refers to such a character but his teachers inform us that there is not.

So it is that Uncle Dee Dee remains the figment of Elliott's imagination and a character of legend. One thing is sure if you call Elliott Uncle Dee Dee he will laugh at this ridiculous claim and respond with: "No, you're Uncle Dee Dee!"

In other news: Martin suggested the name Juno. It is just as much a mystery where Martin could possibly have learned that Juno is, in fact, a real name.

Martin in Big Boy Bed

Elliott in Big Boy Bed

The month started off with their transition to big boy beds going fairly well. Then the true gravity of their newfound freedom set in and their feet could be heard hitting the floor seconds after we'd closed the door. One night I went in to find them both standing dangerously on their desk trying to climb the bookshelf. That's when everything was removed from their room and floor and put in the closet so that now their room is a bit more like a prison cell than a fun toddler hangout.

That is fitting because I act a lot more like a prison warden at bedtime than a fun dad.

Rudolph Coloring Books

The introduction to the world of Christmas movies has gone over quite well. Rudolph was the first hit even though the first time they watched it they actively hated it and yelled at us to turn it off. Every subsequent viewing has been more popular and the "white shaggy monster" is their favorite character in all the world of film.

Other Rankin Bass films have been similarly enjoyed though they are also quite fond of Elf which they call "the big silly man" and they even thought White Christmas and Christmas in Connecticut are enthralling, much to our joy.

Wombats' First Egg Nog

While Jen went out of town I treated the boys to their first eggnog by the fire while we watched Christmas movies. They both had a similar reaction to the beverage which was to ask where this delicious treat had been all their lives.

Big Bubble Room

We went to the Children's museum as well where they played a lot with bubbles.

Martin's Snowman

Martin also loved the magnetic shapes. Here is a picture of a snowman that he made. This is before he added about 35 to 30 additional hats.

I took advantage of the warm temperatures to hang Christmas lights while the boys desecrated our beautiful scene by knocking Santa to the ground and beating him with sticks.

Elliott Making Gingerbread House

We also had fun making gingerbread houses together. They looked at all the decorations curiously and asked if they could eat it. I lied and told them that these were just decorations.

Martin Eating the Decorations

This was discovered to be a lie almost instantly and Martin soon used gumdrops to scoop up huge portions of icing that he could eat off the candies. Decorating was pretty much out the window at that point.

Then Martin fell off his chair and was hysterical for a while demanding "big water." Nothing I brought him would equal what "big water" was supposed to be in his mind. All the while Elliott calmly narrated the events in case I missed anything. "Martin fell! He's crying! He gonna hit his head and cry! Martin ate his house." His only interrupted his play-by-play to take giant bites of the gumdrop he was holding.

They also took a moment to sing beautiful renditions of their favorite Christmas song, "Frosty the Snowman."

Martin Making Ham and Cheese Roll Ups

Eventually Martin settled enough to make some ham and cheese roll ups for dinner. Elliott had no interest in making them but enjoyed eating the results. Martin did a pretty amazing job rolling them all up before we put them in the oven.

Marin's Ham and Cheese Roll Ups

The end results were quite a bit better than I'd have expected from a two-year-old.

Elliott & Martin with Santa at Bass Pro Shops (2014)

While I was at work Jen took them to see Santa one day. Martin tolerated it while Elliott tolerated it slightly less. When I got home from work Elliott ran up to me to excitedly declare, "I saw Santa!"

Christmas Chain

The boys also made a nice Christmas chain with Mummy to celebrate the coming of the season. They did not break the chain apart as one would expect but they did discover the joy of the advent calendar, as well as the sorrow of realizing you only get one chocolate per day.

Decorating the Christmas Tree

They even helped decorate our first Christmas tree in the front room.

Potato Latkes

While they were recovering from illness and fever, but still in good spirits, we found time to celebrate Hanukkah with a nice dinner of latkes.

Elliott Playing "Guitar"

The boys broke my guitar and were banned from touching it. After that they pretty much turned anything they could find into a guitar.


They constantly strummed any small object they could find to satiate their unending hunger from the stringed instrument.

Baking Helpers

Jen had some help during her annual holiday baking this year. This means it took her three times as long to get it done and she made much less than in previous years.

Watching Rudolph with Nana and Grandpa

Nana and Grandpa arrived before Christmas just in time to watch a lot more holiday movies with the boys who are seen here narrating the entrance of the "white shaggy monster" in Rudolp to my parents just in case they hadn't seen it in the 50 previous Christmases it has been on television.

Uncle Ryan

Uncle Joe and Martin

Uncle Ryan and Uncle Joe also stopped by to give the boys a present just before Christmas.

Setting Up Christmas Tree

On Christmas Eve we set up the second tree to celebrate the tradition of Santa decorating the tree, and also the tradition of embarrassing holiday excess by having a second Christmas tree.

Santa's Snack

The boys picked out snacks to leave for Santa. One of the cookies was missing a bite courtesy of Elliott was stained with his tears when he was told that he couldn't eat it.

3 Floyds Alpha Klaus on Christmas Eve

Santa enjoyed his snack so much he even polished off one of my Christmas beers. I was saving that for Christmas dinner you big fat jerk!

Christmas Eve Set Up

It may be possible to forgive him after all the hard work he did setting everything up for the morning.

Opening Stockings

Opening Stockings

In the morning it was hard to convince them to go downstairs after opening their stockings. They were pretty much ready to call it a day after the first gift they got out. They were like, "Oh cool! A stocking with a book in it! I'll read this now!"

Eventually we convinced them to open them fully even though Elliot slept through most of Martin opening his gifts.

New Drum Set

Downstairs Santa had left a new drum set against the best advice from all Mummy and Daddy's friends. These friends are not as well versed in the art of muting cumbals and muffling drums as Daddy and Santa are though.

Elliott Playing Guitar with Mummy

Elliott picked out his guitar right away and was pretty happy that he would no longer need to use other objects to emulate his favorite instrument.

Wombats on Christmas Morning

All three children were immediately given cookies upon coming downstairs. While this is not the world's best idea it seemed to have no bad consequences.

Christmas Table

As the adults settled down for dinner the twin portion of the cousins was in no mood to sit and eat.

Watching Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Instead they sat in the other room and watched Santa Claus is Coming to Town which was pretty good because it afforded Mummy and Daddy a lot more time to focus on eating their own meals rather than managing their poor table habits.

Nana Reading to Boys

The arrival of Nana and Grandpa also meant plenty of Storybots which they read for hours on end.

They also took breaks to poke the little guy on Storybots and laugh at the sound he made.

Elliott Plays Guitar

Elliott posed for another album cover this Christmas. This is for his sophomore album, "Reflections on a Denied Cookie."

Elliott Sitting on Guitar Case with Lego Brick

It's the follow up to last year's album, "Elliott's Soulful Christmas." While not as critically acclaimed his follow up is a bit hit with fans who admire it as a gritty musical departure from his first album.

Goodbye to Nana and Grandpa

Sadly Nana and Grandpa had to leave for Rhode Island. When the boys wake up in the morning they still ask for their grandparents. They like to stand at the top of the stairs and trumpet, "Grandpa! Nana!" For some reason it's a big favorite to have grandparents watch them as they descend as if they're teenage girls coming to meet their prom dates.

And so ends another year, but not the end of our Christmas season. That will wrap up after Epiphany. While most folks around here like to start Christmas in mid November and throw their Christmas tree on the curb on December 26th, we take a later approach and celebrate the holiday a little deeper in to the cold, dark winter when such holidays are in more dire need.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Imagine what this circus will look like in 2015 with a 50% increase in children!

Mamma Mia!