Saturday, December 21, 2013

Taking Ownership

After much back and forth and much pain we have finally moved into our new house.

New Home Owners

They didn't humor us with the "sold" sign and the U-Haul in the driveway is not ours but we finally did it.

Jen Tracking How Many Times We Signed For Mortgage

On December 9th we met with a team of lawyers and mortgage gurus to sign our life away. Jen tallied up the total number of times we signed our names and it came to 69. It's actually only 11 times if you remove all the times they made us acknowledge that we need to have homeowner's insurance.

Family in the Snow

The first week of home ownership was snow-filled. In the first seven days of owning the house (and still not having slept there) I had already shoveled the driveway four times.

Christmas Lights in the Snow

The effect was pretty sweet at Jen's parents' house with the light-covered bushes draped in a blanket of snow. It looked like one of those plug-in ceramic Christmas trees that everyone's grandmother had.

New Kitchen

Tuesday morning started with the painters arriving at 6:30 AM. I showed set up a nice Dunkin' Donuts spread for them because America Runs on Dunkin'. Of course, all the painters were Polish and seemed to run on cigarettes.

Needless to say I had a lot of leftover coffee and donuts.

One of Many Home Depot Runs

While they painted I made the first of at least a dozen runs to Home Depot, filling my car with new home essentials like shop vacs, outlet covers, and toilet seats.


The painters were able to accomplish a lot in the one day of painting, not the least of which was devaluing our bank account by thousands and thousands of dollars.

Doug and Nate Making Late Night Snowy Run to Home Depot for Plumbing Supplies

We went out to dinner with Lauren and Doug for the first time since moving here and then returned to the home only to run out to Home Depot after discovering a leak from a toilet. Then we were able to enjoy celebrate home ownership by measuring water damage to the ceiling and reseating a toilet, perhaps unnecessarily.

Martin and Elliott in Snow

The worst of the snow was last weekend and we were able to take the boys outside to enjoy the snow. Instead of enjoying it Elliott tolerated it and Martin actively hated it.

Sledding with Daddy

They were mildly amused by the sled ride I gave them until I hit a snow bank and Martin tumbled into the snow. Since he refuses to allow gloves to be put on his hands he was not a huge fan of touching snow.

He does not believe that it is a marshmallow world. Instead, he thinks it is an inhospitable ice planet of doom.

Elliott and Mummy at Pharmacy

Half way through our first week of home ownership Elliott had a rough night of screaming and not being able to be soothed. Jen took him to the doctor to find he had a double ear infection, then she took him to the pharmacy.

He was better for two days.

Elliott with New Snoopy Toy

Then, on Friday, it happened again and it was my turn to do the clinic and pharmacy circuit. It was discovered that one ear had gotten better and the other had gotten worse. So I took him to the pharmacy again where he had a blast and was particularly happy when I purchased this Snoopy toy for him.

I think maybe the ear infections are a ruse in order to get us to take him to hang out at the pharmacy.

Preliminary Floor Plan

On the weekend it was back to work, sketching preliminary floor plans. This floor plan had actually been done before we closed on the house and, looking at it now, it is fairly inaccurate. But it gave me a good sense of where to tell the movers to put things and what I could do between trips to Ikea and Home Depot.

Cleaning Out New Fridge

I also passed the time before our things were delivered by cleaning out the fridge while Lauren tackled the floors and the boys' room upstairs. I found many interesting things inside the fridge but mostly just a lot of dog hair.

Cleaning Out Ducts

Not as much interesting things as were found in the ductwork of the house. The cleaners said it had probably never been cleaned since the house was built in 1984. Judging by the dust and hair build up I could easily believe that.

Receipt from 1975 Found in New House

Though I can't figure out how this receipt from 1975 ended up traveling to the house at some point nine years after it was built.

Kitchen Mess

We split up on Saturday so I could get some work done at the house.

Bubs Wrestling

Meanwhile, the guys spent much of the day running Jen ragged and wrestling with each other.

Jen and Nate at Christmas Tree Lot

On Sunday we finally had a moment to brave the single-digit temperatures and get a Christmas tree.

Running Out of Christmas Lights

Unfortunately it was the last day they had the lot open so there wasn't a ton of selection. We got a fairly oddly shaped tree. I'd like to be all Charlie Brown about it and say that it's the spirit of the season that matters but at the end of the day I wish we were able to get something a little nicer.

And I also wish we hadn't run out of lights.

Exploring the New House

Last Sunday, after putting lights on 75% of the tree we also brought the boys over for their first chance to romp around our new digs. They had quite a blast running around and instantly finding things that they could fight over.

The First Supper (in New House)

We had our first dinner at the new house, take out from a local BBQ restaurant, and it was pretty nice except for realizing every two minutes that I didn't know where plates, knives, forks, or glasses were.

Old Wash Room

This past Wednesday we said goodbye to our non-functioning wash room . . .

New Wash Room

. . . and hello to our new, expensive washer and dryer set. It was nice being able to do wash in the most luxurious way possible but the luster of that feeling was slightly dulled by the sting in our already hurting purse.

A Few Boxes Out For Recycling

After a week I was able to put out approxmately eighty empty boxes and four thousand pieces of paper used to pack our embarrassingly large collection of glasses and plates.

First Dinner as Family in New House

On Wednesday we slept through the night for the first time in our new home. We didn't have anything we need, or at least we couldn't find everything we needed, but it was nice to sleep under our own roof for the first time in nearly three months even if it was in a room with no blinds and boxes piled to the ceiling.

Shabby Christmas Display

Our shabby Christmas display lit the night air in our new neighborhood, announcing to the neighborhood that we are here and this is the best we can do this year.

Temperatures have mostly in the single digits all month until winter finally was upon us and temperatures spike to a new high of 30 degrees. It felt downright balmy to be able to walk from the car to the house and not have my mustache immediately freeze solid.

The run up to Christmas is a lot shorter than in years past but with my parents on the way from Rhode Island and hosting our first Christmas dinner in our new house it is promising to be a pretty great one.

The stocking are hung by the chimney with care in hopes that one day I will figure out how to use our fireplace.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Almost There

Two weeks ago begun with the guys getting their first haircut.

First Hair Cut

First Hair Cut

Martin was the real catalyst for the trip as his hair was now routinely in his eyes and annoying him on a regular basis.

First Hair Cut

First Hair Cut

Elliott mostly just tagged along for the experience. The before and after shots for him are not nearly as stark.

Elliott Playing with Blocks

What Elliott lacks in rapid hair growth he makes up for in developing his block-buildilng skills. He has taken a huge interest in building things and, of course, knocking them down.

Martin in Snow Suit

Elliott in Snow Suit

Temperatures have been in the low teens so we brought out the big guns with these comical snow suits which are surprisingly easy to get on even if it makes them a little grumpy to be in them.

After temperatures warmed a bit the boys suddenly came down with a five day stretch of a horrible stomach bug leading right up to Thanksgiving. This was their first stomach illness. It was pretty mild, all things considered, but still lead to a lot of sleepless nights and messy dinners.

This was immediately followed by one of their worst rounds of teething to date.

Martin Eating Yogurt

After they were on the mend we started feeding them a lot of simple foods including yogurt but this made Martin pretty angry as we were feeding him a bit less than he really wanted to eat.

Elliott Playing with Wrapping Paper

When they were completely better they found the true joy in fighting over things. The first thing that they became obsessed with fighting over was this roll of wrapping paper. Nothing has come so close to tearing this family apart than this roll of wrapping paper.

Ready for PJ Day at Day Care

Wednesday was the last day of day care and it was also pajama day and it gave us a nice excuse to give them a trial run for this year's Christmas pajamas.

Thanksgiving Facetime Chat with Auntie Vi

We had Thanksgiving at Lauren and Doug's and got a nice change to FaceTime with Auntie Vi who was at my parents' house.

Black Friday Lunch at Portillo's

For the first time in my life we actually went out on Black Friday. This wasn't to get deals at 5am but rather, at 12pm, to take advantage of our one moment together to go pick out some furniture needed for the new place. We also got a chance to have an extremely unhealthy lunch at Portillo's.

Watching Grandad Put Up Christmas Lights

Later that night the guys had the time of their life watching Grandad put up Christmas lights. For some reason there is nothing they like more than watching Grandad do manual labor from the comfort and warmth of the house.

And there is nothing that their Grandad likes less.

Martin Finally Asleep

Jen is back in New York for work and Martin and Elliott are still enjoying a healthy round of sleep regression. This meant Martin woke up at 10:00 PM, cried for an hour, and wouldn't get back to sleep until 1:00 AM after eating an entire box of Bunny Grahams and watching five episodes of 30 Rock. It's nice that I've been able to catch up on a TV show for once but truth me told, I'd rather get some sleep.

With a little luck we'll be closing on our house on Monday and moving in shortly thereafter. It's been a long road to get there but the time to relinquish this house back to Jen's parents and finally have a place of our own is nearly upon us.

What could possibly go wrong?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Words & Life

Last Friday was the sixteen month birthday for the guys. The month birthdays have been a little less spectacularly celebrated as of late. I did, however, make a point of getting them some cupcakes to enjoy after dinner.

Martin Eating his 16 Month Birthday Cupcake

Elliott Eating his 16 Month Birthday Cupcake

The end verdict was that they really enjoyed eating all the buttercream off the tops but they could take or leave the actual cake portion. This may be thanks to their recent discovery and love affair with pudding. They seem to love almost anything with a pudding-like consistency not the least of which is pudding itself.

Martin with Hair Tied Up Out of Eyes

Martin's hair is now officially so long that we have taken to tying it up out of his eyes so that he can actually see. Elliott is still hanging in there with hair that hasn't seem to grow in the past six months.

Jen and Nate at Miranda and Jon's Wedding in Milwaukee

On Saturday Jen and I headed up to Milwaukee for a friend's wedding in what was the be our first night together without the boys since they've been born. It made us feel a bit guilty but a head-pounding cough made sure that I wasn't able to fully enjoy it.

Elliott Watching the Snow

On Monday our daycare was closed and I stayed home with the guys as we got a decent dusting of snow.

Aunt Lauren came over and was able to witness Elliott learning how to dance along to "Old MacDonald" in what can only be called a version of twerking.

I apologize for acknowledging that twerking exists.

Martin Grocery Shopping

Elliott and Evelyn Grocery Shopping

We also went out grocery shopping in the morning to pick up items for dinner. When Evelyn started crying Elliott turned around and started rocking her baby seat. This seemed like it was pretty sweet until you realized he was just probably trying to shake the seat so he could get closer to Evelyn and smack her.

It is his way. It's the only way he knows how to love.

Martin and Elliott Sitting in Chairs

A new favorite activity for the guys is to sit in chairs. They don't quite know what to do once they get into the chairs but they stand by them, eagerly hit them with their open palms, then smile as soon as they are lifted to sit down. This lasts about four seconds until they try to hurl themselves off the chairs to start the process again.

Pumpkin Pizza with Carmelized Onion, Sage, Toasted Pine Nuts, Ricotta, Fontina and Pancetta

Pumpkin Pizza with Carmelized Onion, Sage, Toasted Pine Nuts, Ricotta, Fontina and Veggie Sausage

For dinner on Monday I made three pizzas with pumpkin sauce, ricotta, caramelized onion, sage, toasted pine nuts, and fontina. I made one version with pancetta and one with veggie sausage.

They guys have been extremely vocal lately. They are learning words at an alarming rate. They both picked up the word "apple" from a book we would read to them in the morning as we got ready for the day. They soon began waking up saying "apple" over and over again, associating it with something that people just say in the morning.

At the moment their combined vocabulary consists of the following words. "Mama, dada, daddy, duck, apple, ta-da, banana, backpack (though Elliott only said this once a few weeks back it is still worth mentioning), no, milk, uh-oh, ball, bottle, more, mine, Elmo, hi, and bye.

They understand hundreds more. At the end of the night when they start to get cranky, we announce that it is bedtime and they both immediately smile, say "bye" to Grandma and Grandad, and begin marching on their way to climb up the steps to take their bath.

Soon there will be a new set of steps and a new tub. We are less than a month away from our move in date and then we will have an intense run up to Christmas. Goal number one will be to hopefully not be surrounded by boxes on Christmas morning.

That would truly be a Christmas miracle.