Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Home Slice

A year ago we had evacuated to a hotel in New York City and were getting battered by Hurricane Sandy. Today we live in Illinois, at Jen's parents' house in hopes of moving out before Christmas.

Apparently this is the time of year for being displaced.


Last Thursday, Lauren and I did one of the final legs of our house hunt in which we may have found our future home. It is not the home pictured above but we sort of loved that house too.

Cool Retro Wet Bar Sink

It had the world's coolest retro wet bar sink with a built in cutting board and little metal bowls set into the table for your limes and lemons, olives, and cherries. If Jen and I consumed more than two martinis every four years combined this would have been a feature we couldn't pass up!

Elliott with Monkey in his Mouth

Elliott, continuing to recover from his bout of illness, and now officially off of his pacifier has taken to putting his little stuffed monkey in his mouth and running around the house holding it with his teeth. Sadly, this is the best picture we've been able to capture of this happening.

Elliott Skeleton

Evelyn and Martin in Halloween Costumes

Last Friday we dressed the kids up in their skeleton costumes in order to participate in our day care's Trunk or Treat event.

Trick or Trunk

Trunk or Treat is apparently a thing. A big thing that I'd never heard of. At first I thought it was something our day care made up but that is not the case. It is a nationwide sensation, something we knew nothing about living in an area where parking lots are not a given. They couldn't have accomplished this in New York without requiring children to walk through the streets and probably get run over by a ConEd truck.

Evelyn's Baptism

Sunday was cousin Evelyn's baptism. This was a new measure of patience for the boys. They barely made it through their aunt Lauren's graduation a few months ago. Now that they can walk and pretty much like to do so all day it was a bit of a challenge getting them to remain seated.

Elliott at Evelyn's Baptism

Martin and Daddy at Evelyn's Baptism

Here are some pictures of the guys in some of their less rambunctious moments during the two hour ceremony. There are no pictures of me chasing Elliott around the back of the church.

Martin Comforting Early Morning Elliott

Elliott's been having some night terrors again. We're learning how to deal with them and, basically, that means we just leave him alone to scream for twenty or thirty minutes. It's a little painful but there seems to be no other solution.

This has left Elliott a little crankier than normal in the morning. Martin has attempted to cheer him up the other morning.

It did not work.

Grandad has taken to beginning the boys' music education early by introducing them to the guitar stylings of Rory Gallagher. I'm sure my father will likely continue this education during his Christmas visit with some Chambers Brothers.

Stair Climbers

Their nightly routine now consists of us trying to identify when they are too tired to remain downstairs then herd them upstairs for bath and bedtime. Climbing the stairs is one of their favorite moments of the day aside from Elliott hitting people, dogs, and things and Martin tossing his food with amazing force and accuracy.

Monday night saw an offer on a house accepted so we only need go through the inspection and the remainder of the closing before we can relieve her parents of the burden of having us all in their home.


Monday, October 21, 2013

What Does the Wombat Say?

The house hunt continues. After putting in a bid on a house, and filling out dozens of forms and assurances that we would not rent the place out as a youth hostile or as a base of operations for a biker gang, the sellers accepted another offer. Which is to say that they accepted a higher offer, I'm doubting they just liked the cut of the other peoples' jib quite that much.

Auntie Lauren in Giant Tub with Martin

This afforded Jen and Lauren to spend some time house hunting while I was at work. They even took a sick Martin with them to measure the size of various tubs.

Lauren with Leopard Wallpaper

They also saw some of the most comical houses yet including this incredible leopard wallpaper . . .

Wizard in the Closet

. . . and this surprise bonus wizard hiding in one of the closets.

Family Hay Ride

Before work one day I was able to accompany everyone to Johansen Farm where we took a hayride, something that both entertained and confused the boys. It is interesting to compare them with their cousin Evelyn who is one year younger than them and just accepts everything as it comes, so long as there is a bottle involved. The boys knew something was weird and did not quite know what to make of it.

This has its pluses and minuses.

Elliott with Baby Chick

Elliott bravely stuck his fingers through the wire at the petting zoo and allowed a chick to peck at it. He made it through the day with all his digits and without a tear shed, well at least not because of being pecked.

Cousins and Pumpkins

Amongst the pumpkins at the farm we staged the first of a long future of staged photos of the cousins. Sadly, this photo was the best in the bunch for that day.

Martin Eating Cider Donut by Pumpkins

We got some cider donuts, a nice Sunday morning treat to replace the delicious waffles which they (and we) have been missing from New York.

Elliott Licking Gourds

Elliott had some donuts too but he also went around grabbing all of the gourds and licking them. We felt guilty and kept track of all of the ones he licked and ended up buying them all. I fear we may have missed a few and thus allowed Elliott to spread the horrible disease which was brewing inside of him that day.

More on that later.

Bubses in the Sand Box

Even though it's getting chilly out the guys are still having a blast in their sandbox. They spend upwards of five to ten minutes in it sometimes before stealing something from one another and freaking out about the injustice.

Martin has decided that he knows hos to flawlessly immitate what it looks like when adults drink from cups. Apparently it involves a lot of coughing for some reason.

Also, Martin has some up with a great new way to pet a dog which involves alternating bare hands and coasters he has stolen from grandma.

Pete seems indifferent.

Martin at Canadian Thanksgiving Dinner

Monday night, before I left for my work trip to Atlanta, we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving. Martin was just getting over his hand, foot, and mouth disease enough to enjoy it a bit.

Elliott with Grandad at Dinner

Elliott spent a great deal of the meal sitting on Grandad and trying to remove any plates or cutlery from the immediate area.

Elliott Painting at Day Care

While Martin stayed home sick, Elliott, apparently took to painting in pink.

At our new day care every week has a theme color. This is great but it means that Jen and I do a very half-assed job of completing our homework which is to send them in dressed in the color, or with items of that color, or with a food of that color, depending on the different days of the week.

I'm just hoping that the slapdash job we do of throwing this stuff together does not identify us instantly to the day care workers as horrible parents.

Martin and Elliott at the Doctor's Office

As son as I left town on Tuesday, Elliott began showing signs of hand, foot, and mouth. While his fever did not get as bad as Martin's he apparently developed mouth sores that caused him to scream and be extremely irritable around the clock.

Sick Elliott Home from Doctor

For four straight nights he did not sleep more than 30-40 minutes at a time. By the time I returned from Atlanta Jen was just a shell of her former self and Elliott had certainly seen better days. The next night was all mine to stay up with the guy as he kicked, screamed, and did anything but sleep.

Sick Elliott Sleeping with Daddy

I had Friday off of work so, after touring three potential houses with our realtor, we spent the bulk of the time on the couch.

When Martin was sick there was only one thing that he wanted to do besides snuggle with me, and that was to watch "The Fox" by Ylvis on Youtube. When Jen's mum left me alone with him sleeping she left the TV on and I was forced to watch the Today show since I could not reach the remote. While I had heard the chorus of "The Fox" several times I hadn't heard the song in its entirety until I watched Ylvis perform it on the Today show. Martin was instantly hooked and, I'd be lying if I said I was not intrigued as well.

I used this same trick for Elliott too, playing this when he screamed which would immediately make him stop, focus on my iPhone, and often fall asleep.

Sick Elliott Explores the Fridge

After a few days Elliott began to have periods where he would actually start walking again and could be more easily distracted.

This meant that I basically let him do whatever he want just so long as he wasn't screaming. This usually meant him emptying the contents of the fridge, pots and pans cabinet, or the pantry.

This is what is referred to as "excellent parenting skills" in case you were wondering.

Reading the Haunting Tale of the Shadow Dogs

On the weekend I read both boys a haunting tale of some dogs that disappear and leave nothing but haunting shadows behind. I don't think this book was intending to be quite so mystically macabre but it succeeded nonetheless.

Martin Eating Grandma's Lemon Curd

As Elliott decided he didn't want to eat any more on Saturday night I was given a dessert of grandma's delicious lemon curd. At least I remember it being delicious last time I had some. This time, Martin would not allow me a single bite and ate the entire portion himself.

Sleeping with the Bubses

Sunday morning we slept in and Elliott was continuing to get better. He still had his moments but he was largely able to function, walk around, hit Pete on the head, and go about his normal activities.

Watching Videos

Before heading out to work we watched "The Fox" a few more times since they are now both obsessed with the video. Maybe this is just because we never really show them any videos so they'll take whatever they can get. However, 141 million views on YouTube probably means that they're just as transfixed by it as everyone else is.

We also went for a walk in which I continue to be rendered speechless by Jen and her family's ideas on what a busy street is. In the above video you will see me referring to one of these streets deemed "too busy" to live near. Not even to live on. Apparently the dizzying rate of one-to-four cars an hour is far too much traffic to even consider having this street in your backyard.

If I live to be a thousand years old I will not understand where these concepts comes from.

While Elliott had a rough night last night it is good to see him up to his normal mischievous tricks and seeming to generally enjoy life a bit more. I'd feel a lot better if it weren't for one stark fact that the doctor left me with:

They can get hand, foot, and mouth disease more than once.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Fax of Life

The house hunt continues. Last Friday, after an incredibly long work day for Jen, she met me and our realtor in the midst of a house hunt. It was around 7:00 PM and we were both tired and hungry. The hunt didn't end until 10:00 PM at which time we abandoned our plans of a baby-free dinnertime and just went home, ate cold pizza, then went to bed.

This Shelf is Not Staying with the House

In the midst of our hunt we came across this little shelf in one of the entryways of the houses we were checking out.

This Shelf is Not Staying with the House

Sadly, the shelf did not come with the house. We were prepared to offer $25,000 over the asking price but no shelf, no deal!

Jeppson's Malort

Over the weekend I was finally able to locate some Jeppson's Malort, a renowned and despised beverage of the Chicagoland area. Once I heard about how disgusting it was and how you could only get it in this immediate area I had to try it.

It was not as bad as everyone said it was. However, it was very, very bad. It starts out with a pleasant Campari-like bitterness that just swells and grows in your mouth and then seems to cause your taste buds to implode as if there were a black hole growing in your esophagus.

Martin Identifying Pete

Martin has been obsessed with Jen's mum's dog, Pete, and has become quite good at alerting us all to his presence. He spends most of any given day pointing at Pete excitedly yelling, "Dah! Dah!" I really think he thinks we can't see Pete and he's trying to do his best to sound the alarm that there is a strange, furry little man lurking in the house.

Lauren, Evelyn, Gary, Martin, and Elliott at Apple Orchard

On Saturday, as I worked, Jen went apple picking with Lauren, Evelyn, the boys, and her dad.

Martin Eating Apple

Elliott Looking Like a Tough Guy

The Wombats seemed to have a pretty enjoyable time. Now, luckily for me, I have thirty pounds of apples that I need to figure out something to do with before they rot.

Early Morning Breakfast

Living here has been dominated by having to get up incredibly early to feed the boys breakfast and get them to day care before I go off to work and Jen begins the nightmarish death march that is her commute to work. This means sitting them in front of some milk-filled sippy cups, muffins, and grapes that they really have no interest in eating before we drop them off. We do this because the day care claims to not provide breakfast, yet every morning the first thing they do is plop down a bowl of cereal in front of them.

Bubs Pickup in 6-Child Stroller

Surprisingly it is quite frequent that when I go to pick them off I often run into them on the street in a mega-stroller with four other kids.

Squirrel Nest in Stroller

Speaking of strollers, we've been leaving our stroller in the garage but, unfortunately there is a misfit family of chipmunks that has taken over the place. One day they filled the seat with birdseed. That didn't seem so bad until the next day when they got muddy chipmunk footprints all over it, pooped in the seat, and actually chewed away part of one of the straps.

I preferred the bird seed prank, actually.

Wild Game Meats by Czimer

Driving home from work each night I kept passing this place that sells exotic meats. Finally I had to stop in and see what they got.

Czimers's Meat Selection

I got a full menu of what they have available. My current desire is to try their lion steaks. I'm just not sure how to cook them and ever time I type "lion steak recipes" into Google it says, "Surely you mean loin steak recipes."

So if anyone out there knows a traditional way to cook African lion, please shoot me an email!

Stewed Beef with Peppers

Since everyone here is too much of a wuss to be interested in trying lion I had to stick to more conventional meats like beef. Boring! So I threw together a beef stew with some of the many peppers in the fridge.

Pulled Pork and Grilled Chicken Tacos

Doug made up some tacos with corn and flour tortillas, pulled pork, grilled chicken, bacon and goat cheese guacamole, and a number of other delicious toppings.

Martin has been slowly discovered dancing and his favorite song is the ABC song from this little musical table that Aunt Lauren picked up.

I'm a bit fond of the scatting woman, myself. This table has some kickin' jams!

Vegetarian Cornbread Stuffed Roasted Pumpkin

On Pumpkin theme night I made a vegetarian version of the stuffed roasted pumpkin with cornbread, fresno chilies, Swiss chard, and onions. I also got a nice aged cheddar which I forgot to add to it which I will need to relegate to snack status.

Uinta Brewing Company Crooked Line Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin Aged in Oak Barrels (2012)

For pumpkin theme night we also had this Crooked Line Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin Ale from Uinta Brewing Company which I've been sitting on for over a year. It aged pretty well and survived the trip across country as well. It's sort of like the way they aged port by sailing it around in ships. Our Subaru Outback creates a similar environment while speeding down I-80.

Prairie State Winery Prairie Pumpkin Wine

I even picked up a pumpkin wine which Lauren loved since it had approximately a 2:1 ratio of sugar to wine. Jen said it was "disgusting" while I thought that a thimble full would suffice.

Window Playtime

After day care it's a bit of a challenge getting them both inside which leads to one Wombat inside, one outside, and a new game to keep them busy for a few minutes.

Another Potential New Home

Yesterday morning I got a call from the realtor to check out a new place which looked quite nice. I raced down, checked it over, then got a call that Martin had a fever and had to pick him up from day care. I entertained him for a bit while furiously trying to organize a showing for Jen and getting Lauren to come over and babysit him so I could get to work.

Martin Correctly Identifying Pete (Again)

Martin stayed home today where we had an early visit with the new doctor and confirmed that he either has hand, foot, and mouth disease or roseola. Either way it just means that he will have fever for a few days with very few other symptoms and will get a rash when it goes away. We had a blast this morning watching "What Does the Fox Say?" performed live on the Today Show and just playing around.

All in all it's been a pretty fun day, other than faxing a lot of legal documents back and forth between me, Jen, and the realtor in order to get an offer in on a house. Faxing still remains the most baffling technology to me as to why it still exists. I'd rather do anything that fax.

I'd rather have hand, foot, and mouth disease.