Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snow, Fun, and Pending Doom

The snows have continued and apparently our first winter in Illinois is already the third most snow ever since records have been kept. Just to think, we have two more months to slide into the number one spot!

Martin Cleaning the Windows

Cleaning the Windows

With temperatures continuing to be incredibly low and snow continuing to accumulate, indoor activities have been the name of the game. The latest fun game that Jen has discovered is having the guys clean the windows. They don't exactly do a great job, in fact they do a terrible job, but it still happens to be one of the neatest activities we can give them.

Playing with Play-Doh

Jen had the boys alone a couple of weekends ago so she had to be creative in how to occupy their time.

Elmo World Time

They have become even more obsessed with Elmo. The word "Elmo" probably accounts for 40% of all words they say. This usually involves them pointing at a TV, phone, or laptop since they now now that all these devices we own are nothing but mere portals to endless Elmo entertainment.

Martin and Elliott Stepping on to Porch

Jen took them out to play in the yard after the major snow stopped last weekend.


She took them on a fun sled ride.

Bubses Building a Snowman

They even built a snowman!

Cold Icy Walk Downtown

The whole family journeyed downtown last Saturday to get their feet measured and get them new shoes. We also got the bonus entertainment of getting to watch other pedestrians slip and fall on all the ice throughout town.

Martin at Shoe Store with Bear

At the shoe store, Martin was quick to do what he does best: identify a bear. Although he pronounces it: BEE-oww.

Nate Preparing Dinner

On Sunday I got home from work and quickly put together some pretty shabby tacos for a quick dinner with the family.

Grandad Playing with Elliott

Grandad played with Elliott.

Auntie Lauren with Martin and Evelyn

Auntie Lauren entertained Martin and Evelyn.

Grandma and Evelyn

Grandma, however, seemed concerned as she held Evelyn.

Grandma and Evelyn (Doom Edition)

It looked like she knew something. Something terrible.

Being Silly in the Bath

No matter! Martin and Elliott had a great time in the bath!

Beer # 1000

And my beer spreadsheet had approached the number 1,000! This put some pressure on me as to what beer I should have to celebrate this landmark.

Chimay Speciale Cinq Cinquantes

I chose this Chimay Speciale Cinq Cinquantes which I've been aging for almost two years. This was a fantastic beer to celebrate the 1,000th beer since record-keeping began.

Grandma and Evelyn (Doom Edition)

Unfortunately, Grandma's sense of foreboding was for good reason.

On Monday Lauren and Doug were knocked out of commission by a horrible stomach virus. On Tuesday, Grandma and Grandad were the next to fall. Early Thursday morning I succumbed to this horror. On Thursday night both the Wombats fell. On Friday there was Evelyn.

It looked like Jen would be the only one to avoid this terrible plague. Alas, it was not to be and on Sunday she finally hit the sack and I took over Wombat-care duties as she recovered for her flight to Salt Lake City on Tuesday morning.

Sleeping Sick Elliott

Sleeping with Sick Martin

Both the guys were so sick that they both fell asleep randomly during the day, something that hasn't really happened in six months. Such was the power of this stomach illness. Elliott recovered quickly (only to replace stomach illness with an eye infection) but it took Martin about five days to finally shake it.

Martin's Bloody Nose

During the day they guys were, for the most part, in good spirits. Martin was in such good spirits the other night that he was sitting in my lap, went to spring up quickly and toppled over, hitting his nose on the floor and giving himself his first ever bloody nose.

I'm always glad when I can be there for their milestones. Even the really terrible ones.

Jen returns on Friday and I'm hoping she brings some good luck from Salt Lake City so that we may have a better week on her return than we had before her departure.

Grandma and Evelyn (Doom Edition)

I'm just hoping that Doom Grandma doesn't predict any additional maladies.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Eighteen Months (Out of the Vortex)

The Great Coldmageddon of 2014 has finally drawn to a close. The Polar Vortex has retreated back up north. With a temperature of -17 degrees (and -52 degree wind chills) we spend most of our time hunkered down, waiting out the cold. Luckily our pipes remained unfrozen though our garage door decided it was too cold to work anymore and refused to cooperate until temperatures got back into the 20s.

Along with the cold we got snow.

Shoveling Before Work

I shoveled before work.

Breakfast Watching the Snow

While I was at work the boys enjoyed having their morning oatmeal while watching the snow continue to fall.

Jen shoveled while I was at work while the Wombats frolicked in the snow.

Shoveling After Work

When I got home from work I got to shovel again.

Watching Daddy Shovel After Work

This time I had an audience. They particularly enjoyed it when I threw shovels full of snow at the windows in front of them. It was a real crowd pleaser.

Elliott with Solar System Doodle

While we stayed warm I gave the boys their first lesson in astronomy and, yes, I included Pluto because My Very Educated Mother Just Sent Us Naan just doesn't sound as good.

Elliott was very attentive and he even volunteered to draw the asteroid field. He gets an F for placement.

Elliott's New Drum Set

I also set up one of their two drum sets, a gift from their jackass uncle Chris. Elliott immediately sat on the drum throne and started bashing away.

Martin was a little more interested in supporting Elliott on a technical level.

Martin and Elliott at Day Care

The other day when I picked them up they were obsessed with dress up and smashing Play-Doh. Who can blame them?

Pocket Vinyl Kickstarter Prize for the Boys' Room (Painted by Elizabeth Jancewicz)

When we got home I was excited to find that we had received our Kickstarter gift from Pocket Vinyl, a painting by Elizabeth Jancewicz. Martin quickly identified the bear-like creature as a Bee-ah!

On Wednesday the guys turned 18-months-old. As they waited for mummy to get home they enjoyed some cheese and crackers at their table along with some cut up bits of chicken.

This quickly devolved into a new game of seeing who can annoy the other more by pushing the table into their chest.

18 Month Cupcakes

When Jen got home we presented them with some celebratory cupcakes. I tried to get a decent picture of the cupcakes but this was the best I could do.

18 Month Cupcakes

I was soon intercepted by some meddlesome bubses.

18 Month Cupcakes

They made a substantial mess but they may have turned a bit of a corner in the eating department. I think they're beginning to get a little neater.

Martin and Elliott

It's hard to believe that it's been a whole eighteen months. It's also hard to believe that it's only been eighteen months. A mere eighteen months before these two punks happened on the scene and changed absolutely everything. It's also hard to believe that we didn't think we had any free time eighteen months ago.

We were idiots.

Friday, January 3, 2014

2013 Holiday Recap

The past two weeks have brought snow, cold, and plenty of holiday cheer. This has also been an initiation into home ownership by necessitating endless shoveling. It has also made me exceptionally happy that we did not get one of the other houses we were interested in on the corner of two streets for it would have meant triple the shoveling we have at this place.

Our next house will be chosen as the one with the smallest yard and shoveling space.

Sledding Cousins

The snow did afford a nice opportunity to have all the cousins sled together and still sort of be scared of the outside and the snow.

They did, however, tolerate a forced sled ride.

Mouse from Lauren's House

Before my parents' arrival I had to go pick up some stuff at Crate & Barrel. In exchange for using her car Lauren gave me a mouse from her basement that I was to deposit on the other side of the river from their house in a designated wildlife area. I did bring it to the other side of the river but I may have used the parking lot of the Crate & Barrel as the designated wildlife area. There was some grass across the street so I'm sure the mouse had a blast if he made it to the other side alive.

Grandpa and Elliott Coloring

Nana and Martin Coloring

Nana and Grandpa arrived right on schedule and the boys were very happy to have the guests.

Nana watching Elmo with the Boys

Particularly since Nana usually travels with six or seven different media devices, all of which are able to play various Elmo videos.

They like anyone who can give them access to Elmo.

Morning Wagon Ride

The days leading up to Christmas were full of lots of assembly. My dad assembled their table and chairs while I assembled their wagon. They both wanted to help with assembly but when the wagon began to take form they wouldn't stop crawling into it making the task of putting it together take about ten times as long as if they weren't around.

Then, they wouldn't accept anything other than riding in their freshly assembled wagon.

Bubses Playing with their IKEA Kitchen

On Christmas we put out their kitchen which my Dad had put together and they enjoyed having another large toy which they could fight over.

Elliott, Auntie Lisa, and a Mimosa

Christmas morning was full of delicious breakfast, mimosas, and opening about 25% of our presents before it was time for the guys to take their nap.

Elliott's Canada Hat

During their nap we continued to open presents, then picked it back up when they woke up, right up until dinner time.


They didn't even know what to make of it when they received an Elmo of their very own. They have been obsessed with Elmo in his many forms but no Elmo has ever captured their attention like the Elmo who stands and watches guard on their daycare room from high atop a shelf.

Now there was an even larger Elmo in their own home, one they could hug, interact with, and ultimately fight over.

Christmas Dinner

Crown Roast of Acorn Fed Pork Loin with Sausage Cornbread Stuffing

For Christmas dinner I made my first ever crown roast of pork which was sensational.

Anchor Brewing Merry Christmas, Happy New Year 2013

It went down wonderfully with a huge bottle of Anchor Brewing Merry Christmas, Happy New Year.

Nana and Grandpa's Departure

After a very quick week Nana and Grandpa had to leave and hit the road back to Rhode Island.

Elliott's Sly Look on his Riding Zebra

We missed them right away but Elliott comforted himself knowing that he had the Zebra they had given Martin for Christmas, his new favorite toy.

Elliott, Auntie Lisa, and Martin

Shortly thereafter Aunt Lisa had to depart as well.

Elliott Wearing Lisa's Glasses

Only after she reclaimed her sunglasses and phone from Elliott. All he needed was her wolf purse and he would have pretty much had her entire persona captured.

Bubses at the Illumination

On the warmest night in the past month, with temperatures all the way in the 20s, we went to The Illumination at the Morton Aboretum.

The Illumination

They mostly just sat in the wagon, unmoving in the terrible cold.

Martin and Elliott by the Fire

Afterward we warmed up by the fire while I finished a beer that remained icy cold on our long walk through the park.

Jen, Martin, Lauren, and Evelyn at the Illumination

Narragansett Coffee Milk Stout

At home I was able to enjoy this Narragansett Coffee Milk Stout, a great after-dinner beer combining some of my favorite Rhode Island things all in one. It was a gift from my parents for Christmas along with my father's Narragansett beer glass that he got after touring their brewery in the late 1960s.

Ham and Pea Risotto

As things wound down after Christmas I made this leftover risotto with Jen's father's Christmas Eve ham and some peas.

Martin Hanging Out By Fire

Martin has taken to sitting down right beside our fireplace and just hanging out there.

Elliott Hiding in Cabinet

Elliott, on the other hand, prefers climbing inside of one of our kitchen cabinets and hanging out on the shelf.

They have each found their respective fortresses of solitude.

Crock Pot Cassoulet

For New Year's Day we made cassoulet, for the first time, in a Crock Pot. I have never used a Crock Pot in my life until moving to Illinois. Since we have embraced the return to suburban living so heartily it seems only fitting that we eat frequently from the warm bowl of a Crock Pot. It's only a matter of time before our pantry is stocked exclusively with cans of cream of mushroom soup and Ritz crackers.

In the past couple of days Elliott has discovered something new: tantrums. His latest thing is that he will actually lie on his belly and smash his own face into the floor as hard as he can. It takes very little to trigger this. It's not like he wants something and we tell him he can't have it. It's usually something small like he goes to pick something up and drops it, or that Martin gently bumps into him.

Last night was the worst night in a while as far as tantrums. Luckily it would seem that the head-banging thing is self-regulating in that eventually he will grow weary of bashing his head into the floor because it hurts pretty bad. Unfortunately, until he figures this out, he will have a pretty large bruise on his forehead.

We have also been serious about sleep training in the past week. As we have been guests in someone else's home for the past few months we felt it best not to torment our hosts with screaming babies more than they already were being tormented. Now it's time to get serious and let the guys, mostly Elliott, scream before bed. We've gotten good at not caving in and simply patting their backs or holding their hands until they fall asleep. It's too bad because it would be so much nicer and so much easier to just hold them until they fall asleep.

The funny thing is that while Elliott carries on a lot more before getting to bed, he has been sleeping through the night regularly since we started being strict about it. Could it be that this new technique has made for a better chance of the kids sleeping through the night?

Or could it be that I just jinxed us for a terrible, terrible night tonight?

Either way we're going to continue Googling: "Foolproof, easy way to make sure your child never has a tantrum." So far we haven't found anything but the answer has got to be there somewhere.

The truth is out there.