Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Thunder, Friends, and the Memorial Day Barbecue

As spring finally begins showing itself with more regularity we have been taking advantage of some of the flavors of the season. At this rate we may get some good local corn by November.

Pizza with Ramps, Mushrooms, and Ricotta

I got a hold of some nice ramps and made this pizza with garlic, ramps, mushrooms, and ricotta cheese.

Seared Pork Chop with Mustard Cream Sauce, Asparagus, and Bacon Feta Mashed Potatoes

Grilling hasn't been easy lately with all the rain storms so I pan seared some pork loin and served it with roasted asparagus, mustard cream sauce, and bacon feta mashed potatoes.

Big Breakfast

The boys have been a little needy at breakfast time. When they aren't demanding "Butter toast!" they just keep asking for new things until they have filled their breakfast table with a spread of various breakfast offerings.

Walk Home From Day Care

Our walks home from day care have been filled with the identification of many cars, motorcycles, buses, trucks, and vans. Also, they have taken to demanding dandelions which they call "bubbles" given that they are pretty much identical.

Nothing beats the real deal however, except when the time comes to take the bubbles away and they degenerate into sobbing wretches. If you let them play with bubbles for ten minutes or ten hours the reaction is the same when they go away: total meltdown.

Butter Tofu

The other rainy night I made this butter tofu, a take on the Indian butter chicken dish. Mostly this is because we had tofu and did not have chicken. It turned out very nice.

After a huge thunder storm on Tuesday, the likes of which I have not witnessed in years, the boys had a blast coming home from day care and finding our planters completely full of water, and the source of an excellent new game.

Before bed, Martin recalled the thunder night with a little prompting from his mummy. The boys were very scared and were only comforted by mummy hugs before falling asleep in bed with her. This was only after yelling at the thunder to go away.

Jen and Jeff at Two Brothers Roundhouse

On Friday Uncle Jeff and Auntie Liza came in and we had deep dish pizza followed by a trip to Two Brothers Roundhouse on Saturday where we tore up their menu and beer list while listening to an awesome band called The Humble Organisms. I don't know if anyone else enjoyed their particular style but I certainly did.

Elliott and Uncle Jeff at the Airport

The next morning we went to the airport once again to watch the planes take off. There were considerably fewer planes than on our last trip but Elliott enjoyed his time jumping off the table with Uncle Jeff so much that he barely noticed there were no planes taking off.

Bubses After Getting Attacked by Goose

Afterward we went on a trip to the Riverwalk where the boys were having a good time until a Goose flapped their wings at them. Then it was all "No, no, Goose!" after that.

Grumpy Bubses at the Riverwalk

We took a picture of them being grumpy next to the modern art to recreate the photo from a year ago on our visit.

Fun Times in Naperville

A little bigger now, but just as grumpy.

Portillo's Lunch

After that Jeff and I took a trip to Portillo's for an inadvisable pre-barbecue lunch as Jen and Liza got the boys to bed. While I would prefer a lunch a little lighter before a big barbecue it was hard to deny how delicious it was. This was actually my frist Chicago-style hot dog since moving here so I don't feel too bad about the decision.

Martin Eating Corn

When the boys awoke and family started coming over we enjoyed lots of grilled corn.

Evelyn Eating Watermelon

Much watermelon was also enjoyed.

Baby Robins

The only ones not eating was the newborn baby robins since all this activity was scaring away their parents.

Elliott Kissing Auntie Lauren

Then Lauren, recovering from a stomach virus, received a nice kiss from Elliott. She claimed it was food poisoning. However, in the following forty-eight hours me, Elliott, and Jen would all develop symptoms of this stomach virus.

Martin has been free of symptoms so far. Fingers Crossed.

Martin Hugging Michel Goodbye

Gary's good friend Michel was in town and stopped by for the barbecue. He made a quick impression on Martin who demanded hugs before he went up to bed.

Auntie Liza and Uncle Jeff Cozy Coupe Time

The following morning it was all about riding in the cozy coupes that Jeff and Liza had gotten them for their birthday the previous year.

Saying Goodbye to Auntie Liza and Uncle Jeff

Then it was a sad goodbye to Uncle Jeff and Auntie Liza. Hopefully they were impressed enough with us that they will visit again really soon.

Martin and Lindsay

Later that night more friends stopped by! Lindsay, who they hadn't seen since their birthday party, stopped by to play and sing songs.

Fendrick & Peck Performing a Standing Room Only Show for Elliott

Her fellow musicians, Fendrick & Peck, also entertained the boys with an impromptu set list. Unlike when I play the guitar they didn't bum rush them, try to steal their picks, mute the strings with their hands, or rudely yell, "Bye bye, guitar!"

They must just be nicer to guests than to dear old dad.

Or perhaps, it had something to do with them being far better musicians than me.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day Recap

Last Monday the boys were in the midst of recovering from ear infections and stomach viruses simultaneously.

Martin Watering Plants

Martin spent the morning and afternoon with me where we played outside, watered plants and even got to watch our neighbors cut down a tree.

Martin Napping in Bed

Even after a monster morning nap, Martin was still ready for an afternoon nap with me.

Eating Cereal

After getting the call that Elliott needed to be picked up as well, I pretty much put all rules on hold in a mini toddler version of The Purges. Martin took advantage of walking around with a full bowl of cereal.

Elliott Watching TV

Elliott took advantage of just standing there watching "Monkey George" for upwards of an hour.

Grilled Teres Major

After a few more days of recovery, as well as a return of some very nice weather, I took advantage of grilling up some teres major.

Late Night, Low Light Grilling

We ate outside after the boys stopped their bedtime fight which meant dinner at about 9:00 PM and eating in extremely low light underneath the one functioning light on our deck, right by the bird nest over our grill.

At Clow International Airport

On Saturday we took the boys to Clow International Airport where they got to watch (and more importantly, identify) a large number of planes. Elliott could not keep his eyes off the planes and breakfast went largely uneaten.

Big Green Ball at Target

After breakfast we stopped by Target to pick up a prescription and also a couple of balls for the back yard.

Grandma and Wombats at the Growing Place

In the early afternoon, before lunch, we met Grandma at the garden store where we picked out a large number of plants. Martin also took it upon himself to pick out a number of small stone owls which we had to own and Jen created a mythology about their oddly varying sizes and how they represent each of us.

After this we were pretty exhausted. Sadly I had to then go in to work late instead of doing what I wanted to do which was sleep for the rest of the day.

Mother's Day Morning

Mother's Day started with the boys sleeping in until past 6:30 AM which was the latest either of us has slept in a while. It feels so decadent to sleep past 6:00 AM. Who does that?

Liege Sugar Waffles

Sliced Grapefruit and Orange with Ricotta and Honey

For breakfast I tested out a new recipe for Liege sugar waffles which I served with sliced citrus, ricotta, and honey. The recipe was a huge success. We can now relive our Sunday mornings in New York where we enjoyed similar waffled cooked by a self-proclaimed "culinary chef" and a Nate-proclaimed "culinary douchebag."

Daddy and Bubses Watching the Rain

In the afternoon it rained and the boys were not going to settle for anything less than a front seat to watch that. This is high entertainment for these guys.

Elliott and Evelyn with the Zebra

Martin Pushing Evelyn on the Zebra

Cousin Evelyn came over for dinner (with assorted other guests) and had the time of her life being pushed around by her big cousins in the zebra.

Mustard Dill Plank Salmon

For dinner we had mustard dill plan salmon.

Grilled Caesar Salad

Also, this grilled Caesar salad, along with a non-grilled version so that Jen's mother wouldn't be given nightmares by the dream-inducing grill.

Carrot Parsnip Risotto

I also made a carrot parsnip risotto with Fontina and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Mixed Berry Trifle with Whipped Cream, Angel Food Cake, and Creme Anglais

For dessert I put together a trifle with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, angel food cake, whipped cream, creme anglaise, and Grand Marnier.

Martin Walking and Eating

Last night Martin decided to take his walking and eating game to the next level and tried to walk around with a ceramic adult-sized plate and spoon, eating his risotto.

One of these days he is going to need to be stopped.

Observing a Bus

This morning we had to go to the doctor to get their ears checked for the third time since developing these ear infections. Beforehand I promised to show them a school bus that I was not able to show them last week as it took off just as we were starting to approach it.

There are few things on this planet that get them as excited as a big, yellow bus.

Elliott's infection has healed completely but Martin's is still there but just barely. They'll need nose spray until June then, hopefully, we can close out this chapter in our ear infection journey and move on to greater things.

If not it will be a race to see what implodes first, their ear drums or our bank accounts.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Another Day, Another Antibiotic

After the holidays died down we were keen to get the grill fired up and have our first burger event of the year.

Little Kids at the Big Table

This was fairly successful though the guys are not really too keen on meat these days.

Elliott Goes Ketchup Crazy

Elliott, however, was quite impressed with the ketchup.

Elliott and the Cookie "Accident"

After dinner I came around the corner and saw Elliott sitting in a pile of cookies that he had apparently knocked off the counter. The interesting thing was that he was not trying to eat them, he was just sort of rolling around and kicking at them like a cat enjoying catnip.

Jen with the Hopvine Beer Flight

Two Fridays ago we were afforded the opportunity to go out for dinner. We picked a restaurant based on the beer and the ability to watch the Blackhawks. While we had to peer into the next dining room to see the game while someone played Bob Marley songs on the guitar, the "three ounce" beer tasters were poured quite generously.

Bubs Bed Takeover

The following day the guys both decided to wake up about 15 minutes after I got home from work and spent the next six hours in bed with us allowing us little to no sleep.

Cousins Photo Shoot

The day after that Jen and Lauren took the cousins out to get their photos taken. Some cousins were more into it than others. Can you figure out which cousin was a little less into it?

Cousins Photo Shoot

Can you tell which cousin would have rather been doing anything else?

Elliott Close Up

Can you tell which cousin maybe wanted to punch the photographer in the crotch and make a break for it?

Elliott Super Close Up

Can you tell which cousin may have secretly been plotting to murder his mother and auntie in their sleep?

Elliott Eye Close up

Can you tell which cousin may look into your soul and cast darkness upon your very being?

This was all forgotten later that night when he met us all at Grandma and Grandad's where he got to eat copious amounts of corn on the cob.

Carrot Turnip Tzimmes Bread

Right after Passover/Easter weekend I had an alarming amount of carrot and parsnip tzimmes left. I decided to mash it up and turn it into a delicious carrot and parsnip bread with sour cherries. The result was quite nice. I highly recommend for any excess tzimmes you may have around.

I know this is a common problem for a lot of people.

One morning when Jen "accidentally" woke up Elliott he had to come and stay with me. We tried to call Nana and Grandpa on FaceTime (one of his favorite things to do) but unfortunately they were not available. Instead he spent much of the morning just talking about how awesome it would have been.

Martin Cleaning Doctor's Door

I took them in to the doctor on Friday after completing their second ten-day round of antibiotics for a check up. Martin requested a tissue and then used it to clean the doctor's chair, desk, and door.

Elliott Trying to Break Into Doctor's Cabinet

Elliott grabbed the keys right out of my pocket and tried to use them to open the doctor's locked cabinets. Elliott has never really used my keys before for anything so it was a little surprising that he was interested in them, now where they were, and seems to have a good idea of how to use them.

Another Prescription Pickup

The result of the appointment was that they both still have ear infections. This meant we had to go to Walgreens and pick up another $150 worth of prescriptions for them. It also meant that our stupid, terrible, awful, no good, very bad heath care provider had to one again be confounded by the fact that we have twins and not be able to fill our prescription without an hour's worth of phone calls.

I won't tell you who it is but it rhymes with Boo-nited Elfcare.

We can't exactly blame them. After all, they are the only twins in America.

One night, waiting for Mummy to return from work I decided to do an Animal Sound Identification Lightning Round. They scored quite well.

Over the weekend, tired of all the kids music channels, I decided to play the Empire Strikes Back soundtrack. Elliott was particularly impressed. Martin's reaction was also great but I was unable to get it on video.

Elliott Playing at Farm

On Sunday we went to a local farm festival where the boys had a pretty good time playing around. Elliott was a big fan of this area where he pretended to be a giant who was ransacking a tiny village. He was particularly ruthless with the scarecrow.

Elliott has long been a defender of crows.

Martin Eating Achatz Cherry Pie

Martin became extraordinarily hungry towards the end of the trip and the sample portions of pie only fueled his anger at not being able to eat everything he wanted. We were foolish in not bringing any snacks with us even though we were a mere five minutes from home.

Elliott also enjoyed shaking the hell out of this wind chime. Elliott deemed it not nearly windy enough and rebranded this item as a shake chime.

Wombat Medicine Supply Area

This latest antibiotic, or perhaps a cumulative effect from all three, has left their poor little intestinal tracts in bad shape. This has meant for an average of 4-6 diaper changes before lunch time and recently expanded to vomiting. The doctor supposes that in their weakened state they may have contracted a stomach virus. The fact that Grandma is also in that camp without any antibiotics would lend support to this theory.

They've been on antibiotics for 25 of the last 30 days. This leads me to wonder if the cure is worse than the sickness. I'm pretty sure that they'd be better off just letting these ear infections work themselves out after what they've been through.

Grilled Avocado with Salsa and Cumin Spiced Sour Cream

Illness be damned! After we got them to sleep last night we proceeded onward with our Cinqo de Mayo dinner. I started by grilling some avocado in the skin then topping them with salsa and cumin-spiced sour cream. This made for a pretty tasty end to a rough day for all of us.


Jen, before knowing the boys were sick, had requested a margarita. I was still able to deliver but it was consumed with less joy and more tired resignation than originally planned.

Grilled Mahi Mahi Taco

I also grilled up some seasoned Mahi Mahi and vegetables and made these tacos on corn tortillas with cilantro, spiced sour cream, salsa, guacamole, and crumbled cotija.

Half Acre Daisy Cutter Pale Ale

Never one to pass up a good beer opportunity, I enjoyed this Daisy Cutter Pale Ale from Half Acre. It was very tasty and I'd highly recommend as an accompaniment to tacos.

Bag of Horrors

After dinner Jen bravely volunteered to open the bag of unspeakable horror that was sent home with the boys from day care.

I've Seen the Clothes and the Damage Done

Because of their illness they soiled every bit of clothing they had and we had to walk home with Martin wearing no pants and Elliott with no shoes. This left Jen up late Googling solutions for barf-stained shoes.

Martin Passed Out After Morning Juice

After his sickness we had to keep Martin home from school this morning where he drank some juice out of a cup then immediately passed out on top of me about two minutes after his mother left for work.

Martin Sleeping off Stomach Virus

I transferred him to the couch where he has been sleeping for more than two hours. I'm hoping that a combination of sleep, a bland diet, and a lot of liquids makes him better for tomorrow.

Otherwise either Jen, I or both of us may be fired.