Monday, June 30, 2014

New York Wedding, Illinois Birthday

The best part of kids is that they start doing weird things all the time. Constantly they start doing and saying things and you have no idea where it has come from or what inspired them to do it.

Recently Elliott has taken to saying, "Oh no, Dude!" He says this usually when laughing and mostly when he's cracking up. I'm pretty sure Jen and I haven't said this. So where did it come from? Are people saying this at day care? If so, then why does Martin not say it at all? No one may ever solve this mystery but it's hilarious so who cares?

Grilled Ribeye

Ridge 2011 Three Valleys

Stilton and Cana de Cabra

Since the boys have lately (mostly) been getting to sleep with little incident we've been able to enjoy some slightly earlier and nicer dinners. Recently we got to crack open a nice bottle of wine and even have some cheese and grilled ribeye out on the deck. This would have been a five-day-a-week dinner before children.

Wombats with Spray Bottles

The boys have gotten the best new toys which are $0.99 spray bottles that they get to run around the yard squirting. They also hole up by the deck and fire their bottles at the imaginary invaders who have taken over our house.

Bubs Hugs in the Garden

They've taken to gardening and have also been enjoying many more unsolicited hugs than in the past.

Elliott Eating Strawberry in Spider-Man Shirt

Each night Jen picks the strawberries which grow along the front of our house and share some with the boys.

Fighting Over Garden Strawberries

Then they put them in a giant container and they fight over control of the container.

Depressing Aviation Woes

Last weekend we woke up super early and got to the airport to take a 6:45 AM flight to New York to celebrate the wedding of our good friends Joe and Ryan. When we got to the airport the flight had been canceled and they'd stealthily changed the flight time from AM to PM resulting in a minor panic that we'd actually purchased the wrong tickets. After several frustrating calls we were re-booked to a flight about six hours later which meant we got to go back home, sleep for two hours, then drive back to the airport and get into New York (now New Jersey) six hours later than we'd planned. This, sadly, meant no time to do anything or see anyone we had plans with.

American Airlines cited weather as the reason for the flight being canceled. It was a little cloudy and apparently the weather that was so dangerous as to cancel our flight didn't so much as delay the flight to LaGuardia that arrived 20 minutes after ours was scheduled to.

That's some sneaky weather.

Joe & Ryan in Hot Air Balloon

Dancing at Joe & Ryan's Wedding

Eventually we did arrive, got to keep our dinner plans with our friends in New Jersey, then head out to the wedding in the Catskills the next morning.

The Worst Place on Planet Earth

Then, the next morning, there was the terrible drive back to the airport. All the nostalgia and homesickness we felt at the wedding and driving through upstate New York was quickly erased by the horrors and misery of New York/New Jersey traffic.

Nate and Baby Jane

Jen Feeding Baby Jane Strawberries

Thanks to the traffic our planned two hour lunch with Paul and Caolan and Baby Jane changed to about twenty minutes of getting to snuggle Jane and feed her a few strawberries before dashing out to LaGuardia and flying back home.

This would have been entirely unsatisfying if it weren't for Jane's cuteness and the fact that she created a funny little dance to celebrate the brief meeting.

Back home, aside from our house being entirely infested with houseflies, all was well. Martin had continued to work on his puppet show act and show us his new routine.

Martin in Mirror Room

The next day we took the boys to the Children's museum in the morning where they had a great time.

Elliott Riding Cow at Colonial Cafe

This was followed by a trip to the restaurant for lunch where Jen got to sit and have lunch with Martin and I had to chase Elliott all over the dining room. They also discovered that the waitress was the source of food so they took to yelling, "Lady! More chocolate milk!"

I think their age and charm will only get them by a little longer with manners like that.

Jen's New Tooth

Jen left mid morning on Friday, her birthday, to go to the dentist. Most people would not consider this a treat but since the trip was the final appointment in the two-year saga of having her dental implant finished she was pretty excited. And now that Elliott's head is a little more stable he probably won't knock it out again. Unless he kicks her in the mouth while he's sleeping which is entirely possible.

Jen is Excited About New Composter

While Jen was at the dentist I assembled the horrible new composter we got, another thrill for Jen. Apparently only terrible things make her happy on her birthday.

Green Earth Institute CSA 2014 (Week 2)

We also got to pick up the second week of our new farm share from Green Earth Institute. We missed week one as we were in New York but we'd probably be overflowing with lettuce if we had picked it up.

At Morton Arboretum Watching Chicago Symphony Orchestra

We did have some fun by watching the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform at the Morton Arboretum and having a picnic dinner, some of Jen's favorite things to do.

Lowe's Delivering to Neighbors = Wombats' Best Morning Ever

Sunday morning a giant truck arrived. The boys ran out to the front yard to check it out and this quickly became the best morning they ever had as they got to watcha man lower a little truck off the back of a big truck and then move around some pallets of mulch. They yelled, "More!" after he was done but, sadly, our neighbors had not ordered any more.

Playing at the Beach

After this excitement, chatting with our new neighbors and looking at the tree that had fallen in their yard earlier that morning, we took off to the beach downtown. It was the reverse of their swim lessons. Elliott was a little more timid about approaching the water but soon they were both having a blast.

Elliott Eating Chicken Tender at Beach

Then we enjoyed some lunch at the snack bar and headed home.

Martin Zonked Out After Day at Beach

Elliott Napping, Reluctantly, After Beach

They fell asleep three minutes into our car ride home then slept pretty solidly after that. Elliott put up a fight a little later but Jen was able to get him to sleep on our bed.

Elliott Carrying Flower Pot

After the nap Grandma came over with some flowers for Jen which Elliott took great joy in helping her move to the back yard.

Martin at Table

Elliott and Grandad

Grandma and Grandad came over for dinner and we had a late celebration of Jen's birthday.

Lobster Rolls with Green Onion and Garden Herbs

Greek Quinoa Salad

Southwest Corn and Black Bean Salad

Pretty much everything for dinner was made by Jen's parents, I simply put together some lobster rolls. While wrangling these lunatic monkey men that is just my speed.

Jen's Birthday Cake

Lemon Curd with Fresh Berries

Post Thunder Storm Lounging

There was a terrific lightning and thunder storm overnight which kept the guys up for a lot of the wee hours. We all slept in this morning after Jen left for work and since we'd slept in so late I gave them some French toast to eat in the stroller on the walk to day care.

The next birthday that comes up will be theirs. This may be the last time they are really not aware of that so it makes present buying a snap. I'm guessing things will get a little trickier when we can't hide their presents in plain sight.

I'm guessing a lot of things will get trickier as well.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Of Air Shows and Antiques

After another round of intense stomach virus sweeping the family our landscapers finally arrived to assist us in reviving what has long been the worst lawn in the entire city. In just a matter of time when the grass seed sprouts we should no longer be the embarrassment of the neighborhood!

Elliott Helping Landscapers

Elliott was thrilled about the landscapers being there and was quick to offer his amazing helping skills to sweeping off the driveway.

Landscaping Damage

The landscaping was not without incident as the machine they used to grind down the tree stump kicked up a rock and shattered our glass door which will remain like this for several weeks until the replacement glass can be installed. In the meantime we've surrounded it, inside and out, with obstacles to avoid curious fingers poking at it.

The Garden

Jen and her mother took time to liberally fill our new garden plot with what is probably an extreme excess of tomato plants.

Bubsing in the Garden

The guys were thrilled to assist their mother and grandmother in the potting of many plants. Elliott was even conscientious enough to taste the potting soil to make sure it was okay for the flowers.


Last Friday my mother, Aunt Debbie, and Uncle Dave flew in to see the boys and this begun with a nice breakfast on the deck on Saturday morning.

Breakfast Juice

The boys worked on honing their cup drinking skills with some orange juice.

Cavalcade of Planes

Later in the day we took the boys to the Cavalcade of Planes, an annual airshow at our local airport. This was, as expected, a pretty big hit.

Elliott Wants That!

Toward the end of the trip Elliott took me on his own personal tour of the entire airport, starting with this small child's toy plane that he wanted.

Cavalcade of Planes Photo Shoot with Daddy and Elliott

We ended up at a photo booth that I took him into that may have offered him significantly more confusion than delight.

FaceTime with Auntie Pat

Later on we had a FaceTime call with aunt Pat.

Uncle Dave Playing Harmonica

A huge hit was Uncle Dave breaking out his harmonicas and playing for the boys.

Martin Playing Harmonica

He even had mini harmonicas for the boys which they took had mixed success with playing.

Elliott with Spray Bottle

They also had mixed success with learning how to use their spray bottles. It took Elliott a long time to figure out how to not just repeatedly spray himself directly in the eye but once he got the hang of it there was no stopping him.

Bubses and Daddy Climbing Tree

We also got a chance to attempt climbing the tree without getting stuck. I had slightly better luck with this than they did.

Nana and Elliott Racing Car

Grandad and Martin Racing Car

During our Sunday night barbecue there a great deal of fun was found in dangerously racing around the decks in their Cozy Coupes. Though I suspected a differenc conclusion this game ended with no tears or injuries.

Uncle Dave Story Time

On Monday, before going to Day Care, the boys got to have a rousing story time session with Uncle Dave.

Harmonica Practice on the Walk to Day Care

They would not go to day care without their harmonicas which they practiced the entire way there.

Elliott's New Motorcycle From Our Neighbor Tim

Martin's New Motorcycle From Our Neighbor Tim

Our neighbor, inspired by the boys' love for his motorcycle, got them some toy motorcycles which they could not have been happier about.

Elliott did his best motorcycle impression while pushing the toy around the floor.

Fender American Standard Strat

Ernie Ball Music Man Stingray 4 HH

In the past month I've been doing a lot of audio restoration of old projects I worked on from 1996 to 1998. After digitizing them I began going to music stores to look at instruments that I want to buy in an effort to set up a small home studio.

It has impressed me that in the decade or so since I have really spent any time in a music store that they have not changed at all. It's like a time warp into my past hearing people play obnoxiously loud and salesmen hungry for their commission. Still, playing some really nice instruments has been pretty refreshing.

Wild Monk Local Illinois Beer Flight

On Sunday for our anniversary we went to a place in LaGrange called "The Wild Monk" where we had some amazing beer and food.

Jen's New Roll Top Desk

After lunch we took a stroll downtown and passed an antique shop with ridiculously low prices and Jen found this roll top desk that she fell in love with. The prices on everything were so low that we surmised upon returning it may have vanished and there may have been an old man there who informed us, "That there antique shop has been closed for forty years!"

Despite this possibility we bought the desk. It wouldn't fit in our tiny Ford Fiesta so I made plans to return on Tuesday, my day off, with Lauren's car to pick it up.

Jen's New Desk Transportation

It didn't fit. And it was raining. So I disassembled the unit, in the rain, while an elderly war veteran barked at me that his friend Carl had a desk even nicer than that for sale and that I probably paid too much for this one. I kindly informed him that I didn't know his friend Carl and, while that sounds like a hell of a deal, how on Earth would I have heard about it other than from some lonely geezer on the street.

This is only because I respected him as a war veteran. If he was not a veteran I may have considered kicking him in the nuts.

I leave you with two vidoes. One of a good, old fashioned game of peanut butter finger . . .

. . . and another of the boys playing harmonica instead of brushing their teeth.

It's a good life they lead.