Monday, July 27, 2015

Renaissance Men

On Friday we took the boys on a trip to Grandad's farm to see his vegetables.

Helping on Grandad's Farm

Along with their cousin they had a good time helping Grandad. Most of their help came in the form of stomping on his plants.

Helping on Grandad's Farm

They also helped haul a zucchini roughly 50% their own size.

Snack Break

But mostly they stayed in the cool of the air conditioned car eating snacks.

Martin Learns to Make Whipped Cream

I was making some whipped cream for dessert and Martin was very insisted on helping. He actually made most of it and was fascinated by the process as it slowly came together.

Whipped Cream with Berries on Sponge Cake

We topped it with fresh berries all on sponge cakes and it was pretty popular. Not ice cream popular, but popular.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

On Saturday the day finally came when we gave the boys their birthday present: a trip to the Renaissance Faire in Wisconsin.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

We lucked out in getting there early and securing a boss parking spot. Initially the faire was fairly empty as we traversed its thirty acres. The boys enjoyed playing on thrones and watching a jester belittle me in front of them.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

Grandma and Josie enjoyed finding any shaded area possible in the 95 degree heat. Thankfully it was overcast and extremely shady. Even with those factors in our favor it was on the outer borders of bearable.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

Elliott declared himself captain of the pirate ship and agreed to have me serve as his first mate.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

After watching the 1938 Robin Hood with Mummy the night before Elliott took to the bows and wanted one. Thankfully we were able to distract him and save ourselves from either spending $90 on two bows for the children or enduring a massive tantrum.

I'm not sure which would have been preferable.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

Jen did, however, get them some Robin Hood hats with feathers of their favorite colors. Not the preferred hat for 95 degree heat but they will get a lot of play in the cooler months.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

I thought Martin's favorite part would have been the turkey leg given his intense love of meat on the bone. It may have been the heat or the fact that he was unable to lift it but he only made it through a few bites.

I took Martin to get lemonades which were an impossible distance away. They served me three without lids of a carrier and I had to carefully balance them on the long trip back, all the while having to convince Martin to carry on through the high temperatures, at one point stopping and placing them on the dirt ground to adjust his pants.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

When we returned Elliott was having a tantrum due to me leaving, the heat, and the fact that we had waited too long to feed them. Eventually a large man dressed as a guard starting mimicking his cries and he just stopped, defeated, and sulked until we convinced him to get a sno cone.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

We finally made it to the jousting stage after a lady rubbed some sort of perfumed oil on Jen's hand against her will. I was pretty sure Jen was going to use her free hand to knock the lady out so we could see the jousting before it ended and save the children from complete rebellion.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

It finished up with an impressive acrobat troupe called Barely Balanced. After peeing for the first time in six hours and seeing this Elliott was sold on this and he chatted about it the entire way home while Martin slept.

Knight Castle

There was no nap to be had but they did made a castle in the shed to protect themselves from dragons.

Trips like this teeter on the brink of disaster but with some careful management of snacks and distractions they can be quite a lot of fun. The upside is that it shortened the time it took for them to go to bed to about twelve seconds after the door was closed.

Days like this are fun but they make you glad that they do not happen more than once a year. You truly need every moment of time to gear up the nerve to try it again.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

July is Birthday Cake Day for Cakes!

The epic birthday month of July is drawing to a close. Many cupcakes have been consumed. Many cake slices have been consumed. And most of that was just Auntie Lauren irresponsibly feeding them to our children right before dinner on random days. The birthday week of the cousins brought with it hitherto unexplored amounts of cake-like products.

It may be worth celebrating Josephine's birthday in July as well when she's older. She may not take kindly to being the only cousin excluded.

Martin in Dentist's Chair

The boys had their first dentist visit and they were pumped. They'd been talking about it for months and were very much looking forward to meeting Doctor Erin.

Elliott in Dentist's Chair

I think all of our (mostly Jen's) preparation and talking about the dentist was well worth the trouble as they can't wait to go back. We should really start talking up the joys of getting cavities filled in anticipation of their first experience with that.

Nana and the Big Box of Books

Nana and Grandpa showed up before their birthday party bringing a giant box of books. This went over very well thought they still defaulted to Storybots as their preferred Grandparent-lead activity.

Grandkids at the Jumping Park with Nana and Grandpa

We took all the kids to the Jumping Park after picking up our farm vegetables where Martin was stung by another mosquito but, after a run home and a dose of Benadryl, did not stop him from enjoying the climbing walls.

Tony Martin

We have been watching a lot of the Tour de France where, unfortunately, Tony Martin crashed and broke his collar bone. Martin now does daily impressions of Tony Martin crashing and considers himself to be Tony Martin. Elliott has taken on the moniker of Tony Elliott.

He just wants to be like his cycling hero. Hopefully not to the degree that he intentionally breaks his collar bone.

Elliott Doing American Map Puzzle with Grandpa

At Evelyn's party Elliott spent much of the time with Grandpa assembling a puzzle of the United States. It's actually a really difficult puzzle considering the shapes of the states if you aren't familiar with the geography of this country. He did an incredible job of figuring it out with only a few errors. I'm pretty sure he did a better job than Jen would have been able to do.

Doug and Minnie Mouse Evelyn

Evelyn was delighted to dress like Minnie Mouse. I'm not sure if it's legal to put this picture up without paying a fee to Disney but I'm taking my chances here. I hope this doesn't adversely affect sales of Minnie Mouse cartoons. I would just feel awful if I cut into Disney's profits.

Birthday Cakes

They boys enjoyed their personalized birthday cakes themes around Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends and Mark Knopfler. In 1983 these cakes would have been an even bigger hit.

Cone Cousins

Auntie Lisa had her own birthday cake as well. Thankfully, since three birthday cakes is hardly enough for a small gathering, we also had a soft serve ice cream machine with some delicious peanut butter ice cream for the kids.

Birthday Vader and Obi-Wan

I got the boys Darth Vader and Obi-Wan capes and lightsabers. Unfortunately they received these gifts first which made it a little hard to focus them on opening the rest of their gifts. Elliott was convinced to sleep with his lightsaber and no pacifier for the first time in years. That only lasted one night, however.


Grandma also brought over a bag of 1500 ladybugs and set them loose in the garden which kept the kids entertained and the plants free of aphids.


Now we need to simply play dumb when our neighbors ask us where the ladybug infestation came from.


Early in the week we had a freak hailstorm with gol fball sized hail which I was convinced was going to destroy our windows. Thankfully they must have been manufactured with that possibility in mind.

Bastille Day Dinner

For Bastille Day we had an impromptu French dinner with Rose from Argentina.

Naperville Summer Alefest 2015

Last Saturday was the Naperville Alefest. The Winter Alefest was around 20 degrees and this Alefest came in at 95 degrees giving us both uncomfortable extremes. It's probably easy to pass off less-than-stellar beers as I don't have much memory of anything besides wiping sweat out of my eyes.

Next year I have a radical proposition: spring and fall alefests!

Morning Cartoons

The weekend mornings continue to be dominated by cartoons, mostly Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, and mostly the Dracula episode at that.

Bike Riders

Dinner has become more difficult as the boys (mostly Martin) will rarely accept having dinner right when I come home without a few laps around the block on bikes. When you only have 15 minutes to prepare a shabby dinner this does tend to complicate things a little further. It's a matter of weighing the pros and cons of a hunger tantrum versus a not-getting-what-you-want tantrum.

With a decision like that to make, how can you go wrong?

Thursday, July 9, 2015


The traditionally cool, crisp days of July are upon us. As is traditional in July we wake up to a freezing house every morning and I have to turn on the heat in my car on the drive to work.

We had many plans for the lead up to the Fourth of July. I normally have to work around the Fourth so we lined up all our plans right before the holiday.

Then Jen got a horrible virus.

Martin Playing with Keyboard

We spend the morning on one of my days off in the studio. I tried to get the kids outside to play since it was a rare, beautiful day. However, they really wanted to play with instruments and they played downstairs for hours.

Martin Playing Telecaster in Studio

Elliott Playing Bass in Studio

Both of them tried out all of my guitars and basses and then spent a lot of time rocking out on my keyboard which was running Moog simulator software.

I'm pretty sure that Martin could have released this as an LP in the 1970s and made a pretty penny.

Waiting for the Bus to Eyes to the Skies

The following day Jen was feeling better and we loaded up onto the bus to go to Eyes to the Skies.

First Roller Coaster Ride

We paid an exorbitant price to get them a ride on their first roller coaster.

First Roller Coaster Ride

They were really excited about it, but all the adults were told we could not ride with them.

First Roller Coaster Ride

The looks on their face as soon as the ride started up lead me to believe I had made a grave error and that they both feared for their lives. However, when they disembarked they were full of smiles and leaped about telling us how awesome it was.

I was pretty sure they were going to cling to me and tell me to never subject them to such a thing ever again.

$12 Worth of Lemonade

Then they were thirsty. I went to the lemonade booth to get three lemonades, one for each of them and one for Jen. Then they told me that was $18. I then informed them that two lemonades would suffice.

$14 Worth of Hot Dogs

Then I ordered two corn dogs for them. They told me that would be $14. I told them that I only wanted two corn dogs, not every corn dog that had ever been fried in the state of Illinois. They explained that it would still be $14.

Watching Live Bands at Eyes to the Skies

After that we watched some live music, which somehow was free, and the boys had a great time watching a dual piano band rock out some top 40 hits and oldies.

Eyes to the Skies

Then we watched the balloons take off into the setting sun.

Family at Eyes to the Skies

Eyes to the Skies is fun for the kids but I can see why it's only once a year. It takes you another year to save up the money to be able to attend the following year, and it allows time to soften the emotional wounds of keeping toddlers up past their bedtime, journeying on shuttle buses, and the overall stress of attending with three children.

Fifth of July Morning

Fifth of July Morning

We spent the Fourth of July at Auntie Lauren and Uncle Doug's and they woke up with their dimming American Flag glow sticks beside them in bed. This was after falling asleep pretending to be Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker fighting in the dark.

Tour De France Biscuits

The Tour de France started up and Martin declared that he was "very excited for the bike race." We made our traditional start of the Tour biscuits and enjoyed some slow-paced narrative about the French countryside and chateaus for breakfast.

Martin Hugging Josie

Josephine has been less able to escape the affections of her brothers lately and is frequently subjected to less-than-gentle hugs and kisses multiple times a day.

Birthday Morning Breakfast and Books

Yesterday was their birthday and they woke up to a pretty sweet spread that Mummy put out for them complete with streamers, muffins, and new books.

Birthday By the Fireplace

The boys had a really nice day with Mummy, enjoyed a puppet show downtown, and we had a dinner together of one of their favorite meals: grilled chicken legs. We're fortunate one of their favorite foods is also super easy to make and extremely cheap.

Martin cautiously confirmed before eating, "There's a bone in this, right?" If he's going to eat meat he doesn't want it to be cut up and he prefers it right off the bone. He explains that it's because he's a "Dinosaur Rex."

Birthday Berry Cream Cake with Mummy and Josephine

Then we had a berry cream cake while watching "The Mysterious Cities of Gold." It's pretty much like it was my birthday too.

Pope Josicus IX

Josephine has been smiling a lot lately. Jen dressed her up in an outfit that her Aunt Lisa aptly claimed made her look like a "little informal pope." She has now been dubbed her Pope Josicus IX.

Bringing 3rd Birthday Cupcakes to School For Friends

This morning the boys took in some cupcakes for their friends to celebrate their third birthday at school.

Josie Loves Mummy

Before I go to work I got to hang out with Josie. She give me lots of smiles but there is no one she is more fond of than mummy. She give her the most and the highest quality smiles.

It's probably because I don't feed her milk out of my boobs.