Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Very Bubsy Christmas

As Christmas approached we came closer and closer to that point of no return where your realize all your preparation and planning must soon be abandoned. This usually happens about mid day on Christmas Eve. No more decorating. No more cooking. No more shopping. We just have to go into it with all we have and hope for the best.

As in all years past this is always quite sufficient for an excellent holiday.

Making Christmas Cookies

The boys helped Jen with her holiday baking which meant she got about 75% as much baking done as normal. However, the boys were courteous enough to consume just as much icing as ended up on cookies. When asked to stop Elliott gave his traditional response of, "But it's so yummy!"

Iron Man Shooting Donald the Duck as Interpreted by Martin

Martin has taken to drawing in his room when it's time to be sleeping. The other night he drew what he described as Iron Man shooting Donald Duck. Not sure I see Donald but the Iron Man is pretty spot on.

Uncle Joe and Uncle Ryan with Josie

Uncle Joe and Uncle Ryan came over to meet Josephine for the first time. She was quite fond of both of them.

Elliott and Martin with Star Wars Cookies

They brought Star Wars cookies and Star Wars toys for the boys. They got an A+ rating from the boys for this visit. Flawlessly done, gentlemen.

Auntie Lisa Helping Open Gifts

Aunt Lisa came over on Christmas Eve and participated in the pre-game at Grandma and Grandad's house.

Elliott Bowling at Grandma and Grandad's

Martin and Elliott immediately set up their new bowling set in the hallway to make sure they were completely underfoot int he lead up to dinner.

Storytime with Grandma

Before dinner Grandma read from one of the books to three captivated children.

Santa's Cookie and Bar Assortment

The boys selected an assortment of bars and milk for Santa and Elliott even pulled up a chair so he could take a load off.

Christmas Eve Tree

Santa arrived after a stint in Brazil to head to the next logical place: the Midwest of the United States. There he did a pretty good job of setting up the tree. He used tinsel this year, something he has threatened to do for many years running but often was just too lazy to follow through on.

Christmas Present Overflow Room

Since the gathering is growing each year the presents for adults had to be held in a separate overflow room.

Martin Opening Stocking

Elliott Opening Stocking

On Christmas Morning the stockings were discovered by the boys and even the normally groggy Elliott couldn't help but perk up instantly as he rifled through his first gifts.

Martin with Uncle Doug and Oliver

The best gift of all was that cousin Oliver (no relation to the cousin Oliver in The Brady Bunch) was released from the hospital a day early on Christmas Eve and got to spend the day with us being the sleepiest and most well behaved child of the cousins.

Captain AmeriThor

Already a Christmas tradition is Elliott deciding he's had enough excitement and needing some alone time. He had a blast breaking free to use his new Thor hammer and Captain America shield outside. Since it was so unseasonably warm he was able to do this all in just his pajamas.

Grilling on Christmas Day in a T-shirt

I even got to grill outside in a T-shirt. It was even a little too warm in the house from the oven running, something I've never had to contend with on Christmas. Personally I prefer ice cold, snowy days for Christmas but it was a nice novelty.

Christmas Cheese/Salami Platter

I put some time into the Christmas cheese platter which extended most of the length of our counter and was a great start to keeping everyone occupied and fed until the relatively light dinner was served.

2011 La Togata Brunello di Montalcino

We opened this wonderful bottle of wine purchased for us by Jen's Nana which paired perfectly with the meats and cheeses.

For dinner we had Beef Wellington, roasted vegetables, and duck fat roasted potatoes. Dinner definitely took a backseat to the first course.

Grandparents Chat in Dining Room on Christmas

The lights I'd hung (unsafely, as many friends and family would later tell me) in the sun room made for a wonderful atmosphere, negating the need for our horrible, oppressive overhead lights.

Storybots with Nana

The next morning Nana took over with the three highest maintenance children by reading them Storybots. She even got a new iPad for Christmas in order to be able to hold even more Storybots for the kids.

Sleeping Bags and Star Wars

The boys had a great morning and afternoon as they watched Star Wars, and The Empire Strikes Back while hanging out in their brand new Rylo Ken sleeping bags while holding their light up lightsabers.

Martin and Nana with New Art Set

Martin and Elliott both got really nice art sets from Nana and they had a fun afternoon using them to color with Nana.

Elliott Bounces Back!

Elliott woke up in the night after Nana and Grandpa headed home feeling sick. The next morning would have been his first back at school but he spent most of the morning on the couch being extremely lethargic and watching Dragons. Then all of a sudden he perked up and decided he was perfectly fine and consumed huge amounts of food after eating nothing all morning.

The wellness was short lived but overall he was better by the following morning.

Helping Shovel

Helping Shovel

We got a pretty horrible ice storm followed by a snowstorm which meant a little shoveling. Elliott was so excited to shovel that he just pestered me to go out and shovel the entire time I was meeting with a contractor to get a quote on carpeting the basement. I think he may have chased the nice man away just so that we could get to the joy of shoveling.

I'm pretty sure this behavior will not be replicated when he is fourteen.

Nate with Auntie Vi and Teddy Bear

Monday I received news that my Auntie Vi had passed away. Auntie Vi was an amazing woman and like a second grandmother to me. She bought me my favorite teddy bear when I was a baby, the teddy bear I posed with in the above picture a few years back.

Auntie Vi with Elliott

When the boys were about six months old we made the drive to Rhode Island and she was able to meet them for the first time.

Auntie Vi with Martin

I'm glad she was able to meet the boys a couple of times and always enjoyed seeing pictures of them. It's unfortunate that she didn't get a chance to meet Josephine. She would have loved her.

I spent every Christmas of my life with my Auntie Vi until the boys were born in 2012. Christmas for me was always spent at her house, and later my cousin Lisa's. While I love spending Christmas with my family I always miss those family members that I no longer get to see during the holidays.

Despite reminding me that I was a "rotten kid" every time she had the chance, she was a kind and loving woman who was always laughing loudly about something or another. I've never known her to be in a bad mood or to say a bad word about anyone.

Except for me as a kid.

We'll miss you, Auntie Vi.

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Flood of Christmas

With Christmas rapidly approaching we have not really watched as many Christmas movies as we would like. Mostly we've watched The Grinch and Rudolph repeatedly. Added this year is a movie that Elliott improperly called Thomas's Winter Merry Wish which is watchable and The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Christmas which is not our favorite.

The boys love them so what can you say?

Josie on Piano

Lately one way to entertain Josephine has been putting her on top of the piano while I play. It's just a little dangerous so more often I put her in her high chair or Boppy beside the piano. This works better when her brothers aren't around to tackle her with hugs.

Josie's First Spinach

Josephine had her first spinach.

Josie's First Spinach

She did not love it.

Josie's First Spinach

She may also not love us anymore after our deep betrayal.

Elliott Watching "White Christmas"

The boys liked White Christmas far more than I would have guessed. I didn't think it would be a huge hit since it essentially has nothing to do with anything Christmas related other than the first five minute and the last five minutes.

Elliott particularly enjoyed the first dance number with Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen. That is when he turned to me and famously said, "If he got cheese on his wonderful clothes I would eat it off."

This is the highest form of praise that anyone has ever laid at the feet of Danny Kaye.

Pancake Breakfast

We got tickets for a Boy Scout pancake breakfast which we attended and reminded me of the Boy Scout pancake breakfasts of yesteryear. This is the first time I've been on the other end of the breakfast, being served by awkward tweens who were exceptionally polite.

The boys ate about fifteen sausage links each.

Naperville 2015 Christmas Light Tour

We took the boys on a Christmas light tour in their pajamas while drinking hot chocolate. It started off very promising but Elliott was in a weird mood where he wouldn't talk to us then he started whining on the way home and not explaining what was the matter. Then he had an all out tantrum and screamed for about 45 minutes. When they were finally in their room I told them we could look at pictures of the lights we saw.

When we got to the above picture Elliott said, "That was my favorite. I didn't want to leave." I asked if that's why he was upset and he whimpered, "Yes." I then explained to him that telling us he wanted to stay a little easier would have made for a much more enjoyable 90 minutes for all of us.

It was both the saddest and most frustrating parenting moment of 2015.

Buying Christmas Tree

We went out in search of a Christmas tree and the boys had a blast running in and out of the maze and mostly avoiding being hit by any cars after reminders to not go out into the parking lot.

Christmas Studio Lighting

I set up some festive Christmas lighting in the studio and we had some real fun playing down there, mostly Batman and Robin, the boys' favorite game where I am Batman, Elliott is also Batman, and Martin is Robin. Then there are bad guys and we have to get them and put them in jail.

Martin is a little obsessed with being Robin. This is concerning because no one should want> to be Robin.


We had an unexpected visit from Uncle Adam and there was a wild wrestling-filled evening before getting the boys to bed.

Christmas Crafts

Jen has attempted many Christmas crafts with the boys in an attempt to send letters to family and Santa. I think she's probably put about 40 solid hours of work into generating maybe eight letters total.

Josie Standing with her Learning Farm

Josie can almost stand using her Learning Farm which is a huge milestone for her. Unfortunately she has also hit a milestone of fussing and whining all the time whenever her most favorite person in the world (Mummy) walks more than two feet away from her. She does the same to me but only when Mummy is not around. Jen is first class. Grandma is fourth class. I'm fifth class. And everyone else is solidly around ninetieth class.

Superheros and Forts

It's been exceptionally warm with temperatures in the 60s such that we've played out in the yard several times without even needing any jackets. All the toys are put away for winter so mostly they've had to improvise being superheros and building fences around the sand box.

Backyard Mushrooms

The weather has brought many mushrooms to sprout form the lawn, this one in particular caught Elliott's interest enough to attempt to eat it. This left me calling poison control and being pretty sure that he was going to be okay.

So far, so good.

Daddy and Martin Decorating for Christmas

I also continued my insane crusade to decorate our house with excessive amounts of lights for Christmas. My goal is to not need to use our horrible overhead lights for Christmas dinner.

Coloring on the Floor

The boys have been extremely interested in coloring recently. I've been printing pages and pages of pictures for them on a daily basis. They are both extremely specific and very selective about exactly what it is that they color. Usually the selection process takes about 15-20 minutes and the coloring process lasts about 5-10.

Morton Arboretum Illuminations Rain Disaster

We took them to the Arboretum on a rainy night to see the beautiful lights and this ended up being a huge fiasco.

Morton Arboretum Illuminations Rain Disaster

While it was beautiful everyone was soaked and Josephine began freaking out.

Morton Arboretum Illuminations Rain Disaster

Martin passed out on the way back as I sprinted in time trial position back to the cafe and seating area where a very good band was warming out to play songs.

Morton Arboretum Illuminations Rain Disaster

Josephine's carrier was soaked and she uttered her first words, "Do not ever take me here again, Daddy."


Hot Cocoa in the Tub After Rainy Night

Hot Cocoa in the Tub After Rainy Night

After getting everyone home and out of their wet clothes I made a pot of hot cocoa for them to drink while in the tub. Elliott, of course, spilled his hot cocoa in the tub which meant we needed to drain it and hop in the shower.

Basement Flood

This week started with the unthinkable: a basement flood. Our carpet was completely destroyed and, of course, nothing was covered by insurance. This left our basement in need of four days of drying and the days of music and playing Batman have come to a close until we can get it carpeted again.

Basement Flood

It was a sad, sad day.

Elliott Watching Men Rip Up Carpet

Elliott was obsessed with the men who were working hard to save our basement from a huge mold growth.

Elliott Ripping Up Carpet

He was so obsessed that he grabbed a fork Christmas decoration and began pulling up the throw rug in our living room.

The Boys Rolling Up Carpet

The two of them spent the afternoon rolling up our perfectly good carpet to dispose of it.

Flooded Studio

Flooded Studio

One day we'll be able to rebuild, I hope, as I have spent the little free time I have over the past two years to get the recording studio to a place where it was functional. With a concrete floor and tacks sticking out of the ground there isn't much I can do down there, especially without the boys.

Josephine Eating a Mum

Josephine discovered the glory of Mum-Mums and has been downing several a day. I think she is relieved that we finally seem to be getting the hint that she wants actualy, real food.

Santa Visit (2015)

We took the boys to see Santa downtown. Martin was delighted and chatted him up. Elliott was extremely shy and didn't want to say anything. Josephine was fine with Santa until she remembered that she was starving and lost her mind.

Overall it went better than we expected.

Josie's First Tooth

Josephine has gotten her first tooth and is happy to bite your finger at any point to remind you of this.

Cookies At School

The boys had a school pajama party in which the parents were all told to wear their pajamas as well. Jen and I were about 50% of the total parents who actually did this so we spent most of the time sitting on the floor feeling extremely awkward and avoiding eye contact with the other parents.

Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens

My parents arrived on Friday and were volunteered to watch the children as Jen and I left to go see the new Star Wars movie. Of course we didn't tell the boys why we were leaving. I can only imagine how pissed they'd be if they knew we were going to the movies, and to watch Star Wars without them nonetheless.

Some day they may read this and learn of this great betrayal. I can only respond by saying this was Daddy's first movie since 2011, before they were born. Also, it was a little too much for three-and-a-half year olds.

Also, I will watch any of the original movies with you at any time!