Thursday, November 30, 2017

November in a Nutshell

After Halloween, as normal, came my birthday. It sneaks up on everyone, including me. Unfortunately a case of food poisoning also snuck up on Jen so it wasn't quite as joyful as we would have hoped. Other than that it was pretty much the perfect birthday.

Oh No Four O

Except for which one it was.

Refinishing the Basement

Refinishing the Basement

My dad and I spent a lot of time refinishing the basement after our basement flood almost two years ago. Not only are the rusty carpet tacks no longer poking out of the floor but it's actually extremely comfortable down there and the kids can go play without me being worried about stepping on a rusty nail or smashing their head on cold concrete.

Final Baby Gate (Before)

Final Baby Gate (After)

A much simpler project, though just as gratifying, was removing the final baby gate. This simple change provides an obvious aesthetic improvement but the most satisfying bit is how luxurious and wide our staircase feels now. Added bonus: carrying laundry or other items up the stairs is no longer fraught with peril.

Elliott Spells out "Come On" in Glow Sticks

Elliott spent much of my birthday party writing "COME ON" on pieces of paper and handing it to Jen. At the end of the night he spelled it out in Halloween glow sticks and called me in.

Jen has made a huge tactical error in sharing how much she hates it when they say this to her so, obviously, they have doubled their efforts. While this isn't unusual for kids it is amplified by the DNA coming specifically from her side of the family tree. Once Jen and her sisters learned how much her mother hated monkeys they have never stopped getting her monkey-themed cards, wines, pictures, or anything else they can get their hands on.

Payback is coming hard for Jen.

Jen Becomes an American Citizen

The following week Jen and I headed downtown for her to be sworn in as an American citizen. Personally, I think she's making a huge mistake. That being said, she is very excited to get to vote out of pure anger and rage.

Saying Goodbye to Mr. Tim

We had to bid a sad farewell to our neighbors Mr. Tim and Ms. Anita. They have been absolutely the most perfect neighbors anyone could hope for and we will miss them dearly.

Goodbye Card for Mr. Tim

Elliott drew a card of his favorite memory with Mr. Tim. Of course that memory was of the day Tim came over with a giant box of their son's old toys and gave them to the boys. Elliott still gets choked up when he thinks about it but mostly because he knows it will never happen again.

Inaugural Basement Theater Viewing of Return of the Jedi

One night when Jen was out we had the inaugural movie night in the basement. The boys actually requested Return of the Jedi. I was more than happy to oblige.

At Wild Kratts Live

The following day we surprised the kids by bringing them to a live show of the Wild Kratts. The kids were blown away by the show and spent the next few days reenacting scenes and dressing up in their costumes. I've got to say it was a pretty incredible show. I'm not really sure how those guys keep up their enthusiasm levels for ten minutes let alone for an entire live show. They definitely had complete control over the audience. It was like watching a band at the peak of their popularity play a stadium. The kids in the room were in awe.

Charcuterie Board Project

Charcuterie Board Project

I also finally got to work on my charcuterie board project, something that is slow going. My complete lack of woodworking skill is certainly contributing to the pace of the project but my hopes are that it will still turn out okay.

Mummy and Josie at Daycare Thanksgiving Feast

This year marks the first time my work schedule has allowed me to go to the Thanksgiving feast at day care. Josie had a really fun time with us there and against all odds did not freak out when we didn't take her home with us after it was over.


We also did our fifth year at the Illuminations at Morton Arboretum. We discovered the secret to doing this after five long, hard years at this event: have children that are five or older.


The boys did great. There was a brief period where they were unhappy about how hot their hot chocolate was but they walked the whole way, were up for viewing the entire display, and in very good spirits. Josephine, on the other hand, melted down about halfway through. It was better than the freezing cold year, and far better than the year it rained on us, but still not quite ideal for the under five set. Cousins Evelyn and Oliver were similarly cranky and it was understandable. It's a tough thing for a kid. When the final cousin is five years old it's going to be an amazing Illuminations experience.


Illuminations 2021 is going to be lit. Literally. Literally. Literally lit.

Family Photo Shoot

We also did a family photo shoot. The kids did great but after a solid hour of pictures were pretty done but we rewarded them with lunch downtown. Cousins were sick so they weren't fully into it.

Sick Josie Napping

The sickness spread and Josie came down with hand, foot, and mouth for the second time. Third time? I don't know but with the kids we've gone through it about ten times now. Each time gets easier. Each time is still profoundly crappy.

Sick Josie Decorating Tree

Jen flew out for work and Josie spent a day with daddy decorating our new advent calendar tree which she is obsessed with. Also, we watched Frozen four times before the boys got home from school. Then one more time with them for good measure.

The cold never bothered me anyway.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

October Round Up


As October dawned we got ready to say goodbye to Auntie Lauren and Uncle Doug's house, a place we've spent a considerable amount of time over the past several years.

Evelyn and Martin

Evelyn and Martin got to enjoy their last arguments in the old house, preparing for fresh and new trivial things to get in shouting matches about when they move into their new place.

Canadian Thanksgiving

We also hosted a Canadian Thanksgiving feast for the largest group since we moved here. It still doesn't top thirty-five adults at our old two bedroom apartment but it was pretty close albeit far easier.

Roast Turkey

Even the turkey, usually not the highlight of any Thanksgiving I prepare, turned out pretty well.

Josie Picks Out New Bed

The following day we took Josie to IKEA to pick out a big girl bed. This took her just under two seconds as she ran across the showroom and leapt into her bed of choice. I can only wish that her mother and I could come to decisions at IKEA with that amount of expedience.

Josie's Old Crib

So it was that we said goodbye to her crib, a crib that has served us well for over five years and is thoroughly warped, stained, and damaged form hard use.

Josie Helping Me Build her New Bed

I spent the afternoon putting the new bed together, a task made much easier when there's a two-year-old assisting you.

Josie's New Bed

And in ushers the era of no cribs. The interesting thing, six weeks later, is that Josie still hasn't figured out that she can get out of her bed on her own. This is actually pretty handy in that we don't have to worry about any surprises. Still she will call for us to come and remove her from bed. I'm not sure how long this will last but I'll enjoy it while there are only two wanderers I need to be concerned about.

Josie in Baba's Bed

We even got a new bed for Baba, something Josie was eager to test out personally before allowing Baba to try it out.

Martin Reads "Hug Machine" to Josie

Martin read Josie a bedtime story per her request and she went to sleep really easily. Perhaps not having a twin in the same room to cause trouble with makes the transition to a regular bed a little easier.

Family Photos

I had a brief break as I traveled home to Rhode Island for a family wedding.


I got a chance to see my cousin Rebecca, someone I don't get to see enough. It was a beautiful wedding and the joy of sleeping without children around was not lost on me in the least.

Trunk or Treat (2017)

Back home the kids got to do trunk or treat at Josie's day care.

Downtown Trick or Treating

They then did trunk or treat downtown at all the local businesses.

Pumpkin Carving

We carved a pumpkin on the night before Halloween and watched some Halloween specials. We've tried about a dozen different Halloween specials this year but the kids were mostly afraid of everything. Even the Garfield Halloween special was too much for them. The Bugs Bunny special gave them nightmares. The only reason I kept trying is because they claim to love spooky things. Apart from The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown special I haven't found much that is in the correct spooky range for these kids.

Trick or Treating on Halloween Night

Finally we concluded the week with Halloween proper where we did trick or treating again. By this time Josie and Martin were done. Elliott had a bit more stamina but Josie and Martin had had enough of the whole process by this point. Martin looked up at me and said, "Okay, Daddy, I think I have enough candy now. Can we go home?"

This is something I don't ever recall saying as a child. I only got to go trick or treating once and I had to be dragged back home.

And so continues my smooth transition into old manhood. Kids today, they don't know how good they have it!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

September Recap

September saw some pretty nice weather this year, like every year. Normally we just assume that the leaves will be falling and the smell of hot cider will fill the air as soon as September first hits. Instead we're generally walking around all sweaty trying to force the season and pretending we like pumpkin spice.

Josie Pitching

The boys had a lot of fun playing baseball, however, Josie always insists on pitching. While her stance is adorable her accuracy leaves a little something to be desired. The boys want me to pitch but Josie's screams of protest are usually enough for them to humor her at the expense of their own fun.

Frozen Garden Tomatoes

Like we do most septembers we loaded up the fridge with all manner of garden and farm vegetables, mostly in the form of peeled and diced tomatoes.

Mixed Grill on Polenta

Our friends Debbie and Michele came to visit which meant I could cook something nice for one of the three or four times a year I am granted the time to do so. I made a mixed grill with chicken, ribeye steak, and a friend's homemade sausage on a bed of creamy polenta.

Dinner on the Deck with Debbie and Michele

We also got to enjoy a drink or two on the deck, something we had hoped to do many times this summer but didn't happen until mid September.

Martin as Goalie

Martin continued his constant goalie practice in the driveway and roped anyone he could into playing with him whether it was a brother, parent, grandparent, neighbor, or someone simply walking past our house.

Elliott Riding Bike

Elliott spent most of his time riding his bike. Martin has given up on riding his bike. Even though he can do it, he decided that since he fell once that riding bikes is just not for him.

Apple Picking

We also got in early on the apple picking this year. Since the kids are in school full time we weren't able to go on a weekday and have the entire orchard to ourselves. We did, however, get a chance to enjoy some cider donuts and have it feel a little less like we were trespassing on someone's private orcahrd after hours.

After School Pokemon Hunt

A few days running I have taken the boys out to play Pokemon after I picked them up for school. I even purchased the Pokemon GO late for them in the only setting where I did not feel embarrassed to order it. It's much less shameful when there are five-year-olds around.

Martin Meeting Dogs

As with any Pokewalk we take Martin manages to convince every dog owner he meets to stop so he can pet their dogs. I'm shocked at how few dog owners are annoyed by this.

Wood Plank

At the end of the month my wood plank arrived, a vertical slab from a cedar tree. With a lot of research (and even more luck) I intend to make a charcuterie board to be ready for Christmas this year. If you don't see it in my Christmas pictures this year and I don't mention it you will know that something has gone wrong and that I have spent a lot of time and money effectively ruining a beautiful piece of wood.

Let's hope for a Christmas miracle!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Summer Fun Done

As summer draws to a close we are faced with wrapping up the last few items from our Summer Fun List with the kids. Sure there are technically three more weeks but with the boys starting Kindergarten we are effectively in the fall, thinking about pumpkins, Halloween, and hot cider as we sweat in the ninety degree heat.

Helping Daddy with Flood

August began with a huge rainfall that had me dashing out into the yard, wading through shin-deep puddles and trying to fix our sump pump exterior drain as hail pelted me in the head and bare feet. I returned inside, soaked, and greeted by the boys who had gone into the basement and gotten as much emergency gear as they could to help me out.

Back to School Shopping

Soon we found ourselves at Target buying the most insanely specific set of back to school supplies including things I had never imagined even existed such as pre-sharpened pencils. Why buy a dozen unsharpened pencils for $0.34 when you can get them sharpened for just $6.99?

Hawk in Yard

Back at home a family of Coopers Hawks (which previously I thought was just the name of a restaurant) have taken up residence in our yard. This explains why we haven't seen any rabbits this summer. That and the fact that a family of raccoons also decided to call our yard home as well. Thankfully the raccoons have been persuaded to go elsewhere before they took up residence in our attic as seems to be fairly common around here.

First Baseball Game

We also took the boys to their first baseball game with Grandad. They are still talking about it and we are still required to play baseball in the yard daily to reenact the game we saw in an alternate reality where the home team actually wins and the River Bandits lose in disgrace.


Much to Elliott's delight we also hit the paddle boats before they closed down for the season. This has not prevented them from asking about going back to the paddle boats again every day since.

Pokemon Go Raid

We also hit some Pokemon Go raids as a group where Martin and Elliott boasted to the hordes of twenty-somethings about their impressive stable of Pokemon that they have caught.

Renaissance Faire

We also went back for our annual trip to the Renaissance Fair which is always a hit. Every year the weather gets better, we stay longer, and the boys have fewer meltdowns. I'm sure this will all be for naught as soon as we bring Josie into the mix on our annual trip and all hell breaks loose.

Ready for Fun at the Beach

We made it to Centennial Beach on the exact last day of the season which was nowhere near as busy as we thought it would be. We got to get a great swim in before retiring our flotation devices for the season.

Baba with Sunscreen

Josie took extra care before we went to the beach by making sure she lathered up Baba for some fun in the sun.

Josie's First Day of Beginners

Soon after Josie began her first day in her new classroom which went over very smoothly.

Kindergarten Preview

The boys got to attend their Kindergarten preview and set up their rooms for the school year.

New Yard Drainage System

Back at home we were having a drainage system installed so that we could avoid future flooding, hail-related toe injuries, and save Martin and Elliot the trouble of haivng to suit up to assist me by running around the house screaming as I redirect pipes in the yard.

First Day of Kindergarten

The first day of school was a huge hit. On my first day of kindergarten I was fine until a girl in my class, Chelsea, lost it and fell on the floor screaming at her mother. I remember thinking that she must know something I don't know then I became very emotional.

On the boys' first day of kindergarten I was also fine, that is until I saw the other parents sobbing and I once again wondered what they knew that I didn't and I too became emotional.

The circle is now complete.

Bike Ride

The boys are both doing extremely well with their new pedal bikes. They picked it up right away and have gotten by with only minor crash-related injuries. I've been more concerned about what will happen if one of then careens into Josie as she gets used to her balance bike.

Kindergarten Drop Off

Jen flew out of the country for four days and I got to experience dropping off and picking up the kids from school every day which was a lot of fun. It's amazing how fast six hours goes by. It doesn't leave one with time to do very much. I can only imagine what the parents of half day kindergarteners would have done in the past.

Scott Scoot

The school organized a 5k race which went right by our house and we were able to go watch it on Saturday morning and cheer on the participants as they ran past.

At the Bouncy Park

After a failed nap attempt for Josie we all went to the park where the boys insisted on dressing like Mario and Luigi for unknown reasons.

At the Bouncy Park

They also befriended some extremely friendly middle-schoolers who were fishing.

At the Bouncy Park

The fishing kids were so nice and they showed all three of the kid show to fish, let them all try it, and even gave them some lures to take home as a souveneir.

Josie in "Daddy's Bed"

When Jen was away Josie decided that she would sleep in "Daddy's Bed." This is the nest of spare duvets that I keep beside her crib when I or Jen inevitably end up sleeping in her room to get her back to sleep in the middle of the night.

Josie with Birthday Party Present

On Sunday we all went to the boys' friend's house for her birthday party.

Moana Birthday Party Theater

It had been planned as an outdoor party but with some raid the kids all ended up in the basement watching Moana in an amazing home theater setup. Needless to say no one complained about this, particularly the parents who all hung out in the bar which was conveniently located adjacent to the movie theater.

To make things even better it cleared up as soon as the movie was over and everyone played outside for the remainder of the party.

With summer wrapping up we gear up for fall. Elliott is already excited for his favorite holiday, Halloween. Martin is ready for colder weather which is more conducive to playing hockey. Josie, she's just ready to wreak havoc in yet another season.