Sunday, July 10, 2016

Our 4th of July Celebrations

We actually celebrated the 4th over two days, and this year the weather was cool and lovely. On the 3rd, we went to the Lisle Eyes to the Skies Festival. This particular event has gotten more and more crowded over the years, so we wanted to get there early enough to get a seat for the fireworks.

The spot we chose gave us a great view, although we were on a hill and kept sliding down into those bushes you see there behind Henry. A poor sad margarita was lost to those bushes. On our way to the park, much whining ensued, mostly because we had to carry blankets and chairs. 

Henry got so tired he had to rest while we were waiting in line. Good thing he brought his own chair. 

We all wore jeans due to the cool weather, but did you know mosquitoes can still bite you through jeans? Me either. 

Grandma Toni joined us for the day, and we walked up and down that darned hill a thousand times--easily enough to work off all the ice cream, drinks, and fattening foods we ate!

The bouncy houses were a hit with Henry and Nick, though the price was NOT right--roughly $1 per minute of bouncing. 

Though we didn't see many balloons due to high winds. . . 

There were plenty of mac-n-cheese nuggets. Yes, apparently those are a thing. They went over very well, seeing as Nick and Henry ate them all!

There were so many people at this festival that we didn't get home until well after 11 p.m.

Our actual 4th of July celebration was much more low key, and we ended up staying home the whole day.

Our neighborhood tends to have multiple, ahem, explosive (if not strickly legal) celebrations, so there was plenty to see and hear. Oh, and Greg and I had a fire in our fire pit as well. Here's what Henry and Nick had to say about that:

Yeah, I know it kind of sounds like a war zone in the backyard. The mosquitoes won the war, that's for sure. Despite wearing long sleeves and pants, I was covered in bites. We had s'mores and enjoyed the show until pretty late.

I can't remember if they were cheering for fireworks or s'mores.

Nick didn't make it too long, as you can see. He got sleepy and passed out in his chair. He reminds me of that one guy who'd always pass out early at college parties.

Cheers to a great 4th of July!

Friday, June 24, 2016

A Few Hours on a Friday Afternoon

We decided to spend a few hours today at Phillips Park Zoo in Aurora. The weather was lovely and the price (free) couldn't be beat. Though my students have been telling me I should go for years, this was our first visit.

Their sunken garden is lovely, and the flowers and birds kept my attention. The boys? Well, they wanted to see the animals and then play in the park. Though this is a very small zoo, the animals overall did not disappoint. Nick got a kick out of this snake.

Henry said this crowd of turtles was his favorite part of the zoo. They were pretty active and looked happy--as much as a crowd of social turtles can look happy. Turtle party, perhaps?

This Macaw seemed rather bored by all the kids in the vicinity, though he did open his eyes when Nick was talking to him.

We checked out the peafowl and this peacock was presenting his lovely feathers for all the ladies to see. My sons thought it was beautiful but wondered why only the male had these beautiful feathers. Guys like to show off, you know, to impress the ladies. Peacocks are no exception to that. Unfortunately for this guy, the peahens (at least today) did not look impressed with him.

Though some of the animals were hiding or sleeping, we were able to see quite a few. Nick and Henry had a great time, but they were really eager to visit. . .

. . . the park. Yup, just your garden variety playground, though larger than most and in a picturesque, wooded area. This was the highlight of their day.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Summer Break is Here!

Today was my last day of work for the school year. Nicholas and Henry finished school last week, but I don't feel too jealous because they have to go back early in August.

Haircuts were on my agenda this evening, and they were badly needed--especially for Henry! Check out Henry's before and after picture. . .

Looks like a whole different kid, doesn't it? I actually like his crazy hair quite a bit, but lately it has been difficult to scrub out the dirt and sand each night. Thus the short summer 'do.

I didn't snap a "before" shot of Nick, but his "after" looks great! I convinced him to go short, too. Nick said he wanted longer hair, but last night I showed him how we'd have to brush it out with a hairbrush every day. That changed his mind rather quickly.

Henry's been feeling rather lonely lately. You see, Nick has a whole herd of kids down the block that he plays with, and Henry is too young to cross the street on his own. But today, some boys let him play basketball with them. I stood in the street and let him play for a good half hour, and he loved it!

We finished up our night, just as the rain was coming, by having spaghetti and cake outside on our porch. I love when the weather is just right and we can enjoy our outdoor space.

Don't they look thrilled with our screened-in porch? Or it could be the giant slices of cake, I guess.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Quite the Busy Weekend

Ahh, finally a weekend with warm temperatures and sunny skies. We sure took advantage of it!

On Friday night we started off by doing some watering at my school garden. The boys helped, and even picked a few radishes, though they wouldn't eat them.

Henry pretended to read a story to his "class" and found out what us teachers already know--it is mighty hard to read upside down! "How does my teacher do it?" he asked.

When we got home, Nick brushed Miss Molly, who was very appreciative. No, really, she'd growl and then purr. If Nick tried to stop, she'd growl really loud and touch his arm with her paw.

She sounded mad but she loved it.

On Saturday, on the way to Nick's music class, Henry drew the cutest self-portrait ever.

Looks just like him, doesn't it? Nick jammed out on his drums as usual, but this time he refused to take off his new mirrored shades.

While Nick was playing the drums, Henry and I went walking and saw a garage sale. I found a new kitchen table, complete with four chairs. Not too bad for $75, though I paid the guy a little more to deliver it, put it together, and tighten all of the screws. Totally worth it.

At another garage sale, I scored a ton of summer clothes for Nick--enough to fill a garbage bag, actually (all for $20). As dirty as my boys get, they sometimes need three outfit changes in a day, so more clothes is a good thing. After the garage sales, Greg came home from work, and we decided to visit the bike shop. Nick needed his bike chain fixed. While we were there, Mr. Henry picked out an early birthday present--his very first bicycle!

Henry's birthday is in a few weeks, but it was too good a deal to pass up.

Now, Henry did not start out yesterday really knowing how to ride a bicycle. But he is one determined little fellow, and he spent probably four hours straight riding his bike up and down the sidewalk.

See Nick up ahead? He rode his bike, too, and I chased them.

Every time his wheel went into the grass, he hit a bump, or he tried to turn, the bike tipped over and he fell. There was a point when he was screaming at the bike, "Bad bike! Stop dropping me!" I was impressed, though, that every time I asked him if he was done riding for the day, he said, "No!" Gosh darn it, he was going to beat the bicycle!

How can a kid find and then try to buy things online without being able to read?!

This is a shot of our ipad. We found this as Henry was playing on the ipad this morning. Check out the subtotal! I about had a heart attack until I realized that I wasn't signed in--I only use Amazon on my laptop, thank goodness. As my mother said later when I was telling her the story, it's a good thing I hadn't enabled one-click ordering! I guess this means Henry wants an Octonauts birthday party.

The award for the craziest bed-head? Henry wins it every time.

I didn't take many pictures today (Sunday). Why, you ask? Well, I spent most of the day sitting on the screened-in porch grading papers for my graduate students. I did get this nice shot of Henry and his artwork.

He said it was a monster. His grandma thought it was a flow chart of his plot to take over the world.

I also snapped this, er, interesting shot of Nick and a banana. What is he doing? Well, you see, the banana fell off, and he got really mad at it (yes, the banana). He wanted to tape it back together, and was quite perturbed when his daddy wouldn't let him use the electrical tape.

The banana did win, eventually. He gave up and ate it even though it was "messed up," as Nick said. Or would that mean that Nick won, because the banana was devoured?

Saturday, April 30, 2016

My Lone April Post. . .

I guess I forgot to post this month. I was driving home this evening and suddenly realized I never had any posts in April, and this is the last day. I turned around to see what the boys were up to, and this is what Henry was doing.

I feel just like Henry--ready for a nice, long nap. There was a lot going on in April, between administering the state exam for three different grade levels, teaching two different graduate school classes for two different universities, working on my school's garden, and tutoring both online and in person. Wow, I guess I didn't realize how busy I was until I wrote that sentence. Since I only have one post to make for April, I guess I'll write about one 24 hour period--the one ending with Henry snoozing in his fuzzy jacket and cool-guy shades.

Last night I was at my school until 6:45 getting ready for next week, and Henry drew this amazing picture. It reminds me vaguely of Picasso. You'll notice he's also stapled a piece of paper to the bottom with his name written backwards.

This morning Nick had his music lesson, and he got to play guitar. He prefers drums but I guess he liked playing The Ramones' version of "What I Like About You" on guitar. While he was at his lesson, Henry and I walked in the rain and had a burger at Sovereign. It was beef brisket mixed with bacon meat (yum!). I always try to snap Henry-and-mommy-selfie on Saturdays when we have our hour together.

After picking up Nick, we headed to Grandpa Ray's birthday party. On the way, we stopped for balloons. They boys found these cool $1 sunglasses that they wore all day, despite the fact that there wasn't any sun. They borrowed Grandpa's walkie-talkies and pretended to be spies. Henry said, "We are being secret agent mans!"

Apparently secret agent mans don't like to button their pants.

My mom took out the Wii, but Nick didn't play for long and wouldn't let me take his picture. Henry? He played for a long, long time.

As to how well Henry played, well, it was his first time. I don't think he quite understood what to do with this game--it's a balance game where you're supposed to hit soccer balls (but not shoes) with your head.


I think the sunglasses make Henry's soccer ball dance even cooler.

We ended our day with a trip to Target, where I let my sons convince me to drive them around in the giant cart. The thing handled like a semi-truck, and I may or may not have had to pretend it was a roller coaster car, swerving back and forth down the aisles.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Fun in the Water

Despite the cool temperatures outside, we managed to have a warm, splash-filled three days at Timber Ridge Lodge. Henry had a thing for the lazy river. 

The waterslides alone gave us all a workout, between the stairs and the speed. 

See those slides behind us? We came down the green one.

I had forgotten how fast the green tube slide goes, and I was genuinely shrieking the first time we plunged down. 

Somehow Greg and Nick don't look scared at all after coming down. 

Grandma Toni didn't do any of the big slides, though she did try the little white one with Henry, just once. That was enough for her--never again, she said. 

 Last year at Spring Break, neither boy could swim, at least not much. This year, both of the boys are decent swimmers, so they were less intimidated by the water in the big pool. See? Here's Henry mid-jump.

Henry giggled and slide down this slide countless times.


Nick was more independent this year, and he made friends who were over 48", so that he didn't have to go down the waterslides with an adult. Going down the slides with daddy and mommy was fun, but he preferred hanging with his new friends.

That's it for another spring break trip!