Saturday, January 28, 2017

Pinewood Derby 2017

Henry and Nick joined the Cub Scouts last fall, and one of the things they've been looking forward to is the Pinewood Derby.

Making the cars wasn't easy (ask Greg), but I think they look great, especially for their first Pinewood Derby. Can you tell that Henry and Nick both painted their cars themselves? Henry really, really wanted a little Lego guy in his car, and he's even got a steering wheel.

These are what the cars looked like before we added all the weights.

For Pinewood Derby, the kids get a kit that's basically four nails, four wheels, and a block of wood. They have to pick out a design and (with parental help) shape their car and sand and paint it.

Nick's car was #14 and Henry's was #15. 

The cars had to race down a really long track, two at a time. A computer recorded all the results and calculated winners for each age group and overall.

Here's the one race where Nick and Henry raced each other.


Due to the luck of small numbers, each boy ended up with a trophy. Henry is the only Lion Scout in the group, so he won the first prize trophy. Nick was one of two Wolf Scouts competing, and he won the second prize trophy.

After we got home, Nick and Henry spent at least an hour reenacting the races with their cars across our hardwood floors. I think they'll be pretty motivated to work on their cars next year.  :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Nick's Rock Concert

On Sunday Nick played the drums in a concert with his band. They've named themselves the "Smooth Criminals" for this concert--his second with Rock 101 at School of Rock in Plainfield.

Nick got all dressed up in his "rock star" clothes. He had a shirt with a guitar on it and a leather jacket. Oh, and his "Nick's Sticks" personalized drumsticks, of course. Henry wore his leather jacket, too, though the only sticks he had were the pretzel sticks he was munching on.

The crowd was as enthused as any group of parents cheering for their kids would be, and the kids have improved since their last concert, at least IMHO.

This is Nick on the mini-kit playing "Twist and Shout." I love that I can hear his drum in particular playing.  :)

Here he is on the big drums playing "Judy is a Punk," by the Ramones.

For "Bad Moon Rising," Nick got to play the tambourine. Yes, they are playing CCR.

Nick doesn't limit himself to drumsticks. . . Oh, no. He can rock bongo drums as well.

He has been practicing SO hard lately. Nick actually broke a drum head about a week ago. His drum instructor said he had the beats down for the concert songs, so he's been teaching him more and more stuff each week. I'm just happy that I can now recognize the beats coming from our basement.

I can't wait to hear what they'll play next time! They even had a concert poster!

Rock on, Nick!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!

We kicked off 2017 with a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry. They still have their Christmas Trees up, and the decorations were remarkably festive for January.

Henry was so excited to be at the MSI that he did a "map dance" when he got his map.


The boys got to roam in Maurice Sendak's forest.

We made some time to visit the airplane. We've never taken the boys on an actual plane, so for them this is as good as it gets.

Henry and Nick both absolutely loved the Brick by Brick Lego Exhibit.

Seeing the Lego Creations was awesome, but building their own was way more fun.

Henry wanted to try out the astronaut suit. Nick? He preferred to check out the gift shop. I can't blame him. It was a pretty cool gift shop.

Henry loved the lights in this room. He kept turning the different colors on and off and then on again.

Not too shabby for the first day of the year. Many of us (except Greg, who was driving) fell asleep on the way home.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Cookie Day 2016

Yes, today was indeed Cookie Day 2016. Each year I take the boys to my mom's house to bake, decorate, and eat lots and lots of cookies. In honor of this special occasion, Nick and Henry wore their new gingerbread man shirts. They read: Ninja-Bread Warrior.

In the prelude to cookie day, I spent hours and hours arguing with (and, admittedly, yelling at) my cookie press as I made butter cookies. Some cookies are made with love, but I'm afraid my butter cookies were made with anger. Sweet, delicious anger.

Does this snowman show evidence of his maker's fury?

The butter cookies were still yummy, though. Also, since I didn't get angry enough to actually throw the cookie press out the window, and I eventually made two full batches, I'd call it a win.

There was far less anger and more fun when Nick and Henry made gingerbread cookies with my mom. They loved rolling out and cutting the cookies. 

They made some, ahem, interesting cookie shapes. Notice Henry's custom-made cookie. 

It's a Target cookie, as in the store. Yup. I know what it looks like. Henry loves the Target because I let him pick something out from the dollar spot.

Anyway, the boys made awesome gingerbread houses as well. 

They worked so hard on them--with a little help from G.G. As for Nick, he hardly asked for help at all, and he did an excellent job with roof construction, especially considering he was using white chocolate for cement. He did, however, sneak one piece of candy in his mouth for every piece he added to his gingerbread house!

They really loved making the gingerbread houses--I haven't done this with real gingerbread (the kind you'd want to eat) since I was a little girl. I hope we can do this every year.

Here's Henry showing off his masterpiece.

We concluded cookie day 2016 with a thrilling ride through some pretty nasty traffic as the snowstorm started. It took us over an hour and a half to get home. The gingerbread houses made it safely, though! 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Nick's 8th Birthday Party

Nick had his 8th birthday party today, on our last day of Thanksgiving break.

November parties are normally difficult, because it's too cold to hang out in the backyard, and our house is very small. They year, however, Nick received some outdoor gifts, so he was very definitely outside. His favorite gift?

Auntie Mandy and her boyfriend Andy split the cost of a set of junior drums with Greg and me. I guess they're just like a full adult set of drums, only smaller. So Nick spent a lot of time showing off his drumming skills to various visitors. Auntie Mandy even decorated Nick's drum head, and it turned out really cool.

Personalized drumsticks? Nick has those, now, too.  I'm anticipating Nick spending a lot of time in the basement with his drumset this winter. Perhaps Henry will accompany him on his favorite instrument--the microphone. My mom gave us an older karaoke machine so that my boys can make as much noise as possible.  ;)
They say, "Nick's Sticks."

Nick also lucked into getting an awesome skateboard with a super-cool green helmet and pads. Of course, he wanted to try it out right away.

He's still working with just one foot on the board, but he sure was excited! I'm hoping the weather isn't too cold this week, so that he can spend some more time working on his skateboarding moves.

I bet he'll be a great skateboarder someday, but for now I'm sure glad he's got a supercool helmet and pads.

Something tells me there will be a few bumps and bruises along the way.

It was a Harry Potter-themed birthday, so Nick ended up with these cool mini-cupcakes from Smallcakes. I made sure they got some more wear out of their Griffindor ties from Halloween. He also got a magic set that looks messy but really fun, just the thing for a cold winter night.

His Grandma Toni also got him the illustrated version of the first Harry Potter book. Nick actually ended up with a whole stack of new books he's eager to start reading.

According to Nick, it was the best birthday ever.

What better way for his birthday party to end than with a hug from his cousin Sophie?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Nicholas is 8!

Today Nick turned 8 years old. Amazingly, he now weighs 56 pounds, can read and write, and does mental math better than his mommy. Not too bad for a second grader!

In celebration of this momentous occasion (come on, you don't turn 8 everyday!), I let Nick pick whatever he wanted for dinner. He picked. . . . Meatheads burgers and cheese fries. Nick has a bigger present coming after Thanksgiving, but for now he got a new book and a Hexbug gym.

What, you ask, is a Hexbug gym? Well, Hexbugs are these creepy little fellows that can move and climb once they're switched on. You have to be super-careful not to let them escape, because they'll get under the furniture and make an annoying buzzing sound. They won't stop moving until their batteries die!

These particular Hexbugs come with a system of sidewalks, ramps, and tubes where they can climb up. There's also a platform that you can put the Hexbugs on and try to fling them towards the open end of the tubes. It didn't occur to me until long after I'd bought them, but these persistent little creatures remind me of little mice, scurrying around and causing trouble, but (thank goodness) NOT leaving presents behind. I don't suppose actual mice would appreciate the catapulting gym much, either.

The Hexbugs didn't seem to mind being flung around, though. The Hexbugs, I expect, will get a lot of action over the next few weeks.

There's another Nick birthday on the books. I sure hope that 8 is a great year for Nick!