Friday, February 28, 2014

My Little Guitar-Playing Rockers

Last weekend we went to my mom and stepdad's house, and Grandma Linda took out her old guitar. Nick had been asking to play it, so we gave him a turn. He was thrilled.



































Henry wanted a turn, too, but he was very patient, considering that he is two.



































The music wasn't terrible when you consider the source. Perhaps a guitar would be a good starting instrument for Nick. It is less obnoxious than drums or piano, which he also enjoys.

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Nick likes to pretend to be Marty in the school dance scene from Back to the Future. 


Henry took his turn with the guitar as well, though he sang along with the music. 


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Grandma was a big help teaching the boys to "play" guitar. 

More about this visit tomorrow. Tonight is all about the guitar-playing.  :)  They found a toy guitar tonight at the cafe and play and relived their guitar dreams. 


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dancing, "Driving," and Drama at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show

Big events in Chicago are fun for the boys, but exhausting for the adults. This year we did decide to head downtown for the auto show, much to the delight of the boys. I think they would've stayed at this fountain all day, if I would have let them. Or if I would've had more change. . .


















There was no driving of the stroller this year. After last year's stroller debacle at the auto show, we decided to go strollerless this year to the Chicago Auto Show. Henry, after all, can escape the stroller extremely quickly, and ditching the stroller to chase him is quite stressful. My two-year-old son heartily agreed with our decision.

Henry is smelling the sweet, sweet taste of freedom. 


































The real reason the boys were so excited to visit the auto show was getting to see their Uncle Jay and Aunt Sarah. Uncle Jay worked really long hours at this auto show, and the boys were so ecstatic to see him. We got to spend the whole day with Aunt Sarah, but Uncle Jay was very busy and appeared a few times, whenever he could. The boys act like he's some kind of rock star.  ;)



































Uncle Jay even let us get our picture taken in a jeep. Aren't we cool?

We didn't really "drive" the jeep, but it was fun to pretend. 

















After this picture, as I was getting down from the Jeep, I dropped my cell phone, bent to pick it up, and then got whacked in the head by the car door. I had a bump for a week and a headache the rest of the day. The boys, though, could've spent hours crawling in and out of cars.

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that this boy has ten years to go before he can get a permit. 



































Henry liked crawling around the cars, too, but he didn't mind sitting (or standing) in the passenger seat. Nick always wanted to be the driver.



































Neither Greg nor I am especially "into" cars, other than as a mode of warm transport from one place to another, but all little boys love cars, and my boys liked the truck track.



































They watched the pickups climb up and down hills and do daring things.



































Henry kept trying to crawl over the barriers, so we had to be vigilant.

Do you see him plotting how he'll climb over the sand? 



































Greg may not be into cars, but he's into Henry hugs. . .



































Strangely enough, one of the highlights of this trip (for the boys) was the 45 minute dance break that they spent on this makeshift "stage" dancing to barely audible music. They are quite the dancing team.

At one point, they had three or four other kids dancing with them. 


































Henry, especially, shows some sophisticated moves for someone only born in 2011.

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After their impromptu dance break, we went to check out more cars. Henry fell in love with this video screen of a car advertisement. He's going to be kind of a techie kid, I can tell already. He listened to this ad over and over, watching carefully and even dancing a bit. 


We had to tell him we weren't going to buy any new cars anytime soon. 


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Henry was getting hard to keep track of, so I tried carrying him on my shoulders. All of us had sore backs, and I thought this might be better. He was hesitant at first, then liked it, I think. 


After the car part was over, at dinner, we had time to relax and eat. The boys were both super-excited to say hi to their new little cousin. Aunt Sarah was showing them where the baby is, and Nick, especially, was interested in a potential new playmate. 


By this point, everyone was exhausted and ready to go home. We had worked off every calorie possible in our walk around McCormick Place, and our feet were (collectively and individually) done. 

The drama didn't start until everyone went to the bathroom. I stayed with the bags, and Nick ran in one direction while Henry scaled the wall in back of the benches and ran for the hills. I can't remember such a panic attack as when I was deciding how to chase two children running in opposite directions. I opted to grab the bags, yell for Nick, and take off after a giggling, furiously running Henry. Thank goodness one of the kind cafeteria workers saw him running and grabbed him. She actually apologized for picking him up. "I'm so sorry I had to pick him up to stop him."  I thanked her and told her how grateful I was for her help. Nick said, "You saved Henry!" Nick, I might add, followed me exactly as directed during this scary episode. He may not always be cooperative, but he understands my "now" voice. 


The final drama happened when Greg, a notoriously fast walker, got ahead of us and lost Nick and I in the crowd. I couldn't remember where to go, and Nick kept insisting he knew the way. I called Greg, and darned if Nick wasn't right. He must've inherited his daddy's sense of direction, because McCormick Place was too vast for me to remember where I was at any given point. I guess from now on I can rely on Nick instead of Siri.  ;) 



Friday, February 21, 2014

We don't always have good days, but when we do they are really good. . .

I am very proud of myself right now. Constantly growing little boys require errands that cannot be completed without them. For example, it is not possible to have them fitted for shoes or get a haircut without actually bringing them out in public. I've been putting both errands off for awhile now. So, even though I was very exhausted after a long week (and a file audit) at work, I decided to head to the outlet mall. Yup. I'm brave.



































I like to hit up the clearance sales, and this store had a Lego table, thank goodness. I stocked up on shirts, footie pajamas for next year, and sock, guessing at the sizes and scoring $3.99 pajamas (with an additional 20% off). The only problem is that Henry didn't want to leave. Nick was pretty mellow tonight, and even got excited about the pjs I found for him with the feet. Has he inherited my shopping gene after all? I'm not sure.

Check out Nick's fireman shoes. They light up red and have flames all over with wheels on the sides. 


































The hardest part of a shopping trip, for me, is always getting the boys fitted with shoes. I know I am always sizing them incorrectly, and Nick's been wearing a pair of shoes I bought last year that I knew were too big. They were an 11 and he's a 10, though I bought 10 1/2 shoes for him on the advice of the saleslady, who was very patient. Notice the light up fireman shoes. Heck, for $40 a pair (BOGO, however) they'd better light up, make my kid behave, and direct me home. I must sound crazy, spending that much for shoes. But I have heel spurs, fallen arches, and all kinds of foot problems, and I need to know that my kids are wearing good quality shoes, even if they only own two pairs at any given time.



































After our shopping (Christmas shirts at Gymboree for $4.99 apiece!), we stopped for Chinese food at the food court. What is really nice is that Nick, Henry, and I can all split a meal for less than $10. No wasted food and happy children.



































Although Henry did eat a lot, he started spitting food at one point. I am absolutely determined to break him of this habit, so I told him if he did it again he would NOT get a treat. He's testing me, and of course he spit food. I held firm. Henry was absolutely devastated.



































Nick received an extra-fancy dark chocolate covered graham cracker. Henry received nothing. He was upset, but able to explain why he didn't get a cookie. I count that as progress. So if two hours at an outlet mall on a Friday night wasn't stimulating enough, I decided to break down and get them haircuts. Henry liked it, and sat still very well. The stylist told me that Henry has the toughest kind of hair to style, because it's so straight and argumentative but might be curly if it were longer.



































We went for the short look for Henry, and I like it. What do you think?

I have no idea what to tell them about my sons' hair. "Make it look like a little boy haircut." is about all I can say.


































Nick was a little more wiggly, though he tried his best to sit still. I think it looks okay, and it isn't quite as shaggy. Nick's hair is very thick on top, and it's hard to keep the cowlick down.



































After haircutting, all of us were exhausted, and we drove home for snuggles and bedtime. Henry and Nick wanted a picture with their new shoes. Check out Henry's Star Wars shoes that light up with blue light sabers on the side. He picked them out himself and told every single person we encountered (we're talking 10+ people here) all about the shoes. I don't know if they understood him, but he sure chattered away. "Look at my new shoes! I got new shoes with light sabers! They are Star Wars shoes! Look!" (as he stomps his feet in joy).



































I know it might seem a little silly to get so excited after a successful evening, but it is times like these that help keep me going when we have a rough outing. (For example, the auto show last week. I'll write more about that later.)



































This probably wasn't my most exciting post, but then you didn't see the deals that I got. Nicholas was a gentleman and opened every door for me and Henry with the stroller. I was able to reason with him and calm him down the first time he started whining, and no more whining happened the whole trip. I'm really proud of this, perhaps more so than some of my professional and personal accomplishments.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Beanie, A Ball, and Bedtime

Bedtime at our house tonight was interesting. After staying at work late to teach a class and driving home in foggy, rainy conditions, I was happy to have a little time with my guys. I recently got Henry some new clothes, since he's been growing like a weed. This little outfit came with a matching beanie that Henry was initially hesitant to wear.



































We got Nick to wear the beanie so Henry would want to copy him. We bounced them around on the ball to tire them out before bedtime. Grandma Toni snapped most of these photos.  



































Nick could care less about the beanie, he just wanted to bounce on the ball forever. Pictures of Nick always end up a little blurry.



































Henry was never thrilled about the beanie, but he loved the yoga ball. I can count bouncing them around on a ball as a strengthening workout, right? Henry weighs almost 30 pounds and Nick is well over 30 pounds, so I'd say it counts.



































Henry just wanted to stay up an extra few minutes and watch Daddy paint.



































Does he look just a little too much like a rebellious teenager here? Hmmmm. Perhaps I should be worried.



































I do love bedtime, especially with these little hoodlums.  :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Climbing children, near-blizzard conditions, a very large cat, and driving in a big circle

Today has been an odd day, to say the least. I was hoping to go out and have my smashed fingernail repaired and buy the boys some new pants. Instead, the weather intervened and I ended up staying in my pajamas all day, shopping online and going exactly nowhere.

Henry found a new place to sit and play on the ipad. He looks rather pleased with himself. 



































Greg took the boys outside for a half-hour or so, and they all got covered with snow and ice. It was crazy out there!

Greg's hair is all white just from the snow landing on him!


































I was pretty amazed at how fast the snow was coming down and swirling all over the place. I tried to snap a few shots with my phone but I was worried about water damage, so I stopped. One arm out the door is as far outside as I went today.


Nick wasn't scared of the blowing snow. Greg was only scared of the shoveling job ahead. 



































































While they were playing outside, Molly rolled around on the carpet in child-free bliss. She loves it when the kids aren't around and she can get down near the floor.

We try not to tease Molly too badly about her weight problem. Our agoraphobic cat, Tubby, is never seen. We sometimes doubt his existence, until he hacks up a hairball somewhere random. 

Are those kids coming back in? I hope they stay out a long time. . . 


































Poor Molly didn't get her wish. The boys came in fairly quickly, chilled and red-cheeked.

Henry needed lots of snuggles and rubbing to warm up. Then he was fine. 


































We had to warm them up somehow, and thankfully, "Baby Got Back" came on the 90's Sirius Station. Good times for my dancing fools. They definitely do not "got back," but they can shake it anyway.

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Poor Greg just didn't know what to do today. He had four clients scheduled tonight, starting at 5 p.m. His client contact hours haven't been as good this winter, due to obvious nightmarish winter conditions. (Greg gets paid strictly by how many clients he sees.) So he didn't want to cancel his appointments. As of 2:30, none of his clients in Hinsdale had cancelled, so he started off driving into the snowy mess. He promised to call me when he was at work. At 4:45, I still hadn't received a call, so I was worried and I called him. It turns out, he was most of the way to Hinsdale when he found out from his office that every single client had cancelled for tonight. All of them. So poor Greg turned around for home. He finally got home a little after 5:30, meaning that he spent three hours on the road for no real reason. Greg drove in one big snow-covered circle.

I had the boys clap for him when he got home safe.



































We danced in joy that Daddy was home safely. Yup. "Dude Looks Like a Lady" by Aerosmith.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day 2014!

Our Valentine's Day was pretty good. Greg got home in enough time to see the kids and get the Valentine Card that we made for him. Here are my boys, all smiling at the same time (A Valentine's Day Miracle!)

Nick worked hard to write "I love you Daddy" on a big red heart. 


































I worked with the boys all evening to make homemade cards and pictures for Greg. I asked them to draw things that Greg liked, and they drew candy (Nick), a moon (Henry), and a bottle of wine (Nick). I even drew some pictures of my own, including one of Greg's "real" gift. For a combination gift (birthday/V-day/Anniversary), I'll be getting Greg a mountain bike and all of the accouterments he will need.

Reason #435 that I am not an art teacher.






















We set up a surprise thinking that Greg wouldn't get home in time to see the boys before bedtime.

















Henry had a special message for Greg, though only those who understand Henry-speak may comprehend it.

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For the kids, I have a tradition where we buy them a special book for Valentine's Day, which I inscribe with a message for each boy. Henry really, really liked his book, which was a wordless picture book about a dog and his ball.























Nick enjoyed his transportation-themed book as well, though he wasn't as affectionate with it.























Lest you think that Greg forgot about my Valentine's Day present, I should show you this:



































When I got home from Open House last night, I found these lovely flowers and gorgeous silver bracelet from my husband sitting on the counter. A great surprise to conclude a very long night. 


















Greg is excellent at picking out quality jewelry. 
























I was excited to wear my Valentine's Day-themed sweater and bracelet this morning, though you can't really see the bracelet in this picture. Henry is smiling, though. That is a rare and happy occurrence, at least when the camera is on. Dancing, for Henry, is far more common. I like their moves to "Last Dance with Mary Jane."

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I have to say this has been my favorite Valentine's Day yet, even though Greg and I haven't had our official "date" yet. (We'll go out later this month.) This was the first year my boys both said "I love you, Mommy." I think they even meant it. I don't want to forget reading Henry and Nick the wordless picture book I got Henry and having them tell the story to me. Henry is sleeping right now, hugging that book tight.  :)