Friday, May 31, 2013

My "High-Maintenance" Guys

I'm joking, of course, when I call my boys high-maintenance. They could care less if one of them is wearing a dirty shirt or another one has yogurt in his hair. Heck, anytime they're wearing clothing that matches, I consider it a win. My rough-and-tumble boys nearly always have dirt or a bruise somewhere, even if I give them a bath everyday. Nick also likes to undress and redress himself during naptime lately, and has come up with some interesting combos.

But I think I waited a bit too long between haircuts. See what I mean?

Henry has perhaps the weirdest baby hair I've ever seen. He stayed bald for the longest time, and then his hair grew in wispy and almost white. It also grew in the exact reverse pattern of male pattern baldness. Looking down on his head, the hair forms a "v" with bald spots on either side. His hair also sticks up quite a bit. I am hoping that it isn't growing in the way it will fall out in his twenties or thirties.  ;) 

I adore this picture of Nick because this was a genuine smile, even if his hair was incredibly shaggy. Nick's hair was a darker shade of blonde, and it grew in curly and then has gotten straighter and darker as he got older. No appearance of balding for him, though he has a cowlick in the back that is nearly as stubborn as he is--I'm not surprised. 

This afternoon I took the boys to Safari Snips, a kids' haircut place in Naperville. I like to take them to new places because novelty often entertains them. Plus, this place was right on my way home. I didn't ask for specific haircuts, just "little boy" cuts that would be good for summer. Henry doesn't look too pleased with his, but I think that is because he hated the gown he had to wear.

I've been to places like this before, and while this place was the largest with the "coolest" toys, it was also the priciest. In addition, the haircuts took less than ten minutes. I didn't actually have a problem with the actual cuts, I guess I just like to get a little bit of advice on what would look best.

Nick adored riding the little ATV they had instead of a barber chair. He did not, however, sit still well for the clippers or the scissors, though the stylist was patient. Nick did like how they spiked his hair at the end, though he would've preferred the "faux-hawk" that he got last time. I think I liked his last haircut better, too, though I know this shorter cut will be good for summer.

I had to practically drag Henry out of this Lightning McQueen car. He doesn't say many words, but "Queen!" is one of them. He was even petting the car at one point.

Boy hair is pretty simple to deal with, so I guess I should be glad this trip was so quick. I guess I'm just a little disappointed that it was less of an "experience" for the price I paid. The boys did love the toys, but the atmosphere wasn't as fun as I would've liked.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What can I say about Monkey Joe's?

Since I teach right on the Naperville/Aurora border, I've been hearing about Monkey Joe's for quite some time. My students often write about it in their journals. They describe it as a sort of heaven on earth for kids.

Nick would agree with that assessment. We went last Saturday with my friend Lynn and her son Aidan. From the time we walked in until the moment we left, Nick didn't stop moving. Henry climbed around a lot, too, as did their friend Aidan, but Nick took the cake for running and jumping and yelling.

I was initially a little worried about Henry climbing so high, but he refused to stick to the "Three and Under" bouncy places. He wanted to climb the big time slides, and indeed he did. Henry likes to slide down feet first, on his tummy. A number of people commented to me about how well he was climbing for such a little guy. He never seemed to get scared or intimidated.

Whee! Henry loves to slide!

We had initially planned on spending an hour or two here, but before we knew it, time had flown and there was no signs of flagging interest in bouncy-related things.

My photos are blurred because I couldn't get Nick to stand still for pictures.

Henry impressed me with his climbing abilities, and it must've given him practice because. . . . wait for it. . . . Henry can now climb out of his crib without assistance. Sigh.

I tried to teach the kids how to play Skee-Ball, but I don't think they quite "got it." Nick wanted to keep as many balls as possible, so he grabbed them all. Henry tried to throw them overhand, which can be quite dangerous.

I have to say, though, this wasn't a bad way to spend a Saturday evening. The boys ran out all of their energy, and I got some time for girl-chatting. I must be psychic, because I see the future and many bouncy-houses are in it.

This week, Nick has started every morning by asking me "Mommy, are we going to a bouncy house today?" Then he interrogates me about when the next bouncy-house visit will be and for how long his bouncing will commence. I don't remember these types of places existing when I was a child, but I can tell you my kids absolutely adore them.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Painted Penguin

I am notorious for purchasing Groupons and then forgetting about them. I had just a few days to spare when I remembered to use this one for The Painted Penguin at Fox Valley Mall.

Both boys chose to paint racecars, and I wasn't in the least bit surprised. The kids got to choose their own colors for the paint tray, and they spent a good 15 minutes painting. Not too bad for young children with short attention spans.

I'm not sure if you could hear it clearly, but Henry did say "car" and "painting car," though his speech is kind of hard to understand. He spent longer on his car than Nick did, and probably would've gone even longer if I would have let him. 

Henry copied me when painting the car, and I was impressed by his dexterity. Most of the paint ended up on the car, and he smoothed it down well with the brush. Henry kept saying "car" excitedly while he painted, and he even labeled his car as "blue." 

Nick decided, at a certain point, that painting his hand and the table would be more fun than finishing his car. He loved the big paintbrushes and wouldn't even touch the little ones. 

The joy of painting and picking your own colors got the kids really excited. This isn't like the ceramics-painting places. Instead of having your creations fired, they just spray them and let them sit in front of fans for awhile; we brought home our creations the same day. Nick loved watching the cashier spray his car with sparkly stuff. 

But Mommy, I want to spray the stuff! Can't I please go in there?

Henry was triumphant when his project was finished!

Look what I did! If you don't grab it quick, I'm going to throw it!

Since the cars needed to dry a bit, I took the kids around the mall while we waited. I can always kill time in a mall. Greg, however, had not given me the stroller, so I had to purchase one of the super-expensive joy-inducing ones that they rent. 

It is my turn now, and it shall be my turn forever. Do not try to get me out of here.
This worked out well when Henry was in the stroller, but Nick wanted a turn, too, so they had to trade off. Henry's too little to hold hands and walk well, so this was challenging. Whichever boy wasn't currently "driving" the stroller asked every twelve seconds, "Is it my turn now." Well, that was Nick. Henry just cried and pointed and tried to crawl on top of Nick. I've heard they have these strollers in double, but I couldn't find any. This one cost $5. I can't imagine what a larger one would've been. 

The times when Nick was in the stroller were the hardest. I went in to Victoria's Secret because I had a birthday coupon, and Henry became delighted with the glitter on the floor. He would randomly stop, drop, and roll around in the sparkly glitter. Thank goodness all of the lithe, nineteen-year-old clerks thought he was the cutest thing ever.

He kept trying to "catch" the sparkles. 

This is what the final projects looked like. Classy, I know. Henry's is the blue one, and Nick's was a greenish gray. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Conversations with Nicholas

Heard in the car today on the way to the mall:

Nick: Mommy, why does daddy hide to eat food?
Me: I'm not sure, honey. What was he eating?
Nick: Cookies. From the cookie jar. He didn't want me and Henry to see.
Me: Oh?
Nick: He went in kitchen and turned away to chew. He was hided.
Me: Maybe Daddy doesn't want to share his cookies.
Nick: Yeah. He never does. He eats them all up!

Heard today on our way home.

Nick: Mommy, I see the moon!
Me: You're right, bud, I do see it starting to rise.
Nick: Why does it go up up up?
Me: Well, it doesn't really. It goes around the Earth. But the Earth turns around and we can only see the moon sometimes. The moon revolves around the Earth.
Nick: I like living on a big ball. It's much better than outer space.
Me: Oh?
Nick: Yeah. We have chocolate pastries.

When we were a few minutes from home, one of Nick's favorite songs came on: Prince's Raspberry Beret.

Nick: She wore a raspaddy barraya!
Me: It's raspberry beret. He just means she had a hat that was the same color as a raspberry. A purplish color.
Nick: No! It's a barray!
Me: I promise, honey, a beret is a kind of hat.
Nick: Uh-Uh. No!
Me: Sigh.
Nick: Why did they end the song like that? It is supposed to play the music some more and then it gets quiet. THEN the song is over. Why did they do that!? Why did they do it wrong! They stopped it!
Me: I have no idea. You've heard that song lots of times, haven't you?
Nick: Yes.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Baking with Henry

On Sunday, Greg and Nick went out for a few hours and Henry and I did some baking.

When Nick was Henry's age, I had him in the kitchen at least once a week helping me cook or bake something. The "helping" was more of a hindrance, but I firmly believe in letting kids learn by doing. I'm also not afraid of messes. I am, however, terrified to have both children in the kitchen. Greg and I are going to try to "divide and conquer" more often this summer while we're both available to be with the kids. I already use this strategy during "Lego time" with Nick, and he loves it. On Sunday, I spent about three hours working and playing with Henry. We made banana blueberry bread together.

Henry squishing the bananas for our recipe.

When I say that I let Henry help, I really do mean that he helped me measure, stir, and pour every single ingredient. We dumped baking soda and oatmeal on the floor, and both of us were covered in flour by the time we were done, but Henry adored all of the attention.

Henry really is growing up, though I often still call him my baby. He is a completely different child when he's around Nick. We baked for at least forty-five minutes, and I had his attention the entire time.

I even let Henry help me pour the batter into the baking pan. He was able to use my rubber scraper and (with some assistance) finish the job.

Letting Henry sprinkle on the cinnamon means that the whole top of the loaf was covered with cinnamon. It tasted pretty good that way, though.

Henry even helped me clean up the counter top.

I want to make sure I get time alone with each of my sons this summer. I don't think it really matters what we do, but that one-on-one time really means a lot to them. I have to say that I think it means a lot to me as well.

Oh, and the bread? It was delicious.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

Here's a quick wrap up of our mother's day.

I got to spend it with my two sons and my husband, who got me Ravinia tickets and some lovely flowers. Nick had this very special present for me that he made in school.

He even tried to write out his full name, Nicholas. The letters are all there. . . somewhere.

We ate Portillo's in the car. I think Portillo's is Nick's all-time favorite place to get lunch.

We went up to visit my mother for a little bit.

Both boys got some snuggle time and played outside.

Henry helped out by mowing the lawn.

We went to Grandma Toni's for dinner. Greg cooked the whole yummy dinner (meatloaf) for all of us, plus Aunt Sarah.

Henry entertained us with his antics. Yes, that's a bowl on his head.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Project and Pinterest Drama

Happy Mother's Day everyone! Each year, I've tried to make projects for Mother's Day that somehow ask my kids to be creative. One year, Nick painted plant stakes, and last year the boys made garden stones for each of the four grandmothers (and one great-grandmother). This year, we tried something different.

I found this idea on Pinterest, and decided to try it with the boys. They both love to color, and I know that tiles are pretty cheap, so I figured it would be a great idea. I wanted to add photos along with the boys' artwork, for an extra touch. My problem was that I didn't decide to start this project until around, oh, 9 a.m. Saturday morning. 

On Saturdays, my husband works a full day, and I have the boys all to myself. We always have a little date-for-three, and yesterday our date involved multiple trips. First, we had to go to Menard's to get the tiles. They were a steal at $0.12 each, but none of the other supplies were available there, so we also had to make a trip to Walmart to get Mod Podge, ribbon, scrapbook paper, tacky glue, felt hearts, paintbrushes, and art supplies. I decided to take the boys out for lunch in order to complete the drawing part of this project. In retrospect, crayons would've bled into the paper less, but I chose markers because the boys like them better.

Another big challenge was getting the boys to draw on command. Though I did get enough pictures, Nick pouted when I asked him to draw small pictures. Henry spent much of his time flinging markers and crumbling up his papers. Some of the pictures couldn't be used because Henry spilled syrup on them.

While the boys were down for naptime, I cut and glued the scrapbook paper and Mod Podged it down. Then I found pictures of the boys and cut out the pictures the boys had drawn. This is the part that took hours and covered our entire kitchen table. I added layer upon layer of Mod Podge. 

Around 11 p.m., I was finally ready to cover the finished coasters with acrylic spray. Then, early this morning, we added foam heart stickers to the back. 

The last step, tying on the ribbon, took an hour longer than Pinterest suggested, though I have to admit I'm not very good at tying neat knots.

I also made mother's day cards on the computer. Here's how some of them turned out.

Happy Mother's Day!