Friday, January 31, 2014

Wintertime Dance Party!

With our, ahem, lovely weather this January, I've had to be pretty creative to get the boys some exercise. Tonight, for example, I fed them popcorn, knowing this would mean they'd have to vacuum for an hour. Most nights, though, we dance.

What do we dance to? See, now, I'm the mommy, so I get to pick, at least some of the time. I'm pretty eclectic in my musical tastes, so we dance to everything from Jazz to 80s music to top 40 hits. I also love classic rock and 90s music. It is funny how I can remember all of the words to nearly every song from the 1990s but I've blocked most of those years from my memory. Henry's penguin likes to dance to 90s music on the Sirius station, too.

Now, please know that Henry does indeed have clothing that fits him. For some reason, he insisted on wearing Nick's t-shirt and pajama pants. I have to pick my battles.

My mom said Nick looked like Snuffalupagus in this one. It was pretty cute.

The one song both boys really enjoyed was one I remember from middle school. "Ice, Ice, Baby" by Vanilla Ice. Sigh. My kids would pick the one song that I know all the words to that gets stuck in my head to dance to and then beg me to find on youtube.

Henry was really getting into his moves. Nick was trying to breakdance, I think. "Do you like my moves, Mommy?" What could I say but, "Yes, honey, good job." Then the penguins started in dancing. . . and the chanting started.

My kids crack me up. The song is also strangely appropriate, judging by the amount of snow and ice we've had outside lately. 

That's Greg's winter hat Henry's hanging out in--he loves the fuzz on the inside.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bunk Beds! Bunk Beds with Star Wars Sheets!

Henry and Nicholas went absolutely crazy with joy when we came home this evening to find that Daddy had put together their new bunk beds.

Look what Grandma Toni got for us! Bunk Beds with Star Wars sheets!

Today we had to get out of the house. Greg insisted on at least seven hours to himself so that he could figure out this huge project. He did a great job!

Yay for Grandma Toni! And Yay for Daddy's hard work today!

After a whole day spent away from home, it was amazing to come home to a completely new room for the boys.

Yes, I'm aware Nick is wearing his pajama top backwards and inside out. He said he likes it better that way. 

Grandma Toni gives the best presents! Note the matching Star Wars sheets, comforters, and rug to match.

Henry and Nick were so excited I couldn't get them to stand still. Henry loves the Darth Vader Rug best.

So the question remains. . . will the boys sleep in their own beds now that Darth Vader watches over them and their awesome new beds?

Henry actually turned his pillow to the other side so he could see Darth Vader's head.

Or will they be too excited to sleep?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Not even a snowstorm could stop us from attending the Chocolate Festival!

It's no secret in this house--we all love chocolate. We even prefer the dark, less sweet varieties. So we certainly weren't going to miss the Naperville Chocolate Festival this year. The boys had a great time in 2013, and Nick loved him some chocolate back in 2011. The fact that it was snowing rather heavily and that Greg had to work did not deter me from my goal of successfully navigating the festival and having some great treats.

I don't know if it is because my kids are getting older (and better-behaved, relatively speaking), or if I'm just becoming less anxious, but I actually enjoyed myself for 95% of this trip. I interspersed fun for me activities with stuff that was fun for the kids, and I know they had a great time, because they didn't want to leave. We started out with the Kids in the Kitchen room, where we made chocolate snowmen out of marshmallows and chocolate chips.

Check out that concentration!

Nick sat in his chair, listened to the directions, and followed them. For me, this was a HUGE win. I don't care what his snowman looked like, I just care that he was paying attention. I had to help Henry with his snowman, because he ate the Rolo for his head. We improvised with more chocolate chips.

Henry tried to follow the directions, but kept getting distracted by the food and trying to eat it.

We got to dip yummy pretzels into melted chocolate and sprinkles as well, and this was lots of fun, though my shirt has a big brown chocolate stain that will probably never go away. Ahh, well. All in the interest of fun.

After our dessert-making in the Kids in the Kitchen room, we paid a visit to the Children's Entertainment Room.

Henry loved this exhibit from the Dupage Children's Museum. 

The boys stayed here, making the shape of their hands pop out the other side, for quite some time. 

The bouncy house was, needless to say, a huge hit for the boys.

Nick preferred going up the stairs and down the slide, repeatedly. 

Henry got in and proceeded to bounce. And bounce. And bounce. He wasn't getting out of the bouncy house, not for all the tea in China.

The teenagers running the bouncy house asked me, "How do we get him out of there?" I had no ideas, short of dragging his two-year-old butt out by force. They looked horrified at the idea, but eventually acquiesced. Otherwise Henry would still be in there, bouncing happily.

The kids also loved the basketball station, though neither of them could throw the balls far enough to even be close to the hoop.

90% of my pictures are this blurry. Sigh. That's why I had to take 672 pictures on just this one day.

Henry had quite the stamina, though, and just kept trying, over and over and over.

Perseverance is one thing my younger son does not lack.

More about our chocolate-themed adventure tomorrow. It seems that below zero temperatures have led to school being canceled once again.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Night Pina Colada Party!

This cold weather is very depressing, and I spent the whole way home trying to think of ways to get out of this funk I've been in all week. Nick came up with the initial idea. "Let's have smoothies!" Despite the below zero windchills, I agreed. Henry shouted with joy!

For the kids, I made virgin pina colada smoothies: frozen pineapple, Coconut Chobani Greek Yogurt, bananas, and ground flax seed. (I call it dinner.)

My version had a little Captain Morgan added in to it. 

A hearty thanks to the Chobani people for creating a yogurt that gives the flavor of the beach, even if the temperatures do not cooperate. 

I also cranked up our heat (shh, don't tell my husband) to a more tropical level and turned on the Happy Light for some added "sunshine."

Then I clicked on the Sirius Margaritaville station for some beach worthy music. 

Nick jammed on his little guitar for us as well. 

My version of the smoothie, complete with some Captain Morgan, helped to cheer me up.

We're all feeling a little warmer and more refreshed, though if anyone wants to spring for a beach vacation, that'd be even better.  ;)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Future Guitarists?

Last weekend, I took the boys to Naperville's Chocolate Festival (more about that later), and there was an acoustic Beatles tribute band playing while we were waiting for the cookie stacking contest to begin. The boys had balloon swords from the children's room, and they turned them upside down to use as guitars while they mimicked the guitarists.

I pulled chairs to the very back of the room so we weren't in anyone's way, and the boys had room to dance.

Henry especially got into the dancing. I think we have a Beatles fan on our hands. You can even hear his little fingers squeaking as he tries to pluck out the notes on his makeshift instrument.

By the end of the concert, which was maybe 45 minutes long, Henry had just as much of an audience as the guys on stage. He stayed quiet and jammed to the music the whole time, though. That's pretty good for a two-year-old. 

I like this song, too. I can understand why Henry wanted Nick to jam with him. 

More about the chocolate festival and all the joy to be had at such an event. I just wanted to share the joy of a two-year-old happily dancing his heart out. I was tempted to join him out there, but I get self-conscious. Nick is already starting to get a little shy sometimes. It's nice to see Henry out there jamming without any inhibitions. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

More Fun at the Museum

. . . of Science and Industry, that is. Grandma Toni's early 40th birthday present to Greg (His birthday isn't for a few more weeks) was a membership to this museum. We spent a whole Sunday there, and we did not use the stroller at all.

Grandma Toni is particularly good at Henry wrangling.

This meant lots of Henry chasing. I caught up to him just before he foisted himself over the wall into this tornado.

Strangely enough, Nick hated the sound of the announcer's voice at this exhibit. He kept covering his ears and shouting "too loud, too loud." His own shrieking didn't seem to bother him, though.

Henry liked dancing across the different wave patterns on the floor. We could move the dials to make different wave patterns, and Henry chased them with his feet.

The color room was a pretty big hit, too. The lights kept changing, and Henry knows his color names now, so both boys pointed out the different colors and ran around joyfully.

We even had Toni take a family portrait. A little blurry, but not too bad, considering how hard it is to get the boys to stand still.

The wind table with the balls was a favorite for Nick, because he liked the way the wind blew in his face. Henry liked it, too, but Daddy had to hold him up so he could reach the balls.

I took some video of Nick and I with the balls. There are so many hands-on things to do at this museum that we could've spent days at each exhibit. 

The wind tunnel was a great deal of fun, even if it led to a rather bad hair day. 

One of my favorite pictures of the day was this one, because of the look on Nick's face. That kid cracks me up.

What? You thought that was all? Nope, we took 672 pictures of our trip to the museum, and I have lots more to tell. Science is a particular interest of mine, so I try really hard to get my kids "into" science as well. This job is made easier when there are so many awesome exhibits to check out. 

I will write more later, since it is now my bedtime.  :)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Random Musings on a Friday Evening

I was going to write a blog post about our trip to the museum last Sunday, but inspiration just struck after an interesting afternoon and evening with the boys. Clarity sometimes comes in the strangest of places. . . like in the aisles of the Costco after a long day of testing at work.

We started out at the Costco, where I went in for two items: Vitamin Water and a passive aggressive giant bag of broccoli florets.

Never fear, I will explain why broccoli can be passive aggressive.

You see, my husband has been doing the grocery shopping lately. He insists that Meijer does not sell frozen broccoli florets (or that he cannot find them, or that they're too expensive). For some reason, this grates on my nerves because neither the boys nor I will eat broccoli pieces. Greg says he doesn't mind the broccoli chunks, so every time I've made broccoli lately I give the boys and myself the "trees" and serve Greg up a giant pile of stems. (Since he doesn't mind them, you know.) Anyhow, this good-humored broccoli war has been going on for months, and I was determined to have the good broccoli. I found it at Costco for $6.49 for a 4 lb. bag of organic. Niiiice.

It's funny how I go to Costco for two items and leave with a cart full of groceries. Sigh. 

Everything was wonderful until we ran out of samples.

Henry was devastated by the loss. 

My children make any trip more interesting. During our slow, snowy ride home, there was a tickle fight, Henry took off his shoe and threw it at Nick, and periodic shrieks pierced the tiny interior of my Sebring. We had an argument about the meaning of the song "Riders on the Storm" by the Doors, which was strangely appropriate as we inched along through the snowstorm. Nick wanted to know how they rode their bikes through the storm. I tried to explain, but drug-induced lyrics are difficult to explain to a five-year-old. Technically, they'd be riding through the storm. "What about if they rode on airplanes?" said Nick? "They'd still be riding through, or above the storm, not on the storm. Great philosophical conversation, anyway. I want to remember inching along in the snow, listening to both boys attempt to copy Jim Morrison's voice as they sang their little hearts out.

When we arrived home, Nick wanted to show me what a good helper he could be. He ended up stacking all of the groceries in a 3 foot high tower that collapsed, spilling my leftover coffee all over the carpet. Ah well, you cannot expect a five-year-old to help without secondary consequences.

That's my strong man!

Lately, I've been trying to exploit Nick's extra energy for useful purposes. He actually brought in all of the boxes and frozen veggies, including the aforementioned passive-aggressive broccoli.

Henry helped, too. He even tried putting the frozen green beans into the freezer for once, instead of stealing things out of it!

There are benefits to having strong little boys to bring in the groceries.

Best of all, Nick had a surprise for us when we got into the kitchen. He'd gotten a special certificate from his teacher for being a good helper. We were duly impressed.

Doesn't he look proud?

We celebrated Nick's success with a special dinner of cucumbers dipped in thousand island dressing, leftover chicken, and granola bars dipped in chocolate. My boys can't eat cucumbers without making them into different phases of the moon and declaring the phase of their creations. "I made a half moon!" "My moon is a crescent moon!" "I like full moons best." (That last one was from Nick, who, coincidentally, has quite interesting behaviors during full moons.)

I do not think my life will ever be boring with two little boys around. Tonight, I felt pretty thankful for that, even though I am doomed to never have a toilet paper holder because it is forever being stolen to use for a light saber. Happy Friday everyone.