Monday, March 31, 2014

The Making of a Birthday

My mother-in-law had her 70th birthday last week, and we decided to do some special things to celebrate. Grandma Toni's birthday was on Tuesday, but we couldn't celebrate until Thursday.

That gave us more time to make her a cake--red velvet, which is her favorite. The cake was from a box mix, but the frosting was homemade cream cheese.

I let Henry decorate with sprinkles. Nick had the job of adding chocolate chips. Lots of chocolate chips.

The triumph of the finished product was well-earned. I think this cake turned out exceptionally well, considering it was decorated by a five-year-old and a two-year-old.

We celebrated by eating the frosting, but we made everyone wait until Thursday for the actual birthday celebration. In the meantime, the boys helped me pick out pictures for a card.

Greg drew a really cool picture using colored pencils. It is of a courtyard we visited last year in Gatlinburg, TN and Grandma Toni really liked it, so that was her birthday present.

Nick drew Grandma a picture too, just like Daddy.

After presents, it was time for cake. I found special candles with colored flames.

The boys helped Grandma blow out her candles.

Everyone was happy to have some cake. . .

. . . but no one was more excited than Henry. He looked a little like a vampire with all that red velvet cake on his chin.

I think Grandma had a good birthday.  :)  The boys sure had fun trying to make it special.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Little Man Maintenance

You know, it wasn't until I had little boys that I realized how much more frequently boys need haircuts. I can put off a haircut for months. I believe, for example, that my last haircut was in November. Yup. I'm due. But if my boys go more than about five weeks, their hair starts getting all crazy. See what I mean?

This time we went to Safari Snips, in Naperville. Yup. That's how I kicked off my exciting spring break--with a haircut for these two fine young gentlemen. They like this place because of the climbing equipment.

Henry was super-excited when he found out we were going inside. He actually jumped for joy. Nick got his hair cut first, though, leaving Henry time to make a new little friend. She's three, so I guess he likes older girls. They played quite nicely, considering Henry is only used to playing with his older brother, who plays pretty rough.

While Henry was working his smooth moves, Nick was riding a motorcycle. I kept trying to get him to smile, but all he'd give me was what I like to call his "constipated grimace." See what I mean?

Despite plenty of wiggling around during the actual haircut, Nick's hair actually turned out quite nice. I asked the stylist to please cut it a little shorter. (Two haircuts plus tip=$40. Need I say more?)

Now Henry was a little more reluctant to leave his new friend, but the firetruck chair convinced him.

Henry's hair is very cute, but it sticks up constantly and I can't get it to stay down. When Greg saw this haircut later, he said it looked like Henry had his head shaved. I disagree.

I especially like the cute little sideways grin I got out of him. 

I think it looks cute. It also feels very soft and fuzzy, kind of like petting a gerbil. Greg was teasing Henry about it tonight. I told Greg he can take the boys for their next haircut.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Fun Fair at Fountainview

On Saturday, I decided to bring the boys to Fountainview Fitness, a rec center in my hometown of Carol Stream, where my mother still lives. The boys were excited to play games with Grandma Linda, and maybe even win prizes.

Nick was excellent on the balance beam. I need to get this boy signed up for gymnastics. 

I do believe the purpose of this event was to get people interested in the fitness center. Well, my mom already has a membership, and I live in Plainfield, but we enjoyed ourselves anyway. The kids had a great time, and most of my pictures came out blurry simply because the boys didn't stop moving!

Grandma tried teaching them to hula hoop, but they didn't quite get it. 

All that movement was a good thing, though. Exercise was kind of the point. They practiced throwing and catching in the gym. . .

. . . and for once they were actually throwing in an appropriate place and with appropriate equipment!

Henry jumps off of everything, so it is no surprise he liked jumping on this "stage." A favorite for both boys was this game where you have to throw beanbags into a potty. They loved it!

I joked that the beanbags were the only thing either one of them had gotten into the potty lately.

Nick really liked the bozo buckets game. He has decent aim, though I suppose that isn't surprising, given the number of objects he throws around our house each day.

The wait for the bouncy house was a little long, especially since bouncing time was only five minutes, but we wouldn't have gotten out of there without a turn at jumping. I tried taking pictures, but this was the least blurry one from the bouncy house. Nick wants us to buy our own bouncy house. "Ha!" I told him.

This fair also had face painting. I think, though, that the face painters were novices. I am judging this based on the fact that they sat down the boys and asked each one, "What would you like me to paint on your face?" Now, this is not a question to ask a preschooler. Nick asked for a penguin, which, thankfully, wasn't too hard to execute. He actually got two penguins--a regular one on one cheek, and a green penguin (Nick's request) on the other cheek.

Henry was a little harder to pin down. I had to translate his requests to the young man with the paintbrush. First, he said, "Darth Vader!" and when I told him no way, he came up with "Luke Skywalker," and then "a light saber!" Finally I told the guy to just give him a penguin, too.

What the boys liked almost as much as the bouncy house were the prizes. Prizes are always a favorite with Nick and Henry.

Nick especially liked this slinky, at least until his brother broke it.

This is the best shot we could get of Henry and me. I should've waited until after he got his lollipop to take the picture.

All in all, it was a pretty fun event. I filled out a whole bunch of raffle tickets, but I didn't get any phone calls, so I guess I wasn't a winner. Oh, well. The boys asked this morning if we could go back to the fun fair. I told them there was no fun fair today. Henry, especially, was confused by this.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Downtown Naperville with Aunt Sarah and Grandma Toni

A few weeks ago, Aunt Sarah came down to see the boys and check out some of our baby equipment. She is going to be giving Nick and Henry a little cousin this summer, and everyone is very excited. Every time Grandma Toni talks to Aunt Sarah, Nick asks if the baby is here yet. We have to tell him, no, not until summertime.

We went out for lunch at Flat Top Grill and then headed over to Sugar Monkey Cupcakes. You see, I wanted Sarah to try the cupcakes we'd like to use for her baby shower. The ones we tried were pretty darned delicious. Nick and Henry insisted on trying a bite immediately. (We had promised them a treat for good restaurant behavior, so we owed them.)

Henry will smile on command if cupcakes are his reward. 

I love the mosaic tables in this cupcake shop. Nick just loved his cupcake.  :)

Nick has never had a problem smiling if bribery is involved. 

I'm looking forward to warmer weather so we can enjoy all the outdoor places we love in the area. Nick and Henry wanted to pose with "this nice lady," even though it was quite chilly that day.

The "nice lady" is the statue, by the way, though Grandma Toni is always nice, too. 

When we got back home, it was time to dig through the plethora of baby stuff that is clogging up our basement. Aunt Sarah and Uncle Jay are having a little girl, but most of the stuff we have is gender-neutral, so hopefully they'll be able to use some of it.

Yes, that's my hat. Nick likes it and has borrowed it several times. This picture was snapped right before Henry hit him in the head with that balloon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Every day is a bad hair day for Henry

I have a feeling Henry is going to require quite a bit of hair gel once he gets older. Right now, every day is a bad Henry hair day.

I think he's still pretty cute, maybe even because of the wild hair. He doesn't seem to mind our constant messing with it to try to get it to stay flat. In fact, he seems to think it is funny.

We were kind of disappointed to find out that Nick's spring break is the week before mine, but Henry was excited. He got to play with Nick all day! Maybe that's how his hair got all mussed. I swear, he had a bath last night and we combed it earlier. This is just how Henry's hair prefers to act.

You know, Henry's head still smells like baby, though. I love cuddling with him and smelling his baby head--messy hair or not.   :)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Saint Patrick's Festival at the Irish-American Heritage Center

We went to the Irish-American Heritage Festival on Saturday with my friend Lynn and her son Aidan, and had a blast. Nick looks rather dashing with this cap on, don't you think? Lynn and her family are most definitely Irish, and what could be more fun than an entire festival set up to celebrate the Irish culture?

This festival necessitated a drive into Chicago, which is not a normal place for me to drive, especially in the minivan. But it was worth it. I actually found a normal parking spot, which was a miracle since I cannot parallel park a car, let alone our van. We drove to the north side and walked a few blocks in some brisk and yet mostly sunny weather.

I really enjoy learning about different cultures, and I thought this would be a great way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. In the past, I've made scones or cookies, and that's about it. Saturday was way more fun than that--we spent the whole day being Irish!

We are not of Irish descent. Greg is German and English, and I am a mutt: I'm more than 50% Polish, and then a big mix of Bohemian, French, Cherokee, Czech, and a tiny bit of Italian. I'm probably forgetting a few European countries. Oh, I do have some Scotch-Irish blood running through my veins, though that isn't necessarily something to be proud of--basically some Protestant Scots moved over to Ireland and lived in settlements for several generations. When they moved to the states, they didn't want people to mix them up with the Catholic Irish who were immigrating, so they qualified their heritage to escape discrimination. Nice of them, don't you think?

We started our visit with a snack--hey, driving to the city is hungry work. Double-chocolate cake made with Guinness gave an Irish twist to our snack, and the treats we bought from the Irish baker were worth every penny.

One of the cool things about this festival was the kids' celebrations. There were crafts, a kids' concert, and all kinds of games. Here are the boys waiting for the concert to start.

Nick has a bus driver who blasts traditional children's tunes on the trip to school each day, so he has become an expert on every kid's song you can imagine. Henry just likes music, period.

Nick sang along as he and Aidan danced to music from the Wiggleworms. Henry just stared at the guitar player in wonder.

The games were fun for the boys, too, though Henry didn't really "get" the concept of some of them. Pin the Pot of Gold on the Rainbow was a little challenging with a blindfold.

Henry didn't quite understand how to play bags, either. He just climbed up and dumped the beanbags in the hole, then clapped happily for himself. Ahh, well. There will be time enough for rules later, I suppose. 

The kids made necklaces, too, and Henry found a cute little redhead. He crawled under the table with her and they played with the beads and string for awhile. I pulled up the tablecloth to make sure he wasn't getting fresh, and both of them acted shocked. 

Nicholas was quite proud of his necklace, as well as his cheek-tattoo. 

We spent over an hour watching the Irish dancers. I wish I'd taken pictures of the dancers, and of Nick standing next to his chair in the auditorium, trying to copy the steps. It was pretty cute. Then again, so are these two leprechauns. 

We had a great time at the Saint Patrick's Festival, and I think Nick would sign-up for Irish dancing in a second if we could afford it. He loved the quick foot motions and high kicks.