Sunday, April 20, 2014

Bunny Ears and Sprinkles and Joy

In preparation for Easter, I made cookies with my boys this weekend. I also broke one of my cardinal rules of baking with children: Thou shalt only cook with one child at a time. They both wanted to help, Greg was at work, and I felt terrible saying no, so I gave in to the chaos.

It is relatively rare to get a photo with both of them smiling, but cookies make them smile.

I had the kids take turns on every single step, so the cookies took twice as long to make and made easily double the mess. However, Henry and Nick probably have a lot more background knowledge about baking than their peers, and they are learning to take turns.

Considering the major fits that resulted the last time I tried to bake with both kids at once, I'd call this cookie making venture a success, since only four time-outs were implemented and only one person cried (and it wasn't me). Cookie dough was eaten by all.

I love the above picture for many reasons. First of all, the bunny ears are downright adorable. Henry is working so hard to add in the flour that he didn't even turn around. You can see their art displayed on the fridge next to them. Oh, and Nick's little toes are pretty cute, too.

Despite the fact that it took me an hour to get dried cookie dough, flour, and sprinkles off of everything, I'd call this a great evening. Let's not even count the number of times I had to say, "No eating dough!" "No! It's breaking!," "That's way too many sprinkles!, " and simply, "Stop!"

I couldn't name the tune that Henry was belting out when I snapped this picture, but he was obviously very into his singing.

(Yes. It was after dark. I kept them up a little late in the hopes that they'd sleep in Saturday morning. It didn't work.)

The cookies, however, turned out great, despite being drowned in sprinkles and a little uneven. Nice job, boys!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Daredevils at the Playground

Going to the playground lately really gets my heart rate up, and not because I'm doing any climbing myself.

This picture was taken last weekend, when no snow covered the ground and sunny skies prevailed.

My guys learn more about climbing just about every week. We play a little game called "park hopping." I drive around looking for the coolest parks, and we try a new one nearly every time. This one was one of my favorites, so far.

Henry scares me with his climbing ability and lack of fear. Check out how high he climbed!

I was scared the first time he did this, but Henry proceeded to climb up and down this entire structure at least five times. No fear for this little man!

If you're wondering about Nick's shirt, the answer is yes. Nick is indeed wearing a t-shirt with Darth Vader playing on  a swing set. I couldn't resist it. Oh, and remember how I've said Henry didn't like the swings? He changed his mind just last week. He loves swings now. I'm not sure what brought about this particular change, but Henry's happy about it.

I love this picture because Nick is on a swing set wearing a t-shirt of Darth Vader on a swing set. The only thing would be cooler would be if Darth Vader was wearing a t-shirt of someone else on a swing set. Nick was very pleased at himself, and he did understand why I thought his t-shirt was perfect for a day at that park. He asked me if they made one with Darth Vader on a slide. I told him I haven't seen one yet, but I'd be on the lookout.

We'll definitely be visiting this particular park again. The boys got a kick out of this hippopotamus, which is decorated with an explanation of its body parts in three languages. Super-cool!

Here's some Henry joy as he was swinging. I'm hoping the weather improves so we can get in more park time soon.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hoppy Easter Festival at Safety Town

I was wandering around online this morning as I drank my coffee, looking up things to do with the kids. Since Greg works all day Saturday, I have the kids all to myself, and I try to get them out of the house as much as possible. Today I was delighted to find out that Safety Town in Naperville was having their first annual Hoppy Easter Festival.

Do they look excited? Even though we had to wait in line to get in, the boys were thrilled to finally visit Safety Town. We've driven past it many times but I've never caught a day when they were open.

When we got to the front door, they had real baby chicks to pet.

The Easter Bunny was also available for pictures. I think next year I'll forego the $23 mall picture and just go here instead. They were more patient with the boys and got a better picture, and this whole event only cost $7 plus a food donation.

This festival also had real bunnies! I guess they had quite a few of them, and they rotated them out so that no one bunny got to freaked out. The bunnies actually seemed quite mellow.

Henry did not want to leave this bunny. I think he wanted to take him home. 

So, this is what Safety Town looks like. There were people standing with big boxes of candy (and promotional materials), kind of like trick-or-treating.

 Then, there were a number of people walking around pretending to be participants, and then they'd randomly drop eggs. There were eggs already hidden around Safety Town as well.

All of the kids quickly figured out which people were the "egg-droppers" and stalked them all over Safety Town. Nick was very, very good at this. He has quite the eye for detail, and I have no idea how he found all the eggs in our bag. I was looking, too, and I'd see him run off and not be able to figure out where each egg was until he'd pop up with one in his hand.

Nick is very serious about his egg-hunting. Henry is only serious about suckers. 

Henry had a more lofty goal--knocking on every single door in Safety Town to see if someone was home. One thing I don't understand is why you'd build so many cool little houses and not let the kids walk around in any of them. It seems kind of counter-intuitive to me. Couldn't they just have made one or two nice on the inside so kids could play in them?

Mommy, no one is home in this one, either.  Let's try the one next door.

If bunnies and chicks weren't enough, this festival also boasted a bear in swimming trunks. I believe he is the mascot of a swimming school down by the mall. I didn't "get" the swim trunks at first, either.

The trees were all decked out with pastel accessories, and I asked Nick how he thought the tree got that way. "Um, it grew up from the ground like that," he replied. I had to correct his misconceptions about plant life.

Henry liked the rainbow pinwheels and kept trying to steal them right out of the ground. He did this surreptitiously, as if no one would notice him walking around with one of these.

Nick let me take a picture, but only for long enough to stuff candy into his mouth. Then he ran after some more eggs.

Running was something that both boys did. By the time I got home, they passed out and slept for three hours straight!

This afternoon, the kids are reenacting the egg hunt in our house. All of those empty eggs came in handy!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring is Finally Here. . .

. . . and we celebrated the warmer temperatures by going with Auntie Mandy to the park!

Last year, Henry didn't like the swings at all. He'd scream really loudly and ask us to take him down. But I guess he doesn't mind swinging if he's on someone's lap. He would've kept swinging for hours if Auntie Mandy hadn't gotten tired.

Nick is at that stage where he likes to swing by himself, but can't quite kick his legs enough to get very high. Thus we have to push him. It's a good arm workout, anyway.
Yup. There really are two girls on top of the baseball thingie. I didn't notice until I looked at the pictures later. 

We spent quite awhile at the swings. Grandma Toni even took a turn with Henry. She must be in better shape than I am, because I gave up after only a few minutes. It requires quite a bit of leg strength to hold up a 33 pound toddler while swinging.

We played at the park for awhile, since it was so nice out. Sunshine is a wonderful thing!

Auntie Mandy got some great shots of the boys. This one is when they decided to stand up on the see-saw. (No one was injured during the taking of this photograph. They must have decent balance.)

Does Nick's grin look a little naughty to you? It's like he's saying, "Yup. I know I'm not supposed to stand on this, but I'm going to do it anyway."

Auntie Mandy's camera also caught the boys midair as they were jumping. I thought these pictures looked pretty cool.

Henry is actually quite an excellent jumper. He almost always lands on his feet, even when he jumps from really high places.

I really hope that spring is here to stay! I am done with cold weather and snow for a very long time.

Thanks to Auntie Mandy for most of the pictures.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Pancakes, Cheese Puffs, and a Puppy: A Visit to G.G.'s House

Earlier this week, I took the boys up to my grandmother's house for a visit. They were extremely excited on the drive up to Schaumburg and they kept asking me all kind of questions. "Is the puppy going to play with us?" "Will GG give us candy?," "Does GG have toys for us to play with?" "Will GG take us to the park?"

My answers? Yes, probably, no, and maybe. (GG usually does feed the boys yummy treats.) Our first order of business was lunch. We went back to the Wildberry Cafe, which has the most delicious pancakes.

Nick had these awesome Oreo S'mores Pancakes, then had the audacity to ask if he could have dessert. I told him those pancakes were dessert. Henry didn't ask, he just stole tons of Nick's pancakes.

When we got back to the house, we did indeed go to the park, per Nick's request. GG even let him walk Lucy, at least when we were far away from the street. He did a pretty good job, I think.

Henry was mad that he didn't get a turn with the leash. I think Lucy was glad he didn't!

The park was really cold, but the boys needed to run off their energy. So much for springtime. At least it was sunny that day. Nick has mastered the monkey bars. Henry? Well, he was jealous that he couldn't swing on them yet.

It's tough to be the little brother. 

Even though GG and I were a little bit chilly, we let the boys run some of their energy off. We figured they'd be tired when we got back to the house. (We figured wrong.)

Nick really loved Miss Lucy, and I think she liked him, too, except when he was trying to pick her up.

Henry pretended to be tired when we got back to the house, but I think he just wanted to play in Lucy's doggie bed.

Lucy was not pleased to see a toddler-sized occupant in her special bed. Good thing her version of revenge is licking your face until you fall over laughing.

As previously mentioned, GG likes to feed people. She's always offering treats and yummy snacks. I can remember loving visiting my grandparents when I was a kid, because there would always be yummy things to eat. This trend has continued, and Nick and Henry ate pretty much all day. They ate cheesy poufs, chocolate chip cookies, applesauce, and whatever was in the candy bowl. Nick was so full he had to snuggle with Lucy and rest. But only for a minute, and then they were dancing.

Most of the pictures I took while the boys were dancing are blurry, like this one. I guess that is realistic, considering that my sons seldom sit still.

GG played them some dancing music, and they got a kick out of the "stages" made by the steps down into the living room. I take no credit for these magnificent moves--they must get their dancing tricks from their daddy.

While we were visiting, GG and I played with her new ipad. I was surprised at how quickly she has adapted to tablets, apps, and the Internet in general.

I think learning new things must keep you young. After all, how many great-grandmas can use Facebook and Pinterest? Henry and Nick's GG can!