Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

A few weeks ago, Nick's teacher read him the story by Eric Carle called, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Nick liked it so much he read it over and over again to his stuffed animals, his grandmother, his brother, and me.

By now, he is so familiar with the story he knows it practically by heart. As I was leaving for work on Friday morning, I caught Nick reading the story to Henry several times and decided to document his good "reading."

Then, this morning, I caught Henry reading the story to himself out loud from memory. I didn't catch the whole thing, but I still think it's pretty cute.

I love when I can catch my boys doing something mildly academic in nature. It makes up for all the time they spend whacking one another with sticks, having light saber battles, and flicking towels at each other.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Nick's Last Day of Preschool!

Yesterday was Nick's last day as a preschool student. He's been at this school for two years, and really enjoyed his classes at Bonnie McBeth.

Yes, they had a water table. 

The end of the year was celebrated with a special fun fair, and Henry, Grandma Toni, and I joined Nick for this event. Nick got to introduce us to a lot of his school friends, and he even included Henry in some of their play.

Yes, the boys are all shooting at each other with turkey basters. 

We spent a lot of time on the playground, but I couldn't get any pictures of Nick, since he never stood still. Henry discovered the monkey bars, though. These were just his size!

We had to practically drag Henry off of this playground. I think he's going to like preschool.

The culminating event of this fun night was what they call the "Kindergarten Dash." All of the kids who will be going to Kindergarten in the fall get to run across the field, where their parents are waiting with a medal for graduating to Kindergarten.

Nick loved his medal. He and his little friend ran pretend races across the playground and kept giving one another their medals, again and again.

What a fun event! We had a great time, though it was a little bittersweet for Nick. We stopped to say goodbye to his teacher and he didn't quite understand that he'd never come back--at least not as a student.

That's my little preschool graduate!  :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Outside Time and Homemade Ice Cream

Since I was too contagious to visit my mom for Mother's Day, the boys and I decided to go and visit her last Saturday. The weather, thankfully was warm enough to go outside, though only just. The chill in the air didn't bother the boys, though. They love Grandma and Grandpa's backyard!

Yup, that's Nick pulling Henry in a wagon. I wouldn't trust him, but Henry does, apparently.

So is it a little much with the matchy-matchy? I can't make up my mind. Most days I think it's really cute, then sometimes I'm not sure. I think I'll keep doing it until the boys refuse to dress alike anymore. I had someone ask me the other day if they were twins! I told the lady they were two and a half years apart, but Nick is small for his age and Henry is about average.

Henry loved the play doh Grandma and Grandpa saved for him!

That boy would play with play doh all day if we let him. He even smuggles it sometimes and we find it later. Henry hasn't yet figured out that it dries out and becomes no good if it gets stuck, say, in the toybox or under one's bed.

Just before the doggy kisses began.

In other news, Henry and Rusty finally made friends. . . at least for the most part. Rusty is still a little wary of Henry (with good reason), but he'll let him pet his fur now. Rusty even licked Henry a few times, and Henry liked it!

Nick was searching for the birds who had left their nest. They didn't fly back until we went inside.

I really wish we had a fence. At my mom's house, we could just sit and watch the boys run around and play with little effort expended on safety. At home, I feel like we're always dealing with one kid running too far (toward the pond or the street) or somebody sneaking into the garage and bringing out something random.

Henry especially loved Grandpa Ray's shed. He kept disappearing in there and coming out with random sticks and stuff. Nick and Henry were pretending the shed was their house, and they didn't want to leave "their house" to come inside. Only the possibility of making ice cream brought them inside. . .

When I asked Nick what his favorite part of our visit was, he responded, "Making ice cream with Grandma Linda!" My mother likes to make things from scratch, so, of course she has an ice-cream cone maker (doesn't everyone?). She also figured out how to use her Ninja blender to make frozen yogurt.

Henry got to help, too, and the ice cream cones were really yummy. I guess treats you make yourself really do taste better, although I didn't help, I just watched and tasted.  ;)

Can you tell Rusty was hoping one of them would drop his ice cream cone?

I think Henry dropped a bit, and Rusty was RIGHT on that situation.

I know that the boys had a great time. Shall I tell you how I know this? On Sunday and in fact all week, they've been pretending to make ice cream "just like Grandma Linda's!" They bring it to me to "taste" so I've tried lots of fake ice cream this week. Nick even rigged his cash register up so they could "sell" their ice cream creations, and Henry tried to steal the sprinkles from our pantry to add to his ice cream. When Nick and Henry have fun doing something, they role play it again and again.

Friday, May 16, 2014

An Evening at the Hollywood Palms

I think this Friday was the first Friday night in at least two years that Greg hasn't had to work. We wanted to celebrate, and I thought all day about where we could go. Then, I had an idea: movie night, at Hollywood Palms. If you've never been, it's this really cool place with theatres decorated in different themes (Like, "Jaws" or "The Wizard of Oz." You can order food and the best popcorn there, too. Oh, and they sell drinks there, too, and not just those of the soda pop variety.

Nick and Henry got a kick of waiting in the palm tree chairs in the bar.
Do you see Greg way in the background, holding our place in line?

We went to see Rio 2 tonight. They loved the first movie, and were thrilled when Greg told them we were going to see a real movie in the theatre. Especially a movie theatre that had an elephant statue.

I couldn't get any non-blurry pictures. Nick was too excited.

Greg and I figured having dinner and a movie simultaneously would be less stress, because when the boys get bored is usually when one of us ends up sitting outside with one of them so they don't disturb others.

I know this picture is blurry, but look at that excitement!
He is pointing up at the elephant. 

Thankfully, we were right about the distractions. The cool chairs that spin and the Jaws-themed theatre fascinated Henry. There was even a real tropical aquarium near the door and a giant shark with an exit sign coming out of his mouth near the front of the theatre. Fish hang from the walls and balcony, so if the movie got boring, the kids had something to check out. Oh, and the rows of seats were pretty far apart, so there were no seats in front of us for the boys to kick.

We ended up ordering a veggie pizza with strawberry crepes for dessert (plus a couple of adult beverages for Greg and I). The food was good, and between the movie and the food, I pretty much didn't hear a peep out of either boy for the whole movie. By the end, Henry was curled up all sticky and happy in my lap watching happily. The crepes were directly responsible for the stickiness and the strawberry chunk Henry threw down my blouse. It was a great night, though.

On our way out, Nick found these statues. He likes to try to copy facial expressions.

Greg had to point out the poster of one of Nick's favorite idols. He was thrilled!

Nick informed me on the way to Naperville today that he had not one but TWO time machines.

The waterfall in the entryway to the theatre section was awe-inspiring for little boys, so much so that when Henry first saw it, he sat down and I had to pick him up. Thankfully, he recovered from his shock.

I am so glad we decided to take the boys to the movies. It was relaxing and fun having two well-fed, well-behaved little boys. Nick kept asking, "How many days until we can go see another movie?"

Sunday, May 11, 2014

My Mother's Day

It's happening, folks. I'm actually writing a blog post about what happened today, rather than a few weeks ago. Happy Mother's Day!

That's Little Einstein in Henry's hand. He's rather attached. 

I can do this because I actually got quite a bit accomplished today. Here's how my mother's day went down: Greg woke up early with the boys and took them to the grocery store to get breakfast supplies. Then he made bacon and waffles for me. The boys were not any help whatsoever. I woke up to the smell of coffee and bacon around 8:30, and came down for caffeine delight and syrupy goodness. Oh, and happy shrieking and fighting. I have little boys, you know.

Not the best picture of me, but Henry looks really cute. 

Nick gave me some presents he made in school. He was quite, um, creative, don't you think?

No, I'm not 46 years old. Nick's counting skills are off by about ten years, as is his formation of the letter "k." And I have no idea what funny clothes he's talking about. But he's right about the cookies.

 I think those are flowers in the picture. Oh, and he has a habit of getting lazy when writing his name. I asked him who Moch is and he got irritated. On my special new cookbook he wrote Nich. Sigh. I guess Nich is part of his name, and a k is harder to make than an h.

The boys chose the balloon for me. Little boys have a hard time picking out gifts for other people, so they just pick out things they want for themselves. Like a balloon bigger than their heads and a card that sings.

Greg also brought me the roses. He's going to redo one of the flowerbeds in the backyard for me, too, and get us a bench to sit on. I suspect the neighborhood cats will hang out there as well. Oh, and Greg took the boys out for me today as well, so that I could get some work done. The Morton Arboretum was their destination, and they stayed for over two hours. They got very dirty so they had a blue bath. Good times with bath foam.

While they were out, I managed to write a paper for the grad school class I'm taking tomorrow night, edit a Power Point for the grad school class I'm teaching on Tuesday night, purchase a lot of junk on the Internet, and work on some curriculum I'm doing for this writing gig. Oh, and I ate lots of junk. The doctor put me on prednisone for my asthma, and it makes me crabby and hungry. VERY hungry. Good thing Greg made dinner. Shrimp and pasta with a spinach and berry salad with goat cheese. I like goat cheese.

I hope your Mother's Day was as good as mine.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Let's Go Fly a Kite!

Last Saturday, Grandma Toni and I took the boys to the Go Fly a Kite Festival in Wheaton. We went two years ago, when Henry was still a baby, but we couldn't go last year because the park was flooded. When I heard that the festival was on for this year, there was no question. We were going.

I was thinking that Henry might be too young to really fly a kite, but I bought him one anyway. Boy, am I glad I did! He was a natural, and flew his kite all over the park. It was pretty cool to see such a little guy flying a kite.

Nick caught on pretty quickly, too, and his only problem was getting his string tangled with other kite-fliers. I wouldn't have thought flying kites would interest them for so long.

Grandma Toni and I got LOTS of exercise running after kites and helping to get them back up in the air.

The weather was really windy but only a bit cool, so it was nice to be outside. Despite the fact that it is May, I feel like we really haven't had too much of a spring this year. I was glad that one of the nice days happened to be on a Saturday.

The following pictures were taken just before both boys flew their kites into a tree.

I believe Henry flew his kite in first, at which point Nick followed him and immediately flew his kite into the tree. It took the next half hour (plus the help of three people, who very kindly moved over a picnic table so we could reach the kite) to get them down.

What a great day! I've been so busy lately, and I'm really trying to schedule time to be in the moment with my kids. What better way to do that than by flying a kite? I can't wait to do it again, though this time perhaps not straight into a tree!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Happy Easter 2014 (Yup. I'm posting this very late.)

Nope, this post is not about the family of rabbits living under our porch stairs, though those are pretty cute. (I will think so until and only until the first rabbit gets into my garden, after which time I will fervently wish for a hawk to visit.) Instead, this is a late post about our Easter. Over the last two weeks, I've picked up a tutoring job, a curriculum writing job, and a graduate teaching job, all in the evenings. When you add that to the graduate school course I'm taking, it all becomes a bit much. Anyhow, back to the bunny.

If we were hoping to sleep in, our hopes were dashed by the 6 a.m. wake-up knocking from two very excited boys. There is no snooze button on little kids, unfortunately. This is what they were looking at down the stairs.

The Easter Bunny brought them a basket full of goodies, and they were very eager to open their baskets. The next hour was a blur of activity, as they gave their dolls baths, counted money in Nick's new cash register, and flung plastic screws around the living room from Henry's new drill.

It's a good thing I'm pretty tolerant of chaos, because chaos reins in my home.

Nick loved his new cash register (with real play money, as Nick would say). One of the skills he does not have on his preschool checklist is an awareness of coins and cash. No surprise there, since we use our debit cards for everything.

I wanted to make our breakfast a little bit special, so I looked to Pinterest and made these bunny pancakes. They were consumed with relish by my little garbage disposals.

After our yummy breakfast, we got all dressed up and headed to my mom and stepdad's house, where a seemingly endless supply of plastic eggs greeted us all around the backyard. (Thanks to my sister for all the great photos!)

Henry was better at this egg-finding business than we thought he'd be. 

Nick wanted to open every egg to see what was inside. 

Henry tried so hard to reach this egg. . .

. . . but he ended up needing some help. 

This is one of my all-time favorite pictures of the boys. 

Grandpa Ray likes to play rough-and-tumble games with Nick and Henry. 

Auntie Mandy got Henry to grin really big! (Well, it was that or the chocolate.)

This is the only picture I could find with my sister in it. From left: me, my mother, my sister, and my grandmother.

As I was writing this tonight, Henry looked at the picture below and told me, "That's me! I was waving and Nick kicked me."

Our Easter was pretty fun, but it was also exhausting. Everyone but Greg fell asleep in the car, and he probably would've too, if he hadn't been driving.