Monday, December 7, 2015

Nick's Holiday Concert

Nick had his first school concert a few weeks ago, and we were really proud of him. We got him a fancy new tie for the ocassion, and Grandma Toni found the grown-up man's shirt for him.

Note the jealous little brother behind Nick.

He was even chosen as one of the speakers (probably because he has inherited his mom's loud voice).

I think he did pretty well as a first-grade public speaker.

Can you see Nick in the front row, in the red shirt? He certainly wasn't being shy!

Nick's concert involved some very creative pieces--like the one below, played on kazoo. I think it's probably the best-sounding instrument a herd of first graders can play.

Can you hear Nick's voice over the other kids? I can, but I'm his mother. I think I'm supposed to be able to pick his voice out of a crowd.

We were very proud of all of Nick's hard work getting ready for this concert. Even Henry sat in awe for the whole concert.  :)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving 2015

I hope everyone had a happy and calorie-filled Thanksgiving. We started out our day by watching the parade and checking out the floats and the dancing and singing.

Ahh, Thanksgiving. A time for watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade and drawing on your brother's forehead with a marker. Or maybe that is just a Nick and Henry thing.

After the parade, I got everyone bathed (and all the marker washed off) and dressed for our Thanksgiving dinner. We hosted, and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law came by with Sophie, Nick and Henry's cousin. The boys were supposed to help by snapping the stems off of the green beans.

I'm afraid they mostly just ate raw green beans and played with them, though. They especially got a kick out of making green mustaches.

They each ate several handfuls of green beans. Oh, well. At least they like vegetables.

When Sophie arrived, she was very interested in petting Miss Molly. I even got her to smile!

She sat and watched Nick color, and then tried to copy him using a pen.

Nick also showed her how to use an Ipad, and she liked it. Henry was very jealous. In fact, I believe he was in time out when this picture was taken, for trying to get the Ipad (and the attention) for himself.

Stuffed and sleepy from the triptophan, we relaxed on the couch. Happy Thanksgiving!

Henry snuck into the fridge and ate an entire pint of raspberries. That's why his mouth is all red.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Nick's 7th Birthday!

It's hard to believe, but Nicholas turned 7 today. I picked up an Oreo cake to celebrate, and it was super sweet!

For his birthday, Nick asked for music lessons. We signed him up for a weekly exploratory class where he's trying out guitar, keyboard, vocals, and drums. He likes them all, but he really likes drums. Sigh. Of course he does.

I have to say, with direction (at least during class), he didn't sound too bad.

Now, his garbage can drum reportoire needs a bit of work, but that's okay.

We got Nick his own set of drumsticks. He spent a good hour outside this afternoon playing the drums on these overturned garbage cans. Oh yes, he will be playing in the garage. I'm not totally nuts.

Oreo cake and some, ahem, interesting music on a Tuesday night. Not too shabby for a young man's 7th birthday.

Henry kept trying to steal the Oreos off the top of the cake.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Pumpkin Carving!

On Saturday we decided to carve our pumpkins. Okay, Greg helped the boys carve their pumpkins. I took pictures and gave color commentary.

Nick's pumpkin had a really long stem, though Henry's was somewhat fatter. Both pumpkins had plenty of pumkin guts, though.

Henry has kind of a tradition of putting the pumpkin top on his head like a hat.

Nick did it, too.

They both loved touching and playing with the gooey goop.

I think Greg did a nice job carving them.

As traditions go, this is a pretty messy one, but the boys remember from year to year. Henry told me, "We have to take pictures out on the porch with our pumpkins!"

So we did.  :)

Halloween is almost here! Can you see all the decorations Henry made with window markers? Those are his "spooky drawings."

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pumpkin Farm!

Today we went to Heap's Giant Pumpkin Farm out in Minooka. The weather couldn't have been any more perfect, and the boys were ecstatic once they realized that this was the farm with the CORN BINS! (They never say corn bins without shouting for joy.)

We started out with a hayride out to the pumpkin patch.

There were some interesting, colorful, and warty specimens out in the patch. I think we visited later than in previous years--that's why the pumpkins were more spread out and the vines mostly dead.

After the pumpkin patch, the boys hit the climbing area. They ran around and climbed for probably an hour. I was very surprised they didn't go to sleep faster tonight, after all the running around they did.

The corn, though, was their favorite. I think they'd still be there now if we would've let them stay and jump in it for longer. We had to leave eventually because the hay was irritating my asthma.

If it wasn't for the whole asthma thing, I think a corn bin in our garage would be a perfect distractor. Of course, getting the corn and the hay dust cleaned up is quite a challenge. It gets in all the crevices.

After corn time, we visited the farm animals before heading out. They were pretty friendly, though I have no idea why, considering how many families were there bothering them.

Who cares if you've got a little donkey fur on your sweatshirt, especially when you already are covered in hay dust and corn?

Though we had a good time, all that fresh air, hay dust, and running around made me pretty tired. It's hard to believe we just had the last weekend before Halloween.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Fire Safety Plan

Last week Henry's homework assignment was to go over our fire safety plan. He drew it all by himself!

Notice our family holding hands in the house.

 Check out his artistic skills!

We were supposed to practice having him telling about our plan. Henry and I practiced a lot, though he kept getting distracted.  Here's what he came up with for a plan. Note his mention both of the firemen and the "fire ladies."

Henry does have a plan for how to get out. I wouldn't call him a fire safety expert, but he's well on his way!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Nick Takes the Lead at Storytime

Nick has been learning to read more and more this year. He struggles with low frustration tolerance, but just recently I've seen him reading (and even sounding out words) on his own.

Nick even brought a book into the bagel shop the other day!

Tonight he actually volunteered to read a book to Henry for storytime. Here's Nick reading. He knows the story well, but he was finger tracking, self-correcting, and really reading.  I'm so proud of him.  :)

After he read us this story (I love Mo Willems), I read him an old favorite, The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton. Henry was pretty tired and passed out right away, but Nick stayed up reading and rereading The Little House. He read mostly from memory I stayed upstairs on the futon (reading a book myself), and every few minutes Nick would spell a word and ask for help with it from up in his bunk bed. "Mom, what word is s-t-r-o-n-g?"

I know the battle isn't over, and I'm sure there will be more battles to come whenever Nick isn't "in the mood" to read, but it was such a relief to see him reading (and enjoying) a great book of his own volition. I'm a die hard bibliophile. To be honest, I read 4-8 books a week, and more than that in the summer. While I don't need my kids to be just like me, I've worried as I watched Nick struggle with reading this last year. It felt really good to listen to Nick up in his bed, sneaking in a few extra minutes of reading. I think I'm going to go out and buy every Mo Willems book ever published.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Tour of a. . . Wastewater Treatment Plant?

Yup. That's what we did on Saturday. My mom and stepdad live up in Carol Stream, and since my mom works for the public works department, she heard about this event, the WRC Open House. I heard that pumpkins, ice cream, and balloons were involved, so we showed up right on time. It was very chilly and windy, though, so everyone had long-sleeved shirts plus sweatshirts on. Brr!

They did indeed give away pumpkins, but they also showed us things like the microscopes and test tubes that they use for checking the water as it is being treated. The boys had lots of questions, all about where everything goes when they flush the toilet.

Henry liked watching the machines that spun around. "Tornadoes!" he said.

They also took us on a hayride tour of the facilities, which were less, er, odifereous than one would expect. It was quite nice where the cleaned water is released into a creek. We even saw fish and ducks hanging around.

Did you know that they add oxygen to the water before adding it to the creek? I guess that's why the fish like hanging out right near where the treated water is released into the creek.

Henry and Nick were interested in all of the buttons and gauges where they add the oxygen. Nick says he wants to be a scientist. "But not the kind who does poop stuff. That's disgusting. The kind who works with microscopes and stuff."

After our hayride, we had ice cream and then headed to the "touch-a-truck" event. They had some pretty huge specimens, and the boys were all kinds of excited as they raced from truck to truck.

Nick's favorite was this big truck, and he kept going back to crawl inside. What was he most fascinated by? On some of the trucks there was a handle and you could roll the window down! Awesome! Amazing! Weird, even! On the way home I told Nick that until I was in my mid-20s, nearly every car I got inside had roll-down windows. He didn't believe me.

Henry preferred a more rugged sort of vehicle. This one was his vehicle of choice. Grandma Linda got to drive this one a few years back, so I think it's her favorite, too.

He even did a little song and dance while way up there.

Grandpa's favorite was this helicopter. They use it to spray standing water in the summer to keep the mosquitoes down. After the boys had their turn pretending to drive it, Grandpa Ray took his own turn behind the wheel.

Henry wasn't keen on sitting in front of this huge snowplow. He might not be thankful now, but he'll sure be thankful for the snowplows once winter hits! (Or maybe not. Henry loves playing in the snow, so being stuck at home wouldn't be a bad thing for him.)

Here's Henry at the wheel. He said, "It's just for pretend though. I can't drive for real. Not until I'm big." Good thing, too, the way he maneuvers his toy cars around.

For something that sounded initially kind of lame, this event ended up being pretty awesome.

The boys got goodie bags and taffy apples to take home. When we ate them later on, both of them were shocked that there was an actual apple inside. What, did they think there was fake apple flavoring inside? A sweet ending to a chilly but entertaining day.