Tuesday, July 21, 2015

If you give Henry a house. . .

. . . he will populate it as he sees fit! Henry found this little dollhouse at a garage sale last weekend, and wanted to play with it tonight. We went looking for people to put in the dollhouse, and this is who we found. . .

Oh yeah. Football players, Star Wars action figures, Big Boots, and a giant insect. I never noticed until tonight that there isn't a single female anything in their toys. Since most of their toys were either gifts from other people or random things we picked up from garage sales, I'll have to add some females to their pile of people.

We kept putting the people in different places. This rather incongruous mix of people in such an unlikely location kept making Henry laugh. He especially liked Darth Vader sitting on the toilet with the storm troopers keeping watch in the bathtub.

Hans Solo must've had the munchies. 

Between Goodwill and various garage sales, I've really lucked out in the last week. My very best find was this playhouse, which I got delivered for $50. These things retail new for around $500, not including delivery.

Of course, they don't always play with their toys the way one would expect. . .

They treat their new home like a jungle gym, spy headquarters, and underground bunker. Hey, at least they're creative. Nick had his toy cash register in there yesterday, along with a laundry basket. Perhaps he wants to open up a laundromat?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Our Trip to Pittsburgh: Part I

This year, Greg surprised me with a little getaway to Pittsburgh for a combination birthday, Mother's Day, and Anniversary gift. We were able to have nearly four days and three nights away, sans kids, and other than the whole "sitting in a car for eight hours" part, we enjoyed every second.

Can you see the Duquesne Incline in the background? 

The weather was cool and rainy for much of the trip, but we still enjoyed walking around checking out the city. For a medium-sized city, we thought Pittsburgh was pretty neat. Oh, and the best part? Greg planned everything. He had all of the reservations done and surprised me with the trip on my birthday. I was impressed!

We spent a few hours walking down to Point State Park, which is where the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River meet to make the Ohio River. I loved all of the bridges.

Not my picture. We didn't take a helicopter ride. 

Isn't it gorgeous?

I really liked this fountain at the tip of the park, with rivers on either side and the one river ahead. The mountain in the background with all of the buildings reminded me somewhat of the Mediterranean coast. (Only somewhat. No sparkling blue waters here!) We were close enough to the park to walk from our hotel.

This, I believe, is a subway station.

Our hotel had the most beautiful architecture. I love older buildings, especially when they're maintained, and I'm so glad Greg picked this one out.

Nope. I didn't take this picture, though it is our hotel. Google Images.

We stayed at the Omni William Penn Hotel, and it was lovely and very old school. I loved the arches and chandeliers in the lobby.

This is right before we went out to dinner to celebrate our 7th Anniversary.

During our time in Pittsburgh, we spent a decent amount of time just sitting in the lobby, relaxing and people-watching. One afternoon I ordered a pot of Earl Grey and a slice of cheesecake. Ahh, the quiet. . .

Ahh, the relaxation. I miss that plus the comfy king-sized bed at the hotel.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Fourth of July 2015

Hey, it's only a week later, and here I am with pictures.  :)  

This year, we decided to go to the Lisle Eyes to the Skies Festival on the Fourth. Thank goodness, it didn't rain for once.

We picked out a perfect spot at the top of the hill. Nice view of the whole event, or so we thought, and just a short walk to the drink and food tents.

Barbeque. Yum.

It wasn't too hot or too cold, and we had a nice comfy spot. Grandma Toni had her comfy chair, and there was plenty of yummy carnival food, though there were astronomically long lines.

We ended up splitting the difference, food-wise. I waited in line for drinks and fries, and Greg waited for the barbeque.

The best part for the boys? Rolling down the back of the hill, then climbing back up and rolling down. (over and over again)


Henry was also really into climbing this tree at the top of the hill.

He's a decent climber, though he often needs a hand up to get started. He was loving being way up in the tree. . .


. . . at least until he saw a spider, and then he totally freaked out and wanted to come down. Henry does not like spiders. He does like balloons, though--especially Angry Birds Balloons.

The one thing I was very excited about was the balloon glow. I'd seen it before, back in 2013. The boys were not quite so into the balloon glow.

Nick did not like the noise of the balloons firing up, which I had forgotten from our 2013 visit. Henry didn't mind the noise, but he was hyper-focused on going on a ride at the carnival (which did not happen).

The balloon glow was pretty awesome, even over the whining.


Pretty soon it was time to head back to our hill for the fireworks.

I had thought ahead and bought glow bracelets from a discount store, so that we didn't get suckered into paying triple the price. The boys loved the glow bracelets, necklaces, and glasses.

When the fireworks started, we immediately realized that our "perfect" spot on the hill had trees blocking the entire fireworks show. Thankfully, the people in front and to the sides of us scooted over so we could see better. Considering this was the regular fireworks show (the giant one had been on the 3rd), we thought it was pretty decent.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Henry had a birthday party!

Henry turned 4, and we had a birthday party for him! It was actually a few weeks ago, but I've finally gotten around to putting together all of the pictures.

Family and friends and cupcakes, what more could a little boy want?

Wishes, of course! I think Henry got more than a few of his wishes.

I believe we were all laughing here because Henry kept incorrectly identifying the number 4. (Number Identification--on my to-do list for this summer.)

Henry's Grandma Linda and Grandpa Ray got him Cloud Cuckoo Land, which was definitely on his wish list.

Check out the adorable little lurker in the lower left corner. (Baby Sophie)

I don't even think Henry knew such a thing existed, but if he had, he would've wished for this Darth Vader suitcase from his Grandpa Jay and Grandma Linda. He got to use it last week, and he packed and unpacked it three times, he was so excited! I have to keep checking the suitcase, though, because he packs some odd things, like a single slice of cheese and some wood chips from the garden.

Henry does this thing lately, where we'll ask him to smile, and he'll do it really, really quick and then say, "Okay, that's enough." Thankfully Uncle Jay was quick and got this giant grin.

Grandpa Jay showed Henry how to play with the Barrel of Monkeys.

Ahh, the joys of dressing up. Nick and Henry were equally excited about this present because both of them got to dress up and wear Star Wars masks.

I love this picture because the boys are in their masks, totally into their roles, and Sophie is in the background, trying to join them. It's like she's saying, "Next year, I'm totally playing too!" I wonder who she'll be?

Oh, and my wish? I just wanted everyone to have a good time. I get really stressed out over parties. I know people who have that natural ability to make everyone feel comfortable and enjoy themselves, and I wish I had that ability. Henry, though, remembers all the people who came just for him and I know how special that makes him feel. He helped me pick out pictures for this post, and I was so surprised he remembered all the people who came.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day 2015

To all of the daddies, a Happy Father's Day! I'm lucky enough to be married to a spectacular daddy, who does all kinds of amazing things for his boys. I will be thrilled if our sons each grow up to be just like him.

This year, we made a special Shutterfly mug for Greg with pictures of him and the boys. Coffee is one of Greg's favorite things, so he'll get to use it quite often. Oh, and dress socks. We replaced Greg's entire collection of dress socks, because we give exciting gifts like that. I would've taken a picture but I didn't want the wonderful awesomeness of the dress socks to be too blinding. Instead, here's a video of Henry doing his happy dance for Father's Day. (Nick did some dancing, too, but he wouldn't let me get him on video.)


I made a cheesecake for Greg, too (chocolate-chip with Oreo crust), but I didn't take a picture of it because it cracked down the middle. The crack didn't inhibit the deliciousness, though, thank goodness. Yum. Anyway, here are the links for Father's Day 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010. Have I been doing this for six Father's Days? Wow. Happy Father's Day to all of the daddies and grandpas out there, especially Grandpa Mike, Grandpa Jay, and Grandpa Ray!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Star Wars Day 2015

A few weeks ago, we went to the annual Star Wars Festival in Joliet. We went in 2013 and 2014, and had a lot of fun. I really didn't want to miss it this year, even if it did overlap with one of my craziest weekends all year. (Let's just say I had hundreds of pages of final papers to grade for my grad students.) This event was a great distraction from my work, and a ton of fun for the boys.

There was no shortage of costumed ladies and gentlemen at this event, and Henry and Nick wanted to check out every last Jedi, Storm Trooper, and weirdly tattooed individual.

I'm told the guy standing next to Grandma Toni is Darth Maul. Henry was only a little afraid of him. Nick? No fear at all. The boys wanted me to dress up too, but I didn't have anything appropriate to wear, so I improvised with the Princess Leia buns.

There was so much to see, and everything was exciting to Henry. . . especially his new action figure.

I ended up missing most of the Star Wars references at this event, since I still haven't ever seen any of the movies all the way through. That doesn't seem to dampen the enthusiasm of these boys, though.

Nick found one of the dolls during the trash compactor challenge. He was very proud of himself! Henry had a costumed visitor while he was doing Death Star Bowling.

They want me to take them bowling for real, now. If this summer continues to be so rainy, we'll have lots of opportunities.


There's only one opportunity each year, though, to whack off this abominable snowman's arm with a light saber.

We got to hear some cool tunes from some interesting characters, as well.

Note the large wookie gentleman playing the guitar on the stage behind Nick.

I'd call it a fun day, although all of us (myself included) needed a nap afterwards!

Perhaps the greatest drama of our day was when we went looking for the van and couldn't find it, even when we searched the entire parking garage. Turns out there are two nearly identical-looking parking garages, just a few blocks apart. I suppose we could've used the force then.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Look who turned 4 today!

I can hardly believe it! Henry had his 4th birthday today! He was pretty excited, especially when his daddy let him pick out his own cake.

Yup. He picked a tiramisu cake. Nick insisted that it was a frappucino cake, because it tastes just like the frappucinos he likes to steal from me.

Actually, he wasn't too far off--it does have a nice coffee taste. We let the boys stay up until I got home tonight so we could all celebrate together.

I asked Henry for his feelings about turning four. Here's what he said. . .

After cake, I let the boys do some dancing before bed. Lately, we've been using a site called GoNoodle.com for dancing fun. The boys would do the dances at this site for hours if I let them! Nick's pretty smooth on the trampoline, I think. For a four-year-old, though, Henry has some amazing moves. Both of them want me to sign them up for a hip-hop dance class in the fall.

Birthday dancing for my boys? Not a bad way to end the evening.  :)