Monday, July 25, 2016

A week in Edmonton

Earlier this month the boys and I flew to Edmonton where we met up with Spencer to visit with his family. On the way to our gate the boys found these cheese items. The expressions on their faces not only reflect their delight with their accessories but also with the prospect of seeing Dad.

We wound up in First Class on our short flight from Milwaukee to Minneapolis (long story) and Peter settled right in to his solo seat by the window.

It was a busy week seeing family and friends. It was great to be able to see everyone (if only briefly) and to catch up.

Toward the end of our visit Peter wrenched his neck in the wee small hours of the morning. After a trip to the ER (before we knew it was a wrenched neck) Peter started his recovery off on the right foot with a batch of watermelon cookies.  He spent most of the rest of the day with a make-shift neck brace.

Though Henry was otherwise engaged Eliot and Peter enjoyed getting an update from Auntie Patti and Uncle Aaron and watching videos of leaping into water to fetch.

Making watermelon cookies (the one chock-a-block seeds was Peter's and he wasn't letting anyone forget it)
Meeting the pilot and making sure everything is ship shape.

Like any siblings Eliot and Peter have their moments of strife, but at the end of the day they're buddies. On the plane ride home Eliot's nose started to bleed just as we started to taxi and the flight attendant provided us with a wad of napkins and a bag of ice. Peter was charged with holding the ice pack against Eliot's neck (to help him cool down) and was happy to help his brother--though it didn't slow him down on the iPad.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Our Little Graduate

This past Thursday we attended a very special event. Peter and his classmates at the YMCA's Early Learning Center were being honored as they finish up the year. A graduation ceremony was held for those who will be moving into Kindergarten next year. Peter has loved the days he has spent with his teachers and friends. He was very excited to have his picture taken with his teacher, Ms Becca. He has learned a lot and is looking forward to starting a new chapter in his education next fall.

Peter was the first to take the stand and accept his certificate. The teachers gave a little blurb about each child and in Peter's case they talked about how he had started out as the quietest child in the class but had blossomed into quite the chatter-box and that they were very proud of him. 

We are proud of him too. He is such a fun, surprising little guy. When he saw us in the audience his face lit up with totally uninhibited delight. He has the best laugh and very expressive hand gestures which he uses to emphasize almost everything he says. His imagination is boundless. The other day he told me that the night before he had had a nightmare that a monster was chasing him a trying to eat him but that he had somehow realized that the monster only wanted to play and be friends. So now they're great friends and meet up every night in Dreamland to play. The monster's name is Max.

Peter and Eliot are excited to be attending the same school next year. I'm sure that Peter will continue to blossom there are well. 

Congratulations Peter!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A hard afternoon's work

My parents are adding a garden to their backyard and in these parts that means a garden fence to protect the harvest from roving herds of deer. My parents hired a crew led by the boys' personal hero--Jim Anderson--to build a fence with a gate. The gate required a frame, which required cement, which required a shortened school-day for Eliot and Peter so that they could watch, help and scavenge cool things like blocks of scrap wood and globs of wet cement. I mean, this was the real deal.

Eliot helps dump cement mix into the wheelbarrow. Peter watches and waits for his chance to add a dandelion to the mix because, well, why not.

Eliot and Peter took turns adding water.

Working together to blend the water with the cement.

Scoop.

And plop. 
Eliot did a pretty good job maneuvering his shovel and Peter got in on the action too.

Peter kicking back with some apple juice and some Winnie the Pooh tunes. A well earned rest.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Peter is 5!!

Last week Peter transformed from his former 4-year-old self to a brand new 5-year-old self! He's just as sweet and feisty as he always was but now it's takes a whole hand-full of fingers to show someone his age. This is pretty exciting.

Eliot wasn't sure what kind of cake he wanted though he knew that he wanted chocolate involved. I'd found a cake recipe on Pinterest that I was wanting to try I Peter is my banana bread junkie, so I made a Brown Butter Banana Cake with Salted Dark Chocolate Ganache. It was a hit.

Making wishes and blowing out candles is big work but Peter paused in his candle-snuffing to pose for a couple of shots.

Eliot was eager to help Peter open his presents. Peter was an excellent sport. Peter's no push-over and it's always fun to see them getting along well.

Peter was delighted with his gifts and cards. His reading skills are coming along and he was able to sound out a lot of the birthday messages.

Peter loves books. If you're going on a long drive and you need Peter to be quiet and good in the car, just hand him a copy of "Lunch Lady" or "Elephant and Piggie" or "Gollie and Bink" or any book that's new to him, and you're looking at a good 30 minutes of peace and quiet while he pours over the pages. I was home from work today and with Eliot attending his last day of school before Spring break Peter and I had the day to spend together. It was a yucky/sleety/snowy/rainy day so Peter I headed to the library. While we're their he likes to play with the Thomas train table and other toys but when we got home it was time to snuggle down with some of the books we brought home and have a good read.

Peter has also been working on expanding his List of Foods He's Willing to Eat. He's caught on to an idea that Eliot picked up from school that if he tries something 8 times he'll like it. This morning he announced that he likes everything, except casserole. Then he added that he has tasted casserole once so if he takes 7 more bites he'll like it! Did mention he also really likes numbers?

He's a sweet, fun little guy and we love him so much!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Eliot is 7!!

Eliot has been looking forward to his birthday for some time now. His birthday landed on a Saturday this year so as a treat to him we stuck around the house where he could have the day to play and imagine with Peter. He loved it.

For his birthday dinner Eliot requested tacos and a lemon meringue cake. He still loves sushi (still pronounces is "shushi") and will gobble down just about anything you put in front of him.

This was taken at a dinner out that we had when Spencer was in town at the end of February. It was an outing to celebrate what a good job Eliot and Peter had been doing with following directions and cooperating. Just before I took the picture I asked Eliot how he was doing. He gave me the thumbs up and said "good"--which accounts for the funny half-smile.

The restaurant included a small arcade where most of the games cost 25-50 cents. Each boy was given six dollars to play with. Both boys left with more rubber balls then they know what to do with. Here Eliot is trying his skills at the pinball machine. Dad was on hand to coach and his cheek is filled with a gobstopper.

While Spencer was in town he took Eliot to a Bucks game. It was Eliot's first pro basketball game and he had a great time hanging out with Dad and staying up way past his bed time. From what I understand the giant floating bucks blimp was a major highlight.

Eliot loves to be involved in any handy work around the house. Recently the toilet seat in the half-bath needed changing and Eliot got to help Grandad switch it out. Since then he has asked me several times when the seat in the full bathroom needs to be changed.

Eliot has a thriving imagination and he and Peter will lose themselves in imaginary games in which they act out stories from TV shows or books, or come up with their own. Melting ice in the Regner Park parking lot became a water slide for sticks.

This past week they had crazy hair day at school and Eliot was very pleased to be sporting his school colors on top of his head. He's a fun, thoughtful little guy and we love him so much!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

How they're going

Now that I have a week to relax up here in Montreal and re-group, I thought I would settle in and catch up on my blog with a little update about the boys.
Eliot and Peter are a riot. They have a hard time going to sleep in the same room together so we've worked out a system where Peter goes to bed in his own bed and Eliot goes to sleep in my bed. After everyone is asleep, we move Eliot to his bed in the boys' room and everyone gets a good night's sleep. Occasionally we'll let the boys try going to sleep in the same room on a Friday night but so far we've still had to revert to our present set up. It has been smooth sailing although recently Peter has taken to sneaking out of his bed and into the room with Eliot to chat and play. The other night I found them with a book open with Eliot reading a story to Peter. I let them finish the story before taking Peter back to his bed.

The boys are getting a full dose of winter. Aunt Rissie has started a hiking club for students at the school where she teaches. A few weeks ago she invited the boys and I to join them on a candlelit hike through Horicon Marsh. Sounded like a great idea, and it was, except that we didn't realize that during the drive out to the marsh the temperature had dropped precipitously. We were grateful for the bonfires and the lodge filled with cozy activities but the boys also braved a shorter version of the hike with me. During the hike the boys took turns walking next to me so that I could cover their face with my gloved hand.


Both Eliot and Peter are taking basketball lessons at the YMCA this winter. At both levels they're working on basic skills like dribbling, passing, shooting, blocking and guarding. It will be great to have Dad in town later this month to practice with!

Last month Eliot's school put on their Winter Program which was themed "Welcome to Holiday Inn." Because I was a classic film junkie growing up I was already familiar with this Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire film. Each grade sang songs from a different holiday (Eliot sang songs about Thanksgiving with his fellow first graders) and then all of the students sang Christmas songs. The children were asked to dress in their best with the boys specifically asked to where a collared shirt with a tie. Eliot looked very sharp and quite grown up and his face beamed as he joined his friends before the show started.

I also bought a tie for Peter and both boys have been wearing their ties to church. Eliot will take his tie off as soon as he's home (or sooner) but Peter will keep his on the entire day. In fact the first day he wore it he wanted to still wear it with his pajamas when the time came to get ready for bed. Looking like a real Odd Squad agent was just too cool to give up.

Peter digging in with chop sticks. It took some convincing to get him to try the fried rice but then he gobbled it up and he declared, "Dees scwambood eggs aw deewissess!"

We went to the Domes (botanical gardens) down in Milwaukee a couple of weekends ago and the boys were delighted to find an elaborate model train system running around the center of the Show Dome. They sat for what seemed like hours and watched the trains coming and going.

We've started making smoothies with the boys and I usually make one that has blueberries, banana, spinach, oatmeal, yogurt and milk. Both boys like it but Peter in particular is a big fan. Here he's sporting his smoothie mustache.

Both Eliot and Peter love being read to. Up until recently Eliot has a hard time working up the motivation to sit down and work on reading. Being able to read stories to Peter has proven to be an effective motivator. Nothing pulls them in and calms them down quite like reading. This picture was taken at the Public Library in downtown Milwaukee. We took the boys there after the Domes visit to do some reading and pick up some books. Some of their favorites right now are "Bink and Gollie," "Frankie Pickle," and "Galaxy Zack." On the long drive home to West Bend they each sat with a book open in their lap, pouring over the words and pictures.

I love these two feisty little guys so much.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Hit the ground running.

We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Years. The boys and I were very happy to have Spencer join us. There's just no substitute for Storytime with Daddy.

Christmas morning each boy received their own personal panettone loaf and were pretty impressed.

The spy gear from Aunty Patti and Uncle Aaron went into action as quickly as we could get batteries into them. Here Peter is using the spy camera to peer around the corner and see what Daddy is up to.

Breakfast out as a family is always a special treat, especially when chocolate chip pancakes are on offer.

Learning to play a new computer game from Uncle Doug. This provided some nice quiet time for Spencer and the boys--which of course meant some nice quiet time for me :).

New Year's Eve was spent at home eating treats and donning fun glowing glasses in the dark.

Though we were all in bed by 9:30 pm it was fun thinking that 2016 was fast approaching.

Eliot read himself, and Yellow Bear, to sleep.

2016 is already off to a great start.