Monday, January 28, 2008

Back to Reality

Shortly after we returned from vacation, our days of complete lollygagging came to an end as I started up a new semester at school and Colin got his own little nose back to the grindstone (because preschool is serious business, of course). At any rate, our last days of complete "freedom" were well-spent.

First off, Eamon had his very first haircut, a major milestone of all our furry boys at about this juncture in life. Being the third, I of course, forgot to bring the camera to the hair salon. He was superbly behaved and only squeaked once when he got buzzed along the back of his ragamuffin neck.

Transformed from shaggy to chic!

Between the penguins we saw in Montreal and an Arctic project Colin started at school this week... igloos seemed to be on the big boys minds recently. So we spent a morning out building our own. Then they spent the rest of the day firing snowballs at it, trying to knock it down. Poor Colin did lament that the slightly warmer weather melted it a few days later, but it was fun while it lasted.

By the time it was done, you could just BARELY see the tip of Liam's hat poking over the top of the "snowball house" as he called it! In all honesty, I just didn't have the engineering skills to figure out how to enclose the roof so we left it topless. I really need to study up on my Inuit trades, I guess.

No week of fun could be complete without a trip to Chuck E Cheese. Here Liam and Ana had a battle of the sexes at the fire hose game. Liam spent 90% of his tokens on this game and the rest on basketball--unfortunately he was about four feet too short to have a prayer of getting a shot in the basket, but that didn't bother him a bit.

Colin has a penchant for roller coasters and he and Bradley tried out every single course on this virtual ride. How many years left until I have to worry about him out on the real deal?

Fierce competition at air hockey. At least it kept them
from beating each other up... momentarily.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Time to play dress-up!!!

Getting the bigger two boys ready for bed is, more often than not, a seemingly random set of events that, at best, results in the boys making it to their beds, properly clothed, cleaned and teeth in good order. Oddly enough, mimicking the dog's activities on any given evening usually produces the best bedtime results for the children.

At any rate, I was expecting to travel next week for work and was going to start selecting clothes and, for once, being properly packed, well in advance of arriving at the airport, as opposed to needing to rush to the nearest department store before a meeting and procure new socks or a belt or whatever it is I failed to bring. The process tonight was a dry run which involved my suitcase while matching shirts, suits and neckties. I typically wear a suit to work but...

The boys were not terribly familiar with neckties and therefore immediately pounced on them.
  1. What were they for?
    My initial answer was..."uh...nothing useful" which they didn't care for and pestered me until I came out with something more believable. I tried "useless fashion accessories that get trapped in factory equipment" but stopped myself before allowing the gory details to come to light. That said, I had to look it up myself:

    "Croatian soldiers served in many European armies since the seventeenth century. So in the French army in the 17th century, during the reign of Louis XIII, there was a cavalry composed exclusively of the Croats, called Royal - Cravate, which existed in the period of 1664-1789. These soldiers gave the world something that is today unavoidable in fashion: the tie, called la cravate by the French and by the Germans die Krawatte - the expression was coined from the Croatian name, and mentioned for the first time in 1651."
  2. How do they work?
    Two ways and two ways only: the classic Windsor knot and the Shelby, so long as it has a proper dimple or "la sorchetta". Anything else begs to be laughed at. So there!
  3. Does Mama wear one?
    We're not at the point in your short little life where we talk about Mama's and Dada's dress-up games.
  4. Does Clara have one?
    Yes, but we call it a leash, mon petit choux. Otherwise she would be ridiculed by the other neighborhood dogs like poor, poor Max.

Anyway, Colin and Liam had great fun (Liam more than Colin, interestingly enough) having neckties before bed and claiming that they could now come to work with me. Liam now has his own tie (yellow, of course) but Colin seems wary of the whole idea and couldn't even be convinced to wrap a noose...ooops, sorry...necktie...around his trusty monkey doll.

Maybe he understands more of the world than I do?

And seriously, the pink/salmon shirt/tie combo may look a bit off but it really goes well with a dark brown suit ;)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Les Vacances Quebecoises!

We did the unthinkable and took the boys on a six-hour car trek to Montreal for the better part of this past week. They actually were amazingly well-behaved, much better than at home! I asked Colin what his favorite part was and he just keeps saying "All of it!". From their reactions, they seemed to like the elevator and the key cards in the hotel the best out of everything. Every SINGLE time Liam opened the door with the keycard, he let out a soft, awed "Wow!" The first morning after we arrived and they woke up in the hotel room, they asked if it was "time to go back to our yellow house now?" For them, the hotel itself with its tiny fridge and French TV was more exciting than any museum or attraction they saw after it. Next time, Chris and I vow we're just going to rent a room at the closest Motel 6 and let them have at it.

Two of the biggest attractions at the hotel were the elephants at the entrance and the elevator. Hours and hours of fun to be had there.

Liam got so good at "surfing" on the Metro that he could do it "all by mine self!"

We ate one night at St. Hubert, a Canadian chain restaurant kind of like a glitzy KFC meets Cheesecake Factory. The decor was sort of fancy, the food was adequate (and had animal-shaped chicken for the kids, oh, the joy!) and miraculously, especially after a long day out sight-seeing, it had a PLAY ROOM. Why every restaurant in the U.S. doesn't have one of these is beyond me. We got there early for dinner and got seated right next to the play area where we could see the kids, they could play blocks and gawk at Dora the Explorer in French (the trilingual irony!) and we could enjoy our wine (yes, WINE, at a fast-food BBQ chicken place. Again, why doesn't KFC do THAT???) Enjoy, that is, until Eamon threw up and we finally called it a night.
(Did I mention we had a crappy--no pun intended-- stomach bug the first few days? Thanks, Kel!)

Elevators aside, the next best thing on the kids' fun list was probably the Biodome. It has four complete ecosystems set up in what used to be the velodrome built for the 1976 Montreal Olympics. The boys pretended they were on "Rocket" and zooming all over the world as we went from one climate to another and very much enjoyed all they saw. Liam particularly liked the fish in the Tropical Rain Forest, and they both went nuts over the penguins in the Arctic. They slid down the kid-size slides in the Laurentian forest and were lucky enough to catch an otter sliding down his own slide seconds later!

The big boys overlooking a beautiful scene depicting the St. Lawrence marine ecosystem, complete with seagulls and a pretend sunset.

We were lucky enough to be in town during the special "Caillou" exhibit which was directed towards preschoolers. Colin has seen the show a time or two, and Chris and I always wondered why we thought it was a bit "strange". Now we know: it's Canadian! If you've never had the pleasure of catching an episode, it's about a whiny bald four year old boy and his lack of adventures. At any rate, Caillou did help walk the kids through the different ecosystems and introduced them to the native Innu people so it was informative. We also got to meet Caillou in person, but much like Santa, the big boys were leery of large strangely-dressed individuals and only Eamon would let the big bald guy touch him. Truth be told, we hope poor Caillou couldn't smell a darn thing through that costume because at that precise moment Eamon let loose with another diaper full of filth from his crummy stomach bug. Caillou didn't seem to notice, thankfully.

Liam with Caillou and his Innu friend, Maniss. At the end of the last exhibit, they had a great kids play area with all kinds of Innu stuff set up. It was really nicely done and the kids loved it.

Eamon gets cozy in an Innu tent.

Eamon discovers the cute boy in the mirror!

Liam shows his prowess at fishing in the stream. He then cooked his catch over the "fire" with some veggies. This kid also loves anything cooking or kitchen-related. He is his father's son!

Eamon keeps the wildlife in check.

The Biodome also had a real beaver lodge in the St. Lawrence marine area with a camera inside so you could watch the inner workings of the dam. Colin found the pretend version just as intriguing and brought his own catch of fish inside!

We walked the entire length of St. Catherine Street the next day. I mean the ENTIRE way, from the sex shops to the couture shops. We also ate at a great old school diner called Reuben's Deli.

Eamon had his first sip of beer, and this is what he thought of it! (It was empty, okay?)

On our last morning, Eamon finally felt well enough to eat something and we really
owed the cleaning staff an extra tip for the cracker caper that ensued.

We spent an afternoon at the Musee des Beaux-arts. The boys mostly enjoyed it (with a few "I Spy" games to keep things interesting). And Liam summed up my opinion of most modern sculpture when he exclaimed: "Look, Mama, a big potty!"

Okay, so Ben&Jerry's isn't Canadian, but we weren't THAT far from VT. Also, the boys needed incentive to make it through a lunch at the Winston Churchill Pub, a very upscale place on Crescent Street, which, to the best of my research, has NOTHING to do with Winston Churchill despite the name and decor. They did have excellent food, waitresses in short, flimsy black attire, a raging cocktail party going on at 11:30am, and no changing stations in the bathrooms. Can you blame us for bribing them with ice cream if they could make it through just ONE Mommy and Daddy-style lunch?

The men take to the streets.
As an aside, our last night we found a local restaurant within walking distance of our hotel called Pacini's. It's an Olive Garden-esque chain restaurant, but with really good food. And curiously, their claim to fame is an all-you-can-eat Bread Bar where you go up, select your bread, add one of a number of flavored butters and then toast it on a huge community grill. Needless to say, the kids were thrilled with the whole process and Liam was in all his glory, being the Toast-Master that he is. I forgot to bring the camera, but fun was had by all and we got to enjoy a right nice dinner to boot.

Au revoir, Montreal! We had fun!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Holiday Wrap-up 2007

On our way out to church on Christmas Eve, I spied this scene amidst the kids'
stuff. I suppose Mary and Joseph would have appreciated the lift
from Santa on his gift train. Much comfier than the donkey.

All dressed up and looking handsome!
And JUST like his Daddy!

Emme tries her hand at keeping the Big Chunk in one place!

A change of outfit for my little Santa Baby.
Erin is this official baby holder of the moment.

Eamon finds his favorite lap for a little visit with Grammy!

Christmas Eve at Uncle Mikey's is a little Eamon-heavy on pictures.
The big boys disappeared with their cousins and I found out why!
Who needs new toys when Harry has all these cool things to play with?

It's hard to look menacing while chomping a cookie!

The big kids taught Colin how to track
Santa's movements around the globe.

Santa finally arrived and a VERY tired little elf
wonders where his own beard could be?

The Tree of Plenty
Christmas morning at our house was an exercise in (over) abundance!

Liam was very methodical this year and had more fun carting his gifts
around (especially in his new dump truck) than opening them!

Clara enjoyed her stocking stuffers too!

Eamon enjoyed eating all of his gifts.
Note: I'm not putting up the million pictures of him
being pissed when we took wrapping paper
(aka manna) out of his mouth.

The morning ended on a wondrous note when the boys discovered their
new doll house! They really love it and have had big adventures
such as "taking the pets to the vet", bringing the "trashcan to the dump"
and "putting the baby on his changing table". All of these things
are particularly fun in "doll house world". How many years until I
have to give them an allowance to get these chores done in real life???

The Christmas festivities moved next to Grammy and Grampy's house.
Check out their little Italian boy on his first Christmas!

Look quickly and see if you can count all 10 grandkids.
Five minutes after this you wouldn't have found
a one of them amid the unwrapping disaster zone!

We celebrated New Years at Joan and Eddie's with lasagna and chicken soup
for the grown-ups but Colin was a little confused about the holiday.
He decided that we needed a birthday cake "for the world".
It took three cans of frosting, three types of sprinkles and a billion candles
to make it right. (They form "2008" on top, but almost started
an inferno when we tried to light them all)

More gifts! Colin proudly shows off his new
favorite movie,courtesy of Auntie Joan and Uncle Eddie.
He really does have a penchant for cooking and when he was
choosing careers before bed last night, the only one
he could think of that topped Chef in terms of fun was
a Firefighter. I guess it is hard to resist ladders and fire hoses.

More fun with bows.
He's a mix between a Baby New Year and a warped Flapper.

Liam and Auntie Kelly put their mitts up for some New Years Day boxing.

Liam showed that the best presents come in reused bags with big shiny bows!

Eamon takes a well-deserved nap with Viriginia.
Fortunately, he never lacks for a lap to sit on!

Erin, Nat and Silas came to visit from California!
Silas and Eamon had a lot to talk about.
Mainly, Eamon gave his tips on how to keep his hair neatly coiffed and
Silas offered pointers about how to crawl and cruise around on things!

Nat helps the boys play almost nicely together!
I think this was before Liam gave Colin a bloody nose. (No, seriously.)