Wednesday, March 21, 2012


– Hey Seth, I has question. 
– OK, shoot.

– Why you always look so little and I look so big in the pics Mommy takes? We is more or less same size after all.
– 'Dis is good question Nate, and good question deserve good answer. Which I has of course. 

– Is fun to mess with Mommy sometimes, 'dat's why! 'Dis my little grin I like to make when I is pulling pranks. And I pull a few in new video that Mommy post today.
– 'Dat is good answer, Seth. Of course, I go with my Michigan J. Frog impression as usual*. I doesn't like to disappoint.

- L.

PS. Seth is reading letters off the Cheerios box, which both my boys do with great fervor every time we have Cheerios with our breakfast. For some reason when I decided to finally drag out the camera today to record this tried-and-true event, "C" got replaced with "S" and an extra "E" found its way in there somehow.

PPS. It's March and unseasonably warm, but nothing would do this morning other than their "Christmas shirts!". It was cool enough in the house at that point so it wasn't a problem per se. Still, I think they might be joining the infamous orange shirts in short order.

*Nate has been a bit of a Michigan J. Frog on camera of late, which is a bit of a surprise coming from a future theatre major. I think it has something to do with his recent discovery of a "boy" in the camera, but that's a post for another day.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dining Out

Since we used up most of our free crayons from our previous venture out into the big world of family-friendly restaurants (which also happened to be our very first venture out into the big world of family-friendly restaurants), it was high time for a Part II adventure.

Unfortunately there isn't much available in our neighborhood that's family friendly that also isn't fast-food, so we revisited the same restaurant due to it's only-game-in-town proximity.

The restaurant? Swiss Chalet.

• • • • • • •

A small caveat: I worked at a Swiss Chalet while going to college. My shifts were for the most part not long enough to get a proper break with a meal, but the couple times they were I found their food landed like lead in my stomach. I've never been a big fan – including the times I've been dragged there by a rabid Swiss Chalet lover as a proper customer.

That said, there are far too many die-hard Swiss Chalet fans to make my dining experience anything other than a personal anecdote. Food preferences aside, I can also say that having worked in a few chain restaurants during my teens and early twenties, no one had it more together regarding food safety than the Chalet. Their standards are impeccable and their food for the most part is simply made and relatively healthy.

There is no accounting for their signature sauce however. I have no idea why people go bananas for it. A customer once commented that it tasted like mothballs and although it was still a few months before I tried it for the first time myself I'd have to agree that his description was fairly spot-on.

It was one of the few items at Swiss Chalet that wasn't made from actual ingredients in the restaurant, but rather came in powdered form in a mysterious bag, which should tell you something.

Seriously, stay away from that stuff.

And thus ends my caveat (which turned out to be not-so-small after all), and on with the dining out experiences...

• • • • • • • 

The first time I took my boys out was early February when Gamma Rita was still in town. We were fully prepared to exit if the experience was met with tears – and although there was a moment of doubt when it came time to get everyone seated in unfamiliar high-chairs, it turned out to be a better-than-expected venture.

Although I think the crayons were a selling point:

And the space where the tables met that was somehow perfectly positioned to shove said crayons down also had its appeal:

Of course there were other distractions which, at the time, we all assumed had to do with other patrons enjoying their lunch and a curious toddler:

It's hard to believe that was only 8 weeks ago when it was still technically winter here (we didn't really have winter this year, but it was February at the time) and also pre-haircuts. It seems like ages ago and I can't believe how much my boys have grown in such a short span of time.

But I digress.

Last night M. and I revisited Swiss Chalet after a play in the park for supper.

The boys weren't as taken with the crayons this time since we have plenty of crayons at home.

Oh. Crayons.

Still, we kept everyone distracted with a trip to the potty while we waited for our meals to arrive. Of course, once said meals arrived, Seth found a distraction of his own:

And unlike our previous visit where I assumed he was being a looky-loo in general, this time the source of his distraction turned out to be rather obvious:

Some might say a little too obvious. 

Hey cutie! Get back here – I not done with you yet!

• • • • • • •

Nate also had a similar reaction to the crayons:

Oh. Crayons.

At least until he discovered the ketchup that was well within his reach:

He admired that bottle as much as it is possible to admire a bottle of ketchup until the food arrived. 

And then he tucked in proper:

I'm fairly certain that his meal was at least 50% ketchup, but since it's technically a vegetable by some standards, we all did our best to look the other way.

- L.

PS. It's been tough on a first-time and last-time Mommy acknowledging that my babies are no longer babies.

Still, when I catch a moment like this it's impossible not to wax nostalgic: 

I'm not entirely sure that there won't always be moments like these that take me back in an instant to when they were barely born. A casual sweep of the eye and I'm right there all over again.


Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Patrick's Day: Round Up

Crafts and fingerpaints and fake mustaches aside, we did not call it quits there – although we could have and it still would have been a fine celebration.

However it wouldn't have been a special occasion without some special occasion cookies, so I made some:

And as if that wasn't enough I took things a step further and made this delightful mess: 

Try to suppress your gag reflex, everyone!

It's actually just vanilla pudding with green food coloring – and while I realize it looks completely awful, it turned out to be pretty much the best dessert EVER to a couple of toddlers: 

– Best dessert EVER, everyone!

No one was even acknowledging their shamrock cookies, despite "shamrock" being the word of the day.

So basically gross = awesome goodness if you are two and the endless chorus last night of "Green pudding! Green pudding delicious!" confirms that.

• • • • • • • 

Earlier in the day I was trying to get some pics of the boys sporting their St. Patrick's Day themed t-shirts, some of which ended up in this post.

Here are the rest (the majority of which took place while making carrot soup): 

 - L. 

PS. Both of my boys' hair photographs redder than it actually is. Seth's hair mostly appears a shade or two darker in photos, but is definitely red under any lighting conditions in real life. Nate's hair is darker and in real life is probably closest to this color minus 25% red. In regular indoor lighting or on an overcast day his hair might appear to be light brown to the casual observer. The right lighting on the other hand shows off his ginger tendencies nicely – however, direct sunlight + my camera makes it look like he's been sampling from the home hair color aisle. Or is possibly wearing a wig. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patrick's Day: The OP Gets Artsy

For the life of me I have no idea what possessed me to try out fingerpaints for the first time yesterday, especially since markers have been enough of a challenge.

Also we don't have any fingerpaint.

It was kind of a spur of the moment type thing, but it turns out that there are endless ways to make your own paint out of stuff you already have in your kitchen. And if you're limited on time like me because you decided to do it at nearly the last minute and don't have time for the stovetop paint-making recipes (which would involve cooling time and such), here's the one we went with in a nutshell:

• Combine 1 egg yolk* and 1/4 cup water. Add food coloring. Get painting.

And we did!

Markers or paints, I have to say my boys sure do love the Jackson Pollock approach

- L.

PS. I scanned some of the boys' finished works of art and while they look lovely, they don't show off the surprisingly cool feature of painting with egg yolk. I did my best to take a photo of it though:

It was hard to catch the light and take a pic, but egg yolk dries with a nice sheen and just a small amount of iridescence.

PPS. I would definitely do this project again. It was a less messy than markers (really!) and more fun for my boys than crayons.

• • • • • • • 

*The recipe indicated using 1 egg yolk per color, but I'd recommend halving the yolk/water mixture before adding food coloring. Really, a little goes a long way (even with two very busy painters).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day: The OP Gets Crafty

This was our very first craft type project, so I wasn't sure what to expect – but the boys had a great time and it really did turn out nicely.

Perhaps a little too nicely.

We got started on our own version of this project yesterday. I went digging around in the Crayolas to see what we had available which amounted to one green crayon and one blue-green crayon (which was certainly more blue than green), but then I discovered some dark green crayons we took home the one time the boys and I ate in a restaurant* so it started to seem a bit more do-able.

I added some white and what turned out to be indigo (the "blue" crayons from the aforementioned restaurant) and we were good to go.

There aren't any pictures of my guys actually getting crafty since I didn't have enough hands to also hold a camera, but it was both a fun and reasonably civilized time decorating wax paper with crayon shavings ("spa-rinkles", anyone?).

I pressed the paper last night after the boys went to bed and cut out shamrocks while they ate breakfast this morning. Word of the day today was definitely "shamrock". Also, they seemed pretty excited to see the "paper" they made.

I strung everything together while Nate and Seth napped this afternoon. I'm not sure Martha Stewart would approve of my use of ordinary kitchen string, but it's what we went with**:

I hung up the finished product in their favorite looking-out window. It was still fairly overcast*** at this point and the camera (or my skills with the camera) didn't capture how pretty it really was. 

I couldn't wait for everyone to get up and see the finished result.

Of course, they were suitably impressed****.

Perhaps a little too impressed as it turned out:

Er... so 'dis not part of craft-time then? 'Cause I feels pretty crafty right now.

- L. 

PS. Since Martha lives in a world where things turn out perfectly, she forgot to mention that you might need to take another quick pass with your iron after you cut out your shapes. Otherwise, this was a great craft and really turned out nicer than I was able to photograph.

• • • • • • • 

*No, I haven't gotten around to that post yet.

**Everything about this project was pretty easy, except for stringing it together. Kitchen string aside, I need to get some better skills in this area since the stringing took longer than the rest of the project combined.

***Also, my windows are dirty.

****They had it off the window faster than you can say "shamrock".

Happy St. Patrick's Day Everyone!

The boys kicked off the celebration by donning some festive mustaches after lunch: 

Which they got a pretty big kick out of:

Of course it was only a matter of time before Nate "went there": 

You did see that coming, right?

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

- L.

PS. Lots of fun stuff coming up. I think it's safe to say we did St. Patrick proud this year.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Crash Positions

As much as I'd love to report that the transition from cribs to beds has been incident-free, you already know that's not the case.

Daylight savings time turned out to be an unexpected curve ball. I should really check the news more often since I think we could have waited at least a few more weeks to switch things over, and I would have chosen to do so in retrospect had I been aware of it's imminent arrival. Of course, the late-night poltergeists and a bit of general illness this past week hasn't helped our cause either.

I served lunch at our usual time today, but it was too late.

Seth pushed his plate away two bites in and assumed the "crash position":

He looked surprisingly comfy and I knew if I woke him up to take him to bed it would be game over. 

Of course, 5 minutes later Seth showed me what comfy really looks like:

And while I'd normally agree that a hard wooden table doesn't look like the most comfortable place to take a nap, I also have to acknowledge that Pickles is the cuddle toy of choice when it's time to go to sleep. You do the math.

Bedtime tonight also yielded a bit of a surprise, although after last night you'd think not so much – except that tonight was the first time I've found Seth in Nate's bed (or rather, the bed formerly known as Seth's bed): 

I'll admit I'm halfway curious about pulling up the covers some night and leaving them wherever I find them – and perhaps someday soon I will. I loved their bedsharing days so much – maybe even more than they did – but it will likely take a bit more rest on my part before I'm willing to brave it. At this point all I can picture is a foot in someone's eye at 3AM.

- L.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Lesson I Already Knew But Apparently Forgot

Just when you think everyone is settled in for the night and get down to the business of blogging about previous endeavors and forget to check in for more than 5 minutes, things like this are bound to happen:

I knew this day was on the horizon, even when I'm relatively on top of things. I just wasn't expecting it would be tonight.

And since I figured everyone would end up awake either way, I took a moment to snap a pic.

For once the camera click didn't wake anyone up AND I managed to transfer Nate back to his own bed entirely without incident.

It's an OP miracle, everyone!

- L.

PS. A little less dramatic than here, but I think that's only because Seth got in his way. Nate is still the master of the floopy joints, and never more so than when he's in a floopy state himself.

A,B,C, F and G...

There's a story here, but I'm pooped, so you should probably just head over and watch our new video.

- L.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Meet Pickles.

I mentioned in my previous post – and probably a few others as well since we converted the cribs – that my boys are not only able to get out of bed now but frequently do before they settle in for the night. 

The wooden dinosaurs ("DINE-SOARS!") above were the very first things they went for given the opportunity. And despite many soft cuddly toys readily at their disposal – toys I would venture to say they think of fondly and with affection – these are the first toys they've taken an interest in naming*.

And just so you know, Pickles and Pickles also happen to be "best friends"**.

I have no idea where they come up with these things***.

- L.

*The teddies that they've had forever are called "Teddy". The new teddies they received as a gift for their birthday (the ones that are super soft and are a big hit with Seth especially) are called "Soft Teddy". Sock Monkey is known as "Sock Monkey". Granted, these are all names of one sort or another – but "Pickles" is definitely the stand-out here.

**Teddy and Teddy, Soft Teddy and Soft Teddy, and Sock Monkey and Sock Monkey are also all "best friends".

***Really, I just don't know. The last time the boys ate pickles was early September. They weren't a huge hit so I haven't served them since, nor have I had any myself. I kind of forgot about the pickles in the fridge to be honest. There is a pickle in The Very Hungry Caterpillar book so I'm guessing that's where this came from since we read that book within a week of the "Pickles twins" (fraternal obviously) first significant appearance on the scene.

PS. Despite their un-cuddly aspects, Pickles and Pickles have been cuddled to sleep to no end. They are a bed-time essential at this point.

Poltergeists In The Nursery*

We have them.

If you're seen the movie Poltergeist, then you'll understand my reference to the moving chairs scene.

If not, here's everything you need to know:

– Mom surveys her relatively normal looking kitchen. 

– Mom turns her back for less than 10 seconds to get some "Mom work" done.

– Mom turns around to discover poltergeist handiwork. There is appropriate shock and horror plus dramatic sound effects. 

• • • • • • •

Of course, that's the Hollywood version circa 1982. Still, my expression when I discovered our poltergeists was eerily similar to that last shot. I think the only thing missing really was the creepy music.

It's been an interesting week since we converted the cribs. If you asked my boys they would tell you that the new beds are the best thing EVER. They were so excited about their new beds that we missed out on some serious sleep for the first 2 or 3 days (an even later bedtime than usual coupled with an early wake-up + no naps) and when they were up during the day all they wanted to do was hang out in their new beds (in a non-restful way) and drag all their toys in there and such.

If you asked me I would tell you that despite the lack of sleep it's been so much fun seeing my boys having so much fun enjoying their new beds it made the rest of it (less sleep, nods at suppertime, a bit of crankypants) tolerable – and a week later things have returned to a state of near normalcy.

Or a new normal at least.

Because obviously they can get out of bed now at will.

And they do.

And do and do and do.

Stern Mommy™ has had to make a few appearances this week. I don't care much for Stern Mommy™, but I have toddlers now and the reality is that her attendance is required here and there so as not to raise complete hooligans, so I'm on it.

Of course when the poltergeists showed up, Stern Mommy™ was nowhere to be found. Mostly because I was busy looking like Poltergeist movie Mommy – at least before I grabbed my camera and took pictures and had a laugh instead of being stern about it all. Bad form, I know.

Before I present the poltergeists, I should say that the boys have gotten a lot more "stealth" about getting out of bed since those first few nights when they gave themselves away time and again by announcing (loudly) what they were up to.

I should also say that the night I discovered we in fact have poltergeists was an especially exhausting evening. I'd been in and out of the nursery on average every 2 minutes or so putting someone back into their bed, reminding someone that "the toys are sleeping now so we need to leave them alone", and generally picking toddlers off the ceiling.

45 minutes in and I decided – come what may – that I was going to sit down for 5 minutes.

And I DID. 

I heard the pitter-patter of little feet around the 2 minute mark, but otherwise it was relatively quiet. I enjoyed the next 3 minutes of sit-down time imagining they were running off some energy and that this was a good thing because it lessened the odds of Stern Mommy™ making an appearance. 

And had what I walked into not been so completely unexpected and by it's nature both funny and camera worthy, I'm sure it had all the makings of a Stern Mommy™ moment.

The bed-formerly-known-as-Seth's-bed-which-is-now-Nate's-bed** was piled high with every single soft toy that we own. This was the first thing I noticed and I thought to myself, "well, that isn't so bad and this explains why things were relatively quiet".

Until I looked behind me and saw this:

Two completely empty shelves and the rest well picked over.

This was my poltergeist moment, everyone. 

Underneath what appeared to be the easy to tidy up blanket of soft toys was a solid sheet of not-so-soft toys including (but not limited to) dinosaurs and their accoutrements (10 pieces), at least 3 different dismembered stacking toys (32 pieces), a puzzle (5 pieces), assorted toys that did not involve pieces (7), every book in Seth's library™ (10-odd books), and a swath of legos (which I did not stop to count, but would estimate at around 30).

80+ pieces of stuff hidden under a tower of soft toys without making any noise other than the sound of running feet in under 5 minutes?

There's really only one explanation for it and it starts with a "p" and ends with "geists". Good thing I grabbed my camera when I did since I was able to capture the ghostly forms at work (thanks mainly to low level lighting and a long exposure).

In fact, I managed to capture at least 2 apparitions in the nursery that night. 

- L.

*I'm 80/20 currently on referring to the boys' room as "the nursery" vs. their bedroom. I know it's not really a nursery anymore and my babies aren't actually babies anymore. My boys respond to either term, but I know it's time to stop referring to their room as a nursery. Consider the post title my last hurrah.

**My boys have unreservedly switched beds without looking back, which A. means I really did have the sleeping arrangements wrong the entire time and B. I'm at a loss currently on referring to anyone's bed in particular to avoid confusion for anyone who is actually familiar (or was familiar) with the previous bed assignment. I'm a week in and it's still confusing to me.

• • • • • • • 

PS. Although Stern Mommy™ remained at bay that night, I will say that while I was clicking away with my good humor still about me I had yet to discover just how bad the devastation was under the heap of (mostly) soft toys. I imagined she stayed away because she was also suitably impressed at how much havoc my boys managed to wreak in 5 minutes. It's also possible she's seen Poltergeist (the movie) and didn't want to take any chances.

Monday, March 5, 2012

New Beds: The Past 24 Hours

Suffice it to say, my boys went fairly wild over their new beds. Not only did they spend all their time dashing back and forth between the beds and trying them out as though they really were new beds and not just their cribs with one side missing, there was a constant chorus of "'Dis is new! 'Dis is new! 'Dis is NEW!!!".

I imagined I'd pretty much be picking them off the ceiling when it came time to go to sleep.

The converted cribs were better than Christmas and their birthday all rolled into one (times roughly a million to the power of 10 minus the somber and stinkeroo aspects).

It was all very exciting!

At least until it was actually time to go to bed.

We have a pre-bed routine which is always a big hit, so I was a little caught off guard last night when the usual schtick was met with tears and resistance. I was even more caught off guard when the boys were OK with getting into bed without it.

To be honest, I wondered if I was going to be one of the lucky ones where the kids take to a bed like a fish to water and we'd have no troubles whatsoever because my boys would suddenly want to go to bed without an elaborate routine first.

Ah, it was a nice moment while it lasted.

Here's how things looked when I finally got everyone tucked in (do not let Nate's sleepy eye pose fool you – Seth's pose is a much more accurate representation of things to come). 

The next 45 minutes were filled with many thwarted attempts at shenanigans. I'm sure both my boys wondered how I always "knew", but they gave themselves away every time – and mostly verbally which was surprising. And although there were a few *crash, thud, bang!* moments as well (also a giveaway!), they were mostly busy ratting themselves out via their own vocabulary.

It made me laugh.

When everyone had finally had enough of getting busted, they settled in for the night. No one made a fuss about the sleep sacks at any point.

And truth be told, they were both soundly asleep by 10:15 – a regular night around here – despite the new beds, new blankets and new pillows.

Also new: they slept in each other's beds last night.

All night.

Or at least until 7:30 this morning when I heard the pitter patter of little feet* and realized it was time to get up.

• • • • • • • 

It's par for the course at the OP that cars ("CAHS!") are the first thing on everyone's mind in the morning. The whole car ("CAH!") obsession is a whole other post, but you should know that the cars get put away at night and taken out again in the morning. Typically the white box in the nursery is awash with cars within 10 minutes of waking up, but this morning something a little different happened: 

Cars. In a bed. Neatly lined up.

And clearly putting the white box to shame since no such neatness has ever happened over there. Of course the cars had been put there for a reason, which became clear by and by.

Seth was temporarily the "King of Cahs!" this morning (with a little help from Nate):

'Dis my CAH! empire everyone!
 At least until the fame of it all became too much to handle: 

This morning's ventures into new bed territory mainly involved dragging various toys into bed and playing with them there. Typically together. 

There was also a lot of jumping. 

Some pics from the non-jumping moments (AKA: when it was still about the cars): 

If (for any reason) you are unable to see the look of shenanigans about to be afoot in the last picture, please have your eyes tested at once since this is an obvious "tell" from at least 100 paces. I am used to less obvious moments at this point, but I could practically draw lines between their shenanigan cortexes without effort when I took that picture. 

Which is why I put the camera down.

And my boys? They did not disappoint all day. It was definitely business as usual** for the most part.

- L.

*Although picture it with less pitter-patter and more *thump* *thump* *thump*. 

** Business as usual = all day shenanigans. Really, they did not disappoint.

PS. Nap-time today was unexpectedly difficult, although they napped well once I got everyone to stay in their beds. Getting to that point was admittedly tough though and involved a lot of pop-ins. They both slept in their usual beds this afternoon, but I did have to cave and bring out the sleep sacks to make it happen.

Tonight, the blankets were no trouble once again. And once again, my boys are sleeping in each other's beds – perhaps it's a night-time thing? – although it does give me pause to wonder if I've had the sleeping arrangements wrong the entire time.