Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: a not so-bad year after all

The thing that has been so amazing about the last 2 months is how much time we have had to sit around our house together and do nothing.

When Ben frst quit his job, I was freaking the freak out, and one of the ways I dealt with my extreme anxiety was to go to work 5 days a week for long, long days, something I have never done. For a few weeks, I got to see what it would be like to be a dad, and I have to tell you, it was pretty great. I didn't do any of the day-to-day kid stuff like pack lunches and hunt for matching mittens and drop them off at school. I didn't think twice about who was watching my kids when I was at the office because I knew they were home safe with a parent. I also didn't worry when they got sick because I knew they had a parent at home to take care of them, and went on my merry way to work. Every day. It was pretty bad ass.

Ben, though, wasn't totally happy at home, no matter how much I wanted him to be and how much he wanted to be, and I totally understand that. I am not happy at home full time, either. I have to tell you, even though I was looking forward to being a 2-income family in terms of the useless shit I like to purchase everyday, I was not looking forward to long hours for him and a return to the working mom scramble for me on the days I go to campus.

When he got a professorship, though, it was like a dream I never thought about dreaming coming true. We are truly 50/50 in terms of work and kids, and it's such a liberating and soothing idea. Our schedules match up really nicely (even though he gets 2 kid-free days at home every week, and the kids and I stay home from school on the same days). We've always been a team in terms of house and kid work, but the balance has never been totally equal due to the nature of our jobs. Now, though, it's a much clearer division of labor, and so far, I think we're both a lot more content.

The best part has been our amazing winter break-- 2 weeks of spending everyday in our jammies, taking turns sleeping in, watching movies, playing with all the new Christmas toys. And the best part? We get to do this every year. And every summer.

I'm really proud of Ben. He's been so positive and motivated through this whole thing, and you know what? He was right when he assured me fifty billion times that things would work out.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


On the spur of the moment yesterday, Ben got himself a little back-to-work present, a Prius

It's pretty adorable. I feel like if Apple made a car, this would be it. It makes his new commute a little less crappy, especially since the dashboard computer has this cool screen where it shows you your average MPG for the last 5 minutes-- it's totally like driving in a video game because you can try to beat last 5 minute's mileage.

Our dealership has this really loud and prominently displayed gong they make you ring when you are about to drive off in your new car. Last time, we made Harry ring it, but since he was at home with my brother, Ben had to reluctantly sound the gong. He was SO EMBARRASSED when I took this picture.

We were supposed to drive it to Pekin this weekend to celebrate Chrismukkah with my parents, but it's freakishly warm here and we're covered in dense fog. Most normal people would drive anyway, but we got stuck in the fog for 9 hours on the expressway when Harry was little, and there were fatal accidents on both sides of us. Naturally, we're a little gun shy in the fog, so we stayed home.
We played with an odd assortment of tiny toys

Harry looked askance at me for some reason

We went to IHOP

The boys both payed with our phones. Harry was absorbed in Angry Birds.

Jack was getting kind of stressed out about Monkey Lunchbox

He was so relieved to finally pair cherries with cherries or whatever you have to do in that game

Because we didn't go to Peoria, we no longer have New Year's Eve plans. We went to the grocery store, and Ben told the boys he;d make them anything they wanted for dinner tomorrow. Harry requested a "feast" of chicken legs, cucumber, fruit salad, jello, and orange juice. Okay then.

Jack caught up on the latest Eric Braeden gossip.

Which was shocking.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Post Christmas Observations

1. I need to step away from the giant bag of candy on top of the fridge, especially the Reese's cups.

2. Hungry Hungry Hippos is just as fun as I remember it being.

3. My favorite gift is one I didn't ask for or even know I wanted: the first season of Beverly Hills, 90210. I did not remember how fabulous 1990's fashions were-- zOMG. I also forgot Brenda's class angst, the shrinking roles of Jim and Cindy Walsh and the expanding presence of Kelly and Donna, and how OLD Andrea and Dylan were. IT'S SO GOOD.

Dora's House continues to delight.

As you can see, the wise men are visiting. Harry calls them the Wises, which makes me want to write a story-- the infancy narrative as it has been reenacted at our house this Chrismukkah season.

Harry's favorite gift. (OMG SO LOUD THEY"RE SO LOUD)

Another big hit

Okay. I want to make a public declaration: I am noticeably fatter than I was last week; I eat chocolate at every meal, and I haven't put on clothes with actual waistbands or gone to the gym since the 23rd. Tomorrow, I am getting back on the exercise and reasonable food intake wagon. Also? I am staying the hell away from the mall. Ever since Ben decided to go back to work, it's like Sephora has activated my homing beacon. Tomorrow: back to responsible adulthood.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas, the iPhone camera version

Apparently Santa thought that 2011 should be the year of brother-on-brother violence-- the kind that might put a brother in the ER or leave him concussed-- because he filled Harry and Jack's stockings with both Light Sabers and pointy Harry Potter wands.

Jack loved Tangled so much, we had to buy him the horse (much, much girlier in toy-version than he is in the movie) and the girl.

I don't know what the hell Harry is doing here, but it looks magical

This picture made me laugh because Harry is dutifully holding up a gift for admiration and picture-taking, but he is also keeping a very careful eye trained on his brother, scoping out Jack's presents.

Jack, seen here lovingly petting his pretty horsie, was a real pain in the ass on Christmas morning because he wanted to play with each toy-- like full-on, out-of-the-box play with it-- before unwrapping the next. Meanwhile, handsy Harry wanted to OPEN! THE NEXT! PRESENT!

We were worried that he would stall out gift opening with Harry and his cousins until tantrums of epic proportions occurred, but the grownups devised an ingenious gift-unwrapping system where the four big kids each opened a present simultaneously. Then everyone paused to appreciate each other's gifts (so the parents and grandparents could see each one and take pictures) before there was a mad dash to choose and open the next present-- it was really fun.

While the big kids did that, baby Jacob did this (He is the happiest little baby in the world-- and so cute, and he smells good. I didn't even mind when he missed his bib and spit up all over me-- that's how cute he is)

Some mass gift-opening (organized) chaos shots:

All the kids played happily for the rest of the night, Max and Harry "fighting" with their super hero battle ships and Jack and Lucy talking to each other in sugar-sweet 2-year-old voices.

Harry and Jack even slept in until after 7 this mrning-- a Christmas miracle for sure. I'd say "the end," but I have at least one more post's worth of picture languishing on my camera. Unfortunately, we are on our way out the door to go to Toys R Us (I know-- don't we own the whole store already? Yes, we do, but Harry's spy video watch-- the number one thing on his Santa list) got broken when Ben got rammy taking it out of the box. Luckily Santa leaves Toys R Us gift receipts), so more later! Hope your holiday was merry. Ours certainly was.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas part 1

Last night in our quest to not raise capitalists who lack moral compasses, we took the boys to a children's Christmas Eve ceremony at our church. Harry was stunned and thrilled when the service opened with a rousing Jingle Bells and some children- handling-fire action. He was also totally stoked to hear that the manger and Little People he's been playing with all month have a STORY! He wants to visit this famous manger and maybe watch some movies about it. Erm. (Also, the way our church handles Christmas is perfect for us, all about how every baby is a miracle and holds the world's potential and is a special, special snowflake.)

I look exhausted in this picture because Jack is not really church service material.

We came home to find that Santa's elves had left a package in our fireplace with Despicable Me, some movie candy, and new pajamas (which Jack later refused to wear and screwed up all my Christmas morning pictures. Grrr.)

Harry and Jack made a plate of cookies for Santa and veggies for the reindeer and wrote cute little notes to go with.

Harry woke up at 12:45. 12:45! JAck woke up too, so he came and slept with me, and Ben and Harry slept in the boys' room. Thankfully, we all slept until 6:30 and then? PRESENTS!

Including DORA'S HOUSE! It appeared!

Jack has been playing with it all morning

Here's his other favorite present-- a fire truck. He had loaded it with Rapunzel, Boots, and Dora.

Harry had a Merry Star Wars Christmas.

More later. I need to go eat some more monkey bread.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Yesterday, we baked.

We started the day by feeling like bonafide grown-ups because we had everything in the house already to whip up some sugar cookies and aggressively bright icing. Nothing says grown-up like a stocked pantry (unless it's the old lady mags that have replaced the glossies I read in my youth).

If you want someone who can roll dough a perfect 1/8 inch thick, Ben's your man

Ben's trying to act all like he's making fun of me, but he was genuinely proud of how efficiently he used his dough space here (as well he should have been)

I wanted to do the decorating myself, but Harry the Elf wanted to help REALLY! BAD!

He got bored after these 3 (and yes, that's a firetruck. We also made hands, fish, flags, and cowboy boots in addition to more seasonal shapes.)

Jack got totally bored about 3 and a half minutes in and went upstairs to play with Batman, Santa, Jesus, and his Little People dollhouse.

We made a quick run to the grocery store for more baking supplies and to library for books with which to while away our break, and after Ben made delicious tacos for dinner and the boys took baths, Harry and I baked some more when Jack went to bed. Not only did we make these chocolate cookies with white chips

but we also made brownies from scratch, which I have never done before. I have only baked brownies with a mix for 32 years-- talk about shameful. Next time, I am going to throw in some chocolate chips (because, duh), and I am going to take them out of the oven like 3 minutes sooner than I did this time. But I will be sure to make the same chocolate cream cheese frosting (because, again, duh).
Harry loved measuring the chocolate chips that we melted into frosting.

He also loved slapping on the frosting, telling me he had been doing it for years.

While I did the dishes, he and Ben played Old Maid, Harry's current favorite game in the world

Here he is rejoicing after he duped Ben into picking the Old Maid and losing the game