This year, since we're heading to Colorado for Christmas, we decided to let the boys open their "big" gifts a few days early. Finny continues to be obsessed with lions - so his gift was kind of easy. I was walking through Costco the other day and they had these enormous animal beanbag chairs, one of which was a lion. Done and DONE! I knew I'd regret it if I didn't get him the chair because it is such a colossal feline.
As for Henry, his latest fascination (in addition to owls) is traffic cones. Whenever he sees them, he's like a moth to a flame. He cannot walk by a construction site, or a playground with cones on it without stopping and moving the cones around in an effort to "block things off for safety." John had the fantastic idea to buy Henry his own real, construction-and-traffic-control grade cones. I logged into Amazon, and wouldn't you know it, they had many sizes, weights, and styles of cone to choose from. We knew Henry would go absolutely mental when he opened the cones, and as you can see from the gallery, he did not disappoint. He was also pretty pleased about the owl pajamas I made him, and is thrilled when bedtime rolls around and he can lounge in his owl peej before hitting the sack.
You know that moment near the end of a very long flight, where your plane is floating over the runway & you want nothing more for it just to touch down so you can get on with your life, and yet it seems to hover endlessly? That's how putting the boys down for the night can feel: So close to relief, yet so far away.
Thus the other night I was right at the proverbial finish line, having deflected the boys back into bed for the last time, when Finn announced, "Wait, Dad-O! I have songs, with hand gestures!!" He was so excited to show off his moves for the upcoming holiday celebration at school, and though the timing of his reveal was pretty terrible, he put on a heck of a late-night, top-bunk show for Henry & me.
Here you can check out the whole class singing Christmas & Hanukkah songs in English & Spanish. Fair warning: It's one of those stereotypically terrible parental videos, shot from the back of a crowded room in which one can barely see the kid. Look for Finn on the right-hand side right by the wall. (Full-screen viewing recommended. Hit the little button in the lower-right corner of the video, Mom & Dad. :-))
For a much more personal performance, check out Finn's reenactment by our Christmas tree:
Finn has been keenly interested in learning more about sewing, after having witnessed me make his Halloween costumes the past couple of years. I told him that a man who sews things for a living is a seamster, and he's now decided that he wants to be a seamster! He'd been begging me for a sewing lesson for about a week now. Unfortunately, my old sewing machine (which I've had since I was 17) bit the dust the other day as I was finishing up Henry's Christmas PJ's, so I couldn't give Finny the "sewing lesson" he'd been asking for.
Luckily, Amazon saved the day with a screaming deal on a basic sewing machine and 2-day shipping. So tonight after dinner, I broke out the new machine and Finny and I sat down to sew. Even little Henry was interested and came over to watch, too. I showed them how to wind the bobbin, thread the machine, and pick different types of stitches. I showed them how the foot pedal works, how to pin fabric together and then how to sew. I made a little bag out of scrap fabric to show them how it all comes together, and they were super excited to see the finished result.
Then it was time to really deliver - after letting Finny wind the bobbin, I quickly stitched up a couple of little "disguises" for the boys' new teddy bears out of felt scraps left over from Halloween. Of course, Finn's got a lion disguise, and Henry's got an owl disguise. Here's little gallery of the evening's proceedings.
Saturday night was unusually warm, making for a perfect outing to ride the little train in nearby Los Gatos. As has become something of a tradition (starting in 2010 at the Oakland Zoo, and continuing in Los Gatos a year later), our little friends Bettie & Quade joined us for the ride, this time with their little sister Juliette. Check out the action below, and in this little gallery of photos.
Last night the lads received a surprise pre-Christmas gift from the Geeps (Grandma and Grandpa Liggett): a popcorn ball decorating kit! They were extremely excited to check out all the various candies and frosting for decoration, and got right to work.
Hen, of course, snuck a couple of Tootsie rolls that were initially headed for his popcorn ball but detoured into his mouth. Finn was busily sticking Smarties, gumdrops, crackers, and candy corn onto his creation. We got in on the fun, too, and decorated our own. It was a blast and of course, the fun wouldn't be complete without a few tastes of corn after the decorating was done. Here's a little gallery of the corniness.
When life gives you small, highly animated, pre-6am lemons, you can try making this sort of lemonade.
For some reason the guys arose insanely early the other day, and Henry was inspired to build quite an elaborate setup for Thomas & friends. Here's what we whipped up before school (and amazingly, it's still standing today!).
We had a ball checking out Redwood City's winter carnival yesterday with the Wiggii. The guys were delighted to get a pair of free teddy bears ("Oso" & "Teddy," for those keeping track ;-)). We didn't last long in the snow-throwing pit, but we had fun on the teacups & lots of other little rides. Check out a little gallery from the frigid good times.
The Casa de los Cacahuates is suddenly looking quite festive thanks to the Micronaxx tree-decorating efforts. Here's a little gallery of the guys in action last night.
The lads have really been enjoying Katy Perry's "Roar," and never more so then when decked out in awesome face paint. Check out a tiny gallery from Saturday.
Tonight as we watched The Polar Express (a fun Christmas movie with more than its fair share of weird, off-putting moments), G-Man got a little spooked and retreated to a position of safety behind the couch:
We assured him that he had nothing to fear, and he quickly returned from his hideout to enjoy the rest of the show.
A couple of years back, a little dude (seen at right) became Internet-famous as "Success Kid." This is what's called a meme (I'll note for my parents' benefit :-)), an image or idea that people pick up & riff upon.
It seems that Henry's born to be a meme—maybe as Success Kid's grumpier cousin, Distress Kid. The latest entry in his infamous "Haircuts" series...
...caught the imagination of some of my Facebook friends. Now he's been compared to the Italian enforcer Luca Brasi...
...transformed into The Man With No Name...
...a French tragic hero...
...and even an 80's rock star.
Special thanks to Michael, Karl, Foster, and Chris for the fun Photoshoppery!
The dudes & I had a ball trick-or-treating last week—or as they put it, "Trick or Meat!"/"Trick or Mouse!" (y'know, being a lion & owl & all). This baffled neighbor after unsuspecting neighbor, but I loved that they stuck with it. When we returned home, the guys got their first shot at handing out candy themselves! Henry was so into it that when we ran out, he dipped into his own bucket to share with visiting kids. (Not bad—and quite charming—for a kid who's always scrapping with his bro over who got more toast, butter, etc.) This quick video gives a taste of our evening:
Answer: This guuuuuy.
(Photo snapped in the immediate aftermath of trick-or-treating.)
The lads were excited to suit up & get down to candy-eating & crafts at their friend Ella's house this weekend. Here are a few pics of the whole gang, including ma in her kerchief & I in my too-tight cap.
Boy did I have a high opinion of myself in autumns growing up: Every year "I" would win a prize for having the best costume (headless horseman, knight, California Raisin, etc.). Little did I realize, of course, that the honors should go to my tirelessly creative mom, wielder of felt, glue, papier-mâché, and more.
Now Margot has taken up the proud mantle & is making excellent costumes for young Nacks. Check out her latest handiwork!
When I came downstairs yesterday, Henry popped out from behind a door in full owl regalia. After wildly "hoo"-ing at me for a few seconds, he thoughtfully lifted up his mask and said, "Don't worry, it's just me, Henry—not a real owl."
On Sunday we had a ball taking the lads to San Francisco's beautifully redesigned & relocated Exploratorium. Here's a little taste of the goings-on (minus the live cow-eyeball dissection or microscopic peeks inside termite guts!):
Who doesn't love a Slinky?
Yesterday was a big day for Mr. Finnegan Nack - he mastered the art of two-wheeling!
Last weekend, after we got his flat tire fixed at the bike shop, he was eyeing a new "Mike's Bikes" water bottle, and a new LED tail light for his bike. I told him that if he learned how to ride without his training wheels, he could get the bottle and light. Boy - had I known how well a little incentive was going to work, I would've done this ages ago!
We started practicing without his training wheels last weekend before I left for Germany, and spent about an hour going up and down the driveway with Finn pedaling and me holding him upright by the bike seat and handlebars. We had our second and final round of practice yesterday morning at the park down the street - which is perfectly laid out for bike practice! It's essentially a big circular sidewalk around a playground. Finn rode to the park with the training wheels, and then when we got to the park, we took them off and started practicing.
I could tell it wasn't going to take long, because I wasn't really holding on to the seat very hard anyway. I was mainly acting as moral support - coaching a worried, semi-weeping Finny by running alongside and chanting a lot of "I think I can I think I can" (while he thought I was holding the seat). Of course he had a few spills and run-ins with the play equipment, but after catching his breath and wiping off tears, he was back in the saddle. I told Finny that he had to believe that he could do it - because if he didn't believe in himself, it was going to be really hard to do it. He did not like that messaging, but it must've gotten through - because once he forgot to be worried and just focus on pedaling and staying upright, he did great!
The goal we set for earning the water bottle and tail light was two complete laps around the park without stopping. In less than an hour, our boy nailed it! We celebrated with lots of cheering and hugging, and Finny rode his bike all the way home - with many stops and starts, but without the training wheels! (You can see his happy yet exhausted-and-weepy expression in the photo gallery). We then proceeded to go to Manley's for celebratory doughnuts before a stop at the bikeshop to pick out his prizes.
The lads & I had a ball on Saturday as we took their pal Magdalena over to the harvest festival at Roaring Camp Railroad. We got to build & stuff our own scarecrows (which lie disintegrating on our driveway now; oy, gotta do something about that), ride the railroad, and get pumpkins at the top of Bear Mountain. Check out the gang in action!
Crazy haircuts & beards aren't just for punks & ZZ Top. Bubble bath helps our guys get stylish in the tub:
Meanwhile Finny has been singing the ABCs in Spanish incessantly, in a variety of crazy accents. Here he does his impression of "Chris Cornell" from Soundgarden: