Big G Christmas Photos

Chicago Adventures

We spent the first couple of days of our holiday travels in Chicago – to do a little sightseeing, and visit with family before heading west towards “Big G” (Galena, IL) to visit John’s folks. We managed to pack in quite a bit in under 48 hours!

We started with an L train ride from Lincoln Park out to Skokie (past Wrigley field, among other things) – a big hit with our train-loving dudes. In Skokie, we got to hang out and visit with several of John’s aunts, uncles, cousins, and their kids (gotta love the Irish, cocktails and beer available at 11:30 a.m.!). Poor Henry was feverish with a cold, and conked out in one of aunt Jane’s bedrooms, but managed to rally enough to be strolled around downtown Chicago. We got to see the famous “bean,” and the beautiful lions at the Art Institute, both of which they’d read about in the I Love Chicago board book Grandma Nack sent us before the trip. We even caught a glimpse of the Zamboni on the ice before the skaters hit the rink!

And last but not least, after triangulating and re-triangulating our location and the time of day with the CTA Holiday Lights Train schedule, and then waiting and waiting at the station for the famous Holiday L train that was running about 30 minutes late, we saw, boarded, and rode the Holiday Lights Train! The guys were beside themselves – and the train was fantastic – decorated and lit inside and out, with Christmas music on the P.A., an elfish conductor handing out candy canes, and Santa himself in his sleigh, riding on a decorated flatbed car. It was worth the wait and all the effort John put in to figure out where we needed to be and when in order to catch it.

Before we headed west, we went to Lincoln Park Zoo and saw lions, red pandas, owls, sea lions, wolves, bears, and pumas. The lioness roared and roared for quite some time, which was a big thrill for Mr. Finny, our resident lion enthusiast. It was a totally great way to start our trip – and here’s the requisite gallery illustrating our adventures.

Big G Christmas Videos

Henry’s first sled ride!

We had some snowy delights with the lads today in Galena’s Grant Park. More (pics/vids as well as sledding) to follow soon! πŸ™‚

Christmas Videos

Ride of the Lights Brigade!

I’m delighted to say that the will-they won’t-they saga of our trying to ride Chicago’s Holiday Lights El Train ended in success last night!

Our friend Samantha had told us about the train a couple of months ago, and ever since then we were hoping we could catch it with the guys. It runs only on certain days, and the CTA doesn’t publish the exact times it runs until a few days ahead of time. We’d hoped to catch the train after our visit to the Murrays yesterday, but Henry got sick & we had to leave early. We thought our plans might be toast, but fortunately within a couple of hours he recuperated enough that we could drive to a different station & try again. We were all set to catch the 6:32 train (the last one of the night!), but then trains came & went with no sign of it. We were just about to give up hope when a nice family appeared alongside us & said that the train was running half an hour late. Thus we held our ground, and you can see the results below. πŸ™‚



Off we go to the actual snow! Chicago & “Big G.,” here we come. πŸ™‚



Glimpsed at Pasitos the other day, it appears that the class has been learning about voting through the power of breakfast crackers. It looks like the boys abstained from voting; had they not, the Ritz victory would have been even more commanding!


The Darn Cohaagens


A few months ago, the boys started smothering me in blankets. Maybe it was the lack of oxygen to my brain, but I thought of an Arnold Schwarzenegger line in Total Recall: “Come on, Cohaagen [the villain], you have what you want, now give the people air!!”β€”or as people like to render his accent, “Give deez people ehyar!!” From inside the stifling blanket pile I blurted out (in cheesy accent), “Come on, you little Cohaagens, give the Dad-O air!!” Man was that a hit!

Ever since then, the lads have been requesting “brutalizing” (or as they Spanglify it, “brutalando,” or in faux-Italian, “brutalini”), insisting that they be the Darn Cohaagens while I play Ahnuld. I try to get into the bathroom to turn on the fan (y’know, to give deez people ehyar), and they race around turning it off, then re-burying me in blankets. Ja, good times! πŸ™‚


Seeing Clearly Now

Finny had an unexpected visit to Dr. Feldman, our optometrist, last week. Recently, we’d noticed that his right eye had started to turn too far inward when he was focusing on near objects – like while he was drawing, or watching videos, or playing with Legos. He’d been to Feldman for a check-up in the spring, and everything checked out fine, so we thought it’d be a good idea to have him checked again to figure out what was going on with the eye.

Turns out Finny is farsighted, and after a few quick tests that indicated the issue, Dr. Feldman performed a more extensive exam to confirm it. Finny’s brain and eyes were working really hard to compensate for his inability to focus at certain distances, which is what was causing his eye to turn inward. The doc told me that Finny should be fitted with glasses, and he’d need to wear them pretty much full-time – the only exception being outdoor physical play where he is not focusing on near objects.

So, Finny tried on several little pairs of frames, and we picked the ones that looked and fit the best (and ordered two pair since one will inevitably meet a destructive end at the hands of a 4-year-old). A couple of days later, we were back at Feldman’s to get the completed specs fitted to Finny’s face, and then he was off to the races. Ever since we picked them up, he’s been super-cooperative about wearing them, and trying to remember to put them into their little case at the end of the day. He’s working on taking them on and off without stretching or torquing the frames, as well as how to clean them with his little lens cloth. I think his easygoing nature is helping make the transition pretty easy, and I also think the specs make enough difference in his vision that he can’t argue with the fact that he’s seeing more clearly. We think our bug guy looks pretty cute in his new frames, and we’re happy we got his vision sorted out!

An interesting side effect of Finny getting glasses is that he and I have established a noticeably tighter bond with each other. I think because I wear glasses, and I was working really hard to make sure he was comfortable (and even excited) about getting his own pair, he’s been especially affectionate toward me. I’m hearing lots more frequent “I love you, Mom-o”s, and he’s even bestowed one of his favorite stuffed lions on me to cuddle with while I sleep. It’s very sweet, and I’ll take as much as I can get!

Photos Videos

Christmas Dervishes

You spin me right ’round, baby, like a record…

We had a (surprisingly non-puke-inducing) ball taking the lads on all manner of rides at San Jose’s Christmas In The Park carnival. I’ve said it before, but man, what a godsend that Hen’s finally tall enough to accompany Finn, bombing through all sorts of pirate ships, cartoon houses, and more. Check it out:

Videos Zoos

West Coasters

We spent a delightful day at the Oakland (or as Henry kept calling it, “Oklahoma”) Zoo, checking out lions, learning more than we might’ve wanted about elephants’ pooping (“He must have a really large large intestine!” noted Hen), and hanging out with the Wiggii. We all braved the semi-fearsome Tiger Coaster, as you can see here:

What started small a few weeks back is quickly becoming an addiction, and the guys are clamoring to check out the rides of the San Jose Winter Carnival tonight. Wish us luck!


Higher on the Squire

When it comes to PJ pants, Finn makes me think of Sly & The Family Stone: “I wanna, I wanna take ya high-er!!” πŸ™‚



A few weeks back on my work blog, I shared the intriguing work of Dr. Walter Tschinkel, a Florida “entomologist and myrmecologist” (i.e. bug-studier) who makes fascinating sculptures by pouring hot metal down anthills. The boys really enjoyed watching the video about his techniques:

Independently the guys have enjoyed being superheroes, giving themselves new names each day (“I’m Rain Man!” “I’m Bat-Saber, and I defend bats!”). I suppose it was inevitable that these worlds would collide. “My name is Dr. Ant Colony,” announced Finn the other day, “Y’know, like that Walter Tschinkel.” πŸ™‚ He & Henry then began debating whether ants poop & pee.

Well, this being a small world, I asked the actual Walter Tschinkel! He was charmed to hear about his local fame, and he sent the boys a bunch of info & photos. “Adult ants only eat liquids,” he reports, “so their poop is kind of gooey and wet.” I’ll spare you the other gross (i.e. kid-delighting) details we learned.

Oh, and one more thing. A few days later, we had the following exchange:

Finn: “How are pipes made?”
Me: “Well, I suppose someone melts metal, then forms it into shapes.”
Finn (proudly): “You know who’d do that? Walter Tschinkel! He uses an old garbage can!”


Froggy Double Shot!

I might adopt Audi-style nomenclature for Henry, dubbing him the “H3L” (as in, “Extra Long Edition”). His finally having breached the 3′ mark lets us at last enjoy things like Happy Hollow’s “Froggy Double Shot” (our mash-up of its real name, “The Frog Hopper,” with that of the enormous Beach Boardwalk “Double Shot”). Here our guys fly around with the little Wiggii:


Rain Men!

Wow, talk about brilliant timing: No sooner did new rain boots arrive for the guys & Mom-O than we got our first really big rains of the year. So, are we going to let the weather keep us cooped up all weekend? Heck no! We suited up & got our splash on, with Finn taking particular interest in “dam breaking” (aka removing leaves from drains) with Mom-O. The guys enjoyed hearing about how Grandpa Nack had raced newspaper boats down the gutters of Galena, and they liked watching various “boats” (notable leaves) head for the drains. Check out a little gallery from this morning’s mayhem.