Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Winter at Brookfield Zoo

When you visit a Chicago zoo in the middle of winter, you never know what you're going to get. I didn't expect to see camels hanging out in the snow...
 It was about 30 degrees outside, so Charlie was bundled in a shirt and two hoodies. I was glad he was wearing a hat at least, though I know he would have been more comfortable if he kept his mittens on.
 Our main reason for going to the zoo was that I got some free tickets from a friend who is a member at this zoo. We usually go to the Lincoln Park Zoo since it's closer to us (and free), but the Brookfield Zoo is much bigger. I hadn't been to this zoo since I was a child. Khania and I went together with our combined four kids. As you can see below, Charlie was thrilled to take a group picture in the kangaroo's pouch.
 Grant kept throwing huge snowballs in the air and smashing them on his head, silly guy.
 I love that Khania and Evelyn have the same facial expression while they're walking here:
 It was freezing outside. So we spent a lot of time in the indoor areas. Look how close we were to these beautiful giraffes.

 One way I was keeping my tired, cold Charlie happy was by giving him clementines, which he proceeded to keep in his mouth for a while (and had a piece in front of his teeth to be funny).
 Can you tell he still has a clementine wedge in his mouth?
When you live in the Midwest, it may be freezing in the winter, but we still have to get outside! I'm proud of us for going to the zoo in December :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Snow Outside

It snowed a lot in the last week, particularly leading up to Christmas. We now have about a foot of snow everywhere you look outside. Ben is [in his chipper winter attitude] predicting this snow will stick around until April. That is the problem with our winters - the snow takes FOREVER to melt. Especially when we get this much. I try to look on the bright side - we could have had waaaaay more - hello, New York. And our VERY nice neighbor snowblowed our front sidewalk and walkway a few times over the weekend, which saved our backs from some of the shoveling. I'm proud to say I was the one out shoveling us this path on Sunday morning, but it was tiring! This snow is the heavy stuff.

Our kids have been under the weather stillbut today was the third straight day that the kids and I hadn't left the the afternoon when Charlie was refusing to nap and I was about to go crazy, I declared that it was time for us to GET OUT. I had some returns to make and figured we all could use a change of scenery.

The boys, armed with their usual apples and sippy cups, ventured outside onto the long skinny path to the garage.
But instead of heading straight to the garage, they started kicking the snow. Stomping in it. I ran back in to get my camera because they were being so cute.

Of course, it all went downhill when Charlie got his hand wet in the snow. (I tried to get them to put their mittens on before we left, but those were a no go - I can't force them to keep those things on...)
Poor guy. But maybe next time he'll wear some mittens :) Though when I brought it up, Charlie reminded me that he stands firm: "NO mittens."
After that I hurried and loaded the kids in the car, then crossed my fingers that we wouldn't get stuck in the unplowed alley driving in our trusty little Altima. Every winter I tell myself the next car we buy better have 4WD or AWD. Someday. 

We made it out of the alley without problems and soon we were off to a very busy mall. While we were in Gap Kids returning things and getting a few clothes for next year with the fabulous 40% off sale prices (Gap is our favorite store, if you couldn't tell from Charlie's favorite hoodie - there are deals all the time!! I picked up a hoodie in the next size for $11. I never pay full price there), Eli had to go to the bathroom. TWICE. It was crazy. I start to worry he has diabetes or something based on the number of times he has to go, but he has none of the other symptoms. More likely just a small bladder??


When you have two little boys with nasty coughs and runny noses, it's not likely you're going to do a whole lot. We've had a lot of inside time over the last few days, but that doesn't keep them from having a little fun. Yesterday I stayed home with them from church so we wouldn't spread their germs to the other kids... I lounged in my sweats all day long.
The proof that Eli has been wiping his nose on his sleeve for the last couple of days. His poor skin under the nose is getting very raw. I detest the snotty nose on a sleeve business, but he does it so much when I'm not looking, or I'll catch him in the act and by then it's too late. Gross.......
Runny nose #2. Charlie seems to have a lesser version of this cold though, because he's had more energy and been in better spirits overall. He and Eli have had some rough nights with a ton of coughing (Eli's always sounds super croupy at night, it's terrible), but I think we're finally starting to be on the upswing of this cold - they're not coughing as much tonight, which is a great sign.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is so much fun with little kids! We had a great holiday and the boys were so sweet this morning as they opened their gifts. They were excited about it all and did a decent job sharing their toys with each other, which made me happy.
Here's Eli singing his version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" (instead he sang, "Santa Claus is Coming Tonight"):

Gifts from Santa were by the fireplace:
The rest of the presents under the tree:
Charlie was so excited about this big truck that holds little cars:
Eli asked Santa for a marble tower, so he was excited when he opened this:

The boys were super sweet one minute:
Then a little possessive over their things the next:
We took everything at a slow pace, which was fun, because the kids were enjoying and playing with each toy as they opened it. 
Charlie's favorite place to play with his new cars = on the office radiator, which is nice and long (albeit a little high for the little guy)
This is my favorite shot of Charlie from the day:
Eli seemed so big to me. Here he is lining up his army guys.
It was a Lego Duplo Christmas... Charlie got this Mac truck and was so so excited. Eli was excited too :)
I set up the tripod and got a quick family shot that turned out so-so, but it's proof I was also here for Christmas.
This picture below makes me think about one of Ben's gifts to me - a homemade certificate that he will hang 10 pictures up on the wall (we have so many things framed and not up on the walls, it's silly. We both have nail phobia of making holes in our old plaster walls).
I cooked all afternoon, Charlie napped, Eli played with toys, Ben went for a jog in the snow... by the early evening, it was time for my family and our friends, the Lunds to come over. Here's handsome Eli ready for dinner.
I tried to be extra festive with our table this year. I picked up some red chargers on clearance at Target and made a red drink with cranberry pomegranite juice mixed with sprite. My roast took forever to finish cooking, so we ate in courses. First, chips and homemade salsa (since it's red for Christmas), then a salad with spinach, butternut squash, sliced almonds, pomegranate seeds, etc. We had some fruit and then the main course of roast and vegetables was finally out on the table.
Charlie mostly just ate chips/salsa. 
For dessert, I made a pumpkin orange cake, substituted buttercream frosting for the cream cheese frosting in the recipe, and made it festive with the mandarin oranges and pomegranate seeds (I'm on a pomegranate kick, if you couldn't tell by now!). This was tricky because the oranges kept sliding off the cake. But I thought it tasted pretty good and was pretty on one side of the cake, even if the oranges weren't cooperating on the back.
Here are a few pictures from opening presents - 
Sorry dad, I caught you at a funny moment :)
Hiding behind the calendar I made for them:
Eli hugging the bear from my Aunt Mimi. He has declared the bear is his froggy's best friend. :)
Charlie got a moose:
It was a very Merry Christmas!