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Posted 20 May 2013Friday night took an unexpected turn when two trains collided in Connecticut and derailed. My cousin Jeff, who was on his way back to New York on the train behind the collided trains, was diverted to a station back by us. I met him at the station, picked him up, and we had dinner with Liz who drove down from Rhode Island to pick him up.
Silver lining #1: miraculously no one was killed on the train. Silver lining #2: we got to have a nice impromptu dinner.
Prior to the impromptu dinner Jen had the next phase of her dental surgery to repair the damage done by the large, unwieldy melons of her two sons, the fatal blow delivered by Elliott some months ago. This left Jen in a fair deal of pain. Luckily the ice pack acted as a source of great amusement to the nasty little critters who separated her from her tooth.
Those guys have a sick sense of humor.
The next morning we headed out to the latest round of swim class.
Class went well, particularly for Elliott who chose to take an extra ball so he had one to hold and one to chew on. All the other babies in the class were far more restrained.
It was Elliott's turn to join me in the locker room this week. We stagger it by weeks so that both guys have equal opportunity to look at nude old men shamelessly combing their hair in the mirror.
After I went to work Jen took the guys up to hang out with their uncles Joe and Ryan.
Apparently it was a great day for the guys. They got to pat on a horse and they got to watch their mother score some shrimp cocktail serving pieces at an estate sale.
Overall it was an important day of firsts in the life of any growing children.
Yesterday, while I was at work, Jen painstakingly repaired the sheep mobiles that the guys had done their best to rip to pieces. Was this a much-needed chore or a fruitless attempt to stop the unending wave of damage they are doing to our living quarters?
Elliott's crawling attempts have been getting better and more frequent. He's got the part nailed where he gets onto all fours.
Then he kind of flops onto his belly.
Then, after not knowing what to do he gets really angry.
Almost there, Buddy.
For dinner we thawed out two burgers from the freezer and Jen made them with onion gravy and mashed potatoes. I made corn with olive oil, butter, garlic, onion, and chopped bell peppers. We had hoped to grill but what may have been the last bit of cold drizzle cancelled those plans. The rest of the week looks like it will usher out the chilly spring weather for good.
After dinner I settled back with this 2011 bottle of Twelve from Victory Brewing Company. The year-and-a-half it aged certainly didn't mellow it much. At 12% ABV one glass was more than I needed. It is supposed to be a Belgian-style quadrupel but it was much lighter in color and heavier in alcohol than I would have expected. Still, a nice after-dinner beverage.
One of our favorite things to do during hockey playoff season is to go get ice cream. In recent years this has been at our local Longford's. With Jen's dental work and getting the babies to sleep it seemed unlikely. On Friday, after picking up her prescription, I decided to stop by Longford's and pick up some ice cream to bring home to her since bringing the sleeping babies in a stroller seemed like a fool's game.
This never materialized so, instead, I made up some ice cream cones last night with salted caramel and coffee chunk ice creams. This went nicely with an exceedingly boring match up between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators as well as the first sixty minutes of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Normally the movie release date to our viewing lag time is eight years so we were beating the odds with this one.
With the exception of the cones being incredibly stale, and possibly rancid, this was a great Sunday night treat before entering another week of work, Bubs day care, and a pile of laundry that if you laid it out end-to-end it would stretch half way to Saturn.
You can't have it all.
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Posted 16 May 2013Tonight I was on my own for the care and feeding of Wombats. Jen was having dinner with Bill Pullman. When Jen is hobnobbing with celebrities it's only natural that I fend for myself.
Thankfully the worst of this round of teething seems to be behind us. The guys were in much better spirits today when I picked them up and they had dinner and went to sleep with relatively little fuss. Of course, like any evening, there is always that moment when I think to myself, "Oh no, this is the night they just aren't going to go to sleep. It's finally happened."
However, I have a few more tricks up my sleeve when it comes to tricking those little monsters into falling asleep.
The guys were a little weird so I decided to show them how to eat their toast strips by taking bites myself. For some reason that made Elliott grin in a way I've never really seen him grin before. He was delighted in his father's genius at taking tiny bites of his toast.
Sometimes they're a pretty great audience.
Martin did what he normally does which is to just leave a bunch of food in his mouth for most of dinner and not swallow it. As I tried to mime the action of swallowing his food for him he decided he would just wave his head around like a little lunatic.
It must be pretty nice being a baby and getting to act like an ill-trained monkey at all times.
A while back I got a much anticipated beer, the Internatinal Arms Race from Flying Dog Brewery. It was an experiment in brewing and IPA with no hops. I was excited to try it because it seemed like a noble experiment. Ultimately it left me flat.
This beer was a contest between Flying Dog and its transatlantic colleagues over at Brew Dog. Who could brew the better zero IBU IPA.
I found this one months later so I was able to try them out together for the first time as I enjoyed my leftover couscous.
The Brew Dog version was surprisingly similar to the Flying Dog one. Both had an odd slickness to them, a viscous mouthfeel that was unexpected and unusual. Like the Flying Dog version I admired the experiment. In the end I think Brew Dog's version was slightly better but at the end of the day I think both breweries worked together to prove the same thing with this experiment.
Beer needs hops.
After trying these I felt I needed to have a different beer so I opened this Thirteenth Hour from Sam Adams. I got this one a while back and have been waiting to open the bottle for a while. It wasn't like I expected. It had very little in the way of chocolate and coffee and a lot of fruit and berry flavors to it. It was much more tart and sour than I would have expected.
The conclusion from tonight is that the Wombats were happy, the beer was not hoppy, and Jen was hobnobby.
That's the Reader's Digest Version.
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Posted 15 May 2013The first day back in New York was an action packed extravaganza of unpacking, tidying, and getting ready to return to our normal life. This meant 400% less help with wrangling fussy, teething Wombats.
Elliott apparently had a very bad day at day care but you wouldn't have been able to tell during our night time dining and drum circle. Martin learned how to drum one hand at a time while Elliott clapped along and waved at the counter. I set them up in the kitchen to feed them while I got dinner together.
I got some Bronx Pale Ale from The Bronx Brewery and enjoyed a small half-glass while preparing dinner. Why only half a glass?
Because I used the other half to make this beer can chicken. The glass was half full just like this chicken's butt.
Tonight I set them up in the kitchen again where we had a slightly less successful event at our makeshift chef's table. They enjoyed grabbing spoons and waving them about as I worked. Teething, it seems, has gotten the best of both of them.
Martin, between coughing fits, was feeling good enough to drop his peanut butter toast on the floor. He just seemed to be wondering where Pete was to come eat it up.
I managed enough time between bubs wrangling to make this couscous with onion, carrot, celery, potato, raisins, leftover chicken from last night, Sambar spice blend, green onion, a dollop of yogurt and a drizzle of olive oil.
For beer I had a late celebration of the Wombats' ten month birthday with this L'assoiffe 10 tripel from Brasseurs du Monde, another find from our Quebec trip. It was the best of the group thus far, beating out the 6 and 8 with less of the harsh minerality I found in those two beers.
The boys had a rough night getting to sleep but eventually, after much coaxing and shushing they eventually passed out. This left me to my new cleaning method. Basically I just run the dishwasher every night no matter how full it is. It's not the most environmentally friendly method but it sure beats hand washing everything every night. I just need to deal with the guilt of running the dishwasher even if there are just two spoons in it but that's just a wild fantasy of mine.
There are never just two spoons.
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Posted 14 May 2013Saturday was an ambitious day, particularly after following up our Friday in which we pushed the Wombats further than we ever have before. They did quite well, we were pretty tired. Unlike the Wombats when we are tired we want to go to sleep. Unfortunately we can't. When babies are tired they are too stupid to know that they need to sleep.
There used to be a day when I could have slept whenever I wanted to. Of course I didn't really want to because I was so fully rested from the previous night's sleep.
That's a sad fact of parenthood.
We got the guys ready for the shower so that they could be paraded about.
They posed for pictures with just about everyone we could find. Meanwhile we all set up the shower.
Jen's mother had an extremely intricate plan for what foods would be placed where and had done a meticulous job of pairing them all up with children's books. The end result was fantastic. The thirty people there seemed to enjoy the food and if all thirty people had brought an unannounced friend I think we still would have had enough food left for everyone.
After that I took the guys upstairs and coaxed them into falling asleep. Getting them to go down for their naps always involves a lot of maneuvering, trickery, and deception. When I can get them both to settle in for a nice nap I feel like screaming at them, "In your face, suckers! I beat you! You are nothing! You think you can outfox me? Think again, you silly babies! Boo ya!"
However, I refrain from doing that as it would probably wake them up. Instead I simply holed up in the corner and wrote the previous blog entry.
For dinner Jen's father cooked up a mess of ribs (with sauce, without sauce, with rub, without rub), chicken wings, and other assorted goodies.
As the trip was winding down I had to have a beer lightning round. I started off with the Modus Hoperandi from Ska Brewing, the first beer I've had from this brewery. It was a very nicely done IPA.
Secondly I had the Scape Goat by Big Sky Brewing Co. This was being called "Goat's Butt" around the house I think partly because one of their other beers is called Moose Drool. I, however, feel like moose drool is about four hundred times more disgusting than a goat's ass. I have refrained from Moose Drool all these years for that reason.
Jen's father picked up this Boatswain H.L.V (Heavy Lift Vessel) from Minhas Brewery which we enjoyed with the barbecue. It was a nice, hoppy, brown ale and went beautifully with all manner of barbecue items.
After dinner I settled in with this Zaison Imperial Saison from Brewery Vivant. This was not at all what I'd expected. It was interesting but extremely intense and reminded me of the first time I had Skullsplitter when I was in my early 20s and I thought it tasted like gravy. This had a similar flavor to it. It was interesting in that I've never had anything of this style before but I don't know that I'd go rushing to it again. I preferred their more straight forward farmhouse ale far more.
On Mother's Day Jen awoke to chocolate covered strawberries and flowers from the Wombats. They are some thoughtful guys.
Too bad their penmanship is so atrocious.
I made a Mother's Day brunch with spinach, gruyere, roasted tomato, and carmelized leek quiches. Jen's father tried as much as he could to hate them but had to admit they were pretty good. I also made home fries, sweet potato casserole, flavored cream cheeses with bagels, and a smoked salmon platter.
We also cooked up a mess of bacon and Canadian bacon. The babies, for some reason, were fascinated with the tray of cooked pork and were constantly trying to shift their weight to snag a piece. I didn't let that happen. I'm pretty sure Jen's father probably fed them to the Wombats at some point when we weren't looking. After all he tried to feed them nasty bargain hot dogs and a croissant that had fallen on the floor so a bung of salty, cured pork would have been one of the better things he put in their mouths during this trip.
The bagels were just chewy enough to keep them entertained during brunch.
After brunch we went outside and tossed the babies around under the tree which delighted them and tired me out to the point of exhaustion.
It was a Mother's Day to remember. Unless you are a Wombat in which case they won't remember any of this.
Back inside the guys got to hang out with their great Nana who was always eager to entertain them long enough to buy us some free time.
Nancy had come to see Lauren graduate and visit us on Mother's Day and she was kind enough to get some cute stuffed animals for the boys and give them some great books which they enjoyed reading. Reading has been steadily involving less gnawing on the corners of books and more flipping through the pages and looking at them.
Still not much actual reading though.
I didn't want the Wombats to outdo me so I picked up this Mama's Little Yella Pils from Oskar Blues Brewery for Jen to have. I knew she wouldn't like it (and I was right) but it was hard to pass up.
It's the thought that counts and I was thinking that I could probably drink her beer if she didn't like it. I'm often thinking that.
For dinner I shared another beer from Minhas Brewery, this Double I.P.A. which was very nice. I split it with Doug and we both enjoyed it.
For the final beer of the trip (sort of) I picked up this Feijoa Tripel, a collaboration between New Belgium Brewing Co. and Dieu du Ciel!. After looking up feijoa Doug and I learned that it's basically a guava. The beer was also brewed with hibiscus. We shared it with Jen. We all liked it but I can't say I would have ever thought it was a tripel if it hadn't said it on the label.
The guys had a rough night going into Monday. It took us hours to get them to sleep and they had a very rough morning. They were both teething pretty badly and we had to do a lot of wrestling with both of them to get them to take their afternoon naps. The morning naps weren't on the table at all. Elliott would only sleep if I slept with. Jen had to pack while I grappled with him. It's times like that that make me wish I knew how to pack our clothes to her specifications.
Before we left for the airport the guys had their first honeydew, the one Martin had picked out at the grocery store. They loved it.
They also had their first raspberries and blackberries. They seemed to enjoy both of those as well, though honeydew was a new favorite. Perhaps I'll use a little Midori on their gums to get them to sleep moving forward.
Jen and her Mum also posed the guys at the little table Jen had used as a child.
Elliott chose to spend most of his time trying to flip the table.
The remainder of the time he spent trying to stand on the chair and climb over the table.
At the airport, after having some nice people put us through a special "no wait" line at security, carefully feeding both of them, and getting dinner for ourselves the guys made a new friend. Elliott waved at him, then tried to gouge his eyes out, the customary greeting of children.
One positive about flying with babies is that you don't ever have time to get bored on an airplane. It felt like only about twenty minutes later when we began to descent and flew by lower Manhattan before landing at LaGuardia and driving home.
This first flight with babies, as well as their evening at the graduation, has left me with a new level of confidence. It was hard. Really hard. But we did it and the babies did well, much better than the time they ruined our friend's wedding.
Flying with two babies is not something I'd recommend to anyone sane but with the right amount of preparation, distraction techniques, and just dumb luck it can be done.
Hopefully the same thing will be true the next time we fly with them when they're thirteen.
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Posted 11 May 2013Thursday began, as most days do, quite early. On this trip the Wombats have decided that their new favorite thing to do is wake up around 5:00 in the morning, monkey around for a bit, have a bottle, then go back to sleep until about 7:00. I suppose we should be grateful that they do go back to sleep but I think I'd prefer them sleeping through and eliminating the nap after being awake for thirty minutes.
Given the intense disruption we've given their routine on this trip I suppose we should be grateful.
They decided that standing around their grandma's wicker table and banging it as hard as they can was their new favorite morning activity, much to the delight of those in the house that were still asleep.
Thursday I was tasked with making dinner for Lauren's birthday and pending graduation. We all piled in the car and went to the grocery store. This meant that Jen had to sit in the back between the two car seats. As with everything in life now a simple trip to the grocery store became a test of endurance, patience, and pure parenting prowess.
We ended up buying a bunch of stuff we didn't really want or need. It's just that after letting the guys play with, smack, and slobber all over so many items to entertain themselves we felt obliged to purchase. Now we have a bag of tortilla chips, a honeydew, and a rubber ball.
After we arrived home Nana had gotten in from Canada and she was delighted to see the boys not having seen them since there were only two months old.
After an extremely late lunch I got to work on grilling up some vegetables while Jen's father mowed the lawn. I also pretended it wasn't drizzling by cracking open this Saint's Devotion from The Lost Abbey. There was a lot of warning about this beer as it is brewed with brettanomyces. Warnings were of "funk" and other unpleasant sensations. I've always found brettanomyces to be delightful so I was happy to find this one at the local grocery store.
It may be a little fancier than your normal grilling or lawnmower beer but, I'm an insufferable jerk so I found it delightful.
For dinner I grilled up raddichio and made a salad with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and aged cheddar.
Also I grilled zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers, and fennel, then added them to cooked orecchiette, roasted red tomatoes, chopped black olives, capers, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
To accompany this I grilled up some lake trout, sea scallops, and shrimp with a little olive oil, salt, ppeper, and fresh chives from the garden.
By brother-in-law and I both brought Three Floyds beers to the dinner and shared both bottles. With dinner we started with this Permanent Funeral, a beer they brewed in collaboration with the band Pig Destroyer.
After dinner we had this Toxic Revolution, another collaboration this time with the band Municipal Waste. At first I thought that they'd done the collaboration with the local government agency until I found out that this was yet another heavy metal band I've never heard of.
As long as there are obscure, comical, gruesomely named heavy metal bands Three Floyds will have an excuse to continue making delicious beers.
It's a weird symbiosis but it works.
Friday morning we awoke and went to visit Amanda and her boys once again. They had a great time playing with the older boys. They even had lunch together and played with an awesome Sesame Street toy from the 70s.
Matthew was kind enough to allow Elliott to smack and poke at his face too. In fact, he seemed to enjoy it.
The evening was reserved for Auntie Lauren's graduation. They will now need to refer to her as Dr. Auntie Lauren. She didn't spend seven years in the educational doctorate program to just be called Auntie Lauren.
It was a risky evening as the boys were completely thrown off their schedule for the entire day. They had minimal naps and had almost all of their meals early or late. Even with all of that stacked against them -- and, let's face it, against us -- they managed to keep it together.
Luckily there were so many crazy sights and sounds at the graduation that they were continually entertained. Toward they end we did need to use a carefully deployed stream of puffs to keep them at bay.
The drive home was not pretty but after making it through the graduation with nothing but praise from all and sundry we were just happy to be alive.
In fear of leaving the Chicagoland area without having deep dish pizza we ordered some late night delivery from Lou Malnati's, voted the pizzeria that most sounds like a secret society responsible for masterminding world events.
Despite the fact that we would have been happy eating from the trash given how hungry we were, the pizza was fantastic.
After getting home so late, coaxing the babies to sleep, and getting pizza delivery we were in need of a beer so I opened another from The Lost Abbey, this Inferno Ale. It was a beautiful golden ale from a brewery we have no access to back home.
If you're in the Chicago area I'd highly recommend this combination. Even if garbage and Miller Lite would suffice.
I'm sorry, was that redundant?
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