Cuddles was warm when he went outside.  He's not sure what to do with that.
Niklas will tell Zoe the names of all of these buildings, even if he has to make them up.

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  • 2016-09-08: A mere six months after the last drive-by picture dump, here's a new drive-by picture dump. Hooray!.
    2016-03-01: So, Andrya's been out of town a lot of late. One thing she really likes to do whilst in such a state is look at pictures of her kids on the internet. As I like to minimize reasons for my wife to be furious with me, here are some recent (and, to be fair, somewhat old) pictures of said kids.
    2015-11-08: So, it was a successful week for both kids. Niklas had his first basketball class of ever, which went surprisingly well given that he, like most of the other nine year olds, struggled to get a basketball anywhere near the basket. He did make one shot, which was the cause of much celebration, but mostly he had fun running about with a bunch of his friends, so that was cool.

    Zoe, meanwhile, continues to kindergarten the crap out of kindergarten. She's doing really well at sounding out words and really exceptionally well at coloring. (This is where I should post a picture of her coloring, but scanning artwork is the next big project that I need to get to.) Jumping rope is a big thing with her, too. Kindergarten jump rope is entertaining as it usually involves a kid jumping the rope once or twice and then all of the kids running around in a circle with the rope.
    Yet another picture update with minimally descriptive text! On the plus side, the project that was using up all of my computing power is now complete, so I should have somewhat regular updates in the future. On the minus side is my inherent laziness, so we'll see how that plays out. At any rate, both kids are doing well in school and Halloween was a massive success that yielded over three pounds of candy per child.
    2015-08-23: Moderate picture update! I've also finished the captions from the last bunch of pictures, so there's that.
    2015-08-10: Big picture update! Also, summer continues apace. (checks previous update...) Also, also, it's now summer.
    2015-04-27: Well, did you see the picture update from yesterday? There were so many pictures! At any rate, here's some not photo related stuff the kids have been up to of late:

    Spring Break! The kids' spring breaks (spring breaki? no, not that) didn't overlap this year. I don't know whether to blame the CPS for having spring break the week after Easter as opposed to the traditional week before or to blame Chalk for not getting in line with the CPS but, I have advanced blame laying abilities, so a pox on both of their houses and all that.

    So, Zoe had her Spring Break first. To kick things off we hit the Zoo where there's a new train that she loved, the old carousel that she continues to love and there's that massive climbing net thing that's quite popular. Additionally, it's possible that there are some animals at the zoo. After the Zoo, we went to the conveniently located RJ Grunts for lunch. RJ Grunts is part of the very reputable Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group. RJ Grunts is not at all reputable. It's a theme restaurant where the theme is "the late 70s". It brought back terrible flashbacks of corduroy and bad haircuts for me, but Zoe wasn't nearly as traumatized and she gave the chicken fingers two thumbs up. I hope future Zoe has to take her kid to some terrible 2010s themed eatery.

    We spent the next few days at various playgrounds and also Pump It Up (which is pretty much an indoor playground) because if there's anyone with energy to burn, it's Zoe. She does really well playing with other kids which makes it that much more baffling that she can't spend two minutes around her brother without trying to irritate the bejeezus out of him. Anyway, playground highlights included Zoe setting a new all time personal best by riding a swing for 25 minutes, Zoe riding a bunch of tire swings and me getting tired of pushing swings both tire and conventional.

    The kids had one day of Spring Break overlap (I know I said they didn't overlap earlier, but I guess i meant the entire week) on Good Friday, so after Niklas got out of school Thursday we headed downstate to see Grandma and Grandpap Vennard. The "are we there yets" started before we left city limits, but other than that and a detour through scenic Oblong, the drive was all right. The kids spent Friday flying kites, shooting bubble guns and trying to get into things in the garage. We also launched a rocket into a muddy field which ended up about how you'd expect.

    Saturday we headed over to Bloomington to see Grandma and Papa Meeker. This time, the "are we there yets" started before we got to Lawrenceville, which is a pretty impressive disregard for the concept of time and distance, I guess. Once we got to Bloomington, the kids played with some classic toys in the basement, colored some Easter eggs and ran amuck as is their wont. We took them to the good pizza place for dinner where they both had macaroni and cheese in lieu of good pizza because why wouldn't you.

    On Sunday, the kids behaved themselves at Easter Mass and then hunted some Easter eggs. I think the hunt turned up all of the eggs, so I don't expect Grandma Meeker will see any squirrels hopped up on sugar in her backyard as may have happened last year. Sorry squirrels.
    2015-04-26: Let's check in on the last photo update. It was... oh. Oh, no. Well, please to enjoy ONE HUNDRED NEW PICTURES! WOOOOOOOOOOO!

    Here are the new pictures. Sorry for the wait, grandmas.)
    2015-03-01: Hi. Well, I've switched over to a new computer with a new operating system, so that's my excuse for the lack of recent updates. Not laziness, I assure you; technical difficulties. Anyway, the kids are both doing pretty well considering February was colder than a really cold thing and they were cooped up quite a bit. I guess they weren't entirely cooped up as they both play outside for what seems like an eternity everyday after Niklas gets out of school. It's good that they're getting some exercise, but on the other hand, I'm not a giant fan of standing around in the cold. Zoe and I have been making weekly trips to Pump It Up as well, as she has an abundance of energy that needs to be let off in controlled, normal volcano sized eruptions lest there be a Yosemite destroying super volcanic eruption (which there still is from time to time).

    Pictures to follow once I figure out how to make the new machine format them correctly and also once I take a few more because I've been doing a lousy job of that as well.
    Well, a belated happy new year to everyone from Niklas and Zoe. I'd like to point out that my neighbors still have Christmas decorations up, so new year's greetings are still in play. Anyway, both kids are doing great. Niklas is doing some Chinese homework at the moment. He just told me how to say "I do not like milk", which I can use if I'm ever in China and remember what he said, which I don't. Zoe had a haircut at the higher up kid's hair salon yesterday, so she's rocking a sparkly, cotton candy scented do at the moment. She also continues to convince her teachers that she's well behaved, so we've got that.
    It's been an eventful couple of weeks as the kids get ramped up for Christmas. We took them to see Santa Claus at the zoo last night. Santa was in the tiny monkey house as opposed to the big cat house this time around, so the smell was certainly a lot better. Despite the fact that the line to see Santa stretched all the way back to Terre Haute and what could charitably be described as a traffic apocalypse leaving the zoo, both kids had an awesome time. Other than their annual meeting with the Man with the Bag, highlights included some light up zebras, a really cool light up flamingo/palm tree display and a couple of different synchronized light / music things. Lights.

    Niklas's godfather was in town all last week. He spoiled both kids with some early Christmas presents, so there's been a lot of Legoing and princess castling going on. He and I took Zoe to the Winter Wonderfest (or something like that) at Navy Pier, which was cool. It's a big indoor winter/Christmas-themed carnival deal at Navy Pier. Zoe's favorites were the tilt-a-whirl (which was sadly bereft of pixie dust spreaders), the cocoa cups and the many big slides. My favorite was the ferris wheel because you got to sit around and rest for a while. Zoe has a lot of energy. Niklas actually went to the same place the next day on a field trip, so he got to ride some of the bigger kid rides like the hang glider thing and the zero-gravity spinny aroundy apparatus. He said he would like those better if he hadn't ridden them back to back, but "I didn't puke."

    Today, both kids went to drop off parties, which was quite relaxing for me and Andrya. Zoe got to go to the kids' art place and Niklas went to a Christmas cookie party at his friend Henry's house. We've got cookies and art in the house, now.

    here are some new pictures (several of which are actually pretty old).
    2014-11-30: A slightly belated Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Niklas and Zoe certainly enjoined theirs. They ate a ton of cranberry sauce, as is per usual. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I experimented with giving them various types of "real" (which is to say, not the looks like a can-shaped jello mold kind) cranberry sauce, which Zoe thought was mostly ok and Niklas hated like it was homemade applesauce (which is awesome, if you're not Niklas), so we went back to Oceanspray for the big day. After finishing their healthy meal of cranberries and pie, they played with Grandma and Papa Meeker who were up for the day. I suspect they had an awesome time with that, but I was too occupied with various degree of beer, couch and football to notice too much.
    Well, mere days after I announce that Zoe wouldn't be getting a report card, Zoe got her report card. While it was very good all around (she exceeds expectations in most things and meets them in the rest), she absolutely aced the behavior section. I'm not sure what to do with that information.
    So, the weekend went pretty well. The kids did some swimming today in between bouts of running around like fools and making enough racket to level cities. They also played a ton of video games (this also involved a bunch of yelling and a surprising amount of running around).

    Also, at long last:
    2014-11-13: Well, we're still sitting on a ton of Halloween candy, so I guess it's not too late to post pictures of Halloween. Hopefully, we'll still have all that candy when I get around to doing that on Sunday or whenever. Anyway, things have been busy, busy, busy. Niklas got his report card today. He was supposed to get it yesterday but there was a power outage at school. As he had a new Lego set riding on a good grades, we may have witnessed the first time a kid was ever furious about not getting his report card in a timely fashion. It all worked out in the end, though, so now he' Lego Town Mastering it up. Zoe's been doing well at school, but since there's been a regime change at Chalk, we haven't seen a report card for her. She's come home with a good behavior sticker most every day, so there's that. (Note that if I were to give out stickers for good behavior here at home, I'd have a crap load of stickers and not much to do with them.)
    Welp, I'm apparently still the worst. Anyway, the kids are both doing well. Niklas got his half-term report card which was solid as always and Zoe is getting good at sounding out words, possibly because we practice that in bars somewhat regularly. Zoe also coined the term "Slow Party" to describe traffic, which I think is pretty awesome.

    I guess it's been a while since I've posted any pictures.

    Right. So,
    here are some new pictures. Quite a few, at that.
    2014-09-15: So, Niklas turned eight over the weekend. That's fairly hard for me to wrap my head around. I was trimming his nails today and I just couldn't get over how big his hands were, especially since I had trimmed Zoe's nails a few minutes before (her hands still seem appropriately sized, but I guess that won't last either).

    Anyway, the weekend's birthday celebration extravagana went super well. On Saturday, Zoe and I made him chocolate doughnuts for breakfast, which was popular, and then he opened a bunch of presents, which was more popular. We spent most of the rest of the morning playing his new Wii U which is how I learned that Andrya really needs to work on her Wii U skills.

    Niklas's party was Saturday afternoon at the bowling alley. If you thought (as I did) that Zoe would be too small to bowl for two solid hours, you are a fool of the highest caliber. The birthday boy and assembled second graders aquitted themselves fairly well as there were only a couple of dropped balls and no broken toes or fingers.
    So, second grade continues to roll on for Niklas with no major crap ups thus far. He had his first math homework of the year today. That consisted solely of pattern recognition (counting by hundreds, counting backwards by tens, etc.). That struck me as rather too easy, so I made him do some multiplication, too.

    Zoe's ongoing stay in the Orange Room is going well as... well. She's light years ahead of where Niklas was (and close to where he is) when it comes to coloring inside the lines and her word recognition is pretty good, too. She's received a sticker for having good listening ears every school day this month which I guess means I need to institute some sort of sticker based reward system here at home.
    So, this past week was back to school week here in Chicago. Excuse me a moment.

    Niklas has been enjoying the second grade thus far. He reports that "it's less noisy and people are less crazy" than first grade, so good on you, second graders of room 207. This week, homework will start, so we'll see how that goes.

    Zoe has transitioned to three days a week at preschool, which she seems ok with. She's working on sounding out words and some simple addition and subtraction, so things are going well there. She has also continued behaving much, much better at school than she does at home which I guess is preferable to the opposite.

    Here are some "new"
    pictures that I formatted last week and just didn't put up. If you're expecting some from this week, you really should know better by now.
    2014-08-28: Well, well, well. So apparently, I failed to update the website at all over the summer. An impressive bit of slacking, even for me. Well, then.

    So for the first couple of weeks of Niklas's summer break, he had nothing going on while Zoe still had school on Tuesday and Thursday enabling us to reunite the 2007-2009 lineup of the band. I took him to the lakefront path to ride his bike while I followed him on my skates. He made it over five miles, which I thought was pretty good. We also kicked off our summer long Lego sorting project, which we just wrapped up this past weekend. (There were a lot of Lego to sort and assemble.)

    Then Niklas had science camp for five weeks. He learned about mummies, space... space mummies, maybe... and engineering. He was in a more advanced class than last year, so the creations he brought home (a fake leg with red goo to simulate muscle tissue, a bridge, apples in various states of mummification) were generally smaller, but also grosser, so that was a push. He had a great time with that.

    Zoe, meanwhile, continued rolling at school. On her off days when Niklas was at camp, she and I took a bunch of trips to the zoo and various playgrounds. She also had her hip hop dance class (which featured her mispronouncing b-boy stance as keyboard dance) and she once again out hit all of the boys at baseball.

    There was a bunch more stuff we did, including trips to St. Louis and Wisconsin Dells, so I guess I'll write about them in the next day or week or eventually. Meanwhile, I've got pictures to format, though not as many as you might hope.
    So, tomorrow is the last day of school for Niklas. He likes school, I like him going to school, this just doesn't seem right. Zoe, by the way, has school all summer on Tuesdays and Thursdays still, Zoe I guess Niklas and I will be getting our Bermudian band back together. Anyway, here are some pictures.
    2014-06-06: Recent exchanges that prove my children have learned much from me:

    Me: People are driving horribly today.
    Zoe: I know!

    (Niklas is standing in the kitchen)
    Me: Niklas, how is that shower I asked you to take going?
    Niklas: Very well, thanks for asking.
    So both kids had school today. Both were enthusiastic in their enjoyment of school and not at all forthcoming when it came to disclosing actual details of what went on at their respective places of education. After school, we went to the park to practice some baseball. Niklas is getting better at hitting pitched balls and Zoe, after acting like she didn't know where to stand for five minutes, was absolutely raking today.
    Today was the first day of Spirit Week at Alcott. As such, Niklas was allowed to wear his pajamas to school. I remembered this after I had dropped him off and saw a bunch of other kids in pajamas. The official tally from Niklas, though, was that all of the girls in his class wore pajamas and none of the boys did, so it doesn't look like this oversight is going to cost me.

    There are a few new pictures up

    There's this one and like three others.
    2014-06-01: So, it was actually seasonably warm today. I know. Andrya is off to Switzerland for chocolate and possibly some work, so I took the kids to Indian Boundary Park which is their favorite these days for bike riding, playgrounding and general horseplay. They were successful on all counts. Zoe particularly enjoyed the tire swing while the highlight for Niklas was when I let him pee on a tree on account of the renovations ongoing at the fieldhouse which contains the bathrooms. Sorry, anyone who had to see that.