Cuddles supports all of the major candy holidays.  Also, the minor ones.
Niklas will tell Zoe the names of all of these buildings, even if he has to make them up.

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  • May 2012
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  • 2012-04-01: So, Niklas has his spring break this week.

    His list of requests for his vacation includes mini-golf, t-ball, the zoo, the children's museum and possibly some sort of interplanetary expedition. We'll see how that goes, but I know Zoe would be down for all of it. Spring break kicked off in good enough fashion this past weekend with a trip to the DMK Burger Bar where the kids had macaroni and cheese because why wouldn't they. There was also a bunch of game playing and no end of Matchbox car racing which is extremely popular with Zoe due to its popularity with Niklas.

    So we spring breaked (broke?) it up all over the place today. This morning we watched The Empire Strikes Back and then went to play some mini-golf. Niklas shot pretty well; he had a two on one hole and threes on several others (and also some eights and tens, probably). The game was complicated somewhat by Zoe's insistence on chasing down any ball that anyone hit, but that didn't cause much disruption. Zoe's favorite part was how she got to pick her own purple golf ball. After smacking it around for a couple of holes, she decided it was too precious to risk on the links and she carried it around for the rest of our time there.

    Because Niklas is my son, he decided that he wanted to have lunch at Michael Diversey's; a request I will rarely deny. I rolled the dice and didn't put Zoe in a high chair. That worked out about as well as I could have hoped save for the time she jumped off the chair and ran out the (open) front door. "Daddy! I saw you catch Zoe on the sidewalk!" said Niklas. That's right, I can still run a two year old down when I have to.

    After Niklas watched The Return of The Jedi while Zoe took her nap, we went to the playground. The kids were still pretty much run down after our morning's adventures, so they spent most of their time there on swings. Also, Zoe went down the slide like fifty times, as is her wont. We closed things out by having brown chicken (in the parlance of Niklas) for dinner and watching that one good episode from the nineteenth season of the Simpsons.

    So, Spring Breakage '12 continued unabated today. We ventured outside much earlier than I am usually cool with so as to acquire some doughnuts from the Dunkin' Something-or-Others down the street. Please to remember that one of the first phrases Niklas ever spoke was "runs on Dunkin!" Once everyone was sufficiently sugared up, we walked to the park where the kids played a bit of t-ball. Niklas had a good time hitting the balls off the tee while Zoe preferred to try to use her
    ninja skills to knock the balls off of the tee before Niklas could hit them.

    Then: Shoe shopping! (cue shoe shopping montage)
    Well, I don't actually have any video of the shopping, so there's no montage. Here are the new shoes, though:

    We also had lunch at the Rainforest Cafe as you may remember as The Place That Niklas Hated When We Took Him There For His Third Birthday (feel free to use that in your advertising, Rainforest Cafe). Zoe thought the animatronic gorillas and elephants and whatnot were pretty much the best things ever. Niklas will likely not chose to celebrate birthday number six at that particular establishment.
    So today, we kicked things off with a trip to the playground that's right across the street from zoo. We took the bus to get there which is always popular with the children who, as I have mentioned, love public transit. I think maybe it has to do with the fact that they're in a conveyance but they're not strapped down. Anyway, the playground by the zoo was pretty fun. It didn't have any toddler swings, so Zoe got to use the big girl ones, which she is a fan of. I would be happier if she had even a basic concept of weight distribution, but we managed to avoid any debacles. It also has one of those shaky bridge things (it's a bridge? that shakes when you walk on it?) that Niklas loves, so a good time was had by all.

    We followed that up, as one might expect, with a trip to the zoo. Zoe loved, loved, loved the monkey house. Actual Zoe dialog:

    "A monkey! Another monkey! There's another monkey! There's another monkey! There's another monkey!"

    And so on. Niklas was more excited to get his picture taken in a photo booth, which I will scan as soon as I remember which pocket of the backpack I put it in. (Look at me, ending two sentences in a row with prepositions. Take that, English!) We also saw the gorillas, the big cats ("hello, kitty!" - Zoe) and rode the carousel. On a one to ten scale, Niklas gave the carousel a twelve while Zoe gave it about a six.

    The kids also got some Easter gifts from Grandma and Grandpap Vennard today. Niklas got a Star Wars sticker book that is, without exaggeration, one of his favorite things ever. Of the one thousand stickers it came with, I'd estimate that a couple hundred have found their appropriate spots. If putting stickers in a sticker book was a job, Niklas would be a partner at a major sticker book conglomerate. Zoe got a set of two piece puzzles that have also proved popular, though more in a flinging about way than a puzzle assembly way thus far.

    Well, the Jay Smith Exhaustion Tour Of Things His Kids Like To Do continued in full force today. This morning, we went to Pump It Up and ran, jumped and climbed for an hour or so. Niklas goes to Pump It Up all the time for recess (it's in the same building as his school), so he showed his sister what was the what. Zoe is really too small to climb up the giant slides by herself, so I got to carry her up a twenty foot high inflatable incline many, many times.

    Once my Achilles tendons stopped trying to murder me, we came home and had some ballpark food in celebration of opening day. We had hotdogs, some giant pretzels, lemonade and ice cream and watched the Pirates score as many runs as they did all winter. I'm sure the next one hundred sixty one games will go better. Anyway, win or lose, it's always adorable when the kids are in their Pirates jerseys.

    And then in the afternoon, we went to the playground. Spring break with the kids has thus far been more exhausting than my trip to Vegas last month. Fun, though.

    SPRING BREAK!!!!! *coughs, falls over, passes out, wakes up briefly to summarize the day*
    So, spring break has pretty much wrecked me. Thankfully, the kids had no suggestions for activities this morning, so I pitched a movie day which was well received, especially when I mentioned that M&Ms would be part of the deal. We had some popcorn, more M&Ms than I think law allows and watched The Muppets, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and the first half of Return of the Jedi. Then the kids were all about a trip to the playground, so we hit the pirate themed one on Racine for an hour or so before coming home for some pizza. As I'm not counting the weekend, I now have the maximum amount of time to rest up for next spring break. I will need that.
    Well, we drove down to Bloomington yesterday to celebrate Easter with Grandma and Papa Meeker. Niklas and Papa played with Star Wars guys in basement while Zoe and Grandma played with some old school (actually little) Little People stuff. Then today, Zoe ate a ton of candy and then threw up in the car on the way home. Other, more positive stuff (Easter baskets, egg hunting, Niklas behaving himself in church) happened, too, but I'm one to dwell on the negative, especially when it involves me trying to figure out how to get puke out of a carseat.

    There are some new pictures right
    here. None of the carseat, so that's a plus.
    Me: "Zoe, is your car seat stinky?"
    Zoe (in a your-question-is-ridiculously-silly type of voice): "Nooooo!"

    So, that's taken care of. I neglected to mention yestedary that Niklas got a Han Solo figure from Grandma and Papa Meeker that Niklas wants everyone to know is awesome. I'm also supposed to point out that Han Solo has two belts, which is crazy. Anyway, today we went to t-ball and the grocery store and nobody threw up so hooray.
    So Niklas had his triumphant post-spring break return to school today. He learned about weather. He now knows about science and weather, so feel free to direct any questions on either of those topics to Niklas. Zoe did some more finger painting at the playroom at the gym today. She got about 75% more paint on the paper than on her shirt, so success! After that, Lady von Z and I headed over to Alcott Elementary to sign Niklas up for kindergarten. Do you know how many forms you have to fill out to send a kid to school these days? It's not a trivial amount, but Zoe was reasonably well behaved while I tried to remember things like Niklas's doctor's first name and whether or not he can speaka the English. I'm pretty sure the answers are "Pria" and "yes".
    Who hates naps? Let's see...

    Yes. That seems about right. Other than nap avoidance, the last couple of days have featured a bunch of work doing by me and the usual antics by those who are known for antics.
    So, today I took the kids to Niklas's friend Mason's fifth birthday party. A good time was had by all. It was held at one of the local bouncy castle/large climbing apparatus emporiums that seem ubiquitous these days, but which I assume did not exist when I was a child because I never got to go to one which is unfair because they are awesome. Niklas pretty much disappeared with his friends as soon as we hit the door, leaving Zoe and I to check out the toddler slides and reasonably sized jump around on this thing things. Also, there was pizza and cake, so thumbs up.

    I failed to take any party pictures as I am a terrible documentarian, but
    here are some photos of other stuff, a few of which were even taken by me.
    2012-04-16:Today in Important Observations By Zoe: "That gentleman is wearing a hat."

    Not this guy, but a guy on the bus, though this would have been cool

    This has been Important Observations By Zoe.
    Well, Zoe and I were battling colds today. Zoe must have been feeling really bad because she sat quietly and watched tv for almost fifteen minutes, which is nigh unheard of. Niklas, as is usually the case, seems to be immune to any illnesses that are going about the house, so he taunted us with his normal breathing and lack of a runny nose.
    So Niklas had his first t-ball practice with his new team, the Oz Park Baseball Association Braves, this afternoon. He threw the ball really well today, but he's "still getting used to" his new bat, so his hitting has a ways to go. Still, I'm picking the Braves to win whatever it is you win for winning the five year old OPBA division. Pizza, maybe. Zoe had a good time at Niklas's practice as well. There were benches that could be walked like balance beams which she took advantage of, at length. Then, we went to McDonald's so today was a great success.

    Niklas: Daddy, did the Pirates win today?
    Me: No, buddy, I'm afraid they didn't.
    Niklas: How many did they get?
    Me: One.
    Niklas: How many did the other team get?
    Me: Five.
    Niklas: Oh. One wasn't nearly enough, then.

    He's right, you know. Anyway, here are some new
    2012-04-23:So, one of the best things about Niklas's t-ball class (other than, you know, Niklas's enjoyment of the t-ball) is Zoe following along during the warmups. She gets very excited and tries to do arm circles (I'd give her a 4 out of 5), arm scissors (3/5), toe touches (2/5), rocket jumps (3/5) and jumping jacks (-18/5). It's a lot of fun.
    Niklas got his last pre-school report card yesterday. Here's an artist's representation of Chalk's assessment of Niklas's scholarly endeavors:

    So that's nice. Also, it rained today which is usually a drag, but the kids were thrilled on account of how they got new umbrellas last weekend (a Star Wars one and a Minnie Mouse one; match those up as you will). Zoe is firmly entrenched in a "I do it myself" phase, so she shouted down my efforts to assist her in holding her umbrella properly. In a somewhat related story, Zoe got rained on today.
    So, Niklas is going to miss his t-ball practice this afternoon, so I took him and Zoe to the park for t-balling purposes this morning. We did some running (good), fielding (very good), catching (not as horrible as it could be) and hitting (pretty ok). The big thing we need to fix is Zoe's hitting style, which features either her hitting the ball off the tee with the handle of the bat whilst she hold the barrel or just punching it. I don't think there's any practical application to punching a baseball, but she seems to be quite good at it for her age.
    So, Niklas's homework for the month of April was to read five books with me or Andrya and document said book reading on a construction paper flower. Here's the final draft of his project:

    So, not bad. We read Meet The Super Hero Squad (needs more Thor, but otherwise cool), Droid World (a Star Wars book from 1983; next time you see Niklas say "Stay back, intruder, or I'll blast you out of space" and he will pretty much recite the rest of it for you), Raiders of the Lost Ark (he's well versed in the classics), Lego Star Wars (every bit as riveting as it sounds) and The Story of Darth Vader. Vader. Hmm. Enhance!

    Enhance further and rotate negative ninety degrees!

    Darth Varth sounds like Darth Vader's cousin who constantly screws things up but then lucks into success thereby infuriating Vader, who does things by the book but is made to look the fool by Varth's chicanery. As a frequent practitioner of spelling errors myself, I am quite jealous that my typos are never that funny. Anyway, here are some new
    2012-04-30:So, Niklas had his first t-ball game on Sunday. Things went about as well as you would expect for a game that featured twenty five year olds making their respective t-ball debuts. There were plenty of gloves on the wrong hand, a couple of kids that ran toward third instead of first (and one who tried to go directly to second) and a swarm style defense that featured every player in the field running after every batted ball no matter where it was hit. The comedic highlight for me, though, was watching Niklas try to fit the typical five year old size helmet on his atypically large head. And that's how we ended up at the sporting goods store today buying Niklas his own junior high sized batting helmet.