Cuddles will be bringing home the gold this year.
Niklas will tell Zoe the names of all of these buildings, even if he has to make them up.

  • September 2012
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  • 2010-2011
  • 2009-2010
  • 2008-2009
  • 2007-2008
  • 2006-2007

  • September 2012
  • 2011-2012
  • 2010-2011
  • 2009-2010
  • 2008-2009
  • 2007-2008
  • 2006-2007

  • 2012-08-01: Zoe and I knocked out a bunch of errands today, so that was exciting. The highlight was Zoe trying to show every toy she owned to the guy who was here to estimate some tile cleaning. Later on, we took the tricycle out for a spin and ended up at the playground for some swing and sandbox excitement.

    Niklas, meanwhile, has been on a safari with Grandma and Papa:

    This morning, Zoe and I headed off on a road trip to Bloomington so as to pick up Niklas. Our plan was to leave at 7:30, so the fact that we were in the car by 7:50 put us right on schedule by traveling with a two year old standards. The trip down was pretty much as expected. Zoe threw all of the stuff out of her backpack within minutes of leaving the garage and then asked me to get it off of the floor. I can reach about forty percent of the rear floorboard while driving, so it's not an impossible request, though I'm pretty sure the police would frown upon it. I would argue that groping about behind me while keeping my eyes on the road is much less distracting than the piercing screams of a two year old who really, really wants a stuffed ninja. We listened to a bunch of Yo Gabba Gabba songs (which Zoe loved) interspersed with some obscenity free* songs that I like (during which Zoe would say "listen to another one Yo Gabba).

    *if Zoe calls someone a slack mother et cetera, that's on me

    Niklas had a great time with Grandma and Papa. They have what would appear to be all of the world's Legos in their basement, so that was popular. He also got to play Battleship which he's been asking about ever since he saw a commercial for Battleship. Grandma and Papa also made sure he did plenty of running about outside, which is always good.

    On the way home, we stopped off at a McDonald's with a play area, which is always popular. Zoe wasn't quite big enough to climb up the multi-level platform climbing thing, but her big brother gave her boosts whenever she needed it, which was super sweet. Eventually, she figured out that she could climb up the slide instead, which is why I had to chase her into a giant slide tube when it was time to leave. Later, Zoe dashed my hopes that the playroom would wear her out to the point where she would take a nap in the car quite expertly.

    Welcome home, Niklas!
    Niklas had another play date with his soon to be classmates today. There was a ton of running about and also popsicles, so that was fun. Zoe had a good time as well; she has, to my knowledge, never said "no" to a trip to the playground. She had so much fun, in fact, that she ran herself out but good and had meltdown reminiscent of the popsicles that didn't get eaten and sat in the cooler for four hours.

    Niklas also had his swimming lesson today. He swam about half a pool length of backstroke by himself, so that's an improvement. His freestyle is also pretty good, but it will be much better when he figures out how to breathe while he does it.

    So I took like three pictures over the last few day, only
    one of which is any kind of good.
    2012-08-08: Well. The last few days have been action packed*. (*packedness of action not guaranteed) On Monday, we had some guys in to clean twelve years or so of neglect off of the bathroom tiles. That kept us tied to the house for most of the day which led to some awesome displays of cabin fever by the children. The had a "camping trip" in Zoe's room which pretty much means they took some bins of toys in there and dumped them on the floor. Do not take Niklas and Zoe camping. All in all, though, they behaved themselves really well given the circumstances, so I let them get some take out pizza for dinner which they were way too excited about given that I make them pizza for dinner every Friday.

    Yesterday, Niklas had school and Zoe and I went to the gym in the morning. Zoe apparently tried to eat some chalk in the play room. She denied it, but unless she's started wearing a ton of face powder it was pretty obvious. That afternoon, we hit the Pirate Playground which is popular with Niklas and Zoe because I will pull them there in the wagon and which is popular with me because you pass the good beer store on the way home. Win-win-win.

    Today, Zoe and I watched the Little Einsteins episode that featured the Big Bad Wolf:

    So today featured both moderate temperatures (woooo!) and rain (not so much wooo). As days lacking murderous heat have been scarce of late, Niklas, Zoe and I brave some sprinkles to hit the playground this morning. We were there for quite a while swinging, climbing and duck-duck-goosing. Zoe could use some work on the last one, but she enjoyed all of the running. This afternoon featured much more rain, but not so much that Lil' Sluggers cancelled baseball practice. Niklas seems to play a bit better in the rain, so maybe I'll bring a hose to his next game.
    Well, a fine time was had by all this weekend. On Friday... we probably did something. Saturday, Niklas had a baseball game that featured his best hitting performance thus far in his baseball career and also some not terrible fielding. While that was going on, Zoe tried to climb up the backstop fence with some success and we also played a game where she would say "Daddy, go to sleep" and then scream "wake up!" and laugh as soon as I closed my eyes. Today, Zoe got her haircut, Niklas played with some Avengers figures and there was general merriment.
    So yesterday, it rained all day keeping us pinned down in the house. Zoe is not good with that, which somewhat explains how I ended up a bit bloodied after taking a plastic duck to the head. Neither Zoe nor Niklas drew any blood from me today, so that was an improvement. Also, Niklas read me and Zoe a few books, which was pretty cool.
    Well, today was quite a day. This morning, Zoe and I dropped Niklas off at school and then hit the playground. We stayed there for a little bit over an hour which is the amount of time you have to stay at the playground if you don't want Zoe to scream at you when you make her leave the playground. Then, we went to the liquor store, so it was that kind of morning where everybody wins.

    This afternoon was the Oz Park Baseball Association trip to Wrigley Field. Because of some scheduling difficulties, Andrya couldn't get the afternoon off meaning Zoe was stuck going to the game with me and Niklas and our two tickets. As a two year old, she can get in as a lap child, but as a violently independent two year old, I wasn't terribly optimistic that that would work out. Also, the 1:20 start time totally put the kibosh on nap time. Awesome.

    Because I'm not an idiot (I have papers provided by the great State of Illinois and everything) or a masochist (you'll just have to trust me on this one), I plotted and schemed our trip as follows:

    Arrive Fashionably Late: Nine innings of baseball with a six year old and a two year old? A ha ha ha ha no. My plan was to show up around the top of the fourth.

    How'd This Workout? This wasn't as successful as I'd hoped as the children were chomping at the bit to leave by 1:30, so we ended up getting there in the bottom of the second.

    Travel As Light As Conceivably Possible Or Perhaps Somewhat Lighter I had no interest in trying to corral two kids and also drag a backpack about, so we ended up taking one spare diaper, four travel wipes, a camera and a zip-lock bag.

    That Bit You Posteriorly, Didn't It? Shockingly, no. The diaper Zoe was wearing when we left made it through the whole game and I only had to use one wipe.

    Bail From The Oz Park Section Unless We Were Seated Next To Niklas's Teammates And Possibly Even Then Sitting with Zoe on my lap was just not going to work out for the long haul, so we ditched the 200 level (which isn't that great; I rank the Wrigley Seating areas as follow: 100, 400, 500, 200 with the 300 level being the Suites that I have never been in but which hang over the 200 level making it the worst) for the 500. None of Niklas's teammates were at the game, which made this an easy sell.

    Were You That Jerk Who Makes People Ask Him To Move Out Of Those Seats That Clearly Aren't His? It was an afternoon game on a Wednesday against the worst team in baseball, so no.

    Junk Food? Lots! If history has taught me anything, it's that my children will behave themselves if their given ice cream, candy or ice cream with candy in it.

    Haven't Both Of Your Children Thrown Up In The Past After Eating Too Much Junk Food? Yes, but nobody threw up today, so take that, precedent events! The both had mini-helmets full of ice cream although only one of them (Zoe; not really a surprise if you've seen her in action) managed to finish. Niklas ate about half of his ice cream, deposited about a quarter of it on his pants and begrudgingly gave the part he couldn't eat to me. There were also hot dogs and lemonade, both of which were thoroughly enjoyed by Niklas and found to be both enjoyable and infuriating by Zoe.

    So, success. After the game, Niklas got to go onto the field to run the bases. The way it worked was you walked the kids down the warning track from the outfield to first base, they would run around to the plate while you (me and Zoe are "you" here) walked to the plate to meet them. Given Niklas's historically slothful efforts on the base paths, I was banking on having a ton of time to take some pictures. Instead, Niklas took off like he was shot out of cannon, blew by a ton of kids and beat Zoe and I to the plate. While that wrecked up my photographying schemes, it was one of the more amazing things I've seen Niklas do, so it was totally worth it. Well done, Niklas!
    So last Thursday, I took the kids out to Glenview so as to get their pictures taken. It's about a thirty five minute drive, but all of the closer places have either infuriated me or require you to put your house up as collateral when paying for your prints. Because I am a super genius of the highest order, I scheduled their session for 9:00 which meant we got to spend seventy five minutes in rush hour traffic. Luckily, the Yo Gabba Gabba CD in the car kept Zoe from melting down completely and Niklas occupied himself by asking me a barrage of questions including "why do bees think you're trying to steal their honey?" and "why don't pitchers hit in the American League?" so that was... that. Anyway, despite the long car trip, the pictures were exceptionally successful with the kids laughing and smiling the whole time. The downside of that was that I had an awful time trying to cut down the number of poses I wanted so we ended up with a couple hundred prints. Please see me for pictures of Niklas and Zoe.

    On Friday, Zoe and I hit the playground while Niklas was in school. Zoe was a bit worried about birds "getting her" as is per usual, but after I explained to her that birds don't have teeth, she was much less concerned. She had a fine time on the swinging, sliding and climbing on all kinds of stuff. We also saw a weird looking

    Niklas had a baseball game on Saturday. He actually ran really fast out of the batters box after hitting the ball, sot that was fun to see. He also fielded a couple of balls well and paid reasonable attention to the game despite the fact that fighter jets were flying overhead as part of the Air and Water Show.

    Grandma and Papa Meeker were up to see the kids today. Niklas taught Papa how to play Angry Birds and Zoe demonstrated her ABC skills for Grandma. We also watched the Pirates win a game in 19 innings, so wooooooo! Here are 19 innings worth of new pictures.
    2012-08-20: Today was one of a couple of days that we have with with nothing going on between now and when Niklas starts school, so we tried to cram a bunch of fun stuff in. We had Dunkin Donuts for breakfast, played some mini-golf and went to the playground. The approximate mini-golf scores were Niklas (60), me (62) and Zoe (1000). A fine time was had by all.

    And now, here are all of the
    proofs from our trip to the photographers last week.
    2012-08-22: So, yesterday, we pretty much laid low other than Niklas's trip to school. Today was much busier. Niklas had school again (only three days left at Chalk after today) while Zoe and I hit the playground. Then we went to another playground this afternoon. It's much more exhausting than it reads, I guess. Zoe played in the sand and monopolized the swings for a bit while Niklas ran about with Sienna, one of his classmates at Chalk. After a while, Zoe decided she wanted to play with them, so you'd see Niklas and Sienna fly by and then, several seconds later, Zoe would run past saying "Niklas! Stop! Niklas!" That was, I think, cuter than it reads.
    On Thursday, Niklas had his last t-ball (baseball, now, I guess) practice of the summer. The Lil' Sluggers coaches have really helped him become somewhat competent, which puts him light years ahead of any of the five year olds when I was five. While he was running or throwing (or possibly spiking balls in the dirt, competence not withstanding), Zoe and I played the following game about thirty times.

    Tokyo - 1964

    Oh no! Godzilla is coming! Run!

    Oh, the humanity!

    What terrible devastation the hubris of man has caused.
    So that was fun. On Friday, Niklas had his last Friday at pre-school. Then on Saturday, he had his last t-ball game of the summer. It's a season of lasts portending a season of firsts, I guess.

    Today, I planned to take the kids to the playground and then head off to Niklas's (not last) swimming lesson. There's a playground right across from where he swims, so that seemed like a logical place to go. I also thought it would be fun if we took the train instead of driving, even though there's a bit of a walk from the train stop to the park. Things went fine until we got off of the train and it started raining, which I guess means I should learn to check the weather before we go out. A reasonably not awful time was had by all as the kids love the train and they got bonus snacks wherever we ducked in for a brief respite from the rain. Also, Niklas swam well today.
    Today was pretty laid back. Zoe continued to recover from the face scrapes she got on Saturday which I don't seem to have mentioned until now. Zoe needs some work on her stair descending skills. Niklas made a bunch of Avengers drawings which are awesome:

    Here's Iron Man, possibly flipping off some bad guys after he blew up their headquarters.

    Here's Thor looking somewhat furious.

    The Hulk is ready for some smashing.

    Captain America is in a much better mood than Thor.

    This is just a good drawing of Nick Fury.

    Today was Niklas's penultimate day of preschool. He learned about bears. Later, we went to the playground and took advantage of one of the last days of the season for the water features.

    Well, Niklas's career at Chalk Preschool has officially come to a close. He's definitely going to miss Ms. Joanna and especially Ms. Amber who has been his teacher there for two full years. They've definitely done all they can to get him ready for elementary school. It's no exaggeration to say that Niklas has enjoyed his time at Chalk more than I enjoyed any segment of my schooling. Niklas loves you, Chalk! To celebrate his last day, we went out for ice cream and had dinner at McDonald's. Zoe is now looking forward to Niklas completing Kindergarten.
    So, yesterday was the Alcott Back To School Bash. We got to check out Niklas's classroom and meet his new teacher, Ms. Shermulis. He saw a couple of kids that he met at the Pre-K playdates, so he had a good time. Zoe had a very good time until I had to put the kibosh on her efforts to dump out all of the various bins in the classroom. Anyway, everything seems much better than the kindergarten that I went too, so thumbs up so far.

    This morning I took the kids to the driving range. Niklas has gotten much better at hitting the ball off of the tee. He had a couple of shots that almost rolled to the par 3 green. He also had a couple that barely rolled out of the tee box, but still. Zoe shuffleboarded a couple of shots, let me help her with a few and spent the rest of the time kicking balls off of the tee. "I kick it!" she would say. Every time. Also, once after hitting a shot with the club in reasonable (for a two year old) fashion, she said "I run the bases!" and then ran around in a circle. She also insisted that the club was a bat. Then we went to the playground.