Enchanted Railroad

Enchanted Trains

This morning we went to check out the Enchanted Railroad exhibit at the Morton Arboretum.

Since we discovered this place, I’ve found it much more kid friendly than the Chicago Botanical Gardens. So I was pretty excited to see how their train exhibits would compare.

Surprisingly, the Chicago Botanical Gardens has a much better train exhibit.

Still, these trains managed to hold the kids attention for a good 30 minutes. Afterwards, we went to the Children’s Garden in search for gnomes. They hid 15 all around the garden and Jack found them faster than we did. Gave me the first taste of what it’s like to be the old, slow person of the family!

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Strep Throat

Well, looks like a father’s instinct (but not necessarily a mother’s!) is the best radar.

This past month Adam made me bring Ben to the doctor’s office three times.

Ben has been coughing most of the month and not sleeping well at all as a result. Twice we went to have his throat checked, his lungs listened to and his ears looked at. Twice we were told everything looked good and it was probably just a cold.

Maybe all the night waking was due to the transition from crib to bed, I thought?

This morning Ben woke with a rash all over his body. Two days before that he was plagued with red splotches. I was sure he had allergies. Adam thought it was something else.

So, we headed to the doctors office this morning. I stayed in the waiting room with Jack watching family after family get called in and leave. Ben was still in there. Not good.

They took the strep test and it was positive. Apparently you can have strep but not have any obvious symptoms. The only way to tell is to take the test. The doctor said strep with a rash is quite advanced, a form of scarlet fever!

Adam came out to tell me. You should have seen the other mother’s in the waiting room shrink away from us in terror.

Jack was tested and came out negative.

Every person has their quirks. For example, I have a closet love of country music. Also I don’t like sharing food or drinks, even with your family members. Yes, I do see the weirdness – I can swap spit with my husband but don’t want to share his drink. But I actually think this quirk is served me well this time around! Now I just have to make it the 24 hour period until the antibiotics kick in and we are all safe. Strep while pregnant sounds scary…

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Pregnancy Update – 20 Weeks

Two Heads are Better than One

This afternoon Bubbie graciously babysat the two kids I already gave birth to so Adam and I could go see two kids I have yet to give birth to.

Today was the big 20 week ultrasound. And this is a picture of the two babies. You are looking at the top of their heads.

Our most important discovery was the fact that the babies look great and are developing normally.

We also found out some other interesting things…

The ultrasound technician pointed out that our twins had a Lambda sign, a triangular shape where the membranes meet the two placentas. She said it was normally a sign of fraternal (not identical) twins.

Another thing that makes me thing they are fraternal is that the twins are already showing their individuality. Twin A (AKA the one closest to the exit) is in the 75% for it’s size. Twin B is in the 50%.

Twin B

Twin A had long, narrow feet reminiscent of our first born. Twin B’s feet were shorter and fatter.

Twin A was hiding by the time the technician was very nicely taking the 3D scans for us for free. But here is the 3D image of Twin B…

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Something has changed lately between Jack and Ben.

Normally when they spend time together, the ratio is about 75% crying with 25% laughing. But recently it’s become more like 75% laughing with 25% crying.

I don’t know what happened, but I couldn’t be happier about it…

Watching Scooby Doo Together

Jack 'Reading' Books to Ben

Some game, not sure of the rules, but they created it and enjoyed it together.

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An All Day Affair

Today we met our friends Adler and Roya at the Children’s Museum. Our friends stayed the morning. We made it an all day affair. It was the first time I was testing out Ben and his no-nappiness. Most days I give him a quiet period, usually in front of a movie. If he falls asleep, great. If not, great!

"Ice Skating" with Roya

There was definitely a period in the afternoon where we all looked tired. In fact one Dad’s comment was, “I’m not sure who is more tired, you or the kids”. Perhaps I was pushing too hard and it was a mistake. But we made it through with a little help from some sugary lemonade. Coming home in time for dinner, bath and the last night of Hanukkah presents was much nicer than an afternoon of watching the kids move toys around the house like a tornado.

Whenever Jack has vacation from school I’m filled with dread at the thought of juggling more kids. But one thing I’m realizing is that it’s always more fun with Jack around. If he were at school today, Ben and I would be at Target or doing some other mundane task. Having all the kids with me makes me want to do more fun things for them, which at the end of the day translates to me feeling like a better mom.

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A Visit to Bull Valley

I guess it’s true no matter where you live, but it’s very easy to forget there is a whole world out there that is very different to the life you are living right now.

It always surprises me when we drive out past the city limits just how much space, land and life there is teeming outside the city.

It was a very pleasant view from my car window when we arrived in Bull Valley this morning.

Tickle Torture

We were on our way to visit Jamie and Morgan, a couple who I’m not sure which one of our family members likes more. Lately it seems Jack and Ben are in stiff competition with us and they may be winning.

They bought a beautiful house five bedroom house on five acres of land in Bull Valley. Quite a change from city dwellings!

The kids ran themselves ragged and were both passed out almost the minute we left the driveway. Partly because Morgan and Jamie make such great play mates and partly because there is SO MUCH SPACE!

It was so peaceful and pretty I felt compelled to force a family photo…

FIVE acres! Nothing but nature for background.



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Phosphate Free Dishwasher Detergent

Has anyone noticed their dishes getting more and more spotty as the year goes on? Are you finding yourself examining each dish and putting the white-streaked ones back in the washer, hoping they will be cleaner next cycle?

I’ve been having this problem for months now. Finally I called our service company. We have a great service company for high end appliances (we own a Bosch) and when I rang for an appointment, my favorite service guy, Charlie showed up.

Apparently the State of Illinois has banned phosphates in dishwashing detergent, at least in household use. It’s the stuff that gets your dishes really clean. It’s also bad for the environment.

He told me that unfortunately there is no great solution. He didn’t have a suggestion for detergent replacement. But he cleaned everything out all the clogged sprayers and suggested a monthly vinegar wash (put a half-filled coffee cup of vinegar upright in the top shelf of the washer and do a cycle).

Afterwards we threw our Cascade out. All the other soaps in the store were also phosphate free so we switched to Finish. It said it was recommended by all the high end dishwasher names. So far so good, although it could just be that the dishwasher is clean now and over time we’ll once again see residue built up.

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Pregnancy Update – Week 19

I feel as if I went from my first trimester straight to my third trimester with a two week burst of energy in between. I’m tired again.

Things are getting easier sleep wise. After Ben dropped his nap he never relapsed. He sleeps much better at night and there is no crying, except for one occasional wake up around 3 or 4am. I usually go to bed with him and we sleep until morning.

However, I have found it difficult to stay awake during his old nap time. This week I fell asleep on the couch for a few minutes and woke up to find him with putting his hand in his poop-filled diaper then smearing everywhere. Lovely.

Next week we have our 20 week ultrasound. This is the one that can tell us the sex of the babies. But don’t get too excited. We don’t plan on finding out.

I am curious to see how they are positioned, though. I can feel one baby rolling around right on top of my bladder, while the other one is wedged under my right rib cage. Have no idea where they will grow into over the next half of the pregnancy, but it will be interesting to find out!


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Hanukkah 2011

Bubbie 18 again?

Last night we combined Hanukkah with Bubbie’s birthday. Bubbie cooked up her potato latkes. We lit many candles – on the menorah, on the birthday cake. We opened presents. We ate ice cream cake. It was double the celebration, and double the fun!

I never grew up celebrating Hanukkah, but I must say it’s rapidly becoming one of my favorite holidays.

I love how the kids open their toys over many days, so they can savor and enjoy each one.

I love that we get a few days of real days off over this time period. The rest of the country is celebrating Christmas – busy buying, wrapping, giving presents; busy cooking and traveling; busy church going. Busy, busy busy! For us, everything is closed. For us, there is no church, no family gathering. For us, there is no extensive, one day present giving. It forces us to just slow down and enjoy the precious gift of time. I can’t wait for this weekend to do… nothing.


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