Favorite Game This Week

All the free time at home this week has made the boys quite creative. They came up with a new game that takes up a ton of time and makes a huge mess. They do it every day and seem to find the variations endless and untiring.

Here it is in Sam’s crib…

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And the next day in the hallway. Unfortunately this was the day the cleaning lady came and had to jump over it all morning.

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Can you spot Sam?

And today in the spare bedroom…

DSC_0229Two more days of vacation. One can only fathom what they’ll come up with next!

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Thanksgiving 2013

Traditionally Thanksgiving is the one holiday a year we host at our house. It’s not the same every year, but most years my mother comes up from Florida and Adam’s mother and husband also join.

Adam’s mother and husband moved to Arizona earlier this year and by the time my mother got around to buying a plane ticket, the prices were outrageous.

So for the first time in years we found ourselves guestless.

Not that the table was empty. In fact, now that we are six people, we fill an entire table. Every meal. But this was the first Thanksgiving we ate in the pajamas we woke in that morning. Why? Because we could.

I managed to sneak out at nap time for a bit of a pre-black friday shop, otherwise the rest of the family spent the entire day indoors.

With Hanukkah coinciding with Thanksgiving, Adam doled out a few toys throughout the day and everyone was happy just hanging out.

Ben gets an electronic piggy bank and Jack "no stress chess" from Grandpa Devensky.

Ben gets an electronic piggy bank and Jack “no stress chess” from Grandpa Devensky. While Ben’s back is turned, Sam take the opportunity to play with a toy Ben received earlier that day.

We also played with our old toys too. And we even played with things there were not meant to be toys at all…

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Earlier, Jack revisited his matchbox collection. (Lined up in the background.)

I kept the fair simple. Turkey breast cooked in the slow cooker. Sweet potato casserole. I couldn’t decide on the topping so I did both the marshmallow AND the cornflake pecan one. They mixed together beautifully. And stuffing. I made it easy on myself and got help from Stove Top, then I added some celery and sage to make it pop. Steamed rainbow carrots from my fresh picks order. Also from my fresh picks order creamed spinach and cranberry sauce.

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I'm so going to enjoy every bite of this meal!

I’m so going to enjoy every bite of this meal!

Adam decided to let the boys pick Thanksgiving dessert and they chose a white cake with vanilla frosting. Which I made and frosted myself.

I hope you just stood up and started applauding me right now. Seriously, GET UP! I made this all while Adam was working and four kids were tugging at my legs trying to get my attention.

Okay, you can sit down. It was a box cake. But I made the icing from scratch.

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Our family can eat half a cake! How many will I have to make when they are teenagers?!

Our family can eat half a cake! And two of them have a combined age of 2!

Hope everyone reading enjoyed their day as much as I did. There is nothing more satisfying than the combination of family, fun and yummy comfort food!

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First Night of Hanukkah

The boys were very happy to celebrate their first night of Hanukkah tonight.

Because this year Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving, Jack is very lucky to have a full FIVE day weekend to start Hanukkah. That’s tons of days at home with brand new toys. I guess you’ve heard by now they are calling Thanksgivikah.

Adam is very unlucky to have 2 deals closing right now and will probably have to work through most of the time off his firm gives this time of year.

Tonight we lit the first candle and bumbled through the prayer. Adam is the only one who has enough memory power to remember it from the previous year.DSC_0142

Then it was time for toys and a little dinner.

We healthed up the potato latkes this year, substituting with zucchini fritters. Then we unhealthed it back with Swedish Meatballs. But I did use grass fed beef, so it doesn’t really count, does it?DSC_0153

Hope everyone reading this has a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! And a happy Thanksgivikah!

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Hanukkah Prep

Ah, Hanukkah time again.

This is the first year that we included the twins in the gift giving.

Sort of.

Okay, OKAY, I’ll admit it! We just wrapped up a bunch of old toys they haven’t seen before.

Still, it was the first year we had to organize 8 days of presents for 4 kids. That is a minimum of 32 presents to wrap!

And you know who I married, right? So how many presents did you think we had to wrap this year? Yes, it was way, Way, WAY more than 32.

With this many kids the wrapping, labeling and deciding which days they toys were to be given made me feel like a Jewish elf.

Most days Adam and I walk around with four kids and get a lot of stares, comments, shared stories and advice. I’m used to the spectacle. But sometimes something new happens that makes us realize just what an undertaking we have gotten ourselves into. This Hanukkah production was one of them.

First we had to lay the toys out in four rows, one for each kid.

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Next, two hours of wrapping. We labeled each gift by kid’s name, contents (no one can read yet, so it’s not a spoiler), and day it should be given.

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Finally, we put them into bags based on the day we planned to give it.

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Then, exhausted but relieved to have sorted it all out, Adam and I went to bed.

Bring it on Hanukkah. We’ve ready.

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Fresh Picks (Nov 13)

This week: Green Cabbage, Daikon, Purple Top Turnips, Flowering Kale, Butternut Squash, Cilantro, Horseradish Whips, Red Potatoes, and Scallions.

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I’m pleased that all the veggies were local this week. But secretly I wished they were more un-pc and gave me stuff I could figure out how to use.

My internet search told me that flowering kale is basically a decoration, and I couldn’t find a single thing on horseradish whips. All I know is that I don’t really like horseradish. But I will eat a boat load of it on top of gefilte fish because as bad as horseradish is, gefilte fish is worse.

In the end I folded my cards on this item. Fresh picks beat me, they finally sent me a veggie I could not figure out how to use.

As for the other stuff, I couldn’t help looking at the list and realizing I could dump a bunch of it into a soup. Butternut squash, Kale, Turnips, and Cabbage all can be put together along with just about any other vegetable you can find to make along with some onions, garlic, and dried seasoning to make a nice veggie soup.

So, that leaves scallions, cilantro and daikon.

I’m in love with cilantro nowadays. I used to hate it but it’s grown on me lately. I chopped the entire thing up for a taco fiesta one evening. You can put it in pico de gallo, guacamole, and I even like to add it to my brown rice with a little lime juice a la Chipotle style.

Daikon and Scallions went into my fake pho recipe.

I think the cold weather is making me soup obsessed.

I didn’t post any pictures of the soups or taco night. I took a few, but they came out very similar to the Martha Stewart tweets that have been made fun of this week and so I wisely deleted them.

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The New Norm

Last night we took Jack out to dinner to celebrate his report card. He received 7 As, 2 Bs, and 1 C. We had to wait the puke fest out, but besides the fact that Sam was still a bit cranky, we finally felt like everyone could handle it.

Jack chose sushi. We like to go to Shine Restaurant. Once you start dining regularly with 6 people, you always get the same seat in a restaurant. The one reserved for large parties. At Shine, that is right next to the sushi bar. It’s perfect! The kids can watch them make sushi while we wait.

We got our food and before Ben had really eaten anything he started crying and running away from the table. Adam jumped up and caught him. He picked him up close to the hostesses stand. As he did, Ben threw up everywhere.

Adam quickly brought him to the bathroom to clean up. A fellow woman diner came running over and asked if I saw what happened.

“Yes.” I said calmly. Then I stuffed another piece of sushi in my mouth.

“Well, do you want to go help him?” She looked at me, incredulous.

I took a sip of my drink. “I have three other kids sitting here. What do you suggest I do with them?”

Then she sort of stared at me, paused, then said without conviction, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

I think she realized at that point that I was not going to leave my kids with a stranger, and bringing them into the bathroom while Adam was helping Ben would only exasperate the situation. At least I hope that’s what she thought.

I, on the other hand, was thinking I’d better finish this nice bottle of sake my husband bought me before I was rushed out of there.

After the week I’ve had, seeing one of my kids puke can no longer put me in a state of panic. It almost seems normal.

You are probably thinking that I am desensitized to my kids pain. In fact it’s the opposite. I spend every waking moment thinking about what it’s like to be in their little shoes. How to help them when they can’t help themselves, how to to teach them, comfort them, keep them happy, and healthy.

I spend so much time in other peoples shoes that I can’t watch anything on TV normally anymore. While watching the USC Stanford game with Adam last night, Adam was complaining that one of the players missed a pass. I answered something about how difficult it looked and how he was probably trying his hardest. I can’t watch anything violent on TV because I’m too empathetic.

So it’s not that I didn’t feel bad for Ben or want to help, it’s that with so many kids around, Ben  is only 1/4 of the people I need to think about right now. And the other 3/4s were eating nicely.

You see, having all these kids has given us a new norm. You can’t just walk around thinking about yourself, even for one second. Even if you stay at home, in your jammies all day, you are still spending every moment trying to do chores and cook dinner while tending to the kids at the same time. Calling it multi-tasking would be a trivialization.

Doing the Laundry. (One handed and no Legged.)

Doing the Laundry. (One handed and no Legged.)

How you run errands with 4 kids. (Push with one hand, pull with the other.)

How you run errands with 4 kids. (Push with one hand, pull with the other. And bribe with donuts.)

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Puke Fest

Adam with Ben around 2am.

Adam with Ben around 2am.

The last two days has been a complete puke fest in our house. I have been covered in throw up, snot, spit and poop.

It started a couple days ago when Ben came out of the bathroom exclaiming that his “poop came out wrong.”

To his credit he tried to clean it up, but he ended up just smearing it everywhere. Later that evening, he came upstairs and puked all over the kitchen floor. Luckily I had an empty, dirty bowl that I had just used to mix something that I moved under his mouth which caught the worst of it.

He was up all night long. Adam, bless his soul, is the parent who has the patience and stamina to stay up with the kids all night when they are sick. It’s one of the many great characteristics that Adam has, one that you will never know a partner possesses when choosing a spouse.

Soon after Ben, Aaron started upchucking. Sam held a fever for two days but never vomited. Then finally, after the long four day weekend, when Jack was suppose to go back to school, he woke up that morning and barfed all over the back room.

We spent the days in our jammies, playing on electronics, watching TV, or playing together with toys. Surprisingly, or maybe because they were all too sick to fight, everyone got along well.

Movies at 9:30 in the morning.

Movies at 9:30 in the morning.

Twins fell asleep in odd places at odd times, but there was nothing you could do. When they were tired they refused to lay down to go to sleep.

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Tire Flipping

Adam came home a few weeks ago after working out with his friend Steve. They had been lifting together since high school and they still got together after all these years and did the same routine.

“How was your work out?” I asked.

“Great!” Adam answered. “We checked out the new performance center.”

“Yeah, what did you do there?” I asked. I saw the new center, it has a fake astroturf field and lots of apparatuses that looked confusing and intimidating.

IMG_5347“We flipped tires, then we put a weighted sleigh on and dragged it around.” Adam told me.

“Sounds like farm work. How much are you paying the gym to do farm work?” I joked.

The next few weeks Adam kept going back for more. “I think I’m addicted to tire flipping.” He told me.

Finally this morning, after taking the boys swimming in the club, we dropped them off at the day care for a quick work out. Tire flipping.

After all the hype, I had to try it for myself.

We flipped tires, we did the monkey bars, we tried the Versa ClimberBattling Ropes, we threw a medicine ball back and forth and finally we did sprints.

IMG_5349It was the first time in a long time that I didn’t feel like I was dragging myself to the gym and pushing myself through every second of my workout. Instead of the thoughts in my head saying, “just do this for 5 more minutes” I heard, “if only we had 5 more minutes.”

A set routine gets stale day after day. This was a sort of free flowing, explosive work out that had us out of breath and giggling. It felt sort of like what it was like to be a kid again, when you are running as fast as you can with your buddy chasing you. It wasn’t exercise, it was a game.

I left that morning feeling jittery and alert. The work out had not only worked my body, but it had activated my adrenaline too.

So now, I think I’m addicted to tire flipping.

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Ben’s Home Behavior

It’s been about two weeks since we’ve pulled Ben out of school. He has become a part of the daily routine that the twins and I share.

He goes to the gym with us in the mornings. Two of the days he takes a class, which he loves. It’s taught by a woman who is majoring in special education, so she never sees Ben’s behavior as difficult, just different. The other days he stays with the other kids in the play room. It’s for a much shorter time than a school day, and there is no instruction. Just a snack and story time. He’s had his good days and bad days there, but most of the staff is absolutely incredible with him. One woman told me she didn’t believe in punishment, that’s he’s a kid and you just have to repeat yourself again and again until he understands. Another woman told me about The Tangle. It worked for another touchy kid they had at the gym. I ordered 2 the next day.

At home with the twins and I, Ben has already drastically improved his demeanor. Just today, the twins were bothering him, he walked away and came to tell me about it. Two weeks ago he would have pushed and shoved them.

We have also noticed that Jack has been a negative influence on Ben. He will do things to get him in trouble, then tell on him. Often he will touch him, then when Ben retaliates, he’ll tell on Ben. When I finally figured out it was Jack, I started to reprimand him instead of Ben. Ben in turn protects Jack every time, saying, “It’s okay, he didn’t bother me.”

Two nights ago after Sam pooped in the tub, Jack thought it would be funny for Ben to jump into the tub before I had a chance to clean it. He egged Ben on and when Ben was naked and about to step in, he ran out trying to get him in trouble. It took all my strength at that moment NOT to throw Jack in the poopy tub instead. Rather than that, I told him no more desserts or electronics until I saw him display three acts of kindness towards Ben.

When the twins nap, Ben and I hang out downstairs playing video games, watching TV or playing with toys. I have given up my precious nap time, any free time to cook dinner or fold laundry undisturbed, but it’s completely worth it. Having some one-on-one interaction goes a long way with Ben. I’ve noticed he is showing a real interest in reading and spelling, so I’ve been encouraging that.

When Learning to Spell, does the Subject Matter?

When Learning to Spell, does the Subject Matter?

Finally it’s time to pick up his beloved Jack. I’ve been watching them a lot closer and protecting Ben a lot more from the other family members and I think that and the extra attention is helping.

It’s early days, and I know for every step forward sometimes there are two steps back afterwards. Just this evening after an almost perfect day, he decided for no reason at all to attack a friend who was just sitting there nicely with some play pliers.

Still, I’m hopeful. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

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Halloween 2013

This year was the first time it rained for Halloween. Luckily, it was unusually warm, so it did not deter the boys from collecting heaps of candy…

Jack with one of his favorite treats.

Jack with one of his favorite treats.

How did Ben get so much more candy than Jack?

How did Ben get so much more candy than Jack?

But these are the day after pictures. How did the day of start?

The eyes and mouth move and sing "Thriller" and "This is Halloween".

The eyes and mouth move and sing “Thriller” and “This is Halloween”.

We woke up and started setting up for our annual Halloween party. We emptied out the back room and put a giant inflatable pumpkin that lights up and sings. Then we added tons of blow up halloween beach balls all around it. It looked supercool and all the kids came in wearing their superhero outfits and swords ready to battle it. I was impressed the pumpkin held it’s own and was still in working order by the end of the party.

I swear I took a picture of it but it’s not on my camera anywhere. As I’m writing this, it is already taken down. I’m kicking myself. In fact, I did a very poor job the entire Halloween party taking skullsbeachballs_400x400pictures of anything. In past years I’ve taken pictures of all the kids, made a slide show of all the previous years and played it on the computer. I guess it didn’t matter though since all the boys gathered around the computer and played games for most of the party. I think getting a gaming system soon is an inevitable fact.

After setting up some of the party we headed over to Jack’s school to see his Halloween parade…

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Ben joins the parade

Jack's 1st grade class.

Jack’s 1st grade class.

We spent the rest of the day getting set up for the party and managed to finish mostly in time.

Bagel sandwiches from NY Bagel, egg salad, pasta salad, home made sushi, mummy dogs, and a veggie platter.

Bagel sandwiches from NY Bagel, egg salad, pasta salad, home made sushi, mummy dogs, shrimp cocktail and a veggie platter.

People came bearing wine and desserts. Cindy made her famous cookie cake and my friend Katie brought these scary treats…

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My mom was here this year helping out. She even dressed the part…

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Many others had such great costumes, I’m sad that I didn’t take more pictures for you. I did manage to get one of Hedy and Mark. I love it when the family does a group theme…

The bear and the eskimo.

The bear and the eskimo.

We have an unusually large lost and found this year. Angus, your mask is here and when I snapped this Jack and Ben were playing with your swords, but we found those too. If anyone else sees this and wants to claim their stuff, let me know…

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Not pictured: Black Cat tail and one gold stud earring.

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