Jack’s 9th Birthday

Happy 9th Birthday Jack!

DSC_0527This was quite a year for Jack.

This year Jack got his own bedroom. I marveled how easily he closed the door and put himself to bed right from the get go. A short year ago he was upset if Ben was in a different bed than him, forget about a different room!

He started the school year almost getting a D in English but with a lot of hard work and perseverance he made the honor roll this semester. Some nights he does 2 or 3 hours of homework just to keep up, but he never complains. He just bears down and gets it done.

He has also continued to be a great big brother for all his siblings. He is at an age where I can ask him to help, really help. Not just grab a diaper for me but help me calm a screaming toddler and he has the social mastery to achieve it.

And in his normal unassuming fashion, he had very simple wishes for his birthday.

We started the morning with birthday pancakes.


Afterwards, he tried on the new outfit Bubbie got him – Lionel Messi’s soccer uniform. And he wore it while battling Adam with his new Nerf Guns.


Next he went to Hebrew school. Ben is already asking for the day off of school for his birthday, but Jack continued with his obligations like the responsible little person I can see him growing into.

He picked the Rainforest Cafe as his birthday lunch spot. He wanted to take all his brothers there to enjoy the lunch with him.



Growling Alligator was Fascinating.


Tree Frog Siting.


Lava Cake dessert, which Jack shared with all of us.

Ben enjoyed the dessert in his usual fashion.

Ben enjoyed the dessert in his usual fashion.

In the afternoon Jack wanted to take all the gift cards he got for his birthday and spend them. So Adam dropped me home with the other kids and they spent the afternoon at the Lego store, Target, and Toys R Us. IMG_2988

Adam spoiled him rotten at the Lego Store. Jack was lucky he went with Adam and not me. Not that Jack doesn’t deserve spoiling, he really has worked very hard and behaved very well this year. It’s just that Adam’s idea of spoiling and my idea of spoiling are different. Adam’s idea is my idea on speed.


Finally a dinner of leftovers from the party. Pizza and the cake that came with the the party package.


Our family of six managed to demolish 3/4ths of the cake. Two of the six of us aren’t even school age. Scary.

Then a final Nerf game, this time the whole gang joined in….


Happy Birthday, Jack! May your year be filled with as much joy as you give us every day.

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Jack’s 9th Birthday Party

This year we suggested a switch up from our usual at home extravaganza for Jack’s birthday.

We had heard from my friend Pam that Laser Tag was the coolest party her son had been to in a while.

The minimum age for Lasertag at WhirlyBall is 8 years old so this was the first time we had experienced something like this. But after we saw how much fun the kids had, I’m pretty sure it won’t be our last.


Instructions and suiting up for the big game.

Suited up and ready to go!

Suited up and ready to go!

After Adam saw this shot, he marveled how you can put a gun in any 8 year old’s hands and they know exactly what to do. Quite a statement about our society.


There were two levels you could play on. The teams were split by vest color – Red vs Green. You shot the other color vest to gain points and when you got enough hits or got hit too much you had to go back to your base to recharge. Rounds were played in 6 minute intervals.


Because it was a party for ages 8 and up, we got a sitter for the other kids. But Ben was so upset we decided to bring him and let him hang out with us and wait. I saw them put a 4 year old in from another party so I don’t think they are super strict, but I was still worried about Ben getting upset in this sort of scenario and thought it best for him to sit out.

As it turns out, there was a bowling lane upstairs by the party room. Some of the adults and younger kids did that while waiting for Lasertag to finish.


One nice thing about this venue is that they have more then just pizza. They also have a full bar and full service restaurant so we were able to get some other pub grub like steak rangoon, wings and nachos.


And even though the party package came with a cake and cupcakes, we still were able to bring in our own cake. (You know it was going to be a deal breaker if Adam couldn’t design the cake!)

Can you spot the "9"?

Can you spot the “9”?


Think Ben enjoyed the cake?

Think Ben enjoyed the cake?

Later when we got home, I was happy that I wasn’t cleaning up spilled juice and cake crumbs off my floor, that our house was relatively clean and it was still early enough to open up Jack’s presents and enjoy some of them.


Jack thought Lasertag was awesome and wasn’t upset about not having a house party either.  We would definitely do it again.

My only tip for anyone considering a party as this venue I will tell you this, they may oversell your slot.

There was some miscommunication on their part about the fact that they booked another party during Jack’s time slot. They booked the same age group of kids and they all played nicely together but it was a little upsetting to find out, when I called to confirm 20 kids, that only the 15 original vests I put a down payment on would be available. That I would have to switch the kids out every 6 minutes so everyone could play. Again miraculously it worked out that each kid only had to sit out one 6 six minute period each. And the staff kindly gave us a free bowling lane to entertain those kids who were waiting. They also threw in a bunch of extra free food and drinks for their mistake. Most importantly, as the manager said, after you see all the kids smiling faces, you will be happy. And I was.

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Costa Rica

A few months ago we received a wedding invite from Adam’s cousin, Jackie. A wedding invite in Costa Rica!

We were torn, it was so expensive to take the kids and the thought of spending two full days traveling with them was harrowing. But we didn’t want to miss this momentous event either.

I mentioned it to my father and he very kindly told us we were crazy to even consider taking the kids. He insisted he come up and watch them so we could still attend.

And he even roped my sister Lara in for the cause.

Adam and I could hardly believe our good fortune!

A vacation for the two of us just two weeks after our 10 year anniversary. ON VALENTINES DAY. It was too good to be true!

Lara showed up as we were leaving so we actually met at the airport. The lack of overlap made Dad nervous, but I knew Lara could handle whatever was thrown her way.

"New Mom", as Lara affectionately named herself/

“New Mom”, as Lara affectionately named herself.

And there was plenty of stuff thrown her way! Some of it her own doing.

Playing with Uncle Brent's Marshmallow shooter guns.

Playing with Uncle Brent’s Marshmallow shooter guns.

Lara showed up with oodles of entertainment, including marshmallow shooters, home made by her husband, Brent.

And crafts! So many crafts!

Lara titled this one, "Getting ready to rob the candy store."

Lara titled this one, “Getting ready to rob the candy store.”


Lara sent this one as well, titled "Nose Picking Fort."

Lara sent this one as well, titled “Nose Picking Fort.”

She even brought a balloon blower, a bunch of long balloons and a kit that shows you how to twist them into shapes like dogs and flowers.

But the entertainment didn’t stop there. They also took them to MacDonald’s and let them play in the playroom, spent an afternoon at the museum, and did a session at Pump It Up.

Peggy Notebeart Museum

Peggy Notebeart Museum

Peggy Notebeart Museum

Peggy Notebeart Museum

Pump it Up

Pump it Up

When it snowed, Grandpa let the kids suit up and pummel him with snowballs.

Snow Day

Snow Day

I’m not sure after a visit like this, the kids will want us to come back!

And even though we missed them dearly, having a few days off was really quite enjoyable.

Even if the trip started a bit rocky.

We landed and got lost on bumpy Costa Rican roads. By the time we arrived it as 1am. Our well trained clocks woke up with the kids at 6am, even though they weren’t there.

Then we planned a eco walk. A 3 hour drive away.

More unpaved roads in Costa Rica.

More unpaved roads in Costa Rica.

When we arrived at the gates, the park was closed. So we drove a bumpy 2 hours back and finally figured out the right thing to do – take a nap.

First night in we joined the wedding party at the prenuptial dinner.

Before drinks.

Before drinks.

After drinks.

After drinks.

Dinner on the beach with a group of charming adults did the trick. We were really on vacation!

The next day we vacationed right. A walk on the beach, a swim in the pool, and getting sunburned while reading books.




Even though we missed our eco walk, the resort we stayed at had plenty of wild life for us to spot.



In the evening we joined the main event. A beautiful beach wedding ceremony.


Introducing Jackie and Mark Harrison.

Introducing Jackie and Mark Harrison.

The final day we had brunch and headed back to reality.

We couldn’t have had such a wonderful time without our support team, Lara and my father. Thank you both – Adam and I are forever grateful!

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Clean Eating

Is it just because I used to live in South Florida, or is everyone on social media seeing the impact of Shaun T? Work out videos, protein shakes, food, and his apparel are everywhere.

I must admit, I’ve been curious.

I’ve seen a few old high school buddies turned Beachbody coaches flaunting their before/after pictures on Facebook and secretly wished I had the same results.

But how can a tired mother of four possibly make time to exercise and avoid all the sugary treats that permeate the house?

I didn’t think I could do it, even though I gave it a half hearted attempt. I’ve been drinking Shakeology, for at least a year now. It’s helped me keep my weight down, but I wouldn’t call it a great success.

I was still unhappy with my figure. I was still buying clothes based on what covered my belly, what wouldn’t make people ask me, “When are you due?”.

I really hate that question now.

I first learned about Shakeology from a friend’s nanny. She also referred me to lots of other stuff over the years, like the organic local veggie delivery I did for so long, Irv and Shelley’s Fresh Pick’s.

One day I saw that nanny, Megan, in the park and she was transformed. Just like my old high school buddies on Facebook! She too had become a Beachbody coach. You’d think I would have handed myself over to her right then and there but I still resisted.

Last week she caught me just at the right time, and I agreed to join her clean eating group.

I was given a list of food and recipes which I cooked up on Sunday. Monday morning I  took my first “before” picture, then reluctantly posted it to our private Facebook page.

Looking at those pictures was worth hours spent in a therapist office. It was a serious reality shock. Winter hides more than you realize.


Above, 5 preplanned meals. The egg was a replacement for 1/2 cup quinoa and coconut. I know quinoa is the new superfood, but I still think it tastes rank.

You eat the same thing every day for a week.

You also get your daily intake of water in.

And exercise every day.

Finally, you check in every day. If you screw up, 14 other people are there to judge you. For some reason, that really helps keep you in line.

I must say, I really enjoyed having my meals already planned for the week.

I can’t tell you how often I wander around the kitchen trying to calorie control my next feed. How often I emotionally eat, how often I mindlessly graze. I often eat leftover that I hate wasting even when I’m not hungry. And I’m addicted to sugar. Especially sugar and chocolate together.

But the thing I enjoyed most was doing something positive for myself, trying to fix something that had been bothering me for so long. Having the answer to your problems handed to you is really very helpful. All you have to do is follow the instructions. I was tired of thinking, of trying to mentally count calories in my head, of mentally debating each bite before I took it.

After 6 days I took my after picture. I didn’t notice much change but I weighted in 2 pounds less and 1/2 inch off my waist.

I’d say it was a roaring success.

So much so that’s I’ve decided to join Megan’s 21 day fix group starting February 15.

Are you sick of the way you look and feel? Want to join me? It’s much more fun with a friend…

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Supermarket Evolution

As the sole food shopper for 6 people, I am obsessed with supermarkets. I visit one 3 or 4 times a week. The average supermarket stocks around 40,000 items but I for some reason I still need to visit 3 or 4 different supermarkets to get just what I want.

One store only has the greek yogurt I like, another one stocks the cereal the kids like, and a third the tea that Adam likes. And don’t even get me started on Trader Joe’s.

Still I have to say I’m really enjoying the new trend I see evolving in the supermarket industry.

Last week at Costco I was handed this flyer on my way out…


Seeing this flyer made me squeal internally with glee.

After my sister gave me The China Study, I started to get quite obsessed with the food we eat. Next I moved onto The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which was a real eye opener.

After reading these two books I was scared to go back to the supermarket. I switched to Whole Foods for a while exclusively. It was safe there. Safe, but expensive.

In their mission statement they explain, “Among other criteria, we draw a line when it comes to hydrogenated fats and artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and sweeteners.”

I would not have to look at the back of every label and cross reference my iPhone every time I put something in my cart.

But things are changing. I am more aware of what is okay and what is not, and increasingly so is the general public.

And supermarkets have noticed. Costco isn’t the only one. Aldi is changing too. Once known for it’s competitive prices, they are overhauling themselves to be the picture of health and organics. Other supermarkets have started “natural and organic” sections.

Trader Joes also does not allow artificial flavors, preservatives, dyes, MSG, GMOs, or trans-fats.

Besides the change to current supermarkets we are also seeing an influx of Whole Foods Supermarket look alikes: Fresh ThymePlum MarketMrs. Green’s to name a few.

You can even get your fresh, organic, local produce delivered if you want nowadays! I used Irv and Shelley’s for a while and was very happy with them.

And though I am happy for all the new competition in the marketplace, I can’t help wonder, how Whole Foods compete with all this new competition?

Will they become the next Gorbachev? Did their cutting edge concept revolutionize the way we think so much that they have created their own competition? Or will they continue to find the next food trend, continue to be a food industry leader?

I hope so. I’d hate to see the very company that helped change us all for the better be hurt by their own impact.

But even if it lessens their market footprint, the end result will be good for all of us.

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