Pregnant. Again.

Yes. You read it right. I’m having as hard a time believing it as you are. But the signs are all there. The Doritoes and fried chicken cravings. The exhaustion. The pregnancy brain. I actually misspelled our last name in permanent ink on Jack’s school project last week. Poor Adam was late for work that morning so he could run to CVS and buy white out to cover my mistake.

This morning we heard the unmistakable sound of a heart beat from one of the doctor’s contraptions. But there’s a twist. It wasn’t one heart beat. IT WAS TWO HEART BEATS.

I’m going to be a mother of four. I’m going to have four kids under five. I’m freaking out.

So much for our discussion about keeping our car and fitting a kid in the middle seat. Bring on the mini van!

So much for my thoughts on not getting any help with another kid. Our house will become a revolving door of helpful family members. With maybe a few energetic college students rolled in. Or maybe an Au Pair? Oh my, we have a lot of decisions to make.

Adam and I often joke that being born is like winning the sperm lottery. Out of all the sperm that get blocked, or make it to the party but then find out they are too late or too early, this one very lucky sperm makes it through not only at the right time but manages to beat all the others too. This time we had not only one but TWO lucky winners. What are the odds of that? Hmmmm, perhaps today would be a good day to buy some lottery tickets…


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HCS In Bloom Event

Last night we were guest of one of the board of directors of HCS Family ServicesIn Bloom – A Garden Art Sculpture Event“.

How bad are my bow tying skills?

Like most women, I’m a complete sucker for dressing up. At the last minute I was able to borrow this great dress from my friend Elissa. Thanks Elissa! Unfortunately you can’t see the cool swirly flower at the bottom or my very tall, purple strappy heels with matching flower on top.

Whenever we get invited to these types of events I only think about dressing up and looking pretty. I always forget until we get there and hear the spiel on the charity that these events serve a great purpose – raising money for people in need.

HCS family services help low income families raise above their circumstances through guidance, support and education.

The event had these huge, some totally crazy some beautiful statues they auctioned off. People at our table (not us, we are city dwellers and would have no place for something this size!) bought three…

Our Green Earth


These two were bought by one couple. I’m now dying to see what there house looks like! The pictures don’t show the scale but that is a real bench that two or three people can sit on and the frog is just as big. Stanley was signed by all the Black Hawks players. To display them, they had four guys carry them to a runway type stage, put them on a pulley and rolled them around.

In The Spirit of Harmony

Adam’s colleague and our host bought this fountain as a present for his son. I thought it was the nicest one there.

The bench that Adam’s law firm sponsored was sold for $1,700. I think the highest price for one of these sculptures was $6000.

The best part of the evening was sitting next to a couple who recently invited us to their halloween party. I wasn’t going to mention it at all, since not everyone at the table was invited. But it ended up coming up so I asked, “Since this was an annual event, do you change your costumes every year?”. They looked at me strangely for a moment then said, “It’s not a dress up party.” Thank goodness they were there. It would have been very embarrassing to be at an intimate dinner party full of guests who show up to this party every year and be the only ones in costume!

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Explore and Much More

Poor second children.

With my first born I took tons of classes at Wiggle Worms, Gymboree, Language Stars, Lil Kickers and had endless play dates with kids his own age. With my second, nothing.

Just the other day I marveled at how much we’ve all changed as moms. I was at the park with a few of my seasoned mom friends. We all huddled together in a corner chatting while our kids glommed onto another mom or nanny who was playing hide and seek with her kids. Did we go help out? Nah. Must be a nanny, we thought. Who else would have that much energy?

We’ve gone from being the cheerleaders in high school to the stoners who hang out under the bleachers at football games.

Part of me feels no guilt. When my first born is at school I need to run errands and do housework. They can both do play dates together in the afternoon (albeit with kids my first born’s age and any other younger siblings they may have). Besides, he doesn’t know what he’s missing, right?

Part of me thanks I should make more of an effort. So today, after dropping Jack at school, I invited a friend along with a kid about Ben’s age to Explore and Much More.

Ben at Explore and Much More

I’ve been to quite a few ‘pay to play’ spaces in Chicago and this is one of my favorites. The layout is such that you never have a big, open space for kids to run and smack into each other. Or shove big rolling toys into other kids. And also unlike some other spaces there are loads of really great, smart toys for the kids to manipulate. There are not a lot of places for your kids to get lost. And it’s super clean. No moms walking around with hot coffee. The cost to play all day is $12 for the first kid, $9 for siblings. Adults are free. They are open during the week from 9-1, then 2-5. On the weekends if there are no parties they have open play as well. You can also get a discounted punch card if you want to go 10 times of more. Don’t forget your socks!




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Name Writing

Every morning when Jack goes to school, one of his first tasks is to write his name.

When ever I see it I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry. It’s so sweet to see him practicing it, learning it like a big boy. Sad how quick he’s growing.

On the other hand it’s the craziest sign in I’ve ever seen. He insists on using a pattern; two colors of blue. One for the ‘J’ and ‘C’ and another for the ‘A’ and ‘K’. He also will write with whatever hand is closest with absolutely no preference to right or left.

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More Sick Days

Yesterday Jack fell sick, again. It was a stomach bug that only lasted a day, but it was nasty. Everything got expelled from his stomach, any and every way it could. My very loving and concerned husband stayed with Jack at home, cleaning up expelled stuff and patiently dealing with a sick, cranky kid while I got to take Ben to do something fun. We went to the Childrens Museum. The ‘Ready, Set… Move’ exhibit recently opened and it was our first time checking it out.

By the evening Jack was feeling much better. Unfortunately this morning Ben woke up with a fever…

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Top Five Toddler Books

For the past year or so, I’ve felt I need more help. I’m completely uneducated in kid speak, kid behavor. Half the time I have no idea why my kids are crying. And even if I understand what made them cry, it still doesn’t make sense to my why they are crying.

I remember leaving the hospital with my first born in a sense of panic. Are they really going to just let me leave with this complete stranger? Who can’t talk?! Where is the instruction manual?

Those who now me know I’m a ferocious reader. Some parents would have taken parenting classes. Or hired nannies. I read. Ferociously.

Now I’m going to share with you my top five toddler books. I hope they help you like they helped me.

1. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.  Also, Between Parent and Child has very similar views and advice. The author of ‘How to Talk’ is a protege of ‘Between Parent and Child’. These books give you the vocabulary you need to express yourself. Like how to advise without criticism. Or how to teach values not punish misbehavior.

2. The Blessing Of A Skinned Knee. Again this teaches kind parenting. The best thing I took away from this book was the chapter which explained that your child’s worst trait is also their best. Example: Your obsessive child is detail-oriented.

3. Potty Training. Technically there is no book here. But I felt it needed a mention as it’s such an important and confusing part of being a toddler. I read two or three on potty training. All were pretty strict, or overkill. In the end what I learned is that your child will not learn before he is ready. If you think they are and you want to try, or need to get it done before school starts, I’ll save you the money. Here is all you need to know. a) Let them walk around naked for a while. Like two or three days. Summer in your backyard with a kiddie potty is ideal. b) Ask them often if they need to potty. c) patience, patience, patience.

4. NurtureShock. Rethinking everything you believed was normal and true. The first chapter, which explained that I was praising my kid the wrong way was a real eye opener.

5. 1-2-3 Magic. Amazing that they could write an entire book on such a simple concept. How many pages does it take to tell you to tell your kid to stop, then count to 3, then punish? For my kid, very effective. We still do time outs but it quelches a lot of them and more importantly I can give fair warning then punish before I get all red in the face and screamy.

Want more? I read other books that were helpful but didn’t make it to the top five for one reason or another. Mind in the Making was a great read. But high level. I kept falling asleep. Still I took some important lessons away from it, like the importance of putting yourself in another person’s shoes (perspective taking). Also Happiest Toddler on the Block. His ‘Toddler-ese’ was kind of annoying, but effective.

These books helped me get through the very difficult ‘terrible twos’, which started when my first born turned three and lasted about 1 and 1/2 years.

I won’t say I don’t yell anymore. I’m human. This is the hardest challenge I’ve ever had in my life. It’s a job with hours so long that if the department of labor regulated it, it would be illegal. Still it is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

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The Big Seven Zero

It was our great pleasure to celebrate Grandpa Devensky’s 70th birthday with him tonight. Okay, it was the night before his actual birthday but it was close enough for us to feel special for being included.

Birthday Dinner at Shine Restaurant

After dinner Jack helped decorate cupcakes. Later both boys used the cake part of the cupcake as the vehicle for eating icing.

I’m not sure who is going to miss Grandpa Devensky and ‘Aunt Dora’ (as Ben likes to call Auntie Doris) more when they leave tomorrow. Jack and Ben loved playing with both of them. I loved the free baby sitting and the fact that the house was miraculously clean whenever I turned around.

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Grandpa Devensky and Auntie Doris Arrive!

After 2500 miles of driving on their journey from Seattle to Florida, we were graced with the presence of these two affable Devenskys.

The Welcome Chalk Committee

Jack and Ben waited anxiously for their arrival. The Devenskys did not disappoint. From my perch at the kitchen counter, I could hear peals of laughter downstairs. (Normally around that time in the day, as I’m banging out dinner, all I hear is crying and screaming downstairs.)

It was wonderful last night to sit around after the kids went to sleep, chatting aimlessly. Talking over the phone long distance is always a poor second to face to face chatter.

Auntie Doris, Ben, Dad and Sue

This morning we decided, after seeing the drizzle outside, to make a trip to the Field Museum. It was one of the few times I did something like this with just Ben, no Jack. I kept pointing out the buttons you could press to Ben since Jack was always interested in mechanical things like that. However, Ben was much more interested in the displays themselves. He wanted to know what things were called, what they were, where the mommas and the papas were in the empty houses, etc.

It’s fascinating to me how different the kids are, considering they are raised essentially the same. Kind of makes me wonder if I’m working too hard. Perhaps life is a bit more inborn or predestined than I originally thought? Perhaps I should tell them what to do less and sit around drinking martinis more in the afternoon. Hmmm….


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The China Study

Seems like more and more in my life I’m obsessed with what I eat.

Part of it stems from the fact that I’m getting older and can no longer eat whatever and not have it rear it’s fatty head somewhere on my body.

Another part is probably due to the fact that I now have four people to feed and should show some responsibility and good sense in that endeavor.

Finally and most wonderfully, I’m lucky in life. I have normal kids. I don’t worry about the bills. I don’t have to work. I’m happily married. It frees up a lot of time to obsess about food.

For years I have calorie counted. Initially it works. You do learn to eat less and find foods that are more filling per calorie. But you still always feel a little hungry. Most nights you sit at home after dinner willing yourself not to raid the cupboards. And it can never seem to get those last 5 pounds off. Those really annoying ones. The ones that make everyone at the gym ask me if I’m pregnant. I guess I just don’t have the will power to be as strict as I need to be to look perfect.

It’s dieting’s dirty little secret – if you want to lose weight, you will feel hungry.

For some time now I’ve been trying to eat more fruits and vegetables. In fact I’ve been cooking out of vegan cookbooks. If you get the right author (I’m in love with Isa Chandra Moskowitz and have recently started using Lindsay Nixon) there are lots of flavorful ways to eat without meat and cheese. Veganism tempted me, but again, I’m too much of a foodie to restrict myself all the time.

Recently my sister sent my husband The China Study. It was in response to his high cholesterol. I read it first. I stopped eating meats and cheeses. Not completely, just around 95% of the time as the book suggests. I feel amazing. It’s made me very happy to know I’m doing something great for my body. And there is another way besides calorie counting. At first I was scared it would be hard to cook different meals for me on top of the ones I cook for the family. But I’ve learned to incorporate my main meals as a side for everyone else. You still need veggies on your plate, right? And eating out has sometimes limited me to the ‘sides’ section of the menu but there is always a way to find something good to no matter where you are.

I’m not sure how long it will last, since everyone knows I’m very suggestible. In fact as soon as I called my sister and told her she changed my life (not to mention BM’s), she said, “Are you eating fish? You need to read The Omnivores Dilemma next.”

Here we go again…

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