A Week of Salads

And here it is, my salad post…

Greek Salad.

Romaine, Tomato, Cucumber, Olives, Feta, Red Onion and dried Oregano. Lemon Juice and Olive Oil for Dressing.

Strawberry Spinach Salad.

Spinach, Fresh Mozzarella, Strawberries, Slivered Almonds. Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil for Dressing.

Roast Veg and Couscous Salad.

Grilled Assorted Vegetables Chopped – Zucchini, Eggplant, Asparagus, Plum Tomatoes, Portobello Mushrooms, Cooked Couscous, Mint, Basil, Parsley.

Garbage Salad.

Basically any leftovers I had in my fridge. The last of the Spinach leaves, Romaine, Leftover Quinoa, Leftover Steamed Green Beans, Leftover Purslane, Artichoke Hearts, Tomatoes, Cucumber, Shredded Carrots, Feta. Paul Newman Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Mexican Salad.

Romaine, Mexican Shredded Cheese, Canned Black Beans, Store Bought Pico de Gallo, Sour Cream. (I forgot to take a picture of mine so this is a picture of my Aunt’s. She used brown rice instead of Romaine. Adam’s had some left over grilled Chicken on it.)

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Wilmette Water Park

On my quest to cover all the water parks in the suburbs, we visited the Centennial Family Aquatic Center in Wilmette.

I must say on first glance I was a bit disappointed. Everyone kept saying what a good water park it was and it seemed small compared to Highland Park and Skokie. But after spending the afternoon there, I changed my opinion completely.

The park, much like it’s customers, is quiet and understated. Yet when you look closer, you can see it’s really well planned.

There are three different areas, a large lap pool with big kid slides that was fenced off. I liked that I didn’t have to walk by it and worry my small children would fall in. The fence kept my kids out. There was another, smaller wading pool with a tot slide that Ben loved. It was also fenced off and I loved that fence because it kept my kids in. The main pool was zero depth entry with a dump bucket play structure and two slides for mid-range aged kids, pictured above.

Each section was done by age, so my kids didn’t have a bunch of older kids around pushing into them, and they didn’t push into younger ones either.

In the end I realized there was just enough exciting and different things for them to do, but it wasn’t so big it was overwhelming. It was a calm, relaxed atmosphere.

The concession was better than most water parks and the bathrooms were also noticeably cleaner.

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Laurie Berkner on stage

Saturday we packed up a picnic and headed to the suburbs to see Laurie Berkner at Ravinia.

Ravinia is famous for it’s summer concert series. Performers such as James Taylor, Seal and Diana Krall grace the stage. There are also a bunch of kids performers on the weekends.

We fit right into the suburb crowd. We pulled up in our large minivan and unloaded our strollers, cooler, and wagon. Every other car was a large car like ours and every other family was pulling their wagon out of the trunk too. It was like a scene from Edward Scissorhands.

I forgot how elaborate the picnics can get at Ravinia. I spent some time packing food. We also had chairs and a blanket. But when we got there we saw catered food, collapsable tables, skinny girl martinis. All for a one hour concert!

We also brought a soccer ball. There was a huge open space to play in, but when Adam brought the kids over there to play they told us it was too crowded for balls today. Another reason I am so happy we don’t live in the ‘burbs. In the city, no one would care. It certainly wouldn’t be staffed so much that someone had time to pick on a couple of kids playing soccer.

Still it was a beautiful day and the kids don’t need much more than a big open space to run in to make them happy. And some ice cream.

Next time I go to a kids concert I’ll remember to get there early. The park opens at 10am. The concert was from 11-12 and they closed the grounds at 1pm.

Picnic at Ravinia

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Fresh Picks (July 18th)

This week I received Sweet Corn, Cauliflower, Fresh bunched Carrots, Bunched Spring Knob Onions, Collard Greens, Cilantro, Purslane and a vine ripened Tomato.

I was very excited to see the Purslane. I remember Dr. Oz talking about it as a superfood on Oprah, but I never found it in any stores. Perhaps because I didn’t know what to look for? Online I found out that the leaves contain more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant. They are also an excellent source of Vitamin A, one of the highest among green leafy vegetables. It is rich in vitamin C and some B-complex vitamins. Also contains potent anti-oxidants. Why aren’t they on every shelf of the supermarket?!

We put them in our salads last week Thursday and Friday for lunch. They had a sweet flavor to them. Absolutely delicious and added great texture. Kristen said it was almost like eating a clover. My salad skills are improving with Kristen around. I’ve found plenty of thing I can throw into them every day to change them around. This time the purslane was added to romaine, the vine ripened tomato we received, hearts of palm, shredded carrots, some left of quinoa, red onion, cucumber, and some feta.

I’m making so many different salads I may have to have a separate blog about them!

One of those days we cooked up the corn as a side dish. It was so sweet. I love eating corn here in the summer.

The cilantro had avocados waiting for them at the house. I put a chunk into homemade guacamole. I still have some left, and am searching for a use for it.

The cauliflower will be braised with garlic and tomatoes, hopefully this weekend if I get around to it.

The collards are destine for my favorite Hottie Black Eyed Peas dish. Mmmmm.

I wasn’t sure what to do with the knob onions. Kristen suggested grilling them and after checking the internet I think that is the thing to do. I grilled them with a steak for Adam. I don’t think I grilled it long enough, some layers were nice and sweet, but others crunchy and pungent. I think the key is to grill them until they are charred.

The carrots look so lovely I just wanted to eat them raw. In the end I decided to cut one up raw and dip it in hummus, the others steamed then tossed in a little brown sugar and butter for a side dish for the kids.

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Twin Two Month Check Up

Even though the twins are three months old, we just did their two month check up Thursday morning.

I always dread this check up because of the shots. It’s easier than it was with Jack. The first time I held him down and cried ten times worse than he did. Now I don’t cry, but I dread it. Just like the bris, those poor little guys have no idea what we have in store for them.

Adam was super excited to weigh Sam. He’s beefed up so much since birth! I let him take Sam to weigh while I took Aaron.

Sam’s measurements were:

  • Height: 23 and 1/2 inches. – 75%
  • Weight: 14 lbs. 6 oz – 90-95%
  • Head: 40.6 cm – 90%

Aaron’s measurements:

  • Height: 23 and 1/2 inches. – 75%
  • Weight: 13 lbs. – 50%-75%
  • Head: 40.4 cm – 75%-90%

They both doubled their weight! The doctor said, whatever you are doing, keep doing it!

Auntie Doris with the Twins (in the outfits she bought them)

Then he remarked how well rested I looked. He was pleased to hear the babies were giving me good stretches already. Last night Sam stretched 8 hours, Aaron stretched 9! If only Ben didn’t wake me up in the middle of it.

He also started talking to us about putting the babies down drowsy but awake. I know it has to be done and hopefully I’ll have the strength to do it when the times comes. I just have to remember that I don’t want two MORE bad sleeper in my life.

Sam was fussy after the shots. So was Aaron, but less so. We dosed them both with medicine and it seemed to help.

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I’m really settling into having an extra set of hands around (Auntie Doris) on top of my other set of extra hands (Kristen).

Surprising how quickly I relinquished control over my kids considering how closely I watched the first two. Perhaps it’s because with four kids it’s impossible to give them all the attention they want. Since the goal is unattainable, what difference does an extra hour or two make each day?

The first full day Auntie Doris was here I planned my usual “shower next two the older boys while they bathe” evening ritual. When Kristen started this was a luxury. Before her I didn’t shower for days. When the older kids bathed, I watched the younger ones. When summer started and Kristen was here I showered next to the boys while she watched the babies and was happily in my jammies by 6pm. But with Auntie Doris and Kristen around I actually showered BY MYSELF. Now that is a luxury.

It didn’t last long, the second day I found myself showering with both Jack and Ben. One by one they found me and decided to jump in too. But still, autonomy was out there. A little whiff of it made me think, what else can I do?

So this morning I asked Kristen to come a little early and I went to my first yoga class in over a year.

It was a odd feeling walking out of our house by myself with no bag full of diapers, wipes, extra formula, extra clothes, water bottles, snacks. I didn’t have to make two or three trips to the car to load each baby and the stuff and other kids. I listened to adult music in the car. I didn’t take the elevator for the stroller. And I did yoga. Sort of.

Boat Pose

The first time back after a year without yoga is a humbling experience. After all that work I spent years building I was back to where I started. I was unable to touch my toes when I bent over. And forget any abdominal exercises. My abs where like jelly in boat pose. I couldn’t keep in the pose for a single second – I was more like a sinking ship!

Still, it got me thinking what else I could do. Go for a quick run? Get those thank you cards that are way overdue out? Get a pedicure? NAP?! Mmm, the possibilities are endless.

Evening Feed

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Auntie Doris’ Turn

Auntie Doris with Aaron

My Aunt Doris arrived on Sunday to take her turn helping with the babies. In the past, whenever I’ve had a baby she’s come for a week. This time I bargained two weeks off her, claiming that I need more time since I have twins!

So far it’s been trial by fire. The first day we left her alone with the twins while Kristen and I went to a water park all day. I thought she’d be overwhelmed but after all the kids were in bed she offered to babysit so Adam and I could go out for a drink. So nice to pop out of the house and sit, face to face, across from your husband. We were only away about 1 hour and 1/2, too little time to hire a sitter but just enough time to catch up. If we were home we would not have sat down with a glass of wine and enjoyed each other’s company. Time is so precious, there are so many kids to deal with. Any free moment at home is a time to get some overdue task done or sleep.

Tummy Time for Aaron and Sam at the Pritzker Place Space

I’m not sure what my Aunt did while she watched them during the day but I woke up in agony around 2am. Okay, Jack woke me up, needed to go to the bathroom. Then he crawled into our bed. Both twins were still asleep so I laid there thinking they must wake up soon to relieve me. By 2:30 I got up and pumped. I couldn’t stand it anymore. The first twin didn’t wake until 3:45am! The next one 4:30! I hope she can get them to repeat the pattern tonight!

Jack and Kaden

Today we met up at the Children’s Museum with one of Jack’s buddies from school. Even with three people watching four kids, two who can’t walk, I still managed to lose Ben and Jack at times.

He's not my child!

We had a great time, especially Ben who decided at one point to lay down in the middle of the museum and stick his hands in his pants.

We saw our friend Mistie there. She has 3 girls the same ages as our kids. In fact we were on the same floor of the hospital at the same time for the birth of the twins/her daughter. She had a helper with her too. I must remember to tell Adam that no matter whether we had three or four kids, once you move past two kids you need more hands. I guess in that sense it’s a bargain that we had the last two at once!

Tuckered out after a Long Day

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The Hidden Creek Aqua Park

Last year we discovered this water park and fell in love. I wanted to go back every day! It was the first water park I went to in the suburbs. I heard there were many more in different suburbs and I couldn’t wait to see them all.

Today we went back for the first time in a year. After having Ben’s birthday party in at the Skokie water park I now have a comparison.

I still love it for it’s sand pit, kid friendly slide which we did over and over again, and zero depth entry pool, where Jack and Ben mostly played today. I think they will learn to swim very quickly this way. Jack was like a dolphin, turning and twisting under water with no fear. He kept pretending he was a shark and attacking my legs.

Meanwhile Ben ran the length of the pool over and over again, pretending the other side was China and he needed to go there to work. I’m guessing he picked up on the fact that Adam sometimes calls China at night. So China must be work. The kid misses nothing.

Watching him in the water makes me happy we never pushed swim lessons on him. We tried it once and he was shaking with fear. After that we stopped. Just exposing him to water over and over again is teaching him to swim in a fun, relaxed way. Learning on the sly! If only I could be that clever about learning all the time!

Still, I think between the two, the Skokie water park has more to offer. It also has a zero depth entry pool, but it’s also got a spray only area for the littlest kids, which Ben stayed in most of the time. It’s also got more slides for Jack’s age group. At Highland Park, there are five slides total, two for kiddies as young as 3 and three for kids ages 7 and older. I think it’s missing the middle range of slides that Jack can use.

I’ve heard Wilmette has a good one that I’d like to try as well, maybe for another blog?

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Sheffield Garden Walk

Adler and Ben on the Pig Train

I absolutely love Chicago in the summer.

Something is happening all the time.

Today we hit the Sheffield Garden Walk. Not only is it a street festival, but it is also a garden walk. Another thing I’ve never seen anywhere else but in Chicago. Only here would people be trusting enough to open their doors to complete strangers, letting them come into their private grounds to look at their garden. For this garden walk, over 100 people opened their doors.

We didn’t walk the gardens, don’t think the kids would get much enjoyment out of that. I can just imagine Ben trampling people’s hard work in one second.

We did hit the kid’s corner, which had a moonwalk, a pig train, kiddie ferris wheel, petting zoo, and a pony ride. Also face painting, tattoos, and an activity center where you can decorate sun visors and butterflies, create crowns, and design masks. Even Home Depot had a booth where kids can make wooden crafts like frames for free.

Jack Riding the Pony

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Long Days, Short Years

Someone once told me that when your kids are young, the days are long but the years are short.

I must say, this is a very true statement.

I can’t believe how much we can pack into one day, even with four kids. By the end of each day it seems that the morning was so long ago it might have been a different day.

Friday we managed to do so much! We dropped Adam at work, had a play date with Pam and Elissa across town, picked up Jack from camp, had everyone take a nap, swam at the pool for well over an hour, and had dinner at the club!

Dinner at the East Bank Club

Saturday Jack and I made muffins while Adam paid bills and cleaned up around the house, then we hit a park, went to lunch, napped all the kids, Adam sent me out in the afternoon shop and just spend some time without kids (yes, he actually suggested I go out shopping! Crazy man suggested I leave him alone with four kids and go out and spend his hard earned money!), then went to dinner at our friend Tami and Eddie’s house.

Soccer at the Park

Drinks and Dinner on Tami and Eddie's Deck

Still, when I look at Jack I feel like he was just born yesterday, yet he is already 5 years old. Makes me want to snuggle the twins as much as possible. My last babies! I must get as much cuddling out of them as possible before it’s too late!

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