Last Beach Day

I’ve heard from older parents that when your kids get close to leaving home for college, you are as ready for them to leave as they are. Seems like the anticipation of change brings discontent for the current situation.

I guess this is also so with other changes in life. Perhaps that is why, after we finished our last beach day of the summer, something we looked forward too all week, we were all ready for it to end.

On the few days I didn’t organize a play date for Jack in the last month, he said he was bored and asked when school was starting.

Angus, Tim and Jack

I know I’m salivated at the thought of a regular schedule. At the chance of going to the gym and working out a bit. Of being able to go to the grocery store without having to hire help to do it (and still take a few kids with me!).

The only thing I’m nervous about it how long I’ll be away from Ben. I’m already used to the separation between Jack and I, Jack’s been in school for two years. But Ben? Beside a few trips to the gym day care and time spent with his father, he’s never been separated from me. All of a sudden we’ll be apart 5 days a week for 8 hours a day. I can’t believe I won’t have his incessant babbling in my ear all day anymore. Or see his smiling face all day long.

Ben eating a sand “ice cream” cone. Maybe next year he won’t eat fistfuls of sand every time we go to the beach?

Luckily I have the twins to distract me for the time being. I can’t stand to think of what it will feel like to have them go to school.

Sam and Aaron have started to play with toys!

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Skinner Park

My friend Jenny, who lives in the West Loop, invited me over to her hood to play this afternoon.

We checked out Skinner Park. I was amazed how cool it was, and once again it made me wonder why I don’t spend more time being adventurous in checking out all the parks the city has to offer.

It has a three pronged water sprayer, soft surface, lots of green area around the playground to run in, sandbox, swings, a couple of play structures, and some other interesting features like the Dragon below.

Half my Kids Sleep Through the Park Visit

Unfortunately Ben completely missed it. Perhaps one reason we don’t check out other parks outside of our neighborhood, especially in the afternoon, is that you risk one kid or another falling asleep before you get there.

Ben passed out 10 minutes before we arrived. Of course we didn’t pack his umbrella stroller. So I carried his heavy, 30 pound body into the park. Kristen laid a blanket down and I put him on it. He slept until I picked him up to leave.

Today I learned that afternoon play dates, now that I have 4 kids, are very difficult to do. The twins have started a night time ritual that starts around 5. We rushed through it tonight and by 7pm I was bathing Ben, showering Jack and still holding Aaron. I still hadn’t managed to bath Aaron, eat dinner, cook as healthy as I’d like for the kids, unpack our things or start the laundry.

Luckily just as Kristen was packing up to go, Adam walked in. I was able to pass Aaron off to him for his bath and jump in the shower with Jack to clean myself as well.

But it was definitely worth the drive to see this great new park. Maybe next time I’ll do it in the morning…

Dragon made out of shapes of Fruits and Vegetables

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Dad Leaves

Double fisted

After three and a half weeks of Calisoff style abuse, we released Grandpa Devensky.

I’ve gotten entirely too used to having an extra set of hands with me at all times and when I realized it was all over, a state of exhaustion overtook me.

I was very sorry to see Dad go, but at the same time I was glad he was getting a reprieve. Out of all the guests that have come to help us since the twins have been born, I think he found it the most difficult.

I don’t think it helped that, after the kids went to bed, he often worked late into the night trying to catch up with his real job.

The babies left his back in pain by the end of every day.

Jack AKA Johnny Blake Ironman Defeats Grandpa

The older kids took turns punching, talking back and leaving fresh poop on the carpet for him to clean up. He found them completely undisciplined. I hope he lives long enough to see them grow up and become great people. Which would require them to actually grow up and become great people. At this point I’m not betting on it as a sure thing.

Bathing Aaron while Ben Poops Nearby and Jack overcrowded the Bathroom. Hardly Ideal Working Conditions…

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Fresh Picks (Aug 15)

A few weeks ago I received corn, cucumber, zucchini, red potatoes, parsley, garlic, scallions, italian frying peppers, and dandelion greens.

The first night I got the veggies I boiled the corn as a side with a little butter and salt for seasoning.

Thursday I used the cucumber, some of the garlic and the scallions in a salad from my Appetite for Reduction, the Edamame Salad. It had romaine lettuce, brown rice, edamame, carrots, cucumber, sesame seeds, nori, scallions all in a red miso dressing. It was like a vegan sushi salad. Yummy.

The zucchini and dandelion greens went together at dinner one night. Miso Cod, Brown Rice, Steamed Dandelion Greens, together with grilled Zucchini, Squash and Eggplant.

For dinner I decided to bunch the potatoes, parsley and italian frying peppers in a healthier version of Guy Fieri’s Sofrito Mashed Potatoes. I haven’t done it yet, but I promise myself every day that I will. Hopefully I’ll get there before the stuff spoils…

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Unusual Date

Yesterday we had the most unusual date yet.

We hired the babysitter for the afternoon to help my father with the four kids and we checked into a hotel room.

Dad is leaving this week and before he goes I wanted at least one afternoon of uninterrupted sleep. Sleep that didn’t have an alarm clock or a crying kid on the other side of it.

At check in the woman wanted to know if we were checking in for anything special.

“Sleep.” We replied in unison.

Adam requested and we luckily got a top floor, corner room. It was so quiet. All you could hear was the pitter patter of rain on the window. A perfect sleep day.

“How long do you think we’ll sleep?” I asked Adam.

“Three or four hours?” Adam guessed.

We closed the blinds and got into bed. I was so excited for a long nap that I laid there unable to sleep.

But soon three months of no REM sleep eventually overtook me. I was unconscious 5 minutes later.

I woke up only 1 and 1/2 hours later. Adam was already awake. Kind of disappointing, really. Was that all I needed to catch up?

Even though we were separated from the kids, the tethers of our daily life still lingered. By 5:20 I was hungry for dinner. I’m sure the kids were eating at home too. I smiled at the fact that I would not have to nag them to sit while they were eating, finish their dinner, or chase them around the house with wipes before they smeared their greasy hands on our walls.

We ordered room service. I knew there were great restaurants around the corner, but I relished sitting around in the hotel robe and having the food wheeled right to me, trough style.

After dinner Adam suggested another nap. Could we nap twice in one day? I guess if you eat enough room service you can easily fall into a food coma. Another two hours of sleep!

We checked out the same day we checked in. The woman at check out wisely didn’t comment on it.

In the taxi we learned we slept through a storm so big that it closed Lakeshore Drive from Michigan Ave to North Ave.

We arrived home to find a quiet house. All our kid were asleep. Perfect timing. We got into our bed and fell asleep again instantly.

Sorry readers, no photos for this blog!

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Block Party

I know I’ve written about it before, but seriously, it is the best block party in the city! Susie Linker, you rock! Susie organizes this every year, she makes it seem effortless. She never complains or explains. But every year there is an amazing, fun fill party for all ages on our street.

Jack was at the window watching the preparations for an hour before I finally let him out. Like a horse in at the post, ready to race, he and Ben bolted out the door. The cotton candy machine was on and there was no line. We hit it. Twice…

There was also a bouncy house which Jack and Ben played in. They were so happy and excited that there wasn’t even the usual crying and tattling that accompanies all the wrestling, falling on top of each other, and noogies I witnessed…

The twins enjoyed a nap while the band played…

There was loads of free entertainment as well. Like our friend Mistie who tickle tortured all the kids into a giggling frenzy…

And Adam. I find whenever he pulls out his twin carrier it’s completely entertaining to watch everyone’s reaction…

There was a magician…

Balloon “art”…

And the ice cream truck came by bearing free ice cream for all…

Jack even got his face painted later in the evening…

Amazing party. Can’t wait until next year to do it all again!

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More Potty Talk

I cringe as I write this that I may jinx myself, but here it is.

I think Ben is mostly potty trained.

I’m starting to think that the deadline to potty train is more a factor than if your kid is ready. I know I only had the will power NOT to use diapers because we were merely weeks from school starting. There was no going back.

At first I tried candy rewards. Which I thought made me a bad mom, 2 peanut M & Ms for a pee and 4 for a poop. He didn’t seemed motivated by them. So I became a worse mom and started to lose my patience. That didn’t seem to work well either. Finally I tried another tactic from my bad mommy arsenal, negative reinforcement.

“Ben, you know those juice boxes you love so much that you get diarrhea? Well, you can’t have one until you poop on the potty. I’m not cleaning that kind of poop off the floor anymore. Especially not the carpet!” I exclaimed in a not so soft voice.

Adam piped in with his own deal. “You can have those superhero monster trucks you want from Costco if you poop three times consecutively on the potty”.

Well, not only did Ben start pooping on the potty, but he learned a big word – consecutive.

Every time he went pee he sat on that potty grunting like his favorite superhero, The Hulk, until he produced a poop. He was able to get those monster trucks within one day!

Best $20 Adam Ever Spent

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Condoms and Ear Plugs

Last week after three of us (Adam, my father and I) put all the kids to bed, Adam and I decided to go for a walk. It was a beautiful summer night and a great time to catch up with each other and get some errands done.

When you have four kids, everything in your life is multitasked. Walk with husband + Errands. Cooking + Laundry. Breast feeding + Pooping. The combinations are endless.

We walked over to CVS. While waiting in line to purchase our goods, we talked about Ben’s progress with potty training. So far still pooping everywhere but the potty. Though it’s getting better. Yesterday he pooped on the rug in front of the TV, then made it in the potty later, then again in his overnight diaper the minute I put it on. Anyway, this particular evening I think that day he pooped in his underwear, then stuck his hands in it while I watched helplessly from the couch, a baby attached to my breast.

The check out girl heard us talking and started telling stories of her own. Her nephew and how bad he was, how hard it is having a kid.

“How many kids do you have?” She wanted to know.

“Four”. We replied as we placed out goods on the counter to pay.

She was flabbergasted. But all of a sudden the stuff we were purchasing made perfect sense. We handed over a large pack of condoms and three boxes of ear plugs.

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Oh yes I did just call myself that.

Monday I accomplished the impossible, or so I thought when I first became a mom of four.

I went to the park by myself.

My helper is out of town and my father, who is here this month to help, had to work.

I knew he couldn’t make all those work phone calls with our naked, screaming kids running around, punching him in the groin and trying to sit on his lap and violently type on his laptop. I had to get out of the house. Otherwise Dad would lose his job. And there is my inheritance to consider, after all.

I tried my hardest to get the kids out before his first call at 10am. But at 9:40 I still had my boob in the second of the twins that needed feeding, both older kids were completely naked, I was still in my jammies and the car was not packed.

By 10:10 we had almost everything piled at the back door, including two twins in their car seat, one screaming. One older kid was dressed, the other one was standing at the door crying as I was screaming that I was going to leave his naked butt if he didn’t get dressed by the time I pulled the car out of the garage.

At 10:15 my father was on the work phone call while carrying twins out to the car. We all got in and as I was backing out Dad and I gave each other a guilty look. I felt guilt for making him work under such oppressive conditions. He felt guilty I was going to the park with four kids on my own.

I now have to eat crow about making fun of Hilary Clinton for saying it takes a village to raise kids. When we just had two I wondered where this village was. Adam and I did all the work unless we were paying someone else for it. That’s not a village, that’s just capitalism.

But today I needed a village. Or a small army. Luckily I happen to travel often with a pack of girlfriends. Today my village people were Cindy, Sara, and Pam. Thanks for all the help!

I’m pleased to say that we didn’t lose anyone, everyone was fed lunch. There was only one potty accident and we all made it home safe. There was even a moment where I was asked to watch another two kids while one of the women when to the bathroom. I must fake that I have it all under control quite well.


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