So Wrong?

Should I make them use forks?

Kids do so many things wrong sometimes it’s hard to focus on what they do right. Or hard to know which bad thing you should try to correct.

The other morning Jack pushed his naked behind in Sam’s face and asked him to “smack my butt.” So wrong on so many levels.

So was Ben’s comment later that day that he was going to “poop on my head”.

Should I break them up?

No Jack, you can not grab my boobs when we strip down for the bath and shower.

No Ben, it’s not okay to tell someone you are going to “cut them dead”. Where did you even get that anyway?

And don’t get me started on how I need to work more on stopping Ben from unrolling the entire roll of toilet paper every time he goes potty. Or how I need to get him to understand that it’s NOT OKAY to throw a hissy fit every time he doesn’t get his way.

And how Jack needs to clean up his potty mouth. For about three years now every 2nd or 3rd word is poop, booty butt, or buttcakes. He’s like the Spongebob of sailor mouths.

Then there are other things that are less obvious.

My bruiser right now is Ben, but Sam has such an iron grip I think he’s eventually going to give Ben some competition. But for now, it seems Jack is always crying for Ben to get off him, even though I know half the time he instigates it. Last month I caught Ben trying to hug Aaron by straddling him and laying his entire body on top him.

What do you have in store for me?

And Jack has started to get a manipulative edge that I’m not sure if I should leave alone or correct. On the one hand, I love it because it shows how clever he is. That he can get a toy off Ben without just grabbing it and making him cry shows a certain level of sophistication. “Ben, can I help you with that? Ben, do you want me to hold that for you?” 

The other side of me thinks I should point out to Ben that he’s just been snookered.

It makes me look at my two, innocent little twins and think, “What kind of hell are you going to put me through in the next few years?”

[The day after I wrote this Ben, doing Jack’s bidding, peed on me while I was sitting on the couch breast feeding]

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Baby Picture Comparison

It’s funny how everyone says one twin looks like Jack, the other Ben. But they don’t always pick the same twin!

Like our friend Morgan said, “They are all different. They are all Calisoffs, but they are all different.”

So, here are pictures of all the kids at 6 months old. To settle it once and for all … maybe…

I’m now thinking maybe it was Ben who was switched at the hospital?

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It took me some time to realize why I was extra tired this week.

I thought maybe it was Sam’s new habit of feeding between 3 and 4, then getting up for the morning by 4:30am. Or maybe it was because most nights this week Ben has called out and woken us up around 1 or 2am. Or maybe we just weren’t going to bed early enough? By the time the kids go to sleep Adam and I spend about an hour together if we are lucky. I’d hate to be unconscious during that precious time.

Last night I fell asleep before Ben when I tucked him in. This morning after dropping Adam at work I decided to stop at Whole Foods. When I turned around, both twins were asleep. I quickly locked my doors, reclined the seat and took a quick nap too.

Somehow Adam and I stumbled upon the antibiotics I was using to clear my mastitis. He read the side of the bottle.

Augmentin?” He said. “That stuff will knock you out. That’s the stuff she [our doctor] gives me when I have a sinus infection. You’ll have diarrhea in a few days too.”

Now I know why every decision I’ve made this week is fraught with tentativeness. When you are so tired, everything seems like such an effort.

The Twins with our long time Cleaner, Patricia

Oh well, I just have to make it the 10 day cycle. At least I don’t have a runny stomach. Augmentin never messed with the a girl who lived in China for years. It will give you bowels of steel.

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The Suburbs Train

Never one to sit idle, my imaginative, thoughtful husband came up with another fun fill day for all of us to enjoy.

He took us all on our very first Metra Rail ride to the suburbs. We see these trains all the time all around the city, but have never used one. Jack was very excited to finally see the inside of one.

We needed the handicapped row and two more rows for a group this size!

In fact, it was a train themed day. We took a 45 minute ride to Glen Ellyn to eat at one of the kids favorite restaurants, 2 Toots Train Whistle Grill. I wrote about this place before in my Father’s Day 2012 blog post. It’s so cute for kids. They have just the right amount of kitsch. Little trains deliver your food. They blow a whistle every now and then. You can watch the trains pass on the tracks right next to the restaurant. There are little 25¢ machines with cheap toys like bouncy balls. For dessert you get ice cream and a whistle shaped like a train. Thomas the Tank Engine plays on the TVs.

Ice Cream and Train Whistles!

It was another great idea for a winter day!

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A Normal Life

Sometimes I’m amazed how much we manage to get out and about now that we’ve become such a large family. That we can still live somewhat of a normal life. I know other people are surprised. I watch their faces, people who hold doors open for us in awe, like watching clowns exiting a tiny car.

Meli Cafe

This morning we managed to make it to breakfast at our favorite breakfast spot, Meli Cafe.

Adam alternated between sitting and eating and standing up jiggling a baby to sleep, Sam was strapped to him the entire time. He also was feeding another baby at one point, then Japo took over. Ben and Jack ate okay, and if I ignored the poopy jokes I could say that Jack almost behaved well. Ben treated his eggs like playdoh and as a result had his chair turned backwards twice to sit in a time out. Aaron was an angel, no crying and playing nicely in his car seat the entire time. He was definitely switched at the hospital at birth.

In truth there is probably nothing normal about it. Couples without kids shrink away in horror. I’m sure we do more for birth control than any Planned Parenthood ever could. But still, going to breakfast on the weekends is something Adam and I did even before kids, so  it makes it all seem normal, even if it’s just the patina of normal.

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Wonderland Express

This morning we checked out the Chicago Botanical Garden’s Wonderland Express. We try to go see it every year and each year I’m impressed by the detail involved. They make miniature renditions of Chicago buildings out of natural materials. Here is a picture of the Marina City, aka the Chicago Corn Cobs.









It doesn’t take long to see, but with the drive out and some lunch included you could make a morning out of it. A great idea if you want to get out of the house for a bit but it’s just too cold to play outside.

Afterwards they had an activity room where you could make natural jewelry or snowflakes out of coffee filters.

Snowflake Art (Okay, Ben is just eating a cookie)

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Thanksgiving 2012

I woke this morning with a bout of mastitis. My right breast was lumpy and sore. A hot shower and long pumping session did nothing to relieve the pain. I remember my friend Jennie telling me she tried to eradicate mastitis herself. She ended up with only one producing boob, which made her quite lopsided. I know breast feeding is going to make me saggy, but lopsided and saggy is too much!

So I called the doctor right away and got a prescription for antibiotics. I’m already feeling a bit better tonight.

This year we kept Thanksgiving small, just my mother and Adam’s mother and her husband. Five adults and four children.

Swinging at Oz Park

It freed us up to play in the park on this glorious morning. We ended up serendipitously meeting our friends the Bransfields. They also have 4 kids and together decided to picnic lunch. We were quite a show of force with our two families and five strollers between us. The only place open was McDonalds, the kids were in heaven.

I’d love to paint a Norman Rockwell picture of our dinner, but the truth is that Jack and Ben were little terrors. We spend most of the evening telling them to sit down and eat. But otherwise I’d say the evening was a success.

We cooked the turkey on the barbecue to free up the oven. Which we filled with stuffing, corn pudding, sweet potatoes roasted with a bit of honey and olive oil, roasted brussel sprouts. Mom whipped up a cranberry relish the day before. Adam’s mom brought apple pie.

We have so much to be Thankful for!

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Sleep Training Update

At the twins 6 month check up, our pediatrician talked to us about sleep training. We take our kids to Dr. Weissbluth’s practice. He wrote the book called, “Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child. Although we don’t see Weissbluth himself, all his staff follow the books practices. I like that they are concerned about sleep because it reminds me to fix these problems before it gets too out of hand .

So last week Thursday, Angelica and I decided to sleep train Sam.

His night wakings, mixed with the older kids night wakings, were getting unbearable to me. Sam seemed to have regressed from waking up around 2 or 3am to having a first wake up around 12 or 1am. Then another around 4am.

As the doctor suggested, we put him in his crib completely awake. First we watched for signs he was tired. Then we created a cue, which was to read Sam a book. Finally we put him in the crib, lights out, on his tummy – the way he likes to sleep.

We braced ourselves for the worst.

The first night he cried for 9 minutes. And only the first 5 sounded tortured. Then he cried out around 1am for another 10 minutes then settled himself. I fed him the next time he woke at 5am.

The second night he cried for 30 minutes. It was really hard to listen to. But the 1am cry was only a couple of minutes. Again I was up around 4:30am to feed him.

The third night I was out for a B’nai Mitzvah, but I think I remember a report that he didn’t cry very long. He didn’t wake at night either until around 4am.

We still continue the same schedule. Most nights he still cries a bit at night, sometimes it’s more like he’s talking to himself. But he no longer wakes until 4 or 5am.

It is life changing to me. I hope it lasts!

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Five Places Kids Eat Free in Chicago

Who doesn’t love to save money? I know I have an erroneous love of free food. I realized it should be quality over quantity, but that doesn’t stop my bargain hunting genes from dancing a two step every time get something for free. Over time my mom friends and I have managed to check out a few places that kids eat free. And here they are…

1. The Barn and Company. I met a few friends here with my older kids on Wednesday night as was shocked when my bill came to $10 without tip! I ordered a salad, which was 1/2 off and the kids ate free. In fact they eat free Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesdays. I didn’t think the salad was that tasty, but perhaps it was because I was at a smoke house which focused on meat. Next time I’ll be naughty and try the ribs…

2. Bakin and Eggs. I haven’t been back to this place in a while. The food was good, but the service was lacking last time we went. I saw a review on ‘Check Please’ that was positive so I’m thinking of trying it out again some day. They are only open for breakfast and lunch. Kids eat free all day on Thursday, limit 2 per family.

3. Frasca. Good Italian pizzeria. Thin crust pizza and nice salads as well. Kids eat free from 4:30 until 6pm every night. I think there is a 2 kid limit per family here too. Also, if you are doing the free kids promotion, you can not partake in the other specials that evening, like 1/2 price wine bottles. We found that out the hard way.

4. The Brown Trout. Unlike most places where kids eat free, this place has amazing food. We liked it so much we went on a date there without the kids! Their motto is “Casual, Comfortable, Sustainable Cuisine”. Kids eat free from 5-7, Wednesday through Sunday. One adult entree must be purchased per child.

5. Lulu Belle’s Pancake House. Pam introduced me to this place one Tuesday but we enjoyed it so much we went back with the kids a few times for breakfast on the weekends. It was tasty enough to dine there even if we had to pay for the kids meals. Kids eat free on Tuesdays from 7am until 3pm. Must order one adult meal per kid.

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E and J’s B’nai Mitzvah

Last night we attended a B’nai Mitzvah for Ellie and Jonas. They are twins of Adam’s long time friend Steve Monieson. Adam and Steve went to Hebrew School together back in the day, so it was doubly meaningful for Adam to now see his friend’s kids go through the same. You may remember them from the E and J’s 5K Run.

The service was amazing. I loved everything about it. Both kids read incredibly well. Every single person who got up to speak, from Uncle Doug to Grandma and Grandpa, were eloquent and thoughtful with a sprinkling of well placed humor. I even found the evening prayers interesting to read, something that hardly ever happens to me at religious services.

When we picked up our place cards there was a picture of a hot dog underneath. We were pleased to see that meant a full on food court of pizza, mexican, burgers, and sushi. In fact, the only complaint I had the entire evening was that the size of the trays were too small! Dessert, among other things, included a blizzard bar.

Everything about the b’nai mitzvah screamed class. But that didn’t stop me. I used the evening shamelessly as a free date night/dance party/stuff my face full of food fest. The Moniesons put us at a table that could only have been labelled in their minds as ‘the fun table’. Which is how this happened…

Yes, that is the lamp from the table I’m strumming.

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