Fresh Picks (Jan 16 & Jan 30)

Two weeks ago I received carrots, sweet potatoes, dried kidney beans, garlic, collards, daikon, spinach and turnips.

The Carrots and Spinach were used in a tortellini soup. The kids loved it, even though they skirted around the carrots and spinach, fishing out the tortellinis.

I’ve been trying out a new cookbook called The Soupbox Cookbook. For those of you not familiar with the local soup place with the cult-like following, you are missing out. Especially this time of year! Since I’m stuck at home, the cookbook is a great way to enjoy lots of yummy new soups.
Besides the tortellini soup, I also made an Italian wedding soup with the collards. The recipe called for spinach but I substituted and it still turned out great. So far four great soups from this new cookbook, all super easy.
I cut the Sweet Potato and steamed it for the babies to eat. They have started on soft finger food and I’m always looking for things they will like and not choke to badly on. The babies barely got any because when the older kids saw it steaming they asked for it themselves.

I roasted the garlic in a bit of olive oil and squeezed it into homemade hummus.

The daikon was added to pickled with carrots and used as a side dish for lunches.

I used the dried kidney beans also in a Roadhouse Chili recipe from the Soupbox cookbook. I didn’t realized how much dried bean expanded. What a nutritious and cheap way to eat! I still have 1/2 the container.

Turnips were used in yet another soup (I’m cooking my way through the entire Soupbox cookbook!). I threw them in with next week’s delivery…

Leeks, Red Pepper, Red Potato, Snap Peas, Artichoke, and Root Vegetable Soup Mix.

I used the root vegetable mix along with one leek, the red potatoes, and the turnips from last week to make a great soup that everyone can eat. The veggies were all diced and soft so the babies could eat them. The older boys liked theirs pureed with a hunk of bread.

I plan on steaming the artichoke and dipping in butter one night. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

As for the snap peas they make a great snack or lunch time side.

The last leek and red pepper are either going into a quiche of I’m going to make savory and sweet crepes one night for dinner.

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7 Year Anniversary

It has been such a long, exhausting year that I actually had to look back on this blog to remember what Adam and I did on our 6th year anniversary. I had a good laugh when I read it. Last year I marveled at how much our lives had changed in such a short time. But since that time last year, our lives have changed dramatically yet again.

As is the nature of life I can only say with absolute uncertainty that things will not keep changing more and more dramatically in the years to come.

There is a popular adage about 7 years, called the 7 year itch. That after 7 years people tend to re-evaluate their relationship. Was it true for Adam and I? After all, last year we were dining at a top Chicago restaurant for our anniversary. This year we haven’t managed to do more than hang an open suggestion in the air about a dinner out sometime in the future.

Because of this 7 year itch concept, I actually thought long and hard before I wrote this blog about the things that need fixing in my life. I will say that I’m not without my itches.

Luckily, none have anything to do with my relationship with my husband. In fact, the only really big itch I have in my life that needs scratching is my need for more uninterrupted sleep. And the only person who does anything about it happens to be my husband. Each week he asks Angelica to come early, sometimes without talking to me, to make sure I get more rest. And for that I’m grateful.

In fact, at this point in my life I’ll take sleep over a fancy dinner any day. Still, all this writing about anniversaries has made me realize I ought to motive. Instead of blogging I should be booking a restaurant and the babysitter!

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Planetarium Field Trip

When did School Buses Get Seat Belts?!

A few weeks ago I opened Jack’s backpack and read the notes from the teacher. There was a field trip on January 28th to the Shedd Aquarium.

“Always a busy place”, I thought. “I must ask if my sitter is available for me to chaperone.

Next I opened Ben’s backpack and found a note from his teachers. There was a field trip, also on January 28th, to the Planetarium.

Well between the two kids, which one stood a better chance of getting lost? I chose Ben.

The night before the trip Jack asked Adam why I was going with Ben and not him. I felt terrible. Torn between two kids, not to mentioned the other two I was leaving behind for the day. It made me realize that these sort of conflicts will be a problem over and over again in the future.

Picking Veggies. And for some unknown reason Steak Sauce.

As for Ben’s trip, as usual the other chaperones were assigned multiple kids. I only had Ben to watch. He’s still quite a hand full.

His teacher told me of another classic Ben moment. The day before he had grabbed her boob and asked if she fed babies milk from them!

It was nice to spend the day with Ben, exclusively. One on one time is a rare commodity for a mom of four.

We all watched the Sesame Street show with the entire class, then played in the Planet Explorers kids area. We had a sack lunch then headed back to the classroom.

I let Ben stay at school to nap. I also used the time to nap myself.

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New Furnace Law

A big hunk of burning love.

This week we had our rental unit’s furnace serviced. Our heating and cooling guy, who is amazing, informed us of the new law on furnaces.

Apparently the new law requires us to have a furnace with 90% efficiency by May 2013. The standard now is 80% efficiency. If you already have an 80% efficient furnace you do not need to replace it before May, but when it breaks you can no longer buy the same replacement.

Great for the environment and great for your energy bills. So what is the problem?

We vent our furnace through the chimney. The new furnaces need to be vented by a sloping PVC pipe. It can not go straight up into the chimney. It needs to vent out of the wall. And since there are houses on either side of us, the vent would have to be in front or in the back of our house. That’s not just installing a new furnace. That’s a rehab job.

We could buy a new furnace now and get it installed so we won’t have to worry about this problem for another 15 or 20 years. Or we could suck it up and change when our furnace finally breaks. We haven’t decided yet, but I’m glad we were informed before the law went into effect so we could have a chance to make a decision. I hope you are too.

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Twins at 8 months

My goodness another month has passed for the twins already! In fact, I’m so late on this post that they are closer to 9 months at this point.

Once again I’ve noticed them changing in leaps and bounds in some ways while in other ways things are annoyingly the same…

Always together!

Sam continues to give me trouble with sleep. He cries out at night at least twice. The first time, anywhere from 11am until 2am, I try to let him sooth himself back to sleep. Sometimes it works, sometimes I go in and feed him. Aaron can sleep through the night and often does, but every couple of nights he cries out with a cry so harrowed that nothing but a feed will help him get back to sleep.

Adam thought with the colder weather maybe they were waking up, so he started putting a blanket on them at night. Aaron woke in the morning with the blanket still on his back. Sam’s blanket was in a corner, I found his body flailing in various positions through out the night.

I’m starting to see this pattern a lot. Sam being the feisty one and Aaron the even-tempered one.

Always wanting the same toys! (With their maracas)

Sam seems to get things quicker, but he also tires of them quicker as well. He learned to eat first, but he hates sitting in the high chair for more than a few minutes. He’d prefer to be let down on the ground, then eat the scraps that Aaron drops instead. Aaron takes longer to learn things, but has a inner patience and calmness that is very unCalisoffish. He will sit there trying to get food in his mouth quietly and methodically until we take him out.

Mostly I’m feeding them table scraps, cut up small. Cut up tofu, bite size pieces of grapes or blueberries that have been halved. Steamed diced carrots, sweet potato, green beans. Anything I cook at night that is soft enough I’ll throw on their trays and give it a try. In between I still try to shove some baby food or yogurt in their mouths. If I’m really tired, I get the fruit in a squeeze pouch and squeeze it in. I’m pretty sure they did not intend it for that purpose, and later someone will sue them for obesity or something, but it so clean and portable I just can’t help myself.

Aaron has been practicing his pull up to standing in earnest now. Every time he does, it reminds me of the muppets. His scrawny legs impossibly small and normally slightly swaying underneath him, like Elmo on Sesame Street. Sam, having mastered the pull up to standing for some time now, is now starting to take his hands away and try to balance while standing. It’s completely scary and nerve racking to watch, because you already know how it’s going to end. In tears.

Unlike my previous babies who used to follow me around everywhere begging to be held all the time, Sam and Aaron pal around the house together. If Sam crawls off into another room, Aaron will follow. It’s super cute and makes me wonder if they will have their own twin language.

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Clogged Milk Ducts

I’m not sure why this is happening to me so many more times than it did with Ben and Jack. But twice since I’ve been back from Florida I’ve had a two clogged milk ducts. That makes three total. With Jack and Ben I only had one each.

I’ve read that if you don’t feed regularly it can happen. I’m pretty sure my feeding schedule is not regular. Sometimes I use formula, sometimes I breast feed, I go a long period in the afternoon when I pick up the older kids without pumping or breast feeding. I don’t think about it that much and perhaps I should. Or as Adam says, I could just stop breast feeding all together.

The first one I could see because there was a huge white spot on my nipple. It was painful and made my boob lumpy, but when I pumped, it umlumped me a bit. Within a few days of worry, hot showers and continuously putting cabbage leaves in my bra, it passed. There is still a white spot, but the boob produces well and now causes no pain.

Yes, cabbage leaves, people. My sister told me about it. It works. But I have no idea why. And neither does anyone on the internet. She also told me to take a needle to that white spot and pick it out. I just didn’t have the courage for that.

Yesterday the other boob started acting up. I woke up in pain. It was lumpy and I could not find any white dot. I still had the head of cabbage, so I put leaves in my bra all day. I tried a shower so hot that my skin was pink afterwards. I even laid down downstairs on my stomach for an hour while Adam put the older kids to bed with my boob soaking in a bowl of hot water.

It was sore all day and I went to bed last night in pain and not feeling well, thinking I’d need to call the doctor in the morning. It was probably infected. More mastitis. And more Augmentin. I was too tired to think about how tired that medicine made me last time.

I nurse Sam at 2am on the clogged breast, and changed the cabbage leaf. In the morning it was still sore, but less so. I nursed again, then pumped. Then, after reading on the internet to take some medicine that reduced inflammation, I very happily found my prescription ibuprofen left over from the twins c-section. Took that and a nap with the twins in the morning. Rest was another thing important to unclogging a milk duct. I had to giggle at that suggestion.

Even less lumpy and painful now. I think I’ve managed to avoid a trip to the doctor and more antibiotics. If so, I promise to drink alcohol every night in celebration of my freedom…

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Happy New Year!

Child Labor – Max squeezes Fresh OJ for Mimosas

I know it’s a bit late, but tonight Pam very graciously hosted us for our annual crepe new year party. Normally this is held on New Years Day but this year we were not here. Neither was the all important crepe maker.

It was a lovely way to spend the evening. It’s funny how your kids seem to be much less work when other kids are involved. Or perhaps it’s all the new toys. Well, I guess if I really think about it, it was probably the alcohol.

Whatever the reason, it works. The older kids went into the basement, never to been seen again (or not seen until dinner and dessert). It’s so nice that they are at an age where, whatever mischief they are getting up to, we don’t hear about it. Gone are the days of crying and tattling play dates. No more refereeing. This is not to say there shouldn’t be some crying and tattling. When Cindy went to check, she found Oscar in a closet with handcuffs on. He thought it was just as funny as the rest of the kids and I guess that makes it okay?

Pam and I in the party favors Allison brought.

The Crepe Master, Olivier.

Cindy Brings Cupcakes to Decorate. Ben Decides to Decorate his Tongue with Sprinkles instead.

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Cosmic Bowling

There is only so long you can sit in your own house when it’s freezing outside without going crazy.

Which is how the older boys and I found ourselves at Waveland Bowl for some cosmic bowling Friday after school.

Dress your kids in some white so they light up as well!

Bumper and a ball slide made for surprisingly high scores.

Shoes are $3.50 a pair and each game is $2 during the time we went. In hindsight I would not bother paying for bowling shoes for the adults as you’ll never get a turn anyway…

Bowling with Timmy P.

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What’s Cookin’ Good Lookin’?

Are you bored of cooking dinners yet? Trying to find something new and exciting but still same enough that the kids will eat it?

I’m constantly asking my other mom friends what they are making for dinner. In fact my friend Beata told me she plans a monthly calendar of dinners for her family. I was curious to see what her meal plan was. Maybe she would give me some new ideas?

Or maybe I could flip it on it’s head and give my readers some new ideas. Why don’t you see what we have been eating the last few months? Let me invite you to our table.

Here is a gallery of 25 dinners. A month of home cooked meals. I hope it gives you some good ideas for your own family.

The pictures were taken as the kids eat them. No, I do not cut Adam’s meat for him. But us adults ate the same things with some variation. For example tacos had a salsa added to them, and the white chicken chili was garnished with chopped pickled jalapenos, avocado and cilantro.

Not every meal was a success either, but I try to keep it varied and make the kids try ‘at least one bite’.

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