The twins have started to get up to all sorts of mischief in the house.

Because there are two of them, instead of following me around the house all day begging to be picked up, they follow each other around, steal each others toys, or generally find things to wreck together.

Here is what they have been up to for the past week…

Pulling down all the books in the bookshelf

Pulling down all the books in the bookshelf

Taking apart the closet.

Taking apart my closet.

Found open close, took out all the extra, stored drinks and gnawed on them.

Found open closet, took out all the extra stored drinks and gnawed on them.

Pulled down the bins in their room.

Pulling down the bins in their room and scattering the contents.

Pulling out and eating the computer plugs.

Pulling out and eating the computer plugs.

Later I found him eating soap, does that cancel out this?

Later I found him eating soap, does that cancel out this?

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Kelly’s Shower

This afternoon I attended Kelly’s surprise baby shower.



With so many of my mom friends threatening to go back to work, it is such a relief to know that I have a friend who will be in baby land at least as long as I will be.

Kelly actually works, but she somehow manages to balance home life with work beautifully and without complaint. I often forget that she has her doctorate in developmental psychology. She certainly never makes us feel like bad parents for the way we raise our kids.

Jennifer organized the brunch and picked Sola. Their website says they are “blending the indigenous flavors of the Midwest with the preparations, techniques and inspiration from Hawaii’s unique culinary heritage.” Which just proves that there is absolutely every single type of cuisine in this food loving city.

Adam and I had to juggle quite a bit for me to be able to attend this event. During the time of the shower the twins had their nap and Jack was suppose to have baseball tryouts. Then Jack had a birthday party in the afternoon. Three different sitters were called, all busy. I worry a lot these days that this is how my life is going to be from now on. A struggle to juggle. Maybe that should be the new tagline of the blog, “Struggling and Juggling.”

In the end we moved Jack’s baseball try outs up and Adam dealt with four kids for a couple hours so I could sit and catch up with my friends.

I’m no longer used to sitting and eating leisurely. In fact, I’m no longer used to sitting while I’m eating! Usually I eat standing up while getting drinks/feeding other kids/making lunches/etc.

I was out of practice. They kept bringing me coffee, so I drank enough coffee to feel like my nerve endings were buzzing. I ate so fast that I was the first one done by a long shot.

As much fun as it was to have a break, it was hard to relax, thinking of Adam trying to cover all those kids by himself. I wonder how long it will take me to feel normal again when I’m away from the kids? Maybe a mother never does?


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Jack’s 6th Birthday Lego Party

Having so many kids has finally pushed us over the edge. Adam and I decided host Jack’s birthday party away from our house this year. Too hard to clean, cook and decorate with all these little rug rats around.

This opened a lot of possibilities for us. It also limited us somewhat. We needed something that could host a lot of people, since Jack wanted to invite his entire class of 30 people and more. And we wanted to try our best to honor Jack’s request for a car themed party.

We booked a room at our gym, the East Bank Club. They put on a buffet for us of hot dogs, pizza, fries, fruit, apple juice, milk, sandwich tray for the adults, and ice cream for the kids. After complaining about how kid unfriendly they have been to me in the past, I was astonished how accommodating the entire catering staff was to us. Parents wanted beer and the bar was closed? No problem. Beers magically appeared. Out of pizza? No problem. A second later another tray full arrived. We were even hunted down twice as we were heading to the car to give us back a couple of hot wheels cars we left.

Next we managed to find a certified lego expert who hosts lego parties, Beth Weis. It was a gamble. We had never seen her in action before. And unless I didn’t do my research right, there was only one woman in Chicago crazy enough to lug 100 pounds of vintage legos around and let kids go nuts on them. It was awesome.

When we arrived she had this structure waiting for us…


As kids arrived, they built, and built, and built…DSC_0799

Then they put Jack inside and built even more…


Pretty soon it was as tall as Jack. Then she lined up the girls, opened a hole in the bottom of the structure and let them all climb in with him…


Next all the boys got a chance to climb in…


Finally they all surrounded the structure and hugged the wall until it broke. But that wasn’t the only entertainment. There was a mosaic corner where kids could create lego pictures…


Oscar made my favorite mosaic…


There were also two tarps of legos laid out for anyone to create with…


Ben, with his Bubbie’s help, made these ships…


We booked the twins in the day care for the first part of the party so we could focus on the older kids. Also so they wouldn’t eat legos, or destroy the wall that the kids were building. They made an appearance at dinner, though.


For dessert, Jack and Adam designed this elaborate cake with the help of Deerfield Bakery.


Finally the kids were sent home with a goodie bag of lego candy and choice of 4 different lego sets, firetruck, space moon ranger, helicopter or car…


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Fresh Picks Feb 13th


This week I Red Savoy Cabbage, Scarlett Turnips, Beets, Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli, Yellow Pepper & Chard.

Scarlett Turnips and chard were grouped together the next night. Honey Roasted turnips, garlic sautéed chard were eaten with a honey mustard chicken.

Finally the beets and sweet potatoes. A Beet and Goat Cheese Salad and baked sweet potatoes were served with the left over baked honey mustard chicken.

The yellow pepper was thrown into a salad the following night.

Finally, I used the red savoy cabbage in an asian stir fry dish and served it on the same night as the broccoli. The broccoli was used in a chicken and broccoli stir fry. A side of brown rice was added too.

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Jack Turns 6

Opening his birthday card from Adam.

Opening his birthday card from Adam.

This past year has been amazing. I thought turning 5 was great, but watching Jack this past year has been incredible.

Everyone has noticed how much he’s grown, how he’s come out of his shell. How, even though he can still be very particular in his wants and needs (like buying new toys and not wanting to open them), he is much more easy going than he used to be.

This year Jack discovered how much he loves soccer, smash cops on the ipad, and his little baby twin brothers. He loves to try to calm them by singing BINGO at the top of his lungs, rough housing with them, and making them giggle.

Jack relationship with Ben is improving as well. There are still lots of fights, but occasionally I catch them scheming something naughty together or just running the entire length of the house in a fit of laughter.

Birthday Pancakes. By the way, icing will melt on warm stuff...

Birthday Pancakes. By the way, icing will melt on warm stuff…

He always tried to be helpful, but in this past year I’ve noticed he can actually help. If you ask him to do something, he can follow the directions exactly. He’ll often help make muffins or unload groceries at the store for me.

I no longer have to dress him. In fact, he would be offended if I chose his clothes out for him.

Jack started Kindergarden last year and met the kids that will be with him on a journey lasting nine years.

Lunch was gift wrapped. Thanks for the idea Pinterest!

Lunch was gift wrapped. Thanks for the idea Pinterest!

His new school is teaching him to read and work with numbers at a furious pace. Every night when we break out his homework I’m in awe of how quickly he’s learned these new skills, and proud how much he wants to use them over and over again.

Already Jack finds his parents uncool. While other kids will run and jump up, wrapping their arms and legs around their parents, smiling and kissing them with happiness when they pick them up from school, all I get is a grunt and a backpack before he runs ahead of me like I’m not there.

As with last year, butt jokes are still hilarious.

Tonight Jack has requested pizza for dinner so once again I am free from cooking this week!

Happy Birthday Jack!

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Chia Seeds

A few months ago I finished reading Born to Run by Chris McDougall. In it, he talks about the Tarahumara, a hidden tribe of super athletes. He explains that there is a way to run long distances without injury. One of the things he faults are running shoes.

You know how easily influenced I am, so after reading this book I now have a bunch of new obsessions. One is wanting to get the Vibram Five Fingers and start running with them.

The other thing he talked about was the miracle diet of the Tarahumara. They use pinole and chia seeds.

Pinole is like corn meal. Chia seeds are some crazy kind of super food I never heard of. I mean, I saw the Chai pets growing up, but not to eat!

Picture of Chia Seeds from http://www.healthlady.com.

Apparently Chia seed’s high level of antioxidants help prevent cancer by preempting cell mutations, it’s alpha-linolenic acid helps reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol.  It can lower the rate of carbohydrate conversion to sugar, helping to manage diabetes, It’s loaded with fiber for digestive health. It has a ton of Omega-3 fatty acid which should help with fatigue, inflammatory conditions and also helps boost immunity. I’ve even heard people use it to feel fuller and therefore lose weight. And that it gives you more energy.

It’s got 5 times the amount of calcium! Fifteen times more magnesium than broccoli! Two times more potassium than a banana! And three times more iron than spinach! Fiber! Protein!

It can lessen the wrinkles on your skin! It can help you sleep! It can give you more energy!

Chia, where have you been all my life?

I went right out and bought a bag at whole foods. I’ve been sticking it in our morning smoothies. I’ve been sprinkling it on oatmeal, yogurt, and even the leftover chili I ate the other day. I even made it a ‘Chia Fresca’ from seeds, water, honey and a squeeze of lemon.

I aimed to eat a tablespoon or two every day for two weeks.

After a month of this, I checked my results.

I did not lose much weight. Thank you evil Valentines Day. So far I’ve only managed to drop a few pounds.

I will say the Chia seed made me feel fuller but my old habits ignored it and I still snacked when I shouldn’t.

Do I have more energy? Not really. Waking up 3 or 4 times a night every night is exhausting and I don’t think any legal substance can change that.

Did my wrinkles lessen? Unfortunately not. Again, I think if you could miraculously unwrinkle yourself with a few seeds, everyone would know about it.

This exercise made me think back to a conversation my roommate Fionnuala Hanahoe and I used to have in Hong Kong. We would wake up every weekend completely hung over. Why was that? We wondered. Must be because we mixed our drinks.

So the next weekend we decided we would try not mixing drinks. Maybe that was the cause? We just drank beer the next weekend and guess what? We woke up completely hung over.

So must be the beer. The next weekend we just drank Vodka. We woke up completely hung over. After about a month of experimenting we realized something we had overlooked. If you drink too much, you wake up hung over.

There are no secrets to weight loss, people. The only thing that’s ever worked for me is a simple equation – calories. Eat less, exercise more, you’ll lose weight.

Still, I’ve continued to eat chia seeds when I can. Once a day I find they will fit nicely on my morning cereal, a greek yogurt snack or a smoothie. They are still a ‘power food’ and I want to eat healthy things, and if it makes me feel a little more full then that’s a good thing too.

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President’s Day

I just want to thank Adam’s office for giving him President’s day off.

I also want to thank CPS public school for NOT giving our older kids President’s day off.

Being down to the twins with Adam and the help still working made for a very nice day.

Adam was very generous with his time off and I ended up running errands kid free, napping, and being taken out to dinner with only Jack and Ben while Angelica watched the twins.

It was like someone gave me the day off too!


Even without the twins all of our heads are too big to fit into the picture!

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In business school I learned that retail and restaurants were a very fickle business. Chances of running a successful restaurant were less than 20%, if I remember correctly.

However, I never thought it would be so difficult to keep a shop running in our neighborhood.

You can’t buy a single family home on our street for $2 million dollars, you’d think it with those sort of consumers, any shop you open would be successful.

I’ve been here 8 years now and already I feel like an old person when I start listing the turnover of retail shops and restaurants just off our street.

There are so many empty shops right now, more than I’ve ever seen before. I guess the recession is still on. Or maybe this area just doesn’t have the volume it needs for all the retail spaces available?

This used to be Ethel's Chocolates.

This used to be Ethel’s Chocolates.

Charlie Trotter chose to close after 25 years solid years.

Charlie Trotter chose to close after 25 years solid years.

Cynthia Rowley's is now closed too.

Cynthia Rowley’s is now closed too.

This was an independent cosmetic jewelry store.

This was an independent cosmetic jewelry store.

Shine Restaurant moved to a new location a few blocks away. It's old space has been vacant for years.

Shine Restaurant moved to a new location a few blocks away. It’s old space has been vacant for years.

The Rugby store closed at the beginning of this year.

The Rugby store closed at the beginning of this year.

So did the Twisted Lizard across the street.

So did the Twisted Lizard across the street.

It’s not all doom and gloom. Some shops closed and new tenants have taken over…

The old baptist church is torn down to make way for a Walgreens.

The old baptist church is torn down to make way for a Walgreens.

Glazed and Confused opens under the El.

Glazed and Infused opens under the El.

David's Tea takes over Johnny's Rocket's.

David’s Tea takes over Johnny’s Rocket’s.

Nike Training Shop opens where Bennetton was.

The Peruvian Connection rents part of Armitage Hardware’s space.

Guide Shops opens where Isabella Lingerie was.

Guide Shops opens where Isabella Lingerie was.

Red Mango Frozen Yogurt takes over Stinky Pants kids boutique's old location.

Red Mango Frozen Yogurt takes over Stinky Pants kids boutique’s old location.

The Nike Training Store opens where Bennetton was.

The Nike Training Store opens where Bennetton was.

I can’t wait to look back on this post a year from now to see who is still standing!

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Lunch Boxes

The dinner post made me think about lunches. As with dinner, I try hard not to make the same thing over and over again. Still, there are only so many things you can pack into a lunch box, right?

I can make it exciting for about two weeks, then I tend to repeat the selection…

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