Japo Arrives


I drove Adam to the airport and picked Japo up on Thursday morning.

And thank goodness she was free to help me cover the kids while Adam was on a company retreat.

Because what I realized is that there is absolutely no way I could have covered all these kids and taken them outside of the house safely.

And yes, that is her, age 75, sliding down the slide at the playground.

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No Screaming Ban

Recently my facebook acquaintance, Kate, posted an article from the Huffington Post called 10 Things I Learned When I stopped Yelling, by The Orange Rhino.

I expected to read it then very smugly turn my nose up at this woman, who probably has NO IDEA what my life is like.

But it caught my attention because I soon found out she is also a mom blogger, and she also has 4 kids under 6 years old.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a screamer. If nothing else works, I just say it louder and louder until I’m hoarse. I don’t find it to be a particularly effective method. Still, it has become my default method never the less.

When we had less kids, Adam used to complain about my yelling. He grew up in a house full of yelling and it was very upsetting for him. Then, when we had more kids and he started to take on more responsibility for the older ones, he started yelling as much as I did. And I realized, seeing it from the other side, that it is ugly. And doesn’t work, it doesn’t make the kids behave the way you want them to.

Perhaps I needed to change my mind set, not theirs. Perhaps it’s not about making them do what you want, but working with them and their limitations to achieve something together.

I’d love to eradicate the yelling. Now that the twins are older, I’m less in constant emergency mode. I’m starting to work out again. I’m starting to sleep longer stretches at night. I’m starting to think about what kind of impact I want to have on these kids. How I want them to remember their childhood. And remembering a tense, screaming crazy mom ain’t it.

She did it for 365 days, can I?

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Neighborhood Carts


Has anyone seen these new carts at your local L stop?

I was so pleased to see one pop up under our own L stop. It’s such a cool concept, I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

These carts are a project by Neighborhood Capital, whose objective is to “create jobs for the unemployed and under-employed, as well as promote wellness in all Chicago communities.”

Such a worthwhile mission! They create jobs for the unemployed. But not just any job. They have created a unique opportunity for people to become their own entrepreneurs. To actually feel a sense of pride and ownership in what they do.

But that’s not all! They also have many carts in underserved areas of Chicago, where access to fresh fruit is not great. They are bringing health to underserved neighborhoods at the same time as creating new jobs!

Not feeling warm and fuzzy yet? Here is a story on one of the vendors, Ted Tines, that will melt your heart.

Just like underwear in your laundry, fresh fruit is the “limiting factor” is my house. It is the thing that motivates me to get to the supermarket. Just this morning I thought with dread, “I’ve got to either load those two twins in the car and then into the stroller then quickly run through the store with a stroller in front of me and a cart behind me before they start crying just to get fruit, or try it with the older boys later this afternoon but the last time I did that Ben pushed the cart into a wall of glass olive oil….”

Now I can just pop over to the cart down the street! I kept thinking of my friend Beata, who works full time and has two kids. She can only shop once a week. The first question I asked her was, “What about fresh fruit?” Now she can pick up what she likes on the way home every night if she so pleases!

Have your husband pick up something on his way home! Grab some fresh fruit for your next stroller outing! I’m going to use this thing all the time!

And finally the price? I got 2 packages of strawberries and a cantaloupe for only $6! Much cheaper than the supermarket.

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Fresh Picks (Apr 10)


This week, spinach, watercress, butter lettuce, swiss chard, red pepper, black radishes, & sweet potato.

DSC_0541The watercress and butter lettuce paired nicely in a salad with pomegranate seeds, dried cranberries, goats cheese, and walnuts in a raspberry vinaigrette.

I cooked up the swiss chard in a little olive oil and garlic. It was a little bitter, but I liked it. Can’t say the same for Adam.

I peeled and diced the black radishes then roasted them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Again they were a bit too bitter for my liking so I added a touch of maple syrup and they were perfect.

The red pepper was added to loads of other veggies for a Chinese stir fry.

The sweet potato I diced and steamed for baby food. This particular one had black veins running through it, unlike the bright orange color I get at the supermarket. As a result they were not as well received as I’d hoped.

Finally the spinach, used in smoothies and a side salad.

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An Original Party Idea

DSC_0598With four kids, I am always on the hunt for an original birthday party idea.

Today I attended a party so original I just had to share it with you.

It was our friend Jeremiah’s 5th birthday. He is also from a family of six, and the parents always do an incredible job at party planning.

It was a baseball themed party. They live very close to DePaul and planned the day around the woman’s softball game. If you couldn’t deduce, the stands were pretty empty so we had the run of the place for ourselves.

The stadium could not have been more welcoming. They greeted us with t-shirts and balls for all the kids.

DSC_0595They overlooked the fact that we brought in our own food, gave the microphone to Jeremiah’s older sister to sing ‘take me out to the ball game’ to all the fans, and the mascot practically camped out with us the entire time we were there.

Afterwards we played freeze tag and monster jail in DePaul’s quadrant. Finally we ended the afternoon with cake and free play back at their house. Gift bags were also very clever – DePaul temporary tattoos, a pack of plastic bases for playing baseball, and baseballs.

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“A” is no antidote

People whose names began with the letter “A” in the end were not protected.

Last night Adam came home early from work and crashed on the couch. Another victim.

I, on the other hand, was feeling better. No more fever and after not eating and getting on the scale I kind of wished this stomach bug lasted a bit longer, say about 5 pounds longer.

I didn’t realize that it wasn’t over. That having a stomach bug means that it has to come out eventually, and the way it comes out (either up or down) is never pretty.

I sat on the toilet for the better part of the time period from 10pm to 1am last night. Stopping twice to put Ben and Jack back to bed.

Jack got out of bed to go to the bathroom and after I tucked him back in a went back to the toilet, and stepped in something wet. Jack missed the toilet completely. I thought Adam might be kneeling in this very spot soon so I cleaned it up right away. (He didn’t.)

Finally I got in bed for a few hours rest before Sam decided to start crying at 3:30 in the morning and didn’t stop until I finally broke down and got him out.

Tonight is Jack’s school’s fund raiser. Surprisingly Adam feels good enough to go, better than me! I may have to stand near the bathrooms the entire night…

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The Mother Ship Goes Down

Yesterday I woke up and did not feel hungry at all. And so it started. Another one bites the dust.

That evening I took Jack’s temperature, then he took mine. His was 99°, mine was 100°.

Luckily I haven’t also joined the ranks by upchucking. I haven’t thrown up in 24 years, so I think it would be quite traumatic for me if I did.

Of course, as luck would have it (I feel like I’m saying that a lot lately?), today neither older boy has school today.

Seems like everyone is effected unless their names begin with an “A” – Aaron, Adam and Anjelica. Let’s hope it stays that way…

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Puke Fest continues

It’s funny how each kid is effected differently with this stomach bug.

Ben had it so bad that it lasted 5 days. But Ben is an excellent sick kid. On the first day I had him laying in his bed by himself with the iPad. He came out to see me a bit later and when I went to tuck him in again I noticed he had quite nicely puked in the bucket I left for him. No big deal, he didn’t even think to mention it. He had violent diarrhea for days that never quite made it to the toilet but when it happened he didn’t complain or cry. Sometimes he would ask, “Why am I sick?”

At night he woke only once, but for hours each time with something coming out of either end. Then we were able to tuck him back into bed.

Sam only threw up twice. He seemed miserable for two days but slept a lot, in his crib, and was, for the most part, able to keep down fluids. He was better in three days.

Last night Jack was up every hour or two hurling. Adam “slept” with him on the floor of the bathroom all night. Each time he was sick he cried and complained bitterly. Oddly, other than last night he acts as if he’s not sick at all. I mean, he doesn’t have much of an appetite but he is still as demanding as ever. No sitting docile on the couch for this kid. In the past few months he has developed a huge fear of being alone. Which makes putting him down for a nap while trying to cover other kids impossible. As I write he is sleeping in the couch in the dining room, where I made him lay while I was feeding the twins lunch. Let’s all pray the intensity of the way Jack’s body reacted to this illness is in at odds with the length of time it will last.

Hold strong Aaron! Let’s hope you can make it through this untouched!

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Field Trip & Flu Update

Today I chaperoned a field trip with Ben to the Farm at the Zoo.


“What animals do you want to see at the zoo, Ben?” I asked.

“Dinosaurs!” Ben replied.

Another preschooler named Eli chimed in, “There are no dinosaurs in the zoo because dinosaurs are instinct.”

I thought Ben must be getting better because they assigned me two kids instead of one. But as it turns out, I was assigned Ben’s buddy Abby. He really likes her. And as a result it makes him want to be a better person.

Having two kids made me realize how difficult Ben is. Abby very nicely walked next to me, holding my hand, actively seeking my hand and keeping pace. We were out for a nice stroll together to the zoo. On my other hand I felt like I was dragging a bowling ball. It dragged behind me and jerked about the entire time. There was one point where I had to threaten no more field trips if he wouldn’t hold my hand.

DSC_0567Still, it was nice to have the morning just with Ben, even when he’s at his worst, he is still adorable.

That afternoon we picked up Jack from school and he complained about his stomach. So far this evening he has thrown up twice. I have a feeling it’s going to be another long night…

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