Fresh Picks (June 19)

Kale, White Turnips, Broccoli Raab, Pea Vine, Green Onions, Russett Potatoes, Leeks, and Asparagus.

DSC_0190After a little bit of research, I learned that Pea Vines are actually Duo Miao – my favorite chinese green to order at Chinese Restaurants. I know they are seasonal. You could only get them in China at certain times. I used to order them year round. I was mostly rejected. But it was worth it for the few times a year that people actually had it! I decided to sauté them in the wok, Chinese style, just the way I like them. I used a very simple recipe from the internet, Sauteed Dou Miao. For some reason it wasn’t as good as the restaurants. The stems were very chewy. I’m not sure if I didn’t cook it long enough or if I cooked it too long?

I tried a new recipe for Kale, one I saw on Food Network with over 500 reviews and still it kept it’s 5 star rating. Massaged Kale Salad. Except I didn’t have mango. Or sunflower seeds. So I threw in grilled peaches and slivered almonds instead. So good. Seriously, so good. Go out and get some kale. Right now.

The leeks and potato were a natural match. I made them into a soup along with some of the green onions. Simply sauteed leeks, green onions, diced potatoes in a pot, then chicken stock. Simmered about 30 minutes, added a dash of milk and blended. I left the skin of the potato on because it has added nutritional value. it whizzed in easily and the soup had little brown flecks in it.

The rest of the green onion went into turkey burgers.

White turnips we sliced thin and added to salads. I put them in a spinach salad with mandarin orange vinaigrette, leftover baked salmon, tomatoes, shredded carrots, tomatoes, strawberries and feta. It was delish. They went equally as well in my butter lettuce salad with a mustard vinaigrette.

Asparagus was simply steamed and eaten with a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper. I didn’t even share it with the family.

The Broccoli rabe was added to a calzone. I cut the stems, then boiled for about 8 minutes, then flash cooled, then sauteed in garlic with some mushrooms. I added precooked crumbled Italian sausage to the mix. Then I folded some shredded mozzarella into ricotta, spread it on rolled out, circular pizza dough from trader joes. I topped with the broccoli rabe mixture and baked. I added a side of marinara for dipping.

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Summer Beach Days

Anjelica and the twins are spending a lot of time together lately and I guess that makes them in sync.

When she showed up today they were all wearing some sort of Chicago Bull’s paraphernalia.

DSC_0284As soon as she arrived I left these two young wrestlers in her capable hands and took the older wrestlers to the beach.DSC_0282

We had our first beach day today. Now it’s summer!

The gang - Four Adults, Eight Boys, and One Girl.

Part of The Gang – Four Adults, Eight Boys, and One Girl.

Sara Buries Ben and He breaks through like the Hulk.

Sara Buries Ben and He Breaks Through like the Hulk.

Splash Ball Fun

Splash Ball Fun

Brother Love. Actually they fought the whole time, but I was able to get this one nice picture...

Brother Love. Actually they fought the whole time, but I was able to get this one nice picture…

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The Pirate Park

This afternoon I decided to try a bigger park with the four kids. Anjelica was there to help, but I picked this specific park because I wanted to see just how hard it would be if I wanted to take all the kids there by myself.

So far I only feel comfortable with the four kids outside the house in very few places. We have a park near our house where I can cover them all. It’s very small and you can see your kids from every angle. Unfortunately a park that small is really only appropriate for very little kids, already Ben is bored by it. Jack has been over it for years.

So, after the rain cleared we headed to Supera Park.

For the first ten minutes they all played nicely in the sandbox. I had time to sit and chat with Anjelica. I thought maybe, just maybe I could be here alone. It was a great park. Big enough for the older kids but small enough so I can see them all almost all the time.


This peace lasted for about 10 minutes. Soon Jack and Ben were off and running to the play structures. Jack was throwing his splash balls in a left over puddle. Ben had taken his shoes off and was running wild.

Anjelica and I find it easiest at places like this to each watch a twin and the older boys get overseen ad hoc.

Jack spent some time hissing at a group of girls. I’m not sure if they were flattered or disgusted. Ben joined in and started shoving. He got a few time outs for that.

Anjelica grabbed Sam just as he was trying to climb down backwards from a 10 foot drop.

Next thing I knew I looked over and Ben was prancing around completely naked.

“I’m Mr. Naked Pants!” He yelled, running over and grinning at me.

“Okay Ben, Mr. Naked Pants only lives at home. He’s not allowed in the park….” I replied as I forced clothes on his flailing, protesting body.

My little monkeys.

My little monkeys.

Jack spent a lot of time playing with the twins. He’s actually pretty good at it. They have their own private jokes that I have no idea why they are funny. He has incredible patience for the ‘game’ where they hand a toy back and forth to each other over and over again.


Jack and Aaron


Sliding with Sam

In the end I realized that there was NO WAY I could have done this without Anjelica. Even without the older kids, it’s just too dangerous to have two kids that are the twins age running around without constant supervision. Unless I tether them together, they are in danger.

Every single day I have her, I am so grateful for Anjelica.

Every single day I have her, I am so grateful for Anjelica.

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New Haircuts

Yesterday we got all four boys hair cut for the summer. I asked for it short so I wouldn’t have to come back for a while. There was so much Calisoff hair on the floor when we were done I was sure we could have made a fantastic wig out of it.

Recognize these cutie pies?





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Last Day of School

Here is the picture I posted of Jack’s first day of school.


And here is Ben’s first day of school.


And here is the really cute idea I had from Pinterest to join the two, but the boys wouldn’t separate for their pictures, and I only had one second while the boys were still at home and the babies were locked in their high chairs, so it came out like this…


Unlike some of the pictures I saw on Pinterest, the boys don’t actually look that different from 9 months ago.

Yes, we buy the older boys matching clothes. Don’t ask me why. We actually have twins and prefer to dress them in similar clothes that are not EXACTLY the same but for some reason we buy EXACTLY the same stuff for our non twins.

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Water in the Parks

There is always the first few weeks of summer where I find myself completely unprepared. I have no sand toys with me, I forgot the sunscreen, or the boys are wearing their sneakers when they should be in water shoes because the water in the parks is now on.

A lot of parks in Chicago have some sort of water spray on during the summer to help keep the kids cool. It’s a brilliant idea and really makes the parks more fun during the long, hot summer days.

I’m pleased to report I’ve finally got it together and am ready for summer.

This morning we put the three younger boys in swim clothes, slathered on the sunscreen, packed up the plastic buckets, snacks, water thermoses, and put on water shoes. We were heading over to Jonquil Park for Jack’s baseball game.

Adam helped coach while I watched the others in the park. It was Sam and Aaron’s first foray with a water element in the park.

How did the twins respond?DSC_0214

Sam was a bit surprised, but took to it shortly afterwards. He wasn’t running through the water yet, but happy to skirt around it.


To my astonishment, Aaron jumped right in no problem. Sometimes I find him more sensitive and timid, but not this time. In fact we even went back for more later!

Ben of course, was an old pro. Watch and learn baby brother!DSC_0216

That water was used to make a slip and slide.DSC_0230

Ben also occupied himself with the new chalk holders I found at the dollar store last night. Here he is sitting on an alien he drew. He said it was an alien from Ben 10, a new show, well new to us, that the older boys are addicted to.DSC_0233

Unlike a few weeks ago when I watched all 3 boys at this same park, this time I found it manageable. Not easy, but manageable. Made me wonder if maybe, just maybe, I’ll be okay this summer with all these kids running around.

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Happy Birthday Adam!

Adam turned 44 yesterday.

We got him cards, Jack found one with three pirates mooning the reader that he thought was hilarious. Ben picked a Green lantern card that lit up. I got a card and put my gift inside. It was the gift of time, health, and chance. Okay, it was $100 so Adam could take some early morning speed training classes the next two months while the kids are off school. He already declined July since he’s so busy at work, we’ll see if August works out. I also put some lottery tickets in there. It was chance, a very small one.

Adam’s birthday passed in a daze of busyness, like most other days here. I am pleased to report that it was not as bad as Father’s Day. I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s because Adam had to work for part of the day, he had a closing, so he didn’t have kids all day long. Maybe the kids were better behaved. Maybe it was the fact that Anjelica was here from 11am until 8pm helping us. Or maybe it was because we had more activities planned, less time for the kids to get into trouble. Whatever it was, it worked better. Not perfect, but better.

At Adam’s request we started the day at Starbucks. It’s our new breakfast spot. It’s fast, it’s close, and it’s cheap. Well, not that cheap because Adam let’s Jack and Ben order whatever they want. They split an egg sandwich, they split a bagel, they split a Naked juice, then Jack ordered a blueberry muffin, a yogurt parfait, and a berry coffee cake. Ben ordered three mini vanilla scones and an iced lemon bread. Yep, that is our normal order for just two small kids at Starbucks. And Adam and I still order for ourselves too. I mostly bring food for the twins. And feed them in the stroller. This time they refused and wanted to sit at the table like big boys. DSC_0196

Look behind the twins at the line we create after we order!

After this trip Adam said we are done with starbucks. The twins bolted in different directions and Adam and I couldn’t even take turns eating because we were BOTH chasing a twin. Luckily the older boys stayed seated while eating. Anchored only by using our cell phones to play games while simultaneously stuffing their faces.

Then we headed to the little park by our house. Adam went home for a work phone call. I watched all the kids… with a little help from Jack…


Sam was very cranky and started to fall asleep by 10:30. So the twins had an early nap. Anjelica showed up when they were asleep and Adam and I took the older boys to buy sandwiches at Potbelly’s for Ben’s end of the year school picnic. Here we are sitting with the Brooks…


Don’t see Ben? He’s asleep in the stroller in the back. Fell asleep on the way over and missed the whole picnic.

Adam took another work call while we were at the picnic.

Afterwards, we putzed around at home then headed to Adam’s Park for a concert they were having that night.


We played in the sandbox, the playground and the water park. Then ate some pizza we ordered directly to the park, and did it all over again when our friends the Brooks showed up.


Adam managed to squeeze in a quick visit to Red Mango for frozen yogurt before we headed back home.

I should also mention Adam got calls from many friends and family, amazing considering he’s not on facebook for people to be automatically reminded!

Happy birthday, Adam, hope it’s a great year for you!

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Fresh Picks (June 5)


Above is a cucumber, radishes, collards, garlic scallions, spinach, rhubarb and romaine lettuce.

Immediately I used up the romaine, cucumber and radishes in a dinner salad.

The collards were cooked into my favorite Hottie Black Eyed Peas that I’m addicted to.

The Rhubarb was made into another Oma’s Rhubarb Cake. It was gobbled up again in one day. So good.

Lentil Pasta

Lentil Pasta

The spinach has been used in smoothies in the morning. Acai Mango, or Peach Strawberry have been the favorites lately. I add those combos to spinach, a banana, some chai seeds, yogurt and orange juice. Even the twins drink it.

Finally I used up the garlic scallions in a lentil with pasta dish that I can’t find the recipe for now! I gotta publish these fresh picks quicker! It was good, chopped carrots, lentils, ribboned spinach, whole wheat penne.

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Sam the Climber

Sometimes when I write these posts about Sam I feel bad for Aaron. Aaron, who is developing like a normal baby, whose accomplishments compared to the older two boys at this age would be a marvel, is swept aside because Sam is doing everything even faster.

In the past week Sam has figured out how to climb EVERYTHING.

It’s crazy. The kid is 13 months old! Jack and Ben weren’t even walking at this age.

At the park he can climb all the play structures and turns himself around and slides down, on his belly, on even the highest slides.

Yesterday I caught him doing this…


He’s turning the lights on and off and turning our central stereo system on as well. Then dancing. He can also climb from that chair to the couch behind him.

This morning I walked away from the kitchen for a second and when I returned…


I have NO IDEA how to baby proof this problem. Should we take away the dining room chairs and stop eating sitting down?

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Father’s Day 2013

Father’s Day started at 4:30am in the morning for me.

Both twins were up. Oh no, I thought, if they are not co-operating already, it’s not going to be a good day for Adam.

The older boys were up by 6:30 and Adam had a ‘sleep in’ until 7am.

He was presented with this when he woke up. You can’t read the pictures so I included them individually afterwards…


We had plans for a morning swim at the East Bank Club. I had booked the twins in the day care and we were going to take the older boys to the kiddie pool.

Aaron was so tired by 9:30am that he fell asleep in the car. Then Sam slept while at the child care. So much for a long afternoon nap for Adam. Or anyone for that matter. The twins falling off their schedule made for a much more challenging day.

But we are still in the morning, we are not tired yet and things are sunny and warm. We are all still happy. We party at the pool…


I think this was the best part of the day. Adam got a small run in, just home from the gym.

The afternoon quickly deteriorated. Everyone was tired, cranky, and misbehaving. Kids and adults both kept falling asleep at odd times in odd places. I wish it could have been a better father’s day for Adam.

I think the only positive note is that next year will surely look better when compared to this afternoon. Then we can hopefully pat ourselves on the back and be proud of how far we’ve come. Something to look forward too, Adam, something to look forward to.

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