Mexican Wedding

Adam and I attended our first Mexican Wedding last night.

It was the son of Adam’s secretary, Paula. Paula and Adam have been working together for 13 years now.

Paula’s son is Paul and he married Brenda. Brenda’s background is half Pakistan, half Mexican, all Catholic.

The service was in this beautifully ornate church, done in the grand style that only Catholics can do, with stain glass stories in every window and steeped in the traditions of robed priests, eucharist and lots of kneeling.

Whenever I enter a place like this, it makes me think of how old the religion is, and how little has changed in the church. How godly it must have been to enter these sacred spaces, to hear the beautiful music before things like radios existed. Adam and I have not been married long by any standards, but still I felt the gravity of the ceremony having been through it myself a mere eight years ago. It is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your life and any time I get a chance to witness such an occasion I feel honored to be there.

Paul and Brenda already have a son together who is between the twins and Ben’s age. I always felt like I related to Paula on an equal level but seeing her young son with a kid my kids age slid us right in the middle of the two generations. All of a sudden felt myself empathizing with Paul and Brenda as well.

Paula with her grandson, Johnny. I envy that she is a young grandmother and hope I have the energy she has for Johnny for my grandkids one day.

Paula with her grandson, Johnny. I envy that she is a young grandmother and hope I have the energy she has for Johnny for my grandkids one day.

In fact the whole wedding was that. Before I thought we were all so different, but by the time the night ended I realized we are all the same. We all want to find love and happiness. We all want to have kids, be a father or mother of the bride or groom, have our friends celebrate these milestone moments with us.

Even though the rituals may be different, the meaning behind them is the same.

Having said that, there were some really interesting different rituals.

At one point they stuck a apron on Paul and people lined up (mostly for Paul!) to stick money on the bride and groom in exchange for a dance.


Johnny is unknowingly photo bombing…

I never saw that before!

And until last night I thought the Jewish chair dance was the most unsafe thing I’d seen at a wedding. But the Mexicans had us beat. Here they stand the bride and groom on chairs with good friends holding them tight while throngs of men and woman holding hands try to run into them and topple them over!


Even though it was too late to take the kids, we brought them back four little candy boxes that you could fill on your own at the end of the reception. In a way we got to celebrate again the next day with the kids too!DSC_0777

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Cousin Jackie very generously bought ALL of us gifts for Adam’s birthday this year.

For the kids, videos and books she noticed they loved since she has been with us. Curious George was a big hit for the twins and the older boys loved the lego movies.

For Adam and I, Up Wristbands by Jawbone.

IMG_6610I had no idea technology had gotten to this point! You simply put it on your wrist and forget about it and by the end of the day you have all kinds of statistics about your day.

Adam and I have been obsessed for days now.

I was shocked to find out how I move and sleep. And seeing the differences between Adam and I was even more interesting.

Look at Adam and my statistics last Wednesday.










Both our goals are for 8 hours of sleep and to walk 10,000 steps.

Adam only walked around during the day. He worked all day and still managed to walk 89% of his goal which meant he could eat 2,417 calories to maintain his weight that day.

I, on the other hand, dragged a seven year old and four year old to the zoo and back in a hard to navigate wagon that kept me sweating profusely each way. I also walked for a good 4 hours around the zoo. Then when we got home I went out and ran for an hour. All this effort meant I burned a measly 2,184 calories.

Seems really unfair for all the small people out there.

I lost out when it came to sleep too. Adam seems to have the ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep for long, continuous blocks of time. I flit in and out of deep sleep, so often that I never get any long, restful sections.











You can also hook it up to other apps for fitness. I use My Fitness Pal to count calories and it links to this app. I can compare how much I eat directly with how big my caloric output is.

It’s fascinating stuff. In a space age, sci-fi kind of way. We’ve been talking about it so much now Jackie is thinking of getting one.

And as a bonus I’ve been watching my calories very carefully, which is always a good thing.

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Fresh Picks (June 18)


A very green week this week, isn’t it?

Spinach, Swiss Chard, Garlic Scapes, Snap Peas, Cilantro, Potato Onions, and Asparagus.

The first thing to go was the swiss chard.


I stripped the leaves off, chopped it up and sautéed it in oil, garlic, salt and pepper.


I’m always surprised how little it cooks down too!

Potato onions were added into the mix for my turkey burger. I grilled them alongside the garlic scapes for dinner that night. Added sweet potato fries for a side.

The snap peas were parboiled and sautéed in garlic and oil. They made a nice match with our sushi and pot sticker dinner.DSC_0669

Another night, roast fennel and asparagus paired nicely with baked salmon and cilantro lime rice.DSC_0698

Finally, the spinach was used in green smoothies and salads.

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Group Therapy

Ben has started a group therapy session with his occupational therapist. It started two weeks ago. His therapist said we would see big changes. But we were skeptical. Nothing seemed to be working so far. How could this be different?

Seems like lately the tantrums and inappropriate hands are getting worse and worse.

But over the past few days I must say I’ve noticed a difference.

And I know it’s completely because of Ryann at Kids In Sync.

She has an incredible way of getting Ben to do just about anything she wants under the guise of fun. It’s a real talent.

I don’t attend the group therapy sessions with Ben but every time he comes out she talks to me about their progress.

He has a lot of trouble taking turns. They work a lot on this in therapy. Before therapy if he didn’t get his way he would throw a complete tantrum and not tell us why.

Yesterday Jack handed out the gummy multivitamins to all the kids. Ben wasn’t first. But instead of an out of the blue tantrum, he simply said, “Jack, next time I want to be first.” It was music to my ears. I must have complimented him 20 times on his use of words.

Then today we visited the zoo.

Last time we climbed the treehouse at the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo. I watched the twins while Adam watched to older boys. I turned around and was surprised to see Ben crying hysterically just outside the glass doors. Adam told me he was pushing and shoving and not moving, stopping the entire line of kids trying to climb through the treehouse.

This time the same pushing and shoving and not moving happened. I climbed up and got him and had to dragged him kicking and screaming out of the treehouse. Then I sat him on my lap and asked him what happened.

He explained that he didn’t like getting pushed or rushed through the treehouse. Again it was a major break through. “Okay”, I said. “We can work with that! Next time you can let the person who is pushing you go past you so they stop pushing. And Ben, next time I’ll try to pick a time that is less crowded so you don’t have to compete with so many people.”

Swinging in the Superman Swing with Ryann.

Swinging in the Superman Swing with Ryann.

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Finally Summer!

So far summer has been a bunch of rainy days stuck in the house or going to museums or dragging four boys on errands.

Every day I wake up hopefully that we are going to have a great summer day and every day it’s too cold or thunderstorming to do anything remotely summery.

This afternoon I finally felt the first taste of summer.

After the twins nap we packed up toys, a picnic dinner, water bottles, sunscreen, diapers, yada yada yada and walked over to North Avenue Beach.


I was only able to do it by myself because Jack was there to help. He pushed that stroller on a 20 minute hike to the beach that included two steep bridges.

We got a lot of double takes and one woman actually stopped me to ask if they were all mine.


It was sandy, wet, messy and awesome. Everyone played nicely together for a change. And once again Jack was super helpful, making sand cakes for all the kids and playing with each of his siblings.


IMG_6542Besides the normal Jack and Sam pairing, where Jack and Sam actually play together, my two sensory kids (Aaron has not been diagnosed but I do see a lot of similarities) had a bit of a pairing themselves.


Ben and Aaron eating sand, together.

I only had one moment where I realized it was not ideal to be alone at the beach with four kids.

Ben drank his entire water bottle on the way down and at one point he ran up to me, jumping and squiggling, and told me he needed to go potty. NOW.

I realized I couldn’t pack up four kids and put their shoes on and grab my stuff and run to the bathroom in time so I just told Ben to pee in the water.

So he did. He waded in up to his knees, then dropped his pants and peed as if Lake Michigan was his own private toilet.

It was my own fault for not explaining to him you should get all the way in and pretend you are swimming with your clothes on while you pee. I couldn’t even be angry at him. Jack and I had a good laugh about it, then Jack proudly admitted he did it all the time at the beach too.

In the end, the rain caught up with us. So did Adam. He was walking home from work while we were rounding the corner for the house.


This time, the rain didn’t bother me at all.

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Strawberry Festival

This morning the we packed up the kids and the junk that accompanies them everywhere they go (water bottles, diapers…) and headed to the Long Grove Strawberry Festival.

Definitely not in the city anymore!

Definitely not in the city anymore!

Long Grove has a quaint, historical downtown. At the festival, downtown is lined with food stalls, kiddy rides, and live entertainment.

The twins enjoying the music.

The twins enjoying the music.

While the twins danced, Adam took the older boys on some of the bouncy houses that were not suitable for our 2 year olds.

It was a gorgeously sunny day and there was music, the smell of fried foods and lots of fun things for kids to do. How could anyone have a bad time?DSC_0683

Sadly, Ben’s tantrums reared their ugly head once again. It seems to be a certainty these days that no matter where we take him, he will have a bad time.

This one was caused by his inability to finish a wipeout style bouncy house obstacle course. He was paralyzed on top of the balls and even after a long line formed after him and Adam went in and physically bounced him on all the balls, he still wasn’t happy. He wanted to do it himself, even though he was too small to accomplish it on his own.

He ended up missing the rest of the rides because he didn’t want to do anymore rides until he conquered the big red balls.

Train ride without Ben.

Train ride without Ben.

Once again his trantrums put a dark cloud over the whole day. At least this time Adam was with me so I didn’t have to cover all the kids and deal with the tantrum too. Adam pushed the stroller which freed up my hands to tease Ben out of his mood by carrying him back to the car, pretending that he was on “the mommy ride”. It was a ride that bounced, spun and turned him back to normal.

Luckily I don’t think the other kids were as effected by Ben’s mood as we were. Who would notice a tantrum between train rides and trips to the candy store?

Aaron's first cow poke. I think he likes it.

Aaron’s first cow poke. I think he likes it.

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A Rough Summer Start

How is everyone’s summer going? I’m four days in and I must say, it’s a rough start.

I was kinda hoping once it started I would be pleasantly surprised. That all my anxiety about watching four boys all day long was just worry. Unfortunately the worry was justified.

As you remember we started the week with Jack and his chipped tooth.

Then the entire week was covered in thunderstorms. Which kept us indoors a lot. One morning we tried the Museum of Science and Industry.

IMG_6491 I was scared to try something so big and open with four kids but Jack promised to help. And he did. In fact having four kids was not the problem at the museum. The problem was Ben’s constant tantrums. We visited the tractors, waiting in line for our turn to sit. When we got to the front, all four boys got in. But Ben didn’t want to sit with Sam. Ben only wanted Jack with him. When his request was denied, Ben had a violent, screaming, flailing tantrum that ended in my picking him up while Jack pushed the stroller. I carried him, kicking and screaming to the lunch tables where he refused to eat until he got to ride with Jack only in the tractor.

One of the many tantrums this week.

One of the many tantrums this week.

After the other kids were done with lunch I let Jack take Ben on the tractors. Then Jack picked the trains to see next. Ben said, “Noooooo, it’s lunch time!”

One day we packed up a huge picnic and lots of drinks and headed out to the Morton Arboretum.DSC_0590


We were rained out within an hour. It took longer than that to drive there and back!

We were home early enough to nap the twins. I still had a helper so with only two kids awake and two adults I took an hour off of the kids. I came back to find that Ben had soaked my entire bathroom in dirty toilet water. He was dunking our newly cleaned towels directly in the toilet that he had just peed and pooped in and was flinging it everywhere.

The next day we met up with one of Jack’s school mate for a play date at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.


I didn’t realize it was a free day until after we made the plans. The free day made the usually quiet museum a madhouse. Watching all the kids was so stressful I sweat and yelled through the entire museum. The guard reprimanded Ben three separate times, and one time told him he would not be allowed in if he didn’t listen. I was secretly pleased and angry at the guard all at the same time.

Ben spent a large part of this museum visit sitting in a time out. At one point I looked around to see about three angry mothers yelling at him. He was hitting one of their kids. Ben can not keep his hands to himself and often mistakenly perceives the world is out to get him.

Once again I was greeted with the look of disgust from other adults. It is almost a given that I will get these looks when I take Ben anywhere in public.

Tomorrow is Ben’s one-on-one therapy session, and I think I need to talk to the therapist about his elevated bad behaviors. I’m getting to the point where I’m not parenting him, I’m simply surviving him.

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10 Day Pledge Finished

Well, I managed to finish my 100 days of real food 10 day pledge. How did I do, you ask?

Not so well.

I made it seven days. The unfortunate eighth day landed on a Saturday, a day that is almost impossible to control. We often go out to eat on the weekends and on that particular day we went out a lot. First, to check out Le Pain Quotidien, which just opened up the street from us. They have a bread basket option with spreads. I didn’t realize they had 14 different spreads! I was unable to keep myself from sampling them.

And that wasn’t the worst of it. After dinner out that evening, where I actually did manage to order something sugar and white carb free, despite the fact that we were eating at a pub – The Four Farthings Tavern and Grill, Adam suggested we take the kids to Insomnia Cookies for dessert. The set up is that you pick 2 cookies, then your choice of ice cream and make your own sandwich.

Sunday I was back on the wagon again. Committed to do it again, at least until the weekend.

I really enjoyed going to sleep every night without berating myself.

I also really enjoyed having very simple rules to follow. It kept me from eating the kids leftovers, from having chocolate for lunch instead of real food then starving all afternoon, and I really felt like I was doing something something good for myself each day.

This is not to say it wasn’t hard. Especially the first three days. Those were very hard. I spent a lot of time roaming around the kitchen looking in cabinets for a sweet fix.

I didn’t expect was how much food I had to pass up either. At my book club I had to pass up the vodka lemonades, the homemade plantain eggs rolls doused in sugar. That was tough because I love to try new things and I had never seen that before. I also had to pass up the beautiful gluten free cake. So much sugar and white carbs in an average day!

Or just how hard it would be to go out to eat and order directly from the menu without asking for substitutions.

Replacing snacks was so depressing. I was surprised that, because I had no sugar or white carbs to snack on how little I snacked. Even if I thought I felt peckish I would look at my options and opt to just wait until dinner. How many nuts and fruits can you eat before you are sick of them? As a result I was hungry for dinner for the first time in years.

And when I ate I would almost always be hungry afterwards. The old me would reach for sweets. The new me looked at the clock, noted the time then reassessed 10 minutes later. Most of the time I wasn’t hungry anymore. If I was, it was dried fruit and nuts again. Maybe cheese and some Ak Mak Crackers.

As austere as this commitment is, I think I want to adopt it as my new lifestyle. Maybe not every day, on the weekends I can relax a little, but keep it at least five days a week when I’m at home and can control my diet.

Did I lose any weight? Actually I did lose some. Around 3 pounds. Which is pretty impressive for just one week.

Now, please talk me out of moving onto animal cruelty next. I’ll seriously have nothing left to eat!

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First Day of No School

Although Jack’s last day of school was Friday, it didn’t really feel like vacation until Adam left for work in the morning and didn’t take Jack to school first.

For Jack, it was the first day of summer vacation.

How did it go for him?

Well, it started out pretty good. The weather was perfect and by 10am we had finally managed to make it to a park.

IMG_6479 Check out Jack’s mid air jump. I’d say he was having a good time. Everyone was so happy about the water spray that I texted this photo above to Adam and said, “Summer is officially here.”

Twenty minutes later I had to call Adam and let him know that Jack just bumped into another kid and fell face first on the floor, chipping off a chunk of his front tooth.

Adam told me to call the dentist and left the office immediately to pick him up. Thank goodness I rang him because I didn’t realize the urgency. It didn’t help that Jack wouldn’t let me look at it. I just happened to catch a glimpse of the tooth when he opened his mouth and noticed something looked off.

Sam comforts Jack after his fall.

Sam comforts Jack after his fall.

Apparently if you chip your tooth you need to go in right away to get it fixed. If not you risk infection or loss of your tooth. He cracked straight into the dentin, but luckily didn’t hit a nerve. And hopefully it won’t die.

Adam was able to get an appointment to fix it that day. They asked him if he wanted a crown and Adam said, “No Way!”

Again, I probably would have screwed this up too, thank god he was there instead of me. He told them he wanted the least invasive procedure that safely protected the tooth. Instead they put an acrylic cap on it…


Please tell me this is the worst accident we’ll have this summer. If it’s starting out like this, how is it going to end?!

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Father’s Day 2014


Happy Father’s Day!

Adam is on his 7th Father’s Day now and I must say this year felt a little different.

Most days that are reserved to celebrate Adam end with him jam packing as many activities as he can in a day. This year was actually quite mellow.

That is not to say he didn’t have his requests. One was breakfast in bed. The breakfast was to be made by ALL of us. But actually only Jack helped me out. The other three kids raided our bedroom and crawled all over him despite the fact that I told them to let him sleep.


The breakfast idea might have been a little premature. Instead of the leisure breakfast he envisioned, the younger boys descended on the strawberries, sticking their little fingers all over his plate.DSC_0540

Eventually he had to abandon the bed and come eat at the regular dining table.

Our present this year turned out really good. So good that Adam asked where I got it done. He was surprised to hear I did it myself.


The truth is I thought of getting it done at the Lincoln Park Zoo, at a stand called “Handimals”. The place was never opened when I could go with all four kids, so I just did it myself.

In the morning, we spent some time at the South Lakeview Park, also know as “The Blue Park”. There were so many Frogs there that we are now considering changing the name to “Le Parc Bleu”.


Other requests were to measure all the kids.


Jack was 51″, Ben 44″, Aaron 35″ and Sam 34″.

Also Adam wanted to play the game of Life with Jack, and Pokeman with Ben. “Okay,” I said, “As long as you don’t expect me to be this eager when it’s my day.”

DSC_0548I don’t think me or the kids did nearly enough to appreciate him the way he deserves but since he is the kind of guy who offered to let me take a nap with the twins during his day of absolute dictatorship, I figured he was happy with the way it turned out.

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