Apple Overload

The bee sting has faded away but the fury in which I’m trying to use up these apples is still going strong.

Here’s what I’ve been busy with this week…


Doesn’t everyone start with apple pie? This time around I ditched my normal recipe. Sometimes the pie collapses and tastes gummy. Instead I tried this 5 star recipe: Grandma Ople’s Apple Pie. It was a winner. I’ll never go back.

Next I moved onto a German Apple Cake.


Insanely good. I think I ate half of it to myself. It used a full four cups of apples, which made me very happy.


We gifted apples to 7 different teachers at two schools, as well as doling them out to the babysitter, cleaning lady, and Adam’s office.


Apples made many appearances in lunch boxes and dinners. Simply sliced and, if needed to preserve the color, doused with lemon. On salads with cranberries, walnuts and goats cheese.

I also made Apple sauce in my slow cooker for another side dish.

DSC_0189I then proceeded to use the apple sauce to make these delicious Oats and Applesauce Muffins. Pretty healthy and yet another winner of a recipe.

DSC_0200I dried a few of them for snacking and putting into one of my favorite ways to make oatmeal – slow cooking steel cut oats with dried apples and cinnamon sticks.


I still have a huge bag of them! I’ll welcome any suggestions on how else to use them…

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Apple Picking 2015

On a last minute decision, we headed up to Harvest Time Orchards for our annual apple picking adventure.

Frankly lately I’ve wanted to do less with the kids.

I’m tired of trying to get them to conform to the rules and regulations of the civilized world.

I’m tired of the dirty looks from strangers.

I’m tired of feeling anxious every second. Vigilantly turning my head and counting to four over and over again, making sure they are all still there. I’m nervous one will be out of my sight for just one second, and in that second get run over by a car, stolen, hurt, lost, or any number of other insane thoughts I have that keep me awake at night.

So I was really weary today. Especially since it was the only weekend we could do it, and afterwards we had a soccer game and pizza party afterwards.

Over scheduling small children is the death of fun.

But Adam said, “Lets to it!”.

It reminds him of apple picking with his grandparents when he was a kid.

Reliving a happy family memory should never denied.

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Because of the short notice, only the Pasquiers were able to join us…


Once it was all said and done, I was glad we made the effort.

Even though I got the first bee sting in my life…


Pleased to know I’m not allergic!

And Aaron thought it was a good idea to sample all the apples he picked, so when we went to load his apples in the car we discovered a little bite in each one…

And there was a lot of crying, including one particularly rough patch with Ben where a stranger, who was an Occupational Therapist, came up and asked how she could help. I guess it’s obvious to some people what’s going on in our lives. The rest of the people in the vicinity just gawked.

This was at the little playground they have. It’s a cute area where you can wait with the kids while one of the adults sits in the incredibly long line for donuts.

Hours of entertainment from four hay bales that form a square.

Hours of entertainment from four hay bales that form a square.

Tractor tires filled with sand.

Tractor tires filled with sand.

Rolling down the hill.

Rolling down the hill.

Turkeys, Goats, and a pig with an option to feed.

Turkeys, Goats, and a pig with an option to feed.

I think the best part of the day was watching the boys interact with each other, electronic free.


DSC_0165And then, after the long wait, the donuts arrived…


And now that we are back home, time to start searching the internet for apple recipes!

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L’shanah tovah 5776

In the year 5775, according to the Hebrew calendar, we joined a temple.

It’s time for Jack to start Hebrew school and we were hoping the rest of the kids were old enough to handle it as well.

Adam spent a ton of time and effort making sure we were ready for our first visit to Temple. He kitted the boys out in new clothes and fancy shoes and he spoke to them for a long time about what will happen when you go to temple.

Besides naming us ‘team quiet’, he tried to get them excited about the annual blowing of the shofar.

Our friend Elissa bought the kids matching, engraved Kippahs.

Our friend Elissa bought the kids matching, engraved Kippahs.

We started the morning trying to do another thing Adam had been trying to accomplish for years now, the first of hopefully many pictures of our family lined up from tallest to smallest. Eventually everyone will skip over me until I am in the last position!

First official line up, sort of.

First official line up, sort of.

It almost worked. Except Aaron, who refused to get into his position between Sam and Ben because the air conditioning grate was too scary.

But it took a while for even that to happen…


And the whole day was kind of like that. Full of good intentions and high hopes for the new year, but in reality just a jumbled up mess.

Heading to Temple. Always running, never walking.

Heading to Temple. Always running, never walking.

We picked the ‘family friendly’, shorten service. But even with the shortened time, Sam and Ben ended up wrestling each other out the door. Adam had to leave with them within 30 minutes.

Last sighting of this kippah.

Last sighting of this kippah.

Aaron and Jack made it almost to the end of service before they needed a bathroom break.

After carefully putting it into my bag, Jack took Aaron’s kippah out for him to play with and left it in the temple. So much for our cute matching kippahs.

Afterwards we took advantage of the lovely weather for a romp at Oz Park


DSC_0102Sam cried the entire way there. The only way I could get him to stop was to tell him we were in a park and he’d better not have any fun. No laughing, smiling, running or playing. So he defied me, his favorite thing to do in the world…

Finally a lunch at Homeslice.



Right after we took this picture bees swarmed the table and we had to move inside. The kids proceeded to wrestle and fight with each other the entire lunch.

Later, Ben slammed his door in the bathroom door.

I decided my new year’s resolution was to stop taking these kids out in public so much…

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Marvel Universe LIVE!

This afternoon, on a tip from my friend Nicole, we went to the Marvel Suerheros LIVE! show at the United Center.


It was a very entertaining and kid friendly show and I highly suggest it for kids ages 5 and up.

They used all sorts of tricks on top of the great costuming, like smoke, lasers, and lights. There were also motorcycle tricks, acrobatics, staged fighting, and clever sets.


We picked these balcony seats in the front row and the kids could see everything perfectly. As a bonus the twins could stand up and stick their noses to the glass without offending anyone.

A few tips if you are planning this adventure.

1. Don’t bring water bottles or food.
2. Cameras are allowed, but they ask that you keep the pictures for your own enjoyment.
3. There is an intermission about 45 minutes into the show.
4. Show runs about 2 hours.
5. There are a few concession stands open but not everything is open. Pretty much pizza, hot dogs, pretzels and nachos. Also popcorn, ice cream and cotton candy.
6. Parking is free, but it sucks leaving so plan extra time for that.
7. Perfectly acceptable to wear costumes to this event for both kids and adults.

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On a last minute whim, Adam booked us a last minute mini-vacation.

It was only a 30 minute drive from Chicago in the suburbs. So technically we didn’t go anywhere.

We didn’t vacate.

We stayed.

We had a staycation.

But in fact, we didn’t even have that. Because staycation infers leisure and enjoyment and in truth staying at the Lincolnshire Marriott ended up a lot more headache than just staying at home. It was a disaster!

It wasn’t a staycation.

It was a staycaster.

The hotel was one Adam remembers from childhood. A resort type hotel with swimming pools, game room, and little lake with paddle boats.

Cute for a quick get away with four small children, right?

Adam called the day before and confirmed directly with the hotel for adjoining rooms, one with king and the other with two double beds. He also confirmed that they still had the game room he remembered as a child.

Yesterday after the naps away we went!

When we arrived an hour after check in time, they didn’t have the adjoining rooms. The manager explained to us that they can not guarantee rooms together under any circumstance. He would have to check to see if that was available. It wasn’t.

Putting our kids on a completely different floor than us does sound tempting, Larry the Manager, but I’m pretty sure DCFS would have other ideas about that one.

Larry told us to hang out and wait while he sorted out rooms and he would find us later. We headed to the pool.


Someone’s back is going to be hurting tomorrow…

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TWO HOURS LATER he brought keys to us. They were for two rooms that were next to one another, but not adjoining.

Maybe DCFS would look kinder on us, but probably not when they find a kid or two wandering the hotel in the middle of the night screaming and looking for our bedroom.

Adam went back again. This time they managed to get us two adjoining rooms, but no king bed. Fine.

That evening after room service we decided to wander down to the game room. It was gone. They got rid of it years ago.


Marriott meal, at least, was perfect as usual.

Oh, and there was an Indian wedding blaring music until 11pm right outside our window.

And the two rooms we outrageously had to ask for THREE times were right next to the elevator. After the blaring music stopped, I really enjoyed the group of shouters that woke me and Jack up around 12:45 in the morning.

And the kids did not adapt well to their new sleeping arrangements. They couldn’t sleep for hours after their normal bedtime, but they were up at the same time they usually wake. Of course!

The nicest part of the suburbs stay was going to our favorite suburb restaurants.

Like Walker Bros.


Utensils optional, Aaron.

Utensils optional, Aaron.

Afterwards we checked out the grounds, including their chef’s farm.

IMG_1823And a little more swimming…

DSC_0075After the swim, it was time to head home. We used the opportunity to stop at one more suburb favorite, the Claim Jumper.

Kitsch cowboy decor runs through the entire restaurant.

Kitsch cowboy decor runs through the entire restaurant.


And now onto the next adventure – school!

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Cantigny Park

After a failed attempt at one last great summer adventure, (we told the boys we were taking them to Great America, but it’s already closed for the summer during weekdays) we were stuck.

We had exhausted all the new and exciting places to visit over the summer! Six Flag Great America was our last trick.

Adam suggested we drive the long hour out to Wheaton and see Cantigny Park.

Adam told me it was formally a private estate, now turned into a park with a bunch of war tanks on display. Which creeped me out. Probably because I just watched the movie Foxcatcher.

But in fact Robert McCormick designated this space, formally McCormick’s farm, as a public space for education and recreation. McCormick was a bonafide military man. He helped capture Cantigny, France in World War One and later named his estate after it. John du Pont, of Foxcatcher Farm, was a wealthy eccentric with erratic and violent tendencies.

Also, even though Adam and I have the utmost respect for the people who serve our country, we hope our kids don’t idolize them so much that they dream of having such dangerous vocations.

Still after all that I couldn’t help think, “Well, climbing on a bunch of old tanks does sounds like a really cool thing to do.”

Must be all the testosterone I’ve been sniffing lately.

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So we went.

And it was cool.

The kids were running around like crazy, climbing, shouting and screaming about each tank.

There were lots of educational opportunities as well.

Adam spoke to Jack about the perils of war.

We studied the tanks, noticing their different colors. The last tank pictures was used in dessert storm, hence the sandy color. Camouflaging your tank is different for different war zones.

In addition to the tanks, there were gardens to roam through.


And on this hot day, a wonderful fountain to run through for the kids. If only I brought the swimsuits!


Oh, never mind. Apparently you can play in the fountain but not wear a bathing suit? Riddle me that one.

Also a playground…


A three mile trail with fitness circuit…


And lots of great picnic spots…


We missed the Idea Garden for kids, bird watching, and much more! I think we’ll have to go back to explore the rest another day…

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Grandpa Gone Again

And just like that, he was gone again.

Once again my father managed to be an incredible help while he was here. Patiently playing with the kids for hours on end and quietly, behind the scenes, doing all the laundry and dishes!

Whether it was giving each kid special attention….





Or sometimes in a group…



He made them all feel special. He listened to them. He joked with them. He loved them.

Each morning they would wait outside his room like a bunch of groupies until he woke up.

And when someone lets you do this to them multiple times a day, why wouldn’t you?


No job was to dirty or annoying for him to help with.

DSC_0015He even volunteered to put the older kids to sleep while we were home!

We are all going to miss him terribly!

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