Thanksgiving 2015

With no family in the area, we used the opportunity to escape for the holiday and head to Timber Ridge Lodge. It’s a very family friendly hotel in Lake Geneva, WI with a indoor waterpark.

Last time we went it was quite stressful. Sam and Aaron would drown in an instant in the water if you didn’t have your eyes on them at all times. And Ben was much more of a runner. That combined with the fact that he couldn’t swim made it a nerve racking experience.

This year we had high hopes for a much more relaxing trip. I’m not sure when it gets less stressful to watch four kids in a waterpark, but after this trip I’ve realized we haven’t gotten there yet.

I’m hoping through all the fighting, difficult transitions and lack of sleep they will remember this trip as a happy one.

Lord knows Adam tried his best to provide one!

We started the trip with a new movie in the car. Then a stop at the Jelly Belly Factory. We skipped the tour this time but spent lots of time loading our cart with bags of candy.

Then it was off to the water park!

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Jack waiting for a scared Sam at the bottom of the slide.

Jack waiting for a scared Sam at the bottom of the slide.

Jack waiting for a scared Sam at the bottom of the slide.

This year we let the twins loose in the arcade. DSC_0545

Aaron spent all his money on these blow up aliens, which he carted around for the rest of the trip. They even went swimming with him one day.


The other boys picked another kind of blow up toy, the ball and chains. They used them to bash everything in sight, including each other. Which pretty much sums up so much about these boys.

Jack also got a remote control car along with some other trinkets. Ben got a few other things too, including a Hulk piggy bank.

There was crafting.

Crafting with the blue alien.

Crafting with the blue alien.

And Bingo. DSC_0553

No one won, but the kids still got to dig through the prize box and got a voucher for a free cookie for participating.

For Thanksgiving dinner we decided to do the buffet at the neighboring hotel, the Grand Geneva (AKA the old playboy club). There is a trolley you can take and see the holiday lights along the way. The kids liked it so much we did it the next day without the lights just for fun.

They didn’t take reservations and when we arrived we were given a 3 hour wait time. So we boarded the trolley back to our hotel and ate all the leftovers we had been gathering over the past few days. Adam and I ordered some BBQ to go with it and it was about the most unthanksgivingish holiday ever. See how happy the kids were?DSC_0539

We went back the next day and had lunch there. So did the blue alien. Afterwards we toured all the decorations. So did the blue alien.


Surprisingly one of the funniest things of the trip for the kids was the large jacuzzi tub.

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I still think it was worth all the extra effort, and hopefully one of these days we will get a chance to do more there, they have a small ski slope and ice skating when weather permits…

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Hoodie Footie

Ask and you shall receive. Or more modernly, people often say ask the universe for it.

Whatever the expression, it all must be true, especially around your birthday.

Last week it was cold enough for the twins to start wearing footed jammies.

The Hoodie Footie

The Hoodie Footie

“I loved those when I was a kid!” I said as they jumped around gleefully in them and refused to take them off the next morning. (It was a welcome departure from their normal refusal to wear any clothing at all.)

So Adam, desperate to buy his wife an original birthday gift for the woman who has everything, had a lightbulb moment.

Hoodie Footie!

Unfortunately when I was commenting to the twins, I was just being nice. See how being nice and putting your intentions out into the universe can screw you?

“Didn’t I make fun of the woman at Timber Ridge last year for coming to “Cookie and Story Time” in her Olaf Hoodie Footie?” I reminded him.

“Yeah, but you don’t have to wear it out in public.” He answered, still looking hopeful.

Ten years ago when Adam bought me stuff I couldn’t wear in public it looked very different from this. Welcome to marriage!

Even though I had my reservations about the new gift, the kids did not. In fact they were smitten with it.

Aaron spent two days putting it on, doing somersaults in it then rolling around on the ground looking like a beached sea lion.IMG_2487

Jack found it on the floor and surprise me before bed.

IMG_2493Then Ben had his turn. He stuck it on and did an entire one person play for me.

IMG_2497Finally I had to see what all the fuss was about.

After all the kids were in bed I tried it on.

You know what? It’s actually really comfortable. Little thumb holes, pocket that fit your phone, and detachable feet.

In fact I liked it so much I’ve found myself wearing it every evening to lounge around it.


I’m so embarrassed to be me right now…

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Snow Much Fun

Tuesday the twins and I went over to the Chicago Children’s Museum and were pleased to see a new exhibit, Snow Much Fun, was set up in the downstairs.

IMG_2446The twins had so much fun having snow ball fights and ice skating that they barely had time to see the rest of the museum!


Ice Skating

Is this how you ice skate?

Is this how you ice skate?

Snowball fight!

Snowball fight!

Snowmen to decorate.

Snowmen to decorate.

Trees to decorate

Trees to decorate

In fact they had so much fun they asked if we could bring Jack back the very next day on his day off of school.DSC_0453

Yes, we can!


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Yep, I’ve got Shingles.

It started last week with a sore hip that won’t go away, then red bumps started appearing all over my leg.

Adam was googling my symptoms and became increasingly more alarmed. He thought it could be a staph infection. Or worse. “You have to go see your doctor tomorrow!”

Google can really alarm you if you let it.

My amazing new doctor, Jennifer Goldfarb, who just opened her own practice for women only and is now not only my general physician but also my OB/GYN, figured it out immediately.

Did you know that they have a vaccine for Shingles? But it’s only approved for ages 50 and up.

You know why? Because mostly people who are older, have weak immune systems or have a lot of stress in their lives are effected by it.

Uh, how many groups do I fit in?

It’s basically left over from the chicken pox. Once you have it never goes away, just lays dormant in your body and may show up again as Shingles. Who knew?

I hear it’s very painful but either I got a mild case or it just hasn’t gotten to the painful part yet. Right now it’s just a slight annoyance and perhaps a real life manifestation that I need to take better care of myself.

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More Tooth Fairy Tricks

The tooth fairy was up to her old tricks again last night. This time Adam suggested we start giving Jack clues that he has to read and I agree, he’s ready for the next level!





Jack was a superstar! He figured each clue out with ease and quickly found his money!

There are currently two more loose teeth in this house right now, one is Ben’s and the other’s is Jack’s so I’m sure we’ll be seeing much more from the tooth fairy this month…

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Manage Your Child’s Intense Emotions

Last week I attended a parent support group at Ben’s therapeutic school.

The session was titled “Managing Your Child’s Intense Emotions.”

It went over a lot of useful information, none of it new to me. Sadly even though I already knew all the material, I donn’t apply it as often as I should.

Among other things, they spent a good portion of the time talking about ways to calm your child. To watch carefully for any tells that your child might be getting agitated. Try to calm before the incident occurs and failing that, after the incident has happened, how to use it as a teachable moment. Helping your child to assign the correct emotions to the problem, and find ways together to solve the problem so that it doesn’t happen again.

The parenting books I read with my first child that worked quite effectively used things like time outs as punishment. They never made suggestions like sharing problem solving with your child to actively invest them, teaching emotional language to help with self expression, or finding calming activities to empower them to avoid tantrums on their own. I think I once read an entire book that explained all I had to do was count to three then punish. These books got 5 stars on Amazon! They were the popular ones! Commonly seen as normal and acceptable parenting!

And even sadder was the realization that your behavior has to be so out of the norm, so different than your peers, for you to be given this sort of humanity. To be treated like a person instead of a pavlovian dog. These techniques were better for every child, not just the ones labeled ‘trouble’.

I went walked into Ben’s diagnosis thinking he had to change but what it’s made me realize (like all good therapy does) is that I’m the one that needs to change.

And not just for him, but for all my kids.

Afterwards we had a question and answer period which was extremely cathartic and satisfying. Every parent in that room is going though a similar hardship, such as having to bear the heartbreak of watching our kids shunned from traditional childhood activities like sports or having a best friend. How we still fight for any modicum of normalcy. How difficult it is to handle the extra attention our special children consume, leaving the other children in the house feeling shorthanded. It was nice to feel you aren’t out there alone, there are other facing the same problems as you.

I’m refreshed and renewed and ready to start applying this course to my every day life! Bring on the calm! Bring on the empathy! Bring on the positive praise!

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There was quite a lead up to Halloween this year.

The twins spent countless hours watching kids Halloween cartoons and now have arsenal of songs and creative play involving zombies, mummies and witches. (See above tab with October’s Monthly Video or go to our Nikki’s YouTube Channel).

Jack and Ben both picked out their own costumes and as I mentioned last blog, Ben completely stole the show.


Adam spent many hours taking him and Sam out on the streets trick or treating and over and over again people complemented him on having the best costume ever.

We had our annual Halloween party and had lots of our friends (mostly with kids Jack’s age) come by and enjoy.

We made a dance party in the backroom with a laser light and a Jambox connected to Amazon Prime music, mostly Kids Bop and Halloween music.

Ceiling with laser. The green stars moved. Picture doesn't do it justice.

Ceiling with laser. The green stars moved. Picture doesn’t do it justice.

We also had lots of LED stuff. Hair pieces, bouncy balls that light up when thrown, and flashing rings.


Surprisingly the basement wasn’t a complete wreck. By the time they get as old as Jack, they don’t care about the toys anymore. Instead the kids made a makeshift hamster wheel using our stairwell on one end and the back stairwell on the other end. They ran in circles for hours.

And Aaron? Aaron did a bit of trick or treating but was surprisingly more interested in handing out candy.


His method was to grab a handful for each customer. He was so generous I’m pretty sure I saw a few costumes repeat themselves at our doorstep.

We set up the triple slow cooker with a Chinese buffet of pot stickers, fried rice and beef with broccoli. I already accounted for the vegan and gluten free friends but afterwards I found out that not one but TWO of my friends are allergic to soy. I think I’m going to need a spread sheet to keep track of all the allergies and diets in this group.

Also the annual mummy dogs made an appearance with some home made hummus, veggies and fruit tray.

IMG_2279Cindy brought her famous cookie cake which lasted about 10 minutes after it was sliced up. She was going to bring two but her kid dug into the first one before she even left the house. Yes, they are that addictive.

People also came bearing special wines, desserts and my neighbor who recently opened the Goddess and the Baker brought this over…


Overall I would say it was another great party. But every year you learn how to do it a little better and this year I would say don’t serve Red Gatorade if you like the color of your carpet…

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