Timber Ridge, Again.

Remember when I told you how difficult it was to take four boys to the waterpark over Thanksgiving? Well, where I see I problem, Adam sees a challenge.

A month later we found ourselves back at the waterpark, ready to try it again.

Was it any easier? Actually, it was.

We learned a few things from the last time and did them better.

We repeated a few mistakes as well.

Last month I would watch three kids in the kiddie area while Adam took the fourth one where they wanted to go. They spent a lot of time waiting to do what they wanted. And when one had to go potty I would spend a nerve racking few minutes running to the restroom hoping the other ones would stay put, not drown and not get into a fight.

This time we realized that Jack could take a twin almost anywhere without much supervision, freeing us up to spend more time with the other kids.


Jack took Sam down the green slide and around the lazy river all morning one day.

Which left Aaron and Ben more freedom for other things…

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I bought Aaron some goggles. Last time he refused to go back to the waterpark because his eyes hurt to much. The goggles did the trick. He was still the first one to leave every day but he lasted much longer.

We still managed to do a few things as a group too…

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This trip we were lucky enough to get cookie, milk and story time not once…

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Which meant two different Bruce the Moose sightings afterwards!

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One thing we did wrong both visits was decide, at the last minute, to go eat at the other hotel, the Grand Geneva.


We took the trolley over and once again there was no room for us at any of the restaurants for the next three hours. At least we got to see the holiday lights on the way.

We got a chance to do some fun activities in the activity center, like cookie decorating (and eating!) and bingo.

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And we hit the arcade. This time the twins did not nap so they joined us in earnest.


Aaron stuck to his favorite game, Harpoon Lagoon.


Sam liked trying all the different games they had. Punching ducks, stomping spiders, coin pushes, fruit ninja…

They got lots of great prizes for all their efforts in the arcade. My sister gave them a bunch of money to spend there for their Hanukkah presents.

Aaron and Sam got matching blow up dolphins.


They used them instantly to pummel each other until someone was crying.

Aaron also got a spiderman rocket football. Sam got a LED light up bubble blower. DSC_0182

Jack got so many points he was able to get a fire truck remote control car. And Ben got 2 minion stuffed animals.

I got a laugh out of breakfast one morning. Check out the four boy’s orders below.


I turned to Adam and said, “You realize you’ve just spend $20 on Fruit Loops?”

He was a good sport about it.

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All I Want for Christmas…

Is my two front teeth, my two front teeth, my two front teeth.

Why is it every kid manages to lose them right around this time? Just in time to stick this little ditty firmly in your head, on repeat?

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And so, the day before Christmas, Ben’s smile changed to this.

Which meant the tooth fairy was busy again.

This time she miraculously knew that Ben has been reading simple words and made the hunt for money accordingly.

Just in case, she very nicely put the picture of the word on the back. But Ben didn’t need it. He had no trouble sounding our words like “bus”, “bed”, “tub” and “mat”.

Bus Clue. We have about 5 school buses in our house so that made the hunt a bit more complicated.

Bus Clue. We have about 5 school buses in our house so that made the hunt a bit more complicated.

Which bed does the tooth fairy mean?

Where is that clue? (It’s right in front of them, taped to the side of the bed)

They walked right by the clue a few times, but finally found it taped to the side of the bed.

They walked right by the clue a few times, but finally found it.




The whole gang is now searching for clues (this was for "tub")

The whole gang is now searching for clues (this was for “tub”)

Finally they figured out the tooth fairy hid the money OUTSIDE the house under the front "mat".

Finally they figured out the tooth fairy hid the money OUTSIDE the house under the front “mat”.

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Ben’s front tooth

At long last Ben’s front tooth, which has been hanging from a thread for days now, unattached from the gum.

I’ve been watching that sucker for a week and was surprised every night that he still had it in. For someone who has trouble keeping his hands off of everything in sight, he surprised me with how much discipline he had to leave it alone.

When I got home from picking up Jack from school, the sitter had put the tooth in a napkin. Which I threw out before she had a chance to tell me it wasn’t trash. Instead of facing Ben’s reaction to the fact that I lost his tooth before the tooth fairy could pay him for it, I rolled up my sleeves and dug through the trash. It wasn’t that full, but it was full of the worst kinds of things – pistachio shells, rice (AKA teeth doppelgängers), mashed up fruits. When I got to the very bottom with no luck, I searched the floor. I had dropped it before it even made it into the trash!


One of the gifts Ben picked out for Hanukkah were a bunch of new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figurines.

So I let them help me hide the clues for Ben’s Tooth Fairy Scavenger Hunt…

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Each envelope had a picture of the next TMNT figurine holding the next clue. Ben had to judge where they were based on the pictures (same as the ones you see above).

In the morning Jack was a super helper, leading Ben to the next clue when he wasn’t sure where to look.


Ben was his usual suspicious self, accusing both Adam and I of hiding the clues instead of the tooth fairy. He keeps talking about becoming a lawyer like his father. Perhaps with his propencity for argument and suspicion, he might have a future in law after all.  A first class litigator…

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The Hanukkah Finale, Finally

The kids were super bummed that today was the last day of Hanukkah.

Although there are some perks for us parents as well during this special week: happier kids (sometimes!), fun family memories, and lots of chocolate coins to nibble on, it’s also a major pain in the butt. Buying, wrapping, preparing the ceremony of candles and presents, carving out extra time each night for them to enjoy them during the busy school day, then finding places to store all these new goodies adds stress.

Oh and for some reason one year I thought it would be a good idea to add another layer of work for myself, the Hanukkah bears.


Yesterday morning they rappelled into our house as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

I think the kids spent more time playing with them dressed up than they did with their Hanukkah toys that evening!

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Jack brought his to every meal.

That evening the kids were given 24 tubs EACH of Play-Doh. There is never enough of it in the house and they are always fighting over what little we have so maybe all these tubs, now labels with their names, will stop that for a while.

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That evening we had a babysitter. Adam and I were invited to a friend’s holiday party in the suburbs. It was a lot of fun, too much fun! We ended up getting home late, dreading that we would be up later still in order to set up the Hanukkah bears.

When we got home our sitter informed us Jack had lost a tooth.

First we set up the bears….


They had a rave in the back room, basically with the leftover Halloween props. They invited a few friends because it’s not a party with just your other brothers, is it?

Again, we didn’t make the tooth fairy easy in this house either. At Chez Calisoff you can’t just shove some money under the pillow. The kids expect their own scavenger hunt.


Adam and I quickly made an eight clue hunt, each clue including a letter.



The clues spelled out “RISK GAME“. This was one of the toys he asked for this Hanukkah. It was laying open, half played in his room.

Tonight was the final evening. Some of the toys we gave included non competitive games by Cooperative Games. You win together. It’s a weird concept but so far both Ben and Sam really love it. Ben has a lot of trouble losing but we still want him to play board games with friends and family so this was a good solution. In fact I think it’s good for all the kids!

Sam also opened his Barbie Dolls. Yes, in addition to his Barbie House, he requested Barbie Dolls. Did I ever mention that pink is his favorite color?

We were wondering if it all meant anything.  Would he open them and sit them down for a tea party together like I used to as a kid? Ask if he could buy the same shoes and clothes to wear for himself?

Ha! He opened them, promptly stripped them naked and started laughing hysterically that you could see their butts.


Above, Jack and Sam having the dolls do a naked dance (one of the kids favorite things to do is strip down and run around the house naked yelling, “naked dance! naked dance!”. It happens all the time and is hilarious but visually unbloggable.)

Ah, Hanukkah. Until next year you kooky, euphoric, exhausting holiday…

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Another two days of Hanukkah

Kids are continuing their week long frenzy of fun!

They woke up a few mornings ago to this:


Ben giggled and said it was like the three little pigs, which was completely my reference. I was going to put pictures of the wolf trying to blow the houses down but by the time I finished building I was too tired and we went to bed instead!

Here are a few of the toys they picked out themselves…

A pick up truck that looks exactly like one we have and more mega blocks

A pick up truck that looks exactly like one we have and more mega blocks

Another playdoh toy and more playdoh

Another playdoh toy and more playdoh

MORE hot wheels and ANOTHER car carrier (the bin behind is full of the same)

MORE hot wheels and ANOTHER car carrier (the bin behind is full of the same)

More mini figurines, this time from the new movie "The Good Dinosaur"

More mini figurines, this time from the new movie “The Good Dinosaur”

As you can see they like to pick stuff they already have. I guess it’s good, at least I already have a bin for that!

This next day they almost forgot about the Hanukkah bears. They finally found them in the back room that evening.


I got home late from a girls night and couldn’t find the fourth bear so I had to improvise. In the morning I found it in one of the cribs.

Two more nights of Hanukkah coming soon…

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More Hanukkah Madness

There are so many things to do in this house I don’t think I need to leave for at least a month.

Today, in addition to the sticker books, decoder books and water works coloring books the kids received last night, and the Lite Brites they got the night before, they also had the new Bear House to color.


Also, this morning they woke up to this…


Hours of entertainment…


Tonight Adam took all the kids to Target to pick out MORE toys. We managed to cobble together 4 days of toys before tonight…


And they picked out the rest…


Jack and Ben still have one more gift to pick out. And these pictures above don’t include the toys they opened tonight.

Ben picked out a new Lego Superhero set. He promptly ripped it open and dumped all the different bags out to get the lego men. They spilled everywhere and I hope none get vacuumed up and or we can still build it now that all the pieces are mixed together!

Aaron picked a Zoomer Dino. Supposedly it can speak, sit, get angry, and do many other things in response to your gestures and a remote. It has a big instruction manual I’ll have to read over, you know, in my spare time.

Jack bought MORE hot wheels cars and ANOTHER car carrier. Amazing his proclivity for collecting.

And Sam? Sam went straight for the Barbie doll house. DSC_0008

We don’t have any dolls to put in it so we used Jack’s cars and our superhero bin. Don’t worry, Sam also picked out a couple of Barbies for another night of presents, so he can put them all together soon.

It was a late night with all the shopping and new toy playing, but I still mustered up the energy to put this together for tomorrow morning…


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This year my 43rd birthday fell on the first day of Hanukkah, making it a weird mix of everyone in the entire family getting a special day except Adam, who had to somehow manage to give that special day to all of us at once.

Birthakuh, Adam may you never have to experience it again.

The celebration started early, with a brand new iMac and new fancy camera.

Then, last night Adam took me out to RPM Italian for a lovely adults only dinner.IMG_2572

On the way home we dropped by Dunkin Donuts to set ourselves up for the morning of my actual birthday, also the first day of Hanukkah…

Bears bearing donuts

Bears bearing donuts

Yes, the bears are back.

I also received a gift card for three massages at my favorite place and lots of wonderful cards, some even came with money!

In the afternoon we let the boys open their first gift…

Everyone got their own Lite Brite.

Everyone got their own Lite Brite.

Later, around dusk (which is about 4:15 this time of year) we suited up and headed down to the Lincoln Park Zoo for Zoo Lights.


Everyone had the same idea as us and the place was, well it was… a zoo…

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It was sheer luck that we didn’t lose anyone. Afterwards we stopped by the deli for latkes. They were crowded and the only seat they had for this large family was a 4 top booth and a 2 top table. I dined with Aaron like I only had one kid, and wondered why I ever complained about that scenario in the past?



My dinner date

My dinner date

And then it was back home for birthday cake, but it was served in the form or Hoosier Mama Pie.


Adam thought it would be hilarious to put a candle for each year I’ve been alive on the pie.


I almost singed my eyebrows off trying to blow them all out.

Finally we lit the menorah candles and played the dreidel game. Kids went to bed late, sticky and tired but happy. Aaron said it was the best Hanukkah ever!


I’m exhausted after our day of partying! But I still have one more task to complete before tomorrow. Where will the mischievious bears be in the morning?


Now I’m going to lay on the couch and rub my gelt filled belly until it feels better…

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New Peanuts Exhibit

Today we renewed our membership with the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

I was going to purchase a single entry. For the twins and I it would have been $23, but this month they are having a special, the one year family membership (normally $60) is now $45.

I heard there was a new exhibit from Peanuts. I thought it would be timely with the new movie out and all. It is actually titled “Peanuts…Naturally”, and is a cartoon/nature exhibit loosely based on the comic strip.


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I thought it was very spacious with not a lot of non-screen activities but the closer I looked the more they had.

I almost passed by a plant and grow exhibit which had a bunch of greens that you could plant then fake water. Too simple! I thought. The twins loved it.


Okay, they probably aren’t playing with it the way the inventor intended but I’m just happy they didn’t break it pretending to plant and water themselves.

Also since it had been a while they enjoyed the other exhibits like they were new again, like Riverworks water exhibit…IMG_2541

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And many more which I didn’t manage to capture, but now that I’ve got the membership I’m sure I will!

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