Last night Adam and I were straining our brains trying to figure out a place to take the boys that wasn’t too expensive for us, or too crowded for Ben. A place warm enough to be comfortable, yet enough space for the boys to work off all their excess energy.

We considered, without enthusiasm, bowling. We considered ice skating but couldn’t figure out any way that the two of us could help three, maybe four people stay upright at the same time.

So you can imagine our delight when we woke up to a street full of snow!

Enough snow means playing outdoors, maybe even sledding. A perfect activity to get the boys moving, that isn’t too expensive, or crowded.

So, after a very stressful suit up job – four snow pants or bibs tucked into heavy socks tucked into snow boots, four sets of gloves on with jacket sleeves tucked inside then fastened as tight as possible – we were off.DSC_0964

We managed all kinds of different combinations of sledding partners.DSC_0968 DSC_0984 DSC_1016

We even tried all four on one sled.DSC_1003

And failed.DSC_1007

Afterwards, the boys worked with Papa to earn their hot chocolate reward. DSC_1023

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7th and 8th nights of Hanukkah

For the 7th night of Hanukkah the bears became ninjas. I took some of Jack’s old pants that had holes in the knees and made these masks. DSC_0939

I was worried that the Ninjas might frighten Ben but he loved them. IMG_8408

The next morning they claimed which one they liked best, then made up names for them. Aaron’s was the Master of Stickiness, Sam’s the Master of Disgustingness, Ben’s the Master of Air, and Jack’s the Master of Fighting.

That night both Jack and Aaron picked board games.

Jack’s “King of Tokyo” game was a big hit. All the boys played it.DSC_0947

They also joined in when Aaron broke out his “Blockus” game.IMG_8414

Finally, on the last night of Hanukkah the Bears showed up on the couch. They were sitting in front of our new TV. Our upstairs neighbors were getting rid of a TV and we happily took it off our hands. Our current TV is so old it doesn’t even have an HDMI connection.DSC_0957

The bear’s set up was a nod to their last night’s Hanukkah gift, a new Xbox console.


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5th and 6th Nights of Hanukkah

We’ve made it through another 2 nights on Hanukkah. DSC_0931

They landed on the weekend which was really nice. We could open toys early and have plenty of time during the day to enjoy them.

It was nice to see them all off their iPads for such long periods of time.

Jack spent hours building two lego sets he got. He proved himself a master builder. When a piece was missing, he went to his lego bin and found a substitution with ease. DSC_0936

All the kids spent time mixing the many Imaginex toys we have acquired over the years with the new plethora of recently additions.

Being off their iPads paved the way for other activities too. The younger 3 rediscovered their activity books and spent lots of time coloring, connecting dots, finding words and more.

In fact, Sam and Aaron have had an explosion of interest in writing since Kindergarten started.

Activity books.

Activity books.

The twins rediscovered the chalk board in their room.

The twins rediscovered the chalk board in their room.

Aaron loves to color, Sam prefers the puzzles.

Aaron loves to color, Sam prefers the puzzles.

Oh yeah, and here is what Jack did with the boxes we had leftover from all the gifts.

Aaron is a box troll.

Aaron is a box troll.

We got to play the Dreidel game and eat our winnings.DSC_0938

And finally, the Hanukkah Bears showed up religiously.

5th day of Hanukkah. Bear bring donuts for breakfast.

5th day of Hanukkah. Bear bring donuts for breakfast.

The boys got to pick one letter to eat and they conspired to pick letters so that "PP anukkah" was left. They thought it was hilarious.

The boys got to pick one letter to eat and they conspired to pick letters so that “PP anukkah” was left. They thought it was hilarious.

Last night Adam and I booked a sitter and hit two holiday parties. Afterwards, as I was laying in bed almost asleep I realized the Hanukkah Bears were not staged. I got out of bed at midnight and did a quick scene.

6th Day of Hanukkah. Sack race.

6th Day of Hanukkah. Sack race.

Two more days. The kitchen floors are started to get so crowded with new toys I’m having to tip toe while cooking…

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3rd and 4th nights of Hanukkah

We have managed to get through another 2 days of Hanukkah!

With all the wrapping paper and new toy boxes I’ve been throwing out so much trash and recycle that it’s shameless. So much waste!

And don’t get me started on the new toy clutter. I’m trying to be patient, to wait and see how much we have after these new 32 present join our houseful of toys. In the end then it will be time for another mass toy reorganization. Ugh. Can’t wait.

In the meantime, want to see what the Hanukkah Bears have been up to the past two nights?

Game of Angry Bird.

Night 3. Game of Angry Bird.

The Joker running away with the Hanukkah Gelt and Batman, Hulk and Spiderman chasing him.

Night 4. The Joker runs away with the Hanukkah Gelt. Batman, Hulk and Spiderman chase him.

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First night of Hanukkah

Hanukkah started today! The kids are SO happy!

All the gifts lined up for each kid in order of days they will receive them.

All the gifts lined up for each kid in order of days they will receive them.

And I am SO tired from wrapping 32 gifts!

At our house, with Hanukkah comes the playful Hanukkah bears.  This year they kicked of the festivities by showing up in a repurposed box we got last Hanukkah.DSC_0888

Adam came home early so he could light the candles and help assemble the first night’s gifts.DSC_0892

This year Adam was in charge of buying gifts so he gave the boys their budget and let them pick what they wanted. DSC_0890

Sam picked gigantic gifts. I’m not sure where we are going to fit all the new toys.DSC_0894

After all the boys went to bed, the Hanukkah bears came out again for more mischief…DSC_0895

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My 45th Birthday

Happy birthday to me!

The kids were very happy to see the birthday breakfast this morning!

The kids were very happy to see the birthday breakfast this morning!

As the famous French writer, Victor Hugo, once wrote, “Forty is the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age.”

I’m still getting presents from my parents, but during the part of the day that the kids were home, life is centered completely on their needs.

All four kids signed their names themselves for the first time ever.

All four kids signed their names themselves for the first time ever.

For the part of the day that is kid free, I spent the time doing some of the things I love.

I tried a restaurant I’ve wanted to try for a long time, The Chicago Diner.

It’s a meat free restaurant. Yes, I’m back on the vegan kick again. I stupidly started listening to the Rich Roll podcast while out running. He is a recovering lawyer, super athlete and vegan advocate. Now that I’ve heard it, I can’t unhear it. I’m slowly trying to cut out meat, dairy and refined sugars. Right now, I’m about halfway there.

Vegan Reuben with Yucca Chips

Vegan Reuben with Yucca Chips

This afternoon I ran a quick errand at REI for some winter gloves for the kids. I made the mistake of trying on some sales items. Shopping after childbirth is a depressing event. I’ve come to the realization that they only make two kinds of clothing for women: Skinny Hussy or Rolly Polly. Once again, at 45, I’m slam bang in the middle of that. Tight clothes show my imperfect lumps and billowy clothes make me look heavier than I am.

After dinner, as we were cutting up the birthday cake and I was agonizing over breaking my sugar fast for this special event, Adam asked me if I was having a good birthday.DSC_0870

I looked around at my oldest son, halfway through his childhood years. I thought about how many new projects I was trying to start now that the kids were back in school. Halfway through reading 3 books and 2 New Yorker magazines, a dozen or more writing projects half finished, halfway through a long list of de-cluttering projects, halfway through fixing the shower faucet, halfway through my perpetual to-do list, halfway through the life of this messy, complicated nuclear family and with any luck, halfway through my existence here on earth.DSC_0876

I looked on the table, next to the slices of cake to see my children’s glasses of milk, all half full.

I turned and answered Adam with an enthusiastic,  “Yes!”

I wouldn’t trade the childbirth lumps, the never ending to-do slumps, or messy family bumps for anything. There are very few times in your life when you are lucky enough to have both older and younger generations, as well as around 100 or so of your closest Facebook friends thinking of you on your special day.

If I’m halfway there, I can only look back with an immense appreciation of a life lived to it’s fullest, and look forward in optimistic anticipation of what is to come. But mostly importantly, with great joy, I can savor today, enjoying all the love and accomplishments that have lead me to this very moment.

After all, as another famous author, Ralph Waldo Emerson, once wrote, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

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