Happy New Year!

Child Labor – Max squeezes Fresh OJ for Mimosas

I know it’s a bit late, but tonight Pam very graciously hosted us for our annual crepe new year party. Normally this is held on New Years Day but this year we were not here. Neither was the all important crepe maker.

It was a lovely way to spend the evening. It’s funny how your kids seem to be much less work when other kids are involved. Or perhaps it’s all the new toys. Well, I guess if I really think about it, it was probably the alcohol.

Whatever the reason, it works. The older kids went into the basement, never to been seen again (or not seen until dinner and dessert). It’s so nice that they are at an age where, whatever mischief they are getting up to, we don’t hear about it. Gone are the days of crying and tattling play dates. No more refereeing. This is not to say there shouldn’t be some crying and tattling. When Cindy went to check, she found Oscar in a closet with handcuffs on. He thought it was just as funny as the rest of the kids and I guess that makes it okay?

Pam and I in the party favors Allison brought.

The Crepe Master, Olivier.

Cindy Brings Cupcakes to Decorate. Ben Decides to Decorate his Tongue with Sprinkles instead.

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Apple Picking

I’m so happy we didn’t cancel this morning plans to go apple picking at Oriole Springs Orchard. There was much debate about the weather forecast. The website also made it seem like the pickings would not be great. In the end, neither concern was a problem.

Adam’s family has been going apple picking at the orchard for a long time and in the past few years we’ve been added more and more friends to come on our annual apple pilgrimage. This year the Camerons, Pasquiers, and Weinrebs joined us.

With Bubbie’s help, Ben showed great aptitude toward apple picking. Jack thought the orchard was a chance to run and play chasing games with his buddies. The twins, as usual, were as easy going as ever. Adam and I just strapped one on us each and they easily went with the flow.

Later on we hit the Harvest Time barn.

We bought a dozen donuts, brats, hot dogs, and more. I was surprised to find only ONE donut left in my box at the end of the day. My goodness, when the twins start tucking into food it’s going to be crazy the kind of volume we’ll go through.

After that pretty unhealthy lunch (Well, I guess it’s wasn’t totally unhealthy since we all helped ourselves to so many apples fresh from the trees beforehand that I’m sure we’ll all have runny tummies tonight. At one point Ben was eating three at once.) the kids ran and played in the open space.

There was a place to feed goats and pigs, a swing set, bales of hay to play in, and a little hill that the older kids decided would be a great place to pretend they were ‘Angry Birds’. They took turns being ‘the pig’ and rolled into each other and down the hill.

Jack got his first bee sting and he reacted like a champ. A bit of crying and then it was over. He’s pretty tough for a 5 year old. Or any age for that matter.

The Gang minus Sam, who was napping at the time.


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Midnight Circus

Once again this year we attended the Midnight Circus in the Parks.

Where’s Waldo-esqe photo of us at the Circus with Camerons, Bornsteins, Pasquiers, & Weinrebs.

Aaron performs some contortionist moves too!

Last year we checked out the show at Commercial Park. This year, Welles Park. I’ve never been to Welles park before and was pleasantly surprised. As long as I’ve lived here Chicago continues to astound and delight me with all it has to offer. Yet another big, open green space right in the city! On our way in we noticed baseball fields, a gazebo, an indoor pool and TWO playgrounds. In reality it must be much bigger than we what we saw because they website also boasts volleyball courts, tennis courts, picnic groves, meeting space, horseshoe pits, concessions, soccer and football areas.

Adam must emit some sort of valium like vapor because whenever he carries or holds the kids they seem to fall asleep on him. First Sam fell victim. We put the snoozing Sam in the car seat and Ben took the next hit. So Adam ended up sitting outside of the tent with Ben asleep on a bench for most of the performance. No idle hands in our family, though. He used the time to feed Sam his evening bottle while I watched the other two kids inside the tent.

The performance didn’t change much from last year but I don’t think the kids minded it at all. The tickets were $15 a head and I thought it was a really nice, unusual way to spend an afternoon.

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Easter Sunday

Ready for the Easter Egg Hunt!

I love that my Jewish husband has no problem celebrating Passover Saturday night, then joining our Christian friends for an Easter Egg hunt the next morning.

Unlike last year, Ben needed no help finding eggs.

Since I didn’t grow up in the Jewish faith, I think it would be upsetting to have my kids miss out on the fun things Christians get to do. Like egg hunts.

This was our third year organizing the Easter Egg hunt. This year we expanded the amount of families. And the amount of toys. There was still plenty of eggs to find. And all the toys: croquet, T-ball, soccer, kites, bubbles, and more were all put to good use.

Jack manages to fill his entire basket!

In the three years we organized the hunt, I was pregnant twice. But this time, birth is much more eminent. And I’m as big as a house. Adam insisted on bringing lawn chairs for me instead of trying to find a comfortable position on the blanket. I sat in lawn chair the entire time, except when I got up to find the port-a-potty. Everyone pitched in to help with our kids. If Adam was covering Jack and Ben ran off, another adult quickly brought him back. No one let me carry anything. I was very grateful for the help.

I told my father about our plans for the day and he reminisced about taking my sister and I to Easter Egg hunts when we were kids. He said they would line the kids up by age group. When it was my sister’s group they shot the gun to start the hunt (Yes, they shot a gun. It’s Florida, people.) and my sister took off running. When my turn came, they shot the gun and everyone started running except for me. I stood at the starting line looking up at the sky, day dreaming. I don’t think Jack and Ben inherited any of my lackadaisical disposition, thank goodness!

Pot Luck Picnic Spread


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Building Friendships

January 2012 - New Year's Brunch at the Cameron's

The new year is always a time to reflect, isn’t it? Seeing these three play together this morning made me realize how having kids has changed our lives.

April 2010 - Easter Egg Hunt

Josephine, Angus and Jack have been hanging out together since they were all in diapers. Okay, it wasn’t that long ago, but life without kids seems like another an eternity away from the life we’ve built for ourselves now.

March 2009 - Playdate at the Calisoff's

Because of them and many more, I’ve been very blessed to have built some great friendships of my own. I hope it continues for many more years to come.

Happy New Year! Wishing all who read this a great 2012!

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Happy Birthday to Me!

My Birthday Play Date

When you are pregnant, it really rules out a lot of options you normally consider doing on your birthday. Like drinking. Or staying out late.

But some things never change, like wanted to spend time with your good friends.

So that’s what we did. A play date with all of my girlfriends and their kids. (Those that don’t have jobs on a Tuesday afternoon, anyway.)


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A Week of Play Dates

This week’s bout of great weather, soon to be over, coupled with the fact that the life as I know it, also soon to be over, put a fire in me this week.

We spent the whole week at parks, meeting up with friends and enjoying the good weather….

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Old Friends

I guess when you’ve only lived 4 and 1/2 years, if you’ve known someone since you were 2, that must make that person a very old friend. Jack was so happy when he past the park a few days ago and saw his friend Josephine was back from her month long vacation in France. He jumped out of the stroller and ran up to her to give her a big hug. She is one of the few play mates in his life that he actually asks about when she’s not around.

Jack gets a Water Back Massage at Adam's Park

So when Josephine’s mom called for a play date, Jack couldn’t wait. I can’t tell you how many times I asked him today to make a decision on something and he replied, “What’s Josephine doing?”.

Josephine did not disappoint. She splashed around with him in the water, taught him Chinese jump rope, and shared her sidewalk chalk.

After all that hard play, we needed a pick me up. So we went to Annette’s for ice cream. The kids size is as big as your fist. Jack is on a kick where he wants a new flavor every time we get ice cream. Today he happily ate Moosetracks. Ben stuck with Chocolate. I scavenged the left overs.

Jack and Ben at Annette's

Finally we stopped by Josephine’s to pick up the presents she brought back for the boys…

Ava, Ben, Jack and Josephine

Jack was very happy for his new coloring book and went home to start on it right away. He even wanted me to read the story at the bottom but it was in French so I had to make it up. I hope I did it justice.

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The Elusive Pirate Park

I first heard of it from my friend Pam. But after accidently wandering to it one day, she was unable to find it again. Today my playground expert friend, AKA Playground Pointers, showed me the way to the park that is such a secret that it doesn’t even have a name.

The Park with No Name

It seemed like it was in a valley, surrounded by tall residential buildings on all sides. It was not far from Millennium Park, where we jogged to this morning to see Mr. Singer. Again. That makes for 4 shows in 2 weeks.

Mr Singer Groupies

Back to the no name park. It had sprinklers in the center, a pirate shaped play structure, swings, and another boat-like structure that actually rocked back and forth. Soft surface. Surprisingly comfortable benches with shade and nice shrubbery. During our visit a Mom blew bubbles for all the kids. Another Dad filled water balloons for the whole park.

Jack pretends we are sailing to the Cayman Islands

Besides the park itself, right outside of the gate there is a great open lawn area. But the best bit was copious amounts of fountains. I think we spent as much time playing in the fountains as the actual park.

Jack, Josephine, and Lillian

No bathrooms nearby, so I found myself in a porta potty on a construction site. Crouching in that smelly cell while holding both of Ben’s hands so he didn’t touch anything was the low point of the day for sure. The good news is the construction site is building a Fresh Market and other stores so I’m sure there will be a bathroom there soon.

Surprisingly the highlight of my day had nothing to do with finding a park that I’ve wanted to see for years. It was a tense moment when I was yelling at Ben to sit in the stroller on the L platform. Jack looked over, saw him crying and gave him his Elmo. He stopped crying immediately. I couldn’t have been prouder of Jack for that display of empathy and problem solving ability.

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Adams Playground Park

We are very lucky in Chicago to have such an incredible Park District. If I wanted to, I could go to a different playground every day for the summer. In fact I have a friend doing just that! In August my friend Mistie is launching Playground Pointers, a website directory on public playgrounds. If you want to learn more now, you can ‘like’ her facebook page to get updates on the progress. If the site is anything like the woman, it will be thoughtful, thorough and interesting.

Some are better than others and every day I’m so happy we are lucky enough to live close to Adams Playground Park.

Jack with his Cutie Patootie Friend Josephine

In the summer there is a great water park, separated by a gate. Big enough for pre-teens to enjoy and safe enough for toddlers.

Ben give Mommy a Hat

It also has a great sand box with lots of toys that are there permanently.

Soft surface, swings, a see saw, picnic benches and two play structures.

And most importantly, it has a bathroom! The bathroom has hours, only open from 9-5 during the week and sometimes if you are lucky there are weekend hours.

Be warned, one of the entrances has no gate. Also, the water park is only open certain hours. Check the schedule before you go so you don’t disappoint your kids! There is a link on the park district website for Adams Park.

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