Way to Go, Samuel!

Our buddy’s been working so hard on learning how to read that I decided to sneak video him the other night reading to us:) I love that he “gets” what he’s reading and enjoys the stories. It’s starting to become less work for him and more fun.

I even caught him reading the comics today:) I’m so proud of him!



Pics of My Li’l Lady!

I may or may not be obssessed with taking pictures of this sweet girl! And sometimes I don’t have my camera near by..so my cell phone’s the next best thing. Here are a few shots of a precious little girl!

E “helping” me (or distracting me, I should say) with laundry the other day:) She’s got the stink-eye!
Saying hi to daddy in the car yesterday. (we were parked, don’t worry!) She loves her daddy!

Sucking her cute little fingers! Samuel started with the same two fingers…
Pretty girl, wearing her handmade hat from our much-loved friend, Miss D!
We are having a quiet weekend so far which is probably good since it seems like Z is fighting a cold and Samuel went to bad with a nasty headache. We got to spend some time with our good friends today, who came over to hang out with us for a bit and now the hubs and I are in for some movie watching (We have having a Bourne marathon this weekend;) and chocolate chip cake! mmmm….

For Your Amusement

Today’s stories:

Zakkai was turning up his nose at our soup last night and refusing to try any of it, which is unusual for him. Samuel complained for a minute and then started eating, knowing, by now, that we wouldn’t give in:) After forcing down an unwanted bite, he laid his spoon down and said,

Samuel : “Zakkai, Zakkai, just eat that soup. It is soo good!”
Me, suspicious: “Did you like the soup, Samuel?”
Samuel grins sheepishly and shakes his head , “No.”

Good try, son!
At lunchtime today, I had to leave Zakkai finishing his lunch at the table to go feed Eliana. I heard Zakkai muttering to himself and then he came and stood in the doorway of my room and said, “Mommy! The avocado seed has an arm!”

Then he ran away and I heard him rummaging around in the silverware drawer. Minutes later, he appeared around the corner holding the offensive avocado seed on a spoon straight out in front of him, with a plastic knife (a kid’s knife, don’t worry!) in the other hand. He had such a comical, revolted look on his face that I started to laugh.

He was not amused.

“Mommy, look! It has an ARM!” I asked him to come closer so I could inspect the offensive seed only to see a small protrusion at the end. As he stepped closer to me, he tripped and the seed bounced off of his spoon and rolled away.

He jumped back towards the bed as fast as he could and exclaimed, “Uh! I don’t want it to touch my foot!” And then he proceeded to crouch down and very carefully try to prod the seed into the spoon with the knife. I was laughing so hard at this point because he was so serious and so disgusted over this seed. After a couple of minutes, he finally succeeded in getting the seed into the spoon and turned for the door.

In between fits of laughter, I suggested that he go show daddy. He turned around, with his disgusted face and said very solemnly, “No. I can’t. I just need to frow it away.”

And he did:)
At dinner, Ben asked me if E was asleep and I told him she was…until I dropped my phone on the way out of the bedroom, which led to a discussion of how he thinks I should never own expensive equipment (I am still offended…sniff!)

I protested and said, “Well, I really do want to own a nice camera someday! I would take good care of it!”

Zakkai, who was listening while he ate and who just happened to have our old broken camera-turned toy right in front of him, piped up and said, “But you didn’t take good care of this one!”

Ben about peed his pants laughing so hard and choked out, “From the mouth of babes!”

I can’t win.

Things I have learned…

While living in the city:
(this post was totally inspired by this:http://www.rantsfrommommyland.com/2011/01/domestic-enemies-of-urban-mom.html and any mom or anyone who has lived in the city will probably totally relate!)

1. How to parallel park. Supposedly you learn this when you do driver’s ed when you’re 16. Remember those orange cones you crushed as you were weaving through them while some underpaid, really angry driving instructor sat next to you? Let me tell you, you don’t really learn how to parallel park until you live in the city and you have no garage or car port to park your nice car (or golf cart…ahem, Gma!) in. I’m getting pretty darn good at judging just how small of a space I can squeeze our van in.

2. How to ride the train/bus. Not that I am very good at it. I am still afraid when we get on the metra that one of the boys (or me) is going to fall through that gap between the train and the platform. Shudder! And how can you get used to the awful smell of bus riding? Urine, cigarette smoke, overwhelming cheap cologne. It’s really an adventure. Poor Ben has to experience it every week…

3. How to drive on/merge on the highway~Chicago style. And by that I mean, you take a deep breath and gun your engine and artfully weave your way into the oncoming traffic full of crazy, very angry, agressive, and dangerous might I add, drivers and you don’t relax til you…get home, basically:) And then you drive to…I don’t know…Ohio and you start honking like crazy at the SLOOOOOOW people who try to merge going 25 mph and then you realize you have possibly a little city road rage. Possibly.

4. How to sleep through noise. I visit my mom in the country and Ben and I lay wide awake listening to the…crickets and…the wind blowing, maybe a cow mooing. And I think, “Why is it so darn quiet out here! Where are the buses, crazy people who sing and talk to themselves at all hours, the ambulances?” And then I get used to the peaceful quiet of the country only to have it become a distant pleasant memory in my mind once I come back here….and then my country family comes to visit and lies wide awake here all night wondering what happened to their happy little cricket noises. What a life.

5. How to do laundry at a laundromat. Everything the lady said in that post is true (even the being pregnant, dragging 40 lbs of laundry and your children to the laundromat. Good times.) I was terrified of laundromats before I came here. It seemed so intimidating to drag your personal belongings into this place full of rows and rows of big hulking machines that eat your quarters half the time and to have strangers stare at you while you fold your underwear! And to try to keep your children from making a game of slamming dryer doors shut as hard as they can only to watch them bounce open again. (not that mine have done that. ahem.)

6. How to meet new people. One thing about living here is that you meet new people all the time. There are people everywhere, for heavens’ sake! The sad part is, you meet great friends and they move away allllll the time. I can’t wait to settle down someday and not have new neighbors every year!

7. How to save money. You don’t know how to save money until you don’t have any! And living in the city is EXPENSIVE! I have learned so many ways to cut down our budget until I can cut no more! I want to move somewhere cheap. And by cheap I mean not paying the same amount for rent on a small apt that people are paying for mortgages on 2 story houses!

8. How to survive. It’s been tough to live here so far away from family and having to learn to do everything ourselves the hard way. But it has caused me to grow stronger and more independent and savvy. But I still want to live closer to my family:)

9. How to be tough. Now this is the hard part (no pun intended:). You have to be tough to live here with so many different (a.k.a. crazy) people! You get besieged on all sides for money and yelled at if you don’t give it, people scream at you on busses, announce ridiculous things to the world through their bullhorns downtown that make you want to give them a piece of your mind, so many calloused, hard people. And it’s so hard to find a balance between protecting yourself (and your family) and hardening yourself a bit but also maintaining compassion for people. We often find that our guard lets down automatically once we drive out of the city. Vacation, anyone?

10. How to appreciate the “someday.” Don’t get me wrong; there are some great things about living here! The awesome museums, downtown being a quick bus ride away, meeting so many different, wonderful people, learning to be savvy….But I personally am not a city girl and I know I will really really appreciate all the things I may have later in life that are on my “someday” list. Like a dishwasher, a garage, a washer and dryer, a backyard, a house, I hope. Little things and big things!

But for now….I’m a chitown mama living in a crazy city!

Dear Samuel,

I don’t tell you often enough how proud of I am of you! You have had to work harder than most other kids to get where you are now because of the struggles you have had (with SPD) and sometimes I lose sight of that.

You and I are a lot alike, very emotional and very sensitive! It’s funny that we can bug each other even though we are the same:) But I really really love your sensitive heart and I pray that it stays soft and loving.

You have learned SOOO much this year! We were really nervous about how you would do in kindergarten but you are a rock star! You have learned to read and it is getting easier all the time (I LOVE to hear you read at bedtime:), you have learned to count to 100 by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s. You are learning addition and subtraction, how to sound out words on your own and write them. For example you wrote on a HW paper “I ate a samwech today.” I love that you keep trying even when it is hard for you!

You are an amazing big brother! You call Zakkai your “buddy” and always watch out for him and make sure he is making good choices. You have a very strong sense of justice and right/wrong and even though your tattling can drive me crazy, I know it is because you want to follow the rules and you don’t want your little brother to get in trouble! (again)
I can hardly keep you away from Eliana:) I love that you are old enough that you will probably remember her birth. You help me SO much with her; bringing me burp clothes, her pacifier or diapers. She gets a million kisses from you and smiles at the sound of your voice. You are wonderful!

Today I found a picture of daddy as a teenager and I could NOT believe how much you look like him! It was really fun to see what you will probably look like in about 12 years:) Not that I want you to grow up that fast!

You are such a handsome, bright and very funny boy. You have a really great sense of humor. I love that look on your face after I make a joke, that studies me for a moment trying to decide if I am being serious or trying to make you laugh. Then your face breaks out in that beautiful smile and you say, “You’re teasing!!”

You love big, you feel intensely, you take in your world quietly, you have a wonderful laugh and you make me so proud!

I love you, Samuel!!



sleeping through the night!!! Hooray!!

I feel like I have waited years for this…although it’s only been 3 months:) I know that 3 months really isn’t that long but it sure feels long when you are up several times every.single.night and falling asleep over your cereal in the morning!

She has gotten better and better with sucking her fingers over the past week (middle two on right hand) and comforts herself right back to sleep. She started on Thursday night with 9 hours and slept 11 hours last night! Woohoo!

And she laughed tonight for the first time! I was kissing her soft belly as I was getting her dressed for bed and she laughed! I think it surprised her:)


Samuel had a playdate this afternoon with his best buddy Peter. They were wild and had such a good time together that Samuel was exhausted at dinnertime. They had such a hard time saying goodbye that you wouldn’t think they are going to see each other tomorrow!


And Zakkai has been boosting my ego (haha) by telling me at least 13 times a day, “Mommy, you look so pretty!” And then when I say thank you, he says, “Isn’t that nice of me?” What a kid!

And last but not least; need a nice biscuit to go with your homemade soup on a winter’s night? I’ve got a yummy one!

Fluffy Biscuits:

2 cups all-purpose flour

4 tsp baking powder

3 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup shortening

1/4 cup butter (cold)

1 egg

2/3 cup milk plus a couple TB for brushing

1. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in shortening and butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat the egg with 2/3 cup milk and stir into dry ingredients.

2. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead several times. Roll to 3/4 in thickness; cut with a floured 2 1/2 in biscuit cutter (or small cookie cutter!). Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush tops with milk or cream for a shine.

3. Bake at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until light golden brown. Serve warm with butter and/or jam! mmmmmm…


What a day, what a day! I have been running non-stop til now!

We got our van back last night (goodbye forever, Dodge Caravan!) and I had to take it back in today because the sliding door wouldn’t shut. Turned out to be ice in the lock because they washed it before giving it back:)

This morning it was about -200 degrees and the doors of the van were frozen shut so all three kiddos (carseat and all) and I had to climb through the passenger door to get to school! Fun times.

Then, Zakkai (who had no school), Eliana and I checked out our new library for lots of books and came home in time for a fun lunch of hot chocolate, quesadillas baked in the oven and oranges:) Eliana had 2 major meltdowns today (Note to self: do NOT allow her to get overtired!!) that took forever to calm down. She really has to tell you when she is tired! The only thing she complains about:)

Then we rushed back to school to get Samuel, took the car by the autobody shop, went to HP to get Ben from school, came home to meltdown #2, made dinner, got kids in bed and now we are finally ready to have a little peace and quiet!!!

My lunch buddy:)

I shall leave you with a new favorite recipe!!

Southwest Chicken (in the Crockpot)

2 (15 oz ea) cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (14 1/2oz) reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomated with mild green chilies, undrained

1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast

1 jar (8 oz) salsa

1 cup corn

1 tsp ground cumin

3 cups hot cooked rice


1.Combine all ingredients except rice in a crockpot and cook on Low 6-8 hours or until a meat thermometer read 170 degrees.

2. Shred chicken with 2 forks and return to slow cooker; heat through. Serve with/over rice.

*We ate ours over the rice and IN homemade torillas(actually Indian Chapati bread but taste like homemade tortillas)! It was SOOO good! So good that I will even share the tortilla recipe with you:)

Homemade Indian Chapati Bread (or Tortillas:)

1 c. whole wheat flour

1 c. all-purpose flour (I was out of whole wheat and used both cups white this time)

1 tsp salt

2 TB olive oil

3/4 cup hot water

1. In lg bowl, stir together flours and salt. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the olive oil and enough water to make a soft dough that is elastic but not sticky. Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead until it is smooth.

2. Divide dough into 10 parts (or less if you want bigger breads) and roll each piece into a ball. Let rest a few minutes.

3. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat (I have found that some olive oil works better than just a spray) until hot. Roll balls of dough out on lightly floured suface until very thin like tortillas. When pan starts smoking a little, put a chapati/tortilla on it. It will bubble up; cook until underside has light brown spots on it, about 30 sec and flip over. Repeat with remaining dough.

*These are also really fantastic when you cook the second side with some parmesan or a pizza cheese on it and brown:)