Category Archives: Family Fun

“I Love My Family”


We headed to a fun bowling alley this morning before lunch with Great Grammy. They have $5 tot bowling every day from 10-noon but you gotta get there a little early to make sure you get a lane. It can get pretty packed in there. My kids were worried we’d be late again and not get a lane but those worries were for naught. They happily hugged each other as they stood at the front of the line, my boy giggling, “I love my family!” over and over again.


Then his sister bashed his finger and the moment ended just add quickly as it began.


This bowling alley rocks for so many reasons like the plush leather couches, lane-side service for all your drink and snack needs and the kid movie playing on the screens next to the scoring screens to ensure your minions don’t get bored and wander off between turns.


It was a great hour together and as it turns out my youngest is the most enthusiastic bowler of our group. She ended up bowling for everyone at the end.


We obviously need a sticker near the camera lense so we know where to look!

Tomorrow we’re tackling something a bit more involved than bowling…Six Flags Great America! Wish me luck!

Classic Summer Fun-County Fair Style


Despite only getting a handful of hours of sleep after my 10 year reunion it was off to the county fair with the family yesterday but first we stopped at a dear friend’s house to meet her new little nugget before they move. It’s exhausting being so cute!


Luckily we had quite the crew with us at the fair since I can’t ride any rides and was not eager to carry any tired kids around.


Auntie Kelly is in town and her appearance at the fair had my daughter delighted.


We played games



and won prizes.




Corn dogs were devoured


and rides were ridden.


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My husband and our buddy spun the kids so much on one ride that my girl almost vomited.

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She recovered quickly with the help of some furry friends.



You know, we did all the basic fair things. It was exhausting and fun. We tried for a family picture by the ferris wheel…. My husband and I are the only ones smiling but that’s probably because we’re both being groped, me by my husband and him by his buddy! Good times.


As soon as we got home I collapsed on the couch.  Luckily mommy clone (Auntie Kelly) came over, fed my kids cereal for dinner and bounced with them on the trampoline before bed. By the time Kelly was ready to needle my husband’s problem spots I was feeling much better and gleefully watched her stick him like a pin cushion.


It was quite the day and after some stellar sleep I am feeling like myself again. Time to get this household back in order!

Beach Bums and Backyard Sleepers


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Yesterday we picked up Grandma and went to the beach. 2014-07-10 13.31.09We spent a glorious few hours soaking up the sun, playing Monkey in the Middle in the water, doing cartwheels and summersaults down the huge sand pile and failing miserably at building a sand castle worthy of any respect. It was great!

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She looks angry but was really just on a mission to get her goggles! Phew!


Then after piano lessons and dinner followed by more snow cones I tucked my minions into their tent for a second night of backyard camping.

This kid was bouncing off the walls but some how I finally got him settled down and ready to sleep.

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The longer you look at this picture the more it looks like I photo-shopped his head onto his body. Give it a second… See what I mean? Cracks me up.

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His sister was equally as squirrely so I issued a few threats about noise and getting out from under their covers and marching them up to their own beds which eventually got their attention.

With their lovies by their side they snuggled in.

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I kissed their faces and made a hasty exit, admiring the full moon above their tent, into the house and2014-07-10 20.55.01 upstairs to my comfy bed where I slept peacefully and uninterrupted all night long! I think their busy day at the beach must have worn them out since no one woke up with nightmares… at least none that I’m aware of, and that’s a win in my book!

Now it’s time to intervene and stop the arguing I hear outside as I type this. The kids are suppose to be cleaning out all their gear from the tent so we can put it away but this seems to be a herculean task for some reason… probably since they’re 4 and 6 year old punks.

Happy Friday, friends!



My Lodging Tonight



Well, I woke up this morning from a crappy night of sleep (three kids woke me up 4 times between 11pm and 5:30 am) and I decided if I’m not going to get good sleep then there might as well be a solid reason for it! Thus the tent.

It only took me and the kids 45 minutes our so to get it up and by then we needed a little pick-me-up. Thus the snow cones.



We’ll see how this goes tonight. I suspect it won’t be too bad butt I’d better get my air mattress blown up after dinner since there is no way this 6 month preggo chick is sleeping on the ground.

Woo hoo!

Spoils of Summer – Wild Berry Picking


My guys went out for hair cuts this morning and when they came home they already had a plan set in2014-07-05 11.22.24 motion to go hunting for wild black raspberries that grow in the undeveloped land behind our house. They rallied us girls and we quickly set off with a couple neighbors to see how many we could find.

If you’re unaware, this is what wild black raspberries look like:

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It was quite a hike for the wee ones given the sleep deprivation they were rocking due to some major at-home pyrotechnics last night but with a few piggy-back rides, a healthy dose of competition and a bunch of hand holding we made it through an hour long journey with lots of berries, and some stained fingers of course!

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There are tons of berries that are still ripening so another adventure is sure to be in our future. Now I just need to figure out what I want to make with them although by the time I decide on something I’m sure we’ll have gobbled them up in their natural form which is just fine by me. I do think some French toast with black raspberries and fresh whipping cream will be on the breakfast menu tomorrow! For now, the house is quiet with everyone passed out. Maybe I’ll take a hint and close my eyes for a bit before our evening festivities begin.

Hope you’re all enjoying the holiday weekend!

Goofy Animals, Fantastic Friends and Wild Weather — Oh My!




Zoos can be incredibly entertaining places to spend a few hours with the kids and today we visited the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, WI. I met one of my dearest girlfriends and her two lovely kiddos up there and we were not disappointed by the animals. We saw a pair of orangutans right off the bat that had the kids laughing as they taunted each other hiding in a large barrel and under a large sheet.



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What we realized an hour or so later was that their taunting behavior was actually foreplay because when we strolled by their enclosure before leaving they were putting on quite a show for everyone!

Also entertaining was the Harbor Seal that sounded like the kids’ fathers’ snoring when it came to the surface to breathe along with a kookaburra bird sitting in a tree tenderizing a mouse by vigorously shaking it into a limp, swallowable meal. My girlfriend, Amy, and I were much more interested in seeing this process play out than the kids but we forced them to stay in the exhibit while we subjected ourselves to the slightly nauseating albeit very intriguing food preparation procedure.


We also saw a couple of frenemies (friends/enemies) that we thought were adorable but we’re also a bit bias. In true frenemy fashion this sweet moment only lasted about as long as it took to capture it on camera before the tides turned but we’ll take it.


After our zoo trip the kids and I went to visit some friends, whom we use to live below in Chicago, at their new-ish house just a few minutes from the zoo. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures, probably because I was too bust admiring their awesome home and catching up.

We finally headed home around rush hour and about 45 minutes into our drive, just after hitting a torrential down pour on the expressway my husband called to inform me that tornadic weather conditions were being reported in the direction I was headed. Luckily I was just about to pass the exit to Amy’s house so we crashed her place to wait out the storm. En route I saw paramedics performing CPR on the side of the road. It was a first for me and if I wasn’t’ already convinced that we needed to get somewhere safe that visual certainly sealed the deal.

Amy fed us a home-cooked meal, instigated some shenanigans involving boxes of tissue with our sugar-high, sleep-deprived children and then we once more hit the road for home hoping the weather would cooperate. DSC07220The weather has been really nuts the past 24 hours. Last night at 2am the tornado sirens went off and we ran to grab the kids and huddled together in the basement until the threat had passed. Needless to say my oldest was a little on edge (and tired from disturbed sleep) during the drive home tonight and didn’t like the look of the clouds but we eventually made it safe and sound and exhausted but happy.

We’re headed to Brookfield Zoo in a few days so no doubt we’ll be doing a little comparison as to which zoo has the most entertaining animals. I think Madison’s zoo will be hard to beat with all the performances we were witness to today but I’m just hoping the weather straightens out by then!

Time to fall asleep to the lull of thunder and the flash of lightening as this little minion in my belly kicks the crap out of me. Woo hoo!



Conquering the High Dive


Ahhh, there’s nothing like walking into the city pool, taking a look around at the droves of kids and parents and the piss-water pool and feeling quite at home. I grew up on the swim team and with my house right up the street from the pool I was naturally a pool rat. Chlorine essentially runs through my veins but before I start getting all nostalgic for my water-logged childhood I’ll jump right to the point of this post.

My mom and I took the kids to my hometown city pool yesterday. We try to go a few times throughout the summer since it’s got two large slides, a handful of kiddie structures, zero depth entry and a separate lap pool with diving boards not to mention a large sandbox with playground equipment and a kiddie pool. It’s pretty legit and quite the fun time as long as I bring along an extra adult.

So, after my 2 year old learned that if you don’t fight for your spot in line at the slide you’ll never get down it but before I enjoyed the low-key nature of the baby pool I was impressed by the ballsiness of my 6 and 4 year old children. Today was the day they tackled the high dive and by tackled I mean took it by storm, showed no signs of fear and jumped as high off the board before plunging into the depths of the water and returning to the surface with a smile of victory on their faces. Of course I cheered and snapped photos while expressing to my mother my surprise that I didn’t have to go retrieve my boy from 3 meters up.

My mom, though surprised as well, simply said, “They are your children, Colleen. You were the same way. You scared me to death constantly.”

Ahh, how life come full circle.


  He’s making sure I know just how stoked he is to be jumping off something so high.

My little lady is happy to watch. No need for any extreme behavior yet, thank goodness!

My little lady is happy to watch. No need for any extreme behavior yet, thank goodness!



First, my girl.


Then little man. He made sure to jump as high as possible before plummeting.

Our Spring Break That Almost Broke Me… Almost.


By Thursday evening last week I was feeling incredibly tired both mentally and emotionally although physically I was okay. I’m not used to being pulled in three different directions for 13 hours straight and by Thursday I was in some serious need of “me” time. It wasn’t the trip to Monkey Joes on Monday or lunch out with my mom and toddler Tuesday while the older two kids went to a movie and Chucky Cheese that had DSC06620me ready to run away from home nor was it the bowling and lunch with their Great Grammy on Wednesday followed by our Thursday adventure to the Volo Auto Museum dressed as super heros. I think the reason I was so stressed out was really just the combination of constantly playing referee between my three minions and asking my boy to get his (insert just about any object from socks to Spiderman toy here) for the eleventheenth time to no avail.

Or…maybe it was really, quite simply, the fact that I’m 12 weeks pregnant with Bailey baby #4!

Either way, once the kids were in bed Thursday night I sobbed to my husband. Luckily he’s great at putting the pieces of me back together again and by Friday morning I was ready to tackle a day at Brookfield Zoo with patience and a smile.


Face painting is a must for us when we visit the Hamill Family Play Zoo at Brookfield Zoo.


Can you spot my Cheetah and Lion?


Easily my favorite monkey. What a weirdo!
















Then my husband took me on a date Friday night for some pizza and all was right in my world.

Saturday we packed up the family along with Grandma Anke and trekked off to Chicago to meet my brother at the Field Museum. It was so much fun.


My 6 year old still can’t stop talking about Sue, the most complete T-Rex skeleton to date.

We lamented that the dino skeletons didn’t seem as impressive as when we were kids although we agreed they’re still freaking awesome.DSC06680 The kids loved pressing all the red buttons for the interactive displays and learning about the weird animals that once inhabited Earth.


They were a great age for the museum and after about 3 1/2 hours we were ready to pile back into the car for a 3 hour drive to New Glarus, WI for an evening of great company, food and lodging.



DSC06702Before heading home on Sunday we took the kids to meet harass a baby goat. I think I need a goat instead of chickens. DSC06710They’re so much more cute compared to chickens and as long as the kid agrees to stay little I think we could have a good thing going but that’s probably asking too much. Dang. Guess I’ll keep the chickens.

Now that Spring break is over and our school routine has begun again it’s time to transition back to tackling laundry, cooking, activities and homework. It’s a busy but comfortable routine and I’m happy to get back at it but I won’t make any promises that this comfortable routine won’t also lead to more overwhelmed moments of crying and frustration. That’s just my life as a pregnant person! DSC06617



From the Field to the Table


Yesterday I had figured on a chill day following my trip to the gym and the grocery store. I was pretty tired from all the fun we had on Friday and Saturday hanging with our good friends and staying up a bit too late as usual. Of course, those plans to chill were thwarted and as it turns out I was totally okay with it although I was tired.

So what was more important than chilling out on a Sunday?

Making Pheasant Pot Pie of course! My husband went hunting in the morning with his friend, John, and they took his young dog, Miri, for her first hunt. She did great and they guys ended up bringing home a handful of pheasants which they proceeded to pluck and clean in preparation of an afternoon of cooking.

First John made some stock by baking a few pheasants along with a base of celery, carrots and onion for about a half hour. Then he added herbs and water and simmered everything on the stove for a few hours. The stock was great and I can’t wait to reduce it and make a killer soup this week!

While John was working on the stock I was working on making the pie crusts. I’m in love with Cook’s Illustrated’s Foolproof Pie Dough recipe and use it as my go-to for all my pie crust needs. John typically only uses a top crust on his pot pies but I’m a double crust type of girl and so that’s how we made it. It’s a little bit more naughty that way but a lot more delicious (as least you’ll agree if you’re a crust-lover like myself!)


Here’s my youngest as she protests using the word “please”.

As the stock simmered and the dough chilled I took a brief nap while the rest of the clan went on a pinball machine errand. My husband has been itching for one and so they went to the next town over to check a few out. They didn’t come home with one but at least their errand gave me a little bit of peace to recharge for the remaining hour or so of cooking and cleaning.

Once the stock was finished, John got started on the filling as I deboned the pheasants used for the stock and both of us in the kitchen were thrilled as John’s wife, Lesley, and my husband took the dogs and the kids for a hike in the back woods. It’s so much nicer to cook when you’re not being pestered by little beings tugging at your leg and insisting on being held. Of course, they all came back just as I was about to tackle the most messy, attention demanding part; rolling out the dough.

For some reason, despite following the directions completely my dough was very crumbly. I do usually add a little extra vodka or water to the dough to make it more moist but this time I wanted to see if I could make it look like the picture looked without tinkering with the liquid requirements. I should have known better. The dough was very difficult to roll out/keep together but with the help of a lot of flour and parchment paper we got the job done and put the pies in the oven. A quick 30 minutes later, in which time we were able to clean up the kitchen, dinner was served.


I’m obviously no food photographer and I won’t be winning any awards for the aesthetic appeal of my pie crust but dang was it tasty and I’m thrilled that I have 3/4 of a pie left for lunch today! So, despite the fact that I was tired and hadn’t planned on spending the day in the kitchen I can’t complain. I love cooking with friends and I love when we are involved in every single process of getting the meal on the table.

Today could be a replacement chill day since it’s Spring break but let’s be real, if I don’t do some sort of organized activity with these kids they’re going to drive both myself and each other crazy. Guess I’d better get off my butt, get some clothes on theirs and go gallivant around town for a while. Maybe I’ll pull the car up to their favorite inflatable play place and make their morning… sounds exhausting! At least I have left overs to recharge us later.

Happy Monday, friends!


Made It!


So about two and a half weeks ago I was sitting on my butt twiddling my fingers, a little bored. Sure there was housework to be done but I figured that could wait as I sat on the couch with my little ones, or rather as I sat and my little ones crawled/wrestled/jumped all over me. It’s a novelty having mom just sit on the couch and chill. I really need to do it more often. Any who, what I was really doing was conserving my energy for the upcoming slam that included baking 9 dozen sugar cookies for my oldest friend’s wedding, 3 dozen sugar cookies for my daughter’s 6th birthday party, 1 very specific birthday cake, 3 dozen birthday party cupcakes along with a small cake for blowing out the candles/spitting all over, and 4 dozen sugar cookies for a 100th birthday celebration. I did that in 9 days. Never mind the fact that my twin and her hubby came into town for the wedding, stayed up until 2:30am both nights and boogied our butts. Basically it left me worn out but now that I’m on the other side of it all I can breath easy and smile because, well, it’s over for one and for two, everything went over very well. She here’s a photo recap of the craziness…

Below are the sugar cookies for the wedding. There were 3 dozen of each, all tied up in little treat bags and I really wish I had taken a photo of all the bags sprawled out on my table. It was a sight! I’ve included a pic of the beautiful bride, Jessica, and my oldest buddy, Mike. Last comes my favorite picture of two of my munchkins spoiling their dinner while agreeing mom’s cookies take the cake.

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Despite the bad lighting I love this next photo as well. It includes all my nearest and dearest people in the world. From left to right: My brother-in-law, Chace; twin sister, Kelly; mom, Anke; husband and kiddos; myself; and my “little” brother, Brenden. They are my happy place.

My favorite people in the world. My BIL, sister, mom, husband and kiddos and my brother.

My favorite people in the world. My BIL, sister, mom, husband and kiddos and my brother.

Thrown into the week of baking and crazy fun was my daughter’s 6th birthday on Wednesday followed by her glow party at Pump It Up on Friday. She wanted a Supergirl theme with the standard colors, nothing girly but was specific that her birthday cake be a pink angel food cake with chocolate frosting and including the Supergirl logo on it. This is what I came up with:

She was happy with the result after I explained that the Supergirl logo had her initial in it instead of the 'S'.

She was happy with the result after I explained that the Supergirl logo had an “L” for her name instead of the “S” for Supergirl.

There were 29 kids at the party... It was wild!

There were 29 kids at the party… It was wild!

A quick cake needed to be whipped up so Super Girl could blow her germs all over it

A quick cake needed to be whipped up so Super Girl could blow her germs all over it

This shot, although dark and blurry, cracks me  up.

This shot, although dark and blurry, cracks me up and shows exactly why I didn’t want her blowing out candles on the cupcakes!

3 dozen Super Lilly cookies were handed out as favors.

3 dozen Super Lilly cookies were handed out as favors.

And of course a few tropical/St. Patrick's inspired cookies needed to be made for my sister and her husband's first anniversary this past Sunday.

And of course a few tropical/St. Pat’s inspired cookies needed to be made for my sister and her husband’s first anniversary which they are celebrating back where the magic happened; The Dominican Republic.


























I took Sunday off from baking and partying to recover a little and to clean the pigsty that my house had become. Monday I went back to the kitchen, grabbed the flour, sugar and such and got down to business. This time I was baking for a very special occasion. My Grammy’s best friend, Libby, who passed away in December would have turned 100 years old this past Wednesday and there was a big celebration at her senior apartment building in her honor. Libby was a lover of butterflies so it was a no brainer what type of cookie to bake:


Spending the morning with some lovely blue hairs and my littlest lady who was running amok to everyone’s delight was a great way to end my marathon of baking and partying. I have quickly switched gears and am busy enjoying Spring with my minions and mutts and all the mud that goes with it!

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It’s nice to be back writing again and to have the flour and sugar wiped from my countertops!

Happy Spring, y’all!