Friday, January 22, 2016

Our own Southern Belle

I was walking by the girls' room when I saw Holly stretched out on a twin bed. Her head rested on a pillow and her legs stretched nearly to the foot board. As I went by, she didn't even lift her head to make sure I was supposed to be in the house. She simply rolled her eyes to see who was at the door.

If Holly was human, I'd say her personality was that of a Gone With The Wind Southern Belle. She's strong when she wants to be, with a bark that frightens people away from the front door. When we're home together during the day, she stays close, needing regular attention. After a long walk she takes to her bed for a nap. I imagine her standing with the back of her hand on her head saying that she must rest before she can continue on with her day as she ascends the stairs to her bedroom.

Even though we live with the Southern Belle most of the time, I'm certain that she already knew I was in the door frame. If I had been a stranger, I doubt I would have gotten up the stairs. I think her eye roll to confirm my identity was just to let me know that she was not to be disturbed. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Much work to do we have

Overheard on our way to see Star Wars The Force Awakens...

Daddy:  "What do you know about Star Wars?"

Girls:  "A lot Daddy."

Daddy:  "What is the name of the little robot?"

Blond Twin:  "Wallye?"

Daddy:  "Who is the big, hairy guy?"

Blond Twin:  "Bigfoot?"

Daddy sighs. Clearly we have some cultural education to complete.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The bedtime battle

By the time the girls go to bed, I'm completely exhausted. There's nothing better than the little bit of time Daddy and I have once they go to bed. I know the girls think we do fun, exciting things, but every parent knows that's not true. We do things like finish the laundry, clean up the kitchen or figure out how to survive the rest of the week. Sometimes we go crazy and watch a television show. 

Now that the girls are in middle school, they are asking to stay up later. I realize 8:30 p.m. is an early bedtime for 12-year-olds and so do they. Increasingly they are asking to stay up until 9:00 p.m. I am resisting this change with every fiber of my being. I realize it is only 30 minutes from when they go to be now, but when I think about the change, it feels like a lifetime.

Middle school children need nine to nine and one-half hours of sleep according to everything I have read. This means they could go to sleep at 9:00 p.m., get up at 6:00 a.m. and still get plenty of sleep. 

On the one hand, they are right. They should have a later bedtime. They are ready. I keep putting it off by telling the girls that they need their sleep. The truth is I need them to go to bed earlier for my own sanity. We're all moving towards the later bedtime ... but not tonight.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Some days in the saddle are better than others

The brunette twin had a brutal horseback riding lesson tonight. She rode Hank, the horse she fell off last summer. He was cranky and difficult from start to finish.

In the middle her instructor started yelling at her. Michelle was telling the brunette twin how to control Hank, but the brunette twin wasn't listening. She was scared and frustrated and anxious. She didn't want to pay attention to Michelle as she stood in the middle of the ring yelling. 

I was sitting in the office area watching the lesson when I saw the brunette twin change. At the lesson's start the brunette twin was smiling. By the time I started paying attention she looked pained. I didn't like the change.

I went outside to hear Michelle yelling instructions and saw the brunette twin's wet face. She had tears streaming down her face as Hank battled her attempts to control him. It was hard to watch, even though I knew she could handle Hank.

After the lesson Michelle came over and talked to me for a bit. I listened to her explanation without comment. I wanted to talk to the brunette twin before deciding how to proceed.

The brunette twin cried so hard that she hyperventilated as we drove home. She was upset about everything from her inability to control Hank to Michelle's yelling. She wanted to enjoy her lesson, but she said she couldn't stop thinking about when she fell off Hank during summer camp. She wanted to ride Hank until she got into the ring. She spent the entire lesson afraid to fall off again. The brunette twin said she was done taking horseback riding lessons.

I don't know which horse she will ride next, but it won't be Hank. First I don't think enough time has passed for her to feel confident riding him. We learned tonight that her fear was still real and paralyzing. Second, I don't want to watch her ride Hank again any time soon. I was terrified as I watched her during the lesson. Hank is a huge horse. Every time he tried to buck or run her into a wall I held my breath. I wanted to get her off that horse immediately, even as I knew that I wouldn't take her off Hank. 

From now on, though, she will stay off Hank. She needs to regain her confidence and I don't ever want to drive home with her sobbing like that again. Horseback riding is supposed to be fun. When it starts becoming as stressful as tonight's lesson, it's time to adjust the experience.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The price of sanity

Daddy's family talks a lot about their Grandfather's Indianapolis farm. We hear funny stories about working during the summers and fun times with relatives. Aunt Linda had the dining room table and buffet from Grandfather Schmidt's Indianapolis kitchen in her Chicago home.

When Aunt Linda and Uncle Larry moved to Baltimore, the buffet moved to our house. When Aunt Linda moved into her Chicago condo, the dining room table and chairs came to our house, along with several beautiful table clothes.

In our house table cloths are abused daily. Every other day we wash the dining room table cloth. Most times when I took the table cloth to the washing machine I would say that if the the table cloths could talk they would ask why they were being punished by coming to our house. There was no way the table cloths saw that much traffic in Aunt Linda's house.

More than once something spilled that I was sure would stain. I realize that Aunt Linda wasn't worried about what happened to her table cloths. She gave them to us with the table so we'd use them. We were always able to remove the spill, keeping the beautiful table cloths intact.

I saw the girls drawing with Sharpie markers when I couldn't take it anymore. I started looking for more indestructible table cloths. I was doing some after Christmas shopping at Macy's when I found two clearance table cloths for $6 each. The colors weren't perfect, but they were close enough to work for us. I was giddy at the cost and the fabric. These table cloths could take a lot of washing and still be servicable. 

We have daily use table cloths that can take a lot of abuse. Aunt Linda's beautiful table cloths will make appearances whenever possible. It turns out the price of my sanity is $6 per table cloth. Funny, but I always thought my sanity would cost a bit more.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Schmidt resemblance

The girls are always asking "Who do I look like?" The blond twin is clearly Daddy's child. From the time she was little, she looked just like Daddy -- without his beard and mustache of course. 

The brunette twin has always slid back and forth between Momma's family and Daddy's family. When she's with my side of the family I think she looks like Sami. When she's with Daddy's side of the family I think she looks like Jenny.

With their Schmidt Happens t-shirts on, Clark, Brooke, Jenny and the girls sat on the fireplace hearth for a group photo. When I looked at the photo, I saw clearly the Schmidt family resemblance. The five of them could have been siblings or cousins. If I didn't know that they were cousins, I would have believed that they were a family with five children ranging from mid-twenties to tweens. Looking at them all together you could see that they shared family features that bonded them as a group.

The girls were thrilled to see the family resemblance. Sometimes they don't know where they fit because they are so much younger than their cousins. The group photo put them firmly in the mix, much to their delight.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Schmidt happens

We were settling in for dessert when Aunt Debbie came in with an arm full of t-shirts. We all laughed when we saw the shirts. She had t-shirts made that said, "Schmidt Happens."

She handed them out, making sure that everyone tried on their shirts. At one point Brooke, Clark, Jenny and our girls took a picture with their Schmidt Happens shirts.

The blond twin said she wanted to wear the shirt to school. Daddy said it might not be such a good idea. She repeated that she wanted to wear it and asked why she would get in trouble.

Several people tried to explain that Schmidt Happens sounded like something else that people say. The blond twin stared blankly. It was clear she didn't understand. 

I looked at her and said, "Sh!t happens. Schmidt happens. Get it"

She still stared blankly. I repeated it so she would make the connection. When she understood, her eyes grew wide and she laughed nervously. Then she said, "Mom, don't say that."

I wish I could have captured the look on her face when it all clicked. She looked like someone who just realized she was being let in on a big secret, even if it was something everyone else understood without explanation.

We decided that she could wear the shirt most places, but definitely not school. Now that she's in on the word play, she'll wear it with family pride -- and a sly smirk.