Thursday, August 30, 2007

Local Store Love

After eight national chain stores, we almost gave up trying to find age-appropriate shoes for one of our nearly 4-year-old twin daughters. She moved into a size 12 shoe, which puts her out of the cute, toddler Mary Jane shoes and into the big girl shoes (sizes 12 - 3). If you haven't looked at children's shoes in a while, big girl shoes this season are either clogs with fur trim or shoes with 2-inch stacked heels. Neither one seemed appropriate for preschool. We found a lovely, local independent shoe store in a neighboring suburb that was like shoe heaven. Chrisella's, located in LaGrange, is filled with adorable, appropriate, quality children's shoes. The store staff treated us like family. We walked in, found several cute size 12 options, tried on the favorite, and bought it. The entire transaction was charming and stress-free. We will definitely be back. If you have a local store you want to support, show a little local love by listing it with http://www.delocater.net/. This month's Real Simple led me to this site, which helps people find local retailers for all their shopping needs.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wonderful Wonder Time

If you haven't read a new magazine called "Wonder Time," now is the time to pick up a copy. The tag line is "celebrate your child's love of learning," but don't let that turn you off. The magazine does celebrate your child's love of learning, but in a fun and interesting way. It's not a dry, academic journal. It's a great read filled with interesting articles that make you laugh and think. It has great sections that help you "teach your child to" do something...tell a scary story, ride a bike, etc. In the current issue, the article "When the Bad Boy Becomes the Good Dad" will make you laugh until you cry. Another article this month talks about little white lies we all tell our children. You'll probably recognize some of these:

"The car can't start if your seat belt isn't buckled."

"Daddy and I were doing a really special hug."

"I don't know where that talking toy went."

"It's not a toy store. It's s toy museum."

Toy Store Explosion

Most of the time our playroom looks like a toy store exploded. Even though we have twins, we do not have two of everything. It just looks like it. Yesterday I made a mental list of toys the girls haven't played with in a while. My plan was to donate the toys. Today they pulled out two of those toys. Right now they are playing with one of them. I must as well just accept that they playroom is always going to be overflowing with toys. That's the point of a playroom, right?

She Said What?

Overheard at our house...

"Father what are we going to do this evening?"

What three-year-old speaks like that? Really?

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Fraternal Twin Drill

At the risk of sounding immodest, the girls are striking. One is a blue-eyed blond with long hair. The other is a green-eyed brunette with the longest hair you've ever seen on a three-year-old. Really, it goes all the way down to the top of her pants. They are nearly the same height. At least once a day someone comments on how beautiful the girls are. Usually, it's followed by the questions. If you have fraternal twins, you know the drill. Are you cousins? No, we're twins. Really (followed by a strange look at Mom)? Yes, they are twins. But they don't look the same? No, they are fraternal. The person always follows with the list. How far along were you when you delivered? How big were they? How far apart were they? Who is older? These questions are followed by the inquisitive stare, and comments about where their faces look alike and where they don't. All the time I'm trying to remove us from the conversation. Not to sound rude, but I don't drill you about your children and their births, why is okay to drill me just because I have twins?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

How Much Do Those Shoes Cost?

We took the girls for new shoes yesterday. Preschool starts soon, so it's time for to have their feet sized. We went to a local mall, which features a national children's shoe chain. The sales clerk cheerfully measured the girls' feet. (One wears a size 10 and the other a size 12!) Every pair of shoes I looked at was at least $50! The plain, brown leather shoes were $51! The plain, black leather shoes were $56! For shoes they are going to wear for a few months and then outgrow? The clerk explain these shoes were specially engineered to fit children's feet and help them maintain proper form. Call me cheap, but the girls will just have to suffer with $30 leather shoes from another store.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I Vote for Naps

Since it's election primary season, I say it's time to vote on something really important to parents. Naps. Who decided children are ready to give up the afternoon nap when they are about three years old? I did not get to vote on this. Please don't tell me they are big enough or don't require the sleep. If you think that, then you aren't around enough three year olds about 4:00 p.m. There were many times when the girls were younger that I wished they weren't napping every day. You know the days when some family function was happening right in the middle of nap time, or you just really wanted to run one more errand. We always had a strict nap schedule. The girls were happier when we stuck to their nap schedule, so we rarely deviated. Now, though, they are too old for daily naps. One of our girls still likes to nap once in a while. She'll announce she's tired and ask for some "quiet time." (Of course, we renamed nap time because only babies take naps.) Our other daughter will not nap at all. The transition between daily afternoon naps and no nap time has not been easy for anyone. I used to plan on working for the hour or so that they slept. In fact, I was on the phone with a client when I realized nap time was over. We used to schedule conference calls during nap time. One day I was on the phone and realized they were awake. They took a 10 minute nap after I spent 30 minutes trying to get them to go to sleep. Now I struggle to get work done during the day. They do not want to sleep, yet are cranky in the hours just before bedtime. We did move bedtime up about 1/2 hour. It helps maintain our sanity and get them more sleep. I know it will get better as they get older, but I am jealous when friends tell me their preschoolers still nap. I think it's time parents voted to require naps until we are ready for the transition from nap time to no naps. What is your vote?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

No Recall Worries Here

One of the advantages of having the youngest grandchildren on both sides of the family is everyone passes down their toys to our girls. We are also lucky enough to have friends who regularly clean out their toy boxes and give the girls the toys their children have outgrown. When all the toy recalls started coming out, we didn't even look in the mess we call the playroom. I know we don't own any of the recalled toys. To own one of those toys means that we actually purchased a new toy in the past year or so. You'd think that as the Mom of three-year-old twins, I'd be a regular at Toys-R-Us or at least the Target toy section. I'm happy to say that I haven't been in Toys-R-Us in years. The only time I see the Target toy section is when I need a present. Lest you think our girls might be missing out, they have a wonderful selection of dolls, games, puzzles, books, dress-up outfits, musical instruments, and more. Most preschools do not have such a varied selection. There is so much stuff that we surrendered our former family room to their growing collection. What used to house our TV, now hosts daily tea parties. We took over the formerly formal living room for our grown-up space. I worry about them having too much stuff, but I never worry about recalls. We tell everyone we're being eco-friendly and embracing recycled toys. The truth is we're just lucky to have such generous friends and family members.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Christmas on My Mind

Chicago has a 102 degree heat index, caused by a 90 degree temperature combined with about 90 percent humidity. What am I thinking about? Why, Christmas, of course. Several of our local park districts run Polar Express trains during December. As I learned the hard way last year, you need to make reservations now. By Labor Day, all the park district trains are full. Last year we were lucky enough to discover that the Lisle Convention Bureau runs a Polar Express train. We didn't have to buy those tickets until November. We did end up riding the Polar Express to the North Pole (aka Chicago's Union Station), where Santa joined us for the return trip. The girls were thrilled to be on the train, even though they couldn't convince the elves that they really are twins. It was great fun, but this year several of us wanted to go together. Luckily, we reserved seats through the Tinley Park Park District. It was a bit dicey, but we did all get on the same train. So, on December 2, I'll be riding the Polar Express to the North Pole with two, happy girls in their Christmas dresses. Not to put any pressure on you, but what are your plans for December holiday activities?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bear Bliss

Several years ago we discovered Bear. Kohl's department stores have a wonderful fundraising program which sells books for $5 each, with the proceeds going to local children's hospitals. We found Bear when Kohl's sold the first 3 books in the series. The books have wonderful stories and gorgeous illustrations. Really, every page could be framed as artwork. I was excited to learn that author Karma Wilson has a new Bear book out now (Bear Hugs) and another due out soon (Bear Feels Sick). The girls LOVE Bear, so I'm sure the new books will end up under the Christmas tree.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Best Crayon Product Ever

If you haven't tried Crayola's Color Wonder products, you don't know what you are missing. The markers are designed to activate only on Color Wonder paper. This means there is no possible way for the kids to color on the walls, their clothes, the carpeting, etc. We carry ours everywhere. The paper is a bit expensive, but well-worth the cost of not scrubbing walls, carpeting, clothing, arms, or legs. And, it keeps the kids entertained wherever you go. It's one of my favorite products. What are your favorite kids products?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

It's Wiggle Time

We attended our first Wiggles concert yesterday. While it would be so easy to mock the event, aren't we all really just a bit jealous? Here are four guys with an idea that they dreamed up and pursued to create a world-wide phenomenon generating millions of dollars. It's clean, fun, and simple, yet none of us thought of it! I'm sure at the beginning, "I'm one of the Wiggles" wasn't a great line at parties. Now, though, anyone hearing that instantly starts to pay attention. Many of us dream about starting a successful business. These four Australians had a skill, found a niche, and pursued it to great rewards. Not bad for guys who share a stage with a dinosaur, octopus, pirate, dog, and teddy bears.

The girls loved the Wiggles dancers. They sang all the songs and were mesmerized for more than 90 minutes. You have to love performers that sing about eating fruit salad, knowing how to cross the street, and exercising. All-in-all is was quite fun -- even for the adults.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Loving the Zoo

No matter how many times we visit Brookfield Zoo, the girls are always fascinated. We look at the same animals, play at the same parks, and see the same dolphin show. They always react as if it is the first time they have ever been there. It's an amazing way to spend a day. They are happy and entertained. I am outside, and not just to weed the garden.

For Christmas each year, my parents give us a membership to Brookfield Zoo. It might be the best, most useful present we get. The great thing about a membership is we can come and go at will. When the girls are having a crabby day, I load them in the mini-van and head to the zoo. Even if we only spend an hour or two, suddenly, it's the best day ever.

Friday, August 17, 2007

When Does Sleep Come?

When the girls were infants, we were out of our minds happy when we slept for three or four consecutive hours. With one infant sleep is precious. With two, it is non-existent. One of the girls needed a bottle every two hours, 24-hours a day. Now that they are older, we're supposed to be getting more sleep. The problem is, one of the girls wakes up two or three times a night with what the doctor diagnosed as night terrors. She'll sleep soundly for a few nights, then wake up several times a night for the next few nights. Those nights when she wakes up are hard. She's not really awake as she cries. We have to wake her up before she'll stop and go back to sleep. The next day we're tired. By the second or third night, we're zombies. What's so crazy about this is that her sister sleeps in the same room and NEVER wakes up. She just sleeps like a doll through the entire episode.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Actually, You Are Twins

The girls and I were at the local Jewel store doing some grocery shopping. Since we shop there often, we recognized all the clerks. One woman smiled at the girls and said, "Are you twins?" The girls said, "No, we're sisters." I looked at them and said, "Actually, you are twins." Turns out we never told the girls they are twins.

Maybe it's because we have two girls, but we NEVER call them "the twins." Once you dub two children "the twins," they morph into one person. People see them as a unit. We always say that we have two daughters who happen to be born on the same day. The girls giggle every time they say "we're twins!"

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

People Say the Strangest Things

Since we've had the girls, I am often stunned by the crazy things people say. I know this happens to other people, but there's something about twins that really brings it out in people.

In no particular order, here are some of the things I've been asked and what I'd like to say:

How can you tell them apart?
One's blond and one's brunette.


Are they identical?
Sorry, I cannot review high school biology with you right now.

I could never have twins. How do you do it?
Well, we really couldn't ask for one to come at a more convenient time. Twins don't work that way.

Why don't you dress them alike?
They are twins, not clones.

We only have one space left in the program. Can you leave one child at home?No, they are TWINS.

If you have kids (one or more), what is the craziest thing anyone has said to you?