Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

When the clock clicks to Midnight, we'll be sleeping. The one truism about young children is that it doesn't matter what time you go to bed because they always wake up at the same time. We're having a small NYE afternoon party with some friends, then we'll keep the girls on their normal schedule.

Before we go to bed though, I'll put a dollar and a can of food on the table. My maternal grandmother always did this to signify that there will always be food and money in the house for the next year. She said it was an old Scottish custom.

So, as is my custom, I wish you all a happy and safe New Year -- and put a virtual dollar and can of food on your table. We don't know what the new year will bring. There is much turmoil and unhappiness around the globe. These are uneasy times for a lot of people who have health and family problems.

The good thing about a new year is it brings a new sense of hope. The old, bad year is gone. The new year holds lots of promise for better days ahead. It won't be quick, nor will it be easy. We'll all work together to make it better for ourselves and each other. This is my new year's resolution. I hope you'll join me.

Monday, December 29, 2008

What I'll Miss about the Christmas Shows

Every year I wait for the Christmas shows. You know those animated specials with Rudolph, Santa, elves, the Snow Miser, etc. I always loved them. Once these shows start, it means that Christmas is on its way.

I know the animation is a bit dated (to put it mildly). Some of the scenes make me cringe, like when the male reindeer tell Clarissa and Mrs. Donner that they will search for Rudolph because, "this is man's work." Yet there is something about the shows that makes me feel like it's really the holidays.

Now that we have the girls, they love the shows. And, we love to sit with them between (or on) us and watch them. What's good about the shows now is not just the tradition we're passing along, nor is it the idea that we're sharing a part of our childhood memories with them.

The best part of watching these shows is making sure the brunette twin sits with her Daddy. As soon as the show starts, she starts.

If the Abominable Snowman is made of snow, why don't they just melt him?
Why does he have to eat? Snowmen don't eat.
How do they now the Abominable likes pork better than reindeer?
Yukon shouldn't put that stuff in his mouth. It's dangerous to put stuff in your mouth.
Why does Hermie want to be a dentist?

Who is Mother Nature?
Why don't we see her?
Why doesn't she tell her boys to behave?
Why does she look different in this show than she did in the last show?
Why is the Snow Miser Mr. Fun? Doesn't the Heat Miser have fun?

Why does that boy play the piano all the time?
Who is Beethoven?
Why does Lucy keep bothering him when he's trying to practice?
Why do the adults talk that way during the show?

She starts talking at the very beginning of the show and doesn't stop until the show is over. Even then, she has follow-up questions. It's hysterical. My husband is a quiet man. He likes to watch TV in peace and quiet. He usually pay attention to shows. If the brunette twin is watching with him, he doesn't get to watch the show. He spends his time answering the brunette twin's questions. Sometimes he doesn't get to finish one answer before she asks the next question.

I usually sit and quietly giggle during these shows. Daddy tries to convince the brunette twin to sit on my lap, but the blond twin is my shadow, so it's only natural that she sits on my lap. Plus, I convinced the brunette twin that Daddy knows all the answers when it comes to these shows. He gets so frustrated. He tries to convince her to watch the show and be quiet, but it never works. She has a million questions and he's the answer man.

It's not as if she only does this for the Christmas specials. She does it for every show. It's just that the shows are concentrated during December, so each one is a special bonus Christmas gift for me.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Moon Girls

Our twin girls are fascinated with computers and the Internet. Many of their friends are already veterans of the PBSkids.com and nickjr.com web site. We haven't let the girls play on the web yet. I need to do some more research about which sites are safe and learn how to block sites before we take that step.

I was pleased to receive this press release from New Moon Girls.

New Moon Girl Media Launches Groundbreaking Online Community for Girls 8-12
www.NewMoonGirls.com Pioneers Girl-Created Content on the Web
Mountain View, CA – November 12, 2008 – The wait for a safe, advertising-free online community for girls 8-12 is finally over. New Moon Girl Media, champion of girl-centered media and publisher since 1993 of the award-winning girls’ magazine New Moon Girls, today announced the launch of the new online community NewMoonGirls.com. For the first time, girls around the world have a safe place on the Web where they can create and share content and develop their full potential through self-discovery and community.


I really like the idea of an advertising-free online community for tween girls. I think it's such a vunerable age. Too often girls are trying (either by choice or peer-pressure) to be older than they really are. The idea of a place where girls can explore their interests in art, science, writing and more in an environment that is monitored by responsible adults is intriguing.

There is also a good discussion board about girls' bodies and feelings. Let's face it. By the time the girls are ready to talk about these things, I'll be considered "old Mom." While I hope they will continue to talk to me, they will also be able to talk to their girl cousins. If neither of those sources work, I hope that reading about what other girls are feeling or going through will help our girls.

The girls are a few years away from being old enough to participate in New Moon Girls, but I'll continue to watch the site. I think it is a good resource to keep in my back pocket for future reference.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Fairy Princess Magic

We took the girls to Macy's on State Street on Christmas Eve for lunch at the Walnut Room. We're veterans so we arrived early to pick up our pager. We thought we'd have plenty of time to wander the store, look at the decorations and enjoy the festive spirit before eating lunch. You know the economy is bad because there wasn't a line. We walked up and sat down. If you have ever tried to have lunch at the Walnut Room during the Christmas season, you know that never happens.

The waiter was great. He talked to our girls for quite a while before taking our order. He asked their names, ages, etc. He made a point of asking who was the oldest twin. The girls basked in the attention. Then we saw the Fairy Princess. She wore a green dress with a crown and wand. She was flitting from table to table talking to the children. She asked each child to make a wish and tapped her on the head with some fairy dust. (You might call it glitter, but our girls insisted it was special fairy dust, so let's go with that.) The boys weren't as interested, but the girls were star struck.

Of course, as soon as the meals arrive, our girls had to go to the bathroom. We walked towards the ladies room when the Fairy Princess ran up to us and said, "Wait, are you blond twin and brunette twin? I've been looking for you. I just talked to Santa and he said I had to look for you."

I thought the girls would pass out right there. They couldn't move. They couldn't speak. They just stood there staring with wide eyes and huge smiles. The Fairy Princess talked to the girls for a few minutes and sprinkled fairy dust on their heads -- and mine. Later the Fairy Princess took a few minutes to take photos with the girls. She remembered their names and talked for a bit longer. The girls glowed.

We watched her work her magic on every table in the room. It was a full room, even if there wasn't a long waiting line. She made every child feel like the center of her universe. She charmed the children and the parents.

If you see the Fairy Princess, please tell her the twin's parents send a great big THANK YOU. Her magic will bring us back to the Walnut Room next year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

There's a second verse?

We were standing in church this evening singing Christmas carols when I realized I didn't know the second verse to any of the songs. I stood there looking at the words to several songs thinking, "This thing has four (or five or six) verses? Really?"

There was one little girl behind us who seemed to know all the words to all the verses. The strange thing is the rest of her family didn't know the words. Some day I'll have to ask her Mom how the little girl knew all the words.

The funny thing is most of the rest of the parish didn't know the words either. And, it didn't matter. What did matter is we were together enjoying a beautiful service with others who are part of our new church "family."

We all have several families -- the one we're born into, the one we make with friends, and situational families like a church or other organization. Whichever family you are spending Christmas with, I hope you all have a wonderful day filled with joy and laughter.

Monday, December 22, 2008

One is not enough

We now own two copies of the song "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas." It has nothing to do with our twin girls each wanting their own copy, and everything to do with Mommy not being able to find the first copy.

I know it is in our house. I saw it when we were unpacking the Christmas stuff. The problem is the girls saw it too. I promised them they could hear the song as soon as the Christmas stuff was all up and the boxes cleaned up.

And then it was gone. Not "gone" in the way some items are missing after I clean the playroom. I didn't toss it in the circular file or anything like that. It's gone in the "I have no idea where it went" way that happens when you unpack too many boxes at one time. I promised I would look for the CD, and I did. I searched every place it might be - twice. I still couldn't find it.

I heard that a local radio station included the song it its holiday CD. In a moment of weakness, my husband agreed to stop and buy the CD while he was running errands. Of course, in his normal world, he doesn't care how obnoxious a song is as he is away at work most of the day. Now, though, he's home until January 5. He will get to hear the song over and over and over again.

Now that loud singing you hear is our girls yelling, "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas." When they are done with the song, they fall down laughing. At least they recognize that the song is supposed to be funny, and not a shopping list for Mom and Dad.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Santa's Sleigh and the Reindeer

We just cleaned up from one of those projects that starts off as a family event and end up with Mom & Dad creating an engineering miracle. Actually, Dad created the engineering miracle. I was just in charge of the messy, messy frosting bag.

For the past few years, we've put together a gingerbread house with the girls. They loved it, so this year, when I found a gingerbread sleigh and reindeer, I immediately ordered it. It sat in the original, unopened box under our tree until today. The weather here is miserable -- blowing snow, freezing sub-zero wind chills, howling wind that shakes the house. It is a great day for an indoor project. So, we pulled out all the pieces and started to decorate. The girls opened all the candies, while Dad read the directions. Yes, it came with extensive, detailed directions.

The girls decorated the sleigh pieces and the reindeer with the white frosting and candies. Once they were done with all the pieces, we sent them upstairs to play. It was clear the best thing for everyone was for them to get out of our way. Now the real fun began. We had to "glue" the sleigh together with frosting and figure out how to make the reindeer stand up. There was powdered sugar frosting, sprinkles and candies everywhere. An hour later, we have a beautiful gingerbread decoration. It will look great for the various Christmas parties we're hosting during the next week.

Oh, and if anyone asks, it was soooo easy to put together. No mess. No fuss. It's our little secret, okay?

Friday, December 19, 2008

No Holidays Here

We don't celebrate the holidays. We celebrate Christmas. My college roommate celebrates Hanukkah. Some neighbors celebrate Eid. Others don't celebrate anything religious this time of the year.

I send my nice Jewish college roommate a Christmas card. She sends us a Hanukkah card. You know what, we're both okay with it. The message we're sending is "I think of you as part of the extended family and wish you the same happiness as I wish the rest of the family."

No where in the transaction am I thinking, "Hey, I think she's trying to do something sinister by wishing me a Happy Hanukkah." I know she's not thinking, "Hey, she's trying to convert me to Christianity." We're just not that cynical about a simple greeting.

And, I hate the phrase happy holidays. What does that mean? I try to think it means "whatever you celebrate, I hope it is good." It's so generic though that I'm not sure it means anything.

We all talk about living in a multi-cultural world, but how can we learn anything about each others holidays and religions if we're always trying to make everything one? The girls had a party at school today. The kids celebrated numerous different holidays and they all talked about what they celebrate. They are too young to really understand the religious differences between the holidays. It was fun and innocent. Somehow they all survived the party with their own, individual traditions in tact.

So, Merry Christmas to you and yours. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope December 25 is a day filled with friends and family.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Kiss My Math

Okay, I'll admit I'm taking advantage of my WIFI to work from the couch and watch TV. Let's just say I'm multi-tasking. When I turned on the TV, the Today Show was on. I'm not fussy about what is on as I just want some background noise and I'm tired of the radio. All the radio talk is about the snow storm we had last night. Shocking! It snowed in Chicago and now traffic is bad! Stop the presses! It's news -- or not for those of us who live here.

Anyway...Danica McKeller is wearing an adorable red dress, looking like a completely put together model and explaining the Distributive Property of math. No, I'm not kidding. She's talking about Kiss My Math, which is her ongoing effort to teach girls that math is cool. As she said (and I'm paraphrasing here), the best part of being a fabulous girl is being a smart girl.

Now I'm paying attention. I've read all the studies about how by 3rd grade girls start to zone out at school because they don't want to be seen as too smart. It's not cool. We know the girls are bright. It's not our assessment. It's something we hear from ever teacher they come in contact with in any setting. One of our challenges will be to keep them engaged and challenged.

I'm totally watching her explain math and wonder how we can transfer that love of math (and learning) to our girls. I'm also learning that I use math's distributive property to figure out how much I'm going to pay for multiple items. All this time I thought I was just too lazy to multiple 7 x $42. Now I learn there is a real math answer for the way my brain works.

The girls are too young to understand the book now, but I'm going to put Kiss My Math on the must buy list. It's probably a good book for me to read right now!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Let's Say Thanks

Okay, this is your good deed for the day.

www.LetsSayThanks.com

This is a program run by Xerox. You click on the link, create a card, and Xerox sends it to one of our deserving soldiers. It just takes a minute and you could make someone's day much better.

We're all here complaining about the economy, the weather, the holiday stress, etc. Yet, we're all waking up in our comfortable beds each morning. These soldiers are away from their families for the holidays to make sure we're safer.

Click now. Do your good deed for the day.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Finally in the mail

Christmas cards are much more difficult now that we have two beautiful daughters. Before the girls were born, I'd buy a few boxes of cards, write some notes, and pop the cards in the mail right after Thanksgiving. Friends and family told me we were always one of the first cards they received.

Now, everyone wants a picture of the girls. I totally get it because I love looking at pictures of everyone's children. I especially like the offbeat cards. A friend sent a photo of her family at Niagara Falls. They were wearing rain gear, so all you could see were their smiling faces. Well, the parents were smiling. Their son was making a "it's cold and wet and this is fun?" face. It was great.

The problem is getting one good picture of the two of them. I start saving photos early in the year. For this year's card, a photo from Easter was in the running. It's really hard to find a single photo where they both look good. Usually the blond twin is making a funny smile or tilting her head to the side. The brunette twin likes to make funny faces and close her eyes. I floated the idea of sending New Year's cards so we'd have more time to find a suitable photo. My husband looked at me like I was crazy. At the time it seemed like a great idea to me.

It's not like I want a stiff, formal portrait. I just want a photo where they look as cute as they are when I look at them. A big smile and the "I might be getting into trouble" look in the eyes is all I want.

We finally found a photo and had cards made. This weekend we put all the cards in the mail. Whew, done for this year! Now I can take a few weeks off before the hunt begins for next year's Christmas card photo.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's a Wrap

When the girls were very young, a friend explained to me that Santa has his own wrapping paper. She reminded me that the girls might be too young to notice, but as they grew older, it would become more important.

She said it came to her attention because her nieces commented on the wrapping paper under the tree. There was a package without a tag. One of the girls said, "That's from Santa. All his packages have look like that." The girls opened the package and it was, indeed, from Santa.

She committed that lesson to memory and passed it on to all her friends as they became new parents. She also passed along that Santa doesn't wrap presents in Gap boxes. His boxes are a bit more generic, usually without brand names on the top box.

This year we made sure we had a new roll, just in case Santa needed some extra when he arrived. I put it in a safe spot a few weeks ago. Last night, the brunette twin pulled it out and said, "Hey, Sissy, look at the Frosty wrapping paper."

I couldn't help but laugh. I forgot it was there. I really thought we moved it to a new location, but apparently not. So, today Daddy brought home some new wrapping paper -- just in case Santa needs it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Illinois -- Land of Corrupt Governors

I think we need to make a change to our license plates. Currently it says, "Illinois -- Land of Lincoln." I propose the next plates say, "Illinois -- Land of Corrupt Governors."

I don't normally write about politics, but right now CNN is running a live news conference with US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (our hero and one of People's Sexiest Men) announcing the indictment of our Governor Rod Blagojevich. You'd think this would shock those of us who live in Illinois, but it doesn't. He has been under a cloud of suspicion for years. Whenever there was an indictment of someone around him, there would be discussion of Public Official A. We all knew Public Official A was the governor, but the investigation just went on and on and on.

Law enforcement officials arrested him in his home this morning. They rolled him out of bed and into jail. Why? It turns our our governor was (allegedly) trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat President-elect Barack Obama recently vacated. Law enforcement was so worried that he was about to corrupt the U.S. Senate with a seat sold to the highest bidder that they arrested him before he could close the sale.

I know we should be outraged, but this is Illinois. The last decent governor we had was Jim Edgar. He was a man of integrity and even if you were not a Republican, you respected him. Even the governor before Edgar, Jim Thompson left office with his reputation in tack. You never heard any corruption charges against either of them.

Now Governor Blago looks like he is headed for jail, just like our previous Governor. The good news is this is not a partisan issue. Governor Blago is a Democrat, while Governor Ryan is a Republican. This is what happens when your ego gets so big that you forget your constitutional duty.

The sad thing is that the rest of our current State elected officials seem really, really solid. Our Lt. Governor (Pat Quin) is a stand-up guy who works tirelessly for the people. Our Attorney General (Lisa Madigan) has really proven herself to be an outstanding official. Our Treasurer (Alexi Giannoulias) has done a good job protecting our state's money. Our Secretary of State (Jesse White) has a long history of public service. These parts of our State government are good. Unfortunately, their good work is overshadowed by the fact that is our governors seem to be idiots.

You might not understand why we know our U.S. Attorney General by name, but if you lived here you would. We all are grateful that Patrick Fitzgerald is in Illinois. We hope he'll stick around for a long, long time to keep trying to clean up our politics and prevent this stuff from happening over and over again.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Falling through the cracks

We keep a crazy pace in our house -- as do most people who have children. I'm not truly complaining as we're both employed and that's a plus in this economy. We're blessed with two adorable girls and we're all healthy. Okay, we are all a bit congested and coughing, but that's a temporary annoyance, not truly an illness. The problem is that things are starting to fall through the cracks. I feel like everything gets done at the last minute and we're always sitting with a long to do list.

This weekend we were supposed to go to the Polar Express with friends. Weeks ago our tickets arrived and we made plans to go to dinner after the train ride. Saturday night I looked for the tickets. I'm pretty anal retentive about some things, so we always put all the tickets in the same place. Of course it was the first place I looked. No tickets.

I looked in the second place (aka the place the tickets should have been if I forgot to put them in the final spot). This is called the pile. The pile is where all the unread mail, cards, newspapers, school papers, etc. end up. Once or twice a week, we go through the pile. Saturday night I frantically searched the pile -- no tickets. I'm rummaged through every place where papers might hide. I cleaned out drawers, a junk bowl, drawers, etc. Still no tickets.

I realized that the tickets were gone. There was just one more place they might be -- in our mini-van. My husband had it, so I couldn't check immediately. I knew it was a long-shot, but I held out hope. Of course, you already know the tickets weren't there either.

Our only guess was that the ticket envelop was thrown out one night when we were going through the pile. It probably was stuck inside something else and went right into the recycling bin.

I had to call our friends to confess that I lost the tickets. They were upset, as you would imagine. I was equally upset, but for different reasons. First, I pride myself on being organized. People say, "How can you work from home and keep the girls at home too?" I always say we're organized and have lots of help. Second, and most importantly, I ruined a fun day for our girls and our friends. We try to limit the holiday activities and the Polar Express is a big deal for both families.

If I had looked for the tickets last Thursday or Friday, instead of 12 hours before the event, I could have called the event sponsor and begged to have the tickets replaced. I could have worked out some solution, but no one was in the office at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday night. I waited until the last minute and ruined the event.

Next week we're going to Breakfast with Santa. The good news is there are no tickets required for this event, so I cannot screw up the fun.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Not the Most Indulgent

Cinderella's Ball follow-up...

Turns out I'm not the most indulgent Mom. Two families brought their princesses in a horse-drawn carriage. Now, that's indulgent.

Those families make my glitter look completely restrained.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Glitter, Glitter Everywhere

If I want to test how badly the girls want to do something, I tell them they must take quiet time or else they cannot go. (We used to call it a nap, but they are waaaaayyyyyy too old for that now.) From the moment they came home from school today, the girls kept asking when they could take quiet time.

Today is not just any day. Today is Cinderella's Ball. Because I am a completely over-indulgent Mom, I bought clear glitter nail polish and white glitter for their hair. Yes, I spoil them and I admit it. After all, this is the Royal Ball. I think princesses always need a little glitter for the Royal Ball.

So we painted their nails, curled their hair and put hair spray in to keep the glitter in place. Yeah, you already know that last part didn't work out very well. There is glitter everywhere in our house. It's amazing how much of a trail a little glitter can leave throughout the house.

The girls have beautiful dresses (bought on resale, of course) and sparkly shoes (thank you Target!) to complete the outfits. They are just glowing with excitement. The questions are coming fast and furious. What will the other princesses wear? Will there be a prince? What songs will they hear? How will they know when to dance?

Daddy and Grampa are taking the girls to the Ball. They didn't start off wearing any glitter, but I doubt they will come home without a load of glitter on them. I figure it's part of the magic that accompanies a Royal Ball. Luckily, Daddy and Grampa are as indulgent as I am, so a little glitter won't ruin their night. The girls are our princesses, and tonight they truly feel like it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Kid's Response

Remember Anita Renfroe’s video of the Mom Song sung to William Tell’s Overture? Vanessa Van Petten (OnTeensToday.com) and her teen board wrote the kid's response. It's pretty funny, so here's your holiday stress relief for the day.

Enjoy!

http://www.onteenstoday.com/2008/12/02/the-mom-song-kids-response-humor-sung-to-william-tells-overture/

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sign the Card!

Once upon a time I was a very active with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois. I'm always happy to help MAW as I think they do amazing work. Here's an easy way to help the Bay Area (San Francisco) chapter raise a little money. It takes just a moment, so SIGN THE CARD!

http://www.groupcard.com/s/nRr3GcdV1ly&ec=92Uc4elTiTV

Original email note

Hi all, As most of you know, Robin and I are very involved with the Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation. If you have a moment please go to this link and sign this e-card. It costs you nothing and generates a dollar for Make-A-Wish. Please forward it to as many people as you can... The kids need all the funds we can generate this year to keep the magical wishes flowing. We’d really appreciate your help both in signing the card and spreading the word. On your mark, get set – FORWARD! Post on your FB, My Space, etc. You’ve only got until Friday!!!!!!!!!!!!! Go, Go, Go!!!!

http://www.groupcard.com/s/nRr3GcdV1ly&ec=92Uc4elTiTV

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Confident and Secure

I met with the girls' preschool teacher recently for our first parent/teacher conference. We went through all the usual stuff about how well they were doing academically and socially when she said the most interesting thing. She said, "They are two of the most confident and secure children I have ever had in any of my classes."

This still swirls around in my head. It is interesting that she describes them as confident, because we have seen that before. I always say they have a lot of poise for five-year-olds. Those two walk into a room like they own it. They are definitely stronger together than apart. The brunette twin is a bit more reserved without her sister, but she still can light up a room.

It's the word "secure" that I'm still trying to figure out. Yourdictionary.com defines secure as
  • free from fear, care, doubt, or anxiety; not worried, troubled, or apprehensive
  • free from danger; not exposed to damage, attack, etc.; safe
    in safekeeping or custody
  • not likely to fail or give way; firm; strong; stable to make a knot secure
  • reliable; dependable a secure investment

I know what she means. The girls are not apprehensive or afraid in most situations. They are strong and independent. Still, I wonder how she came up with the word "secure." I would have thought she would have said something like, "They do not have separation anxiety like many preschool children. They are quite independent."

I also wonder how we did it. I'd like to say it was part of our grand parenting master plan, but it wasn't. When you are in the midst of parenting twins, you don't spend a lot of time talking about the big picture. There are a lot of coversations about the nitty gritty of daily life.

I know in all our chats about the girls, we never said, "We want them to be secure." We talked about how we want them to know they are loved unconditionally and how we want them to know that this is always home, no matter where they roam. We never used the word secure, although we seem to have accomplished it. If only everything about raising children would be so easy.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Explaining Christmas Lyrics

The girls always ask for definitions when they don't know a word. It's a habit we encourage because it keeps them thinking about the words they hear. Almost immediately after hearing the definition, they use the word correctly in their daily language.

At church, the girls are in the Christmas pageant. One of the songs the girls are singing is "Silent Night." I'm sure you know the lyrics, but here's the line that is causing me heartburn right now: "round yon virgin, Mother and child."

The girls want to know what a virgin is. At five, I don't really want to discuss the traditional meaning of virgin. As far as I know, they have no knowledge of the act that separates a virgin from a non-virgin. I'd like to keep it that way for a while. My answer was weaselly, but it was all I could come up with on short notice. I said that a virgin is a young girl. The girls accepted that answer, but not without additional discussion.

Brunette twin: We're all young girls, so we're all virgins.
Mom: No, you and Sissy are. Mommy is too old to be a virgin.
Blond twin: Okay, we're virgins and you're not.
Mom: Correct.

I realize now that I have to pay attention to Christmas song lyrics to hear for anything else I'm going to have to explain soon. I just hope they don't use the word in school tomorrow.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Shop It to Me

The best thing about my friends is they share their great finds. Here's one I'm going to pass along to everyone who loves a deal and wants it to be easy to find.

http://www.shopittome.com/

This site will find the deal for you and email you with the alert. Totally my kind of shopping!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'd rather be sleeping

Maybe it's because I still don't get enough sleep -- just last night the girls kept waking my up for different reasons -- but I need someone to explain why stores are opening at 4:00 a.m. the Friday after Thanksgiving. One local outlet mall is opening at midnight. I know I'm supposed to be excited, but I just don't understand it.

Does anyone really need to be Christmas shopping at 2:30 a.m.? (And, yes, we're Christmas shopping. Trust me when I say that my Jewish college roommate isn't in that mess bargain shopping for Hanukkah gifts.) Is it really more exciting to be shopping for Christmas presents in the middle of the night?

Today I was listening to the radio when I heard a story about a group of people who were lined up outside an electronics store for a week. They were camping, taking turns holding the places in line. The reporter said, "What do you hope to buy?" The camper said "We haven't seen the sale paper yet, so we don't know what is on sale." I know some people think that's cool, but I wondered what kind of people line up for a week when they don't know what's on sale. Do they have jobs? Families? Lives?

There isn't anything I am camping outside a store to buy. Even if I decided to wait in line for something, I promise I'm not getting into line at 2:30 a.m. So, if you're going to be out at 3:00 a.m. Friday morning, enjoy. Me? I hope to be sleeping then.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Proximidade Award






Here's the crazy thing...
Just when you need something to cheer up your day, someone comes along and does it. This Crazy Thing Called Motherhood passed along a charming blog award. The badge is above, but it's the reason behind the award that makes me smile.
This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.
I try to think of everyone who reads as a virtual friend, so it's good that others recognize it too.
Now comes the fun part. I get to pass the award on to 8 people. I'm not going to tell you why I want to pass the award to these blogs. You'll have to enjoy them yourself to figure it out.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It's Just Not Fair

When Mom called last night and said, "S's Mom died." My first thought was "S who?" It's not that I don't know S, as she's been my sister-in-law for nearly 20 years, but it never occurred to me that her Mom would pass so soon.

Really, I have two grandmothers who are well past 90 years old. One has advanced Alzheimer's. If you haven't seen it in person, you might not really understand how terrible it is to watch someone you love sit in a chair staring blankly into space, and to know that someone has to care for her like she's a baby. The other one is starting to lose her memory and often doesn't know our girls.

I expect the phone call soon for either of them. I would welcome it for my grandmother with advanced Alzheimer's. But S's Mom? It never even crossed my mind.

My first thought was it's just not fair. A woman in her early retirement years goes to lunch with her husband, daughters and grandchildren, goes home not feeling well, take a short nap, and then dies. She has nine children, more than 40 grandchildren and about a dozen great-grandchildren. She's the kind of no-nonsense, big family matriarch you see in the movies. And we all love her.

It's really the best tribute to someone isn't it? No matter what her professional or civic accomplishments, her greatest pride was her family. We're all better off for having known her. I know life isn't fair. Really, I'm a grown up and intellectually, I do know that. Yet, today, I just cannot stop thinking, "it's not fair."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Just in awe

I am in awe of the blond twin. It's not the beautiful blue eyes or long blond hair that makes me sigh, it's her ability to destroy clothing. She can take a perfectly good shirt and destroy it in one day. It's not like she's playing with paint or food coloring. She's just going through her day.

In the past few weeks, she has destroyed shirts by
  • Carving her Halloween pumpkin. She managed to get black marker in the middle of her shirt.

  • Enjoying multi-color frosting from a cupcake. Somehow she stained her sleeves with blue and purple frosting. I'm not sure how, but it ruined the sleeves near the wrist.

  • Eating a pasta dinner. She dropped enough pasta sauce on her shirt to feed another child. Most of it came out, but not all of it.

  • Practicing with her SAFETY scissors. No, I'm not kidding. She managed to destroy a shirt with safety scissors.

We don't have this situation with the brunette twin. Somehow she manages to do the same activities without destroying all her clothing. It's rare that the brunette twin ever ruins anything

It's a good thing we're not hoping to pass the blond twin's clothes down to anyone -- that would be one under-dressed little girl.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Twins Law Making an Impact

When I tell people that we're working in Illinois to create a Twins Law, they usually say, "why?" After I explain that too many principals and school districts treat the twin bond like it's a disease that needs to be cured, most people are surprised. There is also some shock that most school districts refuse to involve parents in the decision "to separate or not separate."

You'd think we've advanced enough to realize that a one-size fits all. paternalistic school system doesn't work. However, we haven't. Too many school districts want to dictate what is best for your child and expect you to follow blindly. Until you have twins, you do not realize how many school districts want to break the twin bond. It is like it's a disease. "They are too close." "They rely on each other." "She's better at math, which keeps her brother back."

You wouldn't have these conversations about two children who are one school year apart. If you had two children of different ages who were very close and relied on each other, people would say, "Aw, that's sweet." When it's twins they are talking about, it becomes something bad.

The article from The Lansing State Journal talks about the impact Twins Law is having on education. While I agree with much of the article, I am still frustrated by the educator at the end of the article who says, "In the end it should be the Principal's decision."

Clearly, we still have work to do.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Maintenance Mode

It's Monday, so that means our house goes into maintenance mode. Since I started working full time again, all our during-the-week activities relate to just keeping things going. If we all wake-up, brush our teeth, eat breakfast, and get to work/school on time, the day is going well. Those are our priorities for our weekdays -- just getting the normal things taken care of each day. We don't try to fit in other activities like going to the grocery store or shopping for presents. Those activities fill our weekends.

You'd think that I could get more done because I work from home, but I don't. Between taking care of the girls and trying to get my eight hours done each day, my day is full. Once in a while I can fit in an extra trip to the post office or a visit from a friend, but not often. I was talking to a friend who liked the description of "maintenance mode." She said her family does the same things. Between school, work and extra-curricular activities, there is not time for anything else.

In our house, we start Monday with a clean house and full fridge. By Friday, I have a big pile of mail I haven't looked at and we're scrounging for dinner. Really, you cannot believe the strange combinations of food I can put together and call dinner. Too often dinner looks quite like it did the day before. "No, last night we have peanut butter and jelly with apples. Tonight it's grilled cheese sandwiches with apples." By Friday, it all seems to make sense.

Before I worked, I used to run all the errands during the week, so our weekends were free for fun. My mission was to make sure we didn't have any "work" to do Saturday and Sunday. Even though that's not possible any more, we still fit in some fun. It's not all work, but it's a different balance.

Maintenance mode reminds me of the days when the girls were first born. We had small goals then -- feed everyone, make sure everyone stayed safe, and get some sleep on occasion. Even though the girls are older now, maintenance mode is still in force. The funny thing is our girls aren't even in that many activities right now, so most of our friends keep saying, "Get used to it. It only gets busier!" Looks like maintenance mode might be a permanent state of being in our house.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

On Simplicity

I am completely enamored with a blog I found called "On Simplicity." It is like positive reinforcement for my desire to slow down and enjoy life. I love today's post about "What’s Playful About Simplicity? Simplicity Gives You More Time for the Things that Matter." It talks about everything from reducing clutter so you do have to spend so much time taking care of everything to reasons why fewer toys help children be more creative.

Since I signed up for the feed, it shows up in my email box like a comforting reminder that it's okay not to be on every committee, not to watch every 'hot" TV show and not to take on every problem in the world as my own. Being scheduled every moment of every day is not a life, it's insanity. It reminds me that the best things in life require less stuff and more focused time.

When the girls grow up, I hope they will remember that we hiked Starved Rock, spent time watching cousins play baseball and hockey, hung out in the backyard with friends, and invited everyone over for whatever party excuse we could invent.

Here's the basic rule she lives by "If something doesn’t make me excited to be alive, then it’s not worth doing." I think it's a rule worth remembering for myself and a rule to teach the girls.

Friday, November 14, 2008

An Invitation to the Ball

Both girls are shrieking and crying, and I couldn't be happier. We registered them for an event at the local park district called Cinderella's Ball. Today, the official invitations to the Ball arrived.

The girls read the envelope return addresses and started shaking. They could hardly open the envelopes. They started crying when I read the official invitation, which starts

By Order of the King and Queen
Princess Blond Twin and her escort
are cordially invited to attend
The Royal Ball

If you have or are around young girls at all, you know that an official invitation to the Royal Ball is a dream come true. So many of the Princess stories involve a Royal Ball. for the girls to be invited to one is the highlight of the year.

As soon as they calm down, we'll discuss the dresses, hair, shoes, etc. They don't know it yet, but they will be wearing their new Christmas dresses. They own sparkly, new shoes, so those will be their "glass slippers." I don't know what we'll do with their hair, but I'm sure it will involve something sparkly too.

I love this age, when princesses are real and the Ball is the highlight of your day. I just hope we can make that innocence and joy last as long as possible.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Unexpected When You're Expecting

I'm reading the funniest book called The Unexpected When You're Expecting. It's a laugh-out-loud parody of that other book by the same name. You know the one that everyone bought you when you announced you were having a baby (or two).

It's so sarcastic, but you know it's everything you always wanted to say during our pregnancy and beyond. Here's a sample chapter title, "The Baby Shower: It's adorable...do you still have the receipt?" Really, if you had a baby shower, you know you wanted to say that A LOT. If you deny it, you either received everything exactly as you registered for it or you are not telling the truth.

Another chapter is called, "Month Three: A little duck tape and some Crisco and you're back in your jeans." I don't know any Mom who made it back into the pre-pregnancy jeans. Some are in larger sizes; some are in smaller sizes. It's come to the point that we just don't talk about it any more.

If you're looking for something funny to buy a friend for Christmas or Hanukkah, try this book by Mary K. Moore. It will bring joy and cheer to the recipient and anyone else around while she's laughing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Maybe An Education Isn't Such a Good Thing

We're driving Saturday morning when the blond twin looks at my newspaper and said, "The Big what? I cannot see that word." I realized she was looking at a headline that said, "The Big Move." Of course, there's nothing wrong with that headline, but we realize now there's a downside to school.

We are having a harder time having "secret" conversations in front of the girls. We used to just spell words, but now that they can spell, it's harder to use that tactic to keep a secret. Of course, they cannot spell big words yet, so that's our saving grace at the moment. The problem is we often cannot think of big words to use in place of common words. And, even if we can come up with one, we probably cannot spell it.

We used to speak in code. You know how it goes. Santa is the guy in the red suit. Ice cream is the cold, white stuff. The doctor is the MD. Even that doesn't work as well now that they are a little older and more aware.

I've tried to write notes so I remember to tell my husband things after the girls go to bed. The problem there is by the time they are asleep, I forget that I've written the note. We tend to be okay "talking" via email, but then we actually have to do that whole work thing, which gets in the way of everything else.

It's not going to get any easier as they get older and smarter. We need to work out a new system. One that we'll remember and be able to sustain for a while -- or at least until their education catches up to us.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

We're Raising a Valley Girl

Like, my gosh, I'm not sure when it, like, happened, but it turns out, like, we're raising a valley girl. I don't know, like, how it, like happened, but oh my gosh, the blond twin is a valley girl.

I noticed it a few weeks ago, but it seems to be getting worse lately. I swear she uses the word "like" as every fourth or fifth word. It's both really cute and really strange. I don't even know where she picked it up. None of the nieces say "like" all the time, so I can only assume she picked it up at school.

I started listening this weekend and I don't hear the brunette twin say "like." Wherever the blond twin picked up the word, it didn't stick to the brunette twin. Not only does the blond twin use it, she does it with the correct inflection.

It's like she's channeling some the 1980s. When she starts rolling, she even includes the big smile and hair flip. It's so natural for her that I'm not even sure she realizes she's doing it. I'd try to reduce the "likes" in our house, but it's so cute when she does it. I realize it would be a bad thing for her to do when she's in the corporate world. Right now, though, it is, like, completely adorable.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Dinner Talk

Overhead while driving the mini-van to dinner...

Brunette Twin: Mom, I don't feel well. My stomache hurts.
Mom: Do you have to go to the bathroom?
Brunette Twin: No.

Blond Twin: Are you going to puke?
Brunette Twin: I don't think so.

Mom: What's the rule?
Brunette Twin: Don't puke on Mommy. Puke on Daddy.
Blond Twin: You should puke in the toilet or the sink.
Brunette Twin: Or the garbage can if you're not by the bathroom.
Mom: And, if you're not going to make it to the bathroom?
Both Girls: Puke on Daddy!

Dad: What? Why is that the rule?
Mom: I get puked on enough. It's your turn.
Dad: They puke on me too.
Mom: You're still behind.

Brunette Twin: I don't think I'm going to puke.
Mom: But if you do...
Brunette Twin: I know Mom, puke on Daddy.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election Happenings

I was lucky enough to be in downtown Chicago Tuesday. I had a meeting that kept me there until about 5:00 p.m. The City of Chicago asked businesses to close early to allow everyone to go home before the Obama supporters filled the streets. When I left my meeting, the streets were strangely quiet. There weren't many people filling the sideways. The tow trucks were clearing the streets -- and they were not messing around. One man decided to argue with the tow truck driver, who promptly towed the car with the man in it. The police were in full force making their presence known.

As I made it to the train station, the streets became more crowded. Hundreds of people walking from the train station smiled, chattered and moved quickly to the celebration. Even though they knew (then) Senator Obama wouldn't arrive until at least 10:00 p.m., they wanted to get to the celebration quickly to secure a good place to view history. It was electric to be among them all.

When I watched it on TV later, I was so jealous. I knew several people in the crowd, so I scanned the crowd looking for a friendly face. I admit tears streamed down my face when I watched President-elect Obama speak. The tears on the faces in the crowd brought home the real meaning of the moment. I was thrilled that my candidate won, but these people were crying for other reasons -- more personal reasons.

The last time politics made me cry was when U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi was named Speaker of the House. It was such a milestone moment. A woman was second in line for the U.S. Presidency. Tuesday I sat and watched a man of mixed heritage thank the American people for making him the next U.S. President. It was so amazing.

People asked me why it affected me so. There are so many personal answers to that question. In the end, it came down to our daughters' futures. Not in terms of what President-elect Obama would do to improve their futures. Mostly for me, it was about the possibilities. We always say that anything is possible in America. Each time another barrier falls, I believe it more and more.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Get out and VOTE

The US elections are today. More than any other election, this is about our children. This is the first election our twins have been old enough to influence my thinking about a specific candidate. They are five, so the last election we were too tired to think critically.

Now, I am clear that this election is about our children. There is a story in USA Today that illustrates one of my main election issues and why I think it is so important for people to vote in all elections at all levels.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2008-11-03-mother-public-school_N.htm

Our girls attend the public school district. One of the reasons we live in our area is because we have good, solid public schools. We live in middle-class America, and quite honestly, some people are surprised that our schools are so good. Why shouldn't we have good public schools? Why should a quality education be limited to only the affluent suburbs?

This is where your local vote is so important. Let's face it, US Presidents have very little influence on your child's neighborhood school. It's great that they have visions and plans, but the people who actually implement those visions are your local school board, local elected officials, and state elected officials.

There is an estimate that 85% of registered voters in the US will vote today. I hope they take a moment to vote all the way down the ballot. It's important to elect the best US President, but it's equally as important to elect the correct people for the local school board, local Mayor, etc.

We all talk about wanting to give our children a better future. Today's the day you can make that happen.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Seeking Immunity

For a house full of healthy people, all we do lately is go to the doctor. The girls are both sick and on antibiotics. The scary thing is they don't have anything they could pass to each other.

First the brunette twin started complaining that she wasn't feeling well. I received a call from school asking me to pick her up. We took her to the doctor and came home with a prescription for a typical childhood infection.

A week later, the blond twin woke up in the middle of the night complaining about her ear hurting. During the day she was fine, but she's wake up at night. My husband (with his great memory) said, "She always does this when she has an ear infection. We should take her to the doctor to check." You know what happened next, she came home with a prescription.

Now I'm wondering how it is that our two, healthy daughters can both be on antibiotics for infections? We have two sets of medicines with different instructions and dosages. We need a spreadsheet to figure it out. Who gets what when? For how long?

Really, they are healthy girls. For the most part, you'd never know they are sick. They girls are running around having a good time like normal. I swear it's some kind of really, really strange coincidence that they are both sick.

Now we have to take them back for follow-up visits. From start to finish (at least I hope it's the finish), we'll be at the doctor's office once a week for five weeks. I'm crossing my fingers that we find some real immunity before the winter illnesses start spreading through the schools. I think we've done our time in the doctor's waiting room for the year.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Happenings

About 2:30 p.m. today, all I kept thinking was "where is the pain killer?" I thought my head would explode. I took the bottle around to all the adults and they laughed at my offer.

We hosted a Halloween party with about nearly 20 children. It's was fun, chaotic and enlightening. Since we moved the girls to the new preschool, they have created a small group of friends in their class. We invited several of them, as well as other friends from other programs and the neighborhood.

It was fun to see all the children in their costumes. They are still young enough that dressing up was a thrill. Watching them admire each others costumes as if they were Oscar-worthy outfits was quite amusing.

It was chaotic when they were playing games. We played simple games like freeze dance and pass the pumpkin (aka hot potato). They seemed to have the most fun when two boys chased them with a pretend snake. There was lots of shrieking and giggling.

It was enlightening that all the children were together for nearly three hours without a major problem. There were a few "he pushed me too hard" complaints during a game, but it was not serious. They were all nice, polite children who were thrilled to be part of the party.

When we switched preschools, one of the reasons was we wanted the girls to get to know the children with whom they will attend elementary school. This party was our chance to meet some of the parents and pull some new people into the extended "family." All in all, I think the party was a success. The girls have made friends with nice children with nice families.

So far, so good.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Must be Adjustable

After many mornings trying to find pants for the girls to wear to school, I'm come to an unavoidable conclusion. Unless pants have an adjustable or elastic waist, the girls will never wear them.

They each have a drawer full of beautiful, new size 7 pants. Most of these pants were 5th birthday presents. There are pretty jeans with butterflies, flowers and sparkles. They look (and probably were) expensive. Unfortunately, the girls will never wear them. While the jeans are a bit long in the length, they are HUGE in the waist.

It's the only downside I have found so far to having twin girls in the 90 - 95% for height and the 80 - 85% for weight. They are both tall and thin. The brunette twin is a bit bigger than her sister, but not enough that the pants will fit her. The blond twin is so thin that most of the pants fall right down. It's funny, but not funny.

Now I have to buy more pants so they have something to wear. I'm starting to be a big fan of leggings with dresses, sweaters, long sleeved shirts, etc. This will work for most of the cooler weather, but I've lived in Chicago my entire life. I know that in December/January/February, I'm going to want them in a really warm pair of jeans.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

To Mrs. or Not To Mrs.

I've run into a new dilemma regarding the girls friends. Some of them call me Mrs. Schmidt. Clearly their parents taught them that this is the proper way to address an adult. Me? I never thought about whether they should address adults as Mr. and Mrs.

I don't know if we should have the girls call their friends' Moms "Mrs." or not. It's odd because when I was a girl, all my friend's Moms names began with Mrs. Yet, I cannot remember the last time I called someone Mrs. or Mr. The only people the girls call Miss or Mrs. or Mr. are teachers. I cannot think of another person they address like that.

On the one hand, it is a nice, polite thing to do. It shows respect and an understanding of how society works. On the other hand, it's a bit formal. I don't know that we live in that formal a society any more.

I don't know the answer, but I guess I need to start responding to Mrs. Schmidt. Right now whenever I hear it, I think my mother-in-law must be visiting.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Vote Early, Vote Often

If you are an American citizen, no matter where you live, this is a highly contested election. There's never been a more important time to vote. The good news is the many states offer early voting.

If your state offers the opportunity to vote before next Tuesday's election, do it. And, do it now. It's easy, painless, and free. What more could you want from something so important?

We cast our ballots this weekend, and we took the girls along with us. We want them to think of voting as something you do for every election. No exceptions. It's that important.

The best part? If you do it this election, perhaps you'll be more involved in future elections. It's one of the things that sets our way of government apart from others. Citizen participation is so important in the voting booth. Don't miss your opportunity to have a real influence on how our government operates.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Second Time's (Not) the Charm

We're two for two with our church visits. During our first visit to a potentially new church, my cell phone rang in the middle of services. No, it couldn't have been worse. It's very small church; we could make eye contact with the priest. You can be certain that everyone knew that the new woman was so rude she didn't bother to turn off her cell phone.

When we attended services at another new church today, you know I turned off my cell phone. I wasn't going to make that mistake again. We were about 3/4 of the way through mass when the blond twin yawned. I mean a loud, sigh, moan of a yawn. Everyone within three rows laughed -- quietly for the most part. I nearly crawled under the pew.

At this point we thnk we want to join the little, neighborhood church. If we're lucky, they have forgotten that my cell phone rang last time we were there. With a little luck, someone else will have done something even more memorable between our last visit and the day we become part of the church community.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Preschool Romance 2.0

Overheard at our house...

Blond Twin: Why do you always play with Aiden?

Brunette Twin: I don't know. He always wants to sit by me during Circle Time.

Blond Twin: Are you still going to marry Gaven?

Brunette Twin: I don't know. I'm still in preschool. He's in Kindergarten now. He might want to marry someone else.

Blond Twin: Are you going to marry Aiden?

Brunette Twin: No, I think I'll just play with him in class.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

eBay Balance

The eBay clothes have been arriving daily. I held my breath when I opened the first few envelopes, but I must say everything I bought has been great. Most of the clothes look like new. There are lots of clothes for sale with the phrase, "My daughter has so many clothes so hardly wore this" in the description. I always bid on those. Your excessive shopping is my eBay bargain.

A few are not quite perfect, but I knew that when I bought them. One thing I will say is all the eBay sellers (so far) have been completely honest in their descriptions. I bought a couple of fleece shirts and the description said, "normal washing wear." When I received the shirts, the fleece was not quite new and soft, but then again I didn't expect it to be. The shirts were just as advertised.

The problem I'm running into now is balancing the purchases. The girls know who received the last dress or skirt. Yesterday two envelopes came in the mail. I bought the denim jumper for the brunette twin and the shirt for the blond twin. When I tried to give the girls their clothes, the blond twin said, "Mom, I got the last shirt, so this is Sissy's." I explained why it was her shirt, but she wanted her Sissy to have it. So, it now hangs in the brunette twins' closet.

I'm trying to fill in holes and they are trying to make sure it's all even. It's sweet, but not really helpful. The blond twin is a clothing wrecking machine. She will destroy two or three shirts before the brunette twin even stains one. I keep a back-up stash of two or three shirts in the basement so we're not running to the store (and paying full price) when we realize the blond twin doesn't have one decent shirt to wear.

The other balancing act comes when I buy something unique, like a pair of pink pants. The blond twin LOVES pink, so she was thrilled. When she saw her new pants, she immediately asked, "Where are Sissy's purple pants?" Luckily, I was able to buy a pair of purple pants ($6.50 including shipping), so it all worked out.

It's the best part of eBay shopping. If you cannot find it today, it will be for sale tomorrow. It definitely helps me keep our clothing balanced.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Stuff That Makes Me CRAZY

I work from home full-time and have the girls at home with me. I didn't want them to go to daycare, so I just work it out. Many people say, "I don't know how you do it." In all honesty, it's not working or taking care of the girls that makes me crazy. It's the outside stuff that should be easy, but isn't. Here are three recent examples.

  • I called Nicor (our natural gas supplier) because our monthly payment plan bill more than doubled. The customer service representative said, "Gas is expensive. Everyone knows that." I spent a week calling Nicor and having them return my phone call. My favorite comment was when the person on the phone said, "It's not our fault you're not home when we call you." Eventually, I spoke with a very nice supervisor. She explained the entire bill and apologized for the rudeness of her fellow customer service reps. My entire conversation with her took about 15 minutes, and I was completely satisfied with her answer.
  • We decided to purchase a piece of exercise equipment. By chance, a Sears Outlet insert in our local paper showed that same item on sale. I called to ask some preliminary questions before deciding to drive to the store. (I always do some homework before dragging our five-year-old twins to a store.) When we arrived, the equipment wasn't as described on the phone. I spoke with a manager who said, "You can look at what we have or you can leave." So, we left. It never occurred to him to say something as simple as "I'm sorry you received the wrong information, let's try to fix this."
  • Today I called Walgreen's because a prescription ran out before it was supposed to. The label said one teaspoon twice a day for ten days. Today is only seven days. The pharmacist told me that we gave the wrong dose each time because we use a household teaspoon. He said we were only to dose the medicine using the syringe they provided, otherwise we were giving too much medicine each time. I explained that we didn't get a syringe and he told me I was supposed to ask for one. I called our doctor to ask what to do next. The nurse said, "I always tell patients to avoid that Walgreen's because they are rude." I laughed and agreed.

These are the things that stress out my day. I wasn't asking for special treatment in any of these situations, but in each case the customer service was terrible. Each of these things should have taken a few minutes, and each one became a production. The standard working, taking care of the girls, etc., is part of the deal. I can handle those things, even when they don't go as planned. It's the stuff that should take five minutes that ends up taking over my day or week that drives me crazy. I'm not sure what happened to basic kindness, but I want it back.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Deserving Homecoming Queen

Here's a story that will melt your heart. Despite all the terrible things said these days about teenagers, these high school students did something that makes me think the future just might be in good hands.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-down-syndrome-queen_18oct18,0,970777.story

I only hope our girls turn out as nice as these teens.

Enjoy!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tag, I'm It!

Nicki tagged me for a meme, so now I have to come up with seven random factoids about myself. The problem is most factiods about myself are random, so this sounds like an easy tag, but it's not. Which factoids will spark a conversation and which will just make you think I'm a bit crazy? This is my dilemma. Here's my best shot at it.

1. We went to Disney every year when we were kids. Our cousins lived in Florida, so we thought every kid went to Disney every year.
2. I skied once and only once. We went to Snowbird in Utah. It was great fun and I didn't break anything, so why push my luck. The entire time I was there, my ski instructor called me Stacy. I started answering to it by the end of the trip.
3. The first time I saw the University of Illinois was when I went down there for registration. I think about that a lot lately when I hear about high school students visiting college campuses.
4. I have read and debated the Federalist Papers. I can explain the nuances of the Founding Fathers' vision of the Constitution. Yeah, I'm a political junky.
5. I love pop music, and its parent Motown. If you cannot dance to it, why bother?
6. I hand quilt. At least I used to before the girls were born. Now I just admire quilts and create plans in my head.
7. Life has never been better than it is right now. What makes me happiest in the world is being with my husband and daughters. If you add a few friends to the mix, it's just bliss.

Now I get to tag a few people. There have been a lot of new people commenting on the blog lately, so I'm going to tag some of them. Here goes...

1. Missy at Babble On
2. Michelle at These are Words..."Sont les mots qui vont très bien ensemble"
3. Cindy W at PooBou
4. http://thiscrazythingcalledmotherhood.blogspot.com/
5. His Child at http://yoursweeteyes.blogspot.com/
6. Stitching Mama
7. Tasha at Tasha's Take. A special note to Tasha, who kindly suggested we could be blogging friends. Of course that would be fun! I apologize for my delayed response. I move on slow or slower most days.

I was going to tag Dana at Belly Hungry, but I couldn't decide how she would make it fit her blog. She has a pass on this one, but next time she's it.


Here are the rules:
Post the rules on your blog.
Write 7 random things about yourself.
Tag 7 people at the end of your post. (I was never one for rules.)
Pass on the tag.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Blondies vs. Darkies

We have a vocabulary problem in our house, and I'm not sure how to resolve it without getting into a lot of issues I don't want to address right now. The blond twin dubbed herself "blondie." She also dubbed her brunette sister "darkie" -- it's short for the dark-haired girl. I tried to change it to the blond and brunette girls, but it hasn't worked so far.

The other day the blond twin declared, "This is for the blondies only (aka me and my Daddy). No darkies allowed." I held my breath for a minute and tried to think of something to say. Nothing came to mind, so I said, "She's not the darkie, she's the brunette girl." The blond twin replied, "Right Mom, she has dark hair and I have blond hair."

So, you see my problem. We talked about why she shouldn't call her sister the darkie and she can only say it at home. In her innocent world, it's not a racial slur. She doesn't even know that people are mean to other people because of their skin color. In her world, it's all about hair color. She's so proud to be blond like her Daddy.

I'm bracing for the first time she calls her sister a darkie in public. Or worse, she comments on darkies at her racially-diverse school. I'm sure that will result in a meeting with the principal.

We'll keep working on it, but in the end the blond twin is right about one thing. Blondie and darkie do rhyme, whereas blondie and brunettie doesn't roll off the tongue quite the same way. I think we'll work on changing their self-descriptions to blue-eyed girl and green-eyed girl. I don't think bluies and greenies will offend anyone, intentionally or unintentionally.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Let's Sue the Limo Driver

A friend prompted me to find this link:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-teen-limo-drinking-08-oct08,0,3211527.story

Basically, a group of Highland Park (aka a wealthy, upscale suburb) teenagers were drinking in a rented limousine. The limo driver told them to stop. He called the parents, and no one responded. He then called the police. What did some parents do? They screamed and threatened lawsuits.

Yes, I know it sounds hypocritical because many parents drank before/during/after dances in high school. Aren't we supposed to learn from our mistakes and try to prevent our children from making them? Isn't that a big part of growing up and becoming a parent?

Luckily, if you read the message board after the article, most people support the limo driver. The teenagers and the parents knew the rules. (And, it's hard to argue that no drinking, no drugs, and no sex are outrageous rules, epecially for a bunch of teens.) When the teens violated the rules, there were consequences. Isn't that the way it is supposed to work?

Apparently, for some teenagers in Highland Park, their parents are more concerned about how this will look on Little Johnny's college application than for their children's safety. To me, that's just sad for both the parents and the children.