Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Four Year Old Faith

Overheard at our house...

Brunette Twin: Mommy, what is faith?

Mommy: Faith means you believe in someone and trust them. Like I have faith that Daddy loves us all.

Blond Twin: I have faith in Daddy too.

Brunette Twin: And God.

Mommy: Yes. I have faith God loves us too.

Brunette Twin: I have faith that Santa loves us too.

Blond Twin: If he didn't love us, he wouldn't bring us presents.



Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Preschool Changes

We decided to send the girls to a new preschool next year. This was a very hard decision as we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their current nature-based preschool. By a quirk of their birth date, the girls have to spend a third year in preschool. We decided that we would put them in the neighborhood school district preschool next year so they would get to know the students they will be with in kindergarten. We also felt they were ready for a five-day-a-week program.

The anticipation of telling the girls' school was weighing on me. I put it off as long as possible. Yesterday was THE DAY only because I had appointments for their end-of-the-year evaluations. For the past month, every time I drove to the farm and saw the horses in the pen, I would sigh. Was taking them to a new school the right decision? Would we be better off to leave them where they are? Everything about the school is what we wanted for their first school experience.

The reality, though, is that it is a two-year program. If the girls stayed, they would essentially be doing the same thing they did this year. Plus, all their friends are going to kindergarten, so they will have an all-new bunch of children in class next year.

I know it's a good decision to change preschools and the girls will like the new school. So, why did I feel so terrible yesterday when I told their current preschool the girls would not be back for the 2008-2009 school year? It's only preschool! Yet, it was like I was breaking up with a good friend for no good reason.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

They are your kids too!

We were out at a park district program yesterday when I heard a woman say, "If I can get my husband to baby sit our kids, I'm going to to shopping tomorrow." I immediately turned to stare at her for a minute. I didn't know her, and wouldn't say anything anyway, but there was a thought running through my head. It was the same thought I have every time I hear that phrase.

IT"S NOT BABY SITTING WHEN YOUR HUSBAND WATCHES YOUR CHILDREN. They are his kids too!

It really bothers me that so many women and men say this when they are with their children. A baby sitter is someone you pay to watch your children when you are away. When Dad watches his children, it's called fulfilling his parental responsibilities. Does Dad tell his co-workers or friends that Mom is home baby sitting the children all day? I doubt it. Let's banish that phrase for ever.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Economies of Scale

We're putting the girls into private swim lessons. It's a first for us, as we usually don't pursue private anything. Any program that starts with the word private usually means more money -- think private dance studio, private gymnastics center, etc. With twins, you don't look for ways to spend more money on activities. It's one of the reasons I love park district programs.

I think I found the best deal ever to start with the word "private." Our local high school offers swim lessons. Last fall, the girls took 6 lessons for $40 each (or $80 total). It was a bit more than $12 per lesson, which we thought was quite reasonable. I just learned that we can put them in private lessons with the same program for $10 per lesson. One instructor will work with both girls for just $10 per session!

In addition to saving a bit of money, these lessons are flexible. I can schedule them whenever it works for our schedule and the instructor's schedule. So, let's review. I can save a little money and have a flexible schedule. Sold!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bad Mommy Award

For the past two months, the blond twin has mirrored every ache and pain in our house. When Daddy hurt his back, her back hurt too. When Mommy coughed and sneezed through a cold, the blond twin coughed and sneezed. When Gramma complained about a headache, the blond twin had a headache for days. For the past week or so, the blond twin has been complaining about her throat being dry or hurting. Given her dramatic history, I simply gave her a drink and a hug.

Imagine how horrible I felt when she collapsed on the couch recently and started crying about her ear hurting. She fell asleep for a bit, so I thought she was just tired. Shortly after she woke up, she started crying again.

I called the pediatrician's office, but no one was there. Now the blond twin is inconsolable and she wants her Daddy. Even the brunette twin cannot make her feel better. It's Daddy or no one. Now I know she's really sick.

Daddy came home from work and took her to the Immediate Care Center. It turned out her ears were fine, but she had strep throat. When they came home I felt like a terrible, terrible Mom. She had been complaining about her throat, but I kept giving her a drink of water.

She's better now, but I still feel bad about it. I'm officially a candidate for the Bad Mommy Award.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Wondertime for Mother's Day

Here's a deal you have to check out. My favorite parenting magazine, Wonder Time, is offering one year, gift subscriptions for Mother's Day for only $5. It's an amazing price for an amazing magazine. You can buy yourself a subscription for only $5.

Don't wait. Check out the deal at www.wondertime.com/4friends. I already submitted my order, so four friends will be able to experience the wonder of Wonder Time just like I do.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Earthquake!

Here's another story no one would believe without a link. Last night about 4:30 a.m., my husband and I woke up because the house was shaking. A glass bottle on my dresser was making some noise. It lasted about a minute or so. We couldn't figure out what it was, but when it ended we went back to sleep. Turns out we had an earthquake in Illinois. Here's the CNN headline

Earthquake rattles Illinois
A magnitude-5.2 earthquake, centered 131 miles east of St. Louis, Missouri, shook southern Illinois at 4:36 a.m. (5:36 a.m. ET) Friday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. People as far north as southern Michigan and as far west as Des Moines, Iowa, reported feeling the quake.

When I was a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign there was a lot of talk about the fault line that runs through (or near?) the school. We all laughed it off. I'm guessing no one is laughing now!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Be Grateful and Generous

Since the day they were born, our girls have been healthy. At the hospital where they were delivered, all the other twins born about the same time went right into the NICU. We took our girls home 48 hours after delivery. They have had the occasional ear infection or strep throat, but nothing more serious. We know we are both lucky and blessed. For some families, no amount of organic baby food, healthy eating or physician intervention can prevent their children from developing problems.

A blogsphere friend who lives online at Comments from the Peanut Gallery has a son who did not speak at the age of two and had fallen into a world of his own. Lucky for him, his Mom is also an activist Mom. She decided to eat, drink and sleep autism until she understood it as well as the experts. In the end, he was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, which is something many children with autism also have. She worked with Early Intervention specialists to make sure he would have every opportunity available. Today he has no delays at all.

I tell you this because she's participating in the Walk Now for Autism fundraiser. We donate every year to a friend's team because she has two nephews with autism. We also know several friends with children or grandchildren on the autism spectrum. I tell my husband it's "Be grateful it's not us" money.

If you can donate to help her team or can just make a general donation, here's the information in her own words, "You can make a donation online using the link below or visit the link to my page or my niece's page. My niece is the one who started the team and we're looking for more people who'd like to join us in our walk. Our team is called AGSO Rocks and my Supporter ID is 211726027. You can also use the donation form located on my page to mail a check; please make checks payable to Cure Autism Now and mail to: Autism Speaks/Walk Now for Autism, 5455 Wilshire Blvd, Ste 2250 Los Angeles, CA 90036."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Unbalanced and Happy

Here's an article every Mom must commit to memory. I know I'm going to try to take this advice a little bit more. My favorite part is when she says that our expectations for a balanced life are impossible. Cheers to all of us with real, crazy, unbalanced lives!

http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/personal/04/15/o.balance/index.html

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Here Kitty, Kitty

This is a story so unbelievable that if I didn't have a link, no one would believe it. If you saw this as a promo for any television cop drama, you'd immediately decide that show jumped the shark. Yesterday, in a Chicago neighborhood filled with families (not too far from Wrigley Field), there was a cougar on the prowl. No, that's not a typo.

http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/894573,CST-NWS-cougar15.article

There had been reports of cougar sightings in a couple of suburbs recently, but no actual confirmation until yesterday. We have a lot of wildlife around, yet a cougar is something no one had ever seen in the city before. I have to say...it does make me think twice about hiking in the forest preserves by our house.

What amazes me today is how many people think the police acted in haste. The Chicago newspaper message boards are filled with people saying that the cougar should have been tranquilized and taken to a shelter. Of course, these people were not on the scene so they have no idea what it was really like to be in a very crowded Chicago neighborhood with dozens of children playing, people walking pets, cars driving, and a 150 lb. cougar capable of jumping over a 6-foot fence prowling. They didn't see the cougar, which by all accounts was a bit edgy and threatening. After all, it is a wild animal.

For those that say it should have been tranquilized, I offer an option. Next time there is a cougar on the prowl, you can put your family at risk. You can stand with the police and explain why you don't think it's a threat to anyone. Me, I'm asking the police to take it out every time. Keeping our children safe is always more important than a cougar.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Powers of Observation

Overheard at our house...

Dad sitting at the dinner table: "I should congratulate you all on your powers of observation. Anyone notice anything different?"

Brunette twin: "You cut your hair?"

Mom & blond twin just stare.

Dad: "I shaved off my beard...yesterday."

Mom: "Oh yeah. It looks really good. It's officially spring now."

Note to self: Pay more attention to husband's appearance. Shaving off a beard is something you should notice without prompting!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Scary Times for Teens

We live near Chicago, where 23 children who attend the Chicago Public School system have died this year from gun shots or other attacks. The stories on the news always show the same scene. Relatives cry and say the murdered child was a "good kid." Other students cry and say they don't feel safe. Police ask for help from the community. People talk about how they are moving to the "safe" suburbs to get their children away from these problems.

It is clear now that moving to the suburbs won't make children safer. Children in middle-class suburban schools also have many reasons to be scared. Earlier I wrote about the teen boy who had been bullied for years by classmates -- and the school system did nothing to help him.

Today on CNN there is a story about a 16-year-old girl who was beaten by other girls, while two boys acted as lookouts. They videotaped it to post on the Internet. One police officer said it was the next wave of cyber-bullying. What bothers me so much isn't that it happened. I realize there are mean people of all ages. What bothers me is that while they are being booked for charges that could result in life in prison, they cracked jokes. One said they probably wouldn't be able to go on Spring Break. Another asked if she could go to cheerleading practice.

This kind of stuff has a lot of space in my head. I don't understand how these children ended up so mean and heartless at such a young age, but I read every article looking for clues. Our girls are so young. I'd like to think they won't end up like these girls, but I would like to think their parents did not raise these girls to be like this either. How did it all go so wrong, and how can we prevent it? These are two questions we talk about often.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

No More Celebrity Moms Talking About Twins

If I see one more celebrity Mom talk about life with her twins, I am going to scream. These women have no idea what it is like to have twins. They are not up every two hours, 24-hours a day for the first few months giving bottles and changing diapers. They have two children with two nannies. How much actual work will these Moms ever do?

Am I jealous? A little. I would have liked to had more sleep the first few months the girls were born. Mostly I'm annoyed. These celebrity Moms make it sound so easy that they make it hard for the rest of us. They go on and on about how amazing it is to have twins. They go to the park in perfectly matching outfits with perfectly manicured nails. Their twins are always smiling and adorable whenever the paparazzi snaps a photo.

Where are the dark circles? Where is the pony tail because you haven't had time to wash your hair for days? Where is the spit up on the front of the shirt, even though you changed that child's shirt twice before you left the house? Where is the baby melt-down because you didn't get out the bottle fast enough.

Celebrity Moms should not be allowed to talk about their twins until they have spent weeks without a nanny, chef, housekeeper, or gardener. Until that happens, the rest of us with twins don't want to hear about how hard it is for them in their pampered world.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Marking Her Territory

Overheard at our house...

Blond Twin: I'm going to call my boyfriend Gaven.

Brunette Twin: He is not your boyfriend. I am going to marry him.

Blond Twin: I know you are going to marry him. He's a boy and he's my friend too.

Brunette Twin: He can be your friend boy, but when you say he's your boyfriend, it sounds like you are going to marry him.

Blond Twin: Sissy, you are going to be the wedding girl (aka bride). I'm going to wear a pretty dress and hold flowers.

Brunette Twin: So you don't want to marry Gaven?

Blond Twin: No, you are going to marry him. He's just my friend.

Brunette Twin: Wanna go color?

Blond Twin: Okay.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Weight Lifting

I'm going to have to start strength training. There is no doubt about it after I was playing with the girls this morning. The brunette twin is string. I mean really, really strong for a four-year-old. She's 45 pounds of pure muscle and if I'm going to play with her, I need to get some stronger arm muscles.

I see how strong she is in subtle ways. When I check on the girls before I go to bed, I see her sleeping sideways with her legs against the wall -- and the bed pushed away from the wall. One day last week she carried a full laundry basket upstairs by herself. I told her she was strong and she said, "It's all the good food you make Mom."

She's naturally athletic, which I think is because of and contributes to her strength. She can do a perfect cartwheel, hits the ball off the tee with power, and rides her bike like she's in a race. She wants to play baseball, soccer, and hockey. If I'm going to try to keep up with her, even if only from the sidelines, it's time to lift some weights.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Doctor Love

I love our pediatric practice. I mean I LOVE these doctors. We don't see them very often because (knock on wood) the girls are very healthy. Even with preschool twins, we only see them once or twice a year.

Last week we took the girls in for their preschool physicals and some vaccines. While we were there, we brought out our list of questions. One issue on our minds was thumb-sucking. The blond twin sucked her thumb when she was tired or as she drifted to sleep at night. The doctor told her she was too old to suck her thumb and it was time to stop it. Boom! It was over. She hasn't sucked her thumb since. And, she'll say things like, "I used to suck my thumb but now I'm a big girl so I don't do it any more. The doctor told to me to stop." We told her for months, but as soon as the doctor said it, a switch flipped and she stopped.

Last year, a doctor's visit convinced the brunette twin to give up her binky. She had an ear infection and was told to stop sucking her binky. She immediately did it. As soon as we put "the doctor said" in front of anything, the girls respond.

The other reason I love these doctors is they understand that we have twins. I mean that in a literal and figurative way. They treat the girls as individuals, but ask all the right "twins" questions. The other thing they do is anticipate the "twin" factor. On the rare occasion we bring one girl in for an illness, the nurses always measure and weigh the other twin too. They don't mark it on a chart, but they understand that if you do it for one, you do it for the other one. It's a little gesture, but it means a lot to the girls and to us.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Bendomino

Santa brought the girls a Bendomino game for Christmas. When we opened the adorable wooden box, I wondered how long the 28 pieces would keep the girls busy. After all, four-year-old twins are not known for their attention spans.

Well, it turns out Bendomino is addicting. The game is deceptively simple, like traditional dominoes you need to match the pictures to keep the game going. The twist is these dominoes are shaped in a half-circle. You not only need to match the pictures, you need to make sure your bendomino is going in the correct direction. We have ended many a game in a draw because no one could match a picture, or could match a picture, but not in the correct direction.

Yesterday I went into the living room to find the girls playing the game all by themselves. They sorted the bendominos and set up their own game. You have to love a game four-year-olds seek out.

I have heard that you can purchase Bendominos through Magic Cabin. We're considering buying another set to see how adding more bendominos changes the game.