Saturday, June 28, 2008

Things I Wish I Never Had to Say Again

I feel like I say the same things over and over again every day. Some days I snap at the girls because I'm repeating the same things I said the day before. I realize they are only four, but I'm already tired of some phrases I'm going to be saying for quite a while yet. The sad part is, as soon as I say one of these things, the girls start to giggle. They think it's funny that I repeat myself.

Here are some I wish I never had to say again:

  • Those shoes are on the wrong feet
  • Yes, you have to eat your (insert a food here)
  • Stop carrying your sister
  • Don't tap your sister with the princess wand
  • Your sister is talking. Don't talk louder. Wait until she is done
  • You need to wait your turn
  • Are you listening to me?
  • You're four. You don't get to be in charge
  • Don't roll your eyes at me
  • What is in your mouth?
  • Asking me the same question over and over again doesn't get you a different answer
  • Why did I have to say your name so many times before you answered?
  • It's too cold/hot/rainy/etc. to wear that shirt/pants/sweater/coat

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Jumping In

A few years ago, we had to negotiate to get the brunette twin NEAR a pool -- forget going in it. This girl wouldn't even sit on the deck. For their first birthday party, the blond twin happily played in the water with anyone who would hold her. The brunette twin wouldn't leave my brother's living room. I spent the nearly entire party with her in the house.

We're lucky that both my brothers have pools. In the past, if we decided to go swimming, the blond twin would run to get her bathing suit. The brunette twin wouldn't even put it in the bag. In fact, she'd check the bag to make sure we didn't bring it.

The entire drive, we'd discuss what was going to happen. "Sissy is going to swim with Mommy. You are going to sit with Daddy. No, Daddy will not go in the pool. No, you are not going in the pool." This went on for the better part of two summers.

Last year the brunette twin was willing to stand in the pool, but only because she could touch the bottom. (One of my brothers' has an in-ground pool with a shallow end.) As long as she could touch the bottom, she was willing to play.

Two days ago she decided to stand on the edge of the pool and jump in. We were thrilled! She's gone from not being willing to bring her bathing suit to the pool to jumping in all by herself.

Now, of course, she wants to go off the diving board. I told her she needs to learn to swim before she starts diving. She's taking this as a personal challenge, so I have no doubts she'll be diving soon.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wardrobde Upgrade Needed

On a typical warm day, I wear a t-shirt and shorts. I don't look cute and summery like the ads. I look more functional -- clean but not stylish -- and ready to clean the floor at a moment's notice. Remember, we have four-year-old twins. The floor doesn't look quite as bad as when they were learning to eat, but some days it's not much better.

A client recently sent me their newest product. It's called a Lollygag Bag. It's completely adorable and functional for they way we live. The problem is it is so cute I don't have anything to wear with it.

No, I'm serious about this. The bag is the kind of thing cute, stylish women take to the Farmer's Market or the beach. It's huge so I could put a full day's worth of the girls' stuff in it. It's yellow, which I have been told is the hot summer color here in the US. Now I'm outfitted with an adorable, stylish, functional bag that is too cute for what's in my closet.

I'm embarrassed now by my daily wardrobe. I feel like the bag deserves better accessories than my denim shorts and t-shirt. It has inspired me to make attempts to look more presentable in public. I'm still not sure I pull it off, but for the bag's sake, I'm trying.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Rhinoceros Tap

Sometimes the girls have to grow a bit before they truly appreciate some new music or a new book. This is what happened with three CD/book sets I bought as part of the Kohl's Cares for Kids program.

We LOVE the Sandra Boynton books. When I saw that Kohl's had three of her books with CDs for their charity program, I snapped them up. The girls' reaction was indifference. I was crushed because I LOVED them.

The words are witty; the music fun. The performers would be great on an adult CD, let alone a children's CD -- Kevin Kline, Laura Linney, Patti LuPone, The Bacon Brothers, Meryl Streep, Michael Ford, Spin Doctors, Blues Traveler, Steve Lawrence and Edyie Gorme, Hootie & The Blowfish, John Ondrasik. Who else but Sandra Boynton could pull together a cast like that to sing songs about throwing a tantrum, eating peas, needing a nap, cheese, tickle time, dinosaur blues, and cows?

So, I waited. A few months ago I brought the CDs back out and put them in the mini-van. Now the girls LOVE the songs. They sing all the words, laugh a lot, and point out when the "children" in the songs are being bad.

The three we have are called "Dog Train," "Rhinoceros Tap," and "Philadelphia Chickens." As the girls would say, "When we were three we didn't like these. Now that we're four, we do."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Help Flood Victims

We lost power during a storm a few years ago and our basement flooded. We cleaned it, threw out a bunch of stuff, and suffered without power for a few days. A week after the storm, our lives were back to normal.

Right now the devastating floods across the Midwest mean that those lives will never be the same. The floods affect mostly small farming towns, so we'll all be affected at some point when we go to the grocery store.

There's an effort by several Chicago companies and the McCormick Foundation to raise money to help these families. There's a matching grant involved, so your $1 becomes $2. Please think about what you can do to help these families.

http://wgntv.trb.com/news/wgn-midwest-flooding-gallery,0,3448395.storygallery

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Slow Down and Enjoy

Now that we're in the midst of the girls' summer activities, I'm feeling a bit overscheduled. Our rule is they can only do one thing a day. At their age, most activities are one hour, so it's not like they are booked all day. Most of the stuff is just fun. The library is having story time in the park. A local nature preserve is having a "sunshine and shadows" program. There are also swim lessons and cheerleading camp.

We're also trying to make the baseball rounds. The nieces and nephews playing baseball are nearly done with their seasons -- and we haven't seen them all play once yet. Who starts a baseball season in April and ends it in June? It's not even warm here until mid-May!

It's all summer fun, but I'm still feeling rushed to get in all the warm weather activities we can. We live in Chicago, so the memory of cold, dark days is fresh. I want to spend as much time playing in the back yard as possible. It's like I want to capture every minute of summer we can.

Still, there is something very appealing about this CNN story about slowing down.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/worklife/06/06/balance.slow.movement/

Take Back Your Time promotes slowing down spending more time with family and friends, and less time working. TimeBanks allows you to trade activities with other members to create more downtime in your life and theirs.

I supposed everyone needs to define how much they want to slow down. I feel like the girls have plenty of time to just play most days. There is something about summer, though, that seems to increase the number of activities we do individually and as a family.

I spend most days nagging my husband to go out and golf. It's Chicago for goodness sake. The golf season is really short. Every weekend he doesn't golf is one less that he can do something he enjoys. I just want to go out and walk or bike. I know I should be spending more time in the gym, but I just want to be outside.

Of course, once the weather does get colder and we bunker down trying to stay warm, we'll all want to be more active! No matter how many fun activities we think about doing, the middle of January just always seems like the perfect time to hibernate.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Disgusting New Habit

I don't remember when it started, but I have developed a disgusting new habit. I talk with food in my mouth. It's not as if I have something interesting to say. The things that come out of my mouth always sound the same:

"Get your hair out of the food."
"Don't wave your spoon around with food on it."
"Get the fork away from your eye."
"Move your glass away from the edge of the table."
"Don't lean back on the chair."
"Keep your sleeve out of your food."

I keep trying to chew and swallow as fast as possible so I don't talk with food in my mouth, but it doesn't seem to work. At least once a meal something happens that requires immediate attention. So far the girls haven't noticed, but once they do it will be all over for me. One day I'll say, "Don't talk with food in your mouth." They'll say, "But you do it."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day Plans

We had fun outdoor plans for Father's Day...and then it rained...again. We live in the Midwest, which means we've had more than our share of summer rain ALREADY. We're lucky in that we're not flooded and the tornados missed our neighborhood. Really, though, it's enough with the rain.

So, this is my public apology to my husband for not having a better back-up plan. It's not like I didn't know it might rain. I should have created an inside plan, but I didn't. Next year, I promise I'll get it right.

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Shopping Nuts

We were in the mall today looking at new shirts for my husband. The shirts weren't Father's Day gifts. They were "just because he needs them" shirts. The girls came with and each had a small bag of trail mix to snack on. If you have small children, you know how it goes. They are always hungry, and a snack in a store goes a long way towards a happy shopping trip.

We moved from one section of the store to another to look at different shirts. A few second later, a woman walked up to me and said, "I believe your children dropped these." I held out my hand and she put three almonds in my hand. I stared at the almonds for a minute as she walked away. At first I didn't understand what was going on. Why would she give me almonds? After a few seconds, I realized the almonds must have come from the girls' snack mix. A second later, I looked at my husband and said, "Why didn't she just say that our daughters are slobs?" I was angry now. Another woman next to us saw the whole episode. She just shook her head and laughed.

I couldn't believe it. This woman was so offended that the girls accidentally dropped three almonds that she took the time to follow us to make her point? Really?

I'd like to say it ended there, but it didn't. I still had the almonds in my hand when we made it to the customer service counter (aka the check out). The woman happened to be standing in front of us. I made a point of asking the cashier if I could drop the almonds in the garbage can because our children accidentally dropped them the floor and someone kindly returned the almonds so we could dispose of them.

The woman glared at me and said, "These things get ground into the carpeting and make a mess. Children shouldn't be...oh never mind."

Maybe it was the look I gave her that stopped her. Maybe it was the fact that I wasn't properly apologetic for our uncivilized behavior. Either way, I kept thinking she was lucky the girls were standing so close to me. Their presence kept me from telling her what I really thought about her.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Where's my bailout?

This article nearly made me scream. Ed McMahon was on TV talking about how he is about to lose his house. People called in to ask where they could donate to help him? ARE YOU KIDDING??

http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/06/11/beck.foreclosures/index.html

Like most people in foreclosure, Ed just overspent. Unlike most people, he admits he overspent. Yes, I realize that a few people were taken by bad loans. Yes, I also realize some people once were able to afford their homes but then lost their jobs, had unanticipated medical expenses, etc. If we're honest, though, we will admit that the majority of people in foreclosure just overspent. They decided they deserved a bigger house, fancier car, more expensive vacation, etc.

Now everyone wants to jump in and help these people. Really? Why? Do you think they've learned their lesson and won't overspend next time? Doubt it. Sorry, but I'm not interested in bailing out most of these people in foreclosure. All we're teaching them is it's okay to get into huge financial trouble because someone else will pay for it.

In the meantime, I keep asking "Where's my bailout?" We bought a nice house in a nice neighborhood at the low end of our price range. We work hard, save money, and don't live an extravagant lifestyle. It's a wonderful life, but we're not over the top. So, where's our reward? In the midst of this "mortgage crisis" no one talks about what these people should have done. No one talks about how most of this "crisis" is created by people who couldn't live within their means.

Most of all, no one talks about how the rest of us, who will end up paying for any bailout feel about our hard-earned money being spent to rescue people who never learned basic money management.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Couple Minutes

When the girls were little, and eating all night, my husband and I would bargain to get out of feeding the blond twin. She was a two hour event. The brunette twin took a bottle and went right back to sleep. Not the blond twin. She took a bottle, spent a while burping, and then needed to play/cuddle for a while before going back to sleep. Feeding her was a two hour event, even if it started at 3:00 a.m.

Now she doesn't need to eat in the middle of the night, but she still wakes up occasionally. There are many reasons she wakes up (Thank you Disney for ALWAYS having a scary witch/monster/mean person in EVERY movie.), but the end result is always the same. She'll come in our room, wake us up, and then ask, "Will you stay a couple of minutes?"

In her world it's a couple of minutes. In our world it's between 15 minutes and an hour. She always crawls back into her bed and then lies with her eyes wide open. We can talk her back to sleep most times. You know the drill. "Daddy won't let mean Scar get you." "Yes, you can eat apples because Snow White's evil stepmother doesn't live here." "Thunder and lightening are good for the tomatoes."

Other times I crawl into bed with her until she falls asleep. These night are rare, but they still happen whenever she wakes up with her night terrors. She will calm down and fall asleep, while I'm trying to figure out how to get back into our bed.

The doctor said she should outgrow these episodes and night terrors in a year or so. I keep thinking that this is one of those things I'll repeat when she has children in that "oh, you used to do that when you were two" kind of way. As long as the tea and coffee supply holds, we'll all make it. We'll be tired, but we'll make it.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Does this make me look thin?

The blond twin put on the kind of outfit only a preschooler could wear -- flowered tank top and leggings with hearts. She walked into our bedroom, twirled and said, "Mom, does this make me look thin?" For a moment I thought I was going to pass out. When I recovered, I calmly said, "Girlie, you are perfectly healthy and cute." She smiled and walked away. In my head I'm screaming, "WHERE DID YOU HEAR THAT? WHY DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE TO BE THIN? YOU ARE FOUR YEARS OLD."

I was very upset after she left the room. She was a happy, smiling child, but I was stunned. In our house we have always talked about being healthy as eating healthy, getting enough exercise, getting enough sleep, etc. We never talk about weight, except in the "what a big girl you are getting to be way."

The girls are in the 95 percentile for height and the 85 percentile for weight. If anything, they can gain some weight. Even today, it upsets me. We try to keep them away from destructive influences. We don't let them watch much TV. We never discuss being fat/thin, only being healthy.

Yet, despite our best efforts, she wants to be thin. She's four. How much worse is this going to get once she's exposed to more pop culture?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Do I sound like that?

The girls are playing Mommy right now. I'm supposed to be working, so they don't realize I'm actually listening to them play. It's so funny to hear them talk to their babies and tell the "babysitter" what needs to be done. All I keep thinking is "Do I REALLY sound like that?"

Here are a few highlights:

"The babies have already had cookies and chocolate milk today, so please feed them string cheese, grapes, and crackers for snack. Don't let them scam you and ask for cookies."

"They need to go to bed at 6:35 p.m. They have to wash their face, brush their teeth and brush their hair. They can wear whatever they want, like their Christmas dresses to bed."

"You babies have to go to quiet time because you are whiney and driving me crazy."

"I love you baby, even when I'm mad at you."

"You can have a tomatoes, horseradish, and soup for lunch."

"No watching TV. You can go outside to play, but you cannot watch TV because you watched TV yesterday."

"You don't have to tell me when you have to go potty. You can just go into the bathroom and take care of it."

"It's warm outside so you have to drink more water."

Thursday, June 5, 2008

College Bound

We live close to a community college which runs great, inexpensive youth programs. I've been waiting for the girls to be old enough to enroll them in classes there. Finally, this summer they can take classes.

There are so many really fun things they can do, but we decided to start with one class. If we like it we can consider other classes in the future. The best part? The girls needed a book, so off we went to the college bookstore. When we walked into the building, I had flashbacks of my college days, when I'd wander around looking for my books. There were signs all over reminding students to sell their books back at the end of the semester. All I could think was "HA!" Whenever I tried to sell a book back the bookstore wouldn't take it because there was a new edition coming out next semester.

The funniest thing was I needed help finding the book -- just like the old days. I couldn't figure out which book was for their class. The girls proudly carried their books to the cashier. At $2,99 each, they had the least expensive books I ever bought in a college bookstore.

The girls take their class very seriously. What goes in their backpacks? What if they need to sharpen their pencils? Who take them to the bathroom? There are lots of questions about this class.

We weren't in the bookstore long, but I kept having flashbacks to my college days. And, I kept flashing forward with the realization that all too soon we'll be looking at colleges for them.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Summer Hum

We had our first 80+ degree day yesterday. I opened my windows waiting to hear the birds chirping and neighbor children playing. Instead, I heard air conditioners humming. Why?

We spend the entire winter cooped up with the heat running. We talk about how we want warmer weather and nice breezes. Yet, as soon as the weather gets warm -- even if only for one day -- we have to turn on the air conditioner? Really?

Yes, I know that some people run their air conditioners to keep their allergies or other breathing problems under control. I doubt that is the case for all these people.

It wasn't stifling hot. There was a great breeze. The heat didn't peak until mid-afternoon, and quickly cooled. It was a glorious early summer day. Why is there such a quick reaction to weather that as soon as it is a little warm we have to turn on the air conditioner? How about putting on shorts and a t-shirt and enjoying the warm weather?

The girls spent the day outside playing, just like they should on a beautiful summer day. They walked with a cousin around a lovely lake in a local nature preserve. They played in the backyard with the neighbor children. It never occurred to me to turn on the air conditioner. When they were hot, we ate freeze pops and drank lemonade.

Today it is supposed to be about 70 degrees. I suppose the same people who had their air conditioners on yesterday will turn on the heat today to make sure their homes are always the perfect temperature.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Eternal Optimist

My husband is an eternal optimist. You might not know this just by talking with him. He's pretty quiet most of the time. Yet, every Sunday morning about 9:00 a.m., I am reminded of his optimistic nature. You see he sets the alarm clock for 9:00 a.m.

We have four-year-old twins. We haven't slept until 9:00 a.m. since they came into the house. Seriously, these two wake up about 6:30 a.m. EVERY day. On ocassion they will sleep until 6:45 a.m. or 7:00 a.m. You know what we do then? We wait in anticipation of them crawling into bed with us. Now, there are plenty of things we could be doing with that time, but we don't. We just wait.

The girls are like our own private alarm clocks. They always wake up about the same time. Don't tell me to keep them up later or do more to wear them out. It doesn't matter how late they stay up. They always wake up at the same time. And, if they stay up too late the night before, they are crabby and tired the next day.

Friends and family make comments about what we need to do to get them to sleep later. I've given up on the idea. -- not my wonderful, optimistic husband. He still sets the alarm clock for 9:00 a.m.