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.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Why Should I Miss the Fun?

Overheard at our house...

Mom: Aunt Sue called. All the cousins are going to be at her house for a sleepover.

Blond Twin: I'm going to pack my suitcase.

Brunette Twin: Mom, I don't want to go. I don't feel good.*

Mom: Okay, I'll call Aunt Sue.

Blond Twin: I'm not sick, so it's not fair for me to miss all the fun. I want to go.

Mom: Okay, you can go and your sister will stay home.

Blond Twin: Okay, am I staying one night or two?

And people worry that they won't be able to develop their own personalities because they are twins.

*The brunette twin was sick for two days before this conversation.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Universal To Do List

I was just reading a few blogs, and something struck me. We all have the same to do list. It doesn't matter where we live, or how many children we have (if any). There are always the same things on the list:

Grocery shopping
Pay bills
Clean something
Visit someone
Call a friend/family member
Eat better
Exercise more
Sleep more
Plan meals

Really, tell me that at least half those things are not on your to do list. It's my to do list, and it never changes. Even if I move something off the list today, it shows back up a few days later.

It's probably a basic law of the universe that no matter where you live, no matter how different you think your life is, we all have the same to do list. It's one of the reasons you can put a bunch of women in a room and they can always find something to talk about.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Disney = Death

Someone please explain to me why some character dies or is already dead at the beginning of every Disney movie? And why is it always either the Mother or Father? The girls recently watched The Lion King. Everyone knows that Simba's father is killed early in the movie.

Today we drove downtown to spend a little time with a friend who moved away a couple of years ago. It should have been a fun drive to Millennium Park -- instead we talked about death the entire time.

We talked about why Scar wanted to kill Mufasa. We talked about why the wildebeests trampled Mufasa We talked about why Scar wanted to kill Simba. We talked about why Scar wanted to kill the mouse and then Zazu. We talked about why Simba kills Scar. It was like a death march all the way downtown.

I tried to turn on some music to change the topic. I offered to let the girls play with the windows to get death off their minds. I even started playing with the windows. Yes, I was driving with one hand and moving the windows up and down with the other hand. What did the girls say? "Mom, stop playing with the windows. We want to talk about the Lion King."

Eventually I was able to park the car and escape the death talk, but I've been warned. They have questions about Ariel's Beginning, a movie they watched on a recent play date. I haven't seen it, but I understand the movie explains how the Little Mermaid's Mother dies. Sigh...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Donors Choose Makes American Express Contest Finals

Here's an email I just received from Donorschoose.org. If you are a cardholder, please help the organization win $1.5 million for our schools by voting for Donorschoose.org. Think about how many projects that money could fund! As we say in Chicago, "Vote early and vote often!"

*************************************************************
Friends and Contacts,

DonorsChoose.org just made the finals of the American Express Members Project. If you are an American Express cardholder, I hope so much that you will vote for our entry, “Help 100,000 children thrive in the classroom.”Without spending a dime, you could help us win $1.5 million from American Express. All the funds will go to classroom requests on our site, delivering books, technology, art supplies, and other learning materials to 100,000 students in need.This is a situation where your vote could make a huge difference. Please take one minute to vote today, and please ask your friends to do the same. You simply need to:

1. Log-in at the AmEx Members Project website2. Vote! You should then see a gold star on our project, "Help 100,000 Children Thrive in the Classroom"

Finally, please remember to forward this email to all your friends who care about our public schools!

Gratefully,Kirk

P.S. We have a short window of opportunity so I hope you’ll excuse my sending a non-personalized message.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Clutter Busters Don't Have Children

First, let me say I do love Real Simple magazine. I'm a charter subscriber. Having said that, though, stories like this just make me laugh

http://www.realsimple.com/realsimple/package/0,21861,1838344-1105517,00.html?xid=cnnclutt

It's yet another story about how to reduce the clutter in your life. While the ideas are worthy, the reality is the people who write these stories either don't have young children or they have forgotten what it is like to have young children.

Anyone with a child knows how much stuff comes along. You try and try, but somehow there is just clutter. Even in our "mall? what's a mall?" world, we seem to collect enormous amounts of stuff.

Some of it is passed down from very generous friends and family. Some of it enters the house via birthday or Christmas packages. Some of it comes via the mailman after an interesting catalogue arrives. No matter how it enters, though, we seem to spend a lot of time trying to keep it under control.

We regularly go through and sort out toys. Just recently I managed to convince the girls to throw out several old, filthy, beloved stuffed animals. I've been going through the closets to make sure all the girls' clothes fit. Yet, it never seems like we're making progress. There always seems to be a lot of stuff.

It's not that I'm complaining. We're not stupid. We know that the girls will have a lot of stuff -- especially when they are young. (Oh, the hundreds of little doll clothes/toys/houses we've collected.) We know that when they are older there will be less, but more expensive, stuff.

I figure it this way. Right now, when the girls are young is the only time our house can look like a toy store exploded and I can explain it by saying, "Oh, they've been playing in that room all afternoon." Today everyone smiles that understanding "been there" smile. A few years from now, they'll all just think we're slobs!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Let's Not Be Friends

If someone says, "This is my friend Sue," I automatically make some assumptions. I think they are close enough that if Sue's car broke down, she'd call the other person. I believe they talk regularly and know each other's families. I think they must spend time at each other's houses. I expect them to know each other's children/spouses by name and sight.

To me, the word friend means someone who is part of your life -- usually for a while. We know there are situational friends -- work friends, high school friends, etc. -- who occupy a space for a while. You might remain on good terms, but just drift away after one person moves to a new job or you go off to different colleges.

I've been thinking about this because I've been spending more time at the girls' school, with those parents and the teachers. It's like having an instant group of friends. They all dish about their families and the neighbors. They all tell stories I'm not sure I want to know.

While I think they are nice, I don't know that we'll be friends. We can be friendly acquaintances, but we're not friends. I think of it more as a nice, cordial professional relationship. We're all there to do our best to make sure all our children receive the best education possible. If we all work together, good things will happen.

If a friendship develops it would be great. If it doesn't, I'm not upset by this. We have lots of friends we don't spend enough time with. If we add one to the list, I hope it will be a long-term addition to the "family."


I don't need to hear the most intimate details of your world an hour after I meet you. I don't need to hear about the first time you realized you wanted to create a beautiful garden just because we're helping the class draw flowers. While standing in line to pick up our children, one Mom told me she used to take her son's pre-k teacher to lunch "all the time." She said, "we became really good friends. We know so much about each other." A minute later she admitted that they hardly have time for each other any more since her son moved on to Kindergarten.

Really, do you want someone you don't really know armed with all the details of your life? I don't. I always say I live in a "need to know" world when it comes to other people. There are a few things I really need to know. Otherwise, I can live without all your deepest secrets.

So let's be friendly acquaintances and see if a friendship develops. Not to be mean, but it takes me more than 15 minutes to declare anyone my friend.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Twins Ace ACT

When our twins were born, the hospital pediatrician spent a lot of time talking about all the problems to watch for. Twins tend to have speech delays. Twins often have "twin talk" or their own language. Twins might be developmentally delayed because they tend to be born a bit sooner than singletons. One twin might be dominant, leaving the other twin angry and frustrated. It was a bit scary for new parents to sit through a lecture on all the potential problems unique to twins.

What the pediatrician didn't talk about was how twins tend to be more social and learn to share earlier because they always have a playmate. They don't tell you how amazing it is to watch the bond develop so they both independent and connected at all times. They don't tell you how twins challenge each other developmentally, constantly raising the bar for each other.

This is a story I love because these twins aced the ACT. Yes, both of them.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/content/education/chi-talk-actoct01,0,1853797.story

In Chicago we had the pleasure of watching them on TV and listening to them, as well as reading the newspaper articles. These young men are a credit to their school, their parents and each other. It's wonderful to see such an accomplishment from any high school student. As the mother of twins, though, I'm especially happy to see that both twins are succeeding.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Donors Choose

If you read a lot of blogs, you've probably noticed that a lot of bloggers are talking about an organization called DonorsChoose.org. We've been asked to participate in a blogging challenge to help public school kids receive the materials and equipment they need to succeed in school.

DonorsChoose.org is an interesting concept. Teachers post the items they need for the classroom and anyone interested can donate any amount. Let's say the entire project costs $200. If eight people donate $25 each, then the project is paid for. It's a easy way to get improve education without making a major commitment.

I've chosen to highlight a project called On the Ball... The teacher, Ms. G, is in a high poverty classroom in Illinois. In her proposal, she states, "I’ll need 6 exercise balls to try this innovative idea in my classroom. Eight and nine year olds are quite energetic and movement is a key part of the learning. For students who struggle with attention issues, allow me to create an exciting, motivating, ‘active’ alternative...Read More."

If you have a child in a well-funded, high performing school district, you know how important it is to have the materials to engage students. Even if this project doesn't pique your interest, there are thousands of others in thousands of school districts. What is your passion? Reading? Art? Music? There is a classroom you can help with any size donation.

Times are tough and it's a scary economic time right now. The beauty of DonorsChoose.org is your $5 or $25 donation is added with others to make one classroom's wish come true. Even in tough times, that is a deal too good to pass up.