Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mom, Why Does Someone Want to Kill the President?

I wasn't listening to the radio this morning, but the brunette twin certainly was.  As I was loading the dishwasher and the blond twin was talking about her glasses, I barely remembered that the radio was on.   Apparently the disc jockeys were talking about the Facebook poll asking if the president should be assassinated.  The brunette twin caught every word of it. 

My first thought was that I needed to listen to more CDs in the morning and not the radio.  My second thought was, "What is wrong with people?"  Once a day someone does something that makes me ask what is wrong with people?  This story about the Facebook poll really has me wondering how deep the craziness goes. 

I realize people disagree with the President, but when did it become acceptable to publically wish the President dead?  Did I miss a memo?  I heard a while ago about the pastor encouraging his flock to pray for the President's death.  I chalked that up to an isolated bunch of ultra-religious crazies looking for publicity.  Now there is a Facebook page asking if the president should be assassinated?  What is going on?

When did we start expressing our political views by encouraging people to kill someone?  I've read the U.S. Constitution and the Federalist Papers, and I don't remember this being part of the Founding Fathers' thinking.   

Elementary schools these days focus on being respectful and kind. They call it character education.  What kind of character are you building for your children when you openly wish the President would be assassinated?  How do you teach children it's okay to be respectful to some people and not others? Do these people say, "Hey, we're respectful to the mailman, but not the President of the United States or people who support him.  We want those people to die."

Yes, I know both sides of the political debate are rude and obnoxious.  I realize this is part of the larger breakdown of basic manners in society.  Yet, it disturbs me that it has become so acceptable that people openly wish another person would die just because they disagree with him.    

I am sure the brunette twin will want to talk about this more when she gets home from school.  It's a story that will have "legs" for a while.  The sad part is we can teach her to be respectful and tolerant, but it's getting to be harder and harder to find examples of this in society at large.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Yellow is My Favorite Color

I could have predicted the blond twin would change her favorite color, but I didn't.  As I was buying clothes one or two sizes from now in last week's favorite color -- pink -- I didn't take into account that she would have a new favorite color one of these days.  If I had been thinking about the child, instead of the really cute clothes, I would have only bought one size in advance. 

Of course she changed her favorite color.  It's just part of her personality.  She always has a favorite, but it's always changing.  She falls in love with each new doll or critter.  She plays with them, changes their clothes, sleeps with them and won't let them out of her sight -- until the next new one comes along.  It's not like she discards the old toys.  She just moves the new ones to the front of the line. 

She decreed purple as her favorite color at about two years old.  By three pink was her favorite color.  And, let's face it, pink had a good run.  For her to stick with one thing for that long is unusual.  I think this is why it lulled me into a false sense of security. 

Now she wants everything to be yellow.  Today she wants to change her bed sheets from the orange and pink flowered sheets to the yellow gingham sheets.  She wants to buy some yellow clothes next time we go shopping.

So, we're moving yellow to the front of the line.  The blond twin will get some yellow clothes here and there.  She'll add yellow headbands to the collection and bask in her favorite color for now.  The good thing is pink is cute with yellow, so she'll have lots of brightly colored outfits for a while.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Feel Free to Share with All Cubs Fans

Overheard while waiting to get into a high school football game, as told by our nephew's Catholic school principal...

What did Jesus say to the Cubs?

Don't do anything until I get back.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Snap Goes the Mommy

One thing they don't tell you about parenting is it is not the big things that cause the most problems, it's the little, continuous problems that drive you crazy.  The girls have a few habits right now that are going to drive me right over the edge.  One day my husband will come home and find me sitting on the floor rocking in the fetal position. 

The brunette twin says "no" or "I don't like it" to everything now.  Go ahead, ask any question.  She'll answer with one of those things.  I just about imploded the other day when I picked a sweater for her to wear and she said, "I don't like it."  It wasn't that she said it that time that pushed me to crack.  It was that it she says it all day, every day. 

The blond twin leaves a debris field around her whenever she eats.  The other day she was eating a chocolate chip muffin at the breakfast bar.  By the time she was done, she managed to get crumbs evenly distributed across the entire kitchen floor.  I had to clear a path to get them out of there so I could clean the kitchen.  I was on a conference call when they ate, so I'm not quite sure how she did it.  My guess is that she took advantage of the bar stools and turned back and forth as she ate.  It's just a guess though.

What drives me crazy is we have the same conversations with them about these things every, single day.  My husband will say, "They are only six."  I know he's right, but it still drives me crazy.  It's the cumulative effect of trying to correct these bad habits that makes me crazy some days.

Of course, I realize that one day I'll wish my ongoing problem was cleaning up the debris field after every meal.  It's just that right now those days seem very far away.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Illinois Secretary of State Emergency Contact Registration

Thank you to Amy at Comments from the Peanut Gallery for this information.

If you live in Illinois, here's a new service to check out.  The Illinois Secretary of State's office has an emergency contact database.  You can list two people to contact in case of an emergency.  If you are in a car accident or other emergency and cannot communicate, emergency personnel can search the database to see if you are registered.

I just did it.  The whole process took about 5 minutes.

At the end of the registration process, you are offered the opportunity to become an organ donor.  If you haven't already registered, please consider doing that as well.  A friend's cousin just died while waiting for a liver transplant.  Let's face it, if you aren't using your organs, you might as well save someone else's life.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Check Out Their Hair

I realized today that you can tell a lot about the girls' personalities from their hair.  Both girls have long hair that nearly hangs all the way down their backs.  The difference is in the way they style it.

The blond twin likes her hair free and flowing.  She ocassionally wears a headband or pony tail, but usually her hair is just tucked behind her ears.  She's our thrill-seeker (or wild child).  She is up for any adventure, especially if it involved high speeds or steep drops.  A few weeks ago we were at a summer festival.  There was a 30 foot tall inflatable rock climbing wall.  She climbed to the top and asked the man below, "How do I get down?"  He said, "Just hold on to the rope and jump."  So she did.  When she arrived at the bottom, she said, "I want to do this again."

The brunette twin puts her hair back in a purple headband every day.  She started doing this when she was about three-years-old.  Someone gave her a purple headband and she wore it until that headband was disgusting.  I mean it was filthy.  We finally convinced her to give up the old purple headband for a new purple headband.  When that broke I actually sent the babysitter with the girls to the mall to find a new one.  Mornings around here are rough when she cannot find a purple headband.  This summer she added a pony tail to her hair options.  She taught herself to do it so she could control whether she wears it or not.  And, control is a big part of her personality.  She's cautious until she has her bearings.  Until she understands something -- whether how to swim or why the school bus doesn't go right to school -- she's a bit reserved.

The funny thing is the girls handle their own hair.  They brush it and we check it.  They decide whether to wear a headband or pony tail or nothing. 

Now, of course, I wonder if this translates to other girls and adult women.  I will have to start my own social sciences experiment to see if my theory applies.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Here Come the Hawks

We had so much fun at the Chicago Blackhawks Training Camp Festival yesterday.  When I saw it on the news last year I decided I wanted to go, but you know how that goes.  You see something one year and forget about it by the time the activity comes around again.  Well, I really wanted to go, so I signed up on the Blackhawks fan email list so I would get the announcement.  And, I did.

As soon as the email came, I called my Dad to get it on his calendar.  You'd be hard-pressed to find a more loyal Blackahwks fan.  He loves the team.  When we were growing up, Mom and Dad used to take a bus downtown to see the games.  I still remember how excited they were when they came home.

This year I took Dad and our girls.  My husband had to work, so he couldn't go.  I didn't know what to expect, except we'd be able to watch an open practice and there would be some entertainment.  Tickets were only $5 and parking was free, so I was pretty happy with those two things.

When we arrived, it was so much more than we expected.  There were four street hockey rinks set up in the parking lot with games going on each one.  There were lots of activities for the kids and food samples.  The girls even met a player and received his autograph.

The highlight was still the open practice.  We sat a few rows off the ice in probably the best seats we'll ever have in the United Center.  Dad and I introduced the girls to hockey by answering all their questions. 

At one point I wondered what the people around us thought as I discussed the players' ice skating.  Because the girls were in ice skating lessons last year, I tried to encourage them to continue.  I said things like, "Wow, watch him skate backwards" and "Look at them do their crossovers."  Yeah, it was pretty lame.  What I really wanted to do was remind them that becoming a good skater was all about practicing.  I doubt they will ever skate like a professional hockey player, but I know they will skate well enough to enjoy being on the ice.

As for next year, we'll get down earlier and plan to stay a bit later.  We'll try to meet some friends down there as it's a great family event.  It was that much fun.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Brat in the Back Yard

It's a beautiful Fall day and what are we doing?  Well, we're doing stuff in the house with the windows wide open.  I'd rather be outside, but there's stuff to do.  And the girls?  Well, they are also playing inside, but for a different reason. 

We have a neighbor girl who comes over often.  She lives behind us, so she's like an instant playmate.  As soon as the girls are outside, she shows up.

This is both good and bad.  It's good because I like the idea of the girls playing outside with friends.  It's bad because she's a five-year-old "frenemy."  You probably know the term.  It's a person who is like a friend, but not really a friend -- friend + enemy.

In my mind, I just think of her as the neighborhood brat.  She yells and screams a lot.  She threatens the girls saying things like, "If you don't do XX, then you're not my friend."  She pouts until she gets her way.  She's just a brat.

I dread going into my beautiful, garden-filled backyard because I know she'll show up.  Her mother always says, "Oh, she gets so excited when she hears the girls' voices."  (In fairness, her mom does invite the girls to come to her house to play.  This seems to lessen the bratty behavior, but I'm not there.  I only hear reports from the girls.) 

It's not just me who dreads having her around.  The other kids in the neighborhood actively avoid her too.  They are older, so it's easier for them to send her away.  What am I going to say?  I cannot tell her we're playing a game she's too young to play.  She's the same age as our girls. 

Nearly every time she is over, we talk about what she did wrong and how the girls should handle it next time. I finally taught the brunette twin to say, "If I'm not your friend, you should go home.  Only my friends play in my yard" after hearing the "you're not my friend if you don't..." threat enough. 

I realize she's not really my problem, she's her parents problem.  Yet, when she comes over, she becomes my problem -- if only for a little while.  I speak to her mom about some of the issues while we're waiting for the bus stop, but her mom is due to give birth any time now.  It's been a long, difficult pregnancy, so I don't want to add to her stress.  She glows when she talks about how much her daughter adores our girls.

So, I need to figure out a way to deal with the neighborhood brat until she either outgrows it or makes more friends.  I refuse to avoid my backyard any longer because of a five-year-old brat.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The First Sleepover Invitation

You know how you know something will happen sooner or later, but you're still not ready with it finally does happen?  I feel that way about a birthday invitation the girls received a couple of days ago.  It was an invitation to a sleepover party.

My first thought was "Who is this party for?"  The birthday girl is in their class, but I have no idea which child she is.  My second thought was "We don't know you.  Why would you invite our girls to spend the night?"

The girls, of course, were thrilled to be invited to a sleepover party.  They spent the walk home from the bus talking about what they would wear, bring, etc.  They wondered if they would be able to paint their fingernails for the party.  They debated which critter to bring.  This presented all kinds of problems.  I hated to crush their excitement, but in this case there is no way we are going to let them spend the night at the home of a family we've never met.

So, being the responsible Mom I am, I immediately called my husband and said, "Can you believe it?  They are only six."  After we talked about it for about 30 seconds, I decided to call the birthday girls' mom.

I explained that the girls would love to come to the party, but we didn't think they'd be sleeping over.  She replied with "I don't know how many girls will spend the night.  T really wanted a sleepover party, so I put that on the invitation.  I don't know all the parents, and you've never met us, so I completely understand not wanting them to spend the night."

Whew, crisis averted.  Her comments made me feel better.  It's good to know other parents have the same concerns that we do.  The girls will go to the party and we'll pick up the two of them before bed time.  All is well.

Now I just wonder what the next "I'm not ready" moment will be.  I'm bracing myself because I'm sure I won't see it coming and I know we won't always have such an easy resolution. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Best Birthday Present Ever!

The first thing the blond twin said this morning when she woke up was, "Mom, you gave me the best birthday present ever."  I smiled because she was so happy and because there's a good back story for the present. 

A little more than a year ago, a girlfriend called with a couple of amazing garage sale finds.  She found two different Barbie play sets at amazing prices.  Both are huge, with multiple parts creating many, different configurations.  I couldn't believe a child ever played with either set because they were prefect.

She gave the girls the first set and they just went crazy with it.  They played with it constantly.

I kept the second set in the basement.  It was too big to give the girls "just because."  I kept waiting for a special ocassion like graduating from preschool or learning to ride bikes without training wheels.  Of course, when those things happened, they didn't seem to merit a present.  Who wants to set that precedent?

So, the second play set sat in the basement.  Every time I went downstairs I thought about just opening it and putting it out, but never did it. 

The past fews weeks have been crazy.  Obviously we knew the girls' birthday was coming up, but we never figured out a good birthday present.  We talked about all kinds of options, and then put those ideas on the family birthday/Christmas list.

Then, last week I emailed my husband and said, "Hey, what do you think about giving the girls the Barbie play set for their birthday?  I think they'd love it."  He liked the idea for lots of reasons.  First, they would like it.  Second, it was already in the house and we didn't have to shop for anything.

I felt a little strange giving them a garage sale birthday present, but last week was too busy to think about it much.  Instead, we wrapped it and left it in the basement until their birthday.

Right now the girls are playing with the dolls and discovering all the hidden secrets of the play set.  They are happy as can be.

Me?  I learned a valuable lesson.  Always say "yes" when a girlfriend calls with a great garage sale find.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Purple Ties

Overheard at our house...

Brunette Twin:  Mom, why doesn't Daddy wear more ties?

Mom:  He doesn't need one for his job.  Why?

Brunette Twin:  I think men who wear ties are handsome.

Mom:  I agree.  Ties do look nice.

Brunette Twin:  When I get a husband, I'm going to make him wear a purple tie every day to work.

Mom:  What if he doesn't need a tie for his job?

Brunette Twin:  I don't care.  I really like ties, so he'll have to wear one.  I like purple, so he'll wear a purple tie.

Mom:  What if he doesn't like purple?  What if he likes green?

Brunette Twin:  He can wear a green and purple tie, but it has to have some purple in it.  I'll be his wife so he'll have to do it.

Mom:  Somehow I'm sure he will wear a purple tie for you.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Gram

Tomorrow is my Gram's 95th birthday.  It's also the day of her funeral.  She died Monday after a nearly 12 year battle with Alzheimer's.

At the wake tonight I stared at her for a while.  I tried to bring back the memories of her before Alzheimer's.  All I could think about was the shell she became at the nursing home.

Then I watched a video my aunt and uncle made in 1995.  There was Gram sitting in a chair telling stories with her brogue in full bloom.  She was laughing that sweet giggle and waving her hands in front of her mouth like she was trying to move her laugh away.  It was only in watching it that I wanted to cry.

It wasn't that I wanted to cry because she died.  I still feel a great relief that it's finally over.  I wanted to cry because I knew what the future held for her.  I wanted to cry because I looked around at my nieces and nephews and realized that they never heard her laugh before.  They have never walked into her house to smell fresh-baked Scottish Shortbread.  They never climbed the tree in the front yard or played upstairs in the "secret" room off the blue bedroom.  By the time they were old enough to form those kinds of memories, she was already long gone with Alzheimer's.  Several of them never knew her outside the nursing home.

She spoke about her journey from Scotland to the United States.  She spoke about her early days in Chicago.  She told stories about her children and life.  I closed my eyes and listened to her voice again for the first time in more than a decade.  All the memories came flooding back and I missed her again like I haven't for a long time.  It was hard to believe that we were going to bury her on her birthday.  Watching the video she seemed so alive, in a way she hadn't been in more than a decade.

Happy birthday Gram.  We miss you and love you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Box #!*& Tops for #*&! Education

Last year the girls' school sent home a monthly paper with a cute design.  The instructions were to tape 10 of the Box Tops for Education to the sheet, color the design and return it to school.

We don't eat that much food that comes with a Box Top for Education.  I've been saving them all summer long so I would have a stash of them ready for this school year.  I figured that with 40 saved, I'd be a bit ahead of the game.

WRONG!

The new sheet came home today.  It turns out the stakes are a bit higher in Kindergarten.  This year, each child is expected to bring in 50 Box Tops for Education.  No, that's not a typo.  This means I need to produce 100 of these things by October 15. 

I realize I don't have to, but each child who turns in a completed sheet gets a coloring page (or two).  The girls are at an age where coloring is THE THING to do.  They can sit with coloring books or blank paper and draw for hours.  I don't want them to be the only two in the class without coloring pages.

Ugh.  Where am I going to come up with 100 of these things?  I am already calling the relatives to see if anyone has any.  Even if everyone has a couple, I'm still going to be short of the 100 needed.

I think I need a new strategy here.  I need to start enlisting family and friends to save these crazy things so we can at least have a good showing here and there.

Let's face it, there is no way I can keep sending in 100 Box Tops for Education every month.  I really do want to get it done this month, though.  It will be one less line on my Class Mom of the Year application.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Class Mom of the Year cont.

My resolution to be on top of everything school-related isn't going so well. The girls had to sit out of gym class today.  Why?  Well, they weren't wearing gym shoes.  Why not?  Ummm, because I forgot today is Tuesday (aka gym class day).

Sigh...

My Class Mom of the Year application is getting longer and longer. 

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Class Mom of the Year

I'm really glad tomorrow is Labor Day.  It means there's one less day next week for me to screw up something school-related.

Let's see, in the two weeks the girls have been in school, the blond twin has gone several days without her glasses.  She also left her backpack on the bus; you'd think I would have noticed she wasn't wearing it, but nope.  I have forgotten to pay for a book we bought.  I nearly missed the bus drop-off one day because I was admiring the pumpkin in the garden and lost track of time. 

The kicker, though, came last Wednesday as we walked home from the bus.  It went something like this.

Brunette Twin:  "Mom, I know you're really busy, but can we talk about something." 
Mom:  "Sure baby."
Brunette Twin:  "Well, you know how we have juice break every day?"
Mom:  "Yes."
Brunette Twin:  "Do you think you can send us with some juice tomorrow?  We haven't had any the past couple of days and during juice break we don't have anything to do."
Mom:  "You haven't had juice this week?"
Brunette Twin:  "No, so we just go out in the hall to get a drink of water and sit there reading books while all the other kids drink their juice."
Mom:  "Oh, I am so sorry.  I completely forgot about juice break."
Brunette Twin:  "It's okay Mom.  I know you are busy.  It's just getting a little boring not having juice."

Yes, for three days I sent the girls to school without any juice for their break. I think that puts me in the running for Class Mom of the Year.  I really wonder how long I would have gone if the brunette twin hadn't mentioned it.

The next day I sent them with juice.  The blond twin's bottle opened and spilled all over the alphabet rug.  I'm sure I'm now the teacher's favorite parent.

The next day I changed the blond twin's bottle and waited to hear how it went.  Nothing spilled, so I think we're set with bottles.

Now, if I can only remember to send them with juice every day.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Museum Adventure Pass

I adore our local public library for the programs as much as the ability to check out books, magazines, movies, etc.  The library newsletter we received a few days ago had a paragraph about a new program that really caught my attention.

Our library -- and really all the libraries in the Chicago metro area -- has Museum Adventure Passes you can receive just by showing your library card.  Some offers are for free admission; others are for discounts, usually buy-one, get-one admissions.  Since we know how frugal I am -- and not just because of the economy -- you know I immediately paid attention.

What I really like is the museum list's diversity.  The big names include Brookfield Zoo, the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Morton Arboretum.  In addition, we can go to smaller museums ranging from the Bronzeville Children's Museum to Cantigny Park to the Elgin History Museum to the Oriental Institute Museum. 

When I look at the list, I know I won't drive up to Elgin for a museum visit.  It's too far for a single stop like that.  Yet, we are often going somewhere for one reason that won't take up an entire day.  For those days, I would absolutely consider stopping at the Elgin History Museum or Cuneo Museum or Kohl Children's Museum.  A friend in urban planning calls it "trip chaining."  It's something we do quite often and now we can add a free, fun stop to the trip.

Of course, this isn't paid for by our library, but by generous corporate sponsors like Macy's, the Chicago Sun Times, and WLIT.  (And no, I'm not getting paid for this post.  When you work in marketing, you know the importance of recognizing sponsors.  If you don't thank them at all, they won't consider doing it again next year.)

This weekend we have passes to go to the Morton Arboretum.  Next weekend, who knows?  All I know is I'll be checking out the list of free museums.  It's a great program we will use often.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Daddy's Birthday List

My husband's birthday is a few days after the girls'. Because of this, he usually gets the short end of the birthday celebrations. No matter what we do for him, it just doesn't seem to measure up to the party hat and pink frosting filled celebrations we have for the girls.

This year the girls and I have been talking about getting Daddy something really nice for his birthday. It's a work-in-progress, but here is the current list of possible gifts for Daddy:

Watch
Tuxedo
Pink shirt
Fishing pole
Skateboard
Chocolate candy
Kite
Shirt with their school name on it
Rain coat
Big sack of chips
Socks
Yo-yo
Crown

With such a long list, it will be easy to roll over some of the ideas to Christmas. Just a thought...