Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Since it's a weekend, our suburb has trick or treating today from 1:00 - 8:00 p.m.  Considering we normally get about 20 kids total, this is going to be a long day.  Other than the few kids in the neighborhood, we don't get many trick or treaters.  Our houses are pretty spread out.  If kids want a lot of candy in a short time, this isn't the neighborhood for them. 

The girls like to hand out the candy after they are done trick or treating, but this year the day will be long.  To keep the girls busy, one of us will take the girls to my Mom's and my brothers' houses.  The other one will stay home, watch college football and wait for the 20 trick-or-treaters to show up.  All-in-all, a good day for everyone actually.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Are We There Yet?

On a recent trip to visit family about two hours away from home, the girls started saying, "Are we there yet?"  I have to say I don't like this development.

When they were infants, we would time our trips so we could feed them before we left and they would sleep most of the way.  If they woke up, they would play with the toys above their infant carriers.  When they were toddlers, they would play with some toys and I'd read them books while Daddy drove.  In the preschool years, we would read books and let them watch videos. 

"Are we there yet?" means the girls are no longer entertained by the videos. We need a new travel strategy. 

If there is one thing I remember from our family car trips, it is how much we loved annoying my parents by saying, "Are we there yet?"  We said it over and over again until my Dad threatened to leave us on the side of the road.  We never really worried about being left on the side of the road because we knew this meant Dad would have to pull over.  If there was one thing we knew, it was that Dad only pulled over when the gas tank was empty.  As long as he had gas in the station wagon, he wasn't going to waste time pulling over. 

The first few times the girls asked, "Are we there yet?" we simply answered and told them to watch the video.  By the tenth time they asked, I told them I would turn off the video and they would have to talk to us the rest of the trip if I heard that question again.  This worked the rest of the drive.

For the next trip, I need a new strategy.  I am thinking about bringing some other things, like crayons and coloring books, to keep them busy.  I bring some easy books for them to practice reading. 

Most importantly, I cannot let them know how annoying the phrase it.  When they figure out how much it annoys me, it will become a game of "how much can we annoy Mom."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Twin Stands Alone

I've always wondered what it is like to be a twin.  Even before we had twins, I was fascinated with an aunt and uncle who were twins.  The bond that starts before birth is something I think is nearly sacred.  We work hard to maintain that bond in the face of an overwhelming general opinion that tries to split the bond.  An amazing number of people in various professions and with varying connections to us will comment that we need to start separating the girls to make sure they develop their own personalities. 

A woman who is both a twin and a reporter wrote an interesting book that I need to pick up one of these days.  In One and the Same: My Life as an Identical Twin and What I’ve Learned About Everyone’s Struggle to Be Singular Abigail Pogrebin spent more than two years interviewing 40 sets of twins.  She talks about the tension between going through life with someone who loves you completely and wanting to forge your own identity.  The Newsweek story about her book is called, "A Twin Stands Alone."

She tells a few stories that I hope the girls never have to experience, but she also tells other stories that I can already relate to, so I can only assume when they get older they will relate as well.  Mostly I like that she emphasizes how close the twins are as adults.  No matter how many miles separate the twins or what terrible things happen, they still maintain the twin bond.  There's not much I want more in the world than to see them as close when there are adults as they are today.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Daycare as Punishment

My husband was talking to about a little girl who goes to bed at 7:00 p.m. and gets up about 5:30 a.m.  He was trying to figure out that scheduling.  We decided that her parents must work and she went to daycare early -- say 6:30 a.m. or so.

Since it had been a long, whiny day with our over-tired six-year-old girls, my husband looked at them and said, "If we have another day like this one, maybe you two will go to weekend day care."

While I will say that the girls usually understand sarcasm, this was totally lost on them.  On a normal day, they look at him, roll their eyes and say, "Daddy, you're kidding."  Today it didn't work that way.  Both girls looked at each other and then looked at Daddy.  Then they started crying and said, "We'll be good from now on.  Please don't make us go to weekend daycare.  We don't want to go to weekend daycare."

Sigh...

Now we had to fix this situation.  I said, "Daddy, daycare isn't punishment, right?  You don't go to daycare because you are bad, do you?"  My husband said, "Now girls, daycare isn't really bad.  You have friends in daycare right?  It's fun for them."

Sigh...

I don't think they were really convinced, but the crying stopped and we finished dinner.

The problem, of course, is that they do know several classmates who go to daycare after school.  We don't want them to think that daycare is a terrible place.  We don't want them to think their friends are bad because they have to go to daycare.

The blond twin dropped the topic, but the brunette twin didn't.  As she was ready to fall asleep, she said, "Mom, we don't have to go to weekend daycare, right?  Dad was only kidding, right?"

I told her she wasn't going to weekend daycare.  She would stay home with us like normal.  I also told her that if they continued to be whiney, they were going to start taking naps again.  She actually liked this option and said, "As long as I get to sleep in my own bed, I'll take naps for you every day."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

D-List Bloggers

You know how there's a group of influential Mommy bloggers you keep reading about in the newspapers and magazines?  Well, I'm happily not one of them.  I write about the girls and our family as a way to keep in touch with friends and family, and entertain others.  It's more of an online diary that I will -- some day -- put into order for the girls.  It's like my version of an online scrapbook.

So, thanks to Alma at Marketing Mommy (corrected!), I am now officially part of the D-List Bloggers.  (With apologies to Kathy Griffin, of course.)  We're a group of bloggers who blog for the fun of it.  We're not considered "top tier" bloggers and we don't want to be.

It's fun on the D-List.  No pressure.  We can write whatever we want without worrying about offending the corporate sponsors.

I'm glad to be on the D-List.  Thank you for joining me on the adventure.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cuddliest Halloween Ever

We are having the cuddliest Halloween ever.  Given that the blond twin screams all night after watching a Disney movie, it's not surprising that we're not big on the scary parts of Halloween. 

There are a couple of good haunted houses in the area and some scary activities our park district is sponsoring, but there is no way we are visiting any of them.  If the blond twin experiences any of these things, then she will be screaming all night.  There's no way I want that to happen if I can avoid it. 

Instead, we have a sweet, cuddly Halloween going on here.  We have the least scary witches ever.  Our ghosts make Casper look mean.  The pumpkins are all smiling.  How did we do it?  Well, it does take some planning, but we also have a secret weapon.

One of their friends has a little sister named Leah.  Rather than tell the girls we think a decoration will frighten the blond twin, we always say, "I think Leah might be afraid of that.  We don't want to scare Leah."

It works like a charm because they adore Leah. They invite her to play dates and treat her like she's their little sister.  They wouldn't do anything to scare Leah, so any decoration that might scare Leah is not allowed in our house.

Of course, the fact that the decorations won't scare the blond twin is a bonus for us.  As long as we keep using Leah as our excuse not to bring any scary things into the house, we might all enjoy Halloween. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Art Institute of Chicago through the Eyes of the Girls

I took the girls to the Art Institute of Chicago recently.  I had a free afternoon and my membership card (thank you GroupOn), so it seemed like a good way to hang out.  I wanted to see the new Modern Wing and show them the Thorne Miniature Rooms. 

I learned a few things about taking small children to the Art Institute.  The first was that I needed to edit which galleries we visited as a lot of the works were not appropriate for six-year-olds.  The second thing I learned was that the bathrooms were not that easy to find when we really needed them.  Of course, that could have been because I didn't really know where we were on the map.  I always asked one of the very nice employees for help.  The third thing was that the girls love the artwork, but needed a bit more downtime.  Now that we found the children's area in the Modern Wing, we know where to head to take a break. 

In the words of the girls, here were their impressions of the various galleries.

European Art before 1900:  Mom, why is Jesus bleeding on the cross?  Why doesn't that woman have a top on?  Why do all these people look sad? 

Impressionists:  Oh, look at the pretty colors.  It's a haystack?  I think it looks like a vase. 

Contemporary Art:  Look at the ballerinas.  Hey, I just played with that picture on the computer game downstairs. 

Photography:  Can we do that with our cameras?

Sculpture Court: (and other sculptures)  Why doesn't that guy have arms?  What happened to her body?

Modern Wing:  Oh, look at the pretty colors.  Look at the light over there.  Why is that thing hanging from the ceiling?

Thorne Miniature Rooms:  Can we put these in our doll house?  Look at the trees outside the windows (in the miniature rooms).  I want a doll bed like that.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Shake 'Em High

I first noticed it in the powder room.  Yesterday I noticed it in the girls' bathroom.  We have streaks running down our walls.  At first I thought it was because it was steamy in their bathroom when I give them a shower.  Then I thought about it and that doesn't follow for the powder room.  There isn't a bath or shower in that room, so why would it be steamy?

The next time the girls' washed their hands, I watched and rolled my eyes.  The girls washed their hands and shook them before drying them.  Yes, before their hands reached the towels, they shook them in the air to get the water drops off.  The best part was when they started laughing when they shook their hands.  It was like a competition to shake them the highest and the fastest. 

Suddenly I understood why we have streaks running down our walls.

It's not something you might notice in other bathrooms, but we have deep blue paint on the walls.  It really is a beautiful color.  Lots of people comment on how pretty it is when they are at the house.  However, a lot of things that might not show up on a white or pale color wall show up on our bathroom walls.  Also, our bathrooms are pretty average to small in size.  If you had a large bathroom with more open space, the drops would probably just hit the floor. 

So, cross one more mystery off the list.  We'll try to get the girls to stop shaking their hands, but it's so funny when they laugh that it might not be worth it.  I think it's probably easier to just sponge down the walls once in a while.

Friday, October 16, 2009

H1N1 Overload

Okay, I'm officially sick of hearing about the H1N1 virus.  Yes, I know it's scary.  Yes, I know we should all be taking precautions.  Yes, I know it's potentially dangerous.

What I don't understand is what we should do about it?  Other than wash our hands a lot and try to stay healthy, what can we do?

In our area, the major drug store chains have the seasonal flu vaccine.  Ironically, the doctor's don't have it, but the major drug store chains do.  No one has the H1N1 vaccine yet. 

Yet, every newspaper, television news cast and radio news report insists on reporting about H1N1 non-stop.  First the stories were about how dangerous the H1N1 virus is to certain populations.  Then the story in the Chicago area was about a high school student who had H1N1 when she died.  Of course, she also had an underlying heart condition, but that's not dramatic enough.  Now the stories are about how families want to get vaccinated, but no one has the vaccine. 

To make us even crazier, every time a student in any school is confirmed with H1N1, the news reports it.  I recently read an article about how every case of flu right now is the H1N1 virus because there have not been any confirmed cases of the seasonal flu in our area yet.

Okay, let's recap.  All the flu going around right now is H1N1.  Even if you want it, none of the H1N1 vaccine is available.  Once the vaccine does become available, it takes your body something like 30 days to build to full immunity.  Of course, by that time, the seasonal flu will be rampant in the Chicago area.

I'm done.  There's nothing we can do about H1N1 except maintain our preventive measures, get enough sleep, eat right, and try to stay healthy.  It's time for the media to move on.  The daily H1N1 updates are making us all crazy about something we cannot control.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Night Terrors Are Killing Me

Someone said, "You sound tired." I replied, "The blond twin kept waking up last night." She wasn't sympathetic because she thought this meant the blond twin woke up and went right back to sleep. I wish that was how it happened.


The blond twin has night terrors. Anything can trigger them. I dread days when she watches a movie. Pick a movie, any movie. There is always a character that frightens her. The first fifteen or twenty times she watched The Little Mermaid, she woke up because Ursula frightened her. The new Barbie movie has a scary man named Wenlock. We've read the book a gazillion times, but the movie kept her up all night.  When she's watching a movie, you don't think she's afraid. It's not until she goes to sleep that the night terrors start.

She doesn't just wake up. She wakes up screaming at the top of her lungs. Sometimes she's also sitting up in bed. The hard part is she's not really awake.

We spend a lot of time trying to get her to calm down and go back to sleep. Once we do get her to sleep, we need to unwind and go to sleep. Let me just tell you it's really hard to go to sleep when you know your child is going to wake up screaming again any minute.

Since I know she's going to wake up screaming, I drift in and out of sleep waiting for the next event. It's a terrible way to spend a night.

If it gets really bad, I just crawl into bed with her. There is something about being really close to me (or Daddy or Sissy) that comforts her. She sleeps as close as possible to me. The important part is she does calm down and sleep.

Me? Not so much. It's hard to sleep with a six-year-old plastered against you.

In the morning, she doesn't remember any of it. I'm exhausted, of course, but happy that we made it through the night.

The big problem is we don't know what will trigger it. Sometimes it's a movie; other times it is because she is tired. And, we don't know how long it will last. Sometimes she wakes up a few times, but falls into a deep sleep before midnight. Other times it is an all night event.

The doctor says she'll outgrow it. I thought she said the blond twin would outgrow it by the time she was six. Given recent events, we need to go in and have that conversation again.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A New Hiding Spot

When the girls were little, I would put stuff on top of the refrigerator to hide it until I could move it. I still put something there if I need a quick hiding place. Turns out I need a new hiding place.


The blond twin said, "Hey Mom, what is that pink thing on top of the fridge?"

I said, "Huh?" (Yes, I know you're impressed with my quick, crafty response.)

She replied, "Mom, the pink thing in the plastic on top of the fridge. It must be mine because it's pink."

I looked up on top of the fridge to see a pink shirt I bought as a Christmas present. It took a minute for me to reply because the realization that she was sitting on a stool at the breakfast bar looking at the top of the fridge took a minute to settle in.

My first thought was simple: When did she get tall enough to see on top of the fridge?

I said, "No. It's tissue paper in the wrapper. It's not for you."
Okay, it was another lame comeback, but it was the quickest thing I could think of at that moment.

As soon as the girls left the room, I moved the shirt. Then I started scouting a new hiding place. Of course, I could just put everything in our bedroom as soon as I buy it, but we know that won't always happen. I'm still working on a new hiding spot. It's probably not all that hard, but I keep getting distracted with the idea that she's so tall now.

When did she get so tall?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Finish this sentence

The girls have a song that includes the phrase "Yippee Cay Yeah."  They sing the whole song with glee.

Because I am of what is delicately called "a certain age," I finish the sentence in my head with an unrepeatable phrase. 

Think about it.

If you didn't finish the sentence in your head, go find someone who has seen the first Die Hard movie.  Ask him/her to finish the phrase "Yippe Cay Yeah."  It's not like Bruce Willis just says it once.  He repeats it over and over again.  Now you know why I cannot repeat it out loud, but it always plays in my head.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Already in Question?

Overheard at our house...

Blond Twin:  Do you think Santa is real?

Brunette Twin:  Of course he is.

Blond Twin:  Angelina says he is not real.

Brunette Twin:  Angelina doesn't know how to read.  How would she know?

Blond Twin:  She said she just knows.

Brunette Twin:  I don't believe her.  If you do, Santa won't bring you any presents.

Blond Twin:  Okay, I believe in Santa. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ream of Paper

You know how after all the Christmas presents are open the toddlers just want to play with the empty boxes?  This is kind of how I feel about blank, white copy paper these days.

The girls have loads of coloring books.  They have loads of crayons.  Yet, the crayons never see work on the inside of a coloring book.  The girls love to take blank sheets of paper and create their own pictures.

These aren't just pictures of flowers or animals.  It's like they are illustrating a story.  Each piece of art comes with an entire back story.  They draw very nice pictures, with well thought out stories. 

They two of them bring all the materials to the breakfast bar and spread out everything.  They have pens, pencils, crayons, markers and scissors.  And, by the end of the afternoon, they use them all. 

It's fun to watch them draw and listen to them discuss stories.  It's like listening to a team of kindergarten writers working on an age-appropriate storyboard.  I like to hear them negotiate which pictures go with the words. 

This Christmas, I think Santa should bring reams of white paper.  It would be the best present they receive.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Fun Fantasea

The girls love the Shedd Aquarium.  They run from exhibit to exhibit, fascinated by the fish and other underwater creatures.  They love it so much we became members.  It's a membership that is well worth the price.  Last week an invitation for a members-only event showed up in my inbox.  I immediately RSVPd. 

The Shedd has a new show to replace the old dolphin show.  I have to admit we were not fans of the old show.  I realize the point of the museum is to educate, and the show focused on educating people about the animals.  This is noble, but not something the girls would sit through.  First of all, the conversation was too advanced for them.  Second, they were bored.  I was happy to read that the show was being re-imagined -- and the result is a truly wonderous, multi-media event featuring sea lions, dolphins, penquins and red-tailed hawks. 

We saw the show during the members-only event.  The girls sat mezmerized during the entire show.  True to form, the brunette twin asked me lots of questions while the blond twin sat nearly attached to her Daddy.  The show started with a video showing a bit of the Shedd's history.  There was a Cirque du Soleil feel to the beginning of the show that I won't spoil by detailing here.  It's a beautiful opening that grabs your attention.  The animals interacted with the audience in a way that was unexpected and charming.  When the penguins walked up the stairs, everyone moved out of the way to give them the space they need.

What made it better, at least for the younger children, is that this was also shown on a big screen.  The girls are not tall enough to see over everyone's heads, but they don't have to.  As the penguins walked up the stairs near us, the girls watched the audience react and looked at the screen to see where the pengiuns were.  It was a nice mix that added to the excitement. 

The beluga whales performed much like the dolphins, which was unexpected.  I guess I never thought much about how a whale would interact with its trainer.  My favorite animal was actually not even a water creature.  The show included two red-tail hawks, rescue birds, that fly across the water.  The close-ups of these birds were so beautiful. 

When we came home, we saw the show again in an unusual way.  The local news broadcasts covered the show.  It looked just as pretty on the television screen as it did in person. 

We cannot wait to see it again after it opens on October 16.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Lazy Saturday

It's not often I publically thank a big company, but last night Best Buy gave us a good gift.  We bought a new washing machine there this week.  Today it is being delivered.  Last night we received a message that the delivery was scheduled for between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. today.

Most days this would annoy me because we have to spend the entire day waiting for the delivery.  Today, though, I think it's a welcome gift.  The past few weeks have been really crazy.  We needed a day to just hang out and stay in our house.

Of course, we didn't really just stay in the house today.  The girls spent a couple of hours with my parents at Grandparents Bingo.  The school did a nice job on the event.  I ran out to a couple of school fundraising resale events to pick up some clothes for the girls.  Tom spent some time getting ready for the delivery.  You know the drill -- clear a path in the basement, disconnect the old washing machine, clean up the area, etc. 

Even with all the little things, we spent most of the day just hanging out.  It's a grey, damp day, so it's a welcome break from the yard work and errands we would have felt compelled to complete on a normal Saturday.

So, thank you Best Buy.  We enjoyed the excuse to watch college football and camp out.  Now, if only Illinois would pull out a win against Penn State.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Still Purple

Several people asked about the brunette twin's favorite color.  It is still purple.  Nothing changes there and I don't expect it to for a while.  Of course, she could surprise us, but she is just not a child who changes easily. 

Her favorite doll is a stuffed bear she received as one of her first critters.  She has other, newer dolls and stuffed animals.  She plays with all of them, but the bear is her favorite. 

She doesn't like to change.  She likes things just the way they are.  I expect that she'll happily keep purple as her favorite color for a while.