Thursday, March 29, 2012

Burnt Childhood Memories

Brunette Twin:  "Mom are you baking a pie?  Something smells like it's burning."

Great, the smell she most associates with home comes from when I bake pies and the filling bubbles out in the oven. She doesn't mention how good the pies taste. She talks about the burning smell. 

Sigh...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Getting the Lead Out

"It's something different every year." This is how the girls' crossing guard explained the new obsession with lead pencils. The girls and their friends buy and swap lead pencils constantly.

The first time the blond twin told me she wanted a lead pencil I said, "They still sell lead pencils?" I didn't even realize children knew what those were any more. I quickly learned I was wrong. Lead pencils are hot this year. The school store sells both different colored lead pencils and the refills. 

The blond twin is obsessed with lead pencils. She swaps them with friends and gives them to friends as impromptu gifts. We discovered she was raiding her piggy bank to buy lead pencils without discussing it with us. We shut down that activity. Now she talks to us about the pencils she wants.

I cannot wait for this to pass. I'm tired of picking up lead pieces from the kitchen floor. I'm tired of watching the girls argue about which color pencil belongs to which girl. I'm tired of hearing the reasons they need another lead pencil.

Of course, now that we've discovered all the ways to get lead shavings off the floor and acquired all the current colors, I really should change my attitude. Lead pencils seem to make homework more fun for them. The pencils are small and disposable. These pencils don't need to be fed or watered. 

If I think about it long enough, I might just talk myself into liking this trend -- maybe.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Slowest Walker

Have you ever seen a large, multi-generational group walking? The young people tend to be in the front with the older generation walking a bit slower behind the rest of the group. It's something we see when we walk with my Mom. She's just a bit slower than the rest of us.

The blond twin is the exception to this idea. For a tall, young child, the blond twin is the slowest walker. Most of the time she is between five and ten steps behind us. It's maddening.

When we're out as a family, there are two groups. One of us walks with the brunette twin at a normal pace. The other one walks behind with the blond twin. It's not that she's not capable of walking faster. It's just not a pace she likes.

It's something I battle every day when we walk home from school. I'm holding Oreo and talking to the brunette twin. I'll ask the blond twin and question and there's no answer. I turn around to look for her and she's three or four houses behind us.

No matter how slow we walk, she just walks slower. Of course, when she's tired or cranky, she yells at us, "Slow down. Don't leave me behind."

Sometimes I wonder what the neighbors think. They must wonder why I only walk with one daughter and leave the other behind. Of course, if anyone ever had the nerve to ask, I'd probably say something like, "I like the brunette twin better." It would make the girls laugh, but probably not amuse anyone else. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Problem with Being Backwards

My Gramma Cartwright made beautiful hand-sewn quilts. She taught me to quilt when I was young. Part of my interest in quilting was that my Gramma did it. Of course my Gramma Latimer knitted and crocheted, but I never quite mastered those arts. Gramma Latimer was right-handed. I am left-handed. We had a hard time figuring out how to translate her patterns. I didn't have this problem with quilting. A stitch was a stitch and my hand preference didn't matter. 

After Dad died, I took some of his t-shirts and button down shirts to make a quilt. About the same time, I opened the front door to find a big box with my name on it. My wonderful husband sent me a sewing machine for my birthday. I gave in to time and wrist issues when I decided to start machine quilting. I've long dismissed machine quilting as the easy way out, but reality has shifted that opinion.

I was able to complete the first quilt in time to wrap it for Mom's Christmas present. I cut off the long sleeves and used those for her quilt. I told Mom it was the only way Dad could stil wrap his arms around her. The quilt was spread on a couch in the family room. Mom said she doesn't want to use it as much as she wants to look at it.

Recently I pulled out the sewing machine to make another quilt. I spent many frustrating hours trying to get it to work. I knew it wasn't the machine as I had just made a quilt. It had been a few months since I last tried to turn on the machine. I simply couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong.

I finally gave it and took my machine to a sewing store. I explained the problem and asked for help. The woman spent a few minutes with the machine before she started unscrewing the needle. She said, "Oh, the needle is in backwards."

Yes, I did feel really stupid. First, I couldn't figure out how a backwards needle fit into the space. It is shaped like an "n" with one side rounded and the other flat. Still, I did manage to put the needle in backwards.

I took my machine home and have been happily quilting for days now. It's a lot easier to make progress when everything works as it should. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Things You Never Expect to Say in March in Chicago

Do they need sunscreen?

I think I need to mow the lawn.

Are we eating outside again tonight?

You can wear shorts and a short sleeve t-shirt today.

No, you don't need a coat.

Flip flops are fine.

Look at the beautiful forsythia.

The daffodils are so pretty.

All the trees are budding.

Is it too soon to put down grass seed?

Another 80 degree day? 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My One "Older Parent" Regret

The girls lost their paternal grandmother this week.  She died after a long battle with Alzheimer's.  When I told the girls, the brunette twin said, "Why is everyone dying on us?" 

This is my one regret about not having the girls when we were first married.  It's not like we didn't try -- a lot.  We enlisted numerous experts and prayed a lot.  We didn't become parents until six wedding anniversaries passed.

Of course, time didn't stand still for anyone else either.  We were older and so were all our relatives.  The past year it has all come back to haunt us via a blur of sad phone conversations, wakes and funerals. 

I realize if we had the girls when we wanted they would only be about 12 years old.  It's only a few more years, but it would have given them the opportunity to create more memories and take more photos.

I had all four of my grandparents until I was a junior in college.  I thought that was the norm.  I realize now how lucky I was and it makes me sad for the girls.

As it is their grandparents are just going to be people in a photo album.  They will only live on in the stories we tell.  The girls won't have their own memories of their grandparents.  Really, what do you remember from when you were eight-years-old?

There isn't anything I can do to change this regret, so I have to learn to live with it.  Still, I feel like we cheated the girls out of some special relationships by being "older" parents.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Immunity is Overrated

Since the girls have been sick, we start every morning with them coughing in my face and telling me how terrible they feel.  It was only a matter of time before I became sick too.

Now I'm on antibiotics and feeling icky.

When people learn that we're all sick they tend to say something like, "At least you're building up your immunity."

If that's the best thing about this, then I'll pass. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Misery Loves Company

I think we get a note home about once a week informing us that someone in the girls' class has strep or some other highly contagious disease.  I realize it's only contagious if transmitted by drinking from someone's cup or sharing a spoon, but these kids also are coughing on each other all day long.  Whenever I'm in their class, I feel like I need to step into a decontamination chamber on the way out of school.

About two weeks ago, the blond twin complained about a sore throat combined with a headache and stomach ache.  We went to the pediatrician who said it wasn't strep.  We went home with orders for rest, lots of fluids and over-the-counter cold medications.  The next day the brunette twin was home from school for the same symptoms.  We followed the same treatment for her.

Since then we've been on a roller coaster of symptoms and over-the-counter medications.  Yesterday both girls woke up about 5:30 a.m. crying about headaches.  When I took their temperatures, one was 102 and the other 101.  I called the doctor to get them appointments.

After an hour of waiting, we finally saw the doctor, who apologized and explained that he has been slammed with emergency patients.  Another hour later (quick strep and other tests), we left with six different prescriptions for an antibiotic, cough syrup and nasal sprays. 

Today both girls are home from school coughing, crying, sleeping, reading, sleeping and feeling lousy.  Just after I called the school to report their absences, their Brownie troop leader called to cancel today's meeting.  It turned out that 12 of the 16 girls in the troop are home sick today.

If misery loves company, then I'm at a party right now.  I just don't realize it yet.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Turning the Homework Tables

Every night we review the girls' homework.  We let them know what needs to be corrected, without correcting it ourselves. 

One day they came home and the blond twin was mad at me.  She said, "You checked my homework and I still got one wrong."  I apologized and said, "I must not have understood the directions."

From that moment, only Daddy could check her math homework. 

Recently, the girls decided to create homework for their parents.  The blond twin wrote pages and pages of math homework for her Daddy.  She was determined to make sure he knew how to do the work she was learning.

The brunette twin took a different direction.  She wrote math homework for me, but she also included some handwriting exercises.  It seems she thinks my  handwriting could use some work.

When I told my husband he said, "Well, she knows two of your weaknesses."

The sad part is I couldn't really argue. He was right.