Monday, March 8, 2021

Financial gurus

When the girls started working, we gave them back some of their expenses such as their spending money,, their Dunkin/Starbucks drinks, their hair cuts and gas for their cars. 

We remind them every time they get paid that they have to put something into their savings accounts. It can be just $25, but it has to be something.

It has been interesting to watch them debate whether or not they really want a coffee drink. They never had these discussions when we were paying for their coffee. They are more careful about what they are doing and how much it costs. 

The girls are also watching their checking and savings accounts carefully. They panic if it goes below a set amount.

I hope we're instilling good financial habits that will last a lifetime. For now, it's just fun to watch them debate whether it's worth the money to go get a coffee drink.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

A studio apartment

We've done a lot of renovations on our 50+ year old house since we moved in more than 20 years ago. When we created a basement room for the girls a few years ago, we envisioned them hanging out with friends doing whatever teen girls do.

Instead, it's their studio apartment. The table we used for puzzle early in the pandemic is now their school/craft space. The couch is permanently in double-bed mode. The girls lounge on it during school, to play video games and watch movies. They have snacks and drinks in the pantry.

Their friends said it looks like a page from an Ikea catalogue. I take this as a huge compliment. 

If they had a basement bathroom, they'd never have to come upstairs.

I often think about how much harder it would be not to have the basement space. The girls would have their bedrooms, but it's really nice for them to have two spaces to call their own. During a time when we really don't leave the house much, the more options the better. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

18 inches and counting

Chicagoans are used to snow, so we don't panic when the forecast calls for 24 hours of snow. We make sure our vehicle gas tanks are full, pick-up a few groceries and get ready to shovel.

This February is really pushing our snow limits. In the past 24 hours, we've had 18 inches of snow. We now have about three feet of snow on the ground. It all fell in February.

Some day this will make for a great story. Today, though, I would be happy if this was the last snow of the season. 

Friday, December 25, 2020


 We visited Grammie on Christmas eve. It was both nice to be in a small group and depressing. Christmas is Grammie's holiday. She thinks she's one of Santa's elves. The whole family should have been there. It should have been loud. We should all have been giddy about the new babies. 

Instead it was just us and Grammie opening presents and having lunch. It was nice, but it wasn't Christmas.

The next morning seemed like a normal Christmas. The girls and Holly were awash in wrapping paper and boxes. We explained to the girls that there would be fewer boxes because their presents were more expensive. We ended up with a few more boxes than we planned. I think of these as pandemic presents. Christmas wasn't going to be normal, but it would still be memorable.

We spent a quiet day at home in our jammies. The girls set-up and played their PS4 most of the day. Daddy and I watch parades and games. We snacked and drank hot cocoa bombs. 

It was a nice Christmas, but I hope not to do it again. Next year I want to be with my mom and great-nieces on Christmas Day. I want to go to our annual gathering with Daddy's family. 

We're all healthy and safe, so I don't really have anything to complain about. I didn't mind not having Easter or Mother's Day or Father's Day or Thanksgiving in the usual way. Christmas, though, hurts. 

My fingers are crossed that we'll have a vaccine soon and more regular gatherings will resume. Until then, we'll snuggle on the couch with our hot cocoa and be grateful that we have a family to miss. 

Friday, December 4, 2020

Sign of the pandemic

Daddy came home from the grocery store with lots of bags, as usual. While unpacking, he found some hand sanitizer he hadn't purchased. He looked at it for a minute and realized it was the hand sanitizer the grocery store kept at the checkout counter for the employees and customers to use. The bagger just threw it in a bag because it looked like hand sanitizer we might have purchased.

It was a funny moment amongst a hard pandemic week. 

Thursday, December 3, 2020

The what?

We are working our way through the American Film Institute's top 100 films of all time. It's a fun way to pass all our quarantine time together.

Tonight we watched The Birds with the brunette twin. Just before a pivotal scene, Daddy said, "Remember the phone booth." I said, "Don't give it away." He replied, "I'm not. I just want to make sure she know what a phone booth is."

Friday, November 20, 2020

Working girls

The girls fall sports recently ended. We really wanted to avoid the isolation they felt when life shut down in March, so we talked a lot about them getting part-time jobs. 

The pandemic created a mental health crisis among teens. At a time when they should be in school building their social skills, they were stuck at home with limited ways to interact with other teens, no way to predict the pandemic's end and ongoing instability. 

We were headed into spring and summer when we shut down in March. The isolation was tempered with the understanding that warmer weather was coming, which would give them new options to see friends. They could hang out on patios or in parks during the summer when it was easier to social distance and warm outside. Now they were headed into the dark and cold. 

Heading into winter is always hard. It's dark most of the time. It's cold, sometimes bitter cold. Seasonal depression is a real problem during normal years. 

Daddy and I had lengthy discussions about the risks of them getting jobs during a pandemic and the risks of them not getting jobs. In the end, we decided that they needed to get out of the house for their mental and physical health.

They really needed the social aspect of a part-time job. Normally we'd have emphasized the important of taking responsibility, earning money and developing professional skills. Of course those things were important, but more important to us was that they would be out, interacting with the world.

The jobs have been really good for both girls. We see a big different in their attitudes. They come home from work with funny stories about customers and/or co-workers. They talk about what they like, and what they dislike, about their jobs.

We've worked with them to establish some good financial habits. They save some money and have some spending money. We told them that they could spend their money however they wanted to, and we've let them do it. We try not to judge their purchases, although some opinions come through. 

The girls are teens, so there are days when they really don't want to go to work. They whine and fight about going. They try to convince us they should stay home. They always end up going because they do like working. 

We like the positive ways we've seen them blossom since they started working and feel good about their experiences. Their employers are doing a good job with their Covid protocols, keeping everyone as safe as they can. In the balance between risk and reward, the jobs have been a reward.