Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Resistance is futile

My husband and I are pretty healthy. We eat lots of fruits and veggies, exercise, sleep well, and take all our vitamins. The doctor's are pretty happy with our overall health. You'd think we would have really strong resistances to germs. Yet in the past few years, we've been sick more than ever. Why? We have preschool-age twins.

When our twin girls started preschool, several people said that the girls would catch everything until their resistance was built up a bit. They didn't tell me that we'd also be sick. It's not like we're in bed with an ice bag on our heads, but I feel like one of us always has something -- and it usually comes from the blond twin.

I don't know why, but the blond twin tends to start the illness cycle in our house. We have a few theories on this, even though we haven't been able to act on them yet. I do know that she's the root of our latest plague. It's a nasty cough that hangs on and on and on. She had it and sweetly shared it with me and her twin. I spread it to my husband. Now the girls are better, and the adults are hacking away.

One of my students laughed at me last night when I started coughing. He said, "Oh yeah, you have small children." I asked if it was better when the children were a little bit older. His reply, "The kids still catch everything, but at least they stop coughing in your face."

Oh well, at least there's that to look forward to.

Monday, July 28, 2008

When I was little...

The girls are just old enough recognize that there are definite developmental differences between them and the toddlers. If we don't notice it immediately, and comment on it, they will. Each sentence starts with "when I was little." Even though they are twins, we never hear "when we were little."

It usually goes something like this. We'll be talking about some activity, say swimming lessons. One of the girls will say, "When I was little, like three, I didn't know how to swim. Now I'm four and I can swim on my front and my back."

Sometimes the girls comment on another child's behavior. "When I was two, I used to yell in the store. Now I'm a big girl and I know better, so I don't scream in the store."

My favorite is when they repeat something we always say, "When I was little, I didn't like broccoli, but now I'm a big girl so I eat all my vegetables because they make me healthy."

Sometimes their observations are quite to the point. Other times they ramble a bit. It's funny to hear them talk about what "big girls" do that little girls do not. Every topic is fair game from eating specific food to using the toilet to brushing their teeth to hitting a baseball.

Soon they will be five, so I'm sure the observations will change. One thing won't though, and that's how funny we think it is.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Women's Health Registry

We know that too many medical protocols are based on men's health studies. Here's an easy way for women to do their part to make sure women's health issues are better represented. Northwestern University is doing a long-term study on women's health.

It's really easy to participate. You can go online to fill out the information or call for paper forms. You answer all the questions and submit it to the Women's Health Registry. Once a year you'll be asked to update your health status. If they are doing a study about a particular illness or condition, you might be asked for additional information.

I filled out the paper forms and it didn't take very long. I don't know if I'll be called for any individual studies, but if I do, I'll participate. I like to think I'm doing my part to make sure our girls have a healthy future.

Of course, it's all voluntary, so you can provide as little or as much information as you want. Registry staff can be contacted at 800.984.IWHR or at Check it out today!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Still sleeping...

It's a few minutes before 8:00 a.m. right now and the girls are still sleeping. We try and try and try to get them to sleep late on weekends, but of course they do not. Most mornings they come bouncing into our bedroom between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m.

Now I know the formula for getting them to sleep late -- have a family reunion. We had family in this weekend from all over the country. We had so much fun. Their generation of cousins ranged in age from college freshman to preschool. There were cousins of all ages for the girls to hang out with, and they loved every minute of it.

Yesterday the girls were in the pool from 1:30 - 7:30 p.m. They only left the pool when I forced them to eat or drink something, and for occasional bathroom breaks. They had a blast. It was great to watch all the kids together in the pool. We were able to see how much the girls have progressed with their swimming, and how comfortable they are in the water now.

The entire weekend was great fun. The girls were exhausted last night, and so were we.

The problem is today is Monday. While they can sleep in, we cannot. We can enjoy the peace and quite, though!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

No More Stories about Angie and the Twins

I realize she is one of the top celebrities in the world, but I'm already tired of Angie and the twin babies. Seriously, this story is being covered as if it is actually important. Hundreds of twins are born every day. Why do we care about these two people having children?

All the coverage is another sign that our priorities are out of whack. Who cares where these twins are delivered? Who cares who the doctor is who delivered the twins? I saw a report that said he was a French, Jewish doctor. Is there some reason his religion is important?

Why don't we give as much attention to the average, middle class American family delivering twins? We didn't find a news crew outside the hospital when our twins were coming home. Is there some reason we're not newsworthy?

Yes, I know the twins have big-time celebrities for parents. The problem with all the news coverage whenever a celebrity pops out twins is that it make having twins seem like the trendy thing to do. No one talks about all the hard work that comes with twins because they all have a full staff to handle each and every moment of every day. I realize that a staff comes with the money they have, but it also comes with the implicit statement that having twins is easy.

Here's what I'd like to see. How about a story contrasting the life of a celebrity twins' Mom and the average, middle-class twins' Mom? Let's talk about how average families afford the formula, diapers, clothing, etc. How about making parenting infant twins sound as amazing as it is for hands-on parents? How about a story about what celebrities are missing by having nannies raise their children? Stories celebrating the crazy, wonderful world of real twins are stories I'd watch.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fairy Foals In Our House

Right now our house is filled with Fairy Foals. We have been reading the book, and the girls are so enchanted that the tiny horses have started flying around our house. Luckily, a generous neighbor already stocked the playroom with miniature horse toys. Once her daughter outgrew the pretty ponies, they joined our toy box.

Fairy Foals is the story of an artist who discovers a secret world of tiny horses. She draws them, write poems about them, and tells their stories. It's delightful. The girls have their favorite horses, and have even named other toys after some horses.

I know the girls enjoy the story because it has become part of their daily play. I like the beautiful pictures and poems. Any time I can expose the girls to art, without sounding like it is a stuffy and serious lesson, it's a good thing.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

This is Why We Need a Twins Law

Most people don't understand the craziness parents go through when it comes to dealing with school districts. Between misinformed administrative efforts to divide twins "for their own development" and teachers who "know what's best" for children they've never met, sending twins to school can be a difficult and confusing task.

Of all the stories I've heard, though, this one is really amazing. A Seattle school district separated twins into different schools. No, it's not a typo. These children are going to two different schools.

People keep telling me that we don't need another law for administrators to follow. It seems to me, though, that unless someone dictates the way twins are to be handled in school, this type of stupidity will go on and on and one. To learn more about the Twins Law effort, visit

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Taking Responsibility

We try to instill the idea of responsibility into the girls. We do the little things like making them clean up the playroom. (Although it usually sounds more like, "I didn't make the mess, so I'm not cleaning it. If you want your toys, you better put them away.) The girls have small chores to help them understand the "citizen of the house" responsibilities. I always tell them they need to take care of each other. ("You are sisters. Your job is to take care of each other, not to fight with each other.) We sent them to a nature-based preschool to help them understand how we are all responsible for the Earth.

Will it help? We don't know yet. The girls are only four years old, so we'll have to wait a while to see if what we are doing works. I do know that I just had a conversation with a student that made me think her parents would be proud of her sense of responsbility.

She didn't turn in her homework on time, so she didn't get any points. Instead of trying to convince me something terrible happened to her or giving me a song and dance, she simply said, "I know I didn't make the deadlines, so I understand I won't receive any points. If possible, I'd still like to have you look at my paper so I have some feedback for future assignments."

I was so impressed. She stood tall and looked me in the eyes when she spoke. She was calm and collected. She was clear about the consequences of her inactions.

I hope the girls grow up like this student. I'd like to look into my crystal ball to see if we're shaping them to be responsible like this young woman. Sadly, my crystal ball isn't working at the moment. So instead, I want to ask my student where she found her sense of responsibility. I won't because it's not an appropriate conversation, but I really would like to know.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

It's My Turn

Now, before I start this, let me say my husband is a wonderful, involved father. I have no complaints most of the time. It's the middle of the night stuff, though, that I'd like to share a bit more.

This came up again this week because the blond twin has a cold. She's been coughing (or hacking up a lung as we like to say) a lot at night. She's been up a lot at night, so I've been up a lot at night.

Notice I said I've been up at night. It's not that my honey isn't willing to get up. It's just that he doesn't hear her -- at all. (And, it's not selective hearing on his part. He really is sleeping.) I always say that if there's an emergency in the middle of the night, the blond twin and I will have to wake up my husband and the brunette twin. Those two sleep through everything.

In the morning, when I tell him I was up for hours with the blond twin, he always says, "Wake me up next time. It's my turn." And, he's right, but here's the problem in my mind.

I'm going to wake up first. If it's his turn, I'll wake him up. He'll take care of the blond twin and then we'll all go back to sleep. See the problem? If he goes to take care of the blond twin, it's not like I'm going to roll over and go back to sleep. All three of us will be awake while she's coughing and crying. What's the point of that?

I'd like to turn over sick duty to Daddy, but if he's sleeping, at least one of us will be rested in the morning. He's right. It is his turn. There's just no point to making him take his turn.

Friday, July 11, 2008

This is not a drill

It was remarkably quiet in our house last night. The girls were sleeping, and we were starting to relax from another hectic day. Then the tornado siren went off. If you've never heard it, it sounds like an emergency vehicle is parked in your house. It's that loud and intense.

I grew up with weekly tornado drills in school. The tornado siren still gets tested the first Tuesday of each month at 10:00 a.m. A few years ago they tested it at 10:20 a.m. and I panicked. It's just that basic to me.

Last night when it went off we looked at each other for a minute and then ran. My husband carried one of the girls from her bed to the basement. I carried the other. Along the way we threw shoes downstairs (so we wouldn't be barefoot if we had to climb out of the basement after the tornado) and my purse (so we would have the mobile phone and cash/credit cards). We also grabbed blankets in case we needed to shield ourselves from falling stuff.

Once down in the basement, we turned on the portable radio. And then we waited.

We could hear the storm above us. It was so loud that we could hear it over the radio and the girls. The brunette twin enjoyed the whole thing as a fun adventure. She stood at her magnetic board spelling words and laughing. The blond twin was less amused. She didn't sleep well on Wednesday night, so last night she was exhausted. She spent her time in the basement crying and asking when she could go back upstairs to her bed. I tried to get her to go back to sleep in my arms, but she kept saying, "We don't sleep in the basement." She was inconsolable.

About 30 minutes after we ran down the stairs, the news radio station said the worst of the storm had passed. We took the girls back up to bed and finished up the laundry. There wasn't a tornado by us, but there was plenty of bad weather in other places. This time we were lucky, and extremely grateful a tornado didn't develop.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Eight New Natural Wonders

I might not be able to visit all these places during my lifetime, but it certainly is nice to dream.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Taking Notes and Asking Questions

The brunette twin has an ongoing science project this summer. She is carefully observing her 18-year-old cousin and her boyfriend. Whenever she spends time with Samantha, the brunette twin comes back with a lot of questions. Here are some favorite moments so far:

  • Samantha was wearing her boyfriend's pj bottoms. The brunette twin observed that she didn't think Gaven's pants would fit her.
  • When Samantha showed the girls a photo of her boyfriend, the brunette twin told me she needed a photo of Gaven for her purse.
  • Samantha talked about going to dinner with her boyfriend. The brunette twin wanted to know how old she and Gaven had to be before they went out to dinner alone.
  • A conversation about driving led the brunette twin to ask how long before she and Gaven could drive to school.
  • A casual comment by Samantha about talking to her boyfriend daily led the brunette twin to start "talking" to Gaven daily on her (pretend) princess phone.
  • The girls are both excited because they get to see their boyfriends this Friday. Samantha's boyfriend is coming back from vacation. Gaven is coming over for a play date. Both girls are planning their outfits.
It's like a flash forward in time. I am glad she has a good teacher, as Samantha is an intelligent, independent girlfriend. I am little afraid though, when I realize she'll be ready to date long before I'm ready for her to date.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Where's the Boy Hiding?

Overheard at our house...

Blond twin: "Hey, is there a boy in our house?"

Mom: "No, it's just us girls right now."

Blond twin: "Someone left the toilet seat up. There must be a boy hiding in our house."

Brunette twin: "Where would a boy be hiding?"

Mom: "There is no boy hiding. Maybe Daddy used the bathroom before he went to work and left it up."

Blond twin: "Daddy doesn't leave the toilet seat up. Where's the boy hiding?"

Mom: "Okay, I don't know why the toilet seat is up, but there are no boys hiding in our house."

Brunette twin: "Let's go check upstairs. I hope he isn't playing on our room."

Blond twin: "Yeah, I don't want him playing with my dolls."

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Garden Stench

We have a beautiful, fragrant butterfly garden in our back yard. It's filled with colorful flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. We also get lots of other colorful birds that stop by.

I like to keep it mulched with leaves and grass clippings. They are quick and easy, as well as great food for the gardens. They are also free. The neighbor next door has a HUGE yard, so I often ask him for his grass clippings. He obliges my strange request, kind of the way you pat a child on the head when she wants to dip her french fries in chocolate syrup. It's the head nod followed by the slightly strange look.

Last weekend he dropped off some grass clippings while we were out of town. I didn't get to move them to the garden until just a couple of days ago. Now that I've done it, I wish I had left them alone. The grass clippings started to compost before I could move them. I knew this as the middle of the pile was warm and mushy.

Instead of one composting pile of grass clippings, I have smelly grass mulch in the garden bed closest to our house. When we open the windows, we breath in a smelly garden stench, rather than the sweet fragrance of summer flowers. I know it won't last long, but right now it stinks.

This won't stop me from using grass clippings, but it will make me more attentive whenever my neighbor leaves a pile. Some day this will be part of the family lore -- one of many crazy gardening stories with my name attached!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Comes with a Built in Bra

My husband doesn't shop with me much, so he rarely witnesses my shopping meltdowns. Last night was an eye-opener for him. We decided to run a few errands after dinner. Yes, this was what we decided to do on our date night.

The girls needed bathing suit cover-ups. If you lived in the Chicago area, you would know that even though it's not yet July 4, it's nearly too late to find bathing suits and accessories in the stores. In a few weeks winter coats will be available, so there is a bit of a time crunch if you want to find bathing suit cover-ups.

Last year we bought them at Old Navy, so we went back there last night. The store clerk smiled as she told us they were all sold out. So, we started looking at dresses the girls might use for as bathing suit cover-ups.

We found an adorable purple dress for the brunette twin. It was perfect. I nearly started shaking when I read the label which said, "Comes with a built in bra for extra support." He just shook his head like he couldn't believe it. She's FOUR. She doesn't need extra support.

I carried the adorable dress around for a bit and then put it back. I told my husband I just couldn't buy her a dress with a built in bra. First, it was just wrong that clothes for girls so young even had built in bras. Second, if we bought the brunette twin the dress, the blond twin would be upset that she didn't have a dress with a bra. Third, the girls are already obsessed with bras because they want to be like me and the older cousins. I didn't see any reason to encourage this. He looked at me like I was a bit crazy, but I didn't want to push the limits of what's acceptable for four-year-old girls. In my mind, built in bras are not an acceptable accessory for a dress designed for little girls.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hiking Lessons

Here are some things I learned after a long weekend at Starved Rock, one of our beautiful state parks:
  • The daughter who whines when you walk all around the grocery store will be a trooper on the trails as long as she can pick our her own "super cute" hiking outfit.
  • Always pack more snacks than you think you need.
  • The daughter who can play all day and never stop will whine on the trail.
  • After you get lost on the trail, your daughters will always question your ability to read a map.
  • Sometimes a 3 mile hike requires a call to find your way back.
  • The bridge that seems to go nowhere is often the quickest way back.
  • Bug spray is the best thing ever invented.
  • Waterfalls require lots of rain. Somehow all the Midwest rains missed Starved Rock.
  • Horse trails are only fun if you are on a horse.
  • Nature is amazing.