Sunday, November 30, 2008

Explaining Christmas Lyrics

The girls always ask for definitions when they don't know a word. It's a habit we encourage because it keeps them thinking about the words they hear. Almost immediately after hearing the definition, they use the word correctly in their daily language.

At church, the girls are in the Christmas pageant. One of the songs the girls are singing is "Silent Night." I'm sure you know the lyrics, but here's the line that is causing me heartburn right now: "round yon virgin, Mother and child."

The girls want to know what a virgin is. At five, I don't really want to discuss the traditional meaning of virgin. As far as I know, they have no knowledge of the act that separates a virgin from a non-virgin. I'd like to keep it that way for a while. My answer was weaselly, but it was all I could come up with on short notice. I said that a virgin is a young girl. The girls accepted that answer, but not without additional discussion.

Brunette twin: We're all young girls, so we're all virgins.
Mom: No, you and Sissy are. Mommy is too old to be a virgin.
Blond twin: Okay, we're virgins and you're not.
Mom: Correct.

I realize now that I have to pay attention to Christmas song lyrics to hear for anything else I'm going to have to explain soon. I just hope they don't use the word in school tomorrow.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Shop It to Me

The best thing about my friends is they share their great finds. Here's one I'm going to pass along to everyone who loves a deal and wants it to be easy to find.

This site will find the deal for you and email you with the alert. Totally my kind of shopping!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'd rather be sleeping

Maybe it's because I still don't get enough sleep -- just last night the girls kept waking my up for different reasons -- but I need someone to explain why stores are opening at 4:00 a.m. the Friday after Thanksgiving. One local outlet mall is opening at midnight. I know I'm supposed to be excited, but I just don't understand it.

Does anyone really need to be Christmas shopping at 2:30 a.m.? (And, yes, we're Christmas shopping. Trust me when I say that my Jewish college roommate isn't in that mess bargain shopping for Hanukkah gifts.) Is it really more exciting to be shopping for Christmas presents in the middle of the night?

Today I was listening to the radio when I heard a story about a group of people who were lined up outside an electronics store for a week. They were camping, taking turns holding the places in line. The reporter said, "What do you hope to buy?" The camper said "We haven't seen the sale paper yet, so we don't know what is on sale." I know some people think that's cool, but I wondered what kind of people line up for a week when they don't know what's on sale. Do they have jobs? Families? Lives?

There isn't anything I am camping outside a store to buy. Even if I decided to wait in line for something, I promise I'm not getting into line at 2:30 a.m. So, if you're going to be out at 3:00 a.m. Friday morning, enjoy. Me? I hope to be sleeping then.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Proximidade Award

Here's the crazy thing...
Just when you need something to cheer up your day, someone comes along and does it. This Crazy Thing Called Motherhood passed along a charming blog award. The badge is above, but it's the reason behind the award that makes me smile.
This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.
I try to think of everyone who reads as a virtual friend, so it's good that others recognize it too.
Now comes the fun part. I get to pass the award on to 8 people. I'm not going to tell you why I want to pass the award to these blogs. You'll have to enjoy them yourself to figure it out.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It's Just Not Fair

When Mom called last night and said, "S's Mom died." My first thought was "S who?" It's not that I don't know S, as she's been my sister-in-law for nearly 20 years, but it never occurred to me that her Mom would pass so soon.

Really, I have two grandmothers who are well past 90 years old. One has advanced Alzheimer's. If you haven't seen it in person, you might not really understand how terrible it is to watch someone you love sit in a chair staring blankly into space, and to know that someone has to care for her like she's a baby. The other one is starting to lose her memory and often doesn't know our girls.

I expect the phone call soon for either of them. I would welcome it for my grandmother with advanced Alzheimer's. But S's Mom? It never even crossed my mind.

My first thought was it's just not fair. A woman in her early retirement years goes to lunch with her husband, daughters and grandchildren, goes home not feeling well, take a short nap, and then dies. She has nine children, more than 40 grandchildren and about a dozen great-grandchildren. She's the kind of no-nonsense, big family matriarch you see in the movies. And we all love her.

It's really the best tribute to someone isn't it? No matter what her professional or civic accomplishments, her greatest pride was her family. We're all better off for having known her. I know life isn't fair. Really, I'm a grown up and intellectually, I do know that. Yet, today, I just cannot stop thinking, "it's not fair."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Just in awe

I am in awe of the blond twin. It's not the beautiful blue eyes or long blond hair that makes me sigh, it's her ability to destroy clothing. She can take a perfectly good shirt and destroy it in one day. It's not like she's playing with paint or food coloring. She's just going through her day.

In the past few weeks, she has destroyed shirts by
  • Carving her Halloween pumpkin. She managed to get black marker in the middle of her shirt.

  • Enjoying multi-color frosting from a cupcake. Somehow she stained her sleeves with blue and purple frosting. I'm not sure how, but it ruined the sleeves near the wrist.

  • Eating a pasta dinner. She dropped enough pasta sauce on her shirt to feed another child. Most of it came out, but not all of it.

  • Practicing with her SAFETY scissors. No, I'm not kidding. She managed to destroy a shirt with safety scissors.

We don't have this situation with the brunette twin. Somehow she manages to do the same activities without destroying all her clothing. It's rare that the brunette twin ever ruins anything

It's a good thing we're not hoping to pass the blond twin's clothes down to anyone -- that would be one under-dressed little girl.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Twins Law Making an Impact

When I tell people that we're working in Illinois to create a Twins Law, they usually say, "why?" After I explain that too many principals and school districts treat the twin bond like it's a disease that needs to be cured, most people are surprised. There is also some shock that most school districts refuse to involve parents in the decision "to separate or not separate."

You'd think we've advanced enough to realize that a one-size fits all. paternalistic school system doesn't work. However, we haven't. Too many school districts want to dictate what is best for your child and expect you to follow blindly. Until you have twins, you do not realize how many school districts want to break the twin bond. It is like it's a disease. "They are too close." "They rely on each other." "She's better at math, which keeps her brother back."

You wouldn't have these conversations about two children who are one school year apart. If you had two children of different ages who were very close and relied on each other, people would say, "Aw, that's sweet." When it's twins they are talking about, it becomes something bad.

The article from The Lansing State Journal talks about the impact Twins Law is having on education. While I agree with much of the article, I am still frustrated by the educator at the end of the article who says, "In the end it should be the Principal's decision."

Clearly, we still have work to do.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Maintenance Mode

It's Monday, so that means our house goes into maintenance mode. Since I started working full time again, all our during-the-week activities relate to just keeping things going. If we all wake-up, brush our teeth, eat breakfast, and get to work/school on time, the day is going well. Those are our priorities for our weekdays -- just getting the normal things taken care of each day. We don't try to fit in other activities like going to the grocery store or shopping for presents. Those activities fill our weekends.

You'd think that I could get more done because I work from home, but I don't. Between taking care of the girls and trying to get my eight hours done each day, my day is full. Once in a while I can fit in an extra trip to the post office or a visit from a friend, but not often. I was talking to a friend who liked the description of "maintenance mode." She said her family does the same things. Between school, work and extra-curricular activities, there is not time for anything else.

In our house, we start Monday with a clean house and full fridge. By Friday, I have a big pile of mail I haven't looked at and we're scrounging for dinner. Really, you cannot believe the strange combinations of food I can put together and call dinner. Too often dinner looks quite like it did the day before. "No, last night we have peanut butter and jelly with apples. Tonight it's grilled cheese sandwiches with apples." By Friday, it all seems to make sense.

Before I worked, I used to run all the errands during the week, so our weekends were free for fun. My mission was to make sure we didn't have any "work" to do Saturday and Sunday. Even though that's not possible any more, we still fit in some fun. It's not all work, but it's a different balance.

Maintenance mode reminds me of the days when the girls were first born. We had small goals then -- feed everyone, make sure everyone stayed safe, and get some sleep on occasion. Even though the girls are older now, maintenance mode is still in force. The funny thing is our girls aren't even in that many activities right now, so most of our friends keep saying, "Get used to it. It only gets busier!" Looks like maintenance mode might be a permanent state of being in our house.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

On Simplicity

I am completely enamored with a blog I found called "On Simplicity." It is like positive reinforcement for my desire to slow down and enjoy life. I love today's post about "What’s Playful About Simplicity? Simplicity Gives You More Time for the Things that Matter." It talks about everything from reducing clutter so you do have to spend so much time taking care of everything to reasons why fewer toys help children be more creative.

Since I signed up for the feed, it shows up in my email box like a comforting reminder that it's okay not to be on every committee, not to watch every 'hot" TV show and not to take on every problem in the world as my own. Being scheduled every moment of every day is not a life, it's insanity. It reminds me that the best things in life require less stuff and more focused time.

When the girls grow up, I hope they will remember that we hiked Starved Rock, spent time watching cousins play baseball and hockey, hung out in the backyard with friends, and invited everyone over for whatever party excuse we could invent.

Here's the basic rule she lives by "If something doesn’t make me excited to be alive, then it’s not worth doing." I think it's a rule worth remembering for myself and a rule to teach the girls.

Friday, November 14, 2008

An Invitation to the Ball

Both girls are shrieking and crying, and I couldn't be happier. We registered them for an event at the local park district called Cinderella's Ball. Today, the official invitations to the Ball arrived.

The girls read the envelope return addresses and started shaking. They could hardly open the envelopes. They started crying when I read the official invitation, which starts

By Order of the King and Queen
Princess Blond Twin and her escort
are cordially invited to attend
The Royal Ball

If you have or are around young girls at all, you know that an official invitation to the Royal Ball is a dream come true. So many of the Princess stories involve a Royal Ball. for the girls to be invited to one is the highlight of the year.

As soon as they calm down, we'll discuss the dresses, hair, shoes, etc. They don't know it yet, but they will be wearing their new Christmas dresses. They own sparkly, new shoes, so those will be their "glass slippers." I don't know what we'll do with their hair, but I'm sure it will involve something sparkly too.

I love this age, when princesses are real and the Ball is the highlight of your day. I just hope we can make that innocence and joy last as long as possible.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Unexpected When You're Expecting

I'm reading the funniest book called The Unexpected When You're Expecting. It's a laugh-out-loud parody of that other book by the same name. You know the one that everyone bought you when you announced you were having a baby (or two).

It's so sarcastic, but you know it's everything you always wanted to say during our pregnancy and beyond. Here's a sample chapter title, "The Baby Shower: It's you still have the receipt?" Really, if you had a baby shower, you know you wanted to say that A LOT. If you deny it, you either received everything exactly as you registered for it or you are not telling the truth.

Another chapter is called, "Month Three: A little duck tape and some Crisco and you're back in your jeans." I don't know any Mom who made it back into the pre-pregnancy jeans. Some are in larger sizes; some are in smaller sizes. It's come to the point that we just don't talk about it any more.

If you're looking for something funny to buy a friend for Christmas or Hanukkah, try this book by Mary K. Moore. It will bring joy and cheer to the recipient and anyone else around while she's laughing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Maybe An Education Isn't Such a Good Thing

We're driving Saturday morning when the blond twin looks at my newspaper and said, "The Big what? I cannot see that word." I realized she was looking at a headline that said, "The Big Move." Of course, there's nothing wrong with that headline, but we realize now there's a downside to school.

We are having a harder time having "secret" conversations in front of the girls. We used to just spell words, but now that they can spell, it's harder to use that tactic to keep a secret. Of course, they cannot spell big words yet, so that's our saving grace at the moment. The problem is we often cannot think of big words to use in place of common words. And, even if we can come up with one, we probably cannot spell it.

We used to speak in code. You know how it goes. Santa is the guy in the red suit. Ice cream is the cold, white stuff. The doctor is the MD. Even that doesn't work as well now that they are a little older and more aware.

I've tried to write notes so I remember to tell my husband things after the girls go to bed. The problem there is by the time they are asleep, I forget that I've written the note. We tend to be okay "talking" via email, but then we actually have to do that whole work thing, which gets in the way of everything else.

It's not going to get any easier as they get older and smarter. We need to work out a new system. One that we'll remember and be able to sustain for a while -- or at least until their education catches up to us.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

We're Raising a Valley Girl

Like, my gosh, I'm not sure when it, like, happened, but it turns out, like, we're raising a valley girl. I don't know, like, how it, like happened, but oh my gosh, the blond twin is a valley girl.

I noticed it a few weeks ago, but it seems to be getting worse lately. I swear she uses the word "like" as every fourth or fifth word. It's both really cute and really strange. I don't even know where she picked it up. None of the nieces say "like" all the time, so I can only assume she picked it up at school.

I started listening this weekend and I don't hear the brunette twin say "like." Wherever the blond twin picked up the word, it didn't stick to the brunette twin. Not only does the blond twin use it, she does it with the correct inflection.

It's like she's channeling some the 1980s. When she starts rolling, she even includes the big smile and hair flip. It's so natural for her that I'm not even sure she realizes she's doing it. I'd try to reduce the "likes" in our house, but it's so cute when she does it. I realize it would be a bad thing for her to do when she's in the corporate world. Right now, though, it is, like, completely adorable.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Dinner Talk

Overhead while driving the mini-van to dinner...

Brunette Twin: Mom, I don't feel well. My stomache hurts.
Mom: Do you have to go to the bathroom?
Brunette Twin: No.

Blond Twin: Are you going to puke?
Brunette Twin: I don't think so.

Mom: What's the rule?
Brunette Twin: Don't puke on Mommy. Puke on Daddy.
Blond Twin: You should puke in the toilet or the sink.
Brunette Twin: Or the garbage can if you're not by the bathroom.
Mom: And, if you're not going to make it to the bathroom?
Both Girls: Puke on Daddy!

Dad: What? Why is that the rule?
Mom: I get puked on enough. It's your turn.
Dad: They puke on me too.
Mom: You're still behind.

Brunette Twin: I don't think I'm going to puke.
Mom: But if you do...
Brunette Twin: I know Mom, puke on Daddy.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election Happenings

I was lucky enough to be in downtown Chicago Tuesday. I had a meeting that kept me there until about 5:00 p.m. The City of Chicago asked businesses to close early to allow everyone to go home before the Obama supporters filled the streets. When I left my meeting, the streets were strangely quiet. There weren't many people filling the sideways. The tow trucks were clearing the streets -- and they were not messing around. One man decided to argue with the tow truck driver, who promptly towed the car with the man in it. The police were in full force making their presence known.

As I made it to the train station, the streets became more crowded. Hundreds of people walking from the train station smiled, chattered and moved quickly to the celebration. Even though they knew (then) Senator Obama wouldn't arrive until at least 10:00 p.m., they wanted to get to the celebration quickly to secure a good place to view history. It was electric to be among them all.

When I watched it on TV later, I was so jealous. I knew several people in the crowd, so I scanned the crowd looking for a friendly face. I admit tears streamed down my face when I watched President-elect Obama speak. The tears on the faces in the crowd brought home the real meaning of the moment. I was thrilled that my candidate won, but these people were crying for other reasons -- more personal reasons.

The last time politics made me cry was when U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi was named Speaker of the House. It was such a milestone moment. A woman was second in line for the U.S. Presidency. Tuesday I sat and watched a man of mixed heritage thank the American people for making him the next U.S. President. It was so amazing.

People asked me why it affected me so. There are so many personal answers to that question. In the end, it came down to our daughters' futures. Not in terms of what President-elect Obama would do to improve their futures. Mostly for me, it was about the possibilities. We always say that anything is possible in America. Each time another barrier falls, I believe it more and more.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Get out and VOTE

The US elections are today. More than any other election, this is about our children. This is the first election our twins have been old enough to influence my thinking about a specific candidate. They are five, so the last election we were too tired to think critically.

Now, I am clear that this election is about our children. There is a story in USA Today that illustrates one of my main election issues and why I think it is so important for people to vote in all elections at all levels.

Our girls attend the public school district. One of the reasons we live in our area is because we have good, solid public schools. We live in middle-class America, and quite honestly, some people are surprised that our schools are so good. Why shouldn't we have good public schools? Why should a quality education be limited to only the affluent suburbs?

This is where your local vote is so important. Let's face it, US Presidents have very little influence on your child's neighborhood school. It's great that they have visions and plans, but the people who actually implement those visions are your local school board, local elected officials, and state elected officials.

There is an estimate that 85% of registered voters in the US will vote today. I hope they take a moment to vote all the way down the ballot. It's important to elect the best US President, but it's equally as important to elect the correct people for the local school board, local Mayor, etc.

We all talk about wanting to give our children a better future. Today's the day you can make that happen.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Seeking Immunity

For a house full of healthy people, all we do lately is go to the doctor. The girls are both sick and on antibiotics. The scary thing is they don't have anything they could pass to each other.

First the brunette twin started complaining that she wasn't feeling well. I received a call from school asking me to pick her up. We took her to the doctor and came home with a prescription for a typical childhood infection.

A week later, the blond twin woke up in the middle of the night complaining about her ear hurting. During the day she was fine, but she's wake up at night. My husband (with his great memory) said, "She always does this when she has an ear infection. We should take her to the doctor to check." You know what happened next, she came home with a prescription.

Now I'm wondering how it is that our two, healthy daughters can both be on antibiotics for infections? We have two sets of medicines with different instructions and dosages. We need a spreadsheet to figure it out. Who gets what when? For how long?

Really, they are healthy girls. For the most part, you'd never know they are sick. They girls are running around having a good time like normal. I swear it's some kind of really, really strange coincidence that they are both sick.

Now we have to take them back for follow-up visits. From start to finish (at least I hope it's the finish), we'll be at the doctor's office once a week for five weeks. I'm crossing my fingers that we find some real immunity before the winter illnesses start spreading through the schools. I think we've done our time in the doctor's waiting room for the year.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Happenings

About 2:30 p.m. today, all I kept thinking was "where is the pain killer?" I thought my head would explode. I took the bottle around to all the adults and they laughed at my offer.

We hosted a Halloween party with about nearly 20 children. It's was fun, chaotic and enlightening. Since we moved the girls to the new preschool, they have created a small group of friends in their class. We invited several of them, as well as other friends from other programs and the neighborhood.

It was fun to see all the children in their costumes. They are still young enough that dressing up was a thrill. Watching them admire each others costumes as if they were Oscar-worthy outfits was quite amusing.

It was chaotic when they were playing games. We played simple games like freeze dance and pass the pumpkin (aka hot potato). They seemed to have the most fun when two boys chased them with a pretend snake. There was lots of shrieking and giggling.

It was enlightening that all the children were together for nearly three hours without a major problem. There were a few "he pushed me too hard" complaints during a game, but it was not serious. They were all nice, polite children who were thrilled to be part of the party.

When we switched preschools, one of the reasons was we wanted the girls to get to know the children with whom they will attend elementary school. This party was our chance to meet some of the parents and pull some new people into the extended "family." All in all, I think the party was a success. The girls have made friends with nice children with nice families.

So far, so good.