Friday, May 28, 2010

Ways to Sound Like A Hockey Fan

It's official. The Chicago Blackhawks are going to the Stanley Cup finals. This means, of course, that the whole town will be hockey crazy for a little while longer. As a life long hockey fan (We could ice skate before we could ride bikes.), here are a few things to say to sound like you know and love the game.

  • "Hey, stay away from our goalie." No matter what the other team does -- skate too closely, push the goalie, spray ice on him -- defend your goalie. Even if the act isn't really worthy of a penalty, teams take the job of protecting their goalies very seriously. For bonus points, say, "Antii Niemi is amazing. Is he really a rookie?" Our goalie has been amazing in the playoffs.
  • "The Stanley Cup is the coolest trophy ever." This is true and not because it means your team is the best in the league for that year. It's the coolest because every player and coach gets it for a day. Yes, tradition says that if your team wins the Stanley Cup trophy, then you get it for a day. A few years ago, the winning coach put it in his backyard and invited fans to take a photo with him and the trophy. It is the most traveled trophy of any sport, having gone around the world and appeared in numerous television shows.
  • "I love when an Original Six team makes the Stanley Cup finals." The Original Six are essentially the founding teams of our modern NHL. For bonus points, know that the Original Six are the Chicago Blackhawks, the Detroit Red Wings, the Boston Bruins, the New York Rangers, the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Most people cannot name all six, even if they are lifelong hockey fans.
One piece of musical trivia about the Chicago Blackhawks. The team plays the same song every time they score. This has become their signature sound. In an interview last season, the band The Fratellis (Chelsea Dagger) said they hadn't heard of the Chicago Blackhawks until someone told them the team was using their song. Other teams hate, hate, hate it. One opposing player said something to the effect of "All we want is to not hear that song when we play the Blackhawks at home." I'm not sure if that's the exact quote, but it's close. I started laughing when he was saying it because to a Blackhawks fan, it's the sweetest sound in the world.

Now, go forth and cheer for the Blackhawks. Just remember, it's a sweater, not a jersey and no shaving your facial hair until after we win the series.

This was originally posted on the Chicago Moms Blog post. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

No Food in the Bathroom

The brunette twin is a picky eater.  She will look at something and decide she doesn't want to eat it.  Sometimes the mac and cheese has different noodles; other times she decides the oranges are too tart.  Of course, we still make her eat it.  She doesn't get to pick her food. 

The other day she went to the bathroom during lunch.  She tried to sneak into the kitchen and throw something into the garbage can.  I caught her -- sheer luck, although I did tell her I know everything that happens in this house.

She spit out the fruit she didn't want to eat and was trying to throw it in the garbage.  Being the understanding Mom that I am, I made sure she had an extra piece to fill in for the nearly-tossed piece.  I wouldn't want her to miss the vitamins and fiber. 

Now we have a new rule.  Neither girl can go to the bathroom during a meal until they show us that they don't have any food hidden in their mouths.  It's disgusting some times, so I'm hopeful that we don't have to do the mouth check much longer. 

Of course, we've been talking about getting a dog, so soon the brunette twin will just be able to drop food on the floor when she doesn't want to eat it.  At least I've heard that's what people do when they have a dog.  It's not like I ever did that with our dogs when I was her age. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Did he have an evil smile?

In our neighborhood, we often talk about how if any child is going to end up on a "missing" poster, it will be the brat in the backyard.  Last night it almost happened.

Some young man with short blond hair walked up to the brat and started talking to her.  She was, as usual, just wandering the neighborhood by herself.  A few seconds later, she was walking across the neighbor's lawn with him.  He wasn't dragging her.  She wasn't screaming.  They were walking along talking about soccer.

Luckily for her, our neighbor was in his front yard, as were all the neighborhood kids.  The neighborhood kids decided something was wrong as they didn't recognize the young man.  Our neighbor started talking to the young man and wouldn't let the brat leave with him.  While he was still trying to get some information from the young man, an older van with out of state plates came around the corner.  The driver yelled, "Get in" and they were gone.

A little while later we found out about the incident as the neighborhood kids came over to tell us about it. They wanted to make sure we knew so we could keep a close eye on the girls. 

The police know about the incident, but we don't expect them to find the young man.  Even with a description of him and the van, it will be hard for them to track down the vehicle without a license plate number.  It's all very generic for the most part.

Of course, we're all upset about this -- and yet eternally grateful that our neighbor stepped in. 

When we told the girls, we stressed the basics.  Don't talk to strangers.  Never walk away with a stranger.  Yell loudly "I don't know you.  Leave me alone" if a stranger tries to take you away.  They seem to understand, but I'm still worried.  They are much smarter and more mature (for six year olds) than the brat in the backyard.  Still, we know it can happen anywhere to any child.

As they were about to go to sleep, the blond twin had one more question about the bad man who tried to take the brat.  She said, "Mom, did he have an evil smile?"

I wish.  I wish it was that easy to tell the bad guys from the good guys.  Luckily our neighborhood is filled with good guys (and by extension good kids).  Otherwise we might be telling a much different story today.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Here Come the Hawks

My father is a hockey fanatic in the truest sense of the word.  He can hardly think while the Chicago Blackhawks are playing.  It's like he's transported to another world.

This is why I'm so happy for him today.  The Blackhawks are going to the Stanley Cup finals.

When we were children, we could skate before we could ride bikes.  We sat outside an ice cream shop for the last game on the 1971 Stanley Cup finals. My parents promised us ice cream, but couldn't leave station wagon until they heard the last few minutes of the game.  Once it was over, they could hardly eat ice cream as they were so disappointed. 

They are hard core fans.  My parents used to take a bus down to the Chicago Stadium to see games.  They lived for hockey.  Today they don't go to many games, but now they can watch them on TV.  Thank you Rocky Wirtz!

Yesterday when the final game was on TV, I watched in our family room.  When the team scored, I turned up the surround sound so the entire neighborhood could hear Chelsea Dagger.  I think people for blocks around us could hear it.  It was so loud the girls came in and asked me to turn down the music.

It was crazy.  We had an unusually hot day (about 90 degrees), so normally we'd be outside.  All I could do is sit on the couch and panic.  Seriously.  Sometimes I am my father's daughter, except I don't swear as much as he does when he watches the game.

So, we're in the Stanley Cup finals, which means I have only a few more days to teach the girls the Blackhawks song -- Here Come the Hawks

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Just stop asking...

Here's one thing I just don't understand. Given all the news stories about how women are waiting to have children, and how the increase in fertility treatments has lead to an increase in multiples, how is it that people still ask me, "Do twins run in your family?"

In my case, the answer is yes. My maternal grandmother had a set of boy/girl twins long before ultrasound images gave you any warning. I know what we thought as we stared at the screen looking at two little sacs during our first ultrasound. I cannot image my grandfather's reaction when the nurse came out of the delivery room and said, "You have twins."

The most amazing thing is it is usually complete strangers who ask. I've had people walk up to me in the grocery store and start asking about our twin daughters. Why is this acceptable? Are these people walking up to every parent pushing a baby stroller to chat and give advice? What is it about multiples that brings out this need in some people?

Everyone we know understands how our girls came into our lives. They don't have to ask. Let's face it. If we wanted you to know we'd tell you. If we haven't told you, that means it's none of your business.

The polite answer is "Well, they do now." Yet most of the time, I don't see why I have to answer the question at all. I realize it's just small talk, but it's really a question that should be removed from any conversation. Whether a woman had twins naturally or through assisted reproductive technology, she still has two little miracles. Let's try to focus on that happiness and stop trying to figure out how the twins were conceived.

This was originally posted on the Chicago Moms Blog.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Grocery Shopping Shortcuts

Here's an idea I like.  Over at A Full Cup a bunch of other moms set-up a site to make grocery shopping easier and less expensive.  The Shopping Lists feature has all the sale items at local grocery stores and coupons all in one place.  You can click on a store and instantly find out what is on sale and find coupons to match your shopping list.

If figures that a group of moms would figure out a way to make grocery shopping easier and cheaper. 

Now that you know about it, go forth and save!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kindergarten Nostalgia

The girls still have about 10 days of kindergarten left and already I'm nostalgic. Today they brought home papers ranging from their first journal to their May work.  It is amazing to see how much they progressed during the year.

They went from uneven, misspelled words to easy-to-read properly spelled sentences with punctuation.  They've gone from reading a few words here and there to reading books.  They've gone from recognizing numbers to doing basic addition and subtraction.

I see the physical changes all the time.  Dresses that used to be past their knees are now just above the knees.  Pants I hemmed in September need to be taken down in May, if they even still fit.  Shoes that fit nicely at the start of school are now in the garbage can.  One pair had holes in the toes.  The other simply separated so that the sole folded back like a flap.

The girls have moved from the Wiggles to Disney Radio.  They know all the super-cool artists and can sing all the songs.  Their taste in television shows moved to "Wizards of Waverly Place," although they still love all the Barbie movies. 

They joined the Daisy troop and learned the Girl Scout pledge.  After several community service projects, they can see how a little work can do a lot of good for other people.  They understand the importance of being a good friend and why Thin Mints are the best Girls Scout cookies.

They received a whole different type of education on the school bus.  Even though I really wanted them to take the bus, I have to admit I had second thoughts a few times.  Only kindergartners and first graders are on the bus.  I figured it would be safe from the really crazy stuff, but I was wrong.  They learned that it's bad to stick up your middle finger at anyone.  They learned swear words in several languages, although none of those languages seem to be English. 

On a daily basis I'm amazed at how much our babies have grown, even though I tell them daily, "No matter how old you are, you'll always be my baby."  It's just that my babies are now big girls. I cannot wait to see what comes next, even as I miss the little girls I sent on the school bus last September.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

No More Bathroom Duty

My husband has been really great about doing his part with the girls, especially when it comes to bathroom duty.  From endless diaper changes when they were little to endless trips to every bathroom since the day we started potty training, he has never hesitated to step in.  Yet as the girls get older, it's clear that Daddy's time doing bathroom duty is coming to an end.

It's one thing to take two little girls into the men's bathroom when they don't really know what's going on -- so to speak.  It's another to take them in when they observe and understand a lot more.

Now they ask a lot of questions about their bodies and boy's bodies.  We have a lot of "we only talk about this at home or in the van" conversations.  They have the normal six-year-old questions about the differences between girls and boys. 

Occasionally they get an unexpected lesson in body differences, like when a friend decided to use the bathroom without closing the door.  They were all talking and he just decided to relieve himself with the door open.  Why stop the chat just because nature called? 

From that point on, they have been fascinated with the way boys pee.  They look for opportunities to see if their theories about boys and girls in the bathroom are correct.  It's not that they don't believe us when we answer their questions.  It's just that they would rather see if for themselves.

So, Daddy is done with bathroom duty for the most part.  If he's out with them by himself, then he won't have a choice.  Given any other options, he'll opt out of bathroom duty. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What the girls really think

Sometimes I get a glimpse of how thr girls' minds work, and I'm not always happy about it.  Here are the most recent three examples:

On Mother's Day, Daddy asked the girls to help pick up sticks in our yard while we planted the new perennials.  The blond twin said, "Why doesn't Mom help?  She never does any work."

On Tuesday, I had a meeting right after dinner.  I told the girls that Daddy would put them to bed.  The blond twin said, "Yeah.  It's always so much fun when we're with Daddy."  I said, "Don't we have fun?"  Her reply was, "Not really.  We have more fun with Daddy."

Yesterday the brunette twin came home with a drawing from school.  The assignment was to finish a sentence and draw a picture.  To finish the sentence, "I feel grumpy when..." the brunette twin wrote, "My mom yells at me."  I said, "I don't yell at you much, do I?"  She said, "All the time and it makes me grumpy."

So, to recap, it turns out that I don't do any work, am not fun, and yell all the time.

How's your week going?

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Importance of Finding One's Community

I've been thinking a lot about the idea of community lately. There have been a lot of news stories talking about different communities. Some are geographic; others are ethnic. Some are based upon a common hobby or interest; others are religious. Sometimes the community comes together for celebrations. Sometimes you find out exactly how strong a community is because of a tragedy.

Our nephew recently learned an important lesson in community. It's not something I would have ever wished upon him, though. Jake plays for the Vikings Hockey Club at Arctic Ice in Orland Park. He has been flying on the ice since he was old enough to put on skates. A few weeks ago, a fellow hockey player was killed while riding his bike. Kelly Ryan was just 12 years old.

The initial shock turned into action for the extended Vikings team and Arctic Ice hockey community. The requisite Facebook page created a place for people to express their condolences and share stories. My sister-in-law said more than 200 cars were part of the funeral procession. At some point the funeral home director just stopped counting. At the funeral, the boys put up their hockey sticks as Ryan's coffin entered and exited the church. It was the hockey version of a military salute. At the cemetery, all the boys took off their jerseys and threw them on top of Ryan's coffin after it was lowered into the ground. It was an amazing show of strength and community from a group of 12 year olds.

I could had tears streaming down my face when my sister-in-law told me about the wake and funeral. When I was a sophomore in high school, four of my classmates died in one year. I knew exactly what Jake was going through, and I knew that nothing anyone could say or do would make it easier. Yet, as a community, they will heal and thrive. Our high school class made it through, and I know the Vikings hockey family will as well.

There are already signs of healing taking place. The VIkings family has mobilized to organize an event benefiting the Ryan family. The Vikings family has moved from shock to action.

I am not a person who believes that your community is limited to the neighborhood where you live. I'm someone who thinks you build your community through different connections you make throughout life. I'm glad Jake has the Vikings hockey family as part of his community. I hope that they all find peace and comfort together.

And someday, I hope everyone we know finds a place in a community that strong. To have that kind of support and caring in good times and bad is one of the great joys in life.
This was originally posted on the Chicago Moms Blog.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sharing Gramma's Chair

We are doing a bit of rearranging, so we sold both of our couches.  This lead to a few nights on the dining room chairs while we watched television.  Let's just say our dining room chairs are fine for a meal, but not for a few hours. 

While we were without any real seating, my parents came by to watch the girls for a couple of hours.  I was worried about where my parents would sit, but I should have only been worried about my Dad.

You know those little recliners you see for young children? We have one.  Mom and Dad bought it for the oldest grandchildren (who are now in college) and it has been passed down until it made it to our house.  It's green and really does recline.

As I was getting ready to leave, I walked in the living room and found my Mom sitting in it.  Yep.  She is so small that she fits in the children's recliner.

The girls thought this was the funniest thing ever.  They like to measure themselves against Gramma.  Right now they are at her shoulders.  Odds are good they will be as tall or taller than her by third grade.  When your Gramma is about 4' 10" and you have always been tall for your age, it's not hard to believe that they girls will be taller than her by third grade.  After all, the brunette twin is already 50" tall.

Today they were playing in the living room and one of them said, "Hey, get out of Gramma's chair."

I laughed because the picture in my head is still so funny.  How many kindergarteners can share a children's chair with their Gramma?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

We're Officially a Radio Disney Family

The girls are in an in-between stage where they are too old for the Wiggles, Taylor Swift is cool, and most of the other music is too old for them.  They are listening to the radio more closely now, though, so I have to monitor what they hear.

This is a big problem when it comes to morning radio.  A lot of the songs are okay, but the disc jockey chatter leaves something to be desired.  I realize the six year olds are not their target market, yet I would think they'd know that parents with children might be listening to the radio.

We discovered Radio Disney when we were shopping recently.  Near the checkout counter, there was a rack with compliation compact discs.  I picked up one and the girls were so excited.  They knew all the artists from talking with friends at school.

The music is fine for them.  The lyrics are innocent enough -- after all it is Disney.  The girls learned all the lyrics quickly and sing all the songs now.  We'll pick up another CD or two the next time we're inthe store.

The big move to Radio Disney as our official radio station came this week.  The brunette twin asked me about something the disc jockey said.  I realized then that we just couldn't listen to local radio anymore.  It's not bad in the afternoon or evening, but morning radio was out.

My biggest complaint about Radio Disney is that it is on AM radio.  It's like going back in time.  Our wonderful surround sound is completely missing.  I feel like I'm back in my childhood when I'd listen to the portable radio.

The girls are happy with the music and I'm happy with the content.  I miss the local news updates, but I'm usually working on the computer, so I can look at the online newspapers for weather and news.  For now, we're a Radio Disney family.