Sunday, June 27, 2010

Back on Schedule

We've been giving the girls an allowance for a while now, but we're not very consistent.  It's not that we don't want to give them their allowance, it's just that some times we forget or don't have the exact change or it gets late and we just don't get to it.  More than once we've said, "We'll do it tomorrow," but tomorrow never comes. 

We're going on vacation soon, so we need to get back on a weekly schedule.  We've told the girls that we're going to let them take their "spend" money with them.  They can buy anything they want as long as it is within their budget.

The problem is since we haven't been good about giving them their allowance on time, they don't have that much money saved.  We would like them to buy something that will remind them of their trip. Of course, this means they have to have some money to spend. I'm not sure they will have enough money to buy themselves anything as small as a t-shirt. 

For now we're really trying to remember to give them their allowance weekly.  If we don't, we might have to quietly supplement their "spend" money.  It's not the lesson we want to teach them, but if they don't have any money to spend, we won't be able to teach them about staying within budget.

As soon as we're back from vacation, we'll want them to start saving for Christmas presents.  Given that I think Mom and Dad deserve really nice presents, we'll have to stick to our allowance schedule so they can save the maximum amount. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cleaning Closets and Drawers Again

When the girls were little, and going through infant sizes at an alarming rate, people would say, "They will slow down soon."  As I'm busy cleaning out the brunette twin's closet and drawers again, I just want to know when this will happen. This girl just went up to a new size -- again.  It's the second time this year I've gone through all her clothes. 

I was a little slow to pick-up on her growth spurt.  It must be because I see her every day, but I really didn't notice that she moved up a size until I started noticing she wasn't wearing her favorite clothes any more.  At first I thought it was just because it is summer.  After a while I realized it was because they didn't fit any more.

She couldn't button her favorite jeans.  She couldn't get her favorite shirt over her head.  Her socks were too small to fit on her feet.

One afternoon I pulled out all her clothing and had her try everything on.  She dreads this because she knows she's going to end up with an empty closet and dresser.  The blond twin, on the other hand, loves it.  She knows her sister will pass down all the clothes worth sharing.

At the end of this adventure, the brunette twin and I went into the basement.  I try to buy a few things at the end of each season so I have some clothes on hand for when the size change happens.  I always do the same thing.  I go to the clearance rack (or more likely the virtual clearance rack on the web site) and pick a few cute clothes.  After that I stare at the clothes when I get home (or when the mailman delivers them) and think, "There is just no way they will fit into these clothes in a year."  Yet, they always do.

The brunette twin giggles as she sees all her new clothes.  She tries them on and each one fits nicely.  She's a happy girl with a new wardrobe -- all from the clearance rack.

The blond twin is a few months behind her sister.  She doesn't turn over her closet as often, but she too has a bin.  She likes to go through her clothes just to see what is waiting for her.

Next stop on our adventure?  I think it's a shoe department.  The blond twin informed me today that none of her shoes fit.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hot Dogs? Really?

It's hard to explain how much I hate hot dogs.  The mere smell of a hot dog turns my stomach in a hundred ways.  I don't care if we're outside and someone is grilling hot dogs.  I can simply move away from it.  I cannot breath when I'm in a closed space and someone is cooking hot dogs. Everything about hot dogs is just disgusting to me.

My father used to own a butcher shop. Let me just confirm that the old saying, "you wouldn't eat it if you saw it made" is completely true when it comes to hot dogs. I'll spare you the details, but having watched my father make hot dogs is not the reason I dislike them so. It's the smell and the taste and the texture and, well, just everything.

Hot dogs are a big topic of conversation in our house lately.  Our previously vegetarian daughters have started experimenting with meat.  The brunette twin will eat the occasional bite of steak or hamburger.  The blond twin eats a little turkey and corned beef.  (I know...corned beef?  It's true.)  They both have decided to eat hot dogs, especially since Daddy likes them.
There are some upsides to this.  Most children's menus have hot dogs as an option, so it gives them an option besides mac-n-cheese or spaghetti.  It's easy to drive through a fast food place and get a hot dog when we're on the run.  It's not as easy to find drive through mac-n-cheese.  It's portable, so they can eat while we drive.
Still, we're talking about hot dogs.  Even writing this makes me gag.
The girls are obsessed with why I hate hot dogs.  Last night at dinner, the blond twin waved a piece in front of my face and said, "You make me try everything.  I think you should try it for me."  I responded by threatening to take away some of her allowance.
Someday they will understand that the only reason I ever made hot dogs for them was because I love them so much.  Outside of our girls and my husband, I cannot think of anyone else I'd cook hot dogs for. 
Before they were born, I would never had equated hot dogs with love.  Every time I cook them now, I just keep reminding myself that sometimes we have to sacrifice for our children.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Just Go Outside

The girls are in the midst of a busy summer play date schedule.  They have friends over all the time.  I like having their friends over, especially since I'm home all day working anyway.  It's easy for me to add one more friend to the mix.  It keeps the girls busy and they like it.

What drives me crazy is they want to stay in the playroom where all the dolls and toys draw them in.  It's summer.  Why can't I get them out the door?

If we pack up the bikes, they will ride. They do love to be in a pool.  They will go outside for a bit here and there to play in our backyard.  Sometimes they will get into a game and stay outside for quite a while.  Eventually, though, they end up back in the playroom. 

It's the problem of youth, isn't it?  The girls don't appreciate their ability to play outside for as long as they want on warm summer days.  Adults, like me, would give anything to have that freedom.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Once a Twin, Always a Twin

I've often described the blond twin as a high maintenance child.  It's not that she's bratty or mean, like the stereotypical high maintenance child.  She's actually quite sweet and nurturing. 

It's that she cannot get enough attention or be involved enough in what is going on.  Having a party?  She's your helper girl. Watching TV?  She's not sitting next to you.  She's sitting on your lap.  She loves the physical closeness and attention.  She loves to spend time and dote on her sister.  In turn, her sister loves to play with her and let the blond twin be her "lady in waiting."

Somehow I forgot about this in my happiness that the girls are in different summer camp classes.  Yet knowing this, I shouldn't have been surprised that the blond twin found a twin at camp.  Even though she's in separate classes from her sister, she found another blue-eyed, blond haired girl to be her buddy.  This little girl actually looks like the blond twin, unlike her real twin.  As a bonus, this little girl is in all three of the blond twin's classes.  The two of them get to walk the halls together and spend all their time together in class.  Today the blond twin said, "I helped her use her scissors."  It's a love match.

Yesterday when they came home, I discovered that the blond twin introduced her camp twin to her sister.  It turns out her sister likes the camp twin, so it's okay.  The brunette twin is not the least bit jealous that her sister has a camp twin.

The brunette twin seems to like her independence.  She made friends, but hasn't latched on to a single girl the way the blond twin did.  She's perfectly happy to have a little space until she gets to reconnect with her twin. 

It's another interesting development in the dynamics between our girls.  It's not that the twin bond is transferable.  The blond twin won't make that connection with the new girl.  I think she just really, really likes to be a twin.  If she cannot be with her real twin, she'll find a surrogate.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Separate, but together

The girls start a summer camp today where they change classes.  They each picked three classes they wanted to take and ended up in their first choices.  They are very excited about their classes, except for one thing:  They will be apart most of the time.

We've spent a lot of time deciding whether or not to keep them together in school.  For us, keeping them together for preschool and kindergarten was the right answer.  We wavered a bit about first grade.  The girls go back and forth about whether or not they want to stay together.  In the end, we decided to keep them together.  They weren't certain they wanted to be apart, so we kept them together.

For this camp, they picked their classes based upon their interests.  They knew from the beginning that they wouldn't be together.  At the time they were okay with it.

Today is the first day of class and now they are a bit edgy.  They are making plans to see each other in the hallway between classes.  If one of them is nervous, they will hug between classes.  They are talking about how they will be together in the last class so they will get to see each other then.  They decided to stand next to each other before class and while they are waiting at the pick-up door.  They promise to tell each other what happened in the other classes.  I think the exact words were, "I'll tell you every, single thing that happened."  They discussed it and have a plan. 

Will they be fine?  Of course they will.  Once class starts, they will get caught up in the experience and make new friends.  They will have lots of time after camp to share stories. 

I think it will be good for them to have separate classes.  Their interests are changing and they should follow what they want to do, not just what Sissy wants to do. 

I just like how they work it out by themselves.   They do not ask me what they should do.  They just discuss it and come up with a plan to make sure each twin is okay during the day.  They have touch points where they check-in, even if just in passing.  Their twin bond is strong, which makes me smile.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The morning after

I didn't think any of us would survive the Stanley Cup playoffs game 6 overtime.  We watched the game at my parents' house, with one brother and his sons.  No one spoke.  We just stared at the television. 

When the winning goal went into the net, no one cheered.  We just stood up and stared at the television.  It took a minute for us to realize that we had won the Stanley Cup.  (I'm not sure my Dad believes we won still.)  Dad didn't say anything after the team started skating with the Cup.  The last time the Chicago Blackhawks won in 1961, he attended some of the Stanley Cup playoff games at the Chicago Stadium.  This time he watched from home with some of his family. 

The morning after it seems more amazing than it did the night before.  It seems like a dream, but it cannot be.  We have the Stanley Cup in Chicago -- and we know it because the team is taking the Cup all over town.  Local television stations are keeping track of where the Cup has been.  

The girls watched our team win the Stanley Cup with the biggest hockey fan ever -- Grampa.  I hope we get to do it again next year.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Her Best Teacher

The blond twin took to reading like a personal quest.  She wanted to learn to read and practiced as much as possible.  She sounds out words and seeks opportunities to learn words.  She reads to anyone, anywhere.

The brunette twin has been a bit more tentative.  She wanted to learn to read, but she is embarrassed when she mispronounces a word.  She would rather not make the mistake, even though she talked about learning to read.  She doesn't like to read out loud to us yet. 

We often find that the girls are each other's best teachers.  They work together to learn something, and find strength in working together.

Some day we will talk about how we taught the girls to read, but if we tell the whole story, we'll talk about how the blond twin really taught her sister to read. 

Many days I'll find the girls snuggling together in the playroom reading books to each other.  The blond twin reads a book, and then the brunette twin reads a book.  I hear the blond twin helping her sister sound out words.  Some days the blond twin works on puzzles and the brunette twin reads her stories.  Other days they stretch out side by side, reading alternate pages until they reach the end of the book.

I was a little worried that the brunette twin might resent her sister for knowing all the words or the blond twin might lord over her sister because the blond twin was the stronger reader. 

I didn't have to worry.  It all works.  The brunette twin gains confidence in her reading skills.  The blond twin gets to be the teacher/big sister.  They strengthen their twin bond by playing their roles perfectly, helping each other in a sweet, loving way.   

It makes me happy when they do little things like read to each other.  Too often people compare twins in negative ways.  I hear a lot of stories from adult twins about how they were always in competition with their twin.  We work hard to make sure the girls are not in competition with each other all the time.  This is one of those moments when I hope we've set a foundation they can build on in the future.  Nothing would make me happier than knowing they will always be there to help each other.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Getting the Teams Right

Overheard at our house...

Blond Twin:  "Okay Mom, for this game, we don't like the team in orange, right?"

Mom:  "Right.  We don't like the Philadelphia Flyers."

Blond Twin:  "We're cheering for the Blackhawks, right?"

Mom:  "Yep.  We always want the Blackhawks to win."

Blond Twin:  "But we never cheer for Duke, right?  We always want them to lose."

Mom:  "Correct.  Different sport, but you are right. We always want Duke to lose."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Finally, Summer Vacation

I realize this is counter intuitive, but I'm really happy that the school year is done.  I like that the girls didn't have to rush to the bus this morning.  I like that they won't have homework tonight.  I even like that they are home with me today.

I know I'm supposed to fret about losing my "me time" and how to keep them busy this summer.  First, I'm the mother of twins.  I don't have any "me time" right now -- and it's okay.  In a couple of years they will be too busy to bother with me.  I'll have plenty of "me time" then.  Also, I work from home, so when they are in school, I'm working.  It's not like I was shopping and getting my nails done while they were in school.

I know they will be busy because we have them scheduled for a couple of summer day camps.  Each one only lasts a week, but between those camps, library programs and play dates, they will be busy with a mix of activities.  Of course, we'll also watch the nephews play baseball whenever we can.

On the flip side, I'm feeling a bit of summer pressure.  The girls start first grade in ten weeks.  We have to fit all our summer fun in the next ten weeks.  I think we're up to it.  Let the countdown begin...