Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Teeth First

The blond twin is a bit of a klutz.  Usually this results in her dropping a lot of stuff on the floor, walking into walls, bumping into things, etc.  Yesterday she took her klutz status to a new level when she went face first from her scooter onto the blacktop. 

At first I didn't react because she does stuff like this all the time.  It's the norm for us to take a walk and have her ruin a pair of pants, a shirt, shoes, etc. because she falls or trips.  I cannot remember the last time she came home unharmed.  We try to take the "shake it off" approach whenever possible.

I knew something was wrong when she stayed on the ground.  Now, I'm moving quickly to reach her -- dog in hand of course.  She came up with her face unscathed, except for her teeth.  Somehow she managed to fall face-first on the asphalt and not scrape her face.  She did manage to chip her two front teeth.  Her permanent teeth, of course. 

She started crying and shaking.  The brunette twin and their friend came over to see what happened.  The brunette twin started crying.  Their friend just stood there staring at the two girls crying.  He couldn't figure out what to do.  I knew exactly how he felt.

Of course, it didn't take long before the brunette twin started asking questions.  Could they fix her sister's teeth?  Would it hurt?  As I explained how the dentist would numb the blond twin's mouth before doing any work so it wouldn't hurt, the brunette twin turned into the Princess of Darkness.  Suddenly, she's asking questions faster than I can answer. 

*What happens if the needle goes through Sissy's cheek?
*What happens if the stuff doesn't work and Sissy's mouth isn't numb?  Will the dentist still fix her teeth?
*What happens if they cannot fix Sissy's teeth?  Will they just pull them out so she doesn't have any front teeth?
*Will she be able to eat with chipped teeth?  Or will she have to eat all her food through a straw forever?

The blond twin didn't think her sister was being helpful and neither did I.  Both girls were crying.  The blond twin because she's in pain and scared. The brunette twin because her sister was crying and she was scared.

The blond twin was crying and saying, "I want my Daddy."  Let's just say it was so much fun that I wanted her Daddy home too.  Isn't the joy of parenting sharing in these kinds of experiences?  I didn't want him to miss the fun.

When they eventually calmed down, we had to set ground rules for who was able to share the story.  The blond twin made it clear her sister was not to tell anyone what happened.  The blond twin was the source of all information.  Any breech would be swiftly dealt with by the blond twin.  She laid out a series of punishments if the brunette twin told anyone at school or anyone in the family. 

We managed to clean off most of the black stuff from the blond twin's teeth so she didn't look like she was in character for Halloween.  I washed her face and still didn't see a single mark from the fall.

After a while they started doing their homework and playing a little.  The blond twin tried to milk her injury a little, but her teeth looked so bad that it wasn't hard to convince us that she deserved a treat or two.

After we put them to bed, I started thinking about what she needed now.  I'm guessing both teeth will need crowns.  Yes, our first grader will have crowns on her teeth.  We'll see what the dentist has to say since I don't think we can do much about improving the cosmetics until her teeth are fully in place.  Right now I'd say about 1/2 of her grown-up front teeth are showing. 

At some point today my only thought became "Boy, am I glad we have dental insurance.  This is going to be expensive." 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hockey Mouth

When we were little, we'd watch hockey with Dad.  If something happened, you'd hear some screaming.  If Mom wasn't in the room, she'd say, "What happened?"  What followed usually went something like this:

Child:  "Sh#$head scored." or "Bas$#%d let the puck go in the net."
Mom:  "Dad!"
Dad:  "Don't repeat what I say when I'm watching hockey."

I called it a case of hockey mouth.  I used to tell Dad that he wasn't allowed to watch hockey with the grandchildren until they were old enough to understand that they were not to repeat the bad words Grampa said during the game.  Since the Blackhawks were not on television for most of the past couple of decades, it wasn't much of a problem. 

Since Rocky Wirtz took over the team has been on TV regularly.  We all watch the games whenever we can.  I realize that the more hockey I watch, the more I develop hockey mouth.  It's not the same level of constant profanity that Dad has, but it's a constant stream of comments directed at the game.  Surprisingly, the players, refs, announcers, etc. don't answer any of my questions.  Nor do they do what I tell them to do. 

I'm careful when the girls are awake, but when they are asleep all bets are off. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Parents, don't dress your girls like tramps

***Orginally posted on The Chicago Moms***
If I could stand on a mountaintop and force people to listen to me, I’d read this CNN column over and over and over again. I read it until parents understand that girls shouldn’t look like hookers and boys shouldn’t be raised to think girls should look like hookers. I’d print this article and send it home with every newborn girls’ parents. I’d ask every parenting magazine, book, class, website to use the article. I’d ask all houses of worship to discuss it during services. The topic is that important.

As the mother of twin daughters, I’m horrified by what is for sale for little girls to wear. I’m not sure what happens when little girls go from size 6x to size 7, but according to the fashion industry, they should look like hookers. Our girls are really, really tall for their age. They just moved into a size 12. Do you know what size 12 clothes look like? So many of the clothes are inappropriate that it’s easier to talk about what is appropriate.

I know it’s expected that I’d rant against the retailers selling the clothes, but why bother? The retailers are in business to make money. Someone is buying their little girls and pre-teens these clothes. If there wasn’t a market, they wouldn’t sell it. What I don’t understand is how parents put their daughters into these clothes. How does any self-respecting parent put a little girl into a string bikini? How does any parent put a pre-teen into stilletos, halters and mini-skirts?

No matter how much progress we think women have made in society, we put ourselves back when we teach our daughters that their worth in society is based upon their bodies. In our house, we have a “no butts, no belly button” rule. This means if we can see your butt or your belly button, you cannot wear it.

The problem is that what we say at home is contradicted by what the girls see in the general public. We go to a pool and most of the little girls are wearing bikinis. We go to brunch and see pre-teens in skin tight clothing and with a full face of make-up. Their friends give our girls make-up kits as birthday presents. It all adds up and makes it harder for our girls to believe that their grades are more important than their lipstick.

I realize I’m just ranting in the wind here. As long as parents dress their daughters like tramps, we’ll be fighting a societal norm that tells our girls that dressing like a tramp is acceptable. In our house, we’re willing to keep up the battle for our daughters and their futures. It would just be a little easier if more parents would join us.

Friday, April 22, 2011

At Least She Didn't Laugh...

The brunette twin had been complaining about her tooth hurting for a couple of days when we decided to get her to the dentist.  Since this is a holiday weekend, our dentist decided to close her office today and tomorrow. Yesterday I pulled the brunette twin out of school to get the tooth taken care of since I didn't want to deal with a dental emergency Easter morning. 

Overheard at the dentist's office:

Dentist:  "Brunette twin, didi you bite your cheek recently?"

Brunette Twin:  "Yes.  The other day."

Mom:  "You didn't tell me that when I asked you."

Brunette Twin:  "I forgot."

Dentist:  "Well, it looks like she bit her cheek and now it's inflamed.  You know how it goes.  First you bite your cheek and then you keep hitting the same spot so it's really red and sore.  It's not infected, but I'm sure it hurts her."

Mom:  "Oh, ok."

So, despite staring in the brunette twin's mouth under a bright light, I seem to have missed the spot where she bit her cheek so hard it hurt two days later.  What a start to our Easter weekend.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Patio Project

I alternately refer to our patio project as "the world's most expensive patio" and "the world's most complicated patio."  Both are probably true.

Several years ago, my husband and I stood outside and discussed ways to make our patio more usable.  We toyed with ideas from creating a three seasons room to building a screen room.  Eventually we were watching HGTV when we saw exactly what we wanted.  My husband searched the web until he found a picture we could show contractors.

Our patio was going to change from a slab with no shade to a covered patio with a roof, fan, lights, speakers, etc.  There wouldn't be any walls.  It was a true outside room.  Even though there were a lot of parts, it seemed rather straightforward.  We would pour concrete, add a roof with a few accessories and start the bar-b-que.

Of course, it's never that easy, is it?

We talked to our contractor, who gave us several ideas.  We talked to our neighbor, the city building commissioner, who gave us other information. The result has been a marathon project filled with project creep and additional costs.

The past six month have been about getting ready to bury our power lines.  The existing lines were right above what would be our new roof and too close to pass city inspection.  We had to either move them or bury them.  We decided to bury them because moving them would have involved creating a "V" in a tree to keep the lines clear.  Rather than create an ongoing maintenance project, we decided to just spend the money to do it right the first time.

The power company representative came out last fall and gave us an estimate and a lengthy to do list.  At the time, we thought the big items were upgrading the electrical panel and moving the air conditioner.  The HVAC man said, "Well, the air conditioner is old and you need a new furnace anyway.  As long as we're going to move it, you might as well replace it."  The electrician suggested we move the air conditioner to the side of the house so we wouldn't hear it when we sat on the patio.  He also said, "You know, the pipes in the basement are too close to the electrical panel.  You'll have to move them before we can upgrade the panel."

Now we're getting a new furnace and air conditioner, moving pipes and upgrading the electrical panel before we can think about pouring concrete.

The power company representative pointed out that we needed to move all the plants and one tree in the path or the project would kill it all.  My husband and I also discussed taking down two evergreens that would be really close to the new patio roof and in the way of what we hope will be our new bar-b-cue.  Before we could schedule a date with the landscape company about moving and removing trees, we received a letter saying that the city would be taking down all the Ash trees due to an emerald ash bore infestation.  We had a big, old, half-dead Ash tree in the backyard.  It wasn't perfect, but it was the majority of our backyard shade. 

Now we're getting a new furnace and air conditioner, moving pipes, upgrading the electrical panel, removing all plants in the path of the buried power lines, moving a tree and taking down three others before we can think about pouring concrete.

The power company representative said, "As long as we're burying your power lines, you might as well have the phone company drop off some wire.  We can bury their lines at the same time."  Nearly eight hours later (not all at once, but still), I finally found the right person at the phone company to arrange to have the wire dropped off at our house.  Three weeks and several more follow-up calls later, the wire appeared.

The crew to bury the power lines showed up unexpectedly twice in the past week.  Last Friday they came by and said, "We need to do a little prep work."  We didn't realize at the time that it involved turning off the neighbor's power.  I apologized to the neighbors after they came home from work saying, "We didn't know they were coming."  Monday I turned the corner after walking Oreo to see three power company trucks and a Ditch Witch in front of our house.  They said, "We're going to bury your lines today.  Weather looks bad for the rest of the week.  Oh, you'll be without power for a while." 

So far, we have moved plants, replaced the furnace and air conditioner, taken down trees, transplanted a Ginko tree, moved the pipes, upgraded the electrical panel and buried the power and phone lines. 

It will take some work before we have something resembling a usable backyard because we need to clean-up the damage burying the power lines did to our grass.  The Ditch Witch going across our front yard, along the side yard and into the backyard left a path of destruction before digging the trench for the power lines.

We're meeting with our contractor after Easter to review the plans we need to submit before we receive a construction permit.  At this point, pouring concrete in June might be ambitious.  We're hopeful, though that we'll survive the process long enough to enjoy our beautiful, new outdoor room.  

We can almost see the end in sight.  It's just a matter of whether that turns out to be the end of the project or the end of our patience.  It's a toss up right now which way it goes.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Performing a Like-ectomy

The brunette twin says like so often that we often start laughing in the middle of her story.  It's as if she cannot think of a word, so she says like instead.

We started a new game.  Whenever one of the girls says like in a story, they have to stop talking.  We pass the conversation to the other girl.

We tend to go back and forth with this until someone finally tells an entire story without saying like.  We also tend to laugh a lot while they are telling stories.  What's funniest is when they try to tag-team to tell a story. 

The likes in our house seem to be decreasing, but we know we cannot let up on our mission to rid their speech of using like every other word.  It's like a weed that will just grow and spread if we don't stop it.  Luckily, it's fun and funny to watch them try.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Today's Hair Mystery

We have an ongoing game in our house called "how did the blond twin get that into her hair?"  Today we played while visiting the DuPage Children's Museum.  We were there on a field trip with their Daisy troop.  We took the train to the museum, which is located nearly next to the train station.

We didn't start playing until we were about ready to leave.  The girls were creating a craft when I looked at the blond twin and said, "How did you get glue in your hair?"  She said, "I don't know."

The thing about the blond twin is she get stuff in her hair in ways you cannot imagine anyone forgetting.  When I looked at the top of her head, there was a straight line of white glue.  It was as if she took the bottle and squeezed it there on purpose.  I tried to imagine why she would lift a bottle of glue over her head from front to back.  Then I tried to figure out how she didn't feel the glue hitting her hair.  Then I just shook my head and said, "You're getting a shower when we get home."

The other moms at the craft table just laughed.  I realize I probably should have been more upset, but it's an ongoing game in our house.  I truly believe she had no idea she had so much glue in her hair, just as I truly believe we'll keep playing this game for a long, long time. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cheating for A Good Reason

When we play games, we notice a new trend whenever the blond twin is in charge of the game.  We just figured out last night that she cheats.  She doesn't do it so she can win, she does it so her sister can win.

We were playing Candyland when we finally figure out the scam.  Whenever her Daddy or I came close to leading, she suddenly came up with a card to put us back a few places.  It helped that the cards were a mess.  She was able to "find" the card she wanted in the pile.

We called her on the scam, but not in an angry way.  It's hard to get mad at the blond twin for wanting her sister to win. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Girls in Pearls

I don't have a lot of jewelry.  Instead, I have a few beautiful pieces that I wear over and over.  Most are timeless, like my pearls.  I always wear them for special events.

Last Friday night, the girls had their father/daughter dance at school.  They closed their door and told me they wanted to surprise me with their outfits. 

When they opened the door, they were wearing their Easter dresses and their pearls.  Daddy bought the girls a boxed set of freshwater pearls for Christmas.  You've probably seen the earrings, bracelet and necklace box sets stores sell at Christmas.  The girls haven't shown much interest in them until the father/daughter dance.

I said, "Wow, you look beautiful in your Easter dresses.  And, you're wearing your pearls."

The brunette twin said, "Of course mom.  It's a fancy dance and you always wear pearls to when you are fancy." 

I cannot wait to see the photos taken at the dance. We expect to get them next week.  The photos are the first of what I hope are many, many photos of our fancy girls wearing their pearls. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Better Lucky than Good

Somehow, some way, the Chicago Blackhawks backed into the playoffs yesterday.  Minnesota beat Dallas, giving the Blackhawks the last playoff spot.

The message on the Minnesota Wild homepage today said,

"By the way're welcome."

On behalf of all Chicago Blackhawks fans, I'm sending a huge, gigantic thank you to the Wild.  We couldn't have done it without you!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Conflict of Interests

I'm starting to struggle with what I need to do and what I feel like I should be doing.  Today we had an electrician at the house all day upgrading our electrical service.  It's the next step in the world's most expensive and complicated patio project.  Once we have the work inspected, we can have the power company come and bury the power and telephone lines. 

I also had a meeting at church and had to buy the girls new rain coats.  Shockingly, their old ones didn't fit anymore.  Add in moving some plants so the power company could bury the power lines, some cleaning, showering the girls and walking the dog and it was a full, full day.

Even with all this going on, I was sitting at a stoplight on the way home from my church meeting when I thought, "What am I doing?  I should be watching the hockey game with Dad.  If the Blackhawks lose, it might be the last Blackhawks game he ever watches.  I should be there with him."

I didn't go because I immediately thought I was being a bit dramatic.  The Blackhawks were winning when the thought came to my mind.  If they won, they'd be in the playoffs.  There would be at least one more series to watch.  Plus, we don't know the true timeline where Dad is concerned.  Even though none of the doctor's predict it, we might watch hockey in the fall.

It's my new mindset, though.  I always feel like I should be doing something with Dad or for Mom.  I always feel like I'm missing some time with Dad when I'm doing something else.

I cannot spend all my time with them, but after the Blackhawks lost, I did regret not going over there.  One of my most cherished memories will be watching the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup last year at Mom & Dad's.  I cannot help but feel like I missed out on a memory today.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Let's Get the Dogs Together

We're still fairly new dog owners, so I'm sure I'm not up on all the latest doggie trends.  One thing I don't understand is the idea of a doggie play date.

Numerous times people have walked up to me, with their dogs, trying to see if the dogs will be friends.  A few people said, "Let's get together for a doggie play date."


First, Huskies are predatory.  Everything I've read about Huskies says that you should leave them alone with small dogs or cats, even if they have been raised together.  Eventually the Husky will find a way to make it a snack.  My husband will tell me I'm wrong, but I'm not willing to risk it.

Second, Oreo goes ballistic when he sees another dog.  He doesn't sit and wag his tail.  He tried to pull off my arm to get to that dog.  He barks in a meaner, louder way than I've ever heard.  Sometimes I want to ask, "What about my dog trying to get at your dog makes you think he's a good candidate for a play date?"  If I saw Oreo barking and pulling at his leash, I'd move my dog as far away from him as possible.  There's nothing about him at that moment that says, "cute and cuddly." 

Third, doggie play dates?  Really?  I hardly have time to track the girls' social schedule.  Even if he was dog-friendly, I wouldn't have time to take him on doggie play dates.  He's a dog, not my third child.

Our poor dog will have to suffer through only playing with us and the neighborhood children.  We might not be as tasty as the neighbor's tiny dog, but we're his only option for entertainment.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Let's Not Have Team Days

In our school district, the first Wednesday of the month is designated a Team Day.  This means the children get out of school early for teacher development.

I hate Team Days.

It's not the fact that they get out of school early.  I work from home so I can flex my schedule to get to the bus stop on time.  The problem is I never know when the bus is going to arrive.

On paper the girls should arrive at their bus stop about an hour early.  Ok, I can handle that -- when it happens.  We're the last stop on the route.  On regular days the bus often is 15 - 20 minutes late because the parents in front of us weren't there or waited until the bus driver honked to walk out of their houses to the bus stop. 

Today we had the opposite problem.  Our bus driver didn't have a single parent waiting for him before our stop.  Instead of arriving on time -- or late -- he arrived 15 minutes early.  Let's just say I might be on time, but I'm never 15 minutes early.

We discovered this when the girls came pounding on the patio door in tears.  Our neighbor, who lives across the street from the bus stop, delivered them.  I said, "We're you waiting?"  She replied, "No.  I was cleaning my house.  I heard the bus horn and ran out the door."

The girls were upset because they thought we forgot about them.  I tried to explain that Daddy was walking Oreo and heading towards the bus stop.  They didn't care.  The bus stopped and neither of us was there. 

I am so happy that there is only one more Team Day left this year.  I'm going to plan to get the the bus stop super early just to make sure I don't miss the bus again.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Big Girl Backpacks

When the girls started preschool, I bought two preschool-sized backpacks from LL Bean.  The write-up and customer comments made me believe the backpacks would be indestructible, which turned out to be true.  Four school years later, the girls still carried these same backpacks. 

What prompted me to buy new backpacks for them wasn't that the LL Bean backpacks fell apart.  It was that they were too small for all the stuff the girls suddenly carried.  Between the binders, library books, folders, gym shoes, etc., the girls' backpacks were nearly always open at the top.  They couldn't get them closed with all the stuff in them.

We bought them new backpacks so they could move up to something big enough to carry elementary school-sized stuff.  We were driving by the outlet mall in Michigan City, IN, so we stopped at the Hanna Andersson outlet.  I wasn't looking specifically for backpacks, but once the girls saw their new backpacks they wouldn't let them go.

Today they went to school with their new backpacks.  They were thrilled to have big girl backpacks. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Just a Status Change

When Dad first went into the hospital in January, and we didn't think he'd ever come out, we discussed when to ask for hospice care.  We spent a lot of time talking about how we wouldn't be the family demanding tests and interventions long after there was any chance those things would change the outcome.

I was in Baltimore when the call came.  We were visiting my sister-in-law and her family for the girls' Spring Break.  My brother said, "Nothing has really changed with Dad since you left.  It's just a status change."  I knew he was right, but I still cried.

Dad was in the hospital with a leg infection when we left.  He had multiple tests and procedures while there.  We thought he'd be home in a day or two, but we were wrong.  At some point, the doctors decided nothing they could do would improve Dad's condition.  After some discussion with Mom, Dad and one of my brothers, the decision to move Dad to hospice care was done.

It's the right decision.  Since Dad went into the hospital in January, it has been clear that he was not going to improve.  It is so hard for him to breath now.  He struggles with every activity because he is so weak. 

Still, it's one thing to talk about it as a concept and another to live with it.  I know that no matter what we call Dad's care he won't ever be my strong, active father again.  I try to think of it as just a status change, but it can still make me cry.