Sunday, May 29, 2011

Comfortable Silence

The girls exhaust us with their questions.  A friend's mother once said to me, "I needed a nap after they were here.  How do you keep us with all the questions?"

Last night we sent the girls to my brother's family for the night.  We had tickets to see Alan Cumming at the Harris Theater.  Before the show (fabulous fun, by the way), we went to dinner.  The young adults sitting around us were chatting happily about whatever.  We hardly spoke to each other.  I'm sure they were thinking, "Oh, look at those middle-aged people with nothing to talk about."  We were thinking, "Oh, how nice it is to eat in quiet."

It wasn't just dinner that was quiet.  We hardly spoke during the drive downtown.  Okay, so I napped which kept the conversation to a minimum.  We also hardly spoke during the walk to the restaurant, the show or the drive home.

We were nearly home when I said, "It is so nice to drive in silence."  My husband said, "I know.  It's so quiet."

The girls come home today so the silence will not last much longer, but we really enjoyed it while we had it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

First Grade Fashion Consultant

Overheard at our house...

Brunette Twin:  "Mom, today is the end-of-the-year program.  What are you wearing?"

Mom:  "I don't know.  I haven't thought about it,  Why?"

Brunette Twin:  "Well, would you wear something nice?  When you come to school, you're always wearing jeans."

Mom:  "The last time I was at your school, I volunteered for Olympics Day.  I spent the morning keeping kids from falling in the obstacle course.  What did you think I'd wear?"

Brunette Twin:  "Well, you could have worn a cute skort like I wore.  Maybe with tights and gym shoes?"

Mom:  "Not likely.  I'll wear something nice to your end-of-the-year program."

Brunette Twin:  "A skirt, please, and some cute sandals."

Mom:  "I'll wear a skirt.  I won't commit to sandals until I see how warm it will be."

Brunette Twin:  "Okay, I'll take that deal."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Still Doing His Job

My Dad might be sick, but he is not too sick to do his favorite job --doting Grandfather.  The girls brought the dense, gummy cake they baked Friday to Gramma and Grampa Saturday afternoon.  When we were done with dinner, Dad cut himself a huge chunk of cake.  He told them how good it was as he devoured it. 

After he cleaned his plate, Dad asked if he could keep the rest of it for a snack later.  The girls glowed.  He might be sick, but he still knows how to make them feel special.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Little Bakers

I heard the girls go downstairs this morning before my husband and I were out of bed.  I heard the dog crate open and the dog bark because he wanted them to play with him.  Then it was quiet for a while until we heard the kitchen faucet turn on.  This should have been a clue that they were up to something, but let's just say I can be a little slow first thing in the morning.

As soon as I made it down the stairs, I could smell something.  I just couldn't figure out what it was.  It turns out that the girls were busy in the kitchen.  They made a cake.  As they explained it, they "improved" the recipe by adding some vanilla, chocolate milk, sugar and a chocolate candy bar.  In addition, they put it in the silicone giant cupcake baking form.  By themselves they figured out how to program the oven and put the baking form into the oven. The smell in the house was the cake baking. 

They proudly pointed out that they put the egg shells in the compost container and washed their hands with soap after breaking the eggs.  They also asked us to move the hot pads down since they needed them to bake, but couldn't reach the cabinet, even standing on a chair.

It took a long time for the cake to bake due to the extra liquid in the mix.  It was barely ready before the girls left for school.  The blond twin told us we could frost the cake while they were gone, but we were not to eat it until they came home from school.

After school we'll enjoy their cake and set some new ground rules for baking.  Of course, this assumes we can get the cake out of the silicone baking form.  They didn't put any cooking spray in it.  We might just enjoy the cake directly out of the pan.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

1 for 5

I knew the girls were plotting something as we walked through the store.  They whispered to each other and kept disappearing to the next aisle.  The fact that they were leaving my side was my biggest clue.  The brunette twin still panics if we're in a store and I'm out of sight.  When she started going to the next aisle with her sister, I knew something big was going on.

They finally came to me with their big secret.  They really, really, really, really, really, really wanted a purple baby unicorn pillow pet.  Did I mention that they really, really, really, really, really wanted it?

I said, "No.  You have too many stuffed animals already.  Your father will not be happy if we bring home one more."

They were ready with a counter-attack.  The blond twin said, "We'll get rid of five stuffed animals if you buy us this one."  When I hesitated, the brunette twin said, "She means we'll get rid of five stuffed animals each."

We bought the pillow pet baby unicorn.  It seemed like a good deal to me.  We add one, remove ten and have a net loss of nine stuffed animals?  I'll take that deal.

Needless to say Daddy was not happy to see the new stuffed animal -- until the girls told him the deal.  They sealed it by saying, "We're going upstairs to sort out five animals each."  When they were done, they happily played with the new addition. 

We couldn't believe they came up with their own negotiating plan and then stuck to it.  They didn't complain about getting rid of the five stuffed animals each.  They didn't try to renegotiate.  They had a winning plan and they went with it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Big Questions

Last night I spent several hours with Dad while Mom went to see one of my nephews graduate from high school.  We talked about random topics ranging from the boat Mom & Dad owned before we were all born to how well my Dad is getting around these days.

Whenever I sit with him I'm aware of the ticking clock in a way that makes me feel like I should be discussing "the big questions" of life with him.  The problem is that I'm not sure what those are.

On the one hand, we've talked throughout the years about how my parents met (high school bus) and their first date.  Actually it was their third attempt at a first date.  For the first two attempts, Dad ended up in the hospital for surgery on his ear and then an appendectomy.  We've talked about why they married in November when the original wedding date was in June.  Not surprisingly, my paternal Grandmother was the problem with the June date. 

We've talked about things like why he loves hockey.  We talked about why he didn't pursue a professional baseball career.  It didn't pay enough.  He had a chance to get a good union job and marry Mom. 

We know they don't go to church because religion was a huge problem when my Catholic father married his Presbyterian bride.  My paternal Grandmother harped on that until she died.  Well into her nineties Gram was still upset that Mom never became Catholic.  As a result, my parents didn't raise us to practice either religion.  They still won't go to church for anything other than official events like weddings, communions, funerals. 

Last night Dad talked a lot about life before and after children.  He started by talking about how much our twin daughters have changed our lives.  He moved into talking about the wait to bring me home from the hospital.  I was born just before President Kennedy was assassinated.  The whole country shut down for a week to mourn.  This was a huge problem for a couple waiting for the courts to finalize the adoption of their first born.  Dad said Mom didn't sleep all week and that she about drove him crazy.  I can totally see that happening.  Mom develops a level of Type A anxiety that few can match, except perhaps her daughter.  

He told funny stories about (finally) bringing me home and surviving the first year.  He talked about how glad he was that we had the girls.  It was an interesting and easy conversation that he completely led. 

I feel like the clock is ticking and I should be asking more questions, but I cannot figure out what else I want to know.  I'm so afraid that by the time I figure out the questions it will be too late to get answers from Dad.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Blinded by Summer Skin Exposure

***This was originally posted to The Chicago Moms blog***

I’m a big fan of summer. I’m the kind of person who fights to keep the air conditioner off. I like the heat and sunshine. Still, I have a big summer problem.

While others are anxioius to pull off the winter pants and throw on some shorts, I dread it. You see, my skin is a shade of pale not normally seen in nature. Seriously, I am so pale I nearly glow in the dark. When I put on shorts, my legs are so white they can blind someone.

I’m so pale that our twin daughters compare themselves to me in the winter to see who is more pale. They use me as the litmus test for who is sick. Are you more pale than Mom? You must be sick.

Despite my love of summer, my skin was meant for seasons where pants are the norm. Summer’s heat means I’ll be wearing shorts and skirts soon. Even long skirts won’t hide my blindingly white color.

At the end of summer, when everyone is so proud of their summer color, I’m still blindingly pale. (Yes, I know the sun is bad for you. Let’s move on, okay?) I can see my new, improved summer color, but to the rest of the world I’m sickly pale.

It’s not that I don’t go out in the sun because I do. It’s just that I don’t seem to tan at all. I don’t come home from a day at the beach or an afternoon in the garden with any kind of sun-kissed glow.

I know sun damage is still a serious concern for me. Just because I’m not golden brown doesn’t mean the sun’s rays aren’t doing the same damage to my skin. Still, it doesn’t lessen my desire to spend one summer with pale gold skin rather than my normal glow-in-the-dark color.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

We Like Her Better

I was counting grapes for the girls' lunches one evening when my husband rolled his eyes.  The girls are constantly comparing who gets what.  She has more strawberries.  She has more socks.  It's like a competition.

I'm tired of it.

Now when one says, "Sissy has more xyz," I turn around and say, "Why yes she does.  We like her better."

At first they would argue with me saying "You always say you love us both the same."  Now they just look at me, roll their eyes and say, "Whatever."  They then work out the percieved inequity themselves. 

If I cannot get them to stop counting everything then "whatever" is going to be as good as it gets for now.  It's not great, but I'll take it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

All Tied Up

We had some work done at the house the other day.  I put Oreo in the backyard on the tie-up, figuring he'd rather be outside that stuck in the garage.  After a short while, he settled into a spot next to the table on the patio. 

I kept looking outside to make sure he was okay.  He seemed to move around within a few feet of the same spot.  After a while he just seemed to stay in one place.  He'd switch from side to side, but he didn't go far.

When I went to bring him into the house, I realized he didn't find the perfect spot.  He managed to tangle his tie-up in the patio table and chairs.  He wasn't comfortable.  He was stuck.

Next time he's outside, I'll have to keep a better eye on him.  There's a difference between settling into the perfect, comfortable spot and being stuck in the same place. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Stealth Food

You know how parents are always talking about tricky ways to get their kids to eat the stuff that's good for them?  We don't really have that problem in our house.  Our rule is that if it's on the dining room table, you eat it.  There are a few exceptions, but not many.  We also tell them what they are eating. 

This all goes out the window when it comes to cooking for my parents.

Growing up my Dad did most of the cooking.  Mom has a lot of useful skills, but cooking isn't one of them.  I always say that if she used salt and pepper it was a well-seasoned dish.  On Christmas morning, my late Uncle Ron would say, "Sis is burning the bisquits.  Breakfast must be about ready."  You get the picture.

When Dad came home he was put on a low-salt diet.  This meant the boxed dinners Mom usually made were out.  Dad wasn't in any shape to cook.  I took over since it's an easy way for me to help.

I knew I was in trouble when I brought cinnamon and sugar pita chips from Trader Joe's.  The girls love these things.  They are a little sweet, low salt, crunchy, just a great snack.  I figured my parents would enjoy them too. 

My Mom gave them back to me saying, "We don't eat stuff like pita chips."  I tried to explain that pita chips were basically crackers, but she refused to try them.  A few weeks later there was a lengthy discussion about whether or not she'd eat some pasta because it had pine nuts.  Dad ate it for lunch, but didn't know there were pine nuts until he was done.  He gave it his approval, but Mom wasn't sure.

You see what I'm up against.

Now when I cook I alter the ingredients to make them more acceptable. Swiss chard or kale become spinach.  Quinao is some generic grain.  Flax seed doesn't even go on the ingredient list.

I used to read all those parenting articles about how to get your kids to eat a well-rounded diet.  I scoffed at the thought that I would need those techniques with our girls.  Now I'm glad I read them so I can use the information to make sure my parents end up with a well-rounded diet.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Financial Lessons 101

Overheard at our house...

Brunette Twin:  "Mom, will you buy me one of these?"

Mom:  "You can save your allowance and buy it yourself."

Brunette Twin:  "Well, I would but you never give us our allowance.  You and Dad always forget, so I can't save any money if you don't give me my money."

Note to self...give the girls their weekly allowance on time.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Fish Tank is Dry

Our last guppy died.  We aren't exactly sure how old he was, but he had to be close to three years old.  I do know the neighbors watched all our fish (at one time we had about two dozen male guppies) for both our trips to Disney.  This past January we didn't go to Disney, but the guppy was still here. 

Our last guppy lived by himself for quite a while.  He had been struggling to swim for a couple of weeks, so it wasn't a surprise.  Well, it wasn't a surprise to the adults in this house.  The girls started ignoring him a long time ago.  He finally just flopped over on a seashell at the bottom of the fish tank. 

Our fish adventures are over for now.  It was fun, but we have Oreo now and I have a one pet at a time rule.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

An Uphill Goal

The girls love to ride their bikes.  They will ride for miles in the area forest preserves, which always seem to have nice, flat paved paths.  When it comes to riding in the neighborhood, it's an uphill struggle.

They haven't figure out yet that they need to keep peddling, and maybe peddle quicker, when they are going uphill.  This is a problem since we live in a neighborhood with a lot of hills. 

At nearly every hill one of the girls stops peddling.  It could be that the blond twin needs to tell her sister something so important that it cannot wait until she gets to the top of the hill.  It could be that the brunette twin needs to point out a dog in the neighbor's yard.  In any case, one of them stops and we all have to stop to wait for her to catch up.  It's less of a bike ride than a walk and ride cross-training activity. 

I think their inability to make it to the top of any hill is a combination of a few things.  First, they are still small.  It's hard to peddle up the hills.  Second, they just don't seem to realize they need to keep peddling.  They haven't figured out the physics of biking.  Third, they don't see making it to the top of the hill as an accomplishment.  If they do it, they are happy.  If they walk their bikes up the hill, they are just as happy.   

My goal for the summer is to get them to continue peddling up the hill.  It's a small goal that will make our bike rides much more enjoyable. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Back on the Scooter

True to her thrill-seeker nature, the blond twin was back on her scooter today.  She wanted to ride it last week, but I said she had to wait until she had her teeth fixed.  The thought of her going teeth first to the ground again was enough to give me the shakes. 

I wasn't ready to see her on the scooter, but her sister decided to help tip the scales.  They are very persistent when they beg in unison.  I finally just gave in to stop the begging.  What a great parenting coping technique, huh?

The blond twin happily took off down the block trying to do tricks on her scooter.  I walked behind her and the brunette twin silently praying neither one would fall off today.  We made it home safely this time.

I'm sure it's just the first of many times that I'll think "Mom's not ready, but she is." 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Teeth First, continued

When the blond twin set the rules for who we are allowed to tell about her chipped front teeth, she forgot to include Mommy in the restricted list.  Of course, I told Gramma and her aunts and uncles.  This made the blond twin really, really mad.  She said, "Oh great.  Now they will tell my cousins and they'll want to see my broken teeth."

She changed that tune once she learned that one of her aunts also chipped her front teeth.  She felt a lot better once she heard her aunt's story.

We went to the dentist early Saturday morning.  Mommy and the brunette twin were a lot more nervous than the blond twin.  Oh, she had her moments, but she was a trooper.  Four shots in the upper gum later, her teeth looked great.  The dentist cleaned the chipped parts and used a bonding material to recreate the blond twin's teeth. Unless you stare, you wouldn't know that she chipped her teeth.

It turns out that the blond twin won't need to crown her teeth after all.  The dentist said, "Oh, I wouldn't recommend that.  With the new bonding materials we have today, this should last her ten or twenty years."

Mommy and Daddy were nearly giddy with this news.  First, it eliminates a huge future expensive.  Second, it eliminates a lot of pain and time in the dentist's chair for the blond twin. 

At breakfast after the visit, Daddy said, "We've seen the dentist twice in the past two weeks for emergencies.  Let's see if we can make it through the next week without another visit."  We all crossed our fingers and agreed.