Monday, January 30, 2012

Bargain Shopping Reality

Every year I try to purchase a few items to put away for next year.  This is the time I try to pick up new winter coats for the girls.  I has an eye-opening experience while searching for a new coat for the brunette twin.

When the girls were little, there were lots of bargains to find at the stores.  It seems like the taller they get, the fewer bargains there are to be had.  I searched racks and racks of clothes before finding two winter coat options for the brunette twin.  The blond twin didn't have this problem.  She's a full size smaller than her sister so there are lots of options for her still.

I realized recently that the brunette twin now has to come with me when I buy her clothes.  It's not that I don't think she'll like what I choose.  It's that when you get into size 14 or 16, the sizes vary so much that she needs to try on the clothes. 

It's also the end of my Internet shopping for most things.  I think I'll still be able to buy clothes from a few sites, but for the most part it won't work anymore.  Even though the sites give measurements, they don't really tell me how the clothes will fit her.  I found that out the hard way recently when I bought something that should have fit and the rise was too low on the pants.  The brunette twin might be able to wear the pants this year, but she won't wear them in the fall.

It's going to be hard to break the habit of buying clothes one year to wear the next.  I think we'll turn shopping into a girls' day with lunch and whatever else hits us.  If I have to head out to the stores, I might as well make it enjoyable.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

It's Always in the Background

We were eating dinner in a Shoney's restaurant in Orlando when the brunette twin came to me with tears in her eyes. She said, "I miss Grampa and Aunt 'Lene."

I said, "Why are you thinking about them now?"

She said, "There are a lot of grampas here. I just want mine."

Even when we're on vacation having fun, it's still in the back of her mind. I wonder how often she's sad and we just don't know about it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Cancer Strikes the Brownie Troop

When the email came across, I'm guessing no one imagined it was to inform us that Mariyah had leukemia.  The girls were at a sleepover birthday party when I received the email.  I thought about how to tell them, but they already knew when they came home.  The sleepover was at the home of a Brownie Troop leader.  She told the girls since her daughter already knew. 

Of course the Brownie families are in shock.  Mariyah always seemed so healthy.  When we talked about her symptoms, there wasn't anything that really jumped out and screamed "She's really sick."  Her parents said she was sick quite a bit during the past year, but more like a flu than anything else.  Her doctor decided she had been sick too often and admitted her to the local children's hospital to run a bunch of tests.  When those all came back negative, he said, "We have to consider this possibility and run the tests." 

It scares all of us as parents.  Even as we rally to create a calendar filled with ways we can support them from cards to a basket of videos to taking her sister to troop activities, we're all aware that this is a long haul.  Mariyah is currently in the hospital for her first round of chemotherapy.  Her treatment schedule will take between thirty and thirty-six months to complete, assuming each portion goes well.  Any complications will lengthen the schedule. 

The prognosis is good, but this is with her for life now.  I recently read an article about the long-term health complications of childhood cancer survivors.  "Normal and healthy" isn't really an option in their lives.  It's more like "in long-term remission." 

The Brownies are taking it better than the parents.  I think it's one of the advantages of being young.  They know she's sick, but in their world parents and doctors fix everything.  The most they all know about being sick is the occasional ear infection that is cured with some icky medicine.

For us parents it's just frightening on so many levels.  We're banding together to help Mariyah's family and holding our own daughters a little tighter while saying a prayer that they stay healthy.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Me & Abe Splitting Rails

The girls are studying about Martin Luther King, Jr. in school.  When we drove home from church yesterday, I told them about the time I met his wife, Coretta Scott King, at a conference.  I was on the board of the group so I had the opportunity to sit with her at dinner and talk about many different topics.  The girls were very excited about their connection to history.  They had lots of questions, which I answered as best as I could.

After the conversation slowed, the blond twin said, "Have you met anyone else famous?"  I told  her I met some other people she might study about and when they started learning about them, I'd tell them those stories.

She said, "Well, we're learning about Abraham Lincoln.  Did you ever meet him?"

I protested, "I'm not that old.  He died more than 100 years ago."

She calmly replied, "Oh, did you ever meet his children or anyone in his family?"

I said, "No.  I have no connections to Abraham Lincoln."

She said, "That's okay.  It's so interesting that you meet Coretta Scott King. I'm going to tell my teacher at school tomorrow."

She and her sister started a new conversation about what game to play at home.  As we drove home and all I kept thinking was "the blond twin thinks I'm old enough to have met Abraham Lincoln."  A day later I'm not sure I've recovered from the fact that she thinks I'm that old.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Joys of Sleepovers

The girls just started sleeping at friends' houses.  They've spent the night with their cousins since they were infants.  They are completely comfortable spending the night with any relative.  They just started spending the night at their friends' houses and so far, so good.

We like this development.  Whenever the girls spend the night somewhere, we have a night to ourselves.  Sometimes we go out to dinner or to see a movie.  Sometimes we just stay home and watch TV in our qiuet house. 

Of course, we do reciprocate, but it's not the same for those parents.  When their friends spend the night, their parents still have one or more children at home. When the girls spend the night, we have a quiet house. 

This is one of those times when having twins is an advantage over have two children of different ages.  It's an advantage we're enjoying greatly.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Learning a New Number

Since I bought my first car ( a baby blue Pinto from my Aunt Linda), I've had the same license plate number.  When we married, my license plates moved to the car my husband currently drives.  I've had numerous home and work phone numbers, different addresses and different bank account numbers.  I've always had the same license plate number.

Last night someone stole my license plates as our car sat in the train station parking lot.  My husband completed the required police report.  Today he's planning to get new license plates.

Now I have to learn a new license plate number.  Actually, I have to learn two license plate numbers.  I drive a mini-van with his license plates on it. I've never learned those numbers. Whenever someone asks, I have to go out and write down the number. Really, how often do you need to know your license plate number?

Still, there's something sad about knowing that my plates are probably being used on a car involved in activities the driver doesn't want traced back to him/her.  With my luck, we'll be watching the news one night and the announcer will say a car with my plates was involved in a crime.  Ick.  Ick.  Ick.

I realize there are worse things than having your license plates stolen.  It's just a little odd to think that a number I've had since I was 16 is no longer mine. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

X Marks the Spot

The girls brought home their second quarter report cards last Thursday.  As expected, their marks were good, except for the brunette twin's "work habits and social skills."  In that area, the brunette twin had an X for "demonstrates self control."

Of course this concerned us so I immediately emailed their teacher.  Today she responded with "She's a hard worker and good student.  She just spends too much time talking.  She needs to stay on task and not talk to her group so much."

I laughed when I read her email.  My husband laughed when I told him.  Given that the brunette twin recently declared talking as her favorite hobby, this is not surprising news.

We will work with her on it because the teacher brought the issue to our attention.  Still, it was good for a laugh this morning.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Driving Towards Self-Confidence

Originally Published on the Chicago Moms blog

When our girls arrive at a driving range to hit balls, people look at them with the “isn’t that cute” look. I agree that it is really cute to see them carrying their golf bags as they head towards the practice mats. I saw that look again when we arrived at the covered sports dome in our area. Several retired men and one woman were hitting golf balls across the astroturf that doubles as a soccer field. They stopped and gave the “so cute” half smile when the girls walked by.

The girls took out their clubs and started hitting balls. The “isn’t that cute” look on the man practicing his putting behind us turned dark when I critiqued their efforts with an annoyed clip of “Focus. Line up the ball. Keep control of your club. Make an effort, please?” Now the retired man behind me was giving me a disapproving look. It was clear that he thought I was being too hard on the girls. After all, what did I expect from such young girls? At least, that’s what I’m sure he would have said if I had been talking to him.

Our brunette twin responded by whacking the ball across the AstroTurf. It arched. It floated. It went far. It was pretty to watch. It was what I had watched her do many, many times during her golf lessons. I knew that was what her practice shots should look like.

I said, “That is pretty. It is exactly how I know you can hit it. Now do it again.” She proceeded to hit four or five just like it with a big smile on her face. The girl can golf when she makes an effort and she knows it. Of course, she also knows she’ll get compliments from strangers just because she’s a young girl on a golf course. I’ve stood there when people tell her what a nice job she’s doing when she takes a terrible stroke. I disagree — just because she’s on the golf course doesn’t mean she deserves a compliment — but I don’t say anything.

I’m happy to compliment our girls, but they have to earn it. They don’t live in a house where we tell them they are perfect or that everything they do is wonderful. We push them to the limits of their abilities because we think they can do it. Until they achieve something, they don’t hear empty praise.

Too often I hear parents telling their children that everything they do is great, perfect, wonderful, awesome. I’m all for building their self confidence, but real self-confidence comes from earning praise through real effort. Notice I didn’t say earning praise comes through success. Our girls don’t always succeed, but at least they truly try.

There’s no point making them think that think that they will get anything without hard work and focus. When they truly earn something, we celebrate. When they need help, we provide it. In between, we teach them that only through learning and practice will they get to be good at anything. As I watched the girls hit golf balls across the astroturf, I knew they understood the lesson, even if they didn’t understand how important it was yet.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

To Princess or Not to Princess

We're headed to the Magic Kingdom soon and will be having lunch with the Disney princesses.  This sent the girls into decision mode.  Should they dress as princesses?  Or are they too grown up for princess dresses?

At first they were firm in their decision not to dress as princesses.  They decided that they were too old to wear a princess dress.  Of course, the fact that the second grade girls made fun of other girls wearing princess costumes for Halloween probably influenced their decision.

Last week they changed their minds.  They decided that they needed to be princesses after all.  The local Disney store doesn't carry dresses in their sizes, so we turned to eBay.

I had to influence their princess choices based upon the dress sizes available, but eBay had dresses to fit them.  Last night they tried on the dresses and giggled the whole time.  These aren't the official Disney versions, but they are still adorable dresses.

I have to admit I'm glad they decided to wear princess dresses.  Too soon they will be considered too old to wear princess dresses.  I strongly believe they should do everything each age allows.  They will grow up fast enough. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Another Day, Another Blond Moment

The blond twin was putting her dishes in the dishwasher after breakfast when I said her name loudly.  She completely ignored me -- shocking, I know that a child would ignore her mother.  She had her not-quite-empty juice glass in her hand.  As she started to turn over the glass, I saw Oreo licking the inside of the dishwasher door.

I was just a step or two away from being able to pull the dog away from the dishwasher when she poured a bit of her juice on his head.  I said, "Really?  Didn't you see the dog licking the dishwasher door?"

She said, "No, but now he'll smell good."  I just sighed and tried to get the juice off his head.  She smiled and ran upstairs to brush her teeth.

I know it's a negative stereotype, but some days she is just so very, very blond.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Throwing Caution to the Wind

The blond twin is a danger to herself. She is constantly close to hurting herself because she's not paying attention. She's either walking into something or tripping on something or dropping something on her feet because her mind is one place and her body is another.

Last night we were making whipped cream when I let the girls taste it in the bowl. The brunette twin stuck her finger on the side of the bowl and swiped some whipping cream. The blond twin stuck her finger in the middle of the moving mixer blades. As her finger headed towards the moving blades, I quickly said her name a couple of times. When that didn't work, I tapped her on top of her head just as her finger touched the moving blades.  She jumped back, put her hand on her head and said, "Why did you hit me?" I put her on the couch on time out until I calmed down. She had no idea that she was so close to harming herself.  She didn't put her fingers in the blades, so they didn't get caught in the moving blades, but she was really, really close.

Why did I let them put their fingers in the bowl with the mixer still on?  Well, at the time it didn't seem so dangerous.  I swiped the side of the bowl away from the moving mixer.  The brunette twin did the same.  I didn't think about all the ways the blond twin might hurt herself when I said, "Sure, you can have a taste."  My mistake, and believe me I am aware of the mistake.

The girl just frightens me with her lack of focus. Most of the time she hurts herself and she doesn't even realize it. I looked at her arm last week and asked why she had a bruise on her forearm. She said, "I don't know. I think I hurt it getting out of bed." I didn't pursue it. I realize she doesn't really know. She's just coming up with something so I stop asking.

I try to think of her lack of focus as a cute personality quirk, but I can't. One day she'll be driving and it frightens me. The good news is she'll probably spend most of her time behind the wheel with her twin in the passenger seat. This is where the brunette twin's cautious nature will come in handy.

Until then we'll need to be on guard to keep the blond twin safe, even if it does mean a head swat once in a while to keep her finger out of moving mixer blades.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My New Favorite Response

Today we were standing in the Plush Horse ice cream shop when the brunette twin, hugging the giant stuffed horse, said, "I want a pony."

I turned to her and said, "As soon as I win the lottery, you'll get a pony."

This is my new response to all requests.  When I win the lottery, you can have anything you want.  It's a non-confrontational way to get out of the conversation, especially since we rarely play the lottery.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Quote of the Year

Two days in and we have a winner...

Brunette Twin: "I like to talk.  It's my favorite hobby.  I really, really like to talk."