Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Travel Planning

This summer we're taking two long weekends as our summer vacations. Both are driving trips, so we're starting our travel planning. Oh, we know our routes and where we're staying. These travel plans involve how we're going to keep the girls busy.

When we were kids we spent a lot of time driving to visit relatives and see the country. My parents tended to drive at night, which meant we spent most of our time in the car sleeping. Mom made us packets of games, word searches, homework and coloring pages to keep us busy while we were awake.

We drive during the day, which means there are a lot of daylight hours to fill. We're collecting books from the "friends of the library" sale. We're pulling together homework pages. We spent some time at a second hand store buying DS games. We downloaded apps to keep them busy on the tablet. They are planning to bring dolls and other games.

I'm realize it's impossible to bring enough stuff to avoid the fighting that comes from being together 24 hours a day for days on end. I know that it's just a part of the experience. Still, maybe if I pack one more set of glitter pens we'll be able to reduce it to a minimal amount of fighting.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The End of Second Grade

I know this sounds bad, but I will be so happy when school is out. The girls' school is at that point where the real work is done. The teachers are doing "supplimental" projects that "pull together" what the kids have learned this year. None of it counts towards their grades. It's supposed to show them how it all comes together.

What is sounds like to me is filler stuff. I know the teachers need some time to get their end-of-the-year paperwork done, but the last two weeks of school are just a waste. I'm so ready for the girls to be out of school so we don't have to go through the morning rush and afternoon decompression. I don't want to worry about what's for lunch any more. I don't want to wonder if I've signed all the papers that require a parents' signature every night.

Most of all I just want to start a new chapter. So many parts of second grade were bad for us. My father died on the first day of school. My mother-in-law died right before Spring Break. My brother-in-law was diagnosed with a recurrance of cancer in the middle of it all.

Just like I was so happy to turn the page on 2011, I'll be happy when this school year is over. I am ready to start a new chapter. Good riddance Second Grade. Hello Third Grade.

Friday, May 25, 2012

My Math Confession

Our girls are learning how to add multiple numbers at once. Recently they started stacking five or six numbers in a row and adding them. You know what? I check their math homework with a calculator. As I like to tell them, I've already been through second grade. I know how to do the math. I just don't want to.

Plus, if I'm really honest, I'd say that once I did the math in my head and came up with the wrong answer. Given that I still haven't lived down that error, I'm not interested in making another math mistake.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Three Down

After Dad died, I took all his shirts and made Mom a quilt for Christmas. Since then I've been working on quilts for my brothers. Last Sunday I surprised my brothers with their quilts.

I had planned to give them their quilts for Father's Day, but I was so close to finishing that I decided to surprise them early. Mom ironed the backing to the t-shirts to prevent them from stretching while we sewed. The girls helped me quilt the top and bottom together. It was the first time they used a sewing machine so it was fun for them to learn and help. These were truly family projects.

I had some reservations about doing so much of the work on a sewing machine. I've always hand-sewn everything when I quilted. The problem now is my wrists hurt a lot from being on the computer all day. Even with wrist braces there's pain by the end of the day. The sewing machine made it easier to continue quilting and created a strong quilt than the ones I hand sewed.

The final products were wonderful, if I do say so myself. I was thrilled with the quilts and my brothers were too. Now I get to work on my quilt. Three down and one to go.

Monday, May 21, 2012

All Together Now

Once upon a time, my parents hosted grandkid sleepovers every Friday night. They would keep all six grandchildren overnight for a big grandparent/grandchildren sleepover. These ended when the oldest grandchildren started participating in activities ranging from volleyball to baseball to football. Suddenly Friday nights were just another game night.

A few months ago the oldest grandchildren asked for a grandkid sleepover. My mom was thrilled. She didn't bring up the idea any more because the oldest two grandchildren were in college. She thought they would be too old to think a sleepover was fun.

This was the first time our girls participated in the grandchild sleepover. They were thrilled. They stayed awake until 2:00 a.m. They woke up at 7:00 a.m. They had a great, great time.

Their only complaint? The boys stayed up later than the girls. They didn't understand why the boys got to stay up late and the girls decided to go to sleep. They wanted to stay up all night and not sleep at all. For them this was a once in a lifetime event.

I hope not. I hope they do this at least one more time. Still, I know the oldest grandchildren are going to outgrow this again soon, so I'm grateful the girls were able to experience it at least once.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Oh, She Plays Golf?

The girls have a new girl in their golf class. Last year it was just the two of them. This year their golf teacher added Holly, an eleven-year-old, to the class.

The three of them play at about the same level. I was worried that she'd be a lot better because she was three years older than the girls. In my head that equalled three more years of lessons. Luckily Holly only had two years of golf lessons so she was about the same as the girls. I figured as much since Mr. Rick said, "she'll fit in great with the girls since she's a natural too."

At dinner we talked about their first lesson of the season. We talked about what they need to work on and how the golf clubs fit. When Daddy asked the girls about Holly,  they said, "She's eleven. She wears glasses like us. She has her own cell phone and she wears a bra."

Oh, and she probably played some golf with them, although it clearly didn't make an impression on our girls.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lowering Our Food Expectations

I don't know when it happened, but somewhere along the way our dinners went terribly wrong. Oh, we still eat dinner. It's just that what we eat becomes simpler and simpler.

Part of it is because the girls are young and don't eat a lot of things yet. We're improving their food choices as we go along, but they stil prefer simple foods. Part of it is that we're all busy with activities so a big, traditional dinner doesn't really fit our lifestyle. Part of it is that things happen that we don't expect so sometimes we just try to find something nutritious to call dinner.

Take today for example. A few months ago we talked to a tree service about delivering a load of mulch. The company did some work for us last year. The owner said if we ever wanted mulch, he would deliver it for free as long as we weren't picky about the type of mulch. This morning he called to see if we still wanted some mulch. I said, "Of course." He replied, "Ok, I'll be there in about 15 minutes."

Right now we have a dump truck load of mulch on our driveway. If we're planning to get our car into the driveway (notice I didn't say garage), we're going to have to move mulch tonight.

This is not a complaint about moving the mulch. We asked for it and we got it. It's just a comment about why we're eating English muffins and fruit for dinner -- again -- tonight. I'd like to make one of those tasty meals like you see in the TV commercials, but if I took the time to do that, who would move all the mulch?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Snow Dog Love

Overheard at our house...

Girls:  "Mom, we picked a movie. We want to watch Snow Dogs."

Mom:  "You have your own snow dog. Why don't you play with him instead?"

Brunette Twin:  "He wants to watch with us to see his pack."

Mom:  "You're his pack. Go play with him."

Blond Twin:  "Mom, quit fooling around. We'll pet Oreo. We really want to watch this movie."

Mom:  "Well Oreo it looks like you're having a movie night with the girls."

Brunette Twin:  "Mom, he's not really going to watch the movie is he?"

Friday, May 11, 2012

Self Doubt Leads to School Problems

The brunette twins's ability to doubt herself is now creating problems with her school work. Her math grades have been fluctuating wildly. One day she's perfect. The next day she misses a lot of answers.

The problem is she's not getting marked down because she's not getting the right answer. She's getting marked down because she's not even answering the questions. The math assessments are timed. She works herself into a complete panic because the tests are timed and freezes. She said, "I get a funny bad feeling in my stomach and can't think."

We don't know how to help her manage this anxiety. She knows the answers when she's doing the work at home or in the classroom. It's the timing that causes the problems.

She works herself into a near panic attack whenever she has to take a math test. We all know how much schools like to test students. This is a problem that could have long-lasting effects on her academic opportunities if we don't figure out how to manage it -- and quickly.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Same Sandwich Different Day

We spent way too much time this past school year worrying about the girls' lunches. Despite our best efforts to mix-up their options, the girls want the same thing every day.

The sides may change, but the foundation of every lunch is a peanut butter sandwich. It doesn't matter what we offer. They always want a peanut butter sandwich. We finally decided they could have peanut butter every day. Once in a while we don't have bread, so we send muffins. Most days the girls eat a peanut butter sandwich.

We get bored with it, but they are happy. They pack a fruit and treat, along with their water bottles and an ice pack. They are quite happy with their lunches because they get to choose. As long as they are happy with their lunches, we're all happy.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Clothing Shouts Their Personalities

We were at a Mother's Day tea this afternoon when I looked at the girls' outfits. I saw them at our house, but as we were sitting at the table I realized their outfits really detailed their personalities.

The blond twin was wearing her Christmas dress with her hair in a bun and strappy, gold sandals. For a bit of fun, she made a point of telling everyone the sandals used to belong to her Grammie, who sat at the table beaming every time someone said, "Really?"

The brunette twin was wearing a colorful sundress with a colorful shrug, purple ballet slippers and had her hair down with a few strands pulled off her face in a butterfly clip. It was a casual, breezy spring look.

Their outfits were a perfect contrast between fancy and casual, just like their personalities.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Plain Water Please

You know how you have a coffee cup or can of pop on your desk all day? Well, I recently discovered that the girls can keep a water bottle on their desks. How did it take so long since we're nearly done with second grade?

I was making lunches when the blond twin said, "Hey Mom, please don't give me lemonade. I want water so I can keep my water bottle on my desk."

It was that easy. I was done making anything for them to drink at lunch. Cold water became the new beverage of choice.

Now that I know they want plain water, I'm happy to accommodate them. It's healthy and easy. I only wish I knew they wanted plain water back in September.