Thursday, December 26, 2013

Holly Jolly Christmas

As we started planning for Christmas, we kept talking about how Holly would react. We have a lot of beautiful glass ornaments that spent the season in boxes. We weren't sure if she would play with the tree or the presents. We decided not to put up the ornaments this year just to play it safe. We didn't know if Holly would try to open the packages. We tried to protect Holly through our Christmas planning.

It turns out Holly was fine near the tree. I saw images of Holly playing with the girls and knocking the tree down, but that didn't happen. In fact Holly went near the tree to sniff the ornaments and packages, but she didn't try to eat anything or rip any packages. Mostly it was just something she found interesting as she passed by.

We had a few mishaps. We had a wooden Christmas tree about four feet tall in the foyer. One day it fell on Holly as she played tag with the girls. Holly spent the rest of the season afraid to go into the foyer near the Christmas tree. I tried to pull out cookie sheets and dropped some other baking sheets on the floor. The noise frightened Holly as she started walking into the kitchen.

What made us laugh throughout Christmas was walking Holly. She despised the outdoor decorations. A blow-up Santa? She barked the entire time she walked by the house. A lighted nativity scene? Holly stood in front of it barking. She wanted to be certain that those people knew not to come near her. She protected us from those blinking lights. No matter what, Holly wasn't going to let those blinking lights attack us.

Christmas morning Holly sat near the tree while the girls opened presents. She was funny because she walked all the way around the house rather than go across the wrapping paper. The girls made a pile, which Holly saw as a wall. She really wouldn't go near it until we created a path for her.

Our first Christmas with Holly was much easier than we anticipated. It wasn't that we thought she would be intentionally destructive, but she's a big, lanky puppy. She still plays a bit too rough at times. She isn't always in control of her body as she runs around. It's adorable unless you think the dog is going to take down the Christmas tree.

If we're luck, and Holly calms down a bit more, I anticipate putting our art glass ornaments on the tree next year. She passed her Christmas tests this year.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Pink and proud

Holly has cemented herself as the girls' dog. If Oreo wanted to be near any one of us, Holly wants to be near the girls. As long as her girls are home, she doesn't care if she walks at the usual times or if she stays home with them. She sleeps with the blond twin every night. As long as the girls are in their bedroom, Holly stays in bed with the blond twin.

Today their friend Amira came to play. At first Amira was afraid of Holly. Truth be told, Amira is smaller than Holly. She's barely taller than Holly and we're sure Holly weighs more than Amira. For a while Amira was afraid of Holly. About an hour or so later Amira was laughing and playing and treating Holly like her dog.
Just when we thought she couldn't do anything else to cement herself as the girls' dog, the girls and Amira came out of the girls' room just laughing. They could hardly control themselves. Finally they parted and Holly came into the room.

Holly had on a pink shirt the blond twin recently outgrew. The girls managed to get the shirt over Holly's head and over her paws. Holly was prancing behind them because she didn't want them to leave her in the room. She was decked in hot pink with her tail wagging.

Once we stopped laughing we told the girls to take off the shirt. Holly might have been willing to model it, but she was trying to bite it off her legs. She didn't like it very much.

When they left the room Daddy looked at me and said, "The dog won't let us dry her paws, but she lets them put a shirt on her?" If we had any doubts about Holly's loyalties, her time as a t-shirt model removed them.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A change in our gift policy

We were driving home from horseback riding lessons when the blond twin said, "I don't care if you get us anything but horseback riding lessons for Christmas." I was about to tell her I'm happy that she likes to horseback ride so much when the brunette twin said, "Why would you ask for something you're going to get any way?"

In my head I heard that screeching sound tires slamming on road make. I was trying to process what the brunette twin said while these words came out of my mouth, "Who said you're going to get them any way?"

On the one hand the brunette twin knows we'll support their interests, as long as they are reasonable. Horseback riding lessons at a local stable are probably going to happen fairly regularly. Ski lessons on a Colorado mountain after watching the Olympics? Surfing lessons in Hawaii after watching Soul Surfer? Not going to happen.

On the other hand, I couldn't help but wonder how entitled the brunette twin was beginning to feel. It's not a development we're happy about. I always say the girls "get around" because we take them to a lot of different places/shows/restaurants. It's stuff we liked to do before they were born. We just added them to the mix as they are old enough to enjoy these things.

She won't remember what she said, but we decided it changed how we determine their presents. Stuff we might have just given them, like concert tickets, are now going to be wrapped and given as a gift. They needed long underwear and warm winter gloves for some outdoor activities. Those are under the tree. We're starting with their Christmas presents and will continue as they get older. They might not notice, but the brunette twin's comments certainly will change the way we think about what they get and how they view it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Passing the boots

This morning we woke up to a couple of inches of snow. It wasn't much, but it was enough that the girls needed snow boots. The brunette twin realized her snow boots from last year didn't fit her. Of course, I thought about this a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't do anything about it.

I walked into the garage and grabbed my back-up snow boots. These boots are fine for the days when I'm shoveling, but not comfortable enough to walk the dog. I handed her the boots and told her to wear them.

She said they were a bit big, but they were fine. She looked at me and said, "In a few more months we can share all your shoes."

I knew this day would come. I just thought she'd be older than fourth grade when it happened.

Monday, December 9, 2013

It's not a party room

Just before we were supposed to walk out the door this morning the girls started screaming at me from upstairs. I didn't quite understand at first because they were both yelling at the same time. I ran upstairs to find the brunette twin in tears outside the bathroom saying "I'm sorry" over and over again. I immediately knew what was wrong.

For some reason the girls have a nasty habit of clogging the toilet lately. This was just the latest incident. I looked at them and said, "It's a bathroom, not a party room." Immediately after the girls ran downstairs to find the plunger while I tried to clean up the overflow.

They have to go into the bathroom together. They stay in there with the door closed sharing secrets and laughing. Sometimes we hear loud, belly laughs. Whatever they are talking about they find hysterical. I used to find it adorable.

The problem is they forget why they are there. They don't pay attention to the details, like how much toilet paper they are using and flushing the toilet completely. The result is Mommy or Daddy end up with a plunger in our hands was too often lately.

We're going to have to create a rule that only one of them goes into the bathroom at a time. It's time the party room went back to its original use as a place to do your personal business in private.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The band aid girl

The blond twin has the strangest obsession with band aids. She puts a band aid on every cut, bruise or mark. It doesn't matter if she's even bleeding.

It's as if she thinks band aids are decorative items. We try and try and try to explain to her that band aids aren't for decoration. We discuss how band aids have a medical purpose.

She doesn't care. The blond twin just goes through band aids like nothing I've ever seen. She uses all sizes, all the time. She gets upset when we run out of band aids.

It has gotten to the point that we hide them from her just to make sure we have some if we ever need them. Yes, we hid band aids. It's as crazy as it sounds and we know it.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I got all intrigued for nothing

The brunette twin is the ultimate eavesdropper. If she's on the same floor as us when we talk she always seems to hear us and ask a follow-up question. She has to know exactly what we're talking about at all times. I keep telling her she doesn't need to know about every conversation, but she doesn't listen. She's sure we're having a fascinating grown-up conversation.

This morning I was on the phone with Daddy when I said, "They don't even know it's down there." 

The brunette twin was sitting right next to me at the dining room table. She was supposed to be eating breakfast, but she was just staring at me. I kept talking to Daddy while she waited impatiently for me to hang up. Knowing that she was anxious to ask me about my phone conversation I kept talking to Daddy.

As soon as I hung up she said, "We don't know what's down there?"

I said, "It is not your conversation, don't worry about it."

The brunette twin started begging to know what we meant and pleading with me to tell her.

I sighed and said, "We were talking about the hot water tank and why we don't have good water pressure in the bathroom."

Her face fell. She said, "I got all intrigued for nothing? That's not right."

I told her to stop listening to my conversations and she wouldn't be so disappointed. It's not going to happen, but maybe she'll think twice before interrogating me about every conversation.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

We have a winner

This year the girls participated in a school program called Battle of the Books. During the semester each team had to read certain books in preparation for the Battle of the Books trivia contest.

Today their teams went up against other fourth and fifth grade teams. It sounds like it was a spirited competition. In the end two teams were tied -- and our girls were on each team. After a tense overtime, the brunette twin's team -- Tie Dye Ponies -- won. The blond twin's team came in second.

When they got into the car after choir practice, the brunette twin was about to explode. She couldn't wait to tell me the big news. She went through every detail, explaining over and over again how her team won. She was thrilled.

The brunette twin said, "Finally it's my turn. Sissy had her poem published. She won the fire department coloring contest. Now my team wins the Book Buddies contest. I won something."

She wasn't gloating as much as she expressed her relief. She finally won something. She knew that we'd talk about her victory the same way we talk about the blond twin's poem being published. Tt was like a weight lifted from her shoulders.

I didn't remind her that she won a trophy during golf camp a couple of summers ago. She won for her skill, but in her mind it didn't really count. No one from school appreciated her victory.

The brunette twin spent the rest of the night basking in her victory. Even her sister couldn't resist smiling at how proud the brunette twin was about her victory. The victory glow won't last long, though. The brunette twin started planning for next semester's Battle of the Books competition tonight. She's ready to defend her victory.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The problem solver

We were walking to school when the brunette twin told me she was having trouble with a boy in her class cheating off her work. I told her she needed to tell the teacher so her teacher could stop the boy.

I explained that the teacher would know he was cheating because he would have the same answers as the brunette twin. She looked at me and said, "Not really."

She then went on to explain that she already talked to the boy about cheating. Since he kept doing it, she started putting wrong answers on her papers. Once he turned in his paper, she'd go back and put all the correct answers on her papers.

I just smiled at her. She wanted me to understand that the teacher might not know he was cheating since they didn't have the same answers. I told her that her solution was very, very clever, but she still had to tell her teacher what was happening.

As soon as I left them at the school, I called Daddy. We were so amazed at her solution. We always say the girl is very clever. It was fun to hear how she solved her class problem in such a creative way.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Christmas decorating made easy

We're traditionalists when it comes to our Christmas decorating. Everything goes up the day after Thanksgiving. It comes down before the girls go back to school after Winter Break. Today we spent the afternoon putting up our Christmas decorations.

If there is such a thing as a sweet spot when it comes to Christmas decorating, I think we're pretty close. This year our girls took control of the process. While Daddy was putting together our tree, the girls started going through other boxes.

We have a few places we always place decorations. The girls quickly decided how they wanted to organize the decorations this year. All the snowmen were going to one place. The Santas were going into the family room. Other decorations were going upstairs.

They moved from place to place discussing each decoration. Watching them open each box was delightful for me. I know what is in each box, but I'm still delighted to open them every year. Our girls had the same reaction.

When it came time to decorate the tree they decided that their "twin" ornaments needed to hang together. Every year Grammie buys them an ornament. You can trace their interests by the ornaments. We  have ballet slippers, a piano, a mermaid and more. We have pictures of them at different ages. The girls wouldn't hang their twin ornament until each sister had hers in hand.

After working for two hours, the girls were done. They just ran out of energy to do anything else. We had a couple of boxes left that Daddy and I handled. We rearranged a few displays so there was a little space between the decorations. We cleaned up a bit and then sat down to enjoy our Christmas decorations.

It was fun to watch them work. They weren't able to put everything where they wanted so they still needed our help. There were a few panic attacks which were quickly resolved. (Where's my stocking? Why can't I find all four?)

In the past Christmas decorating has been an all day process. It was really something we did in small spurts as we took care of the girls. As the girls became more independent the decorating became ore fun. Now, with four people fully participating in the process, Christmas decorating is a quick process. And, it's still a lot of fun.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Oh please where can I find sleeves?

This was originally posted on The Chicago Moms

What is going on with all the sleeveless holiday dresses? I recently spent hours and hours and hours trying to find Christmas dresses for our ten-year-old twin daughters. Everything I saw looked like something they’d wear to a summer pool party rather than something appropriate for a Chicago Christmas.

Perhaps designers and retail managers don’t realize this, but Christmas in Chicago is cold. It might be 40 degrees, and if the temperature goes that high we’ll consider it a warm day. More likely it will be freezing or below, which is pretty normal for December Chicago weather.

What ever happened to sleeves on winter dresses? I had a hard time even finding a dress with anything more than tiny, cap sleeves. Who wears stuff like this in the cold weather? I hate to break it to all the clothing designers, but if you design something like that thinking we’re all going to show off our finely sculpted arms, you’re wrong. No matter what our arms look like, we’re adding a sweater or wrap to your perfectly designed frock. We are nothing if not practical in Chicago. We’re not going to be cold just to maintain the integrity of your design.

Of course, that might be the plan all along. Maybe all the sleeveless dresses are simply a ploy to get us to purchase more sweaters and wraps. If that’s the case, then please put the sweaters and wraps near the holiday dresses on the retail store floor. Don’t make me go from floor to floor looking for what I need. For online retailers, please give me a way to look at sweaters and wraps side by side with the sleeveless dresses.

The easier you make it for me to find what I need, the more likely I’ll purchase all of it at your store. I really don’t like to shop. I do it because I need something. The words, “I’m going to the mall to see what’s new” have never come out of my mouth.

I’m not saying there isn’t any place to wear sleeveless holiday dresses. My cousins in Florida adore them. My cousins in Texas wear them every year. It’s those of us in cold weather cities who want sleeves. Our girls will look adorable for Christmas in their dress and sweater. With a little luck the dresses will still fit them when it’s appropriate to wear sleeveless dresses in Chicago. So, if you see a woman walking downtown with two little girls in Christmas dresses in July, just smile, ok? The patterns might be out of season, but the design will finally be in season.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Laying down the law

I'm chaperoning the girls' field trip today. As she was getting ready the blond twin decided to make sure I knew the rules for chaperoning.

According to the blond twin, I'm not allowed to talk to their teacher, the other parents or the students and
  • Embarrass them by telling stories about when they were little.
  • Embarrass them by telling stories about their lessons.
  • Embarrass them by talking about how they are good at anything -- golf, piano, horseback riding.
  • Embarrass them by holding their hands.
  • Embarrass them by kissing them.
Basically I'm not allowed to do anything embarrassing, which might mean I'm not allowed to do anything. I told the blond twin that I'd try not to embarrass her, but I wasn't making any promises since the list of things she finds embarrassing is so long.

Ah, the tween years. The good thing is the list of embarrassing things I'm not allowed to do will level off during their teen years when they realize they can make requests, but I'm still going to do whatever I want.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Let them eat cake

For my birthday the girls made both a cake and cupcakes. We already had a blueberry pie and brownies that we made last weekend. Our kitchen looked like a sweet shop.

We got up early this morning to take Daddy to the train. Our routine is to run through Dunkin Donuts to get Daddy coffee and treat the girls to donuts for breakfast. It's a reward for them getting up, dressed and into the car in a reasonable timeframe.

This morning the girls just didn't move quickly. Daddy missed his target train. We set our sights on the next train. We made it out of the house in time to get Daddy to the train. We didn't have enough time to drive through Dunkin' Donuts.

As we were driving I said, "You girls can have cake when we get home. How's that for a fun, birthday breakfast?" Daddy said, "Cake for breakfast?"

I laughed as I said, "Yeah, because donuts are so much more nutritious than cake." He smiled and got out of the car.

When we arrived at home I cut some cake, added a banana to the plate, poured a glass of milk and called it breakfast.

Hey, it's not the breakfast of champions, but for my birthday I can have whatever I want, right?

Monday, November 18, 2013

I wish you perfect health

This was originally posted on The Chicago Moms

The Affordable Care Act exchanges are open now. Whenever I read the comments on social media or news sites related to the Affordable Care Act, I’m stunned at the number of people in perfect health. These people are certain they will never need to find insurance under the Affordable Care Act because they already have insurance. They are certain that those people without insurance are deadbeats who want the government to take care of them. For those of you who are certain that you will always have your existing company or union sponsored healthcare plan:

I hope you never develop a pre-existing condition that makes you uninsurable for the rest of your life, which is exactly what happened to a college friend who was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 25 years old. She had to quit her job with a small architecture firm and take a job with a large company just to have her pre-existing condition covered.

I hope that when you find yourself diagnosed with diabetes and without health insurance your Daddy will use a back door maneuver to get you a lifetime seat in the US House of Representatives so you will always have health insurance, just as my U.S. Representative’s father did.

I hope your insurance policy always provides access to screening procedures that could save your life, such as mammograms, pap smears and colonoscopies.

I hope that you never find yourself starting a new business at 50 years of age as my Father did because his union job no longer existed. He quickly found out that health insurance was (and still is) unaffordable for most small business people.

I hope that when your children grow up and get a job they immediately have top-of-the-line health insurance so they don’t need to stay on your policy for a few more years.

Mostly I hope that your perfect health continues until you die peacefully in your sleep. This way you will never know whether or not you might ever have needed the health insurance now available under the Affordable Care Act.

Friday, November 15, 2013

When will In the Ghetto just be another song?

This was originally posted on The Chicago Moms

I was driving when an Elvis Presley song came on the radio. I had heard the song many, many times growing up as my parents were big Elvis fans. This time, alone in my car, I really listened to In the Ghetto. In case you don’t remember the lyrics, here’s how it starts

As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin’
A poor little baby child is bornIn the ghetto
And his mama cries
Cause if there’s one thing that she don’t need
It’s another hungry mouth to feed
In the ghetto
Later in the song, this happens:
Then one night in desperation
A young man breaks away
He buys a gun, steals a car,
Tries to run, but he don’t get far
And his mama cries
As a crowd gathers ’round an angry young man
Face down on the street with a gun in his hand
In the ghetto

In the Ghetto” was first released in 1969. Nearly 45 years ago Chicago was still the place people thought about when they thought about poverty and violence. It’s incredible sad that back in 1969 when Mac Davis sat down to write a song about generations caught in a cycle of poverty and violence, Chicago was the place that came to mind.

The violence in the 1969 song almost seems quaint. A young man steals a car and is killed trying to escape his life. In the 2013 version there would be more gang involvement and retaliation. The end result is the same, though. A young man with a gun ends up dead in the street.

Here’s how Wikipedia explains the song, “It is a narrative of generational poverty: a boy is born to a mother who already has more children than she can feed in the ghetto of Chicago. The boy grows up hungry, steals and fights, purchases a gun and steals a car, attempts to run, but is shot and killed just as another child is born. The song implies that the newborn will meet the same fate, continuing the cycle of poverty and violence. The feeling of an inescapable circle is created by the structure of the song, with its simple, stark phrasing; by the repetition of the phrase “in the ghetto” as the close of every fourth line; and finally by the repetition of the first verse’s “and his mama cries” just before the beginning and as the close of the last verse.”

Sadly the inescapable circle of poverty and violence continues with more rage in 2013. Despite numerous government programs and private attempts, some Chicago neighborhoods still struggle with daily gun violence. Some kids grow up thinking that joining a gang and carrying a gun is the only way to succeed. Too many mothers continue to cry.

When will In the Ghetto be a quaint oldie rather than an anthem for another Chicago generation? It’s a question people have been asking for decades. The real question is: Are we the generation to create the change necessary so that today’s babies don’t grow up to be the angry young man in the song?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A tankless task

There's one thing I know will never happen again in this house. I will not take a shower after the girls' have finished their showers. I did that once. The water was cold. It wasn't a nice, relaxing shower as much as it was a race to get out as quickly as possible.

Of all the things on our home improvement list, a tankless water heater is gaining importance. We have friends with tankless water heaters who rave about how wonderful it is that everyone can shower and no one ends up with cold water. One friend talks about how she can run the dishwasher, put in a load of laundry and still shower with hot water.

I didn't care about a tankless water heater until I stood in the cold water. I realize the number of showers will only increase as the girls get older. It will be years before we can realistically reduce our hot water use so it's time to take action if we want to continue to take warm showers. My recent cold water shower wasn't so much fun that I want to repeat it again.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Life as a contact sport

We were online looking for Christmas dresses when I asked the blond twin to try on a dress from her closet. I wavered between two sizes before asking her to try on a dress. She has a couple different sizes in her closet so I knew it was an easy way to figure out the correct size. It was a simple request really. I wanted her to go upstairs, try on a dress, come downstairs and show me how it fit.

A few minutes after she went upstairs I heard thumping, banging and stomping. Then she yelled, "You hurt me." A few minutes later she came downstairs wearing the dress with tears in her eyes and a cut lip. She said she hurt herself messing around with her sister. I said I didn't want to hear about it because trying on a dress shouldn't be a contact sport. She was mad, but I was tired and didn't want to hear this current saga. For some reason with the blond twin, life is a contact sport.

I hear "I'm hurt" from her multiple times a day. Sometimes it's a little thing like running into a wall while she's talking and walking. Sometimes it's something big like cutting her lip while wrestling with her twin or playing with Holly. She always wants to tell me every detail of how it happened. I don't know how to tell her that I don't want to hear every detail. I usually hear the commotion and know how it's going to end. At this point I just want her to understand that not everything she does needs to end with her yelling, "Ouch."

When I tried to explain to her that she needs to be more careful, the blond twin replied, "You know you have a klutzy daughter." It's not that she's klutzy. It's more that she and her twin turn everything into a play date. Putting away the laundry becomes a game of toss the clothes. Taking Holly outside to go to the bathroom is a game of hide and seek in the bushes. Bringing the garbage downstairs is a foot race. It never ends.

What the blond twin doesn't seem to realize is she is three or four inches shorter than her twin now. A couple of years ago this wasn't the case. Now when they wrestle the brunette twin has a definite advantage. When they have a foot race, pretending to be hockey players, odds are good the brunette twin is going to take down her sister when she checks her into the wall. There's a never-ending list of ways the blond twin can get hurt.

I realize they will outgrow this. In a couple of years these will just be funny stories we talk about at holiday dinners. Until then I'll just continue to sigh when the blond twin says she's hurt and she'll continue to respond that she's just a klutz.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Angels among us

We arrived at church today with enough time to wander the foyer signing up for events and chatting with others before the service started. The girls hugged our church school leader and stood in front of a bulletin board debating the merits of different items needed to fill stockings for the homeless.

When we walked into the church the girls' faces fell. Our priest was in front of the church all by himself. Usually he had two young acolytes and at least one adult to assist him with the service. Today he was all by himself. I just sighed. If we had walked into church immediately upon arrival the girls could have been acolytes.

The blond twin looked at me and said, "We need to help father Nicholas. We can't leave him there all alone." The brunette twin said, "Let's go."

The problem was the easy way to get back where the garments are kept was to go up to the front of the church and walk in front of everyone. The outside door was locked, but we knew who had the key. She handed us her keys and a few minutes later the girls were dressed and sneaking up to the acolytes' seats in front of the church.

Father Nicholas smiled when he saw them. Before his sermon he called out the girls and thanked them for coming to help him. He said seeing them walk up the side aisle to the front -- fully vested as he noted -- was like watching angels among us.

We always tell the girls that they have the ability to help people by doing something small. Today they made a difference in our priest's day just by stepping up to do something they had done dozens of times before. It didn't take any money or effort on their part. They simply saw something they wanted to change and they took action.

We couldn't have been more proud.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Star Spangled Blah

You know how parents talk about how miserable it is to listen to their children when they are practicing their instruments? I haven't had that experience until now. Before this set of songs, the girls would make slow and steady progress on their songs. They didn't always sound great, but you could hear them improve each time they practiced. Now the blond twin is struggling with the Star Spangled Banner. There is just one section she just cannot get right.

It is driving me crazy. With the other songs they learned I didn't always know how the final product was supposed to sound. I just went with the flow until they mastered the notes. The Star Spangled Banner, though, is a different animal. I know exactly how that is supposed to sound.

I'm finding it hard to be a patient, supportive parent. I've become impatient with her inability to get these few notes correct. Every time she plays I hear the words in my head until she gets near the end when the notes don't match what I expect to hear. I've heard the Start Spangled Banner so often that no matter where she starts playing the song the words just flow in my head.

We're close, so close in fact that I know she'll get it right soon. The problem is she really has to get every note right. There's no way I'm going to let her stop practicing it until it's perfect. Yet every time she hits the wrong note my brain flips a bit.

This is one song I'll be happy to finish. Even though by finish I mean get it right because I know she'll continue to play the song. I just want to get to a point where her notes match what's going on in my head so I don't wince whenever she hits a wrong note.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Rodeo girls

A couple of months ago we were at Gordyville, a Central IL destination for horse shows, flea markets and animal auctions. We were there for a flea market. I like to search there for interesting garden ornaments. While there Aunt Debbie mentioned that Gordyville hosts rodeos. The girls were hooked.

We made plans to go to the rodeo. Part of the plan was for the girls to spend the night with Aunt Debbie and Uncle Len. At the time we were going to go down, spend the night in hotel and let the girls spend the night with Aunt Debbie and Uncle Len. As soon as we started planning the blond twin wanted to clarify the arrangements. She said, "You're not coming with are you? I mean it's ok if you come with, but we're going with Aunt Debbie and Uncle Len alone right? You aren't coming with us are you?"

I just laughed. I promised her that even if we were in the same area we wouldn't interfere with their time with Aunt Debbie and Uncle Len. My recent surgery changed our plans, which was fine with the girls. Daddy took the girls to meet Aunt Debbie for the drop-off.

Today we received a phone call from the girls early to set-up the drop-off time. We knew they would have fun, but we had no idea how much fun until we picked up the phone. The blond twin yelled, "The rodeo was AWESOME." She proceeded to tell us all the details she could remember as quickly as possible -- barrel riders, bull riders, steer wrestling, a rodeo clown, lasso competitions. There was probably more, but it was hard to keep them straight. The brunette twin came on the phone and told us all her favorite parts. At some point the blond twin said, "You're on speaker phone by the way."

We just laughed. They were just bubbling with excitement. Aunt Debbie suggested meeting at Noon, but one of the girls said, "Can't we stay until 1:00 p.m.? We don't want to go home."

Daddy picked up the girls about 1:00 p.m. We knew they'd be tired, but Daddy said the girls were asleep in the car before he made it to the expressway. By the time they came home they were refreshed and ready to talk.

At dinner we had them take turns telling stories. The things they found interesting made us laugh. They did impressions of the pre-rodeo announcements. They talked about how the rider slid off the horse on to the steer for the steer roping. They talk about the rodeo clown distracting the animals. They repeated stories the announcer said about dating the rodeo cowboys. They discussed their favorite outfits. They explained the heights, colors and personalities of their favorite horses. They talked so much and so quickly that we had to limit them to one story before they let the other one talk.  We were getting confused about the details, but it was clear that they had a great time.

They loved the rodeo. They loved spending the night with Aunt Debbie and Uncle Len. We love listening to them tell the stories. We always tell them that they should have special times just with their aunts and uncles. Given how much they loved the rodeo, I'd say it might be one of their favorite events to date. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Halloween chaos

We invited several other girls to come trick or treating with our girls. We had a plan and we're ready to go, but it rained all day. Right before the scheduled meeting time there was a flurry of phone calls. We decided to stick with the plan, adding umbrellas and rain boots to the mix.

The girls hung out for a bit before heading out. The rain slowed to a drizzle when the girls decided it was time to go. There was a pack of brightly colored rain coats on giggly girls on our front porch when Daddy put Holly on a leash. A minute later the whole pack was out knocking on doors.

The rain stopped and started and stopped and started. The girls kept trick or treating. When they decided they needed to warm up and dry off they all came back to our house. Within minutes it was a mess of costume parts, dripping rain coats, drying rain boots and giggling girls.

It was chaos and it was great. The girls sat at the dining room table trading Halloween treats. A bit later they ate pizza and talked about class. They laughed and argued and ate. They ran to the door to hand out treats whenever our doorbell rang.

Later the blond twin and Erin went out for a second round of trick or treating. The brunette twin, Ayanna and JaHee decided to stay home and play. They ran upstairs and disappeared into the girls' room.

Yesterday I received two emails telling me how much fun the girls had on Halloween. Both moms said their girls couldn't stop talking about it. Our girls said it was the best Halloween ever.

This might be a new Halloween tradition at our house. It was chaos, and everyone had fun. It might be the best way to spend Halloween.

Cancer claims Uncle Larry

Our girls were very young when Uncle Larry was first diagnosed with cancer. I'm not sure they remember a time when he wasn't sick.

Actually, he had been living under a bad prognosis for so long that it seemed like his cancer was more of a chronic condition than a life-threatening illness.

Recently Uncle Larry decided to end his battle. His medical team did all they could, but couldn't control his cancer any more. Uncle Larry went into hospice to make his final days manageable.

Today he lost his battle. His life ended on his terms, which is all you could hope for once the medical options ran out. Rest in peace Uncle Larry. You fought a good battle and now it's time to rest in peace.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Introducing our newest family member

We have a new family member. I'm not sure when we added to our family. I know we never discussed another family member. It took me a while to realize we added to our family. It was only through a series of questions and answers that I realized our new family member's name. 

"Who left the lights on the staircase?"
"Not me."

"Who is supposed to wash the dishes?"
"Not me."

"Whose turn is it to take out the dog?"
"Not me."

It turns out "not me" is our newest family member. I don't like "not me" at all. "Not me" is a never responsible for anything in our house. In fact, "not me" is often two people. More than once both girls have answered "not me" to a question.

I realize I'm supposed to love all family members, but I really don't like "not me" at all. As far as I'm concerned "not me" can go back to wherever he or she came from -- the sooner the better.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Walking to school by ourselves

Since our girls have been in their current school they have had the same wonderful crossing guard. We walked out of our way to go to see her every morning and afternoon. Recently she took a full-time job. The girls decided if Miss Sue wasn't going to be their crossing guard, they wanted to change their route to one which was a bit shorter.

During this conversation the brunette twin announced that she thought they should start walking to and from school all by themselves. I said, "It doesn't matter what you want to do. Holly expects to walk to and from school with you. Even if you're ready to walk by yourselves, she will need a walk. Why would I walk her away from the school?"

The blond twin bought it right away. She hugged Holly and said something like, "Of course we will walk with you. We won't leave you alone."

The brunette twin didn't buy into it. She started negotiating a time next year that the girls would be able to walk to and from school by themselves. She announced that in fifth grade they would start walking by themselves. I countered that it would have to wait until sixth grade when they took the bus to middle school. She wasn't happy about my decision.

I'm sure it's not the last time we'll discuss this topic. My neighbors tell me that their kids were walking to and from school in fifth grade. This might be the neighborhood norm, but I have a 70lb black and white secret weapon at my disposal and I'm not afraid to use her.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

He is so dreamy

Two summers ago I took the girls to their first concert. Big Time Rush was the headlining act, but it was the opening act that captured the blond twin's heart. From the moment Cody Simpson took the stage, the blond twin just stared. She giggled and stared and swooned the entire time.

Fast forward to this month when I received a press release about book signings happening at Andersen's Bookshop. I write a blog about books on ChicagoNow, so I receive a lot of press releases. I scanned it while on a conference call when the words Cody Simpson jumped off the screen. Near the bottom of the release was a paragraph about Cody Simpson coming to the Tivoli Theater to sign his new book.

We were in. At least I was in. I knew the girls would want to go. There was just one problem. Cody was signing books after my surgery. I crossed my fingers that Daddy would be willing to take the girls.

Of course I didn't really have to sell him on it. He knew how much they would enjoy it and thought it would be a good post-surgery treat for them. I went to buy the tickets that same night. Because I received the press release before it was widely published I was one of the first people to purchase tickets. And, I do mean one of the first. The girls had tickets #3 and #4.

We didn't tell the girls they were going to see Cody Simpson until after school yesterday. We told them not to plan too much after school since they had some prep work to do in their room. Daddy plans to paint their room while he's off work this week. It was a good cover story.

Daddy picked up the girls from after-school chorus and the blond twin immediately started lobbying to stay home with Mommy while Daddy and the brunette twin ran all the errands to get everything needed to paint their room. She triumphantly announced that Sissy was going to the store with Daddy, but she would stay home to take care of Mommy. When I told her she'd want to go, the blond twin said, "Mommy, Daddy said I could stay home with you because you need my help." Daddy laughed as he walked in the door.

Finally I handed them the tickets and told them if they finished everything on the list they could go do this tonight. They stared for a moment as they read the tickets. They asked a couple of questions. They started shrieking and jumping up and down. We just laughed. Daddy went to take some ibuprofen to ward off the inevitable headache to come from being in a theater with hundreds of tween and teen girls.

We were eating a snack when the blond twin asked when Daddy was going to the store. We had to tell her that she didn't have to go to the store after all. She was very happy to discover a trip to the hardware store wasn't on the list of things to do before seeing Cody Simpson.

The girls called me after they settled into their seats at the theater. They were so excited they could get out their words fast enough. After Cody sang a few songs and talked a bit, it was time to sign books. The audience was called in ticket number order. For whatever reason #1 and #2 weren't at the front of the line. Our girls were there.

The blond twin had her booked signed first. As Cody chatted and signed, someone asked if she could take the blond twin's photo for the newspaper. Daddy said it was fine. The blond twin had a few extra moments with Cody while the newspaper photographer took a couple of photos. The brunette twin said she couldn't stop smiling at his Australian accent. She said he was so polite that he even talked to Daddy. Cody thanked Daddy for bringing the girls and said, "Good day mate."

When they came home the girls were uncontrollably excited as they told me all the stories. At a quiet point during the performance the brunette twin yelled, "I love you Cody." He looked in her general direction and said, "I love all of you too." The blond twin remembered everything he said and couldn't stop talking about his accent. Then she swooned and said, "Mommy, he's is so dreamy in person."

Daddy survived nicely. The girls noted that he might have been the only male in the crowd. I told them they better appreciate their father's willingness to take them to see Cody Simpson. Daddy said it wasn't as crazy as he expected and it was actually fun to be there with the girls. I doubt he'll sign up to do it again if I'm available for these things, but it was a great way to end a crazy few days in our house.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The scariest day ever

It turns out that the worst part of having surgery is the pre-op wait. After you're checked in and everything is verified, you just wait on a gurney for someone to wheel you into surgery. I didn't realize how long and scary this part was before my surgery last week. The truth is I had never had surgery before. I didn't know what to expect.

My tears started as they wheeled me towards to operating room. The hospital staff kept telling me not to worry, but that's not easy to do when you're about to give up complete control of your body for three or four hours. Wisely, someone decided to give me something to put me to sleep before I made it into the operating room.

The next thing I knew I was in a hospital room. My husband and mom were there, but I can't tell you if we spoke. I think I went right back to sleep.

A while later the girls and Daddy arrived. They carried a vanilla malt I had previously requested. Neither girl wanted to come near me. I can only imagine how scary Mommy looked with the tubes going from my IV. On my legs were these devices to keep my from developing blood clots. These things made constant noise as they inflated, vibrated and deflated. This went on every few minutes.

The brunette twin took stock of the room like a scientist. She asked me about everything, often with follow-up questions. The blond twin stood on the side and cried. She had quiet tears running down her face the entire time. She didn't want to come near me. The brunette twin kept talking, but from afar. She was afraid to get too close.

They didn't stay long. I am not sure I spoke with them much. I remember them being there, but also remember drifting in and out of sleep.

When I came home both girls cried as they hugged me. The brunette twin said it was the scariest day ever. I told her she was right. It was a scary day for all of us, but we were back together so things would be fine.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Walking slowly through life

I used to walk very quickly. I would race from here to there, in part because I'm tall. My legs are long and it was easy to go quickly.

Then we had twins.

At first I was still walking quickly with the stroller. We'd wander the neighborhood when the weather cooperated. When the girls started walking we strolled with them hand-in-hand at their pace. When they grew we started walking more quickly to keep up with them.

Now we're a two speed household.

When we walk together now with our daughters who are either just a bit taller than 5' or just a bit shorter than 5' there's about a four foot gap in strides between the two girls. The brunette twin speeds along as a normal pace walking and talking and enjoying the journey. She keeps pace with any adult. The blond twin walks so slowly that one of us has to lag behind her. It's not that she can't walk any quicker. We can push her to walk more quickly when we need to move along. It's just that her natural pace is slow and rambling. I should say very slow and rambling.

When we walk to and from school, I find myself either telling the blond twin to move more quickly or walking really slowly with her. The more we ramble with her, the harder I find it to pick up the pace when I'm walking with the brunette twin or any adult.

I notice this a lot when I'm walking with Daddy. He moves quickly and I keep asking him to slow down. Once upon a time I walked as quickly as he does. Now I have to make a mental and physical adjustment when I walk with him or the brunette twin.

On the one hand it annoys me that the blond twin walks so slowly, especially when we're running a bit late for school in the morning. On the other hand, I admire her slow approach to getting some where. She's just walking along, talking and taking in all the action around her. It's probably something we should all do a bit more when we're not on a schedule.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Grocery shopping 2.0

When we went to Alaska for our first anniversary one of the cruise ship tour guides told the story of how resident in certain areas were only able to order groceries a couple of times a year. These people were cut off from most of the world for a number of months due to the weather. I thought about how hard it must be to sit in September and decide everything you were going to eat and need until May.

When the girls were little I often felt like those remote Alaskan villagers when we went grocery shopping. We would stock up on food and stuff as if we were not going to have access to another store for months.

Some of it was practical. We needed nearly 100 jars of baby food each week when the girls were in that stage. We'd buy cases of baby food and keep it in the basement. We had more diapers and baby wipes than the local store. We'd stock up on toilet paper and laundry detergent for practical purposes. If there was a snowstorm, we could eat for weeks from our freezer.

It was just so hard to drag both of them to the grocery store. Oh, I know people do it all the time, but we really tried not to run out of something we really needed. We always had 20 rolls of toilet paper and a dozen boxes of cereal.

Now that the girls are older, we're trying to recalibrate our grocery shopping. We still stock up on items because we find a good sale or know we'll need a lot of something like snacks for school lunches. What's different is we don't have that panicked feeling when we run out of something. We just tell the girls to get in the car and we go to the store.

It's a lot easier to go to the store with children who tie their own shoes and zip their own coats.

This is a mindset change, though. We're buying more stuff week to week and not worrying so much about what catastrophe might occur should we run out of dishwashing detergent. We still try to plan ahead and keep the house stocked, but now we're thinking in terms of the next week or two rather than the next month or two.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Three in a bed

The blond twin was mad at me. It's not like that's an unusual occurrence. She's often mad at me for some life destroying infraction or another.

This time she was mad because I told her that Holly was not to sleep on the bed with them. The blond twin told me that Holly -- all by herself and without any encouragement from them by the way -- jumped on the bed the night before. In the blond twin's version, Holly was sleeping on the floor and decided she was lonely so she jumped up on their bed.

I didn't say anything at first. I just looked at her and sighed. First of all, the girls sleep together in a double bed on the weekends. There's hardly room for the two of them. Holly is nearly 70 lbs. When you add her into the bed it's like putting three 4th grade girls in one bed. There's just not enough room.

Second, dogs don't get on the furniture in this house. Holly doesn't go on the couches or chairs. She is certainly not going to start sleeping on the beds.

Yet, as I stood there talking to the blond twin Holly came into the room and jumped on the bed. She was so proud of herself. Her tail was going crazy and she nearly bounced off the bed because she was so excited.

A moment later the poor dog was so confused. I took her by the collar and told her to get off the bed. She stared at the blond twin and got off the bed. I reminded the blond twin that the dog was not to go on the bed.

At bedtime the girls got into bed. Holly stayed on the floor at first, but as soon as I walked out of the room I heard her dog tags jingle. I turned around and Holly was on their bed with them. The girls were telling her to get off the bed, even as they hugged her and petted her. I told Holly to get off the bed.

As I walked out the door, I heard Holly get back on the bed so I helped her off it again. We did this a few times until Holly stayed on the floor -- at least long enough for me to get down the stairs. When I went in to check on the girls before going to bed Holly was back on the bed. I dragged her off again, but I'm not sure I'm winning the battle.

In a couple of years when the girls barely fit on their beds and the dog is still sleeping on their beds they will start to complain about how they need bigger beds. I'll remind them that the bed would be fine if they were sleeping in it by themselves. It's not the same as getting the dog off the bed, but it might be the best I can do as long as they keep inviting her into their beds.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Grampa's favorite swear words

Hockey season is upon us. We were sitting at dinner talking about the next hockey game when the blond twin said that Grampa would be watching the game. She laughed and said, "And swearing. A lot."

For some reason, the brunette twin followed up asking whether or not Grampa said the "F" word. I said that he didn't. He had lots of swear words in his every day vocabulary, but the big "F" word wasn't one of them.

This lead to a completely off-color conversation about Grampa's favorite swear words. We ran down the list from H-E-double hockey sticks to the witch with a b. It was pretty funny to hear the girls try to say each word without saying each word. They wanted to be clear about specific swear words without getting into trouble.

We laughed and talked and Mommy swore. It was a great dinner. Somewhere my Dad was laughing his head off. We use to tell him that he couldn't watch hockey with the grandchildren because he swore too much. Well, we're still talking about hockey and swearing, even though he's not here to join us.

Monday, October 7, 2013

You're wearing that again?

The girls and I went shopping Friday night to spend their birthday gift cards. We were wandering around a local outdoor shopping area going from store to store. They were very excited to see that Mommy was wearing a shirt similar to one on sale in one of their favorite stores. The brunette twin commented that not everything I wear is "old lady clothes." Of course, I saw the shirt first and pointed out the display to make sure the girls saw it. I don't have many moments when I'm in style as far as they are concerned. I wasn't going to let this one pass. We ended the night at a frozen yogurt shop watching people and admiring their purchases.

The next day I was meeting a friend at a farmer's market. I put on the shirt and pants I wore shopping. The blond twin said, "Are you wearing that again?" She was appalled that I would wear the same thing twice.

Of course she was. This is a child who throws clothes into the laundry basket simply because she decides she doesn't want to wear the outfit. She'll change clothes twice in the morning and throw everything she tried on into the basket.

When the girls wear something for just a little while, say a dress to church, we always tell them to hang up the outfit when they change clothes. We remind them that it didn't get dirty while they were sitting in church so it doesn't need to be washed. We're trying to get them to understand that just because a piece of clothing touches your body doesn't mean that it needs to be washed.

This is not the lesson they took from my two days in a row outfit. I explained to them that the outfit wasn't dirty since I only wore it a couple of hours that night before. We weren't jogging or moving furniture. We were shopping on a cool night.
They didn't buy it.

The brunette twin looked at her sister and said, "Of course Mommy is wearing it again. It's the only fashionable thing she owns."

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Holly meets the neighborhood wildlife

We were eating dinner when Holly jumped up and started barking. We're starting to hear a difference between the "I have to go out" bark and the "I'm protecting my house" bark. This was a very serious "I am protecting my house" bark.

The girls ran to the window and saw a person walking in front of the house. They tried to calm Holly, but she wasn't interested. She kept barking. Eventually she came back to the living room and plopped down.

A while later Holly let out her "I have to go out" bark. I put her on a leash to head outside. We walked across the street to the empty lot, walked around a bit and started to come back to our house.

We were in the middle of the street when Holly started barking and the hair stood up on her back. She pulled on the leash as strongly as I'd ever felt her pull. I looked around to see what she saw, but I didn't see anything.

We were in the driveway when I saw something moving on the grass between our house and our neighbors. I stopped when I realized there were three deer wandering from our backyard to our front yard.

Now that the deer were close Holly was going mad. I could barely keep control of the leash as I dragged her into the house. When we did make it inside, I quickly closed the door and locked it.

It wasn't the first time Holly met the neighborhood deer, but it was the closest we had come to them. I have to admit it answered a lot of questions about what was eating parts of our garden this summer. Next time I'd like to answer those questions by looking out the window, though.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Halloween nightmares turn into Halloween hope

Every year I dread Halloween more and more. The costumes are inappropriate and it's a nightmare to find something suitable. This year we caught a break. The girls' favorite movie is a new version of the teen beach movies. In fact, the movie is called Teen Beach Movie.

The girls love, love, love Teen Beach Movie. The two main female characters are McKenzie and Lela. We were tossing about costume ideas when we realized that the blond twin owns a red dress with white polka dots, similar to what Lela wear in the movie. All she needed was a black wig and headband to complete the costume.

The brunette twin decided to be a character as well. She really wanted to be a biker girl. We went through several resale shops looking for the right clothes. We left empty handed each time. We searched online sites without any luck.

I started looking at pictures of different Teen Beach Movie scenes to figure out a new costume idea. I found one of Mac in a bright yellow sundress with red and orange flowers. It took a while, but I was able to find something very similar online at a resale site.

The girls need costumes for a Girl Scout outing this weekend. I sent a message to the seller asking if she could put the package in the mail as soon as possible. I explained the urgency and crossed my fingers.

A while later the seller sent a note saying she put it in the mail. She said, "Your note made my day." We're not sure the dress will arrive in time yet, but we're crossing our fingers. It worked the first time. We're hopeful it works again so Lela and Mac can hang out together in real life, just like they did in Teen Beach Movie.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A lovely day for apple picking

The girls were invited to go camping this weekend. While we were getting them ready the brunette twin asked what Mommy and Daddy were going to do while they were gone. I said, "We're going apple picking."

She said, "I thought we were all going apple picking. You're going without us?"

I reminded her that this weekend was the only one we had open for apple picking during apple season. I asked her what she thought we'd do while the two of them were off having fun.

She said, "I don't know. Laundry, cleaning that kind of stuff."

I laughed and told her to get back to packing. The brunette twin ran to tell her sister we were going apple picking without them. Neither one was amused, but I told them they could stay home to come with us. They packed up and bounced off with their friend and her family.

We had a gorgeous day for apple picking. It was 80 and sunny, not our normal late September at all. We picked three kinds of apples, stopped at a local donut shop on the recommendation of a friend and wandered some back roads in Indiana.

We have more apples than we planned, but fewer than the last time we went apple picking. The girls had a beautiful day to explore the campground. Even though we weren't all together, we'll have lots of fun stories to tell and lots of apple to share. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Even dogs have rough days

Holly is having a rough day. It started early this morning. The blond twin was putting dishes in the dishwasher this morning when something happened. The blond twin said Holly's tags were caught in the lower basket. From what I saw the blond twin wasn't paying attention because she was talking to Holly. Whatever happened, the lower tray ended up going across the kitchen floor with the dishes and silverware going everywhere.

Holly was really frightened. It was very loud. The girls were screaming. Holly was pinned against the wall with the basket on their leg. I just put my hands on my head and sighed.

A few minutes later the girls were crying and hugging Holly in the family room while I tried to clean up the mess. I tossed all three of them out of the kitchen to access the damage. Somehow we only lost one dinner plate. Given the noise I was sure all the plates and bowls were destroyed.

When the girls let Holly out of their embraces, the dog ran upstairs into the girls' room. It's her safe place and she wanted to be away from the kitchen. I had to put her on a leash and bring her down the stairs so we could feed her breakfast. Poor Holly shook the entire time. I had to drag her into the kitchen to eat.

As soon as we came home from taking the girls to school Holly ran upstairs to the girls' room. She stayed there most of the morning. When she came down she stayed away from the kitchen. It took a few hours before she went in for a drink of water.

Now Holly is pacing the house. We usually walk to school about 2:30 p.m. to pick-up the girls from school. Holly knows her girls should be home and she's not happy. Between pacing and whimpering, Holly can't figure out why her girls aren't home. She doesn't understand that they are in the school choir this semester. Honestly she doesn't care. She just wants her girls.

We'll leave soon to get the girls. It will help Holly to have her girls at home. She'll calm down and play with them. It will truly be the highlight of her day.

Now, if we can only get through dinner without destroying the kitchen again we'll declare the day a success. I really think another episode like that might give Holly a nervous breakdown.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Channeling Grammie as a young woman

The girls are in the midst of the annual Halloween costume search.This is an increasingly unpleasant task as the girls have outgrown children's costumes. When you get into the teen/adult costumes you're pretty much trying to figure out if there is anything you can do to make the costume something you'd let your tween daughter wear.

We were home for a little while after our completely unsuccessful outing when I remembered that I had some of my Mom's old dresses in the basement. When I say old, I mean some of these are older than me. One of the dresses was a bridesmaid dress Mom wore for my paternal grandparent's 25th wedding anniversary ceremony.

The girls were very excited to see the dresses. They adore Teen Beach Movie, which is set in both the present and the 1950s. These dresses looked like the dresses the Teen Beach Movie stars wore.

After debating colors and styles, the girls decided to try on their favorite dresses. The brunette twin stepped into a dress and was crushed when we realized it didn't fit her. We couldn't zip the dress. At first we thought it was just a fluke so she tried on a different dress. She couldn't zip that one either.

The blond twin stepped into a beautiful blue dress and it zipped easily. As she twirled I thought about what it meant. My mother, who never quite reached 5 feet tall, had the same waist as my 10 year old daughter when she wore the blue dress. The blond twin currently wears children's clothing in size 14. My adult mother had such a tiny, tiny waist. Even though she has always been tiny, it's hard to envision how tiny she was as a young woman until you see her granddaughter in a dress she wore.

My Dad used to say that Mom had the perfect Fifties body. In his word she had tight sweaters, a tiny waist and curvy hips. He always moved his hands when he said it to make sure we saw the hourglass figure. It was always a funny moment because Mom would blush and he would laugh. We all went "eeewwww Dad" because you just don't think about your Mom that way.

Looking at the blond twin in Mom's dress made me realize how really, really curvy she was. The blond twin kept playing with the dress top, saying "What am I going to do with all the extra space in this top?" The taffeta skirt flared from her waist to accommodate an hourglass figure. Mom must have been quite a cute little number in the dress.

The blond twin was thrilled that she could wear Gramma's dress. I'm pretty sure it will be her costume to the delight of her Gramma. Somewhere my Dad is smiling at the memory of my Mom in the dress, just like we were smiling as we watched the blond twin twirl.

Monday, September 16, 2013

You might call it a crate

The girls are really trying to convince us to let Holly out of her crate so she can sleep in their room. Last night Holly stayed in their room after we put them to bed. She slept on the floor between their beds. The girls decided Holly might get cold at night so they put a blanket on her.

A while later Daddy found Holly sleeping happily under her blanket. He took her out of their room so she could go out before sleeping in her crate.

The girls were not happy to wake up and find Holly in the crate. They have been lobbying hard to make their bedroom Holly's bedroom.

At one point the blond twin said, "You wouldn't put us in a crate at night would you?"

I replied, "Well, we did put you in a crib for your own safety when you were Holly's age. It was kind of like a crate. The crib had a floor and bars on the sides so you didn't roll out. It didn't have a top, but you weren't strong enough to get out."

The girls were horrified to think that their cribs were like crates. They hadn't thought about it like that before this morning. I tried to explain that Holly goes in the crate for her safety until we're sure she won't chew a shoe and choke on it or try to get into something under the sink.

They still don't like that Holly is going to sleep in the crate for a while longer. For a moment they were distracted by the idea that they slept in a crate. It was only a momentary distraction, but I found it really entertaining. It took a minute, but they were able to adapt their arguments about putting Holly in their bedroom. They won't win, but I'll give them credit for persistence.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A week of 10th birthday fun

If you're going to turn ten years old, you might as well get the most out of the celebrations. It's exactly what the girls have been doing all week.

It all started with a family birthday party on Saturday, September 7. Both sides of the family were well-represented for a bar-b-que. Our neighbor has a huge yard and he lets us set-up a volleyball net. We also had croquet set-up so there was plenty to do. Of course the bean bag game was in constant use with my brothers and the nephews trash talking the whole time.

Tuesday the girls went with Grammie to the beauty parlor for a salon date. They can't stop talking about it and neither can Grammie. I might be insulted that the brunette twin thinks I should go to "her" stylist for a  "good" haircut. I'm pretty sure she doesn't think I have a good haircut now. The other day she commented on my pony tail. I said, "It's 100 degrees outside in September. I'm walking your dog all day. Yes, my hair is staying in the pony tail."

Yesterday the girls walked outside our front door to see two new mountain bikes. They stared for a minute because they didn't realize the bikes were theirs. I kept telling them that Holly was their birthday gift. Later the blond twin said, "Holly would have been enough for my birthday, but I really like my bike." The brunette twin was thrilled as soon as she started pedaling. She had been complaining for a while that her bike was too small for her. She couldn't wait to ride her new bike.

Today it's a friends party at our house. We'll have ten or twelve little girls in all their tween glory. The party invite was for a spa and sundae party. A friend's daughter and her friends are coming over to paint nails and supervise games. The girls will have their nails painted, watch Teen Beach Movie or a One Direction video and eat ice cream.

I told the girls this morning that today was the end of their birthday week celebration. This is their actual 10th birthday, so it's a fitting end to a fun week.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The glamour girls

For their birthday, Grammie gave the girls an afternoon at her beauty parlor. Since then the girls have talked endlessly about what they were going to have done to their hair and nails. We've had lengthy discussions about different hair styles. They have discussed nail colors for fingers and toes.

Today the three of them set off for the adventure. When they came home all they could talk about was Grammie dancing with one of the employees. The girls were amazed that Grammie was such a good dancer.

This didn't surprise me at all. When we used to go to family weddings, we'd all get off the dance floor to watch my parents dance the jitterbug. They had several dances they enjoyed, but it was lovely to watch them dance together. It never looked like it should work. Dad was just a bit taller than 6' and Mom never hit 5'.  It didn't seem to matter when they danced.

When they were done telling me about Grammie dancing the girls babbled about getting their hair cut. "They put me head in a bowl and washed my hair." "They put all kinds of good smelly lotions in my hair." They talked and talked about choosing their nail polish and the mechanics of a French manicure. They were bubbly and giggly and happy.

The brunette twin tried to hard sell the idea of eating dinner at a restaurant tonight. She said, "Everyone at the salon said we were so pretty you should take us out and show us off. We look too good to stay home."

We will take them out to show off their new hair cuts, but not today. What she doesn't realize yet is the salon day made her feel good, but she's beautiful every day. We have lots of time to show off our beautiful girls.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Holly the songstress

The girls practice their piano songs every day. A couple of days after Holly joined the family she started howling when the blond twin played the Star Spangled Banner. It was so funny we laughed until we cried.

Holly starts a few bars into the song with a few small sounds then she really goes crazy. Sometimes she's so loud you can hardly hear the blond twin play.

The funny thing is it's the only song the blond twin plays that gets Holly singing. The blond twin was playing a lot of old songs last night and Holly ignored them all.

This morning the brunette twin was playing when Holly decided to start singing to her song. As soon as the brunette twin played a different song, Holly just sat there as if she was waiting for the first song to start again. The brunette twin played the first song again just to hear Holly sing.

It's a funny thing to watch. The girls are trying to figure out why Holly sings to some songs and not others. I told them not to over think the situation. Everyone likes different music. Holly is just letting them know her favorite songs.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The crate rebellion

The first night Holly was home she went into her crate nicely. She walked right in and we all went to sleep. The second night she hesitated, but eventually went in. Now she's in a full rebellion. It's clear Holly does not want to sleep in her crate.

Even better, she's taking matters into her own teeth so to speak. Yesterday she started pulling her blanket out of her crate with her teeth. The blond twin put it back, but shortly after Holly started to pull the blanket out again.

This time we were eating lunch and reprimanded her. She stopped pulling the blanket out and left it about half-way out of the crate. The blond twin put it back again.

Last night when we tried to put her in her crate she made herself "dead weight" and we couldn't get her to budge. I gave her a tiny treat to get her into the crate.

We're not quite sure we want her to have full access to the house while we sleep. She doesn't seem interested in chewing anything. I confirmed this today when Holly stretched out in the family room. There was a flip flop next to her face. She put a paw up and I thought she was going to move it to her mouth. Instead she swatted it across the rug out of her way. We're pretty sure she'd be fine, but we don't really know her well yet.

We might end up putting her in the kitchen with two baby gates to restrict her movement. It will give her more freedom than a crate, but still keep her in a safe place. We're going to try the crate again tonight. If we have the same reaction then we'll start looking at other options. It will just be easier on all of us.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Settling in with new sounds

Holly is settling in to our house just fine. It's so nice that she was already trained -- both with some commands and house trained. There's an entire adjustment period we're skipping.

This morning the girls got up and took her outside first thing. One of the nice things about Holly is she's big, but really, really gentle. Both girls have walked her without any problems. She still pulls pretty hard on her leash when we first walk out the door, but she calms down quickly.

The one thing we're getting used to is her barking. Yes, I realize dogs bark, but Oreo never barked. He made some other sounds, although I wouldn't say those sounded like barks. Siberian Huskies as a breed don't bark.

A Great Pyrenees is a guard dog. They bark. When Holly first barked we all jumped. She has a deep, angry sounding bark. She doesn't bark a lot in the house so whenever she does she has our attention.

Last night the girls were putting on her leash to take her outside. Holly started barking. I was in the kitchen doing dishes so I yelled to Daddy to make sure everything was ok. Of course, he was already on the way.

We thought there was some problem with Holly and the girls. We were wrong. There was a woman walking in front of our house. Holly was letting the stranger know to stay away from our house.

There's a story I tell about Oreo and the postman. One day I walked by the door and the postman was standing there with a big box. I asked him why he didn't ring the doorbell. He said he thought the dog would bark. Oreo just looked at him and stretched out on the ground. It's clear that with Holly, I'll always know if someone is at the door.