Monday, June 24, 2013

Stanley Cup trash talk Fourth Grade style

The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in the last two minutes of game six. It's still hard to believe we won since we spent most of the game looking like the team was off its game. This time my brother Steve and I brought our families to watch the game with Mom. We ate dinner. We talked to the television. We watched the game like we were sitting on the bench. Dad would have been proud. Immediately after the Chicago Blackhawks won Mom said, "Somewhere Dad is jumping up and down." I said, "And swearing about how happy he is."

When the team won the Stanley Cup three years ago our girls kept asking why people were honking and cheering. I had to explain public celebrations. They thought it was fun and strange. This time they were ready. As soon as the team won the girls said, "Can we yell out the windows when we drive home?"

I said, "Of course."

So, they started plotting. Their friend Juliana was with us so three little heads giggled and whispered and created a plan.

As we drove home the girls chanted things like "Hawks Win" and "Yeah" as we passed different people. I honked the horn over and over again while the girls laughed.

Once in a while they'd throw out something they thought was so clever. At one point the brunette twin yelled, "You need to turn on the radio if you don't know why we're cheering." Juliana yelled, "If you aren't cheering you aren't a fan." The blond twin added, "You needed updated information so you'll cheer too."

Seriously. I just laughed and laughed. They thought they were so clever, and for fourth graders they were. Mostly they just had fun as we drove home and honked. Juliana said, "My parents would never let me yell out the windows." I told her they might let her after a Stanley Cup victory. We drove by a man who had a sign in front of his home saying Honk if You're a Hawks Fan. I honked. The girls screamed. He cheered. It was all good fun. It's exactly the way we should celebrate a Stanley Cup victory.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What's that place called?

We try to write notes on the back of photos before we put them in the girls' albums. Tonight is game four of the Stanley Cup finals. The Blackhawks are down 2 games to 1 against the Boston Bruins. Right now things aren't looking good that the Blackhawks will win game 4.

My nerves are shot watching this game. I'm just distracted and edgy. I'm really not focused on anything other than the game. So, what did I decide to do tonight? I decided it was a good time to write dates/locations on the back of some new photos.

What was I thinking?

Most of the photos were from the Missouri Botanical Garden's Chinese Lantern Festival. It was a beautiful event we attended last August with Aunt Mary. The problem is I was only partially focused on the photos.

On the back of the photos the Missouri Botanical Garden is called

Mizzou Botanic Garden
Mizzou Botanical Gardens
Missouri Botanical Garden
Missouri Botanical Gardens
Missouri Botanic Garden
Missouri Botanic Gardens
MO Botanical Gardens

Really, if you just started reading the back of the photos you'd wonder if I knew where we were for the Chinese Lantern Festival. Of course, given that my handwriting is so bad on most days that it requires a decoder, it's possible that the girls won't ever be able to read my scribble. If they ask I'll say, "Of course it says Missouri Botanical Garden. Can't you read it?"

We'll leave out the part about how Mommy was watching hockey and has no idea what she was writing. I think I'll work out my nerves by doing some yoga during games from now on.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Memories of Oreo keep us smiling

Right after Oreo died the girls didn't want to talk about him. Now that a couple of weeks have passed they bring up random memories about their puppy. I call it the "remember when" moment because the girls start the conversation by saying, "Remember when Oreo...."

My two favorites illustrate how gentle our crazy, nutty dog could be. I've always heard that dogs have an instinct for knowing when someone is sick, but I never say it in action until my Dad was in hospice. When I went over to visit during the day I always brought Oreo. He stayed in the backyard and played happily. One day he got into the house. I panicked when I realized he was near Dad because Oreo was a "look at me" jumper. This time he sniffed Dad and sat next to him. Dad pet Oreo's head and talked to him for a while. When Dad fell asleep, Oreo stretch out under Dad's recliner. I tried to get Oreo back into the yard, but Dad woke up and said, "Leave him. I like having him here. He's a really good dog." Oreo stayed under Dad's chair until we left.

My other favorite happened just a few days before Oreo died. We took Oreo to golf lessons with us every week. He loved to take a walk in the woods near the golf course. One path leads to a recreational area. There's a nice, wooded path around a water reclamation area. (Ok, it's much prettier than it sounds like it should be.) There are always a lot of people around feeding the ducks, riding bikes and picnicking. On this Thursday, there was a little girl riding her bike with her dad. When she saw Oreo she stopped and wanted to pet him. I made him sit so she could pet him. It wasn't until she came over that I saw she had Downs Syndrome. Her dad looked nervous. I said, "He's a jumper, but he won't bite." Oreo sat still while she pet his head. I twitched a bit when she threw her arms around his neck and smother him with a hug, but he didn't move. His tailed wagged like crazy the whole time. When I said we had to go, her dad mouthed "thank you" several times. At the time I didn't think much about it. Kids always wanted to pet Oreo. Now it's just another example of our nutty, crazy dog showing his sweet, gentle side.

The girls have their own "remember when" moments that all involve Oreo doing something funny or sweet. They talk about him at random times. We have a few photos of him around the house now. Once in a while I find one of the girls holding a photo talking to Oreo. I try not to let them see me. It's such a private moment that I don't want to interrupt them. It's their way to dealing with their sadness and moving forward.

Recently they have been talking about getting another dog. Actually, they've been talking about getting two dogs. According to our girls, the story is that right after Oreo died Daddy told them they could each get a dog. They want a little dog they can carry, but that won't happen. I always say if I can carry it then it's not coming into our house.

The brunette twin summed up wanting another dog with, "It's not like we want to replace Oreo. He was our first dog and the best dog. We had so much fun with him we want another dog."

Sometimes she's so much more grown-up than we realize.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Playing the what if game

The girls are still struggling with Oreo's sudden death. They spend a lot of time talking about their dog and how much they miss him. They spend a lot of time playing "what if" to understand why he died.

Oreo died from something we could neither prevent nor predict. Less than a week before he died we had him at the vet for a follow-up. She said he looked so good she didn't need to see him again until he needed shots in September.

Now the girls are trying to figure out if they could have done something different to prevent his death. This morning the blond twin said, "What if he ate something out of the garbage he always ate when we walked? What if that made him sick and killed him? What if someone switched our healthy dog with a sick Husky who looked like Oreo? Maybe we just need to go out and find him?" A few days ago she asked if he died because she didn't play with him enough. The brunette twin asked if they didn't tell him they loved him enough and that killed him.

It's so hard.

We've told them both that Oreo knew how much they loved him. A dog who doesn't feel as loved as he did doesn't let little girls use him like a pillow when they read their books. He doesn't sit under their feet when they eat breakfast just in case they want to pet him. He doesn't position himself under their swings so he can be close to them.

The real problem with the "what if" game is there isn't an answer that will make them feel better. If we had been in the vet's office she still couldn't have saved him. Knowing this makes the grown-ups feel better, but not our little girls. They still want to believe that doctors can fix everything and there's an answer to every question.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Am I a baby?

The girls are increasingly straddling the space between little girls and tweens. They are close to crossing, but they are not quite there yet. I was reminded of this when they were getting ready for an overnight trip with their Girl Scout troop.

The brunette twin came in with tears in her eyes and said, "Am I a baby because I can't go to sleep without koala?" I wanted to tell her that no one sleeps at Girl Scout overnight trip so it didn't matter if she took koala or not, but I didn't. I knew the answer was important to her. What she wanted me to say was that koala was her first friend and she wasn't a baby because she wanted to take koala on the trip with her.

I said, "You are not a baby. Lots of people have a special blanket or critter they sleep with. Some people sleep with the television or radio on. It's not a baby thing to want to take koala." She wasn't quite convinced, but she accepted my answer.

In the end she took a different critter. We decided koala was too special to go along. If one of the girls spilled something on koala we couldn't clean her. If one of the girls spilled something on the other critter, the brunette twin would through it away without tears.

Sometimes she so mature beyond her years and sometimes she's still my little girl. Either way she still needs her koala.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The text invasion

In the midst of our grief over losing Oreo, our neighbor came by to visit our girls. She was playing with their iPods when she suggested downloading a free texting program. Their Girl Scout troop leader told me about this program about a year ago. She lets her girls us it with restrictions of course.

I told Amanda she could download the program on the girls iPods. A bit later, they were texting with glee. The problem was they only texted Amanda, who was quite busy. I expanded their texting world by giving them phone numbers for a few cousins. Later that day I called those cousins to let them know the girls might text them.

Silly, sill me.

Might text them? The girls had already been texting them for hours and hours. Alyssa told me the blond twin sent her picture to show Alyssa she was really her cousin.

At dinner that night we laid down some rules about who they could text, when they could text and how often they could text. The girls listened carefully and seemed to take in all the restrictions. We ended with a warning that if they didn't follow the rules then we'd remove the texting app.

I have to admit it has been useful to have them texting their friends and cousins. They have a couple of cousins who live far away. I was trying to set-up Skype with those cousins, but texting is really just easier.

So far they've been good about letting us know when someone they don't recognize texts them. We haven't had any strangers text them yet, but we did have the texting safety chat. The unrecognized texts have been friends and relatives texting from an unfamiliar phone number so it's all good. We talked to them about what happens if we ever find out they are texting with a stranger. Luckily for us they really, really love having iPods. The threat of losing their iPods is enough to keep them in line.

Recently there were tornadoes near St. Louis. Daddy's sister and her husband live near St. Louis so the girls texted Aunt Mary to make sure she was ok. It was kind of fun to watch them because they were so excited to help Daddy. A few days later we were sitting at the dinner table when the brunette twin announced that she told Aunt Debbie we were coming down to go to a big flea market held near her house. She said, "Aunt Debbie asked if she could come with us?" I said, "Oh, please tell me you told Aunt Debbie of course she can come with us? Please?" The brunette twin smiled and said, "I told her she could come with us." I figured she would, but it's the uncertainty I'll have to get used to if they are going to text their relatives and friends directly. I know what Mommy and Daddy would say. Now I just have to double-check to make sure the girls have the same talking points.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

You can trust us

I was giving the girls' the day's schedule when I said Grammie would be coming over to babysit because I had a doctor's appointment. The brunette twin looked at me and said, "Oh, it's ok. Grammie doesn't need to come over. We'll be fine. You can trust us."

I said, "Nice try, but you're nine. You don't stay home by yourself."

She smiled and went back to reading her book.

As I walked away I marveled at how much she matured during the past year. Normally the brunette twin gets nervous if she doesn't know where we are in the house. If I move from one room to the next she wants to know where I'm going. If I go to the store she wants to know where Daddy is in the house.

Sometimes I'd leave them at home when I walked Oreo around the block. It was a short time, but the brunette twin often called just to make sure I was carrying my phone. Actually, she often patted my pockets to make sure I had it before I left the house.

If you asked me, I would have told you that the blond twin would be the one to suggest leaving them home alone. It never occurred to me that the brunette twin would make the suggestion first.