Saturday, August 31, 2013

Holly is home

We weren't even out of our friends' house in Lake Geneva when the girls started asking when they were getting a dog. We told them we weren't even going to get serious until after vacations were over and we were back in the school routine. Lake Geneva was our last summer trip. They took that idea seriously. They wanted to go straight from Lake Geneva to a rescue group to pick up a dog.

Since we had spent most of the summer researching different rescue groups, we were down to a couple of places. We called and emailed about a Lab/Australian Shepard puppy named Boomer. We never heard back from that group. We're two weeks out and we still haven't heard from them. I think it's strange because this group called us about our application within a day or receiving it.

In the meantime there was a Border Collie/Great Pyrenees mix named Holly on a different rescue group's site. She is white, with a black mask and a black patch on her side. I emailed them about her before we left Lake Geneva. Shortly after we arrived home, I heard from her Foster Mom that Holly had another family coming to see her. If things didn't work out with them, she'd call us.

On Tuesday Foster Mom called to say that the other family decided they wanted a younger puppy. Holly is ten months old, so she's young, but nearly full grown. I went over to meet Holly and just knew that she could be our dog.

Today Holly came home with us.

It turns out she's a Lab/Great Pyrenees mix. This makes much more sense to me. When I met Holly I kept thinking she wasn't really shaggy enough to be a Border Collie/Great Pyrenees mix. Those are both breeds with longer coats. Her primarily white coat is medium at best. A Lab mix makes much more sense to me.

She was quite tentative at first. Once in the house she sniffed and sniffed and sniffed. The girls showered her with attention. It took a long time for her to calm down, but eventually she did. When the rain stopped we took Holly for a walk. She was just crazy with all the excitement. She couldn't decide if she was going to sniff her way through the way or look around. Sometimes she sniffed and moved her head to see what was going on.

I'm not sure Holly had a peaceful moment all day. The girls just played with her and hugged her. The Blond Twin kept saying, "Oh, I just love Holly so much." The Brunette Twin kept hugging Holly.

Holly came to us trained with about ten commands. She showed her training at different times. The girls spent some time reading the information Foster Mom sent with Holly. They decided to test her training in the afternoon. It was clear we were the ones who needed to be trained in how to use her commands. Holly did fine.

We had a funny moment when we put the girls to bed. After a day of telling Holly not to go up the stairs, we finally allowed Holly to come up with us. She stood on the stairs just staring up. Daddy said, "I don't know if she knows how to get up the stairs." Sure enough, Holly had some awkward moments, but she made it up stairs. She started shaking when she had to go downstairs. She did the up and down routine once more before staying downstairs. I'm sure she'll figure out the stairs. It's just funny to think that she never went up and down a staircase before.

We made it through the day with only one accident. Holly is on a bathroom schedule, which we sort of followed. I think our flaw was giving her too much water when she came back from her after-dinner walk. We'll all figure out how to avoid future accidents as she is already house-trained. It's really a matter of scheduling and water amounts.

Day One went really well. As the days go by we'll all settle into a routine and get to know each other better. It's the start of a new chapter for everyone.

Friday, August 30, 2013

A not so protected password

We used to password protect our computer. We didn't let the girls log on without permission and then we put the password into the system. Recently we had some work done on our home computer. We didn't add a password because, well, we just didn't get around to it.

Even without a password the girls continue to ask before they turn on the computer. Recently the blond twin said, "If I tell you something about the computer will you get mad?"

I said, "Probably not, but I'm not sure until you tell me."

She looked at her twin and laughed before she said, "We know the computer password." And then she told me the password.

I smiled and said, "How long have you known it and how did you figure out the password?"

It turns out the girls watched us as we typed the password and started putting the letters and numbers together. They knew the password for about a year before we took the computer in for service. They kept asking because they didn't want us to get mad that they were on the computer without permission. They were afraid that we'd take the computer away from them.

Of course, they must have tested their password theory at some point. Otherwise they wouldn't have known if they were correct. My guess is they did it when I walked Oreo. Otherwise they would not have been able to access the computer without us knowing about it.

It makes me smile that they knew it and never told us. It also makes me happy that they understood the consequences of sneaking on the computer. It's always good to know that some lessons do sink in, even though we don't think they are paying attention to us.

I didn't ask how many different password combinations they tried before they found the right one. One of these days I will check. Now that I know they watch us as we type passwords, I'd like to know how much harder we need to make the passwords so they don't guess them all.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

You are what you wear

The girls recently started playing local nine hole golf courses. Daddy is teaching them golf etiquette in addition to helping them learn how to put all their lessons together to play a hole. I go along and walk the course with them to watch.

We were getting ready to leave when I told the girls they had to change. I explained that female golfers dress in short or shorts, preferably something not denim. The blond twin started talking about what she was going to wear. The brunette twin said, "Oh, so no one will think you're golfing with what you have on, right Mom?"

I rolled my eyes and said, "No honey. No one will look at Mommy and think I'm golfing."

The brunette twin turned to her sister and said, "Ok, we just need to look better than Mom. This should be easy."

Note to self: Dress better next time you walk the course with the golfers.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A little lunchtime Daddy love

Overheard at the lunch table...

Blond Twin: "There's the funniest sign in the bathroom here. It says I'd like to live life in the fast lane, but I'm married to a speed bump."

Mom:  "What does that mean?"

Blond Twin:  "It means that someone is really slowing things down like a speed bump."

Brunette Twin: "You know Mom. Like you and Dad."

Mom:  "Really? Who is the speed bump?"

Brunette Twin:  "You of course."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Another day, another dog

One of the dogs we were watching, Frolick, was adopted last weekend. We were happy for him as he seemed like a really great dog. It would have been nice for him to be our dog, but we knew he might get adopted if we didn't get there first.

We're sitting in limbo with Flash as the rescue hasn't responded to our application. The rescue hasn't responded since we submitted the application about a week ago. In contrast, the other two places we submitted applications responded within days that we were approved. One managed to call our vet and talk to them while still approving our application in a few days. These groups really want to find "fur-ever" homes for their dogs.

This puts us in a strange place regarding Flash. On the one hand I just want to walk away from that group. If they aren't eager to find a "fur-ever" home for Flash then we don't want to just sit and wait until they are ready. On the other hand, the blond twin really, really wants to bring home Flash. She said he reminded her of Oreo in so many ways. Flash would be a new Husky, but he's also a comfortable fit.

It's not a good place to be.

I talked to the contact quite a bit at the dog rescue event we attended about six weeks ago. They were interested in why Oreo died so young. At the time we were just talking because we didn't really plan to get another Husky. How could another Husky possibly live up to Oreo?

After the event the blond twin couldn't stop talking about Flash so I emailed the group. Before sending me an application, the contact asked me to explain how Oreo died again. I was happy to do so and invited them to talk to our vet. The contact sent an application, but hasn't acted on it.

I know it's time to walk away from Flash. We could call these other two rescue groups and come home with a dog today. The issue is we all miss Oreo so much still. It's comforting to think we could get another dog like him.

I've been talking to the girls a lot about how we might not end up with Flash. The rescue isn't responsive, which tells me they aren't quite sure how to tell us they don't think we're a good fit for their dogs. I understand why they would hesitate. Would you adopt a dog to a family whose Husky died suddenly and without explanation? Even though the vet's office said we did everything we could have for Oreo, it must seem strange to an outside group trying to decide what is best for their adoptable dogs.

It's just today that the blond twin said she'd be happy with a dog other than Flash. We immediately looked at the other two rescues' websites. The girls found six or seven dogs they wanted to bring home.

It's hard to let go of Flash, but it's time. What we want is a good family dog. There are so many out there that we can't wait to see if his rescue group ever responds to us. Now we just need to decided which of the two remaining rescues we'll visit. We know that whichever one we choose we'll end up bringing home a dog. The girls are ready. We're done travelling now that school is back in session. It's time.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The language police

As we walked home from school last Friday we talked about delivering invitations to the girls' tenth birthday party. It's a spa and sundaes party. A friend's daughter and two of her friends are coming over to paint nails and supervise the party games. We're expecting twelve girls, including our two.

We first talked about riding our bikes everywhere. The blond twin was up for it, but not the brunette twin. She started complaining about her bike. It's too small. She hit her knees on the handlebars whenever she rode, ending up with bruises sometimes. It was hard to steer because her knees were in the way. She complained for about three blocks before arrived at our house.

When we got into the house Daddy called. I summarized the conversation by saying, "We are gong to deliver the invitations. We were going to ride our bikes, but the brunette twin is complaining that her bike it too small and she hurts her knees when she pedals." Or something like that.

The brunette twin looked at the blond twin and said, "That's not what I said."

It's a trend with the girls. If I summarize a conversation by using words other than exactly what they said, they protest. I don't have to repeat the entire conversation, but no word substitutions are allowed.

Of course what's good for them is good for me. Now whenever they say something without using the words I use I protest. It's driving them crazy. They haven't really learned the lesson though, so we'll keep playing this game for a bit longer. Some day I'll break them of this or they will tire of the game and stop protesting. Either way works for me to be honest.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

She said what?

We were in Justice looking for a cute shirt for the first day of school. Our 5' 1" brunette twin was worried because she's almost outgrown Justice clothing. She was having a hard time finding shirts in her size so I asked the store clerk for help.

The store clerk said, "We don't carry much stock that big."

I turned with an annoyed look on my face and said, "Thank you" but what I really wanted to say was "WHAT ARE YOU THINKING IDIOT?" As the brunette twin's eyes filled with tears I held her and talked to her about why the store clerk was wrong.

May I just add the store clerk was maybe two inches taller than the brunette twin? I'm sure she didn't understand how hurtful her words were since the clerk was never a really tall fourth grader, but she still should have better customer service training.

At a minimum you'd think Justice would train their clerks to be aware of the way young girls struggle with body images. We went to Justice for some layering shirts. Our girls love to mix and match them. We ended up with a crying daughter determined to find one more shirt to fit her just to prove she was still a little girl.

We came out with a few shirts and a new bathing suit for the brunette twin. The blond twin found three shirts she had to have. I came out really angry that a young girl who probably struggled with her own body issues was so insensitive to our daughter. You'd think a store targeting young girls would be better about lifting up rather than knocking down.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Down to two

We've looked at hundreds of dogs on different websites. We met about a dozen dogs "in person" so to speak. We're about ready to bring home a new dog. The good news is we've been able to narrow down our top choices to two.

The first is a white Siberian Husky named Flash. The other one is an Australian Cattle Dog/Siberian Husky mix named Frolick. Both dogs fit the big, hairy, strong dog I like. Both dogs are young, not quite puppies, but close enough that the brunette twin is happy. Both dogs are social, although I wouldn't put either in a room of small dogs.

When we're really ready we'll see which dog is available. It's good to know we have two solid choices who would be great additions to our family.

Of course, there's always the possibility that both dogs will be adopted by the time we're ready. The goal of the rescue organization is to find "fur-ever" homes for the dogs in their foster care. In that case we'll have to find a new dog, but we've learned so much the process should be much easier than it was the past few months.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Working on his boy issues

You know those commercials where men are carrying their wives purses? I like to point out those to my husband. On the rare occasion that I hand him my purse I always tell him it's just for a moment. Believe me when I say that it's a rare occasion when my purse is in his hand. He always makes a face like it's a poison plant. Really, he makes the funniest faces and it's a running joke between us now.

The girls think it's funny when I ask Daddy to hold my purse. On vacation I asked Daddy to hold my purse for a minute. I promised it would only be a minute.

The brunette twin saw him make his funny face and she sighed, "Daddy has to work on his boy issues."

We laughed so hard. She just rolled her eyes and walked away. Boy issues? The brunette twin has some moments when she's just a comedian, even as she shares what she thinks is a nugget of truth.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

You were the prettiest babies

With a wink and a grin, I always tell the girls I was the cutest baby ever. I tell them if the don't believe me they can ask Grammie. When they ask Grammie she confirms that I was the cutest baby ever. She tells them stories about how my maternal grandfather used to bring his friends over to see his adorable granddaughter. There are some advantages to being the first grandchild after all.

Mostly I do this because it just drives the blond twin crazy. It bothers her tremendously that Grammie thinks I was the cutest baby ever. She keeps trying to logic her was to a place where she and her twin were the cutest babies ever. She works hard, but Grammie doesn't budge.

In part Grammie doesn't budge because she has four granddaughters. My mother is nothing if not even-handed. Every Christmas when the older grandchildren were little she gave them the same number of presents. Some packages only had a trinket, but she knew that little kids counted to make sure the piles were even. She was always even. Now it's a free-for-all since the grandchildren are older. Our girls always get the same number of packages, though.

How could Grammie declare them the cutest babies ever? What about her other two granddaughters?

We had lunch with Grammie recently and the blond twin brought up the cutest baby ever question. Grammie told her all the reasons I was the cutest baby ever. The blond twin stewed, but couldn't win the debate.

A few hours later the phone rang. Grammie told the blond twin that Mommy was the cutest baby ever, but her twin granddaughters were the prettiest babies ever. When I got on the phone I said, "Really? She wore you down and you caved?" Grammie laughed and said she came home and worked on adjectives to make sure all four granddaughters were covered. She thought about giving our girls two different adjectives, but decided it was better if they had the same one. So, the twins were the prettiest babies ever.

Even as she's caving into the blond twin's relentless questioning, Grammie is even-handed. She had an answer for each granddaughter as the blond twin quizzed her. Of course, I'm still the cutest baby ever. I doubt that will bother the blond twin much anymore now that she and her sister were the prettiest babies ever.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A food optional day

This is for you my darling Brunette Twin.

Overheard at our house...

Brunette Twin:  "When are we eating lunch? I'm starving."

Mom:  "It's 5:00 p.m. We already ate lunch."

Brunette Twin:  "No we didn't. I'm starving. I want to eat lunch now."

Mom:  "What do you mean we didn't eat lunch? Of course we did. We had...."

Brunette Twin: "Nothing."

Mom:  "Oh crumb. You're right. We didn't eat lunch. Well, it's too late now. We're eating dinner in a little bit."

Brunette Twin:  "That's not fair. I'm hungry now for lunch."

Mom:  "Well, you should have thought about that when I asked if you wanted to eat lunch."

Brunette Twin:  "Did your parents ever forget to feed you?"

Mom:  "I'm sure they did and I survived, so will you."

Brunette Twin:  "You better write this on your blog. You always write stuff that we do on the blog. You need to write that you forgot to feed your children."

Mom:  "And yet you survived this long without food."

Thursday, August 8, 2013

So much natural beauty

When we went to Nashville for Spring Break our plan was to drive through the Shawnee National Forest to see the Garden of the Gods. It rained that day so we drove straight home instead. After spending two days in the area I'm rather glad it rained. There was too much to see to just stop by for a few hours.

We spent the first day at Ferne Clyffe State Park. It was a fun hike through the forest. We made our way down the side of the bluff to a nicely groomed trail. It was flat and quite wide with crushed gravel. The trail led to a waterfall, which was dry as it hadn't rained much lately. The rock formations behind the waterfall were quite beautiful. There was a couple perched in a hammock, which fascinated the girls. First they couldn't figure how they got to that location. Second, they couldn't decided if they would get into the hammock or not considering it was hanging from two trees on the side of a bluff. I am certain I would not have gotten into the hammock.

The second day we went into the Shawnee National Forest. There are hundreds of miles of trails, but we went specifically to see the Garden of the Gods. I couldn't wait to see the rock formations. The pictures were so beautiful. We started off by looking at the map at the end of our parking lot. On the map Camel Rock was clearly marked. We set off confident that we could find it. After all, Camel Rock was in the middle of a loop. How hard could it be to go around in a circle?

It started off fine. We found this incredible formation called Anvil Rock. The colors were breathtaking. You could see where the years of erosion formed clean lines covered by something looked like rust in places. We left Anvil Rock and started hiking towards Camel Rock.

Eventually we came to a cave, which was fascinating, but not where we wanted to be. We hiked back up the side of the bluff back to the parking lot. About two hours after we started we still hadn't seen the Garden of the Gods. I was beginning to wonder if we would see it at all. The girls were starting to whine about more hiking. They are pretty good about hiking, but they do have their limits.

We went back to the map and talked to a couple who had been to the area many, many times. The woman looked up towards a different trail entrance and said the Garden of the Gods was up that way. We trudged up the hill with the girls begging us not to hike anymore. I was close to agreeing if only to get them to be quite. We promised extra pool time if they stopped complaining. It worked.

As soon as we saw the Garden of the Gods trail, Daddy and I sighed that deep, tired sigh you make when you realize you were so close, yet so far. The trail was beautifully paved with limestone. It was clearly marked with railings and benches and platforms. It was so worth waiting to find.

A couple was climbing on the rocks as if it was the most natural thing in the world. We later learned they were from West Virginia. As he pointed out, "I grow up scaling rocks like this in the mountains." We were all impressed with their ability to move around the bluffs with such skill and no fear.

The trail is not even 1/2 mile. It could have been three miles and we wouldn't have complained. Even the girls were amazed as we moved from Camel Rock to the faces to the scenic overlooks. We have several photos of them on top of different rocks.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a chocolate factory for refreshments. We talked about nature's beauty and how much fun it was to hike. We topped the day with a couple of hours in the pool. It was a wonderful two days surrounded by nature's beauty. What a way to end our summer.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Two days of family and fun

When we found out our niece Madi was going to be in St. Louis we immediately made plans. She's just a couple of years older than our girls and they adore her. She's the big sister they always wanted.

We weren't even all the way to Aunt Mary's (Madi's Gramma), when the girls abandoned us.  As we left the restaurant after lunch Aunt Mary asked if the girls wanted to drive with her. Ha! They couldn't get into her car fast enough. We all went to the Amish Country in central Illinois, visiting Rockhome Gardens and a few local stores.

Of course before getting into Aunt Mary's car the blond twin said, "Mommy, you won't be lonely will you?" I thought about saying yes just to play with her, but that seemed mean. They wanted to be in Aunt Mary's car so badly. I told her I loved how much she loved Aunt Mary and I wouldn't be lonely. After all, I had Daddy in the car with me. She wisely noted that it would be good quiet time for me since Daddy doesn't talk a lot as she ran to Aunt Mary's car.

The girls spent two nights with Aunt Mary, Uncle Terry and Madi. The first night alone in the hotel we were too tired to realize how much free time that gave us. When we woke up in the morning we looked at each other and said, "We have nothing we have to do today. We can do whatever we want to whenever we want to do it." Truth be told it was a bit disorienting. Since the girls were born there was always something we had to do.

While the girls went to play miniature golf and see a movie with Aunt Mary, Uncle Terry and Madi, we went to the Cahokia Mounds, a national historic site preserving the remains of the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico on a 2,200-acre educational site. We later drove down along the Mississippi River before meeting everyone for dinner. It was a fun day for everyone, although Aunt Mary did note that the girls were wearing her out. I said, "Is it all the questions?" She said it was their unending energy.

The next morning we picked-up the girls from Aunt Mary's before heading to the Shawnee National Forest. They had a great time and could not stop talking about it.

I'm sure Aunt Mary, Uncle Terry and Madi took the rest of the day to recover. It's fun to have the girls around, but it's not restful. Of course, no one said vacations were restful. Sometimes a vacation is a whirlwind of fun that creates lifetime memories and bonds.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

How did you survive?

I went into the girls' room early one morning and found them staring at the same tablet. I asked what game they were playing. They replied they were looking for dogs on Adopt-a-pet.

A light bulb went off in my head. Their tablets give them constant Internet access. I realize they also had it on their iPods, but they didn't seem to realize it. I never saw them on the Internet on their iPods. With their tablets we've let them play on their favorite gaming sites and do some research. Of course they have Internet access.

It was a "duh" moment for me.

At breakfast Daddy had a conversation with the girls about Internet safety and letting us know the websites they visited, especially if they went to a new site. The brunette twin said, "Did you have to do that when you were little?"

Casually I said, "We didn't have the Internet when I was your age."

Both girls looked shocked. With wide eyes the blond twin said, "How did you survive?"

Daddy and I laughed as we went through the other things we didn't have --cordless telephones, remote control TV, our own bathroom, etc. The girls couldn't believe we survived under such primitive conditions.

They asked a lot of questions. It was quite a history lesson for them. Finally the blond twin said, "I just don't understand how you survived that way."

We just smiled, smug with the knowledge that some day she'll tell her children about tablets and iPods and MP3 players. Those kids will have that same stunned look as they ask their parents how they survived. It's the technology version of "the circle of life."

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Same game, different tablets

For a long time we had one laptop the girls shared. This meant they spent all their time stretched out next to each other staring at the same screen as they played different games.

The girls decided they wanted to use the money they received as communion gifts to purchase a tablet computer. We spent a lot of time discussing different tablet options. Should we buy one so we had one laptop and one tablet? Should we buy two, giving them each a tablet? Which tablet should we buy? How much hard drive did they need?

It was a long research process because we were weighing our options at an interesting time in the girls' development. More and more they want their own stuff. They don't want to share everything anymore. Some people might think this is a bad development, but we see it as a good sign. They are still sharing most things, but they are getting older. It's natural for them to want their own stuff as they get older.

We decided to get them each a seven-inch tablet. This was within their budget (mostly) and fit their desire for their own tablets. We thought it was a good idea for them to be responsible for their own electronic devices. In our minds we saw them using the laptop sometimes and the tablets other times, with the iPods thrown in here and there. We thought they'd play separately, using the tablets for some alone time away from each other.

What has happened is the girls stretch out right next to each other and play the same game on their own tablets. It's not what we expected, but it's a pretty entertaining development. Rather than one of them handling the keyboard while the other one helped make decisions, they each have control their own device and discuss each decision anyway. They are teaming up to play two games at the same time on two different tablets.

Oh, we know the novelty will pass, but it's fun to watch right now. They proved once again that what we think will happen might not happen and that's ok. They will develop their own strategies for getting the most out of their electronics, even coming up with outcomes better than we could imagine.