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.