Sunday, May 25, 2014

Rethinking cleaning as punishment

On this bright, sunny Sunday morning, Daddy said, "Let's go play nine holes." The brunette twin said, "Yeah!" The blond twin said, "No!" Actually, the blond twin said it before Daddy finished his sentence.

It's a new trend for the blond twin. A couple of days ago we decided to take the girls for ice cream. We told the girls we were heading on a quick errand that they might enjoy. The blond twin said she wasn't going before we even finished talking about what we were going to do. She said, "I'm sure it will be boring so I'd rather stay home and do something else." It was funny that she thought she had that option, but annoying that she made yet another family outing a battle.

Today when she said she didn't want to golf, I said, "Ok, you can stay home with me. I have some work to do and you can help." She really wanted to golf, but I thought today was a good day to teach her not to make decisions before she has all the information. She was mad when she realized that she was going to stay home and do chores.

Unfortunately for me, I picked the wrong chore. I decided to go through the girls' clothes and clean out the brunette twin's dresser and closet. The blond twin lit up when she realized we were going to be organizing dressers and closets.

The blond twin loves to organize. Every drawer in her dresses looks like a magazine ad. Her closet is completely organized. It's her sweet spot.

My goal was to make her understand that she couldn't be in charge. She wasn't in a position to say no to everything. I wanted to make her really think about what she was missing by staying home and cleaning with me. The problem was I picked the wrong thing to clean. She adored her time with me in their bedroom. When Daddy and Sissy came home, the blond twin couldn't wait to tell them how much fun she had. I'm not sure she learned anything by staying home with me.

Next time I need to pick some other chore to drive home the point. Now all I have to do is figure out what she really dislikes and keep that on the list.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Memorial Day images

For some reason Memorial Day is the time I have all our family photos printed. I realize Memorial Day’s purpose is to remember those who have died, but it always makes me want to look back at our family’s past year.

Today I spent a few hours uploading images and sorting through them. I uploaded about 1,000 images. I ordered about 675. It seemed like I was deleting image after image, until I arrived at checkout with nearly 675 images still.
The images show our girls on vacation, with the family and at play. Last year’s Girl Scout camp theme was Snapshots. They took their cameras every day. I nearly forgot about that until I came across dozens and dozens of photos I didn’t recognize. It’s a strange thing to stare at people and wonder why they are on your family camera.

I always tell the girls they are well-documented children. We have images of everything from important events like holidays to everyday things like sleeping with Holly. Once in a while the girls pull out an old photo album and flip through the pages. They like to ask questions, point out details and giggle at the photos. Sometimes I think they don’t remember certain events as much as we’ve told the stories so often the events seem like real memories. This is especially true for things that happened when they were very young.

Next week we’ll spend time writing on the photos and placing them in the photo albums. For now I can anticipate how happy they will be to see the new photos in their albums.

Monday, May 19, 2014

No one speaks

About 1/2 of the time I pick up the girls from school there's some petty dispute happening. Sissy took my idea. Sissy wouldn't let me borrow a pencil. Sissy didn't say anything when someone was mean to me. There's an endless list of possibilities.

Today I looked at both girls as they were battling and said, "That's it. No one speaks until I say so." The girls stared and started to talk. I said, "No one speaks."

At first they were really quiet. The brunette twin and Holly walked in front of me. The blond twin walked about a house behind, dragging her feet and sighing. Four or five houses later the blond twin caught up with Sissy and held her hand. In silent protest they walked together, not speaking to each other.

By the time we walked into the house, the girls were anxious to talk. The brunette twin started telling a story as soon as she crossed the threshold. I said, "Who said you could speak?" She replied, "You said we could talk when we got home."

It has been nearly an hour now since I imposed the silent treatment. They have taken to hand signals and trying to sneak notes back and forth. It's adorable. As soon as they were not able to talk to each other, it was the only thing they wanted to do.

I'm not sure they understood that they needed to stop bickering about silly stuff, but it's time to let them talk to each other again. We'll continue to work on the bigger lesson as needed.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Lonely Girl

The girls spent the night at a friend's last night. There were five little girls running around, playing games, having fun.

When it was bedtime, Holly went up to their room and hopped on the blond twin's bed, just as she did every night. She curled up right before I patted her head and told her to go to sleep.

We heard her scratching on our door this morning and thought it must be time to take her outside. We thought we must have slept in. When we looked at the clock, we groaned. It was only 6:00 a.m.

Holly woke us up because she was lonely in their bedroom. She was tired of being alone. She wanted some attention, so she came to find us. On a day when we could have slept in just a little bit, Holly woke us up earlier than usual because she was lonely. No matter how much we like that Holly worships the girls, this morning we wished she was just a little more independent.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sweet Sixteen party planning

Our girls were asked to acolyte a quinceanera ceremony late last week. It was a last minute request from a family we know well from our church. They were thrilled. They had never attended a quinceanera before.

The church ceremony was beautiful. Sophia looked like a princess in her golden ball gown with "peacock" feathers beaded on the skirt. The colors were beautiful. The girls were thrilled to be part of it.

At the quinceanera party, Sophia's father tried to teach the brunette twin to salsa. She wanted to dance, but was so self-conscious that she couldn't concentrate. The blond twin couldn't stop staring at the girls' party dresses. Within a few minutes the girls were both dancing with me. They couldn't stop watching the teenagers, though.

Our girls have been lobbying for a Sweet Sixteen party for a few months now. They attended a Bat Mitzvah a couple of years ago. We discussed the religious meaning, but the girls only saw the big party. After we attended the quinceanera party, the girls ramped up the pressure to start planning  their Sweet Sixteen party.

The coming of age religious ceremony followed by a dance party is something new to Mommy and Daddy. It wasn't something on our list until recently, but I think it's planted firmly in the girls' minds now. I guess it's up to Mommy and Daddy to get onboard.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Bicycle basket filled with love

One of the things I liked about our house was a central location near many amenities from a library to stores. I was riding my bike the other day when I realized that I needed a basket for my bike. With a small basket I could ride to the library or the store and bring home things I now drive to get.

I came home to share my brilliant idea. The girls laughed like I was crazy to want it. Daddy never stopped reading his newspaper.

This morning I found a metal basket filled with handmade cards, chocolate and a garden frog from our girls. It was a great Mother's Day start. After a long walk in a forest preserve, which wore out Holly more than us, we came home to work in the garden. I needed to go to the pharmacy, so I watched happily as Daddy put my new basket on my bike.

I was so happy with my new bike basket that I stopped to show it to two neighbors. They both laughed because I was so happy to have it.

It wasn't a big, flashy present, but my basket made me very happy. It was fun and filled with love from our girls and their Daddy. What else could I ask for on Mother's Day?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The first horseback riding show

The girls saw a handout for the horseback riding show a couple of months ago. It was the only thing they talked about for weeks. I finally relented and entered them in two categories, after consulting with their instructor first. I didn't know enough about the different options to know which ones might be right for them.

The last couple of lessons focused on skills they needed for the show. The girls paid careful attention and asked a lot of questions. Miss Maggie calmed them by letting them know she'd be in the ring.

This morning the girls talked about their outfits as if they were going to prom. There was a lot of back and forth about which shirt went with which pants. Of course, everything went with their riding boots.

We took Grammie to breakfast before the show to celebrate Mother's Day. Yes, we were a day early, but we combined all the fun. Grammie came to the show to see her girls compete.

Since this was our first horseback riding show we asked a lot of questions at the registration desk. I realized quickly that we should have put their hair in a braid. I had a hard time placing the numbers on their backs since their long hair covered the papers. Luckily for me another mom had a all kinds of hair ponies and ribbons in her car. She gave us two and saved the day. Grammie braided the blond twin's hair while I handled the brunette twin's hair. Even with the braids their hair hung on top of their numbers, although it was a lot better.

There was a funny moment when the brunette twin came riding out with a group. I looked at the other girls and said, "Those girls are advanced riders. Why is she there?" A minute later someone realized the brunette twin was in the wrong class. She went back to the waiting area.

Throughout the morning the girls talked about this student and that student. They even realized a school friend, who moved last year, took lessons at the stable. They talked to her for a while before their class competed.

After the competition concluded, we left with four ribbons. The brunette twin had first and third place ribbons. The blond twin had fifth and sixth place ribbons. The brunette twin glowed while the blond twin was less happy. Considering that she took lessons for nearly a year before she considered cantering, I though the blond twin did well. She didn't agree. I told her she could either put her way through the day or use the experience to motivate her to place higher the next time. She decided to work hard in her next lessons.

The girls were hardly done with their competitions when the brunette twin asked if she could sign up for more categories during the next show. We told her we'd see what was appropriate for them the next time. I walked away realizing that we'd be spending a lot more time at the barn as the girls grew more experienced. They love horseback riding, but they love hanging around with their fellow riders just as much.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

We don't need a dishwasher

Our dishwasher is broken. It has been broken for about two weeks now, after a couple of warnings that something might be going on. It started small. We found some small, white plastic pieces on the floor. The first thing we wondered was what Holly ate. We told the girls to keep small plastic things away from Holly so she didn't choke.

A couple of weeks later the dishwasher handle broke. We figured out that Holly didn't have anything to do with it. She received a treat as an apology.

Once the handle broke we knew we had to call in a repair person. I looked at my calendar and decided I'd call to schedule the appointment in ten days. I wasn't looking to have someone come in ten days. I was planning to call the repair shop to schedule the appointment in ten days.

There were two reasons for the delay. First, the repair shop needed a four hour window to schedule the visit. My work schedule was already crowded. I didn't have a four hour window to spare. I certainly couldn't have a repair person show up in the middle of a call. Second, it's the dishwasher. It's a convenience. People have been hand washing dishes for centuries. We could wait until it was convenient to get it fixed.

At first the girls thought it was fun to wash the dishes. The more I stood at the sink explaining why they had to use soap, scrub the plates and rinse properly, the less interested they were in washing dishes. Last weekend they started fighting about who had to wash dishes. They complained like we were asking them to dig dirt with their bare hands. They whined about how much work it was to wash dishes. They argued about who had to dry the dishes. They said it was terrible that we made them do so much work.

I explained that washing dishes was a life skill they needed to master. Even if they somehow always manage to have a dishwasher, they will still need to hand wash some dishes. The girls rolled their eyes as if I was explaining something so boring they couldn't concentrate.

The dishwasher repairman took the broken part and said he'd call soon with news. We expect his call soon, but I'm not in any hurry. The more the girls complain the more I want to stall the repair. If they think they complain their way out of doing dishes, they are sadly mistaken. Maybe we'll just let the repair drag on long enough that they just accept the new chore. It might help them appreciate the dishwasher when it does finally work.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Holly vs the garage door

Holly gets very excited when Daddy comes home. She's always at the garage door with her tail wagging when he pulls into the garage.

Saturday Daddy came home from the grocery store. I opened the door to talk to him and let Holly run out to greet him. I pressed the button to close the garage door.

You know how garage doors have a sensor at the bottom to prevent the door from closing on a small child? Well, Holly ran by it just before the garage door hit the floor. As she ran by to greet Daddy, the garage door stopped and started opening again. Holly ran back into the house.

Even though the garage door was closed, Holly wasn't interested in going back into the garage. I shook my head and added the garage door to the list of things Holly is afraid of in our house.