Monday, September 28, 2015

Cross country girl ends the season

Today was the conference meet for the cross country team. The blond twin did well, probably matching her personal best. She came home glowing about her performance. 

If I was honest with myself, I'd admit how surprised I was that she loves cross country at the end of the season as much as she did at the beginning. I thought somewhere about the fourth week she'd start to fade, but she didn't. She came home from every practice and meet exhilarated. 

For the blond twin, there was nothing like being on a team. She loved being part of the group. She loved the camaraderie, the work and the competition. It was a wonderful way for her to find her Jr. High place.

After the meet we went to dinner with some friends. One of their daughter's was celebrating her birthday. We sat around a big table eating and laughing and singing. If there was a more perfect way for the cross country girl to end her season, I couldn't think of it.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Stain remover everywhere

I was upstairs staring at yet another stained shirt when I decided it was time to keep a bottle of stain remover upstairs. Even if a few hours went by before we made it downstairs, the stain would dry and set.

The next time we went to the store we bought some stain remover. We've used it about every day since then. I haven't figured out why this is the year of stained clothes, but it is certainly shaping up that way.

Tonight at dinner I stared at the table cloth and napkins. I always thought that as the girls grew older things would get cleaner and we'd stop spending our time cleaning up so many messes. It has gotten better, although we haven't achieved the level of clean I hope for yet.

Rather than worry about it anymore, we simply bought one more bottle of stain remover. At this point we're never more than a few steps from the magic that keeps our clothes and linens looking good. I realize it's overkill, even as I wonder if we need a bigger bottle near the dining room.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Bringing the game to the party

We decided to go bowling for the girls' twelfth birthday party. After the invitations went out the girls started talking about bowling and teams and party favors. They were so excited about bowling with their friends and cousins.

As everyone arrived at the bowling alley the girls stopped planning teams. Uncle Dave, Aunt Sue-Sue, Nick and Josh arrived with bowling balls and shoes in special cases. It turned out that bowling was serious business for those four. Somehow Sami missed the bowling bug, even though she was pretty good at trash talking the games.

While the rest of us tried to crack 100 points, Uncle Dave, Aunt Sue-Sue, Nick and Josh were making friendly wagers with every frame. They trash talked every frame like it was the final game of the Stanley Cup finals. Every There wasn't a moment when they weren't battling like there was a big, shiny trophy waiting. It was hysterical from the first frame to the last. Eventually Jake and Zack joined Uncle Dave's lanes. It really ramped up the volume when they arrived.

The girls and their friends laughed at their bowling and at what happened in the next lanes. They giggled as they slammed the ball down the lane. I'm not sure the ball really rolled as much as it bounced.

Everyone had fun bowling and eating cake and trash talking. It was a fun, entertaining afternoon filled with family and friends. It was a perfect way to start their 13th year.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Cupcakes for lunch

The girls share a birthday with their friend, Erin. Yesterday after school, our girls, Erin and her sister waited to be picked up in front of the school. Our girls told Erin they were waiting for me. When their Mom arrived, she told our girls that she was taking us home. Erin was confused, but that was part of the plan.

On the way home they pulled into a pizza parlor. Erin's Mom picked up a cheese pizza. It wasn't until they pulled into Erin's driveway that our girls told her they were going to hang out for a bit and celebrate their birthday. It was a fun surprise for Erin.

I dropped off an ice cream cake earlier that afternoon. Between the pizza and ice cream cake, our girls weren't hungry when they came home.

Daddy brought Mariano's cupcakes home. These beautifully decorated treats were huge. Daddy and I split one after dinner. The girls just took a bite and declared they were full.

When they were packing their lunches, they asked if they could take the cupcakes to school. I told them the cupcakes were so big that they didn't need sandwiches and the cupcakes. They could just take the cupcakes and some fruit for lunch. They stood in stunned silence. Cupcakes for lunch? The brunette twin asked twice because she couldn't believe I offered that option.

I figured that they only turn 12 one time. If cupcakes for lunch makes it extra-special, why not?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Birthday butterflies

The girls turned twelve today. They woke up early today because they were so excited. We snuggled for a while talking about the day they were born. I've told them the story dozens of times, but they still ask to hear it on their birthday.

The girls are lovely young ladies. The brunette twin is about 5'6" tall with a shy smile. The blond twin is about 5'4" with deep blue eyes. They are going through all the normal middle school growing pains and enjoying their new-found interests.

As I told them the story about the day they were born, I told them I remembered every detail of that day. I remembered calling Uncle Dave in a panic, asking him to put the baby seats in the car as we raced home from our downtown jobs. I remembered the first time we held each girl. I told them about calling everyone to announce their arrival. It all came back like it was yesterday.

Before we started our day, the brunette twin said, "Let's play butterflies." It's a game we played when they were very young. We went around and around telling our butterfly story. As the girls talked, I sensed their butterfly joy and their growth. The butterfly stories were a bit more sophisticated and detailed. It was one more sign that the girls were both our babies and sophisticated 12 year olds at the same time. It was a lovely way to anchor their past and present as we started their birthday celebrations.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Cross country girl

When the blond twin said she wanted to run cross country, we said, "Ok, that's fine." Truth be told we were a little surprised. She never expressed any interest in running before. We encouraged the girls to try new things in middle school and this was the blond twin's choice.

She came home from every practice bubbling with stories. She met a teammate on the weekend to practice. She stretched every night.

Her first meet she came home exhilarated. She came in 47 out of nearly 500 middle school runners. She couldn't stop talking about every aspect of the meet from the bike rider marking the forest preserve path to the kids flopping to the ground as they crossed the finish line. She talked about the bus ride to and from the meet. She called Grammie to tell  her all the stories.

Her second meet, the day after the first meet, was a bit harder. We kept telling her that back-to-back meets were harder than she might have expected. It rained just before the meet, so we all kept waiting to find out if the meet was cancelled. When we learned that the meet was happening the brunette twin and I jumped in our car and drove to the meet.

The blond twin did well, but not as well as her first meet. She was as excited as she was after the first meet, though. We encouraged her to put it in perspective and get ready to practice the next day. She talked about how she was going to train for her next back-to-back meet.

The middle school cross country season is short. The blond twin is already looking forward to next year when she will take the lessons she learns this year and strengthen her skills. Given her competitive spirit, we're sure she'll continue to improve her skills and time. She's a girl who gives it her all when she really wants to do well.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The view from the back pew

There's a point in our church service when the acolytes stand behind our priest as he prepares communion. It's usually a funny moment as the acolytes tend to get fidgety while the priest performs the solemn ritual. Sometimes they yawn or sway or roll their eyes. As a parent, you cross your fingers that your child won't do that in front of the entire congregation.

Every time our girls are acolytes, we remind them that they cannot yawn or look bored. We tell them to pay attention and stay engaged. It's hard for them as the ritual just seems to go on and on as they stand quietly in the back. They are very good girls, but they are still just 11.

Sometimes I manage to make eye contact with the girls when they are acolytes. At first I'd smile at them and they'd smile back. For a while now I've upped that moment to make a funny face or blow them a kiss. I know they've seen me because they react with a smile or look at each other. Once in a while they laugh into their hands.

The reason I can do it is that we sit in the back pew. No one can see me blow them kisses or make a funny faces. It's a private moment between us that brings a smile to their faces and let's them know we are with them.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

My ghost writers

The girls were messing around in the kitchen, teasing each other about something. The blond twin said, "Don't worry. I'll make sure she doesn't mess up. I'm older after all. I'll take care of her."

The brunette twin replied, "You are older than me. Someday you'll be an old hag and I'll still be younger than you."

They both laughed as they walked into the dining room to clean off the table. The blond twin looked at her sister and said, "Is that going on the blog?"

The brunette twin replied, "Oh yeah, that's going on the blog."

I just laughed. Suddenly the girls are my co-editors, with strong opinions about what can go on the blog and what cannot. They don't realize they are basically ghost writing their own story.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Braces and food cravings

The blond twin had her braces put on Monday afternoon. She was so excited to finally have her braces. She was stoic in the dentist's chair. She sat with her mouth wide open, never even moving until they told her that they were done.

She glowed from the moment she looked in the mirror. She couldn't stop smiling to show off her braces. She ran to show Daddy her new hardware. The brunette twin squealed when she say her twin. They quickly talked to each other about the process, often talking over each other and answering each other at the same time.

We brought home numerous papers about how to take care of her braces. There were diagrams about flossing and brushing. There were instructions about how to handle small problems. There was a list of forbidden foods from popcorn to nuts to caramels.

As soon as we read the forbidden foods list, I immediately wanted some of those items. When the blond twin talked about how much she'd miss popcorn -- one of her favorite snacks -- I could smell movie theater popcorn. When she tried to figure out whether or not she could eat pizza if she wasn't supposed to eat the crust, I tasted cheese pizza with olives. (She can eat pizza, just not the crunchy crusts.) I know, I'm a terrible mom. I should have been supporting the blond twin, but every time she mentioned a forbidden food I wanted some.

Tuesday I grabbed a handful of nuts and ate a few potato chips. I managed to avoid making popcorn, even though it sounded like a good idea.

I realize my braces-related cravings will subside. Of course, I do not ever turn down movie popcorn, so maybe that craving isn't due to the forbidden foods list.