Wednesday, December 28, 2016

You cannot be sick

The girls started winter break with colds. Unfortunately for them, this means that their winter break has been a series of early bed times and lots of medicine. I keep saying, "You cannot be sick."

Some day they will understand why I've been so nutty about them getting over their illnesses. We have family members with significant health issues on both sides of the family. It would be very bad for them to end up with colds or the flu. I do realize that they can pick-up those germs anywhere, but I don't want to be the one to spread it during a family Christmas party.

So for now, I'm constantly handing them their cold medicine and sending them to bed much earlier than they'd like to go during their school break. With any luck they will be in great health just in time to go back to school.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Same Christmas, new location

Mom has had her share of medical issues the past six months. When she said that she didn't want to host Christmas at her house, I guess no one was really surprised. Even though hosting it meant just watching us bring all the food and do all the work, she felt it was too much to have everyone at her house. Steve offered his house, so we agreed to move the celebration to his house.

In some ways it was really the same. We all brought some food. We stuffed presents under his tree. We laughed a lot and ate way too much. Mom presided over presents from a new location, but it was still her party.

We had a two additions to the festivities. Steve has two, gorgeous, full-bred, male German Shepards. At one point the blond twin was sprawled on the kitchen floor petting Buddy. I looked around for Zeus and didn't see him at first. The second time I tried to find him, I saw his head on the brunette twin's lap. Zeus was stretched out on the couch with his head in the brunette twin's lap. Both girls were quite happy. It was funny to see these large dogs cuddling like stuffed animals.

Steve also hosted Thanksgiving, so I think his house is now the new family holiday center. He seemed to enjoy having everyone at his house, which is good since we're just going to keep showing up for every holiday.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Wildlife on the patio

I was working when I heard the thump. It sounded like a large snow pack fell from the roof. The problem was that we haven't had enough snow for that to happen. I looked in the house and didn't see anything. When I went to put Holly on the tie-up, I saw a dead squirrel on the patio door ledge.

I called Daddy and told him that we'd probably find a dead or injured bird in the yard. I didn't think a coyote left the squirrel, but I imagined that  bird ran into the patio door before it dropped the squirrel.

A few hours later I heard a strange sound near the patio doors. I looked out to see a huge bird attacking the squirrel. Holly heard it too and barked. The bird flew to the power lines in the backyard.

When I say this bird was big, I mean too big to fit inside our Webber grill. Not that I wanted to cook it, but when I told people how big it was, that was the best way to describe it. The bird went back and forth between the patio door ledge and the wires for a while.

I was tired of Holly barking, so I took a shovel to throw away the dead squirrel. The huge bird (identified as a hawk by friends looking at the picture on social media), didn't stop when I came on the patio. In fact, it just kept eating. I decided my plan wasn't that wise and went back into the house.

The bird finally left when the sun went down. Daddy came home and cleaned up what was left. As he walked into the house, he said there was a blood streak on the patio door. This made sense. A friend told me that she had the same thing happen at her house. She thought the hawks hit their prey against the patio door to stun or kill it.

My fear right now is that the hawk thinks our patio is his new lunch table. If it happens again we'll have to figure out how to change his dining reservation. This was a long, disgusting afternoon. I'm not anxious to do it again any time soon.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas cheer spreadsheet

The band girls decided to do a Secret Santa gift exchange. They can spend $15 and have to bring their gifts to band class on December 22.

I asked the brunette twin how they were sharing gift ideas. She said, "We set up a Google doc so we could all add our gift ideas. This way your Secret Santa can look at what you want without giving it away that she is your Secret Santa."

The girls are what we call "digital natives" when we're describing their demographic at work. They have never known a world without computers. I doubt it ever occurred to them that there was another way to share information outside of a Google doc.

They used their resources to set-up a fun, friendly Secret Santa event. All 15 girls have just a few more days to buy their gifts and get them wrapped. I hope this is the beginning of a new Christmas tradition for these girls.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Winter style

Overheard at our house...

Blond twin:  "Ooooohhh, Mom, I like your bun. It is so cute."

Mommy:  "It's my winter hair style. Fits under a hat. I don't have hat hair when I take off my hat."

Blond twin:  "You should keep it."

What she doesn't realize is a bun is basically my way of giving up. We've had unusually bitter cold weather the past few days. I tried to fix my hair, but decided there was no point since I was just going to spend the day putting on and taking off my hat in between walking Holly. Still, I'll take the compliment.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Tail of destruction

Holly was barking like crazy when I heard the crash. Her tail wacked an ornament from the tree. It was a hard, direct hit to one of our glass ornaments.

I thought we might get through the season without a broken ornament. We were so close...

Monday, December 12, 2016

Hold your what?

In the nearly 20 years that Daddy and I have been married, he has never willingly held my purse. I mean not for a second without making some crazy "it has cooties" kind of look on his face. You'd think it was a poisonous object that would kill him.

It's a running joke between us. We'll be out and I'll spot some man holding a purse. I point out the man holding the purse every time. I mention that he looks like he is simply holding an object, rather than looking like it's a bomb about to blow up. Daddy always smirks.

We were at the Fifth Third Winter Wonderfest last weekend when the brunette twin tried to hand her father her purse. He looked at her like she was crazy. I didn't see what she was trying to do, but I did see his face. I said, "What are you doing?" She replied, "I'm trying to give Daddy my purse before we go on the Tilt A Whirl."

I laughed and said, "Oh honey, he loves you a lot, but he doesn't love you that much." She seemed shocked that he wouldn't hold her purse. I looked at him and rolled my eyes as he laughed. If nothing else, he is consistent.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The organs are on the way

Our girls have a friend whose cousin is very sick. Spencer had cancer as a young child. He develop lung problems as a complication from the life-saving therapies. Spencer once attended the girls' school, so everyone has been involved with fundraising, card writing and more. He doesn't attend the school any more, but it would be hard to tell given how invested everyone has been with his health.

This evening I saw a Facebook post from Spencer's father. He said they received an organ match. The transport was on the way. Spencer would be in surgery shortly. The girls were so excited for Spencer. They couldn't believe that organs matched. For so long the news was so bad that they had a hard time accepting good news.

Of course, the fact that the lungs were on the way was only good news for one family. I don't think they thought about the entire process. The generosity of one family in the middle of unbelievable grief was about to save Spencer's life.

We didn't talk about it because I was too tired to start the conversation. Some day they will realize what happened to save Spencer's life. For now, we'll take the good news and celebrate, while still thanking the family who made it possible.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A black eye would make things easier

After some additional conversations with the ENT, our insurance company and many friends, I decided to have my deviated septum fixed. The surgery, November 11, was uneventful -- if you don't count the nearly three hour delay. The finally wheeled me into the operating theater about the same time as I should have been going home if my surgery started on time.

When I came home I really felt like I had been through a surgical procedure. I was tired, unsteady and a bit out of it. I slept badly as I adjusted to everything going on from my nasal pain to my anesthesia recovery. It all went as expected, though, with one exception.

I thought I'd have some bruising on my face. Maybe I'd have a black eye or a random nose bruise. I thought there would be some outward sign of my procedure. I was thrilled that, other than some swelling, you couldn't tell that I had been through surgery.

The girls were great for the first few days, but last night left me wishing that I had some visible bruising. The girls don't understand why I have restricted activities for a few weeks. When they look at me they don't see any changes. As far as they are concerned, I'm all back to normal.

Of course this isn't true. Surgery is surgery, even if you don't see the work the ENT completed. I do have restricted activities for couple of weeks. The girls might not like it, but they are going to have to pick up more household chores until I get better.

Thursday, November 3, 2016


The fireworks were going off as I crawled into bed. Daddy woke up and said, "You're kidding?" No one was kidding. The fireworks celebrated the Chicago Cubs first World Series victory in 108 years.

"You're kidding" could have been everyone's first thought throughout the World Series. The Cubs lost two games at home. They went into Cleveland behind 3-2. They had to win three straight games to win the World Series.

Even the local sportscasters started hedging their comments. They went from solid confidence to comments about how young the team was and how there would be other chances. When the Cubs won the first game in Cleveland we were happy that the team delayed Cleveland's party. When the Cubs won Game 6, we started thinking that they might actually win.

As Chicagoans, there is always this little doubt when it comes to the Cubs. For 108 years fans waited to celebrate, year after year they were disappointed. It just seemed like this would be another disappointment.

Right after school the blond twin asked if Erin and Ayanna could come over to watch Game 7. The girls started planning their game party. Pizza, of course, would be the main course. They had Halloween candy and roasted pumpkin seeds for snacks. They rearranged the living room furniture so they could all gather around the television. It's the smaller of our two televisions, but it's the girls television. I invited them to watch in the family room on the bigger television. They declined. It was more about watching in their own space than seeing it on the big screen.

I talked to Grammie before the game started. If my Dad was still alive, November 2 would have been their 59th wedding anniversary. I said it would have been a great anniversary present for Dad. He was one of many Cubs fans who waited his whole life for baseball success. During the World Series run lots of fans wrote notes on Wrigley Field's Waveland Avenue wall about family members who died before they could watch the Cubs play in the World Series. The notes were touching, funny and sweet. I told Mom I wished I could have written a note for Dad.

About 8:30 p.m., Erin's mom texted to say she was going to pick-up Erin at 9:00 p.m. I texted back that the game was in the 5th inning. I offered to bring Erin home at 10:00 p.m. since the game was moving along so quickly. I was sure it would be over by then. The Cubs were winning 5-3. It was looking good.

Of course, these are the Cubs, so nothing went smoothly. The Indians tied the game in the 8th inning at 6 to 6. When the 9th inning ended in a tie, I told Erin and Ayanna it was time to go home. It was 11:00 p.m.

When I walked back into the house the girls were in bed and Daddy was headed there. It started raining in Cleveland. The grounds crew covered the field. Since you never know how long a rain delay will last, Daddy decided it was time to call it a night.

I stayed up a bit to clean up and check work. Before I knew it, the tarp was off and the teams were taking the field. The Cubs were up to bat so I settled in to watch. It sounds impossible now, but I was falling asleep. It was 11:30 p.m. Even the excitement couldn't keep me from drifting off during commercials. When the Cubs took a two run lead, I knew I was going to be up until the end.

When the game was at the bottom of the 10th with two outs, the ball cracked the bat. Kris Bryant grabbed it and threw it to Anthony Rizzo. Before the ball even got to first base, Bryant was celebrating. I held my breath. These were the Cubs on the precipice of winning the World Series. Surely something would go wrong. Suddenly the Cubs players were celebrating on the pitching mound. The team won after breaking the tie with two runs in the 10th inning, breaking 108 years of disappointment.

The celebratory fireworks woke the blond twin. She said she knew the Cubs would win. The brunette twin said she heard the fireworks, but was too tired to wake up enough to talk to us. Daddy summed up the whole night with his "You're kidding?" What seemed so impossible was now done. The Cubs won the 2016 World Series. It was time to celebrate and #FlytheW.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

She shoots and scores

The brunette twin's basketball team has been steadily improving. In a short time they have morphed into something resembling a coherent team. Their plays look coordinated and practiced. They cheer each other on like good team mates should.

At the beginning of today's game, the brunette twin took the ball put it into the air. The ball arched towards the basketball net and went in. She scored her first two points. We were thrilled. She smiled and ran to her position. She played the rest of the game smiling.

After the game she made sure we all saw her score the first two points of her basketball career. She asked about the details since she hardly remembered scoring the basket. In the game's rush, the brunette twin didn't have an opportunity to savor her first two points.

Not only did the brunette twin score her first points, the team won the game. We celebrated both victories and crossed our fingers that it was the first of many successes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Basketball trash talk Middle School style

Overheard in our car...

Brunette Twin:  "The coach told us to trash talk the other team to try to get them to miss or distract them."

Mom:  "Really? What are you supposed to say?"

Brunette Twin:  "Things like your breath smells bad or your shoes aren't pretty. You know, stuff to annoy them"

Mom:  "What did you say?"

Brunette Twin:  "Nothing. I couldn't do it. One girl on our team told another girl that she had nice shoes, though. She couldn't do it either."

It's clear that our team is missing some kind of competitive spirit. They are having fun, which is good because they clearly don't have a grasp of gamesmanship.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

You can't teach tall

The brunette twin tried out for the 7th grade basketball game. It was the first time she tried for anything. She was so thrilled when she made first cuts. When she made second cuts, she couldn't sleep. She screamed in the morning when she logged and learned she made the team.

For the past two weeks it has been all basketball, all the time, in this house. She practices as often as possible. She talks strategy with Daddy. She comes home from basketball practice exhausted and exhilarated.

When she made the team, Daddy said, "Well, you can't teach tall."  He explained that they can teach her basketball skills, but they can't make her taller. Given that she was both tall and athletic, she made the team despite her complete lack of basketball knowledge.

The first home game today wasn't stellar. The team was overwhelmed by the other team. The visitors had a sharp, organized team. Our girls looked like a team that had only played together for two weeks. Our girls lost big.

Still, the brunette twin couldn't stop talking about the game. She was giddy that she played in her first basketball game. She talked about what went right and what went wrong. She replayed different parts over and over again.

Luckily for the brunette twin, the blond twin was suddenly a basketball expert. She was happy to tell her twin everything she did wrong and how to fix it. Eventually they settled into a conversation about the game, rather than a listing of the brunette twin's flaws.

The girls went to the basement immediately after finishing their homework to bounce the basketball and talk about tomorrow's game. Today's game was a loss, but they hoped for a win tomorrow.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Spell check

Overheard at our house...

Mommy:  "Girlie, you need to look at your poster. Unique is misspelled."

Brunette Twin: "Really?"

Mommy: "Yes, you need a "u" after the "q" in unique."

Brunette Twin:  "Sissy, how do you spell unique?"

Blond Twin:  "U-n-i-q-u-e."

Mommy:  "Really? You don't think I know how to spell unique?"

Brunette Twin: "I'm just checking to make sure you're right."

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Golf girls

The girls and a friend went to a local nine hole golf course to play a round on a nice, Fall afternoon. When they came out, they had lots of stories. My favorite shows that our little girls are growing up, but they still are little girls.

The trio ended up playing between a foursome of high school boys from the local school golf team (at least that's what the clubhouse employee told us when we saw the boys) and another group of boys. 

Not surprisingly, the boys noticed the trio. Their friend, Anna, is an adorable 12 year old with a huge smile. Our girls haven't looked their age since they were in single digits. When I tell people they are 13, people stop as if they have to process the information. The brunette twin is 5' 7" while the blonde twin is 5' 5". Between their height and they way they hit the golf ball, it's hard to believe they are only 13 years old.

When the boys asked how old the trio was, Anna replied, "I'm 12." They said, "We're not talking to you." The boys thought our girls were their age. I tried to explain to our girls that the high school boys were flirting with them. It was an awkward way to start a conversation, but the boys just wanted to talk. 

The girls were horrified that strange boys wanted to talk to them on the golf course. They just wanted to hang out with their friend and play golf. Despite their grown-up appearance, they are still little girls when it comes to flirting with boys. I only wish it would stay this way.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Mine already has vegetables in it

The brunette twin really committed to being a vegetarian. She has learned to navigate a menu to find a decent meal no matter where we visit. Her friends support her vegetarian lifestyle without comment.

At home, though, it's a different story. We still battle with what constitutes a meal. I was standing at the freezer, moving things here and there, talking to Daddy when I said, "We need a vegetable."

The brunette twin quickly responded, "Oh, I don't need a vegetable. The rest of my meal is made of vegetables."

I replied, "Nice try. You cannot just eat one type of vegetable. You need a variety. You are going to eat something besides your vegetarian chicken patty."

She rolled her eyes. We found a vegetable to complement dinner. She ate it, but she wasn't happy about it.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


The girls turned 13 today. I can hardly believe it, even as I type the 1 and the 3. The babies we worked so hard to have and wanted so desperately are teenagers. It seems surreal that we are here already.

The big party was held a few weeks ago. Uncle Steve hosted a pool party for the girls' friends and our family. We were a bit worried as it rained all morning. The forecast called for scattered showers throughout the evening. The weather held for the party. The girls invited ten friends for a bar-b-que and night swimming.

Uncle Steve has a resort-like backyard. His large, L-shaped pool has a diving board, slide and basketball net. The girls kept themselves busy, only interacting with us when they needed something grilled. Otherwise they all kept themselves busy doing this or that or the other thing. We sat on the deck watching the Cubs game, listening to music and talking. It was a wonderful party.

We started this morning with waffles to celebrate the big day. The girls went to school and cross country practice. They came home to a quick dinner followed by golf practice for the brunette twin. The blond twin stayed home to hang out with Erin, who shares their birthday. 

We ended the day at Grammie's having ice cream and cupcakes. Grammie was still recovering from her shoulder surgery so we brought the party to her. The girls had a few gifts to open before coming home to do homework. It might have been a landmark birthday, but it was still a school night.

One gift had a few pictures from our first night at the hospital. Daddy and I were smiling in every photo. We held a baby in every photo. It seemed like such a long time ago, even as it seemed like just yesterday. I cannot believe that our babies are 13. It has been a magical journey so far. I can't wait to see what the next years bring.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The answer to my breathing problems

For years now I have had a hard time breathing. Given the allergist's long list of things I should avoid, I wasn't surprised that it affected my breathing. Add to that the fact that I am a child of smoking's golden age, when all adults smoked all the time, who could be surprised that I had a hard time breathing.

Today I went to a new doctor. I decided it was time to see a new specialist shortly after I finished the antibiotics for yet another sinus infection. After a thorough exam, the ENT said, "How long have you had your deviated septum?" I replied, "Huh? My what?"

I knew nothing about a deviated septum other than the jokes about women having facial plastic surgery and claiming the bruises were from deviated septum surgery. I came home and immediately started researching. Sinus infections? Trouble breathing? Snoring? Nose bleeds? Facial pain? I have or have had it all. It was as if the Wikipedia entry was written just for me.

Now I know why these problems have followed me all these years. My problem has a name, which is just the first step. The second step is deciding what to do. I could just live with it. There's no long-term issue with a deviated septum. It doesn't get better; it doesn't get worse. I could have surgery to correct it. It's something I will research once I get over my excitement. Yes, I know it sounds strange, but there was a definite relief feeling when the ENT put a name to my ongoing sinus problems. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

A close encounter with a striped neighbor

I was walking Holly down the block with I saw the black fur with the white stripe. I thought, "How interesting. I rarely see a skunk."

Oh, we know they are in the neighborhood. Sometimes we get up in the middle of the night to close the windows because the smell permeates every room. Once in a while my eyes tear up when I open them due to whatever floats in the air after a skunk sprays. My eyes burn because it is so strong.

Yet, I kept walking towards the skunk. It dug around in an empty lot across the street from me. Holly kept smelling the grass, never even noticing the skunk. I stared at it like I was staring at a zoo exhibit.

It wasn't until we were directly across the street that I thought, "This is a really stupid idea." Yep, I made it until I was directly across from the skunk before I thought it was a bad idea to walk by the animal. Holly and I picked up speed as we walked away. Luckily for us the skunk didn't spray. It scurried into a drain pipe under an abandoned driveway. 

I was a few houses away when I changed our route back. It was raining lightly so I was going to walk back down the block as quickly as possible. Given how lucky we were that the skunk didn't spray the first time we walked by, I wasn't going to that chance twice. I might have been enchanted by the skunk the first time, but I'd like to think that I wasn't dumb enough to do the same thing again.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

A good time at their first tailgate

Daddy and I both went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We still follow the team during football and basketball seasons. When the girls were little they had Illini cheerleader outfits, which doubled as Halloween costumes one year. 

It has been a long, long, long time since either of us attended a football game. We've never attended a home game together, despite our many trips to visit family in the area. We did travel to New Orleans and Pasadena to watch the Fighting Illini lose two bowl games, though. 

This year our team somehow, some way managed to hire Lovie Smith as our new coach. It was a shocking hire as the Fighting Illini don't normally reach that high when it comes to head coaches. We've had some good coaches, but a big-name coach? In Illini Orange? We couldn't believe it when the rumors came true.

A few months ago an email showed up offering $10 tickets for the first home game. We bought four tickets and started planning. Daddy's friends had a regular tailgating spot right near Aunt Debbie's family tailgate. We bought the girls Illini temporary tattoos and Illini t-shirts. We were set.

The girls were awed by the circus surrounding the football game. They attended the pre-game Marching Illini concert. They wandered between tailgate parties. They wore their Illini tattoos on their cheeks. We walked to the Armory to watch the Marching Illini parade into the stadium.

We spent a lot of time on our walk to and from the Armory talking about college. We passed dorms and class buildings. We walked by Greek houses. They saw students who looked like them and students in crazy clothes. They wanted to know about classes and roommates. We were walking back to the tailgate when they finalized their four-person dorm room plans.

The football game itself was exciting for them, even if they needed to have the rules and strategies explained. They were awed by the male cheerleaders doing push-ups every time the Illini scored, although they questioned why the female cheerleaders didn't do push-ups. They were so excited when the band performed the half-time show. They had more fun than they imagined.

After the game we went back to tailgate again. We asked the girls if they wanted to come back for another game. They said they wanted to come to the home opener again so they could do all the same stuff. We said, "Girls, they do this stuff every game." They were hooked. We told them that we'd come back to another game soon. 

Oh, and the Illini won -- and won big. I guess that breaks our streak of bringing bad luck to the team, so we'll be back.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The inmate diet

Since the girls refuse to eat cereal for breakfast, they tend to eat a lot of toast. Usually they have toast with peanut butter and juice or milk. This morning when I came down, the brunette twin looked lost. She held the peanut butter jar in her hand and said, "It's empty."

I asked if she looked in the pantry or downstairs for more. She said there wasn't any in the pantry and she didn't have time to go downstairs. Instead, she took a slice of bread from the package and put butter on it. She ate that while drinking a glass of water. Yes, she had bread, butter and water for breakfast.

Tonight I think we have to have a conversation about acceptable breakfast options. Given all the food in our house, there's no reason for them to eat like prison inmates.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Holly's first familly vacation

We had planned to go to Boston this summer, but then we decided we needed to do some house projects. We still wanted to get away for a few days so we started looking for some place within driving distance. We found a cute cabin in Lake Geneva at a reasonable price. We've spent quite a bit of time up there, so we booked it. After a few discussions, we decided to take Holly with us. It was the first time we tried to vacation with her, so no one knew quite how it would turn out.

The drive up to Lake Geneva went well. We stopped at an outlet mall so the girls could do some back to school shopping. About a dozen pairs of shoes later, we headed to Wind Point Lighthouse, perhaps my favorite place to relax. Holly enjoyed both stops. She was happy to be in the car, especially since Holly sat in her usually seat while the blond twin crammed herself into the tiny third row seat near all the luggage. 

When we arrived at the cabin, Holly was a little nervous. She's nervous by nature, so we expected her to be nervous in a new place. The owner's dog and Holly played in his backyard for a while before we took her to the cabin. 

Holly doesn't like to walk on hardwood floors. She has fur in between her paw pads courtesy of the Great Pyrenees part of her  DNA. She slips and slides a lot on hardwood floors. She stood on the entry throw rug until I threw a beach towel on the floor. She moved into the main room, sniffing all the way.

It wasn't long until the girls and Holly settled into their room to watch the Olympics. Holly stretched out on their bed like she owned the place. Since they let her take up most of the bed, it wasn't hard to understand why she thought it was her bed.

Traveling with Holly meant we had to adapt some of our normal routines. She came with us most places, even though this meant one person had to stand outside with her. When we ate at Gordy's, we sat across the street at the picnic tables with Holly. We left her at home to eat at Daddy's Maxwell's. We were four days into the trip when we went to breakfast without her. She wasn't happy, but she was settled enough that she didn't cause any problems.

We only had one problem, which came in the middle of our vacation. One of the most beautiful things to do in Lake Geneva is walk the lake shore path. All around Geneva Lake there is a public access path running in front of the beautiful summer homes. When we were at Gordy's, I decided to walk the lake shore path back to Williams Bay. The sign said it was about two miles. It was a beautiful night. Daddy was taking the girls to the beach. I said we'd meet them all there.

The problem was I forgot to ask Holly if she wanted to walk. Within a few minutes it was clear that Holly was not happy to be separated from Daddy and the girls. She kept trying to pull me up every set of stairs or walkway to get back to them. I kept pulling her back to the shore path, but she wasn't happy. The water lapping on the shore was soothing to me and terrifying to her. Holly spent the entire time with her ears back, jumping every time there was a strange sound. She didn't want to cross the bridges or walk on the path. 

She finally got her wish to go back to Daddy and the girls about a mile into our walk. As I looked down to step onto a bridge, she tried to go up the adjacent stairs. I fell, scraping my leg and bruising my forearm. I tried to continue walking, but a few blocks later I called Daddy to come get us. I was really angry. Holly was so happy to see Daddy.

For the rest of the trip she stayed as close to him as possible. She hardly let me hold her leash without getting very nervous. 

Overall I'd say our first trip was a success, despite my injuries. I don't know how much traveling Holly will do, though. The Dalmatian part of her personality is a bit too nervous to enjoy her time away from home.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Experience we don't want to use any more

The phone rang late one evening while we were watching tv. When I answered, the voice said, "Shari, it's Aunt Bonnie. We're at Walgreen's getting your Mom's medicine. We just came back from the hospital. She's going to be ok."

I reminded myself to breathe as I asked her what happened. She explained that Mom fell down Aunt Bonnie's garage stairs. They took Mom to the emergency room. Mom broke her right shoulder.

Immediately, I went back two years to the fall when Mom broke her left collarbone. Let's just say it wasn't so much fun that we wanted to repeat the experience, but we didn't get to vote. We knew exactly what needed to be done.

Within a few minutes I talked to Dave and Steve. We all had our tasks. We all knew what needed to be done. This time, though, it was going to be a bit harder as Mom broke her right hand, her dominate hand. When she broke her left collarbone she could still perform some tasks with her right hand. Now she was unable to do much with her left hand.

She'll adapt quickly, and so will we. I'm crossing my fingers that we're done using this experience, though. Two times is enough.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A good rule no matter whose house hosts the sleepover

Whenever the girls spend the night, I tell them they have to follow the house rules. It might be that the rules are quite different from ours, but "their house, their rules" is what we always say.

Recently the girls spent the night at Aunt Sue-Sue's with Brooke. The next night they all stayed at our house. As I was going to bed, we talked about the house rules. 

The girls giggled and said, "And no baking."

It turns out that before she went to bed, Aunt Sue-Sue ended her house rules by saying, "And, no baking."

I don't know what precipitated this rule, but it's a good one. We added it to our house rules too. If nothing else, it makes the girls laugh every time we say it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A one track mind

Overheard at our house...

Blond twin:  "Mom, you have to meet Brooke's dad so we can hang out."

Mom:  "Aunt Sue-Sue's Brooke?"

Blond twin:  "Yeah. We want to hang out but her parents won't let her until you meet them. When we go to Uncle Steve's tonight, please talk to her dad. Ask if we can hang out before school starts."

Mom:  "You are going spend the night at Aunt Sue-Sue's next week with Brooke."

Blond twin:  "Yeah, but we want to hang out at our house too."

Mom:  "I know her dad. I've known him since he was your age. He was one of Uncle Dave's best friends growing up."

Blond twin:  "What do you mean?"

Mom:  "Why do you think Uncle Dave is Brooke's godfather? Why do you think they are at Uncle Dave and Aunt Sue-Sue's house so often? Did Brooke ask her dad about hanging out here?"

Blond twin:  "No. We didn't think you knew each other because you are so much older than her parents."

Mom:  "Ok, now you are pushing your luck."

Blond twin:  "Since you know her dad, when can we hang out?"

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Our vegetarian girl

The brunette twin decided a few months ago that she wanted to become a vegetarian. It wasn't a big surprise as she never ate much meat. There were a few things, like hamburgers and hot dogs, that she would eat so quickly you had to think about whether or not it was ever on her plate. Other things were a struggle. She balked at steak. She tolerated ham. She never considered fish.

She asked one day if she could be vegetarian. I told her it was her choice. She could become vegetarian, but she had to keep dairy products and eggs in her diet. I could work with a vegetarian diet, but vegan was a whole level I wasn't willing to take on. 

Slowly but surely we're figuring out how to replace meat with meat substitutes. Some things have been easy. Vegetarianism is so common now that you can find veggie burgers and veggie chicken strips in every grocery store. The first time we looked for these items we went to a specialty store. Once we had a few favorites, we started looking in other grocery stores. From discount grocery stores to mass merchandise retailers, you can find options everywhere.

There have been a few bumps. We have to keep track of her trace elements. We've added a daily multi-vitamin to her morning. We watch to make sure the brunette twin adds some protein to every meal. We try to vary her protein so she's not just eating peanut butter every day.

The hardest part for the brunette twin is eating out. An amusement park trip was hard. She was with her band and wasn't able to go from place to place looking for vegetarian options. She ate, but she was still hungry. Her default meal is a Caesar's salad. It's easy to find, although it's not a truly balanced meal. 

As we tell friends and family they are often surprised. Grampa owned a butcher shop. How did his youngest granddaughter decide to eliminate meat from her diet? Sometimes people wonder what they should feed the brunette twin. It's a whole lot easier than it seems at first. 

The biggest problem we have is that the brunette twin doesn't like a lot of fruits and vegetables. We keep telling her she can't be a vegetarian who doesn't like vegetables. We encourage her to keep trying new things as she creates her vegetarian life. It's an adventure for all of us as we figure out the best ways to support her choice.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Follow the paper trail

As the girls get older, it seems like every activity has more and more paperwork. Lately I've had the girls sit at the table to fill out as much as they can. Whenever they complain, I remind them that it's not my job to put pen to paper to fill in the details they already know. 

They know their names, birth date, address, phone number and emergency contact information. They can answer basic questions about their health. They know their pediatrician's phone number. There is no reason they can't be responsible for some of their paperwork.

I tell them that if they are going to be more responsible for their lives, they need to understand how much behind-the-scenes work going into their activities. They are pretty good about it, especially when they point out that the people reading the paperwork will probably be happier that their neat handwriting is on the forms. I would have protested, but they are correct. My handwriting is terrible. If that's what it takes to get them to do the work, I'll take it.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Can't the men stay home?

I was driving the blond twin and Erin home from track camp when Erin started talking about her Mom's career change. She explained that her Mom was studying math for hours on end. She paused before saying that her Mom wished that she hadn't quit working when Erin and her sister were born. Or at least she wished that she had gone back to work sooner. 

We were talking about how hard it is to have just one income these days. Whether or not one person has a good income, jobs are not as stable as they once were. People end up changing jobs for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance.

We talked about how important it was for the girls to think about what they wanted to do since they needed to plan to work for their whole lives. I said that they might take time off when they have a baby, but they should plan to go back to work. 

The blond twin said, "Why can't the men stay home?"

I smiled and said, "You are right. The men can stay home too. There's no rule that says the woman has to stay home." We then talked about a friend whose Father stays home with her while her Mom worked. Both her parents worked when she was little and then her Father was downsized out of his job. They made a family decision that he would stay home for a while. Now that their friend is a little older, Dad has gone back to work. He was talking about going back to school to change his career.

The girls talked about all the things they wanted to do with their careers. They talked about how they would stay home with their babies for a while and their husbands could stay home for a while. It was so enlightening to realize that they live in a world where their futures are limited only by their imaginations. I'm not naive about anything. I know it's not as easy as just deciding and making it happen. There will always be obstacles in any plan. The first step, though, is to believe it can happen.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Random acts of fish kindness

We were sitting at the Sting/Peter Gabriel concert when the blond twin texted me. She said, "I was wondering if I could win a fish and buy a starter tank and I will buy the food and real tank and everything it needs with my allowance money please mom."

I thought for a moment and texted back, "Sure." 

It's not that I really thought we needed fish, but these are carnival gold fish. If they lived a year that would be a long time. She really seemed to want the gold fish, so why not?

After the concert we picked up the girls at a friend's house. They arrived at Caroline's house not long before we did. The blond twin was giddy about her new fish. She bounced into the car with two gold fish in plastic bags, a plastic "starter" fish tank and a small container of fish food. 

We washed the fish tank and put the two fish into the clean water. She promised to take care of the fish and made plans as she went to bed. She woke up with even more plans.

Later she told us about a girl at the festival who won a fish, promptly opened the bag so the fish fell to the ground and them stepped on the fish. The blond twin was horrified that the girl killed the fish. She said, "I rescued Thor and Loki so no one would be able to kill them."

She even put "rescued Thor and Loki" on her Random Acts of Kindness chart. She takes her actions very seriously. 

When she gets on my nerves (oh, and today has been one of those days) I want to remember that sweet, compassionate girl who wanted to save two gold fish. It's that part of her personality that makes us proud of the young adult she's becoming.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The best $40 we ever spent

Our town has a yearly festival. For $40 you can purchase a mega-band, which allows the wearer to go from ride to ride to ride for the full four days the festival is in town. 

Last year we thought about purchasing a mega-band, but never got around to it. This year we purchased them for both girls. The plan was for them to go to with friends by themselves. It was a step towards independence that they were anxious to take. As we planned the outings, the parents sorted the four nights so someone would be on-site. Of course we weren't allowed to be seen with the girls, but someone would be there. 

We hosted two sleepovers, so the girls could continue the fun after the festival. There were girls and blankets and things everywhere. The first night I shut down the party early. Two girls were falling asleep as they told me how much they wanted to stay up all night. The next morning the girls woke up ready to have some fun. 

The second night I woke up about midnight to a barking dog. The girls decided to watch Life of Pi. Every time Holly saw an animal, she barked. 

The girls spent four nights hanging out with friends at the festival. They had a great time going on rides and eating junk food. They reveled in their new independence. Next year we'll drop-off and pick-up without a formal schedule. The girls are already making plans.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

More than just a cover

I walked into the brunette twin's room to find her jumping on her bed. At this point we're waiting for her new mattress to be delivered, so her "bed" was just a mattress on the floor. As soon as I saw her, I stopped and stared.

On her bed was the "baby" quilt I made her. I never made a traditional baby quilt. I collected t-shirts from the time they were born until about second grade. I cute the most interesting designs and created a twin sized quilt mapping their baby days to early elementary school. Watching her jumping on it nearly stopped my heart. I actually couldn't speak other than to yell at her to stop jumping. When she stopped I left the room.

A while later when I recovered, I went back to her room. I told both girls that when I made their quilts, I wasn't creating a blanket. I was creating a memory book for them to share with their children. One day I hoped that they would wrap their babies in the quilts and tell them stories about each t-shirt. 

The brunette twin seemed sad that she jumped on the quilt, but I'm not sure she really understood my story. She seemed mostly upset that I was upset. Some day I hope they will look at the quilts and realize how much love went into making them. For now I'll settle for keeping the girls from jumping on them. It's a small victory that I hope will preserve the quilts for future generations.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Late nights and lots of laughter

It was 2:30 a.m. when I dragged myself down the stairs into the basement. I found the girls and their friends playing "Beat the Parents" with the music blasting around them. They were laughing so hard they snorted and cried. It was wonderful.

We promised them that they could have lots of sleepovers this summer. They started asking nearly as soon as we came back from Spring Break. It was nearly top of their summer activity list. 

They have been busy with other activities, so sleepovers just rose to the top of the list. The girls and their friends camp out in the basement with their sleeping bags and stuff. They come upstairs when they are hungry or need a bathroom. Otherwise they stay in the basement doing whatever middle school girls do. 

All we know is there is plenty of laughter floating through the vents. It seems that their sleepover plans are as much fun as they had hoped.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Great Backyard Camp Out

I was looking for summer activities when I found the Great American Backyard Camp Out. This program encourages people to spend the night outside. Our Girl Scout troop loved the idea. The girls wanted to go tent camping, but I vetoed the idea. It wasn't that I didn't want to do it. The reality was I didn't have time to complete all the extra training required to take the girls into the local forest preserves for a night. A backyard, though? We were in.  

Between us we had everything we needed. One girl had a tent. Another had a screen house. We brought the bean bag game and s'mores ingredients. Each family brought some food, lots of bug spray and glow-in-the-dark stuff. 

Jhanae's father laughed at the idea that the girls thought they were camping in his backyard. He said as long as they had access to indoor plumbing it wasn't really camping. He trained with the British military, though, so his standards were a big higher than the rest of us. Jhanae's mother had a full activity schedule which culminated with a midnight movie.

By the time the girls arrived they were bubbling with excitement. The build-up to sleeping outside rivaled any championship game. They started by putting up the tent and screen house. We watched them work together before we left them for the evening.

The forecast called for a possible shower and sure enough we heard the rain start just before sunrise. It poured off and on for about an hour. 

When we the girls finally called about 11:00 a.m. for their pick-up, we found out that they hadn't slept much. Of course, we didn't expect them to sleep. I arrived to hear them in the backyard giggling. Other parents were there already. The girls were an energetic group for girls who hadn't slept much. They told stories of night swimming, a midnight movie that lasted until 2:30 a.m., waking up early when the rain started and playing games all night long. They had so much fun they couldn't stop talking over each other. 

It might not have been deep woods camping, but it was a great experience for all six girls. They already asked if they could do it again next year. We agreed, as long as Jhanae's parents agreed to host. None of us want to try to live up to their high standards.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

All together now

If there is one thing we're good at now, it's moving furniture. We've moved tables, desks, cabinets, rugs and other items up and down and back again. So when the four of us moved the brunette twin's new armoire upstairs we should have been coordinated like a well-oiled machine.

Instead we looked like something from a situation comedy. We started and stopped and argued and shifted back and forth. The blond twin screamed when the cabinet pinched her fingers. The brunette twin jumped back just before the top hit her foot. We managed to push the cabinet so far to one side that Daddy was trapped against the wall. 

Despite it all, the armoire made it upstairs. We pushed it upright at the top and wiggled it into the brunette twin's room. It went against the wall in a place of honor. 

I marveled at how we all worked together to get it done. The girls have grown into quite the little assistants. Not only are they able to help, they want to help. The blond twin was quite annoyed that Daddy asked the brunette twin to help before asking her. He thought the brunette twin would want to help because it was her armoire. The blond twin felt left out of the fun. If we were all going to move it upstairs, she wanted to be part of the action. 

They are still my babies, but they are also growing up to be capable young ladies. It's a lovely development, even if it takes moving furniture to realize their growth.

Monday, June 13, 2016

It's your job

Among all the whining (already) about how bored they are, I reminded the girls that they were on summer vacation. I was still working every day. I told them that I would take them places when I had time, but for the most part my days stay the same.

We were driving back from a JoAnn's fabric store trip when the blond twin started getting cranky because I told her I was not able to take her somewhere. She rolled her eyes and said, "It's your job."

I smiled at her and said, "No baby. My job is to keep you alive. All the fun stuff you do is a bonus."

She was not amused. She tried to explain to me that my job as her mother was to take her places, pay for things and keep her amused during the long, booooooorrrrrriiiiinnnnnnggggg summer days.

I repeated my first statement and kept driving. She silently fumed as she tried to figure out how to get her way. In the end, I went back to work and she went up to her room. 

Later she tried to use my words against me in an argument. I just smiled and said, "You're right baby." She fumed, but stopped arguing. I savored the momentary parenting win. They don't come that often after all.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Comptition at the dining room table

I'm not going to say this weekend's Monopoly game was competitive, but the blond twin was so frustrated that she looked at me and said, "Am I allowed to swear?"

I said no, but somewhere Grammpa Cartwright was smiling.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Working girls

The girls have been asking if they can start babysitting, so they were thrilled when a church family asked if they could start watching their twin boys. The girls were so excited to start. We decided that they would be "mother's helpers" at first. They would watch the boys while their mom was home. Their job was to keep the boys busy so their mom could get some stuff done. 

They spent their first afternoon with the boys today. As I drove them to L&L's house, we talked about some ways to keep the boys busy. We talked about what to do in an emergency. Even though Mrs. B was going to be home, the girls wanted to make sure they had all the details. They were so excited that they could hardly contain themselves as they knocked on the front door.

L&L were equally excited. Mrs. B said that L asked when his "girlfriends" were coming over many times that morning. The boys couldn't wait for the girls to come over. I left our girls with the boys, arranged a pick-up time with Mrs. B and headed home. Three hours later I picked up the girls.

The boys did not want the girls to leave. They kept trying to get the girls to play one more game. They hugged the girls like they didn't want to let go. It was clear that things had gone well.

Mrs. B paid the girls and asked when they were going to come back. The girls couldn't stop talking about their first day babysitting. It was a great way to start their working career.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Privacy please

The brunette twin asked for her own room just before their 12th birthday. It took us a full year to convince the blond twin that it was a good idea. So, you can imagine our surprised reaction when the blond twin announced at dinner that she needed her privacy and her twin should bothering her.

Being the good mom that I am, I laughed at her. The blond twin is a girl who can't sit near you when you watch a movie. She has to touch you at all times. When we bought the girls' bunk beds, we bought one with a double bed on the bottom because the blond twin always wanted to sleep with her twin. We often said the brunette twin should give Holly an extra treat daily as the dog slept with the blond twin most nights. This gave the brunette twin some space to herself.

When the blond twin announced that she needed some space from the brunette twin, I secretly cheered. I adore how close they are, but I did worry that the blond twin's need to be with her twin at all times would create problems for their relationship. As they grew it was more and more apparent that the brunette twin needed more down time than her sister. This caused some problems that they seemed to work out, but it was always clear that the brunette twin would have preferred a bit more time on the couch reading.

The blond twin announcing that she wanted some space from her sister was a huge step for both of them. Now that they have their own spaces they are working out a new balance to their relationship. It's great to see them grow their own wings, while still staying connected.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Visiting girls

Just before school let out we started finalizing the girls' summer plans. We had to wait on a few school camp details before we could figure out what was happening when. Aunt Mary talked about having the girls come down to her house for a few days when we saw her during the band's St. Louis trip.

There were only a few weeks when the girls were available. We were sitting on the couch talking about the summer schedule when I said to Daddy, "You know, the girls could go down this weekend and stay for a few days."

Aunt Mary jumped on the idea. We decided to meet at Ott's for one final family meal before the original owner retired. We sat at the counter (truly the best place to sit) and when we finished lunch, the girls got into Aunt Mary's new car and took off with Uncle Terry driving.

By the time Daddy met them all in Springfield for the return hand-off, the girls had been spoiled, spoiled, spoiled by Aunt Mary and Uncle Terry. They went to Six Flags, ice skating, the movies and shopping. In true form, the girls wore their Chicago Blackhawks t-shirts while ice skating. They couldn't resist the opportunity to troll St. Louis Blues fans. They had eaten way more fun foods than anyone would admit. They couldn't stop talking about the cats. They had a wonderful time.

I don't know what the rest of the summer will bring, but visiting Aunt Mary and Uncle Terry will be a highlight. They are already talking about next year's adventure.

Friday, May 27, 2016

I cannot find my socks

The renovation process is starting to take its toll. We're tired of living in a used furniture store. We're tired of figuring out what to do with the furniture we're replacing. We're tired of getting ready to really get the project underway.

We were headed to a Girl Scout community service project when I yelled upstairs for the blond twin. The rest of the troop was waiting in our foyer. She was still getting ready. I said, "It's time to go. Get down here." She came down with her vest on, but no socks. I said, "You need socks." She replied, "I cannot find my socks." I hugged her and said, "You can wear my socks." 

While we work to get rid of the furniture we don't need and acquire the furniture we do, the girls' stuff is in baskets and drawers all over the house. The blond twin's stuff is in drawers in the living room and her laundry basket in her current bedroom. 

Later that day both girls packed a suitcase to go to Aunt Mary and Uncle Terry's for a few days, they went from place to place looking for clothes. They started talking to themselves. "Where did I put my t-shirts?" "Why can't I find my pajamas?" 

Eventually they managed to pack their suitcases. The good news is that when they come back their rooms will be ready for them to completely unpack the baskets and settle in. I know we can't wait. I'm sure they are just as ready.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Her painted broken heart

From the moment the brunette twin started planning her bedroom, she talked about painting some furniture. She was excited about getting her own room because she had a gazillion decorating ideas.

The big one was to DIY her furniture. She had a color scheme in mind. We searched garage sales, second hand stores and online sites until we found a cabinet for her room. It was an old armoire with some wear and tear. It was perfect for a DIY, furniture paining project.

Yesterday she primed the armoire. She plotted her color scheme over and over again. She woke up this morning and spent most of the day painting in the garage. Some colors required two coats while others required three. She was meticulous, even using a cotton swab to paint corners. When she was done, it was beautiful.

Uncle Dave came over to help move the old dresser down the stairs. The first thing he said when he saw her armoire was "Wow, it's beautiful."  The second thing he said was "I don't think it will fit up your staircase."

I nearly cried. Of all the things we thought about when it came to picking furniture, the size wasn't on the list. We did a quick once-over when we saw things to decide if it would work or not. We did not measure anything. 

It would have fit up most staircases without a problem. Ours has a sharp turn as you go up. The first two stairs face South. The rest of the staircase heads East. We have had problems with the turn before. When we bought our Queen bed box springs we found a company that made one that came in two pieces. The manager told us it was a common problem in older houses. 

Uncle Dave was right. It did not fit up the stairs. He tried to get it into the basement, but it wouldn't go down those stairs either. I was so upset. I couldn't look at the brunette twin for fear I would cry, which was fine because she stared straight at the television, not reacting at all. She wouldn't make eye contact with anyone. 

After Uncle Dave and Josh left, we watched the end of the movie. She sat next to me, saying over and over again that she wasn't going to paint any more furniture. She said she was so proud of her work. It was her design and hers alone. My eyes welled up as I held her, but I managed not to cry. If she wasn't going to cry, neither was I.

About 30 minutes after she went to bed, the brunette twin came downstairs in tears. All her frustration and anger came out in a tear tidal wave. She cried until she was dry. We talked about finding a replacement for her next DIY project, but she wasn't quite ready to discuss it yet. She was still mourning today's lost project. 

Tomorrow might be better, but I'd bet it will take a few days until she really wants to consider another project. When we get there, you can be certain it will be with a tape measure in hand. I won't repeat my stupid mistake twice.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Round and round the instruments go

The blond twin was so excited when she brought home the French horn. She couldn't wait to try out the new instrument. Both girls went into the basement. A few minutes later I heard the French horn. A few minutes after that the brunette twin came up holding the French horn and announced that she was going to play it. The blond twin tried, but her braces made it hard to blow into the instrument. The brunette twin tried and fell in love. I mean she was head over heels for the French horn.

I emailed their band teacher to ask her if the brunette twin could change instruments. She wasn't thrilled as the brunette twin was a flute MVP this year. On the other hand, she really needed a French horn player. Rumor had it that the current French horn player was not a good player and was thinking about dropping out.

The following days were filled with back and forth about the blond twin's instrument. At one point she was moving to flute, which made me happy because we already own a flute. Their music teacher didn't want her to move to flute as there were already ten flute players in the band. We went through multiple options before the blond twin and her teacher settled on trombone.

In a few days we went from a flute and a clarinet to a French horn and a trombone. My head was spinning. The school gave us a French horn to use while the brunette twin played it. We need to trade in the clarinet for a trombone so the blond twin can learn it. I'm hesitating, though, until the last school day. The way our musical merry-go-round has been spinning, we might end up with different instruments before school ends.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Changing tunes

The brunette twin won an MVP award at the band banquet. Her teacher commented on her hard work and progress when it comes to playing flute. She put the trophy on her dresser. She has been playing her flute regularly, often with a friend, to perfect her skills. She earned that MVP award.

Imagine my surprise, then, when we were driving to piano practice and she announced, "I might change to the piccolo." We talked about it for a few minutes. It turned out that her teacher ask two girls to consider changing to piccolo. You had to be good at flute as the instruments are similar. 

A few days later the blond twin announced that their band teacher asked her to consider changing to French horn. Their band teacher knew that she blond twin wasn't really happy playing clarinet. The blond twin came home and started researching the French horn by watching YouTube videos. She decided she did want to try out to play the instrument.

When Daddy and I talked about the changes, I did remind him that these instrument changes were happening just after we paid off the flute and clarinet. We were the proud owners of two instruments the girls might no longer need. 

We called the store recommended to us when we researched their flute and clarinet. Because the owners have been working with the local schools for decades, they shared some information that made us smile. If the girls switched instruments, the school will provide a piccolo and French horn. The school recognized that these are expensive instruments, so they don't ask parents to purchase them. Just like that we stopped wondering how we were going to pay for two new instruments.  

The blond twin will decide if she's going to change this week. The brunette twin won't know until after summer band camp. In any case, it's sure to be a noisy summer as the girls practice their instruments -- whether the new or the old.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

To party or not to party

The girls came home with a birthday party invitation recently. Their friend's party was on the same day as the brunette twin was supposed to go to see a musical production with the school choir. 

The brunette twin was mad. She really wanted to go to the party.  I told her that she already committed to the school choir outing, so she was going to that. Then the blond twin pulled an Ace card. She said, "Mom, there are only a few girls coming."

It is one thing about having twins that I didn't think about until they started going to birthday parties. Often parents will call to ask if the girls are both available on a certain date. They are planning a party for just a few kids. Our girls are often half the group invited. I thought that this was something that would change as they grew older, but just a couple weeks ago a friend's mom called to check on a date and time. She was only planning to invite four girls. 

I talked to the brunette twin about commitments and why we might change this one. We contacted the choir teacher who said she could find other students to use the musical tickets. We called Heather's mom to let her know both girls would be at the party.

I'm always conflicted when this happens. On the one hand I do think that once you make a commitment, you stick with it even when something better comes along. On the other hand, I've heard enough stories about kids' birthday parties where no one shows up that I don't want to contribute to another one. It's a balancing act that I hope we're getting right, even when I'm not sure which way is the right way.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

One track mind

The girls are in track this year. The blond twin ran cross-country last Fall and loved it. She couldn't wait for track to start this Spring. The brunette twin joined when she realized that many of her friends were joining. 

While the brunette twin enjoys track, the blond twin is obsessed with it. She comes home every day with story after story after story about her track adventures. She replays every moment of practice over and over and over again.

Sometimes I ask her if anything else happened at school. After all, she is in the classroom for six hours a day. Most days she cannot recall a single event to share. Track, however, is an endless story source. She talks about it to the point where we have to limit track talk at the dinner table. If we do not put a limit on it, no one else will get a word in during the entire meal. 

I admit that her track obsession amazes me. I never thought she would enjoy track as much as she does. It's wonderful to see her develop her own interests and pursue them, even if we have to hear the same stories about them over and over and over again.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

No comment required

As the girls get older, they want to make more plans with friends. We have a pretty good idea of what their summer schedule looks like already, so we decided to have them put their activities into their devices. I told them that they would be able to look at their calendars to see if they were available or not before they made plans. Daddy was going to put the same information in his work calendar so he would know what was happening too. 

In my mind we'd sit at the table, share information and leave. It wasn't like they didn't know they had these activities on the summer calendar. We discussed everything with them before committing. In reality, it was a whine-fest from nearly the moment we started. 

We made it two weeks into summer when they started complaining. Why does that start so early? I don't want to have two things on one day? What do you mean it goes for two weeks? They rolled their eyes, hit the table and sighed. It was miserable. I was so angry that I started using the measured, mechanical voice to impart information. At one point the blond twin told me to stop talking that way. She said she didn't know why I was mad as it was their summer being ruined.

Seriously, I couldn't believe what was happening. I told the girls that they had 24 hours to tell me what activities to cancel or they had to stop complaining. Neither one wanted to cancel anything. At one point I thought I would lose my mind. They were whining like we were sending them to work underground in the coal mines for the summer.

I realize this is a tween phase, but I despise it. The girls are not that busy this coming summer. They said they wanted more time just to hang out with friends, so that is what they have. There are weeks when they only have one activity scheduled for the entire week.

The fun begins in three weeks as their last day of school is just before Memorial Day Weekend. I already know that we won't be far into summer before they start complaining that they are bored. The good news is they have their schedule, so I can simply say, "Make plans with someone." It's sure to be my go-to line this summer.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Corn starch woes

The blond twin came home last week so excited about a speech project. She and her partner were giving a demonstration speech. They decided to teach the class to make a goey paste, which they could change dramatically based upon a few tweaks.

The blond twin was to bring a plastic baggies, a bowl, food coloring, a pitcher and some other items. Her project partner was to bring the corn starch.

Yesterday I asked the blond twin about her project. She said they hadn't done it -- again. I asked her why. She said, "We don't have any corn starch. Her mom said she wouldn't buy any for the assignment."

I stared at the wall for a minute until the urge to say, "Are you kidding me?" passed. I managed to suppress my true opinion of that parent and say, "How much do you need?" I could not believe a week had gone by before I found out that the other parent wasn't going to buy the corn starch. Every day I asked the blond twin about the project. Either this was a new development or she just didn't want to tell me earlier. In the end it didn't matter because if the blond twin was going to complete her assignment, we were going to purchase the corn starch.

At dinner I told Daddy that I would run to the store for corn starch. As long as I was going, we made a short list. I grabbed my purse and headed out. I don't go to the grocery store often. Daddy does most of the grocery shopping as he has created a great system. I shop at a couple of specialty stores, but when it comes to ongoing grocery shopping, Daddy handles it.

When I walked into the grocery store I barely made it through the produce section without finding new items. I was tempted to buy a few, but instead wrote down the names so I could figure out how to use them. I made it home with several bags filled with future meal ingredients and a gallon of milk. 

We had milk and warm cookies as a snack before sending the girls to bed. Daddy and I were on the couch watching a show when he said, "Where is the corn starch?" My eyes went wide and he said, "You forgot." In my defense, I reminded him that I did bring home the milk. After our show he went to the grocery store to get the corn starch.

This morning I reminded the blond twin to take the corn starch. She put her backpack right next to it. About 30 minutes later I yelled up the stairs, "Girls, it is 7:15. The bus comes at 7:17. What are you doing up there?" The brunette twin said, "Fixing our hair." I said, "Remember, if you miss the bus, you are walking." They ran downstairs, grabbed all their stuff and ran out the door. A friend recently had to walk to school after missing her bus. Since then, they take the "you will walk to school" threat very seriously.

 A few minutes later I was putting on my shoes when I glanced over and saw the corn starch. I simply sighed. I grabbed Holly's leash, the corn starch and my car keys. A few minutes later I handed the corn starch to the school receptionist. I sat in the car texting the blond twin about the corn starch. She replied that she would get it.

The irony, of course, was that I ended up at the school delivering the corn starch. I told the girls I would not take them to school, but I ended up there anyway. I hope the blond twin's demonstration speech goes well. It was the most work of any assignment so far this year.