Sunday, December 31, 2017

Hiking Diamond Head

The girls spent a lot of time in the ocean while we were in Waikiki. They could have spent all day there if we didn't want to do so many other things.

We became really good at taking The Bus, which is Oahu's public transportation system. We took The Bus to Diamond Head to hike the volcano with hundreds of our closest friends. I had read that Diamond Head had grown into a the tourist attraction, but I didn't realize what that really meant until we arrived at the base. It was still early, yet it was really crowded.

We purchased the audio tour and set off. The girls were pretty patient with me as I had to listen to each segment. They learned long ago that I was going to stop and stare at every pretty plant/animal. We made our way up the volcano to the final stairs.

I looked at the steep stairs and said, "I'll wait here." The brunette twin decided to keep me company. The blond twin looked at the stairs and said, "You coming Dad?" She set off with Daddy to conquer the final path to the top.

When they got to the top, after climbing the steep stairs, going up a spiral staircase and crawling through a tunnel-like path, they were rewarded with spectacular views. The pictures Daddy took were breathtaking. The blond twin received a certificate announcing that she made it to the top.

The brunette twin and I waited at the landing until Daddy and the blond twin returned. Daddy and the blond twin had great stories about making it to the top. Part of me really wished that I had gone with them, even as I knew that there was no way I would have made it up the stairs and through the tunnel.

We all purchased t-shirts to commemorate the adventure, happy with our efforts and filled with stories.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

And we're off

Who thought it was a good idea to take a 9:30 a.m. flight out of O'Hare airport? I wondered this several times between the moment the alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. and the plane wheels left the runway at 9:40 a.m. Of course, the answer was me. I booked the flight, so the morning chaos was completely my fault.

We settled into our eight hour flight to Honolulu by organizing our space. We sat in  single row, with four seats next to each other. We lifted the armrests between our seats so the we had a big couch. It was a long, tedious flight. Even though we thought we had enough books. games, devices to keep us busy, eight hours is a long time to be on a plane.

The aisles were so narrow that it was hard to get up and stretch our legs. We tried, but you couldn't walk up and down an aisle without bumping into people. Eventually we started standing near the restrooms trying to stretch a bit.

By the time we saw Oahu out the windows, we were really, really ready to start our Hawaiian vacation. We were returning to the islands. The girls were making their first visit. And, as we got into the cab to go to the hotel, we were all ready to start making memories together.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas memories

Christmas fell on a Monday this year, which meant the girls did not start Winter Break until December 22. It felt like they were never going to get out of school. The last few days were a slog as they dragged themselves to school.

December 23 we spent baking and delivering cookies. Actually, Daddy did most of the baking since he's home now. We packed up the cookies and the girls took Holly around the neighborhood, while walking their dog. When they returned, we got into the car and started dropping cookies at their friend's houses. It didn't take long before the girls were bouncing back to the car talking about how surprised their friend were to receive cookies.

We've really been trying to show them that it doesn't take money or fancy presents to make someone's day. The simple act of delivering Christmas cookies made them and their friends so happy.

Christmas Eve we hosted coffee hour at church. It was a departure from our usual Christmas Eve tradition. This year December 24 was both the fourth week of Advent and Christmas Eve. As our pastor said, "It's Advent until Noon, when it becomes Christmas Eve for me." She would deliver sermons for both in one day. We came home to watch Christmas specials and eat cookies. We continued our traditional pizza on china dinner before opening a few presents.

Christmas morning the girls woke up early. We kept thinking we'd have to wake them since they are teenagers now, but they surprised us. We ate breakfast and went back to church. Typically we don't attend Christmas morning services. A former rector once said that Christmas Day services were among the best kept secrets in the US church.

This year our rector asked the girls to acolyte on Christmas morning. An area military family made a special request to have their baby baptized on Christmas. They were going to be in town for a few days to celebrate Christmas. Since the family was going to be al together, they wanted to baptize their baby.

We were immediately happy to help. I won't say the girls were thrilled to be acolytes Christmas morning. They don't really like to change our holiday traditions. They were happy to help the family celebrate their new addition, but would have been a bit happier if it had not been Christmas morning.

When we arrived at church, the family was already there. They had an adorable toddler in a frilly Christmas dress. I told the girls, "You used to wear cute Christmas dresses like that." Both girls smiled and rolled their eyes. It was the perfect teenage reaction.

Later we went to Uncle Steve's for the Cartwright family Christmas. We laughed a lot, watched too much TV, ate too much food and opened too many presents. I made Aunt Reenie a quilt using some of her late father's shirts. She cried when she realized which squares were her father's shirts. I cried because, well, I'm a crier.

By Christmas evening we were home, resting and telling stories about our long Christmas weekend. We created so many fun memories and had so many fun stories. It was a busy, often crazy, three days that extended some family traditions and created some new ones that we'll carry on to next year.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

By the numbers

Before we left this morning, Daddy made cookies. He left the girls a note saying that they could have two cookies each when they came home from school.

When we came home Daddy noticed that there were new cookies on the cutting board. He asked the girls about the peanut butter cookies. They said they made cookies when they came home.

Daddy asked how many cookies they had and the brunette twin replied that she had two of his. She smiled when he asked about the cookies she and her sister baked.

I said, "They ate two of your cookies and baked more so they could eat more. We never told them how many cookies they could eat if they baked them."

The brunette twin smiled. We couldn't reprimand them as they only ate two of the cookies Daddy baked. They exploited a loophole we never thought to close.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Driving lessons #2

Overheard at our house...

Mommy:  "I was backing up in the parking garage when I bumped the pole. The plastic cover is shattered and the left blinker doesn't work now."

Daddy:  "I better see this on the blog."

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Eighth grade photos

Today the girls are taking their eighth grade school pictures. What used to be a quick pull-something-out-of-the-closet moment, became a multi-week event.

The girls went through their closets only to declare that they had nothing to wear. I stared at them blankly, reminding them that they had many, many dresses I haven't seen on them lately. They insisted that they couldn't wear a single thing in their closets.

After a few shopping trips, the girls had dresses. They spent some time accessorizing and making plans for the night before. Last night was the night before graduation pictures. What a night it was.

The girls came home, did their homework, ate dinner and started getting ready. Two hours later they were still doing their hair. Three hours later they were still getting ready. At one point we told them they had to go to bed. An hour after that Daddy went upstairs to find the blond twin still getting ready. He told her she had to go to bed immediately.

When he came downstairs, he said that we probably needed to start now if they were going to be ready for prom on time. We laughed that awkward laugh that happens when you know you are right, but you don't want it to be.

The girls woke up early to finish preparations. They went to the bus stop looking like glamour girls. Our babies knew what they were doing when they spent all that time getting ready. Now I can't wait to see the photos.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Driving lessons

I was at my desk working when I heard a strange sound coming from the garage. I ran outside to see parts of our new car's passenger side mirror on the driveway. I asked Daddy, "What happened? Are you ok?"

He replied that he was playing with the radio as he left the garage. He clipped the passenger side mirror on the garage.

With a big smile, I said, "As soon as the girls come home you are telling them that story."

Many years ago I was pulling into the garage when I damaged Daddy's car's passenger side mirror. Daddy was so mad. The girls have never let me forget it.

Today Daddy damaged his car. He broke a mirror. He knew exactly what I was thinking when I said he had to tell the girls. He said, "Now we're even."

Daddy went out to run some errands when the girls came home. Somehow he forgot to tell the girls the story. I told them and they stared with their eyes wide open. They couldn't believe that Daddy damaged his car.

I said, "What's the lesson here?" They said, "Pay attention when you are driving." Since they will have drivers' permits next year, I'll take that as the lesson. I wanted to add, "Now stop telling the story about how I broke the car mirror" to the conversation, but I resisted.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Sleepover sleeping arrangements

The girls had friends spend Friday night. I decided to shut down the fun about midnight. I walked into the brunette twin's room to find all four girls sitting on the brunette twin's bed. In the middle Holly was sleeping with a pillow under her head.

While we were talking about Saturday's adventures, Erin looked at Anna and said, "Where are you sleeping?" Anna replied, "I don't know."

I said, "What do you mean? You're sleeping in this bed. The dog can sleep on the floor."

All four girls looked at me like I was crazy. I reiterated that the dog was not sleeping in Anna's spot. Holly might join Anna and Ally, but Anna was not sleeping on the floor so Holly could sleep in the bed.

The four girls finally went to sleep in the correct places. Holly decided to crawl into the blond twin's bed. When I went to bed everyone was sleeping happily.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Hiding in plain sight

We were driving home from Grammie's last year when the girls started talking about their Christmas list. Interestingly, their requests sounded just like the presents we had hidden. Daddy said they knew what they were getting. We agreed to play along to see how long they would last before telling us.

After Christmas they confessed that they had found our hiding spot. I told them they were both very good actresses as they seemed surprised on Christmas morning.

This year we're not hiding anything. All their Christmas presents are being delivered to the front door. One box sat in the family room for days. They never paid attention to it. They are so conditioned to think that we're hiding their presents that they don't even pay attention to boxes as they bring them into the house.

We've decided to annoy them a bit this Christmas. Today Daddy wrapped a box for each girl and put it under the tree. We didn't put names on the boxes. If you shake a box, you can tell that there is more than one thing inside. We'll continue to randomly put packages under the tree until Christmas morning. If nothing else, it entertains us. The girls will pretend they don't care, but we know they will be trying to figure out what is in the boxes when we're not around.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Notes in church

The brunette twin leaned over and said, "What are you doing? If we can't talk in church, then you can't write notes in church."

I smiled. She was right that we were always telling the girls not to talk in church. They get bored and start chatting. Every time we told them to be quiet, they started giggling.

They were not amused that I was writing notes on the church bulletin. For some reason I started writing notes a while ago. There was something about being relaxed in church that brought all kinds of reminders to the forefront. Rather than try to remember them after the service ended, I just started writing down notes to clear my mind.

In theory the brunette twin was right. I should not have been making notes in church. The reality was that those notes were the best way to clear my head. I do not know if I will stop writing notes, but I do know that I need to be more discrete from now on.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Teen paperwork

No one told us that having teenagers would involve so much paperwork. The past few weeks seemed like we were in a paperwork trap. There were papers for the band trip, the high school placement test, summer camps, basketball permission slips and more.

Most of the time Daddy and I sat next to each other with the papers in front of us. We went line by line making sure we had the correct information for the correct girl. You would think the information would be nearly the same, but often we had different details.

We worked through each paperwork pile as a team, knowing that we were simply practicing for the paperwork to come as they transition to high school and then college.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Fill in the dots

The girls took their high school entrance exams today. The four hour PSAT test was one factor the school will use to decide placement options. The things that worried the girls the most wasn't the test itself. It was the answer sheet. Unlike all the other standardized tests they have taken over the years, the PSAT was done on a scantron form.

They had friends over last night to "study," although one might say that they were just hanging out and talking. At one point I handed them some copies and pencils. They stared at the paper, not understanding why I handed them a paper with a bunch of circles.

I explained that when they took the test they would be expected to fill in the dots to record their answers. They stared at me like I was crazy. I asked if they had ever used an answer sheet with the dots before. They said no.

When I was in school, all my standardized tests had scantron forms. I was an expert at filling in the dots correctly. We talked about how there were two things they needed to think about every time they answered a question. The first was to get the correct answer. The second was to fill in the dot completely.

The whole table sat with pencils in hand to practice filling in the dots. There were specific examples they had to follow so they would receive credit for their answers. The thing that annoyed the girls was that getting the right answer didn't matter if the dots were not filled in correctly.

They were still talking about filling in the dots after the test. The plus side of the scantron sheet was that they were focused on getting it right so it was a distraction from whether or not they came up with the correct answer. In fact, after the test, the girls tried to compare answers, but could hardly remember their responses. It turned out that the dots made it easy to move on from the test to other concerns, like their eventual class placements after they received their test scores. We won't have that information until January, so there is plenty of time to stress about something else they cannot control.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Class of 2022

Our local high school does a great job of transitioning middle school students and their families. We attended the sixth and seventh grade events just to get a feel for the school. This year, when we received the eight grade postcard, there was a terrifying headline. It said, "Class of 2022."

Yikes. Our babies were just a few months away from being high school students.

The evening was a big, fun opportunity for everyone. It started with a pep rally. The band performed. The pep squad danced. The choir sang. Two students talked about how their time helped them find their interests and support their dreams.

From there we moved to a scavenger hunt that helped everyone get more acquainted with the building. The girls wandered in and out of classrooms, collecting stamps, as the parents stood in the hall wondering how our kids were old enough to be headed towards high school. A quick stop in the Performing Arts Center for a curriculum discussion and we were headed to the evening's highlight.

In the main gym, different co-curricular activities set up tables. Each table had students waiting to tell the incoming students about the clubs or teams. The girls went from place to place exploring their opportunities. They signed up for several teams, took brochures from different clubs and walked out excited about all their choices.

As we walked out of the school, the blond twin talked about how it was both exciting and overwhelming. The brunette twin agreed as they chatted about what they liked and what their friends liked.

It was so gratifying to see them embrace their next educational journey. They left really excited about moving on to high school, which was the entire evening's purpose.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Let them eat meat

Since the brunette twin became a vegetarian, we've been steadily reducing our family meat intake. It's just easier to go vegetarian with her than it is to make two versions of every meal.

The result is that whenever we go to dinner without the girls, we gravitate towards food we don't eat with the girls. Lately this means we're headed for meat.

Tonight the girls are earning National Junior Honor Society volunteer hours at a local haunted house. We dropped them at a friend's about 6:00 p.m. By 6:30 p.m., we were sitting in a bar-b-que restaurant enjoying our beef brisket and pulled pork.

We know it's healthier to eat less meat. We have no doubts that her vegetarian diet is good for all of us. Sometimes we just have to sneak a little meat into a meal.

Monday, October 16, 2017

I've heard that somewhere before

Overheard at today's basketball scrimmage...

Coach:  "Blond twin get your fingers out of your mouth."

Blond twin:  Looks at us in the stands and smiles

Mommy to Daddy:  "Gee, I've heard that somewhere before."

Daddy to Mommy:  "Well, maybe she will listen to her coach since she doesn't listen to us."

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Class of 2022

We received a mailing from the local high school inviting the girls to an open house. The mailing said that the prospective students would be able to meet teachers, learn about co-curricular activities and talk to current students.

As I wrote the date and time in our family calendar, I couldn't help but stare at the headline. It said, "Class of 2022."

It seemed like just yesterday we walked them into preschool. Now we were planning their high school information night.

Someone once said that the days are long, but the years are short. Class of 2022 in big, bold letters brought that home. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Basketball twins

The girls have long been fascinated by Daddy's basketball trophies. They like to ask him questions about basketball and talk to him about  playing. It wasn't a big surprise when the brunette twin tried out (and made) the basketball team last year.

She really enjoyed playing. She liked being on the team. She liked the team rituals, like dressing up for away games and wearing her uniform to school for home games. Last summer she participated in two basketball camps.

It shouldn't have been a surprise, then, when the blond twin decided to try out this year. She hadn't expressed any interest in basketball until she participated in a basketball camp last summer. She had a passing interest and decided to try out.

They both made the team. The brunette twin knew she was going to make the team because she was on it last year and improved her skills last summer. The blond twin stressed about each try-out level as if she was waiting to win an Academy Award. Really, she wanted it badly.

I could say she wanted it badly because she liked basketball so much, but that's not really true. The blond twin is so competitive that she really hates to lose in any way. Not making the team would have been the same as losing for her.

They have been practicing for days now, both in school and after school. They have teammates meet them at the basketball courts to practice shooting. It's so much fun to watch them develop their skills, and their personal competition. They might be twins, but they are also competing for playing time. I really like how they want to outdo each other, even as they are supporting each other.

Too many evenings we tell them that they have to stop talking about basketball at dinner. We ask them if anything else happened at school. They stare blankly and then go back to talking about basketball practice.

Their first game is soon. Given that the team only won 1 game last year, we're not thinking about college scholarships. We are thinking that playing on the basketball team is a great way for them to grow and have fun, and that's enough.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Testing the five second rule

We were kneeling at the alter rail during communion when my attention strayed. And, to make it worse, my attention strayed at the worst possible moment. Reverend Ellen handed me a host. The Deacon tilted the chalice filled with wine.

I dipped the host into the wine and moved it towards my mouth. Instead of putting it into my mouth, I dropped it. Yes, I dropped the host at the alter.

I completely panicked. Should I pick up the host? I would have had to really lean over the railing. There was no graceful way to do it. Should I pretend I didn't drop it and simply walk back to my pew?

In the end my crazy thoughts didn't matter. Our Deacon noticed what happened and came back with another host. I dipped it into the wine and managed to get it into my mouth this time.

The girls saw me drop the host and couldn't wait to laugh. Their admonishments caused me to start laughing. Instead of sliding into our pew, I went into the vestibule to compose myself. Somehow I managed to make it through the service's remainder without incident. Even before we left church I knew that this story was destined to become part of our family history.

Friday, September 15, 2017


When we realized that the girls' birthday party was on a Friday, we started planning an after-school bash. Now that they are teenagers, we have been asking the girls to take on more and more responsibility for their activities. We had them create a guest list and plan activities. We brought in Erin as she's their birthday triplet. The three girls share most friends, so it made sense to have one big party.

From the moment the girls came home from school, we were busy bringing the party to life. Luckily for the girls, Daddy did much of the prep work while they were in school. He put out the furniture and got out the games.

I was working in the house to set-up the food and beverage areas with the blond twin. Daddy was in the backyard setting up the volleyball net with the brunette twin. At least we though they were setting up the volleyball net. It turned out that the last time we set-up the volleyball we didn't do a good job putting away the net. We all tried to untangle the net for a while before we decided to just buy a new net. 

At 4:30 p.m. girls started arriving. By 5:00 p.m., we had girls everywhere. They were playing volleyball, croquet, bean bags and a washer game. It was loud and chaotic and fun. The girls devoured two extra large cheese pizzas about 5:15 p.m. They were still hungry, so we fired up the grill.

Erin's family brought the cake and it was simply gorgeous. Our girls have never had such a beautiful birthday cake. I doubt they will see another cake that beautiful again until they get married. Everyone devoured the cake, including a few boys who crashed the birthday bash.

We didn't even go into the living room when the three girls opened their gifts. Between the 20 girls and all the presents, there wasn't much space for others. We could have sat at the dining room table to watch, but truth be told the girls didn't really want us there. We stepped in and out just to see some of the fun.

By the time the party guests left, we were all tired. It wasn't that the girls were a lot of work.  At this age they are pretty self-sufficient. There was just so much going on that it was hard to keep up at times. After the party I realized that I didn't take a single photo. Luckily Erin's mom took photos.

The girls cleaned up with us, chatting happily about how much fun they had from start to finish. We had been talking about possibly having a Halloween party. The birthday bash's success made the potential Halloween party a definite event. The girls talked about it a lot, but I told them planning would have to wait. For tonight I just wanted to get some sleep.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Garage style

We recently joined a local health club. I often go early in the morning to get my workout done before I log on for work. Often when I shower, I don't have time to blow dry my hair immediately. I take it as a win if I can log on to work clean and dressed. At some point I find a few minutes to blow dry my hair. Usually I just grab the blow dryer out of my gym bag.

One day Daddy walked by to find me with my blow dryer plugged into the garage light outlet. I had my head in the garage with the blow dryer in my hand. He made a funny face at the sight. When I was done, I said, "You know, we don't have an electrical outlet in the bathroom down here."

It turns out that in the nearly twenty years that we lived in this house, we never realized that we did not have an electrical outlet in the first floor bathroom. Until I started needing to blow dry my hair quickly, and between conference calls, I didn't have a reason to look for an electrical outlet in the first floor bathroom.

At this point no one who lives in our house stares when I blow dry my hair in the garage. It's still strange, but it is still the quickest option.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Birthday party planning

The girls said the funniest thing today. They asked where we were having their birthday party. I explained that we just bought them a stupidly expensive birthday present. Their birthday party was going to be in our backyard.

They tried to argue the party location, but I wasn't interested in the conversation. They received the present of their dreams. They would have to figure out how to manage a home party.

Shortly after we were sitting with pens and papers plotting the big event. They decided to invite everyone over to play games. We asked our neighbor if we could use her yard. Her house sits on a double lot, so we wanted to take advantage of the space to put a volleyball net. She said yes and the party planning continued.

At some point we decided to invite Erin to put her name on the invitation. Erin has the same birthday as the girls, although they hadn't thrown a joint birthday party previously. It made sense, though, to bring it all together as they share most of the same friends.

I kept bringing down the plans to things that didn't cost as much as they wanted to spend. I was still recovering from the iPhone invoice.

In the end we planned a really fun party and twenty middle school girls received invitations. As I typed that last sentence, I realized that I must have lost my mind. Twenty middle school girls?

Friday, September 1, 2017

Friday Night Lights

One thing our local high school does really well is ease the kids and their families into high school. For the past two years, we've gone to the middle school orientation. The girls have taken advantage of summer camps with the high school coaches. Last year they talked about going to football games. This year, they decided going to football games was going to be their Friday night activity.

It helps that they have friends who moved from middle school to high school this year. They hear about all the fun those friends are having in high school. They feel like they are at the game visiting their friends or watching their friends perform in the half-time show.

Sure they are middle schoolers still, but they feel like they belong at the high school. The reality is that if their birthday was a few weeks earlier, they would be in high school. They would be the youngest in their freshman class, rather than being the oldest in their eighth grade class.

They made plans with a friend who lives close to the high school. After getting ready here, they all went to her house so she could get ready. They walked over to the high school and hung out in the stands.

If social media was correct, they had a lot of friends there. I saw a lot of people I recognized in various feeds. Everyone looked like they were having fun, which made me smile. The photos I saw could have been any group of friends from any era. Friday high school football games remained the same, fun way to hang out with friends that it was when I was in high school.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Continuing a birthday gift tradition

We have a long tradition of buying the girls ridiculous birthday presents. One year they received a dog. Another year they received a playset. This year they received iPhones.

I know. I know. It's a crazy, expensive birthday present. The stars aligned so that their old devices didn't work any more at the same time as our contract was up for renewal. When they started negotiating for an iPhone, we set some hard terms. One term was that this was their birthday present. Sure, their existing devices were broken and unusable. Of course we were going to need new devices. iPhones, though? Before those came into the house we set out some tough terms.

One item negotiated was that the girls would sit through the entire process. They had to stay with Daddy while he finalized the contract. They had to sit while the representative transferred data from the old devices to the new iPhones. They wanted the iPhones so badly that they would have done anything. We should have negotiated harder.

They came home deliriously happy. They couldn't believe that we really bought them iPhones. When I looked at the invoice, I couldn't either.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Eighth Grade

The girls started school today. Specifically, they started eighth grade. Eighth grade? How did that happen. It seems like they just started preschool. Now they are finishing elementary school.

They were excited to find out who was in their classes when they left this house this morning. The brunette twin dropped out of honors math for eighth grade. This meant the girls wouldn't have many classes together as they were in two different tracks. Today they were picking up their schedules and getting their locker assignments. It was a short day, yet an exciting day.

They came home bubbling with news. They spent hours on their devices texting friends to see who was in which classes. They discovered that all their classes were in the new wing. It was the designated eighth grade wing. They were thrilled that they would spend their last year in the brand new wing. They said it was their reward for surviving two years of non-stop construction.

The big news was that the blond twin's honors math class was a high school freshman math class. She was going to get credit for it on her high school transcripts. The blond twin was officially a high school student.

They talked and talked and talked about the first day for so long that you would have thought it was a week's worth of class news instead of just 90 minutes. We were glad to see how excited they were for their last elementary school year. They had big plans, and even bigger dreams. It was a great way to start their last year in the elementary school district.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Saugatuck Douglas area delights

We decided to take a few days before the girls head back to school and just relax. We went looking for a house to rent, which was harder than it should have been since we have a strange requirement. We need carpeting.

Why you ask? Well, when we take Holly with us, we need at least area rugs so the dog can go from place to place. Holly has a hard time walking across hardwood and tile floors. She slips and slides like she's on ice.

Our initial search provided many options. A couple of weeks later when we were ready to reserve a house, we were down to a few options. We found a lovely house in Douglas MI, which we reserved immediately.

When we arrived, the house was just as charming as the photos. One thing we didn't realize when booking was how close it was to downtown Douglas. To put it into perspective, downtown Douglas is about a mile long. It's an adorable commercial strip that has a grocery store on one end and a beach on the other.

We spent four days in the area, spending some time near or in the water every day. We visited the world-famous Oval Beach twice, hiked the Saugatuck Sand Dune to Lake Michigan twice and the girls paddle boarded twice. In between we visited restaurants and shopped downtown Saugatuck merchants. We drove to the Wild West Ranch to horseback ride and watch beautiful sunsets over a cloudy Lake Michigan.

It was delightful, relaxing and charming. We left with a wish list of things we didn't have time to do this trip. The good news is it's now a "to do" list for our next visit.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

I want to start travelling

The brunette twin looked at me and said, "I want to start travelling. When are we going to go places?

I stared at her blankly. We are on the road three or four weeks a year. We have hiked Arches National Park, rode horses at the Kentucky Horse Park and smelled the cherry blossoms in Washington D.C. The girls often confuse different trip details. I look at them and say, "You know your problem? You get around. You have been too many places to keep the trips straight."

I said, "What do you mean?"

She replied, "When are we going to go to Europe?"

Ah, that's what she thinks of as travelling. It seems that unless she needs a passport, she doesn't consider it travelling. We're close to heading across the big pond, but she'll have to wait a bit longer. We have a few more domestic locations to explore first.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Mommy brain strikes again

We recently joined a local fitness club. One of the things I really liked about the club was that they have wipes in several locations so you can clean the equipment. Members seemed very good about wiping down equipment when they were done using it.

This morning when I was at the club, I went to the cabinet to get a wipe. The container was empty.

I walked up to the desk to talk to a staff member. I tried to explain that the wipes container was empty. He stared like he had no idea what I meant.

Finally I said, "You know. The baby wipes we use to clean the equipment."

He laughed and said, "Ok. I'll get more."

I was sure he called them something else, but it did make me laugh that he knew exactly what I meant when I said baby wipes.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

I'd rather wash floors

We were sorting household chores when the girls started fighting about who had to vacuum. I completely understand how much they hate to vacuum. I hate it too.

It's not that vacuuming is hard. It's just that we do it nearly every day. It's one of those things that needs to be done nearly daily to prevent Holly hair tumbleweeds from taking over. I always tell Holly it's a good thing she loves the girls so much because it almost makes up for the work her constantly shedding hair causes.

The girls started trading chores until it became clear that the blond twin was going to end up vacuuming. I said, "It's not that bad. You'll survive."

She spun around, looked me straight in the eyes and said, "I'd rather wash floors." So she did was the floors and I vacuumed. We were both happy.

Monday, July 17, 2017

A clear distinction

People are fascinated by the ways the girls come together and how they are different. A conversation on my friend Irene's backyard deck will be my illustration from now on.

To frame the conversation that took place, the Girl Scout troop visited Irene's to finish the Plant IP badge. She has a gorgeous, organic, native perennial garden. She's also a landscape architect. She took the girls on a garden tour and was talking about her landscape architecture career. As she talked about her work, we veered off to a conversation about public transportation.

I said, "I always liked taking the CTA when I lived in the city. It was such great people watching."

The brunette twin said, "I will take public transportation when I get older. I like it."

The blond twin said, "I am going to have a chauffer."

And there you have it. Everything you need to know about their personalities in two sentences.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Friendship Festival offers freedoms

Our community holds an annual festival with carnival rides, games and music. This was the year they've waited for since we started attending. This year, we let the girls attend Friendship Festival with their friends without us.

We organized a carpool to get the crew there and back. All the parents agreed on the ground rules -- stick together, carry your own stuff, watch your purses, etc.

The first night they were so excited. They planned and primped and texted with friends. They discussed outfits and hair styles. They made sure they had money and their mega-passes. Different girls joined them as schedules allowed. No matter who was part of that night's crowd, the same things happened each time.

Every night the girls came home with dozens of stories. They relished their independence, even as they thought we were spying on them. More than once they asked if we had friends checking on them. The funny thing was that we didn't ask anyone to watch them, but we knew that if there were any real problems there would be so many other parents there who would lend a hand. It was part of the decision to let them go alone. Just as we would be happy to have helped any of the neighborhood kids, we knew their parents would help our girls if needed.

They learned a lot about how to have fun at the fair. Thursday and Friday they had a lot of fun. Saturday they went to the fair during the daytime, but came home early. It turned out that the fair wasn't as fun during the daytime. They went back after dark when the lights were shining and the music blaring. They came home laughing and telling stories.

As always, fireworks closed the festival. As we were heading home, the girls were already making plans for next year's festival -- without us of course.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Strangers in the night

I lost my car key. For a few weeks I didn't even try to look for it. We had done some work on the family room and dining room floors. The house was a mess. I was sure the key was on the desk I couldn't reach.

It was clear as we put the house back together that the key wasn't on or in the desk. The missing key went from an annoyance to a problem.

I woke up one night certain that the key was in the foyer cabinet. I went downstairs in the dark to look for it. The key wasn't there.

As I walked back up the stairs, Holly raced into the hallway and started barking. It wasn't the friendly bark I hear when I come in the house. It was an angry, protective bark. I talked to her and turned on a light. She calmed down and went back to bed.

I always wondered what Holly would do if a stranger came into the house at night. Now I know, although I didn't think I was going to be the stranger.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Pain in the braces

The blond twin had something the orthodontist calls an "appliance" put into her mouth. It is supposed to help realign her jaw as the braces straighten her teeth. The end result should be a more aligned bite and straighter teeth.

We knew this appliance was coming. Most of her appointments during the past year have been moving us towards this step. What I don't think any of us really understood was how difficult it was going to be for the blond twin. The appliance is a multi-part metal insert that sits behind her bottom teeth. She also has something that looks like springs around her molars. These things are screwed together.

She is, as you might expect, completely miserable. The orthodontist said that she would be in pain for up to a week as her mouth adjusts to the appliance. She struggles to eat since it hurts to chew. Anything crunchy results in small pieces being stuck between the appliance and her bottom teeth.

The blond twin is taking pain killers, although those only seem to dull the pain. She wakes up crying because the pain keeps her from sleeping.

In the meantime we've adjusted our food to include more soft foods like pasta and fewer crunchy foods like tacos. We are trying to shift our food so it is easier for the blond twin to eat, without making her feel like she's creating problems. We have lots of options that everyone likes, so we will shift back and forth as needed.

It is wrenching to see her suffer with her appliance. We are a few days into the year she will have to wear the appliance. We know it will get better, but not quickly enough.

Friday, June 23, 2017

The summer of smelly projects

If we created a summer marketing plan, we'd call these months "Smelly Project Summer." We have a full queue of house projects. This weekend we put stain and polyurethane on the dining room and family room floors.

The dining room floor showed lots of scratches and marks. Some were the normal wear and tear of chairs moving towards and away from the dining room table. Others were along the dog's favorite path. The family room needed work near my desk and the coat closet. Both areas were aging badly.

We looked at the weather forecast to make sure we could leave the windows open as much as possible. We closed the first floor windows at night. The weather was nice enough for us to leave the second floor windows open a crack. As long as we could get some fresh air into the house, we could breath more easily.

The smell wasn't the only concern. We had to rearrange rooms to move the furniture off the floors. The dining table and chairs ended up in the living room. The family room items moved near the fireplace. It created a cramped situation that Holly did not like at all. She couldn't figure out where to go and how to get there. Her normal paths were off limits.

We were talking about when we'd be able to put the rooms back together. One thing we forgot was how long you have to let polyurethane dry before you can put furniture on the new surface. We plotted the times when we'd be able to put everything back together.

As with most projects, there was a side project. Our dining room set is more than 100 years old. The chairs gathered a lot of scratches along the way. At one point I said to Daddy, "We might as well do some work on the chairs."

We pulled the seats off the chairs and cleaned them. We put a light stain coating on each chair. The garage became the dining room chair drying area for three days.

Luckily we had plans that kept us out of the house every day. We left the fans running to keep the air moving and help the floors dry.

Now that the floors are done, we have other smelly projects including painting and more staining. I'd like to say that we have some grand master plan, but our projects are really weather dictated. We need to be able to keep our windows open for the smelly summer projects. If nothing else, we'll keep checking projects off the list as the weather allows. With a little luck, we'll check off most of the projects before we are no longer able to keep the windows open for days at a time.

Friday, June 16, 2017

No summer fun at the stables

On a typical summer schedule, the girls would have lots of activities to keep them busy. When they fill in a few days hanging out with friends, they have a full, fun summer. This year we didn't make a lot of plans. We thought they were going to spend their summer working at the stable.

It all started with an email asking for summer camp workers. The girls wouldn't get paid since they are not old enough to work. They would receive credit they could use for lessons or share boarding. When we went to the meeting, the leader said she needed as many people as possible for as many hours are possible. She painted a picture in which everyone was having fun all summer while earning money/credits.

The girls were so excited. They created a plan in which they would earn enough money to share board a horse. They figured out how many hours they had to work to pay for one year. They started planning to purchase halters and bridles and other stuff.

The first week came and went. The second week came and went. We heard nothing from the stable about the girls' work hours. I emailed several times asking about a schedule. I asked the leader when I saw her at a horseback riding lesson. We never heard anything. To date we have never once received any communication about not being on the schedule.

At this point it's clear that the girls are not going to work this summer. She oversold the entire program, giving the girls false hope.

We wanted to teach the girls a lesson about being responsible and earning their own funds. They were supposed to spend the summer working hard and learning important lessons that would give them a solid foundation for other projects.

Instead we're scrambling to figure out how to fill their days. We decided to stop waiting for work assignments after the brunette twin started crying. She said she realized that they were not going to work enough to share board a horse. She said her dream was crushed.

What makes me really angry is that the girls are not just summer workers. They take horseback riding lessons. We pay a hefty monthly price for those lessons. The girls are summer workers and customers. If the leader didn't want to be professional towards her summer employees, you'd think that she would think about being professional towards her customers.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Another year down

Seventh grade is done. Even as I write those words it seems impossible. Weren't we just taking them to preschool yesterday? Didn't we just walk them to first grade recently? Next year at this time there will be a graduation ceremony and party. They will be headed towards high school, already registered and ready.

Seventh grade is supposed to be just another year, but it feels really momentous. The girls are full-fledged teenagers. They talk about high school and dances and college already. They are growing into lovely young women.

It seems impossible that they are going into eighth grade. It is like we blinked and they are speeding towards high school.

Friday, June 2, 2017

One dead fish

While Erin is visiting family in South Korea, we are watching her fish. We brought home a big fish tank and three fish. A few minutes after filling the fish tank, we were down to two fish.

Yes, I killed a fish within the first few minutes that it was in our house.

When we were at their house, Erin and Jung-he did say that they thought the fish was sick. They said it was old and they didn't expect it to live much longer. Jung-he said the fish was swimming on its side most of the morning. They took the fish's death with a laugh and a smile.

They were so understanding that I felt worse. I know they didn't expect the fish to live long, but I doubt anyone expected it to die a few minutes after entering our house. On the other hand, things can only get better, right?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

We're number one

One of the things I really like about the girls' middle school band program is that they take a yearly trip to a band competition. This year they went to Louisville, KY where they visited Kentucky Down Under, Kentucky Kingdom, Churchill Downs and the Louisville Slugger factory.

The brunette twin texted Saturday evening to let me know that the band won "Best Middle School Band" at the competition.. It was an exciting development considering that only part of the band went on the trip. They were excited and proud and tired.

We were happy for the class. They worked hard during their after school practices. The students came together pretty quickly to form a pretty good band. It was another sign that hard work pays off, even though they don't realize it yet.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Always wear a hat

I was stretching in the family room when I felt something strange on my head. I pulled it off my scalp and stared swearing. It was a tick.

For the past few weeks I've been reading about how bad the ticks will be this year. A lot of the stories talked about why, but I don't really care why there are going to be a lot of ticks. I just want to know that it's going to be bad.

As soon as I read the articles, I reminded the girls to start checking Holly for ticks. We made sure Holly had the strongest flea and tick medicine appropriate for her size. We thought we were covered. It turns out our concern was misplaced. We should have been more worried about ticks on our bodies.

After I flushed the tick down the toilet, I checked my head again. There was a bump where the tick was, but I also had the entire tick, so I wasn't sure it actually bit my head. Still, I woke up this morning and called my doctor. Her office said to come in for an exam.

The doctor said she saw the bump, but couldn't tell if the tick broke my scalp skin. We talked about next steps and decided that I would take a preventative antibiotic. My sister-in-law Mary had Lyme disease. I knew it was as scary as advertised. If a simple antibiotic treatment was the best way to prevent Lyme disease, I was willing to take it.

Before I left the office, my doctor told me to remember to always wear a hat when I'm out among trees. She said ticks often fall off trees onto people and dogs.


From now on I will keep my hat in the car so I never forget to wear it when I'm out. This time I was lucky. I found the tick and there do not seem to be long-term effects. I'm not going to take a change that I won't be so lucky next time.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

In the dog house

When Laurie called to ask if we could watch Molly, I said yes before she even finished the question. Our girls have been asking to watch Molly for a while now. Laurie often watched Holly when we're gone. They wanted to return the favor -- or so they said. What they really wanted was another dog in the house. The girls have been lobbying for a second dog for a while now. We keep telling them that Holly is all we can handle.

As soon as we confirmed that Molly was coming over, the girls called Erin. They planned a Friday night sleepover. Our living room became the girls' bedroom with air mattresses on the floor. It was a mess of girls and dogs and blankets. The next morning the Erin and the brunette twin walked the dogs in the morning as Daddy took the blond twin to her conference track meet.

For a while Saturday it was just me and the dogs. We weren't sure how Molly would react to being left home in a strange house, so I stayed home from the conference track meet. Both dogs slept most of the time so I doubt they would have missed me if I had gone.

Saturday night we had friends over for dinner on the patio. The two dogs had four teenage girls at their disposal. They were all very happy to be together. Molly and Holly both received ridiculous amounts of attention.

Our girls slept in the living room again with the dogs. Each girl had a dog, just like in their dreams. It's fun to have Molly with us, but it does reinforce that we won't be a permanent two dog family any time soon. The girls will just have to wait until Molly comes back again to live out their two dog fantasy again.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The never-ending sleepover

The girls and I spent the night at a hotel as part of mother/daughter promotional event. Daddy stayed home with Holly and enjoyed a quiet evening.

When we came home today, Daddy was ripping carpeting off the staircase. We knew we needed to do it this weekend as we are having new carpeting installed.

On the way home, I told the girls that they had to sleep downstairs with Holly. The blond twin said she would do it. Their dog won't go on any flooring that doesn't have a rug. Her paws slip and slide on the hardwood and tile. It's the only reason she won't go into the basement when the girls are down there. She's afraid of the uncarpeted stairs.

Holly was so happy to see the girls. The dog jumped up on them and wagged her tail like we had been gone for weeks. Holly didn't want to leave them, even as they got ready to go out with friends.

When they returned, they both went upstairs. Holly went up a few stairs and then came back down. She didn't want to go up to the top where the carpeting had been removed. She sat at the bottom of the stairs whining and yelping. The girls just ignored her, so Holly braved the uncarpeted stairs.

She made it to the top before stranding herself. No matter how much Holly wanted her girls, she wasn't going to walk on the hardwood floor. I managed to get her back downstairs where she sat in the foyer crying.

The girls took turns sitting with Holly until they were both ready to come down for the night. In the end, both girls decided to sleep in the family room with Holly. As soon as she saw them both bring their pillows and blankets down, Holly started wagging her tail. She doesn't care where they all sleep, as long as she has access to both girls. When they are all together, it's even better for Holly.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

On the phone again

The blond twin has taken to her teenage years with gusto. She spends hours fixing her hair and changes her clothes multiple times before deciding on an outfit.

She has also taken to spending hours on end talking on her phone. She does like her social media interactions as much as the next teenager, but she really, really likes to talk on the phone.

It's so funny to watch her. She carries her device through the house talking and giggling and whispering. When she gets really chatty, she stretches out on her bed with her device in her hand.

I remember spending hours talking to my friends. It was my first taste of freedom. From the time my parents put a phone in my room, I'd close my door and call a friend. We'd chat until one our parents told us to get off the phone.

Of course, when I was on the phone I would tie-up the house line. No one else could make a make a phone call while I was on it. With the blond twin, she can chat as much as she wants without inconveniencing anyone else.

The technology is new, but the rite of passage is old. The blond twin is doing her best to keep the rite of passage alive.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Rain, rain go away

The girls came home from Program Aide camp with lots of stories about their weekend. I worried a lot about their weekend. Friday night was chilly, but dry. Saturday morning started dry and then the rains came. And, when I say the rain came, I mean it was a mix of torrential downpours and thunderstorms and light rain. The water started Saturday afternoon. When they arrived at home Sunday afternoon it was still raining.

The brunette twin said it was boring at times. They were supposed to be outside most of the time, but the rain made that impossible. The camp counselors did their best to keep the girls engaged indoors instead. As Program Aides, the Cadettes worked with the Junior and Brownie troops. They helped the girls with different activities to earn their service hours.

The blond twin talked about the sleeping arrangements. It seems the girls were able to have fun even though they were not in the promised cabin. The twenty girls sorted into different groups based upon the topic of the moment. Before we left, I told our troop that they had to make sure that every girl was part of the adventure. Program Aide training was an individual activity. It was unusual to have an entire troop show up together.

The girls told me that they managed to be friendly with all of the other girls. This didn't surprise me a lot. The five girls have very different interests. Between them it wouldn't be hard for them to have something in common with another girl. From what I heard, the alliances changed regularly depending on who was doing what or the topic being discussed. It sounded like they were able to include the other girls in the weekend activities.

I was proud of them as they talked about their work with the younger Girl Scouts. It was lovely to hear them talk about the different projects.

On the other hand, every time they come back from a weekend away, I wonder why we do it. They return overtired and overstimulated. The reintegration into our household is always painful. Yet, I can't wait to send them away again. The experience they gain is worth the rough return.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Retirement in the rear view mirror

A few months ago Daddy was offered a Voluntary Separation Package. After nearly 30 years at the same company, he was headed for early retirement. His final day came today. When he arrived at home, we immediately turned around and headed back out.

I'd like to say we had some kind of fun activity planned, but we didn't. We put five Cadette Girl Scouts and all their stuff into our two cars. We headed out to drop them at camp.

A little more than an hour later, we stopped at a pizza parlor for dinner. We chose one close to the camp so we could eat and make it there during the prescribed check in time. The girls were stir-crazy from the car trip. They laughed and sang and told stories while we waited for pizza.

They were a bit quieter as we arrived at camp. They were supposed to spend the weekend in a cabin, so they planned their fun. When we arrived their sleeping arrangements changed. All the girls were sleeping on floor mats in the dining hall. Twenty seventh grade girls were sleeping in the same small space. We told them to make the best of it. We explained that there was a lot of rain forecasted, but they were still disappointed.

We left them at camp and headed home in our two cars. Once in a while we checked in with each other as we decided what to do when we arrived home. We stopped for pie and talked about Daddy's last day at work. It was a quiet way to mark the end of a long, prosperous career as much as a bit of reflection before Daddy's next chapter.

Saturday, April 22, 2017


I was going to volunteer for the March for Science until I saw that a friend and her daughter were marching. I talked to the girls and they decided they wanted to march with Karen and Phoebe.

We drove down early on Earth Day to meet Karen and Phoebe. There were a lot of people milling around in lab coats. We saw "brain hats," which were crocheted hats that resembled brains. People had clever signs. Karen had a double-sided sign that said, "No Bees = No Beer" on one side and "Grab 'em by the data" on the other. Phoebe's sign said, "There is no Planet B" on one side and "I like big brains and I cannot lie" on the other. 

We sort of listened to several speakers. We were pretty far from the main stage. The loudspeaker closest to us was a bit scratchy. While we waited to march, we read other clever signs, admired different costumes and talked to people around us. Even though we couldn't hear the speakers very well, we were entertained by the Jazz band and stilt walkers performing near us.

The march itself was pretty short. We went from Buckingham Fountain to the Museum Campus. It was the quietest, most well-behaved march you could imagine. As several signs said, "It's so bad even the introverts are here."

At the museum campus, we walked through the expo, chatting with people, reading signs and admiring costumes still. Several people asked Karen and Phoebe for pictures with their signs. We stopped at the Shedd Aquarium to watch a chalk artist create beautiful designs on the museum plaza. The artist drew attention to the #SheddTheStraw Earth Day campaign. The girls picked up some chalk and drew their own masterpieces.

We left the bustling museum campus to go to lunch. In keeping with our Earth Day celebration, we ate a tasty vegetarian restaurant. It was the perfect way to end the March for Science.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Delivering the Silver

Now that the girls completed their Silver Award projects, we're starting the really fun part of the process. We're delivering the items to different organizations.

Since the girls all had Good Friday and Easter Monday off school, I set-up some appointments to deliver projects. On Good Friday we visited two animal shelters to drop off the dog and cat toys. We were able to spend quite a bit of time touring PAWS, a no-kill animal shelter. The tour was supposed to take about 1/2 hour. We left the building about 90 minutes after we entered. The volunteers were wonderful with the girls. They talked to them about their Silver Award projects. They talked to them about the importance of volunteering. They took us on an extensive tour of their facility. The girls were happy to talk to the volunteers about shelter programs.

Today the brunette twin and her friend, Brynn, went to deliver comfort dolls to a local police department. The police chief asked a lot of questions about the comfort dolls. We talked to him for a bit when he heard his officers in the hallway. He brought them into his office to tell them about the comfort dolls. The girls and the officers took photos. The chief told them how wonderful it was that the troop created the comfort dolls. As we left, the brunette twin said, "That was so cool."

It's what I hoped would happen as we delivered the projects. I took the whole troop to the animal shelters as they are all interested in helping animals. When we went to the police department, I only took two girls as I thought it would be a quick, "in and out" kind of visit. The extra attention really helped the girls understand the ways their community service would help others.

We have a couple of other deliveries to schedule. This is the best part of the Silver Award process. As they worked on their projects, I stressed that they were really making a difference. Now that they hear it from others, they understand what I meant.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A different kind of Easter shoes

When the girls were little I couldn't wait to dress them for Easter. They always wore cute dresses and shoes. Sometimes they wore hats, but usually they just carried them. Now that they are teenagers, the cute Easter dresses are just a memory.

We were supposed to host Easter brunch for my side of the family. It was our turn so we sat down to write out our menu last week. The girls made plans to set the table, as it the tradition when we have anyone here for a meal. The girls create the tablescape. I am hardly even involved in that process.

I was driving to get my allergy shots when my brother Steve phoned. I'm always surprised when the phone rings in our new car. The sound of a phone ringing via the car speakers still startles me. Steve asked if we started buying food for Easter yet. I reminded him that we were making brunch, so it wasn't like we needed to do a lot of advance shopping. He said, "Ok, good. This is going to sound crazy, but what do you think about going bowling on Easter?" He explained that his family was at a local bowling alley and saw posters advertising their Easter brunch. It sounded like fun, so I said, "We're in."

We met at the restaurant attached to the bowling alley at 3:00 p.m. Easter. The food was very good. We sat and ate and talked for a while. When we were done, we walked next door to get ready to bowl.

It was so much fun. The girls bowled with their cousins on two lanes. The adults bowled on another lane. Grammie sat in the middle, in the front seat, watching it all. We laughed and bowled and trash talked.

When our time was up, I said, "Same time next year?" We all agreed that it was a great way to celebrate Easter. It was a bit nontraditional in that we were not sitting at a dining room table, but we were all together making fun memories. I hope it's our new Easter tradition.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

What cousins are for

The girls giggled as they sat at the dinner table taking about the nights when their cousins babysat. They spilled their deepest secrets as they watched our reactions.

They used to go to bed as we pulled into the driveway. They pretended to be asleep when we checked on them.

They didn't eat their fruit or their vegetables. Their cousins used to eat them instead.

They ate too much candy and drank too much pop.

They watched TV shows we wouldn't normally let them watch.

They laughed and laughed and laughed as they told stories about different things they did with their cousins. They waited for us to get mad about what they did with their older cousins.

We just smiled. The girls forget that we were once the older cousins letting our younger cousins get away with everything. It's a rite of passage that they won't understand as they will always be the youngest cousins on both sides. Soon enough, though, their older cousins will start having babies. Once that starts happening, I'd bet they will be happy to spoil those kids by letting them stay up late and eat too much candy. If they don't continue the tradition, who will teach those children how to spoil the next generation?

Monday, April 3, 2017

Metal mouths

The dentist brought me back after the semi-annual cleaning to talk about the brunette twin's front teeth. She noted that the teeth pointed down and in, as if pointing towards her bottom gum. She also showed how the brunette twin's teeth didn't quite line up properly so her bite was off slightly.

We had previously talked another dentist about the brunette twin's teeth. She didn't think that the brunette twin really needed braces. This dentist agreed that the brunette twin might be fine without braces, but she suggested that we have an orthodontic consultation talk about whether or not the bite was a concern.

The orthodontist said we could wait and see what happens because her jaw might shift until she finishes growing. At 5' 8", we were rather hoping that she was about done growing. We talked about what might happen if we didn't get the braces from clicking teeth to adult jaw pain. We decided to get the braces as a preventative measure.

Today the brunette twin joined her sister in the middle school braces club. She is happy and nervous at the same time. She is gloating because she will only need braces for about a year, while the blond twin has at least a three year stint. They sat discussing how to take care of their braces and whether or not they can eat popcorn. For the record, we said no popcorn. We're not only the mean parents, we're also the people paying for their braces, so we make the final decisions.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Tough horse love

Overheard at the barn...

Momma:  "What did I miss?"

Brunette Twin:  "Hampton tried to throw me. He keeps trying to buck me off."

Momma:  "You didn't let him throw you, did you?"

Brunette Twin:  "No, I stayed on. He tried to run me into the wall."

Momma: "You need to take control of that horse. We did not pay for years and years of lessons to have you bucked off. Stay in the saddle."

Brunette Twin: "I'm trying Momma."

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A Silver achievement

The highest award a Cadette Girl Scout can earn is the Silver Award. It's a community service project designed to create a sustainable outcome. The girls have to finish it before they move from Cadette to Senior scouts. They can work as individuals or small groups.

Our seventh grade girls were just beginning to talk about Silver Award projects. We had interest in creating toys for shelter dogs and cats. Two girls were still thinking about what they wanted to do when I attended a Girl Scout troop leaders' meeting.

The meeting was nearly complete when the Service Unit manager announced that a local Kiwanis chapter was looking to partner with a troop for a community service project making comfort dolls. These soft dolls are given out to children in emergency situations.

I brought the idea to the next troop meeting. The girls liked the idea, and it brought the Silver Award projects together. The only problem was the Kiwanis chapter wanted to complete the dolls before we had time. We talked about it as a troop and decided to move forward.

The girls worked hard to get ready for their Silver Award projects. They gathered donated items. The dogs toys required piles of denim strips. The cat toys required hundreds of yarn pieces. The comfort dolls required the forms be cut and sewed. There were many work sessions at our house and others. They worked and laughed and worked and laughed.

Today we held a Silver Award community service day at a local community center. We had two table for each project. The girls created instructions for each project that they shared with volunteers. They were gracious hostesses and patient teachers. They closed their four hour event with hundreds of completed projects.

The hard part is done and now the real fun begins. We get to deliver the donations to local police departments and animal shelters. It's really the part I'm most excited to share with the girls. I want them to see that with some creative effort they can make a big difference in a lot of human and animal lives for not much money. If they can learn that lesson, then earning their Silver Award will be a bonus.