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."