Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Twenty and counting

Every year on our anniversary I walk through the day remembering exactly where I was at that time on our wedding day. I spent the morning telling the girls what I was doing at that moment twenty years ago.

We officially celebrated our twentieth anniversary at Tidepools on Kauai. Sure, it was an early celebration, but how often can you celebrate your anniversary eating a world-class meal in a stunning, romantic location? 

We planned to take the girls to Wishbone. We had one of our first dates at Wishbone, so we wanted to take the girls there. Our plan fell through when we realized that between the girls' after-school activities and work, we really didn't have time to go downtown for dinner.

A new, local restaurant received good reviews so we took the girls there. We celebrated with Indian food and ice cream. We told stories and laughed and ate really good food. It was a great way to celebrate a momentous event.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Bridging the gap

Overheard in our car...

Brunette Twin: "I want to take a year between high school and college."

Mom:  "You want to take a gap year? Why?"

Brunette Twin: "I want some time to make some money and travel. A break before I go to college."

Mom:  "You need a break before you go to college?"

Brunette Twin: "Yeah. It's stressful to be in school all the time. I want a break from school before college. After college I have to get a job and then I won't have any fun any more."

Mom:  "Well, that's true. Nothing fun happens after college. Look at us. We never go anywhere or do anything."

Monday, April 16, 2018

#MarchForOurLives brought democracy to life

This was originally posted on The Chicago Moms

When people ask what it was like to attend the March for Our Lives, I always say that it was cold — really, really cold. Even with all our cold weather gear, we were cold. After we laughed about the weather, I told people what we saw as we walked to the rally with thousands of other people.
There were students of all ages holding signs and chanting. The adults admired the students’ creativity and commitment. Medical professionals in white lab coats stood together. Church groups took pictures in front of the crowds. People stood and clapped as the Majory Stoneman Douglas Chicago alumni walked by with a banner announcing their school pride. Street performers entertained the crowds headed towards Union Park.
It was an amazing mix of people who came together to share stories, support the student organizers and take a stand against gun violence. The rally before the march brought all these people together to hear students from across the Chicagoland area tell their stories.
The student speakers spoke of experiences unique to their generation. Trigger Warning, an award-winning poem, was performed by four Hinsdale Central students — Ellie Pena, Amani Mryan, Kai Foster and Ayana Otokiti. Caitlyn Smith, a 12-year-old Chicago Heights girl, spoke about her brother’s death outside her former Englewood home. Eduardo Medel, Jones College Prep and Young Urban Professionals representative, talked about how gun violence touched him when he was very young. Jalen Kobayashi, Whitney Young High School, read his poem about Chicago called, “The Zoo.”
Each speaker was a stark reminder that their school experience was dramatically different from my own. When I was in elementary school, we did regular tornado drills. We ran into the halls, kneeled on the floor, put our heads against the lockers and put our hands on our heads. We stayed there until a teacher came by to correct our posture so we’d be safer if a tornado hit. Our daughters have mastered very different drills.
Our girls were very young when Sandy Hook happened. We were discussing how to tell them when they came home from school. They already knew what happened. Some of the older students had mobile devices. Their parents contacted them to make sure they were safe. The kids followed up by reading news reports. Teachers at the school went into lockdown — or what passed for lockdown at that point.
Our children have never known a world in which students were not killed in mass shootings. These events became part of their world when they were young. Now they are well-versed in ways to keep a shooter out of their classroom. It’s a terrible skill to master.
I asked our daughters if they wanted to attend the #Chicago March for Our Lives. They immediately said they wanted to do it and they wanted to bring friends.
There’s a saying on a Chicago History Museum wall that stuck with me from the moment I read it. “Democracy has to be born anew every generation, and education is its midwife” (John Dewey). I took the opportunity to talk about democracy as we planned our participation. We talked about the importance of listening. They didn’t have to agree with everything they heard and saw, but they did need to allow everyone to speak. They needed to consider both sides of an issue before making up their minds. They needed to allow for the possibility that new information might change their opinions. Mostly, we talked about the importance of participating in the democratic process. If we did not participate, then we allowed others to make decisions for us.
There were pro-gun advocates at the rally. They held signs, passed out materials and talked to rally participants. Most people walked by without acknowledging the counter-protestors. Others stopped to talk. It was a peaceful co-existence of differing opinions. It was exactly what democracy should be with two sides debating ideas in a public square.
There are many opportunities for families to get involved. There is a March for Science on April 14. The Chicago event, Speak Up For Science, happens at the Field Museum from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. This is the follow-up to last year’s March for Science, which we attended with a vet student friend. If science isn’t your passion, how about the Tax March? The national day of action is Sunday, April 15.  There are events happening from April 9 – 19. Chicago and Downers Grove events are on the calendar.
How will  your family renew democracy? It is important for parents to teach children how to renew democracy. Our children are on their way to being our leaders. Let’s make sure they know how to use the gifts democracy creates.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Blue Apron is teaching our daughters to cook

This was originally posted on The Chicago Moms

Blue Apron sponsors two of my favorite podcasts, so it was just a matter of time before I subscribed. Since one of our daughters became a vegetarian, I often struggle with meal ideas. One of Blue Apron’s appeals was that they found the recipes, sent the instructions and proportioned the ingredients. What I didn’t expect was how much our daughters would like cooking the meals.
When the first box showed up, our daughters were excited. They choose the meals, so they knew what was in the package. They immediately decided that they were going to make dinner. I made them say it twice since they had never offered to make dinner before.
They chose a 30 minute meal and started sorting ingredients. It took them about 30 minutes to get organized, which was probably not what Blue Apron had in mind when created the instructions. The girls worked together to wash, chop, saute, dice and bake our dinner.
It was delicious.
For years we have been teaching our girls to cook. I always said that one day they were going to have to know how to cook. They mastered a few things like baking muffins and cookies. They took random ingredients to create terrific smoothies. Until we subscribed to Blue Apron, we could not get them to make dinner.
It might be the idea that they did not have to ask us for any help. Our girls are teenagers, so any time they asked for help, they treated it like a huge failing. It might be the idea that they have been talking more and more about going to college and living on their own. Maybe making Blue Apron meals in our kitchen made them feel like they were testing their independence.
Whatever it was that drew them to Blue Apron meals, we’re happy about it. The last time we were in a grocery store, our daughters recognized some of the Blue Apron ingredients. They bragged to their friends about making a roasted fennel pasta. Even though we’ve served fennel before, I doubt they recognized it when they were chopping it. Now that they have used it in a meal, they talk about fennel like it was an old friend.
We don’t have a weekly subscription because our lives are just too busy some weeks to even think about cooking dinner from scratch. Those are the weeks that we make a bunch of food Sunday afternoon and reheat all week.
When we do have time to cook, we simply turn over the kitchen to our daughters. Watching them develop their culinary skills has been a wonderful bonus from our Blue Apron subscription.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Downs she goes

The blond twin has been so excited about her eighth grade track season. She attended track camp at the local high school, ran cross country in the fall and practiced at the health club. 

We sat in the bleachers, ready to cheer on the blond twin. She started her first race, hurdles, quickly. She was in first place when her toe clipped a hurdle. It went down and so did she. You could hear the crowd gasp. It was a hard fall. It looked bad.

I ran down to the field where she sat on a bench. The blood running down her leg was frightening. There was a lot of it streaming from different cuts. I could see that she skinned her knee from top to bottom. There was blood down her shin where she skinned it. It was hard to see if there was any bruising under the blood.

The school's athletic training cleaned the wound and bandaged it. She clenched her teeth and tried not to cry. The bench was directly across from the spectator bleachers. Everyone who watched her fall was now watching her receive care. 

Other girls kept coming over to check on the blond twin. She was embarrassed by the attention. She was mad that she fell. She talked to everyone, but not willingly. 

We wanted to leave after her knee was taped up. The weather switched from bright and sunny to cold and dreary. A few rain drops fell. We really wanted to find some warmth. The blond twin wanted to stay. She didn't want to leave her team, even if she was not running the races.

The blond twin alternated between being happy for her teammates, mad that she fell and jealous at their results. Her relay team placed first. She was happy that they did so well, and mad that she wasn't part of the victory. 

We finally made it home, where she spent her time texting with friends about her injury. Word of the bloody mess that passed for her knee traveled quickly among her friends. They wanted to know all the details. Before the trainer cleaned the wound, I suggested that she take a picture. The blond twin glared at the time, not interested in documenting her fall. It would have been a great way to explain what happened. I'm not sure any words can adequately explain how gory her leg looked right after the fall. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Grown up problems

The blond twin has a friend whose parents are getting a divorce. She came back from their house today in tears. It seems that her friend told the blond twin some terrible stories about what is happening between her parents. The blond twin came home with plans to help and concern for her friend.

On the one hand, I was proud of the blond twin. She saw a problem and came up with a way she could help. On the other hand, I was angry.

I understand the girls are teenagers now. I realize that we cannot protect them from things like their friends' parents getting divorced. I really do not think, though, that there was any reason for the blond twin needed to know every detail of her friend's parents divorce.

I have always lived by the belief that children do not need to carry the weight of grown-up problems. Today was a reminder that the girls are getting older, but they are still not old enough to deal with adult issues.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Who is in the driveway?

We were making breakfast this morning when the brunette twin looked out the window. She was looking for Daddy as the biscuits were about to come out of the oven. She came back and said, "Why is there a truck and a trailer in the driveway?"

I brushed off her question with some vague comment about how the truck probably belonged to one of the contractors working on the two new houses across the street. We've had trucks turning around in the driveway for months now. The two houses were having the yards leveled and black dirt put down.

A few minutes later, we heard Holly barking. The brunette twin said, "Daddy's talking to the guys." We were putting breakfast on the table when Daddy came in and said, "The siding guys are starting work today."

I said, "What?"

Don't get me wrong. We contracted to have our house resided a few weeks ago. The weather had been crummy ever since then. We didn't expect any work to start for a least another week.

The contractor said that he looked at the forecast and decided to take advantage of the good weather when he found it. The old siding started coming down just a few minutes later. We don't know when the new siding will go up, given the weather forecast, but we're ready when the weather is ready to cooperate.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter brunch and bowling

Last year we changed our family Easter from dinner at Mom's to brunch and bowling. It was so much fun that we decided to do it again.

What's funny about bowling and brunch is the reaction we get when we tell people. Everyone we tell says, "That sounds like so much fun." And, they are right.

When the nieces and nephews were little, Easter was about egg hunts and treat baskets. As they grew up, the older nieces and nephews kept the traditions for our girls. All those things fell by the wayside once our girls outgrew Easter egg hunts.

Now we eat, bowl and laugh a lot. Easter evolved as the children became adults. The memories continue to be made, just in a new place.