Sunday, December 29, 2019

Carrying on

Daddy's family always held Christmas either the weekend before or the weekend after December 25. When they heard about Alyssa's death, they offered to reschedule our Christmas celebration. I declined.

We spent a lot of time crying during Christmas and the days after. I wanted to see everyone and talk/think about something other than the black cloud hanging over all of us. We drove to the family Christmas ready to have some fun. We had a fun dinner and the kids opened presents. We told stories and laughed and enjoyed ourselves. 

The reality is that life does go on. It hurts in ways I never thought possible, but we have to get up and move forward every day. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

The worst Christmas ever

We were scheduled to pick-up Grammie at 2:30 p.m. Uncle Steve told me over and over again not to be early. We were having dinner at 3:00 p.m. and he would be busy getting things ready.

I was getting ready when the phone rang about 1:00 p.m. Zack said, "We need you here. Can you come right away? Alyssa is gone." I thought or said, "Gone where?" Zack sounded a bit frustrated and said, "Come over right away. We need you."

I talked to the girls for a minute and grabbed my purse. Daddy was a few houses away with Holly. I walked quickly to him, trying to understand what Zack was saying. I said to Daddy, "I think Alyssa died."

As I drove to Steve's I called Zack who said, "The Chicago Police Department was here." I knew then that Alyssa really was dead. 

We gathered at Steve's. We were all in shock. It just couldn't be real, but it was. At 23 years old, Alyssa had overdosed. Her pain was over, but ours was just beginning.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Riding High

The brunette twin missed her IEA team's first shows because she had high school golf matches. We could have skipped one or two, of course, but she also didn't feel like she was ready.

We looked at the schedule and realized that her barn was hosting two IEA competitions in January. After reading about competitions, we also realized that the brunette twin would be busy helping with horses and doing other things to keep the teams on track.

The brunette twin looked at the IEA schedule and found a December show not too far from us. We talked to her coach, who sent in the proper paperwork with a proxy coach request.

The morning of the competition, the brunette twin was so nervous. She could hardly breath as we walked into the office to register. I told the office person that we had never participated before. She was incredibly helpful throughout the day. 

The brunette twin thought she was only competing in a flat class. We discovered she was also jumping when we registered. We had plenty of time to watch other classes compete so we understood the competition's rhythm by the time the brunette twin mounted her horse.

I never worry about the brunette twin when she's on a horse. She's such a natural rider that being on a horse is her natural posture. In her first competition, she nearly made it through the jumping course when she pulled her horse back from the last jump. On her second attempt, she cleared the cross rails easily. I asked her what happened and she said that she thought her horse was going to fast. If she jumped it the first time, she was going to fly over the horse because there was very little room after the horse jumped. I was really impressed. In the split second between the two cross rail jumps, she assessed the situation and decided to make a second attempt rather than risking harm.

She placed fourth in the jumping class. I have to imagine that she would have placed higher if she hadn't made the second attempt. It was a good start to her competition career.

For her flat class, the brunette twin placed sixth. She was quite happy with her first competition. It was a great experience from start to finish. Now she was ready for the two day competition at her barn.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Pass the keys

Overheard at our house...

Dad: "I'll drop off the brunette twin about 6:00 p.m. She can call when she needs a ride home."

Mom:  "Or, we could give her the car keys and let her drive herself."

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Not even half baked

The girls eat cold pop tarts. I don't know where we went wrong, but we certainly missed teaching them an important life lesson. Cold pop tarts? It's hard to believe they have lived in this house for 16 years. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Swim season ends

We were all sad when the blond twin's swim season ended. She really blossomed during the season. She placed in several meets, excelling in freestyle and breast stroke.

At first she was so nervous about being part of a relay team. It only took a few meets before the blond twin was leading her relay team. 

Her competitive spirit kicked in whenever she was near the pool. Whether she was in the water or cheering on a teammate, the blond twin loved being on the swim team. 

It was great to see her find her place. She made plans to continue training during the off season so she could come back stronger and more experienced. 

She was very excited to receive a sophomore letter. It was another sign that she was in the right place with the right team and coaches. 

Friday, October 4, 2019

Dressed to Ride IEA

When the brunette twin announced that she wanted to join a college equestrian team, she made a list of everything she needed. Competitions required specific clothing from a helmet to boots. 

A national horseback riding website had a local retail outlet. Twice a year the store held a huge "tent" sale. In this case, there wasn't a real tent. The entire sale was inside the large store.

The brunette twin and I drove to the store with our master list. The store was very busy when we arrived. We found the proper shirt and jacket, a crop and boots. At least we thought we had boots. 

While we were trying on boots, a salesperson asked about the clothing piled up by the brunette twin. We told her that she was going to join an IEA team. The salesperson explained that the boots we collected were not IEA boots.

The IEA boots we needed were not on sale. In fact, the boots alone cost more than all the clothing combined. Still, we walked out feeling pretty good. We had everything we needed and almost everything was on sale. We declared success and drove home to share our success with Daddy.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Homecoming invites

Asking someone to a dance is no longer a simple question followed by a yes or no. For high school students, it's a quite the production.

The blond twin's date surprised her in the Commons with a sign and roses one morning. She was completely glowing in the picture she texted us.

The brunette twin's date needed a little help. He asked her to Homecoming. The blond twin explained that he needed to make it formal with a sign and surprise. 

The blond twin helped Joel make the sign, then they worked on the surprise. The blond twin texted her sister for help. She said she hurt herself and needed help. The brunette twin immediately texted me to see if I knew what happened to the blond twin. I was in the doctor's office, so I didn't see the texts.

By the time I read the texts, I had the whole story. The brunette twin went over to help her sister and Joel surprised her with his sign asking her to Homecoming. The brunette twin said yes, with a huge smile in the picture I saw. 

In the final text, the blond twin asked me to drop off ticket money at school. It turned out that the tickets had to be purchased by Noon that day. I left the doctor's office and went to the high school. There was a line of parents waiting to drop off money. We all laughed as we shared stories. These were the fun moments that would become happy memories and the stories we told at holidays. 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Sweet Sixteen

The girls' Sweet Sixteen party was under discussion for several years. They started with an idea to hold a dance party. They ended up with a party bus and pool party. In between there were dozens of other ideas.

On their birthday, the girls' friends showed up to find pink baseball jerseys with their names on the back and matching pink socks. With Aunt Debbie as the official chaperone, the party bus headed out to take photos. The girls went form place to place, blasting their favorite music and having fun.

Uncle Steve graciously agreed to host the pool party. Twenty high school girls descended upon his house, along with relatives and family friends. The ice cream truck provided a welcome break from the pool and pizza. 

The music blared well into the night. When the party was over, the girls declared it a success. They had memories and photos to last a lifetime.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Earlier and earlier

The blond twin's swim practices are mostly after school. Once a week she has to be at school at 5:45 a.m. This means we are up with her at 5:00 a.m.

This year she has a once a week early practice. If the blond twin makes the varsity team next year, she'll have a 5:45 a.m. practice every morning. 

We're going to need a bigger coffee pot.

Thursday, August 15, 2019


I just took the girls' annual first day of school picture. They headed to the bus to start sophomore year.

Sophomores. Wow! 

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Back and forth and back and forth

I swear I don't know how we'd get everything done if I worked in an office. Since I work from home for a global corporation, I'm able to adjust my schedule here and there to accommodate the girls' activities. The good thing about working for a multi-national corporation is that someone is always working. I can justify working "off" local business hours easily.

Maybe it's because the girls are so close to having their driver's licenses, but I am really tired of driving them to sports practices. Of course their schedules never sync, so some days we're at school within an hour of the last visit. Since the school is not open yet, we cannot just leave one of them their until her practice starts.

I know they are counting the days until they can drive and so are we. Friends keep telling us that someday we'll miss all the driving, but today is not that day.

Monday, July 29, 2019

You want to what?

We've never pushed our girls to be college athletes. We know a lot of parents who are sure their star athlete is going to get a full ride scholarship to play a college sport. We've always told the girls we'd rather them go for academic scholarships since what's in their heads is more valuable than their sport skills.

It was a surprise when the brunette twin said, "I want to ride on an equestrian team in college." Given how much she loves horses, I guess it shouldn't have been a surprise, but I was completely stunned for a minute.

It turned out that one of the golf camp sessions focused on how to join a college golf team. The brunette twin decided to take what she learned and apply it to horseback riding.

I told her we'd support whatever she decided to do, but she had to do the research. I just didn't have the bandwidth to add something to my list. And, if she really wanted to do it, she would do the work.

The brunette twin came back with all kinds of information. She researched programs, schools and scholarship opportunities. She knew which schools were within her reach and which were dream schools. We eliminated a few for different reasons and narrowed the list to six. 

I emailed the coaches to ask what she would need to present to be considered for the equestrian team. Each coach quickly responded with information.  

It was so strange to email college coaches to ask for information. We've talked about it with the girls, but in an abstract way. As I read the coaches' responses, the fact that they were going to college in three years became very real. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Dive right in

As soon as the blond twin decided to join the swim team, we scheduled lessons. She was a strong swimmer, but there's more to competing that swimming. She needed to learn diving off the blocks and doing the flip turns.

Her swim coach, Annie, was a high school swimmer. She was teaching lessons while attending college. We really, really were lucky that Annie became the blond twin's coach.

It didn't take long for the blond twin to learn the basics. Turned out that the blond twin was a pretty natural swimmer. She easily picked up all the tips and tricks Annie shared. 

She was able to show her newfound skills at the high school swim practices almost immediately. She really liked the team. New girls had a big sister to help them navigate the process. The coaches seemed genuinely happy to have her join.

It was such a contrast to her cheer experience. She loved being in the water from her first lesson. It was good for her body and her soul. We were so happy that she found her sport and her team. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Rah, rah done

The blond twin went back and forth and back and forth about trying out for sophomore cheer leading. On the one hand, she liked the attention being a cheerleader brought. On the other hand, her coaches were not very connected with the girls. The team never quit bonded, even after so much time together. 

She decided to try out and made the team. At first she was thrilled, but as practices went on, she started complaining more and more. She felt like she really fell behind when she was recovering from her emergency appendectomy. Her core strength was not back to pre-surgery levels yet. It was keeping her from doing some of the tumbling as smoothly as she wanted.

One day we said, "Just quit. There's no need to keep going if it's going to make you miserable and cause so much stress." 

Normally we'd tell her that she made the commitment and she needed to stick with it. There was something about the way she talked about the cheer leading team and coaches that made us rethink that policy. 

We talked about how she should tell her coaches. The team only communicated by text, so we drafted a very nice text. She thanked them for the opportunity and told them she wanted to pursue another fall sport. I was very proud of the way she crafted her message. 

After she hit send, the coach replied with "k." I was stunned, although it fit with our experience, so I shouldn't have been. The coach didn't write a text wishing Abby well. She didn't thank her for all her hard work or say the team would miss her. She simply texted the letter k. 

I was relieved that the blond twin's cheer days were behind her. She quickly emailed the high school swim coach. She talked to girls on the team and was so excited to start practice. It was good to see her so excited about a team again.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Here and gone and here and gone

The brunette twin had a whirlwind June/July. The morning after the Shawn Mendez concert, we drove down to the University of Illinois so she could attend golf camp. She came back from golf camp and boarded a plane to Portland the next morning. Sixteen hours after she arrived home from Portland, she was in Tennessee for horseback riding camp.

It was a crazy, whirlwind time for her. It seemed crazy when we first talked about how it would all work, but now she home from all her adventures. She has great stories and fun photos. It was crazy, and she loved every minute of it. 

Monday, July 1, 2019

Don't lose it

The girls were packed and ready to leave long before our agreed upon departure time. They were headed to Portland to see Erin for the first time since she moved after Eighth Grade. They could hardly contain themselves.

We arrived at the airport with plenty of time. Since they were travelling by themselves for the first time, we wanted to leave time for any complications.

I could have asked the airline for a pass to get through security and walk them to the gate. They protested as soon as I brought up the idea. They really, really wanted to do everything themselves.

In reality, we had flown with the girls since they were toddlers. They had been in airports across the country multiple times a year. We had been preparing them to fly by themselves for years.

We went through the "to do" list one more time as we checked in their luggage at the self-service kiosk. When we finished, I turned to the airline representative standing near us and said, "On the way back, they will pay to check their luggage with cash. Do they have to go to the desk for this?"

The airline representative said, "They have to pay by credit card. If they only have cash, they cannot bring back their luggage."

I said, "Oh. Ok." I turned to the brunette twin, handed her a credit card and said, "Don't lose it."

They disappeared through TSA pre-check on their way to their first solo airplane flight. They texted a photo of them at the gate and with Erin in Portland. After a year, the birthday triplets were back together and so excited. 

Sunday, June 30, 2019

And she's off

Due to a quirk in our summer scheduling, the brunette twin was going from golf camp to Portland to horse camp. We figured she would spend about 30 hours in our house via a few overnight visits between adventures.

Today I drove her down to golf camp. She was staying in a dorm on campus, so she was very excited. Even though I attended UIUC, I had never been in the private dorm hosting the campers. I had to admit it was very nice.

The brunette twin found a roommate during the check-in process. We were waiting to turn in our forms when another camper had a problem with her forms. It seemed her parents forgot to sign a line. There were dozens and dozens of places to sign. One line was empty and the camp counselors were trying to figure out what to do as she couldn't stay unless her forms were completed. 

I turned to her and asked her name. I said, "Hi. I'm Aunt Shari." I took the pen and signed my name. Every other line on every other page was signed. It was an easy fix.

She and the brunette twin started talking. We all stood in front of the housing desk when the young man looked at her and said, "Do you have a roommate?" A minute later, the girls were taking their room keys.

The brunette twin came home from golf camp tired and excited. She had so much fun pretending to be a college student. The golf part of the weekend was fun, but the dorm life really caught her imagination.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Finally it's Shawn time

Fourteen months ago, I bought Shawn Mendez tickets. I thought I was buying them for June 2018. It wasn't until we were at the band banquet that I realized the tickets were for June 2019. In fact, I didn't realize it until another parent told me. Clearly, I didn't read the fine print.

The girls talked about the concert every once in a while. As the concert date drew closer, they started getting excited. The night we drove to the Allstate Arena, they could hardly contain themselves. 

Dad and I both drove girls to the concert. The girls were old enough to go without a chaperone, but not old enough to go without drivers. We went to see a movie while they screamed and danced and sang.

They were floating when they met us after the concert. They talked about every detail of the show. After a long fourteen month wait, it turned out to be the concert of their dreams. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Outpatient heart surgery

The blond twin came home about 10:00 p.m. the day of her heart ablation. She was tired and sore and a little loopy. I was amazed. She was in and out within twelve hours. I couldn't believe it. 

The doctors took her into the operating theater, fixed her SVT and sent her home within twelve hours. She had two entry points, one in the groin and one in her arm. Both were covered by gauze and medical tape. She did not have any stitches.

The blond twin had to rest for a few days and then she was cleared to resume mostly normal activities. She couldn't lift anything very heavy for a while, nor could she run a marathon. Otherwise, she slept for a few days before easing back into her summer plans. 

From start to finish, the whole procedure really was a wonderful example of modern medicine. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Where are the keys?

We were ready to leave for the blond twin's heart ablation when we started talking about who was riding in which car. The blond twin looked at me and said, "I'm driving, right?"

I stopped for a minute before handing her the keys. Most people would have been nervous about going to the hospital for surgery, but not the blond twin.

She got in the car, cranked her music and drove to the hospital. She was in control of her day.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

The most unique fundraiser

We've been surprised at how expensive it has been for our girls to participate in high school activities. We spent a lot of time raising money in middle school, but that was nothing compared to high school.

We visited the most unique fundraiser to date this morning. The music program was selling mattresses. For every mattress purchased, the referring student received a portion of the cost.

The blond twin needed a new mattress, so we went to the fundraiser. She sat on a few options and picked her favorite. We completed the paperwork and went home.

The sales pitch was that the mattresses were deeply discounted, but we weren't sure if the prices were that good. We did feel good that something we needed would end up with a deposit in the brunette twin's music program account. If nothing else, it's a good story.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Off to work

When we committed to send the brunette twin on her European trip, we told her that she'd have to earn her spending money. We didn't know if she could really earn enough since there are not a lot of jobs for 15 year olds. Whether she hit her goal or not, the entire experience of applying for jobs, earning money and saving for a goal was the real lesson.

I saw an ad for a local stable. They were looking for people to work "pony parties," which happen when the stable brings ponies to an offsite party. Typically these are kids' birthday parties. I told the brunette twin about it and she decided to apply.

She was hired immediately. She had a training day, which was miserable. It was cold and raining. The brunette twin said she thought her fingers were nearly frozen. She was not happy.

As she stood in the office talking about her schedule, she mentioned that she was an experienced rider, currently taking jumping lessons. The stable manager asked a few more questions. When she walked out of the office, the brunette twin was a trail guide.

She just came home from her first weekend as a working girl. She was filthy, smelly and tired. She was also incredibly happy. She had a job where she was working with horses all day. She received tips when she led a trail group. She had her first pay in her hand. 

Suddenly her goal was really achievable. She set a new goal for herself. We have no doubts she'll reach it.

Monday, May 6, 2019

On the road part two

The blond twin started driving school today. She was so excited and so were we. 

The blond twin didn't seem excited about driving at first. When the brunette twin received her driver's permit, the blond twin talked about how the brunette twin could drive them both places. At one point, the blond twin promised to buy Starbucks whenever they were out together. I replied, "Oh, is your Starbucks app connected to your savings account now?" 

Despite her sister telling her a million times that driving school was boring, the blond twin was excited when she left and when she came home. She was one step closer to independence, which made everyone happy.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Maybe next time

The blond twin was supposed to have her heart ablation today. We had to cancel because she had poison ivy.

It's not a typo.

While working in the church garden, the blond twin contracted poison ivy. She wouldn't stop scratching so it became infected. Her pediatric cardiologist decided to postpone the procedure. He couldn't take the risk of the infection affecting her heart.

She cried. We sighed. Everyone was depressed. The blond twin just can't catch a break right now.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Taking the show on the road

The brunette twin joined choir this year. She really enjoys being part of the music program, although she didn't want to continue with her band instrument. She decided to try choir. She has really enjoyed all of it.

Just like the middle school band program traveled every year, the high school music program (combining the band and the choir) also travels. There wasn't a freshman year trip, but no one was disappointed. The high school music program was planning a European trip, which would take place at the end of the brunette twin's sophomore year.

We attended the informational meeting tonight. Wow! The trip sounded amazing. We sat through the presentation listening to the travel representative detail each day. She went through the tours and the performances. She talked about travel insurance and meal plans. There were so many details that it was a relief to read the handout and see it all on paper.

Truth be told, I was jealous. I wished I had the opportunity to take a trip like this when I was in high school. It's opportunities like this that make me happy that our girls attend their high school. It's not cheap, but it's truly the trip of a lifetime. I'm glad we can send her on it.

Saturday, April 6, 2019


For years we've been looking to share board a horse. We had several close calls, but we never had a match until we met Penny. The brunette twin fell in love with Penny instantly. Penny's owner doesn't have time to take care of Penny every day, so she was looking for people to help, aka share board. 

Once a week the brunette twin has a horse. It's not full ownership, but it's close enough for the brunette twin right now. She glows when she talks about Penny. She has all kinds of plans from teaching Penny to playing with Penny to outfitting Penny. She can't stop talking about her horse.

I am very exited for her. I hope she can keep Penny until she graduates high school. 

Monday, April 1, 2019

Change is good

After weeks of going back and forth with the blond twin's cardiologist, I simply snapped. I started making calls to find a new pediatric cardiologist.

It wasn't that we didn't like her doctor. It was that the doctor's office was only available a few hours a day. I had a list of tests and appointments that could only be completed between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

I was so frustrated with the system that I finally asked the scheduler if everyone understood that I'd have to pull the blond twin out of school for each appointment. And, I'd have to pull her out of school for a full day each time. They knew and didn't care.

Given how much time the blond twin had already missed, I decided to make some phone calls. I found a wonderful pediatric cardiologist at another hospital. We met with him today. A few minutes into the appointment, it was clear that this was going to be a good fit.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Taking a bite of the Big Apple

The girls have been planning Spring Break with Erin since she moved last July. About a month before the big week, we discovered that Erin wasn't coming after all.

I looked at Daddy and said, "I'm taking them to New York City."

The girls have been talking about going to New York City for a while. They were enchanted by the TV shows set in New York City, especially Gossip Girl. A trip to New York City from Chicago is easy. There are dozens of flights every day. There are thousands of hotel rooms. 

I emailed friends and relatives in NYC. I told the girls to decide what they wanted to do. I booked our girls' Spring Break trip. 

Daddy wasn't a big NYC fan. The thought of spending a week's vacation wandering around to Gossip Girls' filming sites or shopping boutiques or visiting Times Square wasn't really how he wanted to spend a week's vacation. He stayed home with Holly.

We spent six days calling the smallest hotel room we've ever seen our NYC home base. The location was terrific, which made up for the hotel itself.

We did so much stuff. We took a carriage ride through Central Park. We walked the High Line. We went people watching in Times Square. We had fun dinners with friends and relatives. We shopped SoHo. We ate at Fraunces Tavern, where George Washington also ate. We visited Alexander Hamilton's grave at Trinity Episcopal Church. We paid our respects at the September 11 Memorial. We saw Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway. We ate rice pudding for dinner. We went to a taping of the Kelly and Ryan show. We took a bout tour around the Statue of Liberty. We walked through the New York City Public Library. We stared at the Vessel in Hudson Yards. We took public transportation everywhere. 

It was an exciting and exhausting Spring Break. The girls had photos and stories for days. Our last minute adventure created a lifetime of memories. 

Friday, March 29, 2019

Go for the Gold

At this point Girl Scouts is a fairly individual activity. We still have a troop, but the girls are working on their own projects. The brunette twin decided to earn her Gold Award. 

It's a big step. The Gold Award is the highest achievement in Girl Scouts. Girls need to research a problem, come up with a plan, present it to the appropriate authorities and then implement the plan. They have to work a minimum of eighty hours on their Gold Award project.

I'd like to say that the brunette twin has been planning to earn her Gold Award for a while, but that would not be true. The reality is she wants to complete the award cycle, having already earned her Bronze and Silver Awards. She knows having a Gold Award will bolster her college applications. And, it is something she can do on her own time and at her own pace.

She decided to create a pollinator garden. She had been talking about the bee colony collapse in school for a while now. We have a large pollinator garden in our backyard. We have seen how specific plants really do attract butterflies, bees and dragon flies.

Our church has a large, unkempt quarter acre everyone always calls "the forest." It's a neglected space with a lot of potential. We talked to the church vestry about the idea and they liked it. The brunette twin put together a formal proposal and it was approved. 

Now we just have to clean up the area, put down a mulch base, research pollinator plants, source the plants and design a garden. I guess I know what we're doing this spring, summer and fall. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

250 BPM

For months now we've been visiting doctors and taking tests. The blond twin was diagnosed with SVT, a heart condition in which the heart rate elevates, but one chamber does not come back down. The blond twin's pediatric cardiologist said he most often sees it in infants and teenagers. She's the perfect age for it to start.

Medical professionals reviewed each of her tests with awe. They commented on how strong her heart was and how she was in such great shape. They wondered if she wasn't really just experiencing panic attacks.

I was not happy.

The blond twin was clearly having a medical emergency. It wasn't as easy as saying it was a panic attacks. We knew the trigger. We knew the outcome. We just couldn't replicate it during the tests so the medical professionals were unable to prove it was real.

The final test was the cardiac stress test. The blond twin ran on the treadmill, at the highest speed and the steepest incline, with ease. The cardiac therapist was checking her post-test vitals when she went into an SVT.

I was both terrified and elated. I realized as I was dealing with these conflicting that it was crazy. I was terrified because her BPM was 250. Her heart was pounding at 250 beats per minute. I was elated because she was still hooked up to the EKG machine. It was all recorded for every medical professional to analyze.

After a one block trip to the emergency department (via an ambulance despite being in an outpatient building connected to the hospital), we went home with a heart monitor, medication and recommendation for an ablation.

It was a long, exhausting day, but we finally had progress. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

See what I'm working with?

We went to lunch with some friends recently. Since the girls had the day off school, we met them in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. 

Everyone chatted and laughed and told stories. The blond twin told her favorite story about how we almost let her die rather than believe she had appendicitis. I noted that we call her the drama queen for a reason, so it's hard to know when there is a real problem sometimes.

As we left, the girls complained about the 40 degree weather like it was -25. I was saying goodbye to our friends when the blond twin said, "Please open the car door. I think I have frostbite."

They laughed. I pulled out my car keys and said, "See what I'm working with here?"

Friday, February 8, 2019

On the road

The brunette twin started driver's education recently. Due to school and activity schedules, we didn't get her enrolled until this month. She was really excited to start her classroom work. She was more excited to start driving.

After only four classes, she was eligible to get her driver's permit. Daddy and I took her after work. We waited in line at the very busy Secretary of State's office. While we waited, the brunette twin kept wondering if she was ready to get her permit. All it really involved was taking an online test. She had to get 26 of 35 questions correct. The instructors told her that once she correctly answered 26, the test would automatically end. 

She fretted the entire time. What if she didn't study enough? Did she really know enough that she should be allowed to drive? Was she ready to start driving? What if she flunked the test?

We told her that she had to wait nine months after getting her permit to get her driver's license. The longer she waited to get her permit, the longer she would have to wait to get her license. We convinced her to try the test. If she didn't pass, we could bring her back on Saturday.

She was really nervous by the time they called her name. She disappeared into an area with lots of computers. We waited for her, trying not to look towards the computer area. When she came out, she was smiling. She said, "It was so easy."

A few minutes later she had her driving permit. As we left the building, she asked for the car keys. We laughed at her new-found confidence. Daddy made plans to take her driving the next day. The brunette twin was ready to put the student driver magnet on the back of the car and so were we.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Super patience

There's nothing better than watching sports with the girls. Other than hockey, they just don't remember anything they have ever been taught about any sport.

During the first quarter of today's Super Bowl, they asked about two million questions. Daddy answered them. I just laughed. 

All he wants is to watch the game in peace and quiet. Luckily for him, they will be in college in four years. He'll have all the peace and quiet he wants then. Until they leave, though, there will be a lot of questions. 

Thursday, January 31, 2019

-50 is the record

A few days ago the wind chill hit -20. On any other day, I would have expected the schools to close. Given the long-term weather forecast, though, I wasn't surprised that the girls had school. Within a few days, -50 would seem warm.

The ominous weather forecasts started early. Local news stations lead every broadcast by saying that life-threatening cold was coming. As the date came closer, the numbers started to settle around -50 wind chill. 

In the Chicago area, we are used to cold weather. We don't flinch when the weather forecast says -10 wind chills. Even a -20 doesn't make us blink. When we heard -50, everyone was paying attention.

The schools shut down for two days. Most businesses shut down on January 30. It was so cold that museums closed, stores didn't open and the United States Postal Service didn't deliver the mail. 

We only let Holly out for three minutes at a time. People bundled from head to toe would develop frostbite after five minutes. Holly didn't have nearly that level of protection. She ran out, did what she needed to do and came back in immediately.

We hunkered down for two cold days. We didn't leave the house January 30. We barely left on January 31 when it was only -35. 

By February 1 the Polar Vortex broke. We still had negative wind chills, but not life-threatening wind chills. The 2019 Polar Vortex was going into the record books. Some day the girls's children would ask about it, just the way they ask us about other historical events. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Introducing Baby

The blond twin has been calling Holly her baby for quiet a while now. Recently she started calling Holly "Baby" as if it were her name.

The blond twin was talking to a friend who asked, "How is Baby?"

She realized then that he thought Baby was Holly's name. She laughed because she didn't realize how often she called her dog Baby. Of course, Holly doesn't care what she's called as long as she gets attention.