Friday, September 12, 2014

Connect the dots

Overheard at our house...

Mom:  Did you put your clothes away?

Brunette twin: What clothes?

Mom:  I did laundry today. I put the basket with the clean clothes upstairs. I thought I put it on your bed. Isn't it there/

Brunette twin:  Oh, yeah, it's there.

Mom:  Did you look at it? Didn't you recognize those clothes?

Brunette twin:  Those are mine?

Mom:  Yes. Otherwise why would I put it on your bed?

Brunette twin:  Oh, ok. I'll put them away later.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Almost independent

A few days ago I posted that the girls were going to walk home by themselves. This was a big step and I admit to being a bit anxious as I waited for them.

As they walked over the hill, I saw three girls together. A step back I saw Ayanna's Dad walking behind them. I laughed because I knew what happened before they told me. I thought about it for just a minute before realizing that I would have done the same thing.

Ayanna's Dad saw the girls walking home by themselves and thought I must have been running late. They told him they were walking home by themselves, but he decided to walk with them. It was a very kind gesture.

I told him that I would have done the same thing if I saw Ayanna by herself. I explained that the girls decided to walk home by themselves, even if the brunette twin wasn't quite sure. I thanked him for walking home with them.

The girls were happy to be home, even if they didn't walk alone. They decided to talk about trying it again for the next half-day. It seemed like enough of a victory to have just planned to walk home themselves.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Indoor Girl Scouts

We had a Girl Scout troop meeting yesterday to plan a community service project we're implementing in October. It was a lovely, cool day, so I organized the meeting on our patio.

We were a few minutes into the meeting when a bee came by. It wasn't angry or attacking. It was simply flying. Given the reaction, you would have thought an entire bee hive emptied on the table.

The blond twin swatted at it and shrieked. Julianna jumped from her chair and ran away from it. The brunette twin swatted at her head. Our girls went to preschool on a children's farm. They have spent days in a horse barn with all the bugs in those stalls. None of that bothered them. A single, small bee on our patio caused them to react like it was a bomb.  I told them to knock off the drama and pay attention.

A minute later Sarah started complaining that a mosquito bit her. She scratched her leg and scrunched her face. I gave up and moved the meeting inside.

Even if I woke up one day thinking tent camping was my favorite activity, there's no way this troop is designed for outdoor activities. Oh, we'll do outdoor activities, but we'll go knowing that there will be plenty of overreacting and complaining.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


The blond twin spent some time Saturday morning trying to kill a mosquito. The bugs are so bad by us that we don't spend as much time outside as we'd like. It's a by-product of a wet summer that I'd like to return.

She tracked it in our kitchen for a while before squealing, "I got it!" I said, "Nice job." Daddy turned around to see her success and said, "Blondie, nice hit" before he sighed. The blond twin smashed the mosquito on the kitchen sheers. One panel had a smooshed mosquito right in the middle.

I just shook my head and thought, "Of course the blond twin smashed a mosquito across our white sheers. This is why everything in our house is machine washable." After that fleeting thought, I thanked her for killing the mosquito. A dead mosquito is a good mosquito in my world, even if it means the sheers get washed.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The big reveal

We arrived at Aunt Linda's with pop and pizza. We all chatted about random things while we waited for Brooke, Alex (aka Ally), Clark and Kayleigh to arrive. Aunt Linda made a nice vegetable salad and a peach/raspberry salad to go with the pizza. We started eating dinner before the others arrived.  I wanted to make sure the girls ate before they went to the concert. The girls chatted as they ate their pizza and salads.

When Brooke, Alex, Clark and Kayleigh arrive it was about 5:20 p.m. The girls finished eating, which was perfect because we were starting to run out of time -- even though they didn't know it yet. We were chatting about shopping when I asked Brooke if she had any plans. She said no. I handed her an envelop that said Merry Christmas. I handed the girls an envelop that said Happy Birthday. Both opened their envelopes.

Brooke and Alex were so excited. Both had huge smiles on their faces. Our girls just looked at the print-outs. Rather than the screams I expected, they looked confused. The blond twin said something about not knowing what was on the paper. Brooke read it to her. Both girls started to understand, but neither really got it yet. We chatted about some details and sped off with a flurry of hugs and kisses. We left Aunt Linda with a big mess of dishes and empty containers.

We drove to the concert, but traffic was a mess. About a mile from Soldier Field, the four girls and I got out of the car in the middle of Columbus Drive. We made our way over to the lakefront, leaving Daddy to get out of traffic and park the car.

As we walked over, the girls still weren't sure about the tickets. The blond twin asked if they really had seats. The brunette twin told me that it would be really mean if we were just walking Brooke and Alex to the concert and they didn't get to go too. I explained that they were really going. They smiled, but didn't commit to being excited.

I left them in front of the Field Museum. There was a stream of girls and their family/friends heading towards the concert. I walked back to meet Daddy at Buckingham Fountain. I couldn't stop smiling as I walked back. I hoped the girls started smiling when they realized they were actually going to the concert.

Daddy and I wandered the South Loop. We stopped by Chicago Summer Dance to watch people dancing to various country songs. People had picnics set-up; parents danced with children; couples danced together. We marveled that this free event took place right on Michigan Avenue. We walked through a couple of hotel lobbies just to see what was going on. We ended up at a trendy diner, just sitting outside having desert. The waiter said the place was filled with girls the past two nights. He couldn't believe that One Direction could sell out two 65,000 seat shows.

We were close enough that we could have heard the crowd roar when One Direction took the stage. We heard the roar at the end of the 5 Seconds of Summer opening act performance. We waited and waited, but never heard the roar. We decided to walk over to Soldier Field and see what was going on.

I knew there would be action near Soldier Field, but never imagined how crowded it would be. The Field Museum's north steps were the parent waiting room. Hundreds of people sat on the steps waiting for their children (ok, their daughters). We walked up the hill to find another parent staging area. As we found a spot on the grass, we heard the roar and then saw the fireworks. There were lots of fireworks throughout the show.

After a while we left the grassy hill and wandered down towards Lake Michigan. We saw hundreds of limousines staged for departure. We saw dozens of bike "cabs" waiting for the show to end. There were police officers trying to keep everything running smoothly. We wandered towards a souvenir stand and started talking to three women buying stuff. They said they just met that evening. Two were from West Virginia. One was from southern Indiana. They decided to hang out together while their girls were at the concert. They did a little lakefront sightseeing together.

We settled on the Field Museum steps for the last eight songs. We started seeing families with young girls coming out early. A woman behind us said, "There's no way our girls would leave early." I thought the same thing, but our girls were older than these little girls. We saw the fireworks signaling the show's end and started heading towards our meeting place.

Alex wore a dress she referred to as "construction cone orange." It was that bright and noticeable. We were just starting to move from the Field Museum steps when I saw her dress. I said, "There go the girls" and we were off. A block later we were all together. Alex laughed when I told her that I spotted her dress.

Our girls were wide-eyed. They had so many fun stories as we walked to the car. They kept saying thank you and telling us it was the best birthday present ever. They wore the t-shirts Grammie bought them. Brooke and Alex were smiling and chatting about the concert. They all had a great time.

We dropped off Brooke and Alex before heading home. The girls fell asleep in the car before we made it home at 1:00 a.m. We're sure to hear more stories tomorrow and for days to come.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Anatomy of a surprise

November 2013
An email arrives with an advance purchase code for a concert. I almost delete it until I read the group name. I double-check to make sure I'm reading it correctly. No matter how I look at it, the group is still One Direction. I put the information on my work calendar and block the 1/2 hour after tickets go on sale to make sure I don't have any meetings at that time.

December 2013
I log in to Ticketmaster and wait for the magic moment when I can try to buy One Direction tickets. I think about how crazy it is that I'm buying ticket for a concert taking place Labor Day 2014. My first ticket options come up. I refresh the screen thinking that there's no way I'll pay that much money to sit in the 400 level at Soldier Field. The second option isn't much better. I refresh again. Third time is the charm as I end up with four pretty good seats. I purchase the tickets, trying not to look at the total cost.

January 2014
I start to think about who will be #4. I figure I'm taking the girls and one other person. I talk to Aunt Mary about Maddie joining us. She lets me know that Uncle Terry (or Grampa as Maddie calls him) bought Maddie One Direction tickets for Christmas.

May 2014
I happen to log on to Facebook a few minutes after Brooke posts a picture with the caption "Wine Direction." I ask if she likes One Direction. She says she loves them. Unsure if she's sarcastic or not (sometimes I miss that in Facebook posts), I email Aunt Debbie who let me know she really does have One Direction posters in her room. I email Brooke about the tickets. The next day I email her again to let her know I have four tickets so if she wants to bring a friend, she can. A few days later we're set. The girls are going to see One Direction with Brooke and her friend.

August 2014
I wake up realizing that the concert is two weeks away and I haven't finalized plans with Brooke. After a bit of back and forth, we decide to meet at a pizza parlor near Aunt Linda's apartment. We decide to take the four girls to and from the concert.

Daddy starts asking the girls about One Dimension (as he calls them). They roll their eyes like he's some annoying boy at school. When we find out that 5 Seconds of Summer is the opening act, we ask them if they like the band. It turns out 5 Seconds of Summer sings a song the brunette twin can't stop singing. All is well.

After I check the tickets, we realize we cannot meet at the pizza parlor. The concert is earlier than I remembered. If there is a long wait at the pizza parlor, the girls will be late for the concert. We ask Aunt Linda if we can bring pizza to her house. She agrees to host everyone. It will be a quick visit as we're invading for an hour and then rushing off.

One week to go and I'm antsy every day. I can't believe we're so close to pulling off the surprise. We tell the girls we're meeting Brooke and Clark for pizza. I put a bag on the spare bed in the office. As I think of things I put them in the bag.

I call Grammie to see if she wants to buy the girls concert t-shirts for their birthdays. She likes the idea. The next day she shows up with birthday cards with the concert cash inside. Those immediately go into the bag.

I start watching the weather obsessively. It seems to rain every day lately. Of course there is rain in the Saturday forecast. I start looking for some disposable rain ponchos. We have had these things around the house for about a decade. Of course, now that I want them I can only find one. At 11:00 p.m., I leave Daddy a message asking if he knows where the rain ponchos are hiding. The next day he comes home from work to find the missing three rain ponchos. He puts them in the bag.

We wait until two days before the concert to print the tickets. I put them in two envelopes -- Happy Birthday for the girls and Merry Christmas for Brooke. I put those in the bag. The next day I print the tickets again and put them in my purse. Why print back-up tickets? In my head I envision the girls getting so excited when they open the envelop that they rip the tickets. I consider printing back-up tickets my way of getting a good night's sleep.

We see the concert on the news. The girls are fast asleep, but I make sure to check the newspaper before they wake up. There is not a story about the concert, so I leave it on the breakfast bar.

We're headed to Aunt Linda's with everything in the car. Now all we have to do is give them their tickets and get them to the show.

It's time to let the shrieking begin.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The long road home

The girls only have one-half day of school today. I told them I had a conference call that I expected to end right before they got out of school. I said I'd probably drive up to get them because I wouldn't have time to walk.

The blond twin said, "We could walk home ourselves."

I said, "Yes you could."

The brunette twin hesitated and started asking questions. Was I going to be home if they walked home? What if it rained? Would I leave the front door open? When all her questions were answered, she said, "Ok, we can walk home."

This has been an ongoing conversation this year. Our neighborhood is full of kids walking with their parents, kids walking by themselves, kids walking with older siblings. Before and after school is a busy time on our neighborhood streets.

The blond twin is ready to walk to and from school without me. She has been talking about this since the first school day. The brunette twin doesn't want to go to or from school without me. I told the girls I'd walk them to school in the morning as Holly expects to walk at that time anyway. We walk Holly at the same time each morning. It doesn't matter if its a weekend, holiday or snowstorm. Holly gets a walk every day.

The afternoon walks are a bit more flexible. Holly doesn't really care about the time for her afternoon walk. Sometimes I don't think she'd care if we skipped it.

If this goes well, we might change our pattern a bit. The blond twin is already talking about walking home from school every day without me. The brunette twin isn't committing to her sister's plan until she gets through today's experiment.

I have to admit I was kind of happy that the girls wanted to walk home from school by themselves today. It makes my morning a lot easier. If they start walking home most days by themselves, I'll still walk Holly every afternoon, but I will have more flexibility.

All this is getting ahead of today. We'll see what happens when the girls get home in a few hours. Until then, it's all just day dreaming.