Thursday, July 24, 2014

The unofficial end of summer

When we put all the girls' summer activities on the calendar a few months ago, I wondered how we'd get through some weeks. There were so many fun activities from camp to outdoor movies to parties. Sometimes there was more than one activity in a day. Sometimes there were multiple activities every day. More than once I wondered what we were thinking -- even as I realized I created the problem trying to get as many fun activities into a short timeframe.

Today, I waited for the girls to come out of camp when I realized this was their last day of camp. It didn't seem real. They went to Girl Scout camp and horseback riding camp. Every day they came home filthy, sweaty and happy. They went to summer camp at the local community college, which offered them opportunities to explore their individual interests. They took Greek Mythology and Creative Writing together. The blond twin took Leadership, while the brunette twin explored Math in Architecture. They took golf lessons, played a few rounds with Daddy and went to the driving range.

I realize summer isn't over yet. We still have lots of plans from an outdoor movie next week with their friends to a trip to the Wisconsin State Fair. If the weather cooperates, the girls will swim a bit more. Tonight they have friends spending the night, and are already planning other sleepovers.

There is something final about the last summer camp pick-up. It does mean that summer is coming to an end, even if some fun remains. Now we're on the countdown to back-to-school, which will be here much too soon.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Game 2 yields a double play


The blond twin played her second softball game tonight. Daddy arrived just in time to see her catch the ball and tag third base. He looked at me and said, “She just mad a double-play all by herself.”
I admit it took a minute before I realized what he said. She caught the ball, making her first out. The second out came when she tagged the base. I was so excited that she tagged the base I didn’t realize the she caught the ball. I thought it bounced before she caught it.
We were all so excited. She came off the field beaming. We talked about it the whole way home and after we walked into the house. She was taking off her shoes when I asked, “Can I write this on the blog?” She said, “Yes. You better.”
Given the way she’s taken to softball, it probably won’t be her last double-play. Of course, the first one is the best, so we’ll talk about it for a long time.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

First meeting planning failure


The girls’ Junior Girl Scout troop leader decided she couldn’t be the troop leader for this year. Our girls still wanted to be Girl Scouts so I stepped up to take over the troop. Another mom offered to be my co-leader.
We’re a small troop with five girls from four involved families. We decided to have summer meetings to finish a couple of badges. This would free up our fall meetings to work on the Bronze Award, which is the highest award a Junior Girl Scout can earn.
Our first meeting was today. Our plan was to go on a nature walk, talk about animal communication and write fun facts about animals.
We arrived at the Little Red Schoolhouse to find yellow construction tape everywhere. We went into the beautiful, new learning center to be told that the main path was closed. The forest preserve district was paving it.
I have to admit that in all our summer meeting planning it never occurred to me that I needed to call the nature center to make sure we could walk the path. I realize the forest preserve district needs to do some work, but in the summer?
There were dozens of other people standing in the learning center building annoyed that they couldn’t walk the path. As one woman said, “Do you know what it took to sunscreen and bug spray all these kids?”
We managed to fulfill our badge requirements by walking through the learning center, talking about the animals on display and taking notes. The afternoon wasn’t a complete waste of time.
In the future, though, I will call to make sure we can do what we plan to do – even if it is a free, public activity.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Loopholes provide a winning edge

The girls play this game where you say, “my Mom went to the store and she bought….” You have to say an item in alphabetical order. Each time you have to repeat the entire list and then add to it. One night driving home from a rained-out park concert, our list sounded like this:

My Mom went to the store and she bought
Apples

Baba ganoush
Carrots

Donuts
Eggs

Fruit
Grapefruit

Hush puppies
Ice Cream

Jerk chicken
Kale

Lemons
Munster cheese

Nutmeg
Onions

Peanut butter jelly time
Quail

Rutabaga
Shiitake mushrooms

Tacos
Ugli fruit
Veal
Watermelon
The blond twin got stuck at X. We all tried to help her as no one could think of a food that started with X. It was kind of a competition to figure out the X word first. We had a mini-game going on within our car game. We started talking about random words starting with X like x-ray and xylophone.
The brunette twin said, “Did we say the Mom had to be at the grocery store?” We stopped and realized she was right. The Mom could shop anywhere. We never discussed where the Mom shopped. We just focused on food so we could add fun words like baba ganoush and rutabaga. The brunette twin made it musical when she started rapping "peanut butter jelly time." If we really thought about it, we realized the Mom could have bought a toy xylophone at a grocery store or groceries at a department store.
The blond twin triumphantly said the entire list, adding xylophone at the end. Yellow onion and zucchini were the last two words in the game.
The next time we play we’ll have to close the loopholes. It seems the brunette twin is getting better and better at figuring out ways to use those to her advantage.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

New family secrets

Overheard at our house…

Blond twin (picks up Daddy’s mobile device): “What’s your password?”

Daddy: “I’m not telling you.”

Blond twin: “You tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine.”

Daddy smiles and takes his smart phone.
Mommy makes a mental note to be sure she has all the girls' passwords.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

I am spoiled

If there's one benefit to being our children, it's that Mommy and Daddy like to explore. We're always out and about doing this or that whether it's in Chicago or some place else. The girls have started to realize that not everyone does as much or goes as many places as they do. As I like to say, "You two get around."

Sometimes when they misbehave, I'll say, "You are acting like a spoiled brat." I realize it's our fault that they are spoiled. It's not like they woke up one day and started making family lifestyle decisions. We don't want to stop going places and doing things. We do want them to better understand that they are lucky to be doing all these things and going all these places. We try and try to find that balance between our lifestyle and a world-view.

When the girls were in horseback riding camp, their friend Caroline came with them. Our families split drop-off and pick-up, so I had pick-up duty. One day Caroline was talking about how spoiled her neighbor was because he had this and that and the other thing. She said something like, "He never appreciates any of it. He just sits around complaining and being mean. I'm spoiled and I know it. At least I appreciate all of it." The girls then started talking about all the ways they were spoiled from gong to watch free movies in the parks with friends to materials stuff to travel trips. They decided that all kids should be spoiled, but grateful. It was sad that some kids who would be grateful weren't spoiled. It was sad that some kids who were spoiled weren't grateful.

We were downtown recently when the blond twin said that she knew she was spoiled and all kids should be spoiled. Wasn't it sad that all kids didn't have everything she had? I agreed with her and told her I was proud that she had this attitude. All the lessons we tried to teach them were finally cemented by a friend during a drive home from camp.

Oh, I realize we'll have moments, but I'm hoping this new attitude sticks.  And, I made a mental note the make sure the girls spend more time with Caroline.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Disaster preparedness drills come of age


I started kindergarten after the big 1967 Oak Lawn tornado killed 33 people and injured 1,000+. The tornado was so devastating that television stations like the History Channel have aired documentaries about it.

Mom tells the story about how my Aunt Bonnie spent much of the day at our house crying. She thought her husband, Uncle Len, died in the tornado as their home was destroyed. He survived, but she didn’t know that for what must have seems like a lifetime. To this day she gets very edgy about storms.
Last night we knew there was a big storm coming. We were warned tornados were possible. Shortly after dinner I put my fully-charged phone in my purse, made sure my most valuable jewelry was in a purse pocket, double-checked that my wallet was there and hung my purse on the basement door.
The first storm wave passed by with damage, but not sirens. The second wave barely started when the tornado siren went off. Daddy and I were watching TV. I’m not sure we fully realized what happened when we heard the girls coming downstairs.
We threw shoes downstairs, grabbed my purse, dragged Holly downstairs and settled in the basement. We chatted about random things trying to keep the girls occupied. Holly shook with terror as she really, really doesn’t like the basement.
We started talking about tornadoes. The girls seemed skeptical that I could know so much about tornadoes. At one point I looked at the girls and said, “What do they teach you during your disaster drills?” They didn’t seem to know anything about tornado preparedness.
Later Daddy said, “You know they teach the active shooter drills. No one worries about tornadoes anymore.”
I just stopped and felt sad. He was absolutely right. When we were kids, our disaster drills focused on surviving the most recent disaster, which was a devastating tornado. For our girls, they go to school where the doors lock from the inside and teachers work with the police department to learn to keep kids safe during a shooting. They are growing up in a world where they are more likely to be the victim of a school shooting than have a tornado damage their school.
We learned to sit in the hall with our hands on our heads. They are learning to push their desks against the door, hid in barricaded locations, stay quiet and never open the classroom door. We’ve gone so far downhill from the time I was in school to the time they are in school. It makes me sad to think about what our grandchildren will learn when it comes time for their disaster preparedness drills.