June 27, 2012

Let the Games Begin!

I love the Olympics. I enjoy watching most of the competitions and find it thrilling when either the USA takes the gold or an underdog comes out of nowhere (regardless of what country the athlete is from). In the summer games, I like to watch gymnastics, swimming and diving. I used to be able to tell you all the athletes on the women's gymnastics team, but now I'm not sure I could name one.
This week, my daughters have actually been very excited about the Olympic swimming trials. An athlete from our area is competing and we are all eager to see how she performs. I've had to set a reminder on our TV to make sure we don't miss anything. Last night, Michael Phelps competed in a semifinal, so I was able to explain gold medals, records, etc. to them. 
I'm looking forward to the games this summer. Instead of arguing with my girls about why we're not going to watch some mindless TV show, we can watch the various competitions and root for our favorites. One of my girls has expressed interest in competitive swimming... who knows, maybe one day we'll be rooting her to the Olympics!

June 25, 2012

Busted! (With Photographic Evidence)

When my girls were born, they received an abundance of blankets and stuffed animals. We moved to a different state shortly after their first birthday, so many of the stuffed animals ended up in boxes. Over the years, I've pulled out those stuffed animals to give my daughters on their birthday or Christmas. It has been nice to give them these gifts when they're at an age to actually appreciate and use them. Unfortunately, yesterday my scheme began to unravel.
This past Christmas, Santa left a stuffed bear in each of my girls' beds as she slept. They thought it was great to wake up and immediately find a gift from Santa. They all still play with these bears (which most parents will agree is an accomplishment, since stuffed animals tend to get tossed aside fairly fast). Yesterday I was purging an area of the house that was long overdue for cleaning. (It's part of the purging I started in January. I said it was going to be a slow process). I found a cute photo book I made from birth to age one and knew my girls would enjoy looking at the pictures. Soon after looking at the book, R approached me and said "Aren't these the same bears Santa gave us for Christmas?" Busted! Um, why yes, the bears you are posing with at your first Christmas are indeed the same bears you just received! I took a deep breath, avoided eye contact with Hubby so I wouldn't laugh and said "Well, look at the picture. The bears are bigger than you! Santa realized you weren't ready for the bears, so he saved them and brought them back when you were older." She seemed to buy my story.
I don't mind that my daughters may have figured out my regifting error. What I'm not ready for is for them to figure out who Santa really is. The excitement leading up to Christmas morning is always so much fun. I'm not ready to give that up just yet. So I guess I'll need to go through my picture albums and see if they have any more secrets to tell!

June 22, 2012

It's Time for the Orthodontist Already?!

When my daughters went to their first dentist appointment, the dentist told me all four would eventually need braces. This didn't surprise me, as Hubby and I both wore braces. I was lucky and only need mine for about a year and a half. Hubby wore his a bit longer and needed one of those palette cracking torture devices. What did surprise me is that at our last check up the dentist said he wanted me to take all four of them to the orthodontist... now. 
What?! I wasn't prepared to take them this young (age 6). In fact, I've really been in denial about the whole thing. I'm just not ready to think about sinking thousands of dollars into my daughters' mouths.
The most common reactions I receive when I tell people I've scheduled orthodontist appointments for my daughters is "Get a second opinion" or "They're too young." The thing is, I actually think the dentist is right. My girls all have tiny mouths. Their teeth are "crowded" in there. As they lose their baby teeth, their adult teeth are bigger than the space allotted for them, so they're knocking out other baby teeth. Case in point: Q had to have two teeth pulled this week to make room for her adult teeth. 
Several of my neighbors recommend the orthodontist we're going to see. He will apparently tell you if it's easier/better to have a few teeth pulled versus putting on braces. One of the neighbor girls who is going into third grade only has braces on her two front top teeth because those teeth were hitting her bottom teeth and could have caused major damage. Our first orthodontist appointment is in two weeks. Wish me luck... my wallet and I are going to need it!

June 21, 2012

Not My Dryer!

A few years ago my husband's cousin gave us her front loading washer and dryer. She was upgrading and her set was still in good condition. It was such great timing as our own washer conked out the day before our new-to-us set was delivered. Since then, laundry has been so much easier. Having a large capacity washer and dryer is such a wonderful thing when you do laundry every other day. Unfortunately, it looks like our dryer has reached its breaking point.
In the last few months, clothes haven't been dry when the dryer buzzes. A few weeks ago Hubby cleaned out the vents on the dryer and outside the house. Ewwwww. With as much lint and dirt as he pulled out, I was confident my dryer would start running like new. It still didn't help. In the last week I've done some research and suggested he use our leaf blower to blow out the vent. He did this the other day and we expected a cat-size ball of lint to blow out of the vent. Nope. He clearly did a good job pulling out the clogs with just his hand. Then he unscrewed some things and thoroughly cleaned the lint trap. This resulted in a lot of lint and dirt, so, once again, I expected my dryer to back to normal. Nope. We also cleaned off the sensor, but it didn't help.
This, of course, means I'm probably going to have to bid adieu to my dryer and get a new one. (sigh) I would love to be one of those people who hangs her laundry outside to dry but a) I would need a clothes line as long as our block due to all the laundry I do, b) our HOA has restrictions on clothes lines and c) we all have seasonal allergies. 
We've had a good run with this washer and dryer. The washer is starting to give me some trouble, too, but I'm in denial. Unfortunately, I'm running the dryer way too much to get my clothes dry and I'm not looking forward to the next electricity bill. So, it looks like I need to start doing some research on our next dryer and searching the couch cushions for the spare change to pay for it!

June 18, 2012

The Hair Battle

I've blogged in the past about my bad hair cuts as a child (my mom insisted my sister and I have short hair). I try not to traumatize my daughters when it comes to hair. Typically they get a haircut just before school starts (either shoulder or chin length) and then again in January or February. Usually they're all fairly excited about their haircuts. Unfortunately, M is starting to try to take control of her hair.
When the beginning of the previous school year rolled around, she asked if she could skip her haircut. Since her hair was between her chin and shoulders and not really in need of a cut, I agreed. Then mid-year she begged to skip the cut again. We talked and I told her she could forgo a cut if she worked on growing her hair out for Locks of Love. I explained to her what the organization does and she was really excited at the prospect of helping another child. 
But now? Now her hair is reaching an unmanageable stage. It's tangled every morning. I have to actually, gasp, style her hair every day or it ends up in her face. Oh, and did I mention that she no longer wants to cut it off when it reaches the acceptable donation length for Locks of Love? It's not that she is no longer interested in helping, it's just that she wants hair down to her bum!
That, my friends, is not going to happen... at least not until she is old enough to take full control of her hair (washing, combing every day, styling, etc). We're still discussing her options. My goal is for her to cut her hair to her shoulders when school starts. She's slowly coming around to the idea, mainly because she's tired of me having to comb out all the tangles!

June 11, 2012

Adventures in Camping

Apparently when we go camping it's always going to be an adventure! Last year Hubby and I took our daughters on their first camping trip. We went with several families from my moms of multiples group. The campground we stayed at was beautiful and had great views of the mountains and a nearby lake. The weather during the day was fantastic. Unfortunately, the weather at night was cold. I'm talking in the 30's, near freezing cold! We made it through both nights, but it was miserable. (The days were fun, so I can't complain). My girls still talk about how cold it was on that trip.
This weekend, we embarked on another trip with the moms of multiples group. We went to a different area and another great location. We set up camp Friday and spent the night visiting with the other families in our group site. The night was a tad chilly (in the 50's), but nothing like the freezing temperatures of last year. We were in shorts by 8am and knew temps would be in the high 80's later in the day. 
The area was under a fire ban, so no campfires, but we planned to try making S'mores with our camp grill on Saturday night. We spent Saturday morning checking out the nearby river. Three of the girls were brave enough to wade in an area stoned off for a kid's swimming area. They lasted about a minute with their feet in the water before deciding it was too cold. (We're guessing the water was maybe in the 40's). We hung out at the kid's fishing area with some of the other families from our group. The area by the river was cool and relaxing. We planned to head back down to the river after lunch and a hike because we knew it was going to be a hot day.
During lunch, one of the moms asked if we had cell phone service. We didn't. Why did she need to use the phone? She was concerned about this:
What is that, you ask? Why that is a wildfire! The man in the golf cart assured us we were fine and claimed the park rangers told him the fire was contained. We all went about our business, but hung close to the campsite. The smoke started getting heavier above those trees and someone in our group with a radio said at least 500 acres were involved. Most of us started doing a precautionary pack-up. We made sure all of our clothes were packed and put away anything we weren't currently using. Eventually the adults realized it was better to leave on our own timeline than to risk having the park rangers wake us up in the middle of the night and force us to pack in a hurry. 
By the time we left, approximately three hours after the above picture, this is what we saw:
As we drove out of the campground we realized we were driving into the smoke. The highway ended up being closed about 8 hours after we left. We spent the ride down the canyon under an orange haze. When we reached the bottom of the canyon, we passed news crews setting up their live trucks. (Yes, the journalist in me wanted to stop the car and tell them what I knew about the fire. The mom in me just wanted to get home!)
As I write this, the fire has destroyed more than 36,000 acres and is nowhere near being contained. Our campground never ended up being evacuated and three families from our group ended up staying Saturday night. The mandatory evacuations stopped just 13 miles from our campground.
Were we ever in danger? No. Did I feel as though we were fleeing for our lives? No. At some point, though we had to make an executive decision. Would I have liked to stay Saturday night? Yes, we stayed at a gorgeous location and were all looking forward to a potluck dinner that night with all the families in our group. But given the choice of leaving mid-afternoon with plenty of time to shower, eat, etc., or risk being evacuated in the middle of the night, driving down the canyon in the dark and arriving home exhausted and dirty... well, I picked the one that gave me peace of mind. We were all disappointed to leave, but we salvaged the night with pizza night and spent Sunday visiting various parks in our neighborhood. Oh, and since we couldn't have a campfire, we baked S'mores in the oven. It wasn't the camping trip we envisioned, but it was still a good time! My girls have all said they can't wait for school to start so they can tell all their friends about the fire that ended their camping trip!

June 05, 2012

Summer Homework

I've become "that" mom... you know, the one who makes her children continue learning during the summer. In the spring, our school sold summer homework packets. I ended up buying the math and language arts package to work on with my girls. The packets are designed to be worked on three days a week. They actually don't take that long (about 15 minutes), but when you multiply that time by four... it takes a little longer than I wanted. 
Still, I want to make sure my daughters keep up with all the progress they made during the school year. They had a great year, but not without some struggles here and there. It's my hope that by reinforcing what they already know, they'll be ready to go full steam ahead when first grade starts. Plus, they'll learn a few new skills along the way.
Lest you think I'm one of those moms who takes all the fun out of summer, keep in mind that even though we're doing summer homework, our neighborhood pool has been open 11 days and we've been to it 9 of those days (sometimes twice a day). Do I want my daughters to keep learning this summer? Heck yes. Do I want them to have fun, as well? Absolutely!

June 04, 2012

When Was I Voted Neighborhood Babysitter?

We spend a lot of time at our neighborhood pool. My girls love the water and it's an easy way to wear them out. There's no lifeguard on duty, so you really need to keep an eye on your children... or not. Every summer I feel as though I 'm one of the only parents who understands swimming pools can be dangerous.
To use the pool without an adult, you need to be 14 or older. Anyone under 14 has to be accompanied by someone 18 or older, meaning a 14 year old can't bring guests. The pool opens at 8am, but the pool monitor doesn't show up until 2pm, and I'm always amazed by the number of families trying to skirt the rules. You can argue that a 14 year old can be responsible for a 10 year old. It doesn't really bother me when a teen under 18 is there with a younger sibling. It does bother me when an 8 or 10 year old shows up with no adult supervision. Basically you're saying either you don't care what happens to your child, or you expect the rest of us to watch your child. What happens when there aren't any other adults there? 
The other day there was a woman at the pool who brought several guests with young children. They let the kids loose while the adults sunbathed. At some point, the adults moved to a different spot so they wouldn't get splashed. A young boy with them, who was two or three, didn't see them move, so once he tired of playing on the pool steps, he had a meltdown, screaming "I can't find my mommy! Where is she? I miss her." Mom's reaction? She never even looked up to see what was going on. I finally went over to him to calm him down and show him where his mom was. The pool monitor came over and took him to mom... and the chewed mom out for not watching her kid. As the woman next to me said "Thank goodness for other moms at the pool."
It's not just the pool where I feel like I'm the only one watching my children and everyone else's. We went to the park last week and a woman showed up with two kids, who appeared to be 4 and 6-ish. She let them out of the car and then walked to the outhouse, which was about a block away. Was I supposed to be watching her girls? This particular park is in a remote area, but there are tons of cars driving by, plus there's a lake nearby. I'm glad I look like a trusting individual, but what exactly do you want me to do if one of them tumbles off the monkey bars? I'm already watching four of my own!
I recently took two of my daughters to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. I was the only parent who stayed with their kids. The other parents camped out at a table with their backs to the game area. Granted, Chuck E. Cheese has a pretty good system in place for making sure children leave with the same adults who brought them, but the idea of my 6 year olds running by themselves wasn't my idea of a safe time. I've seen kids grab other children's tickets, push to the front of the line, etc. Why put your children in that position. Half the games I had to explain to my daughters (and the other party attendees) how to play. We were all having fun, but it was a little overwhelming to be the only visible parent, since all the kids would come to me when they needed help.
I swear I'm not a helicopter mom. I don't hover. At the park, they play while I watch from the bench. At the pool I no longer feel the need to be right at the edge, but I still watch them. I'm not willing to sacrifice my daughters' safety.