Valentines Day 2013

It’s been a really, really long time since I pulled an all-nighter. And while I was soooo very sleepy with my eyes at half mast for most of the day, I have to admit that it was worth it yesterday morning to hear my girls say, “Thank you, Mommy. You are always there for us.”

It was a busy time the afternoon before Valentines Day shopping for a little something at Affordable Treasures for my girls’ classmates, stopping briefly to drop off Girl Scout cookies at my chiropractor’s office, making a couple of visits to local grocery stores for baking supplies, taking photos for their cards, and settling in to bake and do homework. The hours between after school care and bedtime seem impossibly short at times like these. Times when big projects and special days at school come around…like Valentines Day.

As in the last couple of years, my girls were looking forward to sharing their Valentines. In fact, they said that all the other kids can’t wait to see their Valentines each year. It’s my fault. I’d gotten a kick out of the mini me idea other photographers have done in Photoshop and tried it a couple of years ago. My girls and all their classmates loved them. And now it’s stuck. It’s become an annual thing. And since they’re older, they like to plan their shots with me. They’ve started visualizing the final images they would like to create. These cards have become a real collaboration between my girls and myself and it’s kinda fun.

I woke my girls at 6:00 yesterday morning as requested. They knew they still had to package their class treats and sign their Valentines Day cards. We’ve come a long way in our annual Valentines Day projects. Not only do my girls plan their photo shoots with me, they have also taken over all the baking (well, I still handle the oven part) and they’re happy to do the packaging and signing of cards. Now, if I can just get this project started a lot earlier than the night before Valentines Day….

Their 2013 Valentines Day cards:

Swinging Valentines Dancing Mini Me'sSharing Heart LollipopsChocolate?Chalkboard Heart Dancing Mini Me'sAnd a Happy [belated] Valentines Day to you!

An original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog by MommyTwinGirls.


New Grade, New Class, New School Year

So, how was your first day of school? In this 3rd grade year, I think the first day of school is starting to feel more “ordinary.” I mean, we were in a rush to get to school on time (yea, like most of the year) and in past years, we’ve always left plenty of time to stroll to the new classroom, take photos and wait around until the kids were ushered into the classroom. In past years, I always thought it’d be cute for the girls to get a “first day of school” outfit but this year, they chose to go with new jeans and old shirts they’d already had for a while. The first day jitters were still there, of course. But thankfully, the nervousness did not turn into a morning meltdown (like last year) when they found “bumps” in their new shoes that “did not feel right.”

And at school? Well, we barely arrived in time for one of my twins to walk with the rest of her class into the room. And her twin? Fortunately, her teacher greeted each student individually before each walked into the classroom. Since she was last, I was able to capture a few more images of this first day experience. I would have to wait until pickup time in the afternoon, which I did. And happily, it was a great day for both girls.

First Day of School, 3rd Grade

Original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

Another [School] Year Gone…

Talk about fun and games! What a memorable way to end their second grade school years. A waffle breakfast for one class and hamburgers/hot dogs/chicken strips for the other. Boy did I luck out…again. Storyteller’s class *pajama* party was a breakfast one with outdoor activities including Twister and sack races and a make your own autograph book craft. A little cleaning out of the desks after lunchtime and…movie time! Songwriter’s class party was lunch preceded by outdoor games and face painting and afterward, a backpack charm craft and pirate clown show. One party followed the other. Yea, it was a school day for me, too. Luckily, after helping with setup, I had the freedom to photograph the kids in action. One of my favorite things to do.

As last year and the year before, the end of this school year seems bittersweet. Our kids are another year older, wiser…and sassier (sometimes). They are good kids that make me alternately smile and yell; hug them with pride and throw up my hands in frustration. Sometimes, I miss the complete innocence in their being; their deep trust that Mommy (and Pappa) always know everything. Now, they question and reason. They figure things out for themselves. They talk of what they’d like to be when they’re adults. They think of the future. And I miss some of the past. Every time the school year ends, I’m reminded of how much they’ve grown. It makes me proud. It makes me want to stop time.

I’m always impressed and warmed by all the support parents show for the kids and the school. Events like the class party, activities like the Walk-a-thon and Art Vistas, shows like the Annie musical – all make me feel so fortunate we ended up here at this particular elementary school way back when we first bought our home. From playdates in the playlot down the street to [now] third graders hanging out with neighborhood friends, time is flying by and won’t slow down any time soon.

An original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

Valentines Day 2012 – What a Difference A Year Makes

Well well well…I gotta say, sometimes I really like this growing-up-thing for my girls. This is the first year since my girls started preschool, that I did less of the production/wrapping (and everything in between) for Valentines Day, staying up until midnight to finish it up while my girls slept. This year, everything was packaged and ready for transport before they went to bed. Yea! Last year, they signed the cards…and frosted the cookies. And that was about it. Ugh.

This year, they readied the cookie dough for baking, frosted them, then insisted on wrapping each cookie themselves (they were picky about a few of the kids and which cookies they got), signed each card *and* envelope – without my constant haranguing to do one for *every* classmate. I do have to admit that I baked half of the cookies myself…but that was largely because we ran out of ingredients the evening before and had to bake them while my kids were in school. But let me tell ya, I was happily surprised to have my girls outline all the tasks they had to complete – including doing their homework – when we got home from school.

Now I know… from now on, I can concentrate on the *funnest* part of this event – creating a new and different Valentines Day card for my girls. “Mini me” is the style of choice again this year. I had a few ideas and my girls had a few ideas. It was fun to collaborate with them creatively. And since I couldn’t decide which one they should use, I left it to them…and they wanted to use them all. Happy Valentines Day!

An original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

It’s All About Annie

The holidays are over and school has kicked into hyperspeed. Our girls’ performance debuts in Annie are in less than two weeks. Our girls are giddy with anticipation. This also means most of our non-school time is spent in rehearsals and preparation. Can I tell you how stressed I was getting trying to figure out their costumes? Luckily, the Drama Club at our school is like a well-oiled machine. They’ve been doing this for years. When I couldn’t find just the right dress for the last party scene for one of my “orphan” girls, they had one waiting for her to try on at the costume parade. I needn’t have worried.

Run-throughs, tech rehearsals, dress rehearsals and the real deals – the performances. Two casts. 4 shows. Opening nights. Closing shows. It’s amazing how much work goes into the school production each year. It’s sponsored by  the Home & School Club (aka parents). We saw last year’s production, Beauty and the Beast, and we were wow’ed. Especially our girls.

I signed up to be the official photographer (with my husband’s assistance when he has time) and will be spending the next two weeks at all the last rehearsals. I’m really looking forward to it. I can’t wait to document this event. Who knows? This could be the beginning of our girls’ acting careers.

An original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

Exchange Students for A Day…or Two

Though our trip here to Norway this time around was somewhat last minute, I managed to obtain school work from their teachers for them to work on while here in Oslo between various family functions related to my father-in-law’s funeral…oh, and playtime with their cousins. They happen to have a couple of cousins in their equivalent grade and as such, we thought it might be fun for them to attend school for a day. Both cousins go to different schools so, they attended one and then the other.

Today, they attended the school where 3 of their cousins go. We walked with them to school to make sure they were properly introduced to the teacher. Our girls were a little nervous. They compared it to feeling like the first day of school at home. But there were several girls curious about these new faces with their classmate and many hovered around asking their names and if they spoke Norwegian. This, I think, broke some of the ice as our girls answered such simple questions. Then, another of their cousins showed up (one grade older) to say Hi and introduce them to many of the girls standing around them. The teacher had a very sweet and welcoming demeanor and we knew our girls would be okay. We left as they all ran down the hill as the bell rang.

Last week, the girls attended another school with a different cousin. Two years ago, the girls attended this same school when their cousin started in Kindergarten. In Norway, students are in the same class throughout elementary school with the same teacher. I’m not sure that this teacher remembered the girls from two years ago but it did feel a little familiar to them when they arrived. This school is a bit of a walk from home and kinda hairy to walk to with the many busy road crossings…so they were driven to school.

The reviews of both days were great. The girls felt a little weird at times with so many kids curious and some staring but they enjoyed hanging out with their cousins in class. None of this, of course, would have been possible if they were not fluent in Norwegian. There were several crafts and a few worksheets they got to do because they could follow the instructions. The added benefit is now they both have something they could write about as part of the homework they’ll have to turn in when they return to school at home on Monday.

An original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

This Year’s New Role – Stage Mom

As if Tae Kwon Do and soccer weren’t enough (with swim team waiting for some open times somewhere in the week), we’re adding Drama Club to this year’s list of activities. hahaha It will be our girls’ stage debut and they are beyond excited. This year’s musical selection is Annie, sponsored and run by the Home and School Club (the parent support group). All second through fifth grade students are invited to audition and join the cast. Most of the youngest ones are usually placed in the ensemble while the older kids are often in the roles that include more individual singing, dancing and memorizing [lines]. Nevertheless, I’m certain our girls will have plenty of fun without being the stars of the show.

Their auditions were a couple of weeks ago. My girls were nervous and excited. They picked out their songs at the beginning of the summer. Though the school encouraged Disney songs and not Annie ones, my girls chose differently. It’s partly my fault, I think. I’d meant to get a Disney Princess song collection so we could learn the words to some of the more popular ones. Unfortunately, I didn’t act fast enough. Storyteller sang, “I Wanna Be A Billionaire So Frikkin’ Bad” and Songwriter did “I Don’t Wanna Be Like Cinderella.” Not bad songs, per se, but perhaps not what the auditioners had been expecting. hahaha

I’m happy to report that my girls did not back out of the auditions. We parents did not get to watch them try out as the director said that the kids get nervous. So, we waited outside. My girls were all smiles afterward and said it was fun.

In order to make this work each year, families of participants are required to provide either 15 hours of volunteer support or make a small donation. I signed up to be the official photographer, along with my husband. I’m looking forward to capturing great moments during rehearsals, setup, and performances. This will be one well-documented school musical and fun fun fun!

Original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog

The First Week of School Has Come and Gone…

One week down…how many more to go? hahaha

The other day, my husband commented, “It’s been two weeks, right?” Uh no, Honey, only one. The girls have only had one week of school. Just an indicator, I’m sure, of how quickly time will be flying by again.

Lucky and happy. That about sums up our first week of school. After the first day, my girls declared that they loooooooooooove their teachers and so do we. From what we’ve heard, their learning and teaching styles should mesh quite well. Whew! One [major] worry down and a year’s worth more [of worries] to go. hahaha One day at a time, as they say, one day at a time…

Original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

Oh, the Drama of the First Morning of School

So, how’d your First Day of School go? Ours was, well, not nearly as smooth as I’d hoped…despite the early preparations. My girls’ First Day jitters began the Friday morning before the first Monday of school in our household. It manifested itself into quite a dramatic first Monday morning. Ugh.

So, the Friday morning before school, my girls had laid out their outfits for the coming Monday. Back to school clothes shopping was done and new clothes were in their closets and drawers. Were they just a tiny bit excited to start school again? Oh yes, I think they were.

Sunday afternoon. Storyteller opens up all her packages of school supplies. She sharpens all the pencils and organizes them into her new pencil box then packs them into her backpack. The only thing missing? Her lunchbox in the morning.

Sunday evening before school. My husband patiently waits for our girls to change into their pajamas and get into bed before he starts reading a book. Storyteller decides to try on the outfit she had laid out just before she hops into bed. I come up to kiss them good night.

“Mommy!” Storyteller commands with a disturbed look on her face. “This doesn’t feel right!” she says.

“What do you mean? You tried it on in the store, you look so cute!” I replied.

“No, Mommy, it doesn’t feel right here…or here…or here. I don’t want to wear this!” she cries. I try to calm her down. I tell her to wear one of the new shorts or skirts I got for her. She hurriedly goes through her drawers and pulls out a skirt.

“What’s this, Mommy?! I didn’t know the skirt was like this! I don’t like it!” she continued.

I could just feel my blood pressure rising. She needed to get into bed. It was past bedtime already. Somehow, my husband intervened and got them both to climb into bed. As I left the room, I could hear Storyteller mutter, “This is going to be the WORST first day ever!” Uh oh.

First Monday morning of school. I wake up the girls. Songwriter pops out of bed, excited to put on her new dress for school. I encourage Storyteller to get out of bed and get dressed.

“This is going to be the WORST first day ever!” Storyteller says as she lays there, refusing to get out of bed.

“Mommy! The buttons don’t button here. What’s wrong with it?!” Songwriter [yes, Songwriter] complains. I tell her that’s the style. The buttons are just for show and don’t actually button up. She throws an instant fit. She starts screaming. “Mommy! You have to fix it! You have to make button holes, Mommy! Now! Mommy! Mommy!…” the screaming chant continues while Storyteller moans about it being the WORST first day ever and how she’s not getting out of bed.

I could feel my blood pressure rise. I leave the room and go to our bedroom. “Honey, could you please get our girls out of bed? I need to make their lunches downstairs,” I said, exasperated and almost empty of patience.

He quickly replies, “Don’t worry, Honey. I got ’em.” That confident, sure tone mellows me out and I head down to the kitchen.

I was determined to not let my angry frustration get the best of me. I decided not to think about how we made the girls try things on in the store before we bought them. I pushed the images aside of me leading Storyteller away from the shelves of accessories to look at the racks of clothes in the stores as we back-to-school shopped. And in the back of my mind, I knew that it was just nerves underlying their emotional outbursts…but I had to get out of that room.

About 15 minutes later, both girls came downstairs, happy as clams. Both wore new outfits – Songwriter in the original dress she chose and Storyteller wearing something different from her original plan but still new. They sat down to breakfast, happy to see their new lunch boxes and ready to eat breakfast.

Yea, my husband worked his Pappa magic. He had our girls sit on his lap as he told stories of how nervous he was for the first days of school when he was a kid. They love their Pappa stories. I knew he could do it…just like I knew I wouldn’t. My mind was already fast-forwarding to making their lunches and getting breakfast ready. And besides, they pull my heartstrings unlike their Pappa. Certain things work with me that don’t work on him…and vice versa. Handing them off to Pappa was definitely the best move. After all, it was the first day of school.

Original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

Zero Heroes and First Best Friends and Second Best Friends and…

I was having a conversation the other day with my girls. Storyteller was rattling off all the friends she considered her “first best friends.” When she finished, I was wondering about her sister. Why didn’t she mention her sister?

“Oh, she’s a zero hero,” she replied. I was quite curious about the distinction.

“It’s like she’s more than a friend. She’s my sister, so she’s more than that. I only have one friend that’s a zero hero besides Songwriter,” Storyteller explained, “Everyone else is a first best friend or a second best friend or a third best friend or a regular friend.” She looked at me with that patient teaching look in her eyes.

“Oh, I get it,” I said…no I didn’t. When does the “regular friend” actually kick in?

“You know, Mommy,” Songwriter said, “Charlotte pushed me down to regular friend. I used to be her zero hero and then she made me a first best friend and now I’m all the way down at the bottom. A regular friend,” she said with bits of anger and sadness combined.

So, the discussion continued. I explained how friends may change from grade to grade. I explained how she may change each year and that she can have more than one or two friends. I could tell she was still stung by her former zero hero’s change of heart and sorting of her in the circle of friends.  heavy sigh  I knew when this all happened. I saw it happening toward the end of the last school year. And I was glad the summer had come.

But now, the summer is ending and school starts next week. New classrooms, new classmates, new teachers. I’m not as worried this year about Songwriter as I was last year. It seems all the first graders got to know all the other first graders not in their classrooms during recesses and lunch breaks. I’m kinda hoping that Songwriter’s former zero hero is not in her classroom this year so she could start to know other kids. But hey, this is one of those times when I just have to let things happen.

Original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.