Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Get them on a schedule!

Two more common questions we got a lot when the boys were babies: "How do you do it?" and "When one cries, does he wake the other?"

My answer might not be popular among some types of parents, in fact it might be considered down right terrible, but I don't care...it worked for us.  The answer: Babywise.

When I was pregnant, my cousin's wife gave us a book that I think saved our life and probably our marriage:  On Becoming Babywise.  The method, in short, is half scheduling and half feeding on demand, mixed with a method of training the babies to sleep, similar to the Ferber method.

Demand feeding mothers think that you absolutely have to feed the baby every time it's hungry, even if it is every hour on the hour.

Schedulers, on the other hand, say you firmly dictate when the baby is fed.

Babywise uses a window method.  For instance, a six week old baby might have a window of 2-3 hours.  Which means that from the time the baby starts eating, you can feed it again the next time it's hungry as long as it's been at least two hours.  If three hours passes and it hasn't awoken to eat, you go ahead and wake it to feed it.  The time of the window depends on age (although they do allow for other factors, such as weight and prematurity).

Also, you always put the baby down awake, so that it learns to put itself to sleep.  This means, you don't put the baby down right after a feeding, when they are sleepy.  Instead, you stimulate it and keep it awake (again for a certain amount of time depending on age) and then put it down awake.  If it cries, you use a modified Cry-It-Out method very similar to Ferberizing.  You NEVER rock a baby to sleep.

It sounds like a lot of work.  And at first, it is, because you have to keep track of times.  But I'm telling you, if you have two babies, and you ever want to get a good night sleep again...you have to get them sleeping!  And the best part about Babywise is that it boasts teaching your baby to sleep through the night.  And it absolutely worked for us.  Thing1 and Thing2 were sleeping 11 pm through 6 am by 8 weeks old.  Happy momma!

But, the effects lasted way past infancy.  My boys are still fantastic about going to bed.  My friends always seem jealous when we "put them to bed" and it takes less than 5 minutes.  It's because from a very young age we have had a routine and have had clear expectations about bedtime.

We aren't perfect parents by any means.  But the one thing that I strongly feel we've gotten right is their sleeping.  And to me, children who are good sleepers make for happier parents!

So, I thank the woman who passed on this secret to me.  I am thankful I can learn from her trial and error (she did not use Babywise for her first child and she said she nearly died of exhaustion).  And, maybe me passing on our good experience will help another mother out there!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My how date nights have changed

Last week, Superman and I were feeling very frustrated with parenthood and mentioned to his parents that we'd love a night off.  So, they offered to take the boys overnight one night this weekend.  Let the countdown begin!  Everyday it was "# more sleeps til your sleepover at Grandma and Papaw's."  The boys were looking forward to their slumber party at their grandparents' house, but not as much as we were looking forward to our night alone.

Then Saturday came.  Grandma and Papaw came to pick up the boys, and Superman and I still didn't know what we were going to do for our night alone.  At first, we busied ourself around the house working on individual projects.  But as it started getting dark I started bugging him, "what are we going to do tonight?"

Going to a movie sounded too overpriced and there wasn't anything we particularly wanted to see anyway. Dot Dot Dot was playing at the Bluebird, but we couldn't imagine staying up that late to go see a band at a bar.  We didn't want to go out to dinner because I'm back on Weight Watchers and eating out can be tough for me right now.  Basically, none of the traditional date night things were working for us.

So, I said "Do you remember B.C. when we used to cook together all the time?  Let's both cook dinner tonight, just like the old days."  So we did.  We made a delicious shrimp stir-fry and ate it slowly, without having to tell anyone to sit down or take "just two more bites."  Then, we both did the dishes together without having to decide who was going to clean up and who was going to give the bath.

Then, we decided to do something that we never get to do anymore...go shopping alone.  Together.  What a quiet, peaceful, relaxing evening of walking around a store and having the luxury to not hurry.  Not have to worry that something will get broken.  That a boy will wonder off.  Or throw a fit when he doesn't get what he wants.

After thoroughly browsing through some of our favorite stores, we headed home and whipped up a batch of popcorn.  Then, we cuddled up on the couch to watch a movie on Netflix.

We enjoyed a wonderful night of sleeping with no little boys coming in and taking up space, kicking us, stealing blankets, or waking us up early.

Speaking of waking up early... We slept in.  Then took our time getting ready for church in the morning (although we still managed to be late!), and then afterwards continued our shopping spree.  We went to the mall and just enjoyed walking around.  It was heavenly.

This afternoon, Grandma and Papaw brought the boys home and we all enjoyed a big Brinner while the boys excitedly told us about their sleepover.  Eating chicken nuggets, playing with Grandpa's train, and talking to their cousin.

It is wonderful to have the boys home, because we did miss them even after just 24 hours.  But, it was so incredibly nice to have some time to just be us again.  Back to the us we were for almost 5 years before becoming the us we are as parents.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What's your sign?

So yesterday, the big hub-bub all over the internet was whether or not astrological signs have been changed due to some new scientific discovery.  I wasn't too upset to discover that under these new findings, I was supposedly no longer an Aries.  Because while I do know my sign, know what it's attributes are, and occasionally check my horoscope, I pretty much believe it's all crap.  But, fun crap.  Harmless.  Like fortune cookies and Santa Claus.

But I will say, I was really disappointed to see that the boys were no longer considered Geminis, the sign of the twins.

Geminis are considered adaptable and versatile, communicative and witty, intellectual and eloquent, youthful and livey.  They are also supposed to be nervous and tense, superficial and inconsistent, cunning and inquisitive.

Obviously, the boys are versatile, intelligent, youthful and lively, and cunning and inquisitive.  So, I give this astrological sign a 42% accuracy.

But of course, I don't care about that.  I care that my twin sons were born under the sign of the twins!

Luckily, all the hub-bub was about nothing.  Apparently the astrological signs we typically follow are the Tropical signs which have not changed.  Go here if you don't believe me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Today is January 12, 2011.  That means Thing1 and Thing2 are 3 years and 7 months and 1 day old.  And I am proud and ashamed to say that I am up to April (10 months!) of their baby scrapbooks!

I'm ashamed because they are 3 years old and I just this year started their baby books.  However, I'm proud because just a few months ago I hadn't even started and now I'm almost done!

It took me so long to get started because a) time (hello, I am a mom of two and work full time), b) money (printing all the photos, buying the necessary scrapbooking supplies, it all adds up quickly), and c) place.  Before, we bought our house in June 2009, I didn't have "a room of one's own" for my crafts.  It is so important to have the right space.  For organizing, which makes working MUCH easier.  But also for protecting.  All scrapbookers know that you really have to spread out when working, which means that it's hard to only scrapbook for an hour if you have to spend 15 minutes getting it all out and then 15 minutes clearing it all up every time.  And when you have young kids, you have to clean it up.  Leaving out trimmers and scissors and adhesives is a giant no-no!

But this last summer, I took one of the bedrooms in our new house and transformed it into my ultimate craft room.  Meanwhile, I slowly started ordering pictures.  100 at a time.  Two of each print.  Until I had everything, from birth to the boys' first birthday parties (all three of them!).  And then I started scrapping.

Having twins, I couldn't just do one scrapbook, I had to do one for each.  (I am doing these instead of the fill-in-the-blank baby books.)  So, for every page I make, I have to actually make two versions, one Thing1-centric and one Thing2-centric.

Now, the question is.  Once I finish with the album and start on the pictures from their 2nd year, do I make one or two?  Part of me thinks I should just make one and call it a "Family Album."

Superman said that if I make one, I have to make two.  I said that they could just split up the family albums when I die.  The same way my siblings and I would have to when our parents pass.  But he thinks that it would be unfair to expect them to split them up that way.  But I think what are the odds the boys would even care about having tons of scrapbooks when they get older anyway?  Isn't the most important thing that first year baby book?

Hmm...need to think more on it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tornado Twins

(of a child) Having developed certain abilities or proclivities at an earlier age than usual.


(of a person, animal, or their behavior) Causing or showing a fondness for causing trouble in a playful way.


Exuberant; boisterous.

These are the words I most commonly use to describe my children.  Sure, they are sweet, smart, funny, kind, ___insert other random generic adjectives used to describe children here___, but these are the qualities that seem to be distinctly my boys.  They have moments of sweetness, but they are perpetually mischievous.  They are smart, but most typically it manifests in a precocious manner.

I sometimes have to laugh at suggestions other mothers give me.  "Oh, I took my 3 year old daughter to this pottery shop and she painted her own pottery.  She loved it.  You should take Thing1 and Thing2."  Uh?  Because I have nothing better to spend my money on than 20 lbs of broken ceramic?  Because I can tell you that my Tornado Twins will want to touch everything, climb on most things, and play with all of the above.  And maybe, just maybe, they'd sit long enough to scribble two lines of paint onto a statue of a train (because of course they'd want to paint a train).

Does it bother me that my children are so ill-mannered?  Yes and no.  Do I wish they wouldn't touch things they aren't supposed to touch?  And sometimes break those things.  Of course I do.  And I also wish I didn't have to be running around like a mother hen clucking "No.  Don't touch that.  Not for you."  And actually, I probably look more like a chicken running around with her head cut off squawking uncontrollably because I'm so terrified they are going to break something expensive or worse yet, sentimental.  I've been there before and it didn't turn out well.

But, I'm also proud that they are so active and curious.  I know other kids their age who are already couch potatoes: addicted to tv, to video games, to the computer.  I love that my boys would rather run around and play with actual toys.  Sure, they watch some tv, but they lose interest fast and run away to go play together.  And, c'mon, they are only three years old.  Do I really want to stifle natural curiosity by forcing them to adhere to behavior norms of adults?

Their teacher tells me all the time how advanced their sensory skills are.  That they are always the first at the table to try a new activity.  Whether it is playing in water, with play-dough, shaving cream, paint, mud...the boys love all mediums.  They aren't afraid to touch different textures or try new things.  They are adventurous.  I always take this as a compliment.  Why shouldn't I outside of the classroom?  Focus on these developmental milestones as indicators of cognitive acheivement, instead of focusing on whether or not someone is going to give me a dirty look.

A few years back, when a parent would say "oh my child is so rambunctious", I would say that I have a special place in my heart for those children.  They capture my heart more swiftly and well than the quiet ones.  And I meant it.

The problem is when that child is yours.  And you deal with them every day.  It's just so tiring.  And when you have two of these children, and they feed off one another's behavior.  It's downright exhausting.

This past Sunday, we were at our wit's end.  Both Superman and I could feel ourselves bubbling at the children's increasingly rambunctious behavior. So, we did something fairly unusual for us.  We split them up.  Sure, we'd done things with them separately before.  But usually it was because one had a doctor's appointment, was sick, or sleeping.  I don't think we'd ever before consciously said, "Look, I'll take this one, and you take that one."  But we did.  I got Thing2 dressed, loaded him in the car and took him grocery shopping and errand running with me.  Superman got Thing1 dressed and took him out to play in the snow.

And it was great!  Thing2 was such a good boy sitting in the cart, reading his train book, and talking to me about all of the groceries I was putting in the cart.  He got a free cookie, lots of samples, and even got to snack on some Pringles straight out of the can.  As we are checking out at the third store, he looks at me and says "Mom, I wanna go home now.  Go play with brother and Daddy."  And I gladly obliged.

When we got home, Superman reported that Thing1 too had had a great time.  He had helped shovel the driveway, and then was rewarded by being drug and flung around on the sled.  Without having to wait his turn.

It is amazing to me how calm, demure, and behaved the boys can be when they are by themselves.  When they don't have that other half fueling the flames of their curiosity and playfulness.  I still wouldn't trade my precocious, mischievous, rambunctious Tornado Twins for the world.  But, I think we will have to start making Singleton Outings a regular habit.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mean Mommy

When Superman and I talked about having children, and what kind of parenting theories we ascribed to, we were on the exact same page.  Neither of us believed in corporal punishment, aka spanking.  We both preferred to use alternative discipline measures, such as positive reinforcement (praise, rewards, etc. for good behavior), redirection, and consequences (time-outs, losing privileges).

Superman was never really spanked himself.  He said he recalls being spanked once in his life.  He says his mom was a yeller, but never really at him.  He was a good kid.  Quiet.  Polite.  Respectful.

I, on the other hand, am surprised I don't have a permanent tattoo of my dad's hand on my ass.  I don't know if my parents "believed" in spanking, but I sure know they used it.  A lot.  And when I was too old to be spanked, I got smacked across the face.  Now, I'll admit my parents never hit me for no good reason.  I had a smart mouth on me.  Not insolent, but sarcastic.  But I can't say that that is why I got spanked so much, because my brother was more like Superman, very quiet and never talked back, yet he got hit just as much as I did.

I don't have a particular aversion towards spanking.  I don't think it made me a bad person or ruined my life.  A lot of my friends openly spank their children, and I never try to dissuade them from their parental choices.  I just personally do not like the concept and prefer not to do it with my children.  For starters, I feel like spanking sends a negative message: if you don't like something someone does, use a violent response to solve the issue.  I find it especially contradictory if you spank your child for say hitting their sibling.  "Don't hit your brother.  Now bend over so I can show you hitting is wrong."

But like many things about parenthood, what you say B.C. in theory might not always line up with the action.  (One of my favorite quotes about motherhood is: "I was a much better mother before I had kids.")

Now that I am a parent of three year olds, I can say that I understand why many people spank.  Sometimes you are as mad as hell because your kids have dumped what seems like the entire contents of your fridge on your dining room floor.  You send them to their time out chairs and they sit there laughing and giggling.  Laughing and giggling!  You scream at them to be quiet.  They still laugh and giggle.  You are cleaning up the mess (because while you believe in making the kids pick up their messes, that doesn't apply when there is butter and mayonnaise involved, because that would lead to an even bigger mess!).  And they are laughing and giggling.  So you send them to their room.  In the dark.  And they are still laughing and giggling.  Whispering to each other.  You yell for them to be quiet.  You are seeing red!  You can't remember the last time you've been this angry.  You want to literally smack the smiles off their faces.  You want them to be as upset about it as you are.  To transfer your feelings onto them.  To give them something to cry about.  So you spank them.

And for a moment, you do feel better.  They have quit laughing.  Now they know that you are mad.  Now they know that they should feel bad.  They are crying.  Hard.

But are you happy?  I wasn't.  I just felt worse.  I had to resist every urge to pick them up and apologize. To hold them and cry with them and say I'm sorry and promise to never hit them again.  I didn't do that, because at that point I figured, what is done is done.  I won't confuse them now by following their first spanking with tender loving care.  I'll make the best of the bad situation and let the spanking stand, as a punishment.

The problem.  It was a fairly effective punishment.  So effective that for weeks later, I could still get them to modify a behavior by just the threat of a spanking.  Because even though I wouldn't ever threaten spanking when I'm calm and rational, when I'm mad and frustrated I feel my resolve completely disappear and those words "Do you want a spanking" find themselves tumbling out of my mouth.  Although now, enough time has passed that the threat is wearing off.  The boys are calling my bluff.  And I have to decide what to do.

I don't want to spank.  I don't want to yell.  I want to get my temper under control so that I can learn to deal with my frustrations in a more constructive manner.  I've watched Super Nanny.  I know what you are supposed to do.  But it's easier said than done.

I bought a book recently that was recommended to me by another parent, Setting Limits.  It talks about the three parent types: the authoritarian (yelling, hitting, spanking), the permissive (giving lots of warnings with delayed or non-existent consequences), and the combined.  I'm only a few chapters in, but so far I've surmised that the combined is the worst because it is inconsistent (and if there is one thing I know about kids, it's that they thrive on routine and consistency).  So, guess which one I am?

I really need to find the time to finish reading this book, because I want help.  I want to be the better, more consistent, non-spanking parent that I know I can be.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

So much for for just $1

In need of a fun family activity to do on the weekend?  Check out your local bus system.

My boys are huge train lovers.  But traveling anywhere and taking a train ride is usually a pretty time consuming and expensive trip.  Instead of shelling out $75 in train tickets, I've discovered that I can get the boys just as excited to go and ride the bus (hope this excitement lasts through high school!).  And since in the college town where I live a university ID (which I have) gets you on free and kids under 5 (which Thing1 and Thing2 are) are also free, we only have to shell out $1 each way for Superman.

Today's trip.  We are riding to the public library.  It seems the novelty has worn off the half dozen train books I got the boys back in November.  But this time, instead of buying new books, I'm going to take them to the library and let them pick a few out.

$2 in bus far.  $0 in book rental.  = An inexpensive family filled Saturday afternoon.  Which = happy Mommy!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Are they identical?

Are they identical?

Over the past three years, I've learned that there is no easy way to answer this question asked often by well meaning and curious people (friends and strangers alike).

If I say "No, they're fraternal," the response is "No, I think they are identical."  If I say "Yes, they are," the response is "No, I don't think so.  Look, his face is much rounder.  And he is just a little taller."  Either way, I never win.  And honestly, I don't even know which answer is right, myself.

What do I mean?  Well, let's take a brief detour for a quick science lesson, shall we?

Identical twins, technically known as monozygotic twins, are spontaneously formed when one egg and one sperm have joined together and start dividing, just like any normal pregnancy.  However, at some point in this division process, the cell splits into two, which results in not one, but two embryos.  Because of the split, the fetuses will typically end up sharing either a placenta, an embryonic sac, or both, all depending on how early/late in the process the cell splits.  Identical twins, do not "run in families," are not a result of fertility treatments, and do not result in perfect carbon copy children.  While it's true that they share the same initial DNA, there are a other factors that are involved: environmental, lifestyle, etc.  Many of these affect how the twins look over time, however identical twins can come into the world differently too.  Especially since they are more at risk for Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS), which is when the two fetuses receive a disproportionate amount of the blood supply.

Fraternal twins, technically dizygotic twins, are formed when the mother's ovaries release two eggs and both eggs are individually fertilized by sperm.  These twins are genetically no different than any other sibling pair.  They just happen to share a birthday.  However, that doesn't mean that can't look a ton a like (Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen are fraternal twins).  Think about it.  How many times have you heard/seen parents compare pictures of their non-twin children around the same ages and proclaim "They look identical."  My best friend's sons look so much alike that I literally thought two side by side framed pictures were of the same baby.

So, which kind are my boys?  Well, when my doctor found out I was having twins, the first thing she did was look for two sacs and two placentas, because she was concerned about TTTS.  She was glad to report that they did indeed each have their own of both.  She then quickly explained that they were most likely fraternal, with a very small chance of being identical.  I could have a DNA test done, but they are very expensive.  At the time finding out they were most likely fraternal was really good news to me.  I wish I could say it was because I was worried about TTTS.  But really, it was because I was really hoping for one boy and one girl.  And identical twins alway have the same sex.*

*Okay, not always, but almost always with very very few freak exceptions.

Fast forward a few years.  I have two boys who I was told are fraternal, but really do LOOK identical.  And it's not just strangers who can't tell them apart.  It's our friends, our family, and sometimes us! Curiosity takes me to the internet to find out what is the statistical likelihood that they could in fact be identical despite having all their own "parts". Imagine my surprise when I found out that the liklihood is not 1% like I thought, but more like 20% (they just have to have split within the first 72 hours)!.  It's still not huge, but it is 1 in 5.  Those are much better odds than 1 in 100.

So now, I'm thinking "maybe they are identical."  Which then leads me to search for blood tests.  I find out that there are a lot of websites that offer DNA testing for twins.  And, the tests aren't $500 like my doctor told me.  They run about $160 (including shipping).  You order your kit, swab both boys' cheeks, package the swabs up, send them back, and in about 7 days you receive your results.  Easy-peesy.  I'm psyched!  I've got my credit card out and am ready to order.

But something holds me back.  When we got married, Superman and I made a pact not to spend over a certain amount of money without consulting the other.  This was over that amount.  So I put my credit card away and started building my case for why I'd spend $160 on a blood test for absolutely zero medical necessity.  I should have built a better case, because I was DE-NIED!  It was an 'unnecessary expense."  I couldn't argue that it was necessary, because was it?  Really?

With my head hanging low, I called the person with whom I most like to bitch about Superman's stingy nature... my mother-in-law.  Yes, believe it or not, my MIL is my favorite confidant for my complaints about her son.  See, Superman is just like his dad.  And if there is one person who understands my frustrations, it is the woman that has been married to the older version for 40+ years.  Every one of my "ughs" is followed with a reassuring "I know, he does the same thing."

But guess what?  MIL is really interested in the test.  She too thinks they might be identical and really wants to find out for sure.  She offers to pay for the test.  Hmm, so that would take the money issue off the table.

Then I mention the issue to my own mother.  She too wants to find out.  She offers to split the cost with my MIL.

So back to the husband.

And he says... "Nah".  What?  "Nah."  But you said it was an 'unnecessary cost.'  Now, it would be free.  "I just don't want to."

After much "discussion,"  I can best explain that Superman doesn't want the boys to take the test because he doesn't want them to be identical.  He doesn't want them to be one unit split in half, but rather two separate beings with separate identities.  I explain that the test doesn't make them identical.  Whether they are identical or fraternal was determined a long time ago in my uterus, the test would just tell us...  But he won't budge.  He doesn't want to know.  He wants to just go on assuming they are fraternal.  What I don't know doesn't hurt me kind of thinking.

My mother and MIL both encourage me to try and convince him to let the boys take the test, but just don't tell him the results.

Uh, so how does that work?  It'd be like saying "Honey, can I find out the sex of our unborn baby?  I promise I won't tell you."  Meanwhile I'm picking out pink paint for the nursery and buying frilly dresses.  !?!?!?!  There are certain things that are all or nothing.

So far, I've been unable to convince him to change his mind.  And really, should I try?  I mean,  isn't it I who complain that people don't treat them as individuals?

In the end, we made a compromise.  When the boys are older.  If they want to find out for themselves, we will have the test done.  If they don't really care or don't want to know, we won't.  We'll leave it up to them to make that decision.

And I guess I'm happy with that compromise.

Mostly because I'm 100% positive they'll want to find out.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

40 before 40

When I turned 25, I had a bit of a "quarter-life crisis". To help battle my feelings of failure and disappointment, I made a list of 5 goals that I wanted to achieve by 30. They were:

1. Be married (hopefully to Superman)
2. Have (at least started) a family
3. Have a job in my career field
4. Own a house
5. Own a boat

In the years between writing the list and turning 30 (2009), I had forgotten about my list. But as luck would have it, a few months after turning the big 3-0, I found it. I was very satisfied to see my progress.

1. Be married (hopefully to Superman) Check!
2. Have (at least started) a family Done! Check!
3. Have a job in my career field Check!
4. Own a house Almost check, as I was in the process of finalizing the purchase of our house.
5. Own a boat Not even close. However, seeing as I had two toddlers, this was also no longer a goal.

Recently, I decided I needed to make a new list. Goals of things to achieve by the time I'm 40. Here it is (in no particular order)...

My List:

1. Write a book (Even if I NEVER publish it.)
2. Get something published (photo, article, etc.) (journal article Fall 2015)
3. Sell something on etsy.com (summer 2011)
4. Present at a national conference (ACTFL - November 2015)
5. Have a job I love
6. Continue my education (through a certificate, another Masters, or start PhD) (IST Grad Certificate May 2014)
7. Jog a 5K (without stopping to walk)
8. Finish a half-marathon (don't care if I have to walk!)
9. Learn yoga (summer 2013)
10. Achieve a normal weight BMI (18.5–24.9)
11. Cook an entire Thanksgiving meal by myself (Thanksgiving 2013)
12. Grow an herb garden  (summer 2011)
13. Grow a vegetable garden (summer 2011)
14. Learn how to jar/can something (jarred jalapeños grown from my own garden summer 2013)
15. Make my own hot sauce (summer 2016)
16. Make my own wine
17. Take a "girls only" vacation (St. Louis - February 2015)
18. Take my kids to Disney World (March 2013 and again May 2014)
19. Take Superman to Cabo
20. Visit my good friend in India
21. Go to Hawaii (visit where I was born)
22. Go white water rafting
23. Take a cruise
24. Travel by train*
25. See a show on Broadway
26. Finish Thing1 & Thing2's scrapbooks (spring 2011)
27. Scrapbook my wedding (summer 2011)
28. Scrapbook my college years
29. Scrapbook my high school photos
30. Learn to play piano
31. Learn to use my serger (summer 2011)
32. Learn to knit
33. Learn to use coupons (making it a habit)
34. Read at least 15 more books from the top 100 novels list
35. Put myself on the bone marrow transplant list
36. Fill a recipe box with my favorite recipes (including family recipes) (fall 2013, made a family recipe cookbook on shutterfly)
37. Build something (like a shed, or pantry, etc)  (craft table...summer 2011)
38. Establish a style
39. Add charms for my sons to my charm bracelet
40. Take part in a Flash Mob

Wish me luck and keep me honest!

*I realized after I wrote this that I have already traveled by train when my best friend FotoGal and I backpacked through Europe together in college. What I mean more specifically is taking a vacation (with my train loving sons) through the U.S. by train. Which I have never done.

"How do you do it?"

"How do you do it?"

"Having twins must be hard!"

"Is it a lot harder than having one baby?"

"I don't think I could ever do that."

These are just a few variations of a common comment I get from friends and strangers about being a mom of twins.

Depending on the mood I'm in, my responses vary.

If I'm feeling chipper, I'll launch into my informative reply:

Actually, having twins is a lot easier than I though it'd be.  You just have to get them on a schedule.  My kids eat at the same time, sleep at the same time, and even seem to poop almost at the same time!  Honestly, I think it's easier than having two just a year or so apart.  At least my kids eat the same foods, wear the same size clothes and diapers, have the same nap schedules.  I can't imagine having to handle two young ones at different ages with wildly different needs!  Now that sounds hard!

If I'm feeling tired, I give my passive reply:

Yes, it is hard.  Sometimes I don't know how I do it.  (Then stick my nose in a book or change the subject.)

If I'm feeling frisky, I might give one of my smart ass replies:

"How do you do it?"  With a lot of help from cheap wine, ambien, and ear plugs.

"Having twins must be hard!"  Nah, two aren't so bad.  Now triplets, that was bad!  I finally just took their other brother back to the hospital for a refund.

"Is it a lot harder than having one baby?"  I don't know.  I've never had just one baby.

"I don't think I could ever do that." What would you have done?  Put one on the curb with a sign around its neck saying, "Free to a good home."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Please don't call them "the twins"

I love being a mom.  And I especially love being the mother of twins.  There is something so sweet and special about the bond my boys share, and have shared since they were womb mates kicking around in my tummy.

When my cousin's wife (who also had twins) found out our good news she told me "parents of twins are the rock stars of parents".  And she was right.  People are drawn to double strollers with two little pink-nosed bundles of joy.  I couldn't go anywhere without throngs of people who would ooh-and-ahh over how beautiful they were and how lucky I was.  I actually sometimes got embarrassed when I'd be out with a friend who also had a baby and strangers would seem to ignore their singleton to fawn over mine.  I would say it's because my boys are especially beautiful, but I know deep down it is because double the baby equals double the cuteness.  Period.

 It seemed that for the first year I had my sons the soundtrack of my life was on a track repeat of "I always wanted to have twins" and stories of "my cousin's sister's neighbor's ex-boyfriend's mother was a twin."  And other parents of twins alternating between "don't worry, I survived" and "it gets better, honey".

And don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining.  I actually liked the attention.  What mother isn't proud to show off her new baby(ies)?!  And believe you me, I played up the twins aspect by keeping them in coordinating outfits.  Even their bibs and blankets were coordinating with each other.  And yes, if one messed up his outfit, they both got changed!  (Even when it was just us at home.)

But as much as I worked to keep them in coordinating outfits, I steered clear of exactly matching.  You see, whether or not my sons are genetically identical (we'll discuss this in a later blog) they look almost exactly alike.  They have the same hair color, the same eye color, the same nose, the same mouth, and since they've been born they have never been more than a few ounces and a 1/4 inch different in size.  Sure, their father and I can tell them apart by their subtle differences (one's face is rounder while the other's is more oval...one has pointy eyebrows while the other's are more arched), but we are their parents.  We have been with them day and night since they were born.  We can tell their laughs apart.  Their voices.  The way they say our names.  We don't expect other people who have just met them, or only see them a few times a year, or even a few times a month, to be able to pick up on those slight differences.  So, since they were born, I have used a color coding system.  Thing1 is almost always dressed in blue and Thing2 is almost always dressed in red.  Which is handy because Thing1's name and blue both have four letters and Thing2's name and red both have three letters."  Of course, not every outfit can match up exactly to this pattern. Sometimes Thing1 ends up in green (almost blue) and Thing2 in orange (almost red).  Again I didn't do this so we could tell them apart, I did this so OTHER people could.  I wanted people to be able to call them by their name, without always having to ask me "which one do I have again?"  (Although, I will admit that three years later as I'm belatedly working on their scrapbooks, it comes in very handy for recognizing who is who in pictures, which is often harder to tell.)

So, you see, I really don't understand why after all of the trouble I go to to make sure the kids are dressed in code, some people don't even bother to try and tell them apart.  The worst was the woman who called them "the twin" and "the other twin".  I didn't say anything right away, but I did let her know later that that really bothered me.  See, I don't even refer to my sons as "the twins."  I will call them "the boys," "my sons," "my kids," but never "the twins" or "my twins".  I do occasionally say "I have twin boys" or "my three year old twin sons", but I try to always use "twin" as an adjective not a noun.

I can't even really clear explain why this bothers me so much.  I guess for me being a twin is a description of them (adjective), not a definition of who they are (noun).  Sure, they are the same age, look amazingly alike, and both love trains, but there are a lot of differences too.  Thing2 loves fruit.  Any fruit.  And will steal it off your plate if you aren't looking.  Thing1 loves carbs and junk food (pray he gets Daddy's metabolism!).  Thing2 is very independent and wants to do everything himself.  He'll play by himself and doesn't care who is playing with him.  Thing1 always wants help and is always trying to recruit someone to come play with him.  He loves to be cuddled and often asks for extra kisses at bedtime.  Thing2 is stingy with affection and rations how much you can kiss and hug him.  Just to name a few.

To me they aren't "my twins" they are two very different children.  Sure, like I said, I call them my boys, but so does any mom with multiple male children, regardless of age.  Or my kids, like moms who have multiple children of different ages and sexes.  But to call them "the twins" to me conjures up creepy images of pale faced dark haired girls in bobby socks willing you to "come play with me".  Or silly twins in movies who laugh alike, walk alike, and even times they talk alike, finishing each other's sentences and trying to switch places to fool their teachers.  I feel like that word "twin" carries so much connotative meaning that I don't want to pigeon hole my children with.

I should say that not all mothers of twin children agree with me.  I know plenty that they themselves call their children "my twins".  So, my suggestion is that you listen for what the mother says and follow her lead.  And if that isn't clear, I think it is always safe to call the children by their names.  I will never get upset with someone for calling them the wrong name.  To me, what is important is the effort.  How would you feel if I called your son or daughter "the baby" or "the kid" all of the time instead of learning their name?

In any case, they are finally at the age where they can correct you!  Which is really a good thing, because their other new thing to show individuality is their desire to pick out their own clothes.  Yesterday Thing2 picked out a blue Thomas the Tank Engine to wear to school, and Thing1 picked out a red shirt with James on it.  And wouldn't you know that I forgot to mention it to their teacher and she confessed to Superman at pick up that she spent the first part of the morning calling them by the wrong names!

My worry...how will I be able to tell them apart in pictures now!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


To most people, the term B.C. when related to telling time refers to Before Christ.  But to me, B.C. means Before Children.  For example "Those boots are gorgeous!  I would have bought them B.C., but instead I'll be buying these much less expensive boots."  To say life changes after you have children is an understatement.  So much so that sometimes I have a hard time remembering what life was like before I became a mom!

I will admit that I was one of "those girls" that wanted the realistic looking baby dolls for Christmas, loved babysitting so I could "play house", and had baby names picked out long before I began dating, or even menstruating!  But wanting to have kids wasn't my entire life.  I mean, I loved softball, camping, water skiing, fishing, and Nintendo.  In fact, many would (and have) described me as a tomboy.  Nor did I rush to get married and start a family young.  I went to college, then grad school, and started a career before I settled down.  In fact, I guess I must have hid my dream of motherhood well enough that even my own father expressed surprise when I decided against going to law school because I was worried that a career in law would prohibit me from being the kind of mother I wanted me to be.

Then in June 2007, after a complication riddled pregnancy, including 15 weeks of bed arrest (I refuse to call it bed rest, but that is another blog) my dream was fulfilled.  I had two precious, healthy baby boys and was more in love than I could have ever imagined!  But motherhood is not as clean, and beautiful, and pretty as it was with plastic baby dolls dressed in white lace dresses.  It is chaotic and dirty, and often thankless.  Sometimes I just want to tell motherhood "I will always love you, but I don't like you very much right now."

Listening to the radio on the way to drop the kids off at pre-school this morning, I heard the deejay discussing a recent poll asking Americans if they would rather A) spend a week away from their family or B) have their cell phone taken away for a day.  And he acted genuinely shocked at how many people (47%) chose A.  He seemed to think it was a sad commentary on American families or something.  I, on the other hand, know exactly why I would choose A:

Spending a week without my family would increase my productivity!  Do you know how much housework I could get done?  How many scrapbook pages I could finish!  Finally touch up that paint in the bedroom.  And I'd still have time to grab a mani/pedi!  They didn't say they'd give up their families forever, just one week!  Besides, absence makes the heart grow fonder.  One of my favorite things is that first day home from a few days away at a work conference.  I miss them.  They miss me.  For one day we are all on our best behavior and momentarily forget how crazy we make each other.

On the other hand, you take away my cell phone and my productivity decreases.  Now, not only do I still have to do all of the normal things I feel like I don't have enough time for, but throw in the fact that I'm having to search for a land line phone to make any necessary calls.  Oh, and when I get there I don't even know the number to dial because it's stored in the address book on my phone!

You know the old saying "If momma ain't happy...ain't nobody happy."  Since, I know no one is going to take my kids for the week I decided that I still need to do something just for me.  So I decided to think all the way back to B.C., what did I love?  I used to love to write.  I wrote short stories, poems, prose, blogs...you name it.  Once upon a time, I even had aspirations to become an author.  But between work, and marriage, and children, my writing has fallen to the wayside.  In fact, the most writing I do these days are my 420 word limit Facebook statuses.

So, thanks to inspiration from a friend, I've decided to start out 2011 by starting this blog.  I'll warn you that it won't be pretty (I haven't written in a long time).  And it will be dominated by talk of my children (I told you, I do love motherhood most of the time!).  But whether or not anyone likes it, or even reads it, doesn't matter.  As long as I am writing again, getting it all out there, doing something just for me...Momma will be happy.