Prior to this blog, prior to marriage and prior to the twinsanity that I now call my life, life was quite different for me. When you visit this blog, you won’t find me writing much about my life pre-twins – I hope that’s okay. Why? You ask. Because life with twins changes everything and my life pre-multiples is now just a dizzy, distant memory. And while it’s true that life years ago may have been a little more glamorous, the life I live now is a whole lot more rewarding and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I’m glad you’ve stopped by...there’s a really strong chance that I won’t offer anything extraordinary here, but by the same token there is also the possibility that you will experience a taste of the adventures, challenges and many joys that come with my life with twins. Hopefully that will be enough to bring you back here again.
Monday, July 28, 2008
So, I’ve just finished up a week of play dates, doctor appointments and errands with twin toddlers constantly in tow. And, lo and behold, here comes a sweet, smiling woman with a predictable comment or question: "Looks like you have your hands full. Did you deliver naturally? Did you use fertility drugs?"
Having twins, I seem to get all kinds of crazy questions! Sometimes, I feel that we should charge admission to a side show to all the curious strangers we encounter when out and about with Paige and Taylor. It’s also fascinating to me how many strangers are interested in the most personal details of my life.
People just seem so intrigued by twins. I’m sure that they don’t mean to say silly things or ask what I would consider to be very personal questions but, it just happens. In this journey of raising twins, I’ve learned to forgive many a stranger and passerby-er for their curious questions and comments. Then, usually my husband and I share a good laugh later.
Here are a few of our top (least) favorite comments and most-asked questions:
- Comment from a stranger: “I could never do it.”
Me: “Oh, really. What would you do? Are you suggesting I put them on the curb with signs around their necks that say, ‘Free to a good home. My mom can’t do it.’”
Of course, I never respond this way although I’m very tempted to sometimes depending on how my day is going.
- Question from a stranger: “Do they have different personalities?”
Me: “No. They are the exact same human being divided into two parts.”
Okay, that’s the answer I want to give sometimes especially if I’m in a hurry. My more likely response is something like this: “No. They are really very different. This one is shy. This one is flirty. This one is the drama queen…” Blah, blah, blah.
- Question from a stranger: “Did you use fertility drugs?”
Me: “No. It was a total surprise. We just thought we’d ease into this whole family thing like most people do - one child at a time. Lucky us, we were doubly blessed naturally.”
- Comment from a stranger: “Just wait till they’re older. It only gets harder.”
Me: “Oh, thanks, that’s just what I needed to hear today.”
- Question from a stranger: “When one of the twins cries, does she wake the other?”
Me: “No. Twins cannot hear each other’s cries because they all communicate with their special telepathic language only.”
If feeling punchy, this is a fun one! You can really embellish this response by talking about ‘twinspeak’, etc.
- Question from a stranger: “Were they in the same sac?”
Me: “Hello. Nice to meet you, too. Will you be sharing your gynecological history with me too?”
No, I never answer this question with this type of response although I’ve been tempted too many times.
- Question from a stranger: “Are they developmentally behind?”
Me: “Well, let’s see. They’re 2-1/2 years old and as of right now, all their graduate school applications have been denied.”
- Question from a stranger: “How do you do it?”
Me: "I just do it. I also try not to stop and think about it too much because if I do, that’s when it can get really overwhelming.”
- Comment from a stranger: “You must be SO busy.”
Me: “Yeah, some days.”
- Question from a stranger: “How do you tell them apart?”
Me: "I just look at them.”
- Question from a stranger: “What do you do when they both cry or fuss at the same time?”
Me: “Sometimes I cry too. More often that not though, I just jump in the car with them and we drive to Starbucks and get my fix of a grande, non-fat, light whip peppermint mocha. Starbucks can make everything all better.”
And, finally. Drum roll, please....
- Question from a stranger: “Did you plan to have identical twins?”
Me: “Yeah, totally. One night I just told my husband to sock it to me so we’d get two.”
No, of course, I never give that response but it would be fun to one day just to see what response I get back. Ha, ha, ha.
Their ability to relate to their puppy is becoming pretty clear as they are always eager to help guide their puppy to its “bed”, to help their puppy go outside and to reward their puppy with yummy “treats”. Today, I even heard Paige telling the puppy “I’m so proud of you” after the puppy had finished eating its dog bone. Hearing Paige easily relate to Tukker and give a little atta-girl “I’m so proud of you” message to her puppy was very sweet. It’s so nice to see the girls interested in their puppy and showing so much love towards Tukker.
Lots of XOXOs from the Twins for Tukker
We’ve been practicing our ABC’s for the past couple of weeks and today, I heard Taylor singing her ABC’s almost perfectly. She got the “L, M, N, O, P” letters a little out of sequence but the rest of the alphabet song, she got right. Paige is getting there too – she gets the first 6 or 7 letters right, then jumbles up the middle section of the alphabet song and then comes back for a strong finish with “U, V, W, X, Y, and Z…now I know my ABC’s, next time won’t you sing with me”. It’s very cute hearing the girls singing the ABC song together!
This afternoon, we also worked on our ABC’s puzzles. Some of these pictures are actually a little deceiving because the girls look like such little darlings sitting for what appears to be such a long period of time but they’re definitely not. We snapped these pictures in all of about 2 minutes which is about as long as they will sit and do any one focused task at this point. Ha, ha!
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Taylor Riding the Carousel (& Showing off Her "Pink Elephants" T)
Helping the McCain Campaign - Hanging Yard Signs in the Neighborhood
- Photo: Paige (L) / Taylor (R) -
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Before we had our twins, we had just one baby. Tukker. The coolest, best chocolate lab in the world.
We still have Tukker. She's great with Paige and Taylor. All labs probably are but Tukker is really great with the twins. Did I also mention she's the coolest, best chocolate lab in the world?! Tukker lets the twins lay all over her, pull her tail and her ears. In return for their pestering, Tukker occassionally is known to eat, chew or in some other fashion destroy the twins toys especially when she thinks noone is looking.
Tukker (2 Months Old) Tukkered Out and Sleeping
Tukker (2 Months Old) Playing Ball
Tukker (4 Months Old) Ready to Play
Today, I decided to stroll down memory lane. While I’m extremely blessed and fortunate to have such wonderful children, motherhood hasn’t been a piece of cake. Thinking back upon life pre-twins and pre-motherhood can be a nice distraction from time to time – and today was one of those days. Besides the day-to-day stress of raising twins there are the other everyday worries to tend to – that maybe we’re not saving enough for the children’s college funds, that there always seems to be a surplus of doctor appointments for the twins to be running to and from and that there are a myriad of other demands on us daily. That’s life, I know, but remembering when our biggest concerns as a married couple were juggling our separate work schedules to rendevous after work and squeeze in 9 holes of golf or planning out our next exciting vacation was actually a little refreshing and invigorating today. I’ll take you back with me on my little trip down memory lane today....
There was a time when my husband and I had lots of time - no, more like oogles and oogles of time - for whatever we wanted to do. When the impulse would hit us to do something, we just did it. This was of course well before Paige and Taylor. I’ll call these our leisure years.
There was time for golfing (as often as we wanted)! Here’s me on the greens – nailing a pretty nice shot too.
Ashley Golfing in Monterey, California
There was time for taking exotic vacations. One year it was to Cancun, another to Italy to tour Venice, Milan and Rome and still another to Hawaii to island hop from Kona, Oahu and Kauai. Here we are enjoying the warm sunshine in Hawaii and Cancun.
Ashley and Mike Poolside in Cancun, Mexico
Ashley and Mike in Oahu
So, in this blog, I’ve mentioned my awesome husband a few times. Well, a trip down memory lane just wouldn’t be complete without a look back at our blissful wedding day. My, my, my what a difference just a couple of years of marriage makes. (We looked like little kids in our wedding picture). I’ve also thrown in an extra photo of my smashingly handsome husband.
Oh, Happy Day. May 2003
See, I Told You He Was Nice Looking!
Fast Forward to Instant Family with Twins
These days we may not get to travel as exotically or as often as we used to or get to play as many rounds of golf as we used to but that is part of this whole journey. These days our excursions center around trips to the zoo, train rides, trips to the park, etc. etc. We have had our ups and downs but through it all, we’ve tried to keep our marriage at the forefront of our decisions knowing that we both deserve to be taken care of and loved before all other duties in life. At times, this has been an especially tough principle to adhere to since the twins completed our family. It’s really all too easy to put their needs and demands first (especially as a mother), leaving both of us a little deflated, a little more than exhausted, and zapped of energy sometimes. In the end though we know that life will continue to take us down many paths and we will always have each other to lean on and our kids will be right there with us making the journey even more memorable.
Trip to Six Flags
5 Years Of Marriage Later....We Still Have Each Other to Lean On!
Monday, July 21, 2008
This past weekend, we settled on a trip to Kings Beach at North Lake Tahoe to take advantage of a little relaxation. We laid down the towels, lathered on the sunscreen and the twins got busy finding out how fun the beaches can be.
A couple of the nutritional supplements that are staples in our home for Paige are Benecalorie Medical Food, Resource Boost and Duocal. While these supplements are most often used in addressing cancer-related nutritional issues and other disease-related nutritional issues, these supplements are also often recommended to young children who need some extra calories and nutrients in their diets.
Thought some of you out there might also have your own finicky eater in your household and might find these products worth a closer look. Of course, be sure to talk to your own doctor before incorporating any of these into your child’s diet.
I have just recently started working with the twins on potty training (AGAIN). We had attempted it a couple months ago, but there was very little interest from the girls so we called it quits for a couple months. In this 2nd round of re-attempting potty-training, already I’ve discovered some key things:
First, potty-training twins definitely requires double the equipment and offers double the mess!
Second, one potty is definitely not enough for two kids. That whole “SHARE” thing doesn’t work with twin potty-training, especially when both need or want to go potty at the same time. I’ve got two potty chairs side by side. When one sits on the potty, the other one does too. I’ve also been doing potty story time with both girls to keep their interest in sitting on the potty and to give us a little extra time on the potties for that successful pee-pee or poo-poo.
Third, potty-training twins is exponentially messy! Forget going diaperless and forget cotton underwear while they’re getting the hang of this whole potty training thing. I learned in about 2 days that going either diaperless with twins or having them wear the "big girl" cotton underwear is so risky and so messy that it rivals third-world squalor. Plus, the continuous trekking up and down the stairs to the laundry room with all the soiled clothes was giving me quite the Stairmaster workout. With twins, there was just no way that I could keep up with two kids, who aren’t telling me consistently when they have to go potty, in just their bare bottoms or a pair of thin cotton underwear. I learned the hard way when I would continually discover (and sometimes step in) their gazillion piddles and poo nuggets. That left me with no other option than those infamous pull-up style diapers which for now is proving to make my life soooo much easier and the house a whole lot more sanitary.
For now, I’m letting the twins take the lead on the potty training. We’re establishing a nice routine giving them lots of opportunities and fun to sit on the potty and there’s no pressure on them or me to make it happen. If they’re 3 when they get potty-trained, awesome. If they’re 3-1/2 when they get potty-trained, awesome. Or, if it happens next month, awesome. Whatever. My attitude is they’ll “get it” eventually.
Since this is one of my more rigorous undertakings with the twins these days, I’m sure I’ll have future posts on this subject. It’s just too messy and too funny not to revisit this subject in the blog. Plus, a picture is worth a thousand words and one day we’ll be able to use all of our potty-training photos as blackmail – ha, ha.
We set out in our SUV on a crisp Saturday morning, the twins bundled in their winter-wear. Winter-wear in California is layering a sweater over a shirt. For the twins, we threw in a stylish leopard print hat and their baby “Ugg” boots, just so they’d be sure to look extra cute for any and all photo opps.
We traipsed all over the mountainside of the tree farm looking for the perfect tree. Traipsing all over a mountainside with twins is an adventure in itself, but that’s another story, another day. In keeping with the thrill of the chase/hunter theme, we of course knew that there was always a better tree just around the next bend and the next clearing. Already, Paige and Taylor were learning an important life lesson - to never settle. Eventually, we found our perfect Christmas tree.
What an experience. Taylor, shrieking hysterically during the entire time of her salon visit, hated every moment of her 1st haircut. Paige, on the other hand, was every stylists dream client!
We tried to sweeten Taylor’s experience by offering her some candy and lollipops while in the salon chair, but she was having none of it. Stickers also didn’t trick her into enjoying this experience. Bummer.
We have since been back to this same salon several times…the hairstylists remembered us right away when we walked in and I swear they were calling heads/tails on which lucky stylist got our little Taylor….anyways, the last few visits have been getting a little better for our Taylor. Here are a few highlights of the first haircuts for the twins.
After the initial numbness of the news of Taylor’s diagnosis wore off, we began to actively seek out physical therapists who could help Taylor. Our search led us to an awesome pediatric therapy clinic in Northern California.
Beginning with Taylor’s very first physical therapy session, she has worked hard day after day, both at home and at the therapy clinic. In just a few short weeks after beginning therapy, Taylor began to use her leg muscles in a way that she never had before, and for the first time since the initial diagnosis of cerebral palsy, as her mom, I felt a sense of optimism and renewed hope.
Taylor at Therapy Clinic with Her Physical Therapist, Doing Some Warm-up Leg Stretches
About 3 months into physical therapy, Taylor was fitted with a pair of pediatric leg braces, and almost immediately started achieving new things. Wahoo! Taylor started standing! Taylor’s physical therapist pushed her to her physical limits, stretching and strengthening Taylor’s leg muscles every week.
Taylor Getting Fitted for Her First Pair of Braces
A few more months of rigorous physical therapy along with continued practice wearing the braces and Taylor FINALLY started walking! YAY!
Taylor at Therapy Clinic, Working on Her Form When Walking
Practice Makes Perfect! Taylor Continuing to Perfect Her Form When Walking
As we have celebrated these first milestones for Taylor this year, we are ever-mindful of the significant role that Taylor’s therapist has played in Taylor’s life in making these accomplishments happen.
Words simply can’t express the happiness, love and pride we have felt the latter part of this year as our Taylor has continued walking. It sounds like such a simple thing to do, but for Taylor it’s not and it hasn’t been.
Today, Taylor enjoys a newfound confidence in her ability to walk. She now needs very little assistance from us in order to walk and only occasionally needs assistance by holding our hands. Taylor will continue to see her physical therapist for several years to come and the outlook for Taylor’s future remains bright and promising. The best part — Taylor will eventually not need to wear the leg braces at all and will one day even be able to run with her peers on the playground.
Playing with A Friend at the Park
- Photo: Taylor (L), Samantha (R) -
What I have learned from this experience having a child with special needs is that you come to appreciate the lives of children impacted by a disability and the families struggling to manage their child’s special need. When it is your child’s life who is affected by a disability, it becomes your life too.
I have also learned that children with special needs are real fighters! Our Taylor has been fighting like crazy ever since the moment she was conceived and came into the world. Taylor’s struggle to overcome her disability and to walk has taught me the extraordinary resiliency that even the smallest of children possess and I’ve come to realize that life is truly precious, something worth fighting for and that as a parent, you’ve got to do all that you can to make it count.
On the flip side, some of the experiences I’ve had first-hand as a mom having a child with special needs has taught me that at times it can be an isolating experience. Our family has had to stretch ourselves in many ways in order for us to deal with our child’s disability. My husband and I, who are both fairly private people, have had to learn to be more open and learn to talk more freely about our feelings as well as our daily struggles raising a child with special needs. Through this experience, I have also met a great number of other parents and families who are facing their own set of challenges in raising a child with special needs and have enjoyed the almost instant bond and understanding that comes with identifying with one another through our shared set of difficult experiences. These are the parents and friends who I have found truly understand the disappointments, frustrations and roller-coaster ride of emotions that come with raising a child with special needs. These are the folks who have helped make this un-chartered journey of raising a child with special needs more bearable because I’ve come to learn that while these other families are trying to manage and cope with their own challenges, they’ve also helped me to see that the difficult and overwhelming roles and responsibilities we must play in our child’s life also yield some HUGE benefits for us as parents and the impact that we have upon our child is likewise HUGELY rewarding!
Welcome to the world! Meet Taylor and Paige. Born at 9:05 AM and 9:06 AM Sunday, December 11, 2005.
Taylor and Paige have changed quite a bit. They are beginning to interact with their new world – they follow objects and toys and indulge mom and dad with their many cute poses for photos.
The Girl with the Most Shoes Wins!
- Photo: Paige (L) / Taylor (R) -
Peek-a-boo becomes a favorite game. They love taking walks in their stroller and start saying “ah-goo” and other sounds.
Playing Peek-A-Boo in the Mirror
- Photo: Taylor (L) / Paige (R) -Nine Months
Watch out world, they’re mobile! They can go where they want to go and they’re so proud of themselves. They want to play patty-cake, read stories with mom and shed a few tears when dad leaves in the mornings to go to work.
What a month! The girls join mom and dad at the voting polls. (They’re our future Republicans in training). They look forward to casting their own votes in 2024. Later in the month, Taylor and Paige jet-set to the East Coast for the Thanksgiving holidays. They spend time in NY and VA visiting with family and friends.
Happy birthday! Taylor and Paige enjoy their first cupcakes. Taylor takes to the cupcake right away...Paige was a little less receptive to eating the cupcake but enjoyed opening presents.