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.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
A few days ago a major Hollywood producer who was sick and tired of seeing Hollywood liberals worshipping at the altar of Barack Obama contacted the Our Country Deserves Better Committee.
The producer said he was going to put together a 30-second spot to mock the absurdity of Barack Obama's willingness to meet with the world's most vile and dangerous dictators and despots without preconditions. The ignorance and niavete Obama has when confronting America's enemies is appalling, and this producer wanted the American people to realize that when it comes to foreign affairs and national security that Barack Obama is simply a big joke.
With just one week to go, I am proud to add a little political humor to my blog and release this new ad for which the Our Country Deserves Better Committee is buying airtime. (I hope you find this quick clip as comical as I did...enjoy!)
And, now, drum roll please….the new ad Dictators Mock Obama here:
Monday, October 27, 2008
Just the other day, I came across what I'll refer to as the "10 Commandments" for parents of special needs kids...since some of the readers of Twinsanity are personal friends and acquaintances of mine who I also know wrestle with the daily struggles and challenges of raising a child with special needs, I wanted to post these "10 Commandments" on the blog as a simple reminder to all of us parents of special needs kids that while our days are hectic, our demands many and our schedules chock-full of doctor appointments, a myriad of therapy appointments for our child and the like, we have the unique privilege of raising one of God's blessings.
In fact, one friend of mine sums it up nicely stating that, "God only gives children with special needs to those parents He knows can truly handle it and who will help these children thrive....it takes a special parent to raise a special child."
10 COMMANDMENTS FOR PARENTS OF SPECIAL NEEDS KIDS
- Author Unknown
1. Take one day at a time, and take that day positively. You don't have control over the future, but you do have control over today.
2. Never underestimate your child's potential. Allow her, encourage her, expect her to develop to the best of her abilities.
3. Find and celebrate positive mentors: other parents, friends and professionals who can share with you their experience, advice, and support having walked in your shoes as a special needs parent or advocate.
Personally, I have found this to be one of the most important components to helping me raise a child with special needs. I have become friends with many of Taylor's physical therapists....I respect their advice and their wisdom as well as their experience and have found great comfort and strength in their friendship! I have also met a good number of other mothers who, while their child may have a different special need to contend with, share a very common language and experience in the joys and challenges of parenting a special needs child that I do. That commonality and our shared experiences raising a child with special needs is simply unmatched!
4. Provide and be involved with the most appropriate educational and learning environments for your child from infancy on.
5. Keep in mind the feelings and needs of your spouse and your other children. Remind them that this child does not get more of your love just because she gets more of your time.
This can be especially challenging for those of us who have more than one child. In my experience, juggling the demands and needs of Taylor while also striking a balance with Paige's interests and activities represents another interesting dynamic in our family life. Making sure that Paige is not lost in the shadows or shuffle of Taylor's many doctor appointments and therapy appointments each week is a high priority for me, but admittedly it is also one that is very difficult to achieve.
6. Answer only to your conscience: then you'll be able to answer to your child. You need not justify your actions to your friends, the public or anyone else for that matter.
AMEN. Enough said. This 6th commandment is pretty liberating, eh?!
7. Be honest with your feelings. You can't be a super-parent 24 hours a day. Allow yourself jealousy, anger, pity, frustration, and depression in small amounts whenever necessary.
8. Be kind to yourself. Don't focus continually on what needs to be done. Remember to look at what you have already accomplished.
9. Stop and smell the roses. Take advantage of the fact that you have gained a special appreciation for the little miracles in life that many, many others take for granted.
10. Keep and use a sense of humor. Cracking up with laughter can keep you from cracking up from stress.
I would also submit that a good, hard run or rigorous work-out at the gym helps too!
So, I know this drill REALLY well by now when it comes to Paige. Anytime Paige starts having any episodes of vomiting, I already know what's afoot. Ear infections. So, I asked my husband to take Paige to the walk-in clinic close to our house yesterday since it was late Sunday afternoon and I wouldn't be able to get ahold of my pediatrician and I did not want a sleepless night of vomiting, changing bed sheets, changing pjs for Paige all night long...that's no fun for her or her parents.
Of course, I knew what the doctor at the walk-in clinic would tell Mike:
"Paige has ear infection(s)"
Taylor and I stayed at home...no need for the 4 of us to go traipsing into the doctor's office. That is only inviting multiples mayhem in the waiting room, the patient room, etc. Trust me on this one. Taking twin toddlers anywhere together is an invitation to total chaos! There always seems to be a disaster left in our wake wherever we go.
About an hour later when Mike returned home with Paige I asked him, "Ear infections, again?" to which I already knew the answer. Yes, double ear infections. So, now we are treating Paige with an Rx for the ear infections and the doctor also gave a stronger Rx strenth cough medication to Paige as well, to take as needed at nighttime. And, we're doing the round the clock, every 4 hour dosings alternating between Children's Motrin and Children's Tylenol to combat the fever.
This is always a really tough time of year for Paige. (She doesn't have the strongest immune system....never has). I swear a sick kid could just look at Paige from across the room and she'll pick up whatever that kid has. She's really susceptible to colds, coughs and the other ailments that usually accompany the cold & flu season. And, ear infections. Oh, those ear infections. These always seem to be a mainstay in our home through the cold & flu season with Paige. Not fun!
Speaking of ear infections, I find these to be particularly frustrating. I have asked our pediatrician many times if Paige is a candidate for tubes in her ears since she's always getting ear infections. To which the pediatrician replied something along the lines of, "Well, she's not yet...since her ear infections tend to clear up every time with the medication, I don't think we need to do tubes yet."
Now, as a mom who has a mom who told me that when I was growing up, both my brother and I had tubes put in our ears, I have previously pressed our pediatrician a little further on this for explanation. What I have since learned is that in California (and perhaps in other states as well), there is some minimum # of ear infections that must be met before a child is considered eligible for tubes...talk about frustrating. So, meanwhile, we basically have to make do and suffer through the cold & flu season with Paige until she meets that arbitrary, pre-determined # of ear infections before we can even explore getting tubes in her ears. I'm sure there is some lofty rationale for this among the medical community, but to me, a simple mother who hates the continuous cycle of ear infections, doctor visits and prescription medications to Paige just doesn't make sense. Why not just give the kid tubes already, I say. And, isn't this what we have our medical insurance for? We aren't paying those PPO premiums with Cigna Insurance for nothing, right....
Thursday, October 23, 2008
This is my dear Paige on a pumpkin spice blended frappucino high.
Note to self: The delicious blend of pumpkin and traditional fall spice flavors combined with the finest Starbucks coffee, blended with ice and topped with whipped crème and pumpkin spices appear to have an adverse affect on Paige. Following her tasty Starbucks treat, Paige was observed to go from a relatively calm state to a near rampage-like state acting out in the following ways: tormenting her twin sister, destroying toys and chasing her puppy relentlessly. No more Starbucks juice for her!
This week sure has been a week of ups and downs. First, good news at our neurology appointment for Taylor. Backtrack to the details on that appointment in this post here: http://ashley-twinsanity.blogspot.com/2008/10/taylors-neurology-appointment-update.html
That was on Monday, an up day.
Then came Wednesday, a down day.
Wednesday began with an appointment to our physical therapy clinic for Taylor where I had a chance to sit down one-on-one with Taylor’s physical therapist. I talked with the therapist about the recent meeting that I had with the school district and their dismissal of Taylor as “no longer eligible for physical therapy services” once she starts school because in their words: “Taylor’s doing great, looks like she’s doing so well.”
The physical therapist was livid; just as I have continued to be ever since my meeting with the school district last week. How is it that the physical therapist, Taylor’s neurologist and pediatrician as well as my husband and I all agree that Taylor is doing as great as she is ONLY BECAUSE she has been in a very rigorous physical therapy program for the past couple of years and that it is no coincidence that Taylor is doing as well as she is simply because she’s adapted or overcome all aspects of her disability on her own. That is just not the case.
The physical therapist put it in very plain words for me: “If Taylor doesn’t continue to receive the levels of physical therapy that she has been receiving in the coming years and if the school district does not make these resources accessible to Taylor in her early school years, she will most certainly regress, her leg muscles will stiffen, her range of motion will become limited....” Her therapist even said, “We could lose so much of the ground and progress we’ve made with Taylor that she could wind up in a wheelchair.” (GASP)
These words and references to a wheelchair by Taylor’s physical therapist, whose judgment and experience I wholly trust on such issues as child development, physical therapy for special needs children, etc., resulted in my having a little meltdown. I have remained a little discombobulated, a little freaked out and a little panicked…I have also felt sorry for Taylor, sorry for myself, and wondered why us, why so much to deal with (because there’s much more than just Taylor’s physical progress at stake, more that I just won’t go into right now, but more, more, more, much more).
Then came Thursday and I woke up feeling like, it’s going to be okay. We’ll get through this. Taylor will continue to be fine and continue to make progress in overcoming her disability. We’ll just continue to take things one step at a time, one day at a time. I took Taylor to her warm water therapy class today at Easter Seals where at the end of the session, I was informed that her swim services would likely come to a halt in December when Taylor turns 3.
I suppose that the school district has already begun making their rounds to Taylor’s service providers and Easter Seals too must have received the memo from the school district saying how “great Taylor is doing.” Arrrrgh.
According to Easter Seals, “there are children who may benefit more from our services than Taylor in the coming months.” And, then once again, I heard “Taylor’s doing great, she’s really doing well.” Okay, that confirmed it – they did get the school district memo!
I hesitated for a moment, then protested. I said in my kindest, sweetest voice, “I agree, she’s really doing well and I’m so happy to see that she’s making such good progress; however, I am very concerned that interrupting or discontinuing these types of services for Taylor too soon will have negative consequences and will halt Taylor’s progress significantly. We're going to need to revisit this issue.” Blah, blah, blah.
I then shared with Easter Seals what Taylor’s lead physical therapist shared with me….that without continued physical therapy services for Taylor during her early school years she will likely regress and may even be facing time in a wheelchair. The Easter Seals therapist understood my concerns and more importantly she heard me and said she would speak to her supervisors about what they might be able to offer to Taylor after she turns 3…so, now we wait and see. I am hopeful that Easter Seals won’t discharge Taylor from the program because they think she’s doing “so great”. Let’s really translate “so great” and just what that means….I believe it actually means that they think Taylor is doing “good enough.” Well, “good enough” is not “good enough” for my child! In fact, the "good enough" expression doesn't really exist in my vocabulary at all.
So, I am pressing on and continuing to fight the good fight for our little Taylor. I know that God only gives us that which we can bear. Somedays, particularly this week, I have found myself saying, “God, you have really overestimated what I can bear…” In the end though, I know that God will open the right doors and I am just praying and trusting that He will continue to help Taylor and make her much-needed physical therapy services accessible to her in the months and years to come. Of course, I'll be doing my part and fighting the school district and whatever other bureaucracies, including our insurance company, may rise up to impede upon Taylor's access to physical therapy services...and, in the end, that truly is all that my husband and I can do. Fight the good fight and keep the faith.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
In another few weeks, the 4 of us will be traveling to Southern California for the twins’ first Disneyland experience! In anticipation of the trip, I already am finding myself pointing out every Disney character we see and have even been encouraging Paige and Taylor to watch more of their favorite Disney shows…eventually, as the time gets closer, I will start talking with the twins every day about how many days are left until we get to see Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Pluto, Daisy and Donald Duck, etc.
They will begin to really get excited! I just know that they will have an awesome time at Disneyland. I can even anticipate that they will go through withdrawl once we leave Disneyland. Somehow, I just can’t imagine that taking the girls to the park in our neighborhood afterwards will even come close to Disneyland.
So, one of my upcoming dilemmas, in planning for our trip, will be what kind and how many strollers to take. Do we take our double-seater stroller? Do we just buy a couple cheap umbrella strollers so we can maneuver through the crowds easily? Or, do we rent a couple strollers at Disneyland…for $10.00 a day though to rent the strollers, I could just buy those 2 umbrella strollers I saw at Target. I'll figure it out but I do have some thinking to do on this one.
In the end, the squeals of delight, overwhelming excitement, and pure joy on their faces while at Dinseyland will be such fun for our family! (Not to mention 2 exhausted girls at the end of each day – as a mom, I always love that). Although, our trip is still several weeks away, I’m already excited about it….
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
“…a government is like everything else: to preserve it, we must love it…the surest way of instilling such love into children is for parents to set them an example.” - Thomas Jefferson
What’s the best way to instill patriotism as well as your social, cultural, political values in your young ones?
Well, according to “Take Your Kids To Vote”, a national campaign encouraging parents to involve their children in Election Day 2008, the best way to ensure and pass on your family’s values and patriotic responsibilities to vote in your children is to simply give them the opportunity to watch mom and/or dad pull the lever or put the voting ballots in the box and get that ever-familiar “I Voted” sticker that is worn proudly for the rest of the day.
As a parent, I think the “Take Your Kids to Vote” campaign is a great idea. It’s a way for us to involve our children in the political process and to teach our children about American democracy as well as our own values as a family.
This can become a very important lesson for our children. I can recall my own experiences growing up and I fondly remember the many ways that my parents involved me in the process beginning at a very young age. I can remember going with my mom and dad to “help” them vote: I got to push the vote button sometimes or when it was paper-based voting, I got to help mark the “x’s” on the ballots.
I even recall my mom and dad placing the pencils in my hand and instructing me one election year, “Ashley, we’re going to be voting for Ronald Reagan this year. He’s a good man and will make a great President.” Afterwards, my parents would always give me the “I Voted” sticker to wear on my shirt the rest of the day. Although these are such little things, in the watchful eye and earnest listener of a youngster, these are exactly the kinds of opportunities that create memories and positive impressions of voting from even the earliest of years. I know that’s what it did for me!
I also grew up in a house that was very politically active and engaged. Growing up, I can remember many conversations around the dinner table where I listened to my mom and dad discuss a variety of issues important to them and to our family. I can also remember how passionate my mom and dad were about politics. They’d get involved in grassroots efforts to support their political candidates. They’d put political bumper stickers on their cars, and if my memory serves me correctly, I did the same on my bicycles and would ride through the neighborhood proudly showing support for the candidate of my family’s choice. Politics and discussions of politics in my family were always welcome. Discussions were lively, passionate and fun. I loved to listen to my parents talk about their values, views and issues important to them and how these ideas shaped and influenced their choice in candidates. These are just some of my fond memories of my parents, their passion for politics and the lasting impressions that they created for me towards the process even as a small child.
Today, now that I am a parent, it is my hope that I will pass on that same heritage and love for politics, patriotism, democracy and voting responsibilities that my parents instilled in me through the years. So I confess, thanks in large part to my parents, I truly love voting and politics. I will enjoy voting with Paige and Taylor in a couple weeks. Mike and I have already been talking about how much fun it will be to have the girls with us as we cast our Presidential votes. They will help us cast our votes by helping us push the electronic “vote” buttons. They will get the “I Voted” stickers and will enjoy wearing them, as all kids love stickers! And, they too, will begin to discover how fun politics and how important democracy is, even at their age. What’s more exciting to me is that we can continue to build upon this in the years to come as Paige and Taylor grow up….we’ll have many more opportunities to help them learn why voting matters, how proud they can be to live in America, and how individually, they can help make America stronger. Lastly, as a family, we will be building lasting memories simply by helping Paige and Taylor to share in the excitement of Election Day in 2 weeks.
After all, as I learned growing up with my family, you’re never too young to make a difference.
If you are a parent who would like to learn more about the national campaign “Take Your Kids To Vote”, please check their mission website online and you might even want to download the attached pledge in support of the mission. Be sure to pass the pledge on to your family, friends and other parents encouraging them to become a part of the "Take Your Kids To Vote" initiative.
Monday, October 20, 2008
I always enjoy these appointments. Her neurologist has such a wealth of knowledge and such a breadth of experience that I always leave the appointments feeling very encouraged and optimistic for Taylor and her future. For the purpose of this update on the blog, I'll break down today's neurologist appointment into several sections below.
PHYSICAL THERAPY & TAYLOR'S OVERALL MOBILITY
Taylor Strutting Her Stuff On the Catwalk, YEAH, the Catwalk.
The neurologist was "very pleased" to see how well Taylor is now walking. He was "pleased" to see that Taylor is now gaining speed in her walking and is becoming more steady on her feet. The neurologist impressed upon me that continued stretching of her leg mucles and the range of motion exercises that I do at home as well as maintaining her physical therapy program at the clinic will continue to be very important, particularly as Taylor goes through growth spurts in the coming months. The doctor stressed how essential it is to keep Taylor's muscles stretched as she continues to grow and continues to gain strength and speed with walking in order to prevent contractures or further tightening of her leg muscles which can lead to injuries.
FORECAST FOR TAYLOR'S EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
The neurologist remarked that Taylor should be placed in a typical, mainstream classroom when the time comes for her to enroll in either preschool or kindergarten. He, once again, reminded us that Taylor has no intellectual impairments and therefore, will be able to excel academically as any "normal" child would in a regular classroom setting. This is the kind of information I like to hear! We always thought Taylor was a sharp little girl, but it's always nice to hear it from somebody else too...who doesn't love hearing how smart their kid is...so hearing that Taylor should only be placed in a regular educational classroom and should be expected to compete with her peers academically was truly music to my ears.
FUTURE CONCERNS & AREAS TO MONITOR
The neurologist noted that in the coming years, although Taylor will continue to demonstrate improved mobility in her walking and even in running, she will become at risk for certain "biomechanical" injuries.
For example, as her overall mobility improves, increased fatigue and injuries, particularly to her back, legs and hips can result. The neurologist referred to this as "physiological burnout" which is basically the sheer fatigue that occurs to young children with diplegia cerebral palsy due to the "high physical demands placed upon the body for their ability to adapt, compensate and manage their disability." The neurologist noted that sometimes this "physiological burnout" can be seen in a gradual (temporary) loss of function, decreased strength and stamina when walking/running, deterioration in overall mobility and coordination, along with physical exhaustion. The neurologist remarked that these impacts occur most often among those children with diplegia cerebral palsy who are the "highest functioning" (like Taylor) and who have been able to successfully compensate for their disability.
The neurologist continued by saying, "this is why physical therapy will continue to be a mainstay in Taylor's life for many years to come" especially as she continues to grow and her muscles/bones grow. The neurologist noted that as high-functioning children like Taylor continue to walk and progress in their physical abilities, they often begin to experience significantly reduced distances when they walk/run. The neurologist said the main reason for this is they experience increased fatigue when walking/running; therefore it will be vital to give Taylor a lifelong exercise program and recreational pursuits of a physical nature to continue to help her overcome fatigue and physical constraints inherent to her type of cerebral palsy. As Taylor becomes a young adult, Taylor will be able to manage her own physical recreational activities and maintain her own physical exercise program but until that time comes, we, as Taylor's parents must make it happen for her and help facilitate that to ensure that Taylor continues to make strides in overcoming her disability.
Finally, the neurologist noted that he will continue to monitor Taylor's progress, along with her team of physical therapists, keeping a close eye on any signs of deterioration in her physical abilities and/or levels of fatigue when she walks because at some point down the road, surgical interventions and other treatments may prove helpful to improving the efficiency of how she walks/runs; however the neurologist said that he would only recommend these types of interventions after Taylor has undergone many more growth spurts.
I am pleased, no thrilled, no ecstatic, no relieved to report that the two moles were totally normal. YAY!
I return to the dermatologist's office next week to have the stitches taken out from my thigh and shoulder where the moles were removed and of course, from this point forward continue with my diligent regimen of daily sunscreen application as well as continue with regularly scheduled all-over body checks with the dermatologist every few months. Early detection is the best prevention and best treatment.
I am still working on my husband - he needs to go to my dermatologist and get a suspicious looking mole looked at and if necessary get removed. He, of course, remains very preoccupied with his work, daily demands of his job and a hectic travel schedule so getting him to focus on this matter can be challenging, but it is very necessary. After all, he's got a wife and two little girls who need him to be around for a LOOOOOONG time to come and don't want him taking chances with his health!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Just what kind of parents do these twins have? Letting them play in the middle of the road. Humph! And, look....when they're not letting them play in the middle of the road, just look at them already teaching their twins about tailgating.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
What a great day the girls had at the park today. For those of you out there being driven crazy by your own 2-year olds, particularly if you have twins, I feel your pain which is why I like to capture the happenings of the twins on video when they're not fighting, biting, scratching, pulling hair, or cat-fighting in some other fashion with each other, hence the day at the park videos today.
I often don't give myself (and my husband) enough credit, watching some of my friends with their 2-year olds, getting out frequently, disciplining effectively, living MUCH saner lives, and looking far more rested than me! But my friends have assured me that they all have their difficult times dealing with just (1) 2-year old. So, with little-to-no advice, I will leave you other moms of twins out there with a simple note of empathy....just know that whatever "terrible" phase you're going through will come to an end. The twins turn 3 in a couple more months, and while I can't say that it ever gets easier, it is certainly beginning to feel bearable again. Maybe I will have some real words of wisdom down the road....of what I wish I had known as I was raising twins...unfortunately, we only get on-the-job training when it comes to raising our kids. Besides, that's usually the best kind of mommy training anyways, wouldn't you say?!
Friday, October 17, 2008
Paige is really becoming a big girl. I’ve been working on potty-training with her and just today she showed off her crazy new skills for her dad by going poo-poo in the “big girl” potty. She had never done that before for her daddy so I think dad was pretty excited about that. It's nice when Mike can be apart of some of these happenings because he works alot and I know he often feels like he misses out on some of the twins' achievements. I’ve also got Paige in a pretty good routine during the day – going, or at least sitting and trying, potty on the “big girl” potty when she first wakes up in the morning, before and after breakfast, snacks as well as mid-day naps and again before and after dinner and then again before bedtime. Lately, she’s even been waking up from her naps with completely dry diapers - a sign that she’s beginning to get some good control of her little bladder/bowel. YAY! I was beginning to think it would never happen, but alas all things in due time and in their own season.
Taylor on the other hand is still not quite there yet and that’s okay. After all, she’s got a few notches working against her chiefly with her cerebral palsy diagnosis, so as with so many other developmental issues we’ve encountered with her, this too will continue to take her a little longer to master than say a “typical” child might. She tries but still lacks some of the controls that a "typical" child possesses. (Some of her doctors and therapists have been encouraging me to postpone potty training entirely for Taylor until she is 3 or 3-1/2 years old because of her cerebral palsy.)
And, while at first that recommendation surprised me, because after all, 3-1/2 years old is a loooong time to be in diapers, I then realized that’s really absolutely okay and actually makes a lot of sense….early on I learned that Taylor doesn't follow the well-traveled path and tracks as many other children do – she doesn’t fit the typical milestones for child development and never has but eventually she gets there, but always in her own time.
As her doctors put it: “There’s no reason to add this additional complication to Taylor’s life and routine until she is truly ready for it and can truly manage it.” Again, a sound reminder to me, that when raising a child with special needs, you just can’t compare them to other kids, they don’t do things when “everybody else’s kids do things”, they’re unique in their own right and accomplish and master new skills as their abilities or disabilities allow them to. So, the bottom line, it'll happen but only when Taylor is ready and can really manage that skill.
For those Twinsanity readers who have inquiring minds or who often appreciate new insights into children with disabilities and enjoy hearing about the details, and often minutiae, of my experiences raising a child with special needs, these details are for you:
When it comes to Taylor's potty-training abilities, maintaining a comfortable, stable seated position and being able to balance on the “big girl” potty also continues to be a real issue for her. Because of the weakened muscle tone in her trunk/abdomen, it’s difficult for her to sit upright on the potty without assistance. Without my assistance, Taylor literally sinks into the toilet bowl beneath her and can not hold herself up on the toilet seat.
I spoke with one of her therapy service providers today about this issue and we’re now going to invest in some additional equipment to help give Taylor greater control, independence and balance while sitting on the “big girl” potty. Envision the handicap side rails that often run alongside a toilet to allow a person to grab hold of the rails for support, well that’s what we’ll be adding to a couple of our bathrooms for Taylor in the near future to help provide the logistics that will help her gain more independence and balance when sitting on the “big girl” potty. Of course, it’s not THE complete answer to the potty-training challenges for Taylor, but it’s going to be one additional tool to help her gain greater independence and self-control. And, that is always a good thing for kiddos with special needs!!!!
In other news, I had a couple of doctor appointments for myself this week which were not fun. A dentist appointment one day, then a dermatologist appointment the very next day. Much to my chagrin, my dermatologist appointment turned out to be far from what I expected. I went into the appointment just wanting my dermatologist to check out a couple moles – one on my shoulder and one on my thigh. I left 30 minutes later with both moles removed, a gaping hole with 2-3 stitches in my shoulder and another gaping hole with 4-5 stitches in my thigh. Owwwww.
The doctor told me “I’m 95% sure these are nothing but think we should remove them and get them looked at by our pathology lab. I’ll be in touch Monday with results of the lab work, and if need be, I’ll want you to come back to possibly cut-away more skin from the areas where we removed the moles.” Oh, great, I thought. It’s Melanoma. I wouldn’t be surprised really…I was one of those young college girls who when not studying and dating boys was out sun-worshipping with her girlfriends at the beach and pool in our free time. My mom has also had her share of Melanomas removed in recent years so genetically speaking, I guess I may have a predisposition to it as well. So, I’ll be interested to see what I hear from my doctor this coming Monday…I’m also encouraging my hubby to now go see the dermatologist too. I’ve spotted a mole on him that looks very suspect! Now, I just gotta’ make sure he takes time out from his busy work schedule to actually go to the doctor – and THAT will be the real challenge since he’s nearing a workaholic these days.
Monday, October 13, 2008
After more than 3 years, I am now considering re-enrollment to resume my graduate program. However, since I have been absent from my program for more than 3 years, I must re-apply. Bummer. I also had completed more than 15 hours towards my Master's program prior to pregnancy, babies and new mommy roles, so I am really hoping and keeping my fingers crossed that even though it's been 3 years, that some if not all of my previously completed courses will be honored and carried over to my program.
After my sabbatical from my program to dedicate myself fully to my role as housewife and mommy to Paige and Taylor, I am giving serious consideration to returning to school. I am not sure if I can truly take this on yet or not...I am optimistic and hopeful that I can. Yet, I am also realistic enough to know that raising twins, one of whom is a special needs child who requires a great deal of energy, focus and participation in a number of weekly therapy sessions, may pose particular challenges that could ultimately prevent me from continuing the program. And, if that should prove to be the case, well then, at least I will know. For now, I'm just going to complete the application and re-admissions process and see what happens. No harm in that, right?. As far as actual enrollment and my ability to tackle grad school and the long hours of reading and studying again, only time will tell if that is something that I can truly do at this time in my life or not.
I should be through the bulk of the applications and admissions paperwork later this week, at which time, I'll be able to resume my regular updates and faithful postings on all things twins and the insanity that comes with my life with them.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
I can now answer the question of whether or not I have a secret admirer. Well, yes and no. The Palin Power t-shirt which was anonymously left on my front door step last Friday is no longer a mystery.
Several hours after I discovered the shirt, I received a phone call from one of my very good friends in California. Now, what you must know is that she is an ultra-liberal who on the political spectrum is my mirror opposite on almost every social, cultural, religious, philosophical and political issue. As soon as she told me on the phone that the t-shirt was a gift from her...I just laughed! Actually, after we shared a good laugh, I think the first words out of my mouth to her were:
"Wow, I can only imagine how painful that must've been for you. First, going into the store and browsing the Republican political paraphenelia, then choosing the Palin Power t-shirt, then actually standing in line to purchase the t-shirt. It must have been a truly awkward experience for you...and, I hope you didn't develop some strange twitch or hives from touching something symbolizing Republican-ism" Ha, ha, ha.
So, as I was saying, my friend who gave me the Palin Power t-shirt is one of many uber Liberal girlfriends that I have. Interestingly enough, I have more Liberal friends here in California than I ever did while living on the East Coast although I had a good number back there too. This friend, however, is one who no matter how heated, how canktankerous our political discussions get (and there have been quite a few of them through the years) has a great outlook on our friendship. In her own words: "Ashley, if I'd known all of your political views as well as I know them now, I'm sure you and I would have never become such good friends...but, now that we're friends, I can't imagine not having you as such a good friend." Ditto for me!!!
So, as promised to all the Twinsanity readers, here is a photo of me wearing the Palin Power t-shirt. Knowing that it was a gift from one of my dear-est (Liberal) friends makes it even more remarkable and makes it even more enjoyable to wear. Speaking of wearing it, I am seeing my friend this next week for dinner. I called her to tell her that I'll be wearing the t-shirt she gave me, but will spare her some of her embarrassment of being seen with a Palin fan by also wearing a button-up cardigan over it. She laughed! Ditto for me!!!
Friday, October 10, 2008
"Forging a strong bond from the moment of conception, twins know no other existence except that in conjunction with one another. When separated, they feel incomplete, that something deep within their core is missing." - Author & Identical Twin, M. Wathington
TWINS CRUISE - CARNIVAL FUN SHIP FANTASY
The 2009 Twins Cruise is now open for registrations. Mark your calendars for February 12 - 15, 2009. This is a luxury cruise experience just for twins and their families. If you're a twin or the family of twins, you'll enjoy twin cabin gifts, twin cocktail parties, twin scavenger parties, plus all the other cruise's amenities including vegas-style shows, 3 pools, spas, casinos and more!
THE TWINS DAY FESTIVAL IN TWINSBURG, OH
The 2009 Twins Days Festival is scheduled for August 7 - 9, 2009. The Twins Days Festival is open to all multiples - identical, fraternal, young and old, twins, triplets, quads - and their families. Highlights of the festival include:
- The Twins Contest with categories ranging from Youngest Set of Twins, Twins Coming From the Farthest in the U.S., Most Identical Twins and Oldest Set of Twins
- The Twins Talent Show Competition
- The Royal Court Twins Award which is the most competitive, sought after contest at the Twins Day Festival requiring a complete biography of each twin as well as individual and pair-ed photographs, plus an essay on the subject of "The Uniqueness of Being a Twin"
- 5K Run & Fun Walk for Twins
In recent years, the Twins Day Festival has drawn an attendance greater than 2,000 sets of twins, triplets, quads and higher order multiples. I can't imagine being in a venue where everywhere you look and turn you are surrounded by multiples.
EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY TWINS: A NEW PHILOSOPHY FOR PARENTING 2 UNIQUE CHILDREN
by Dr. Joan Friedman
This book covers such topics as:
- Coping with the stress that comes with caring for two babies/raising two toddlers of the same age
- Recognizing that each twin is a unique individual
- Giving each child important "alone time" from their sibling twin
- Fostering each child's separate friendships and interests in school-age twins
- Deciding on the same or different classroom education for school-age twins
TWIN BLISS WISH-LIST FOR MOMS OF INFANT TWINS & TODDLER TWINS
If you're a mom to twins or higher order multiples, you will definitely relate to this wish list....
- Four pairs of hands, two laps, and comfortable breasts that produce just the right amount of milk for 2 hungry babies.
- A breast pump that works while mommy is sleeping.
- A husband who comes home from work and lovingly suggests that you go out with your girlfriends for a cup of coffee because you need a well-deserved break. AMEN!
- A food delivery service guaranteed to put a healthy and delicious dinner on the dining room table EVERY night.
- A genie committed solely to the task of doing laundry and cleaning your house.
- A fairy godmother who appears every night for the first two years so that she can help you take care of the babies/toddlers so that you can replenish your sleep-deprived body and psyche.
- A sound, deep, refreshing sleep full of dreams where you do not awaken worried that someone is crying.
- A trainer coming to work out privately with you three-five times a week so that you get back into shape and feel great.
- The perfect nanny/babysitter available on weekdays, weekends, and evenings – her schedule is arranged so that she is free whenever you need her at a moment's notice.
All kidding aside, authentic bliss is sometimes recognizing – albeit in hindsight – that doing the best you can in challenging times helps generate an inner bliss that evolves into strength, resilience, and mastery.
This morning, as I opened my front door, lo and behold a neatly folded and pressed t-shirt, with a red ribbon, lay at my feet. Hmmm. Now that's interesting. I bent down, picked it up and began to unfold it. As I did, what appeared before my eyes was an imprinting of a very familiar face. A face that I have come to respect in very recent weeks.
Someone left a Palin Power t-shirt on my front doorstep!!!! I looked around...there was no one that I recognized...just the usual crew of construction workers building the new homes across the street. Well, I'll be darned. Someone left me a Palin Power shirt! Whether this person knows me or not, perhaps I'll never know. Perhaps it's simply another fellow Republican in the neighborhood who appreciates the McCain/Palin yard signs in our front yard and the McCain/Palin bumper stickers that adorn our 2 cars. Whatever it was that inspired this person to leave this little gift on our front door this morning, I may never really know. What I do know however is that I'm washing that t-shirt and then donnning it proudly for the next several weeks. What woman doesn't love the kinda' power that comes from Palin Power after all! And, with three more weeks to go, I wonder if I'll be receiving future gifts from my secret admirer. I'll be checking my front porch every day just to see....
P.S. Check back to the site again...I'll post a photo of me modeling the new t-shirt (once it's washed of course) right here on Twinsanity.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Today, I met with several service coordinators from the local school district to discuss Taylor’s cerebral palsy and her anticipated therapy needs as we begin to plan for her school-age years.
I had been anticipating this meeting for quite some time now. As I met with the school district personnel and service coordinators, I spent a good deal of time talking with them about Taylor’s disability, her medical history, her progress in managing/overcoming her disability, her challenges/struggles, and ultimately our goals for her in the future. The service coordinators and school staff, in turn, spent a good deal of time observing Taylor. They observed her gross motor skills (walking, jumping, climbing), her fine motor skills (holding crayons, coloring, manipulating small toys/objects), her language/communication, her self-help skills (eating, dressing, toileting, etc).
Taylor was noted to have...
- Age-appropriate fine motor skills. YAY!!!!
- Age-appropriate self-help skills. YAY!!!!
- Age-appropriate langugage/communication skills. YAY!!!!
- Age-appropriate social/recreational/play skills. YAY!!!!
- Delays in her gross motor skills, as we expected, due to the type of cerebral palsy she has.
After an extensive evaluation, the therapists determined that Taylor would not be eligible for ongoing services. Yep, not eligible.
Now, keep in mind, to this point, Taylor has been receiving ongoing weekly therapy sessions (physical therapy, aquatic therapy, occupational therapy, therapeutic horseback riding) for the past 18 months. To be told today, that Taylor will not receive ANY of these services once she begins school was very disappointing!
Now, on the face of it, you might be thinking to yourselves, “oh, well that must be a good sign…Taylor must be doing well enough that she doesn’t need the continued, intensive schedule of physical therapy, occupational therapy, etc.” That is not the case. The fact of the matter is that Taylor is doing as well as she is BECAUSE SHE HAS BEEN RECEIVING AND PARTICIPATING IN ALL THESE SERVICES FOR SO MANY MONTHS.
When I pressed the school district further, much to my dismay, they would not budge. I learned that the school district’s team of physical therapists and service coordinators are currently very understaffed, are currently only working part-time due to state budget constraints, have to serve 1/3 of the entire county in which we live, and as a result have a significant waitlist for pediatric services. At best, the school district informed me that they would only monitor Taylor’s progress by merely checking back in with Taylor for observation either one time every six months or one time every twelve months to simply update her charts and school records.
As Taylor’s mom, this is simply unacceptable. I am not about to truncate my child’s progress or hinder her abilities to improve and continue to overcome her disability because the school district is unable to provide continued treatment and therapy services for her. So, now I will continue to advocate to our insurance company for all the services that Taylor has been receiving and in my estimation needs to continue to receive. Thank God my husband and I have a good PPO insurance plan!!!! Between the various therapy services that average $150.00 per hour/5 times a week (that's $3,000 per month of therapy services), the purchases of her little braces to the tune of $1,500.00 each/purchased 2 times a year, our insurance company must really love us. Yeah, right! If the insurance company doesn't continue to provide for all these services, perhaps I will have to go back to work in order to help pay for these services...whatever it takes...whatever I've got to do....Taylor is not going to be short-changed with getting whatever she needs. As a parent, I must consider the rest of her life, the quality of her life. God has entrusted Taylor to Mike and me and charged us with the awesome responsibility of helping her to become all that she can be. We know that she can ultimately overcome her mild disability but not without continued hard work and dedication from both Taylor and a committment from her mom and dad to make it happen.
So, tomorrow I will begin the discussions with our insurance company to make sure that they will continue to provide these much-needed services for Taylor. I just pray that the insurance company will continue providing these services to Taylor. Over the past 18 months, she has made such incredible progress and I really believe that with continued intensive weekly therapy services during the next couple of years Taylor will achieve her maximum potential, complete motor independence and overcome her disability.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
While I’m glad that people care enough about this year’s election to throw their support to somebody, I for one think that it’s high time we, on the other side of the political spectrum, have something to tout on our blog pages and web sites also. So, feast your eyes upon….
Don’t you just love it! I got it from another McCain/Palin mom’s blog page and now it rightfully joins the ranks of my blog and a whole slew of other McCain/Palin supporters' blogs too!
While I am not about to turn “Twinsanity” into a political platform, I just couldn't stand it anymore, so many "Crafters for Obama" and "Obama Mommas" everywhere I look….Ugh.
Personally, Obama doesn’t measure up to a number of qualifications that would make him well-suited for the Presidency – and I won’t get into those many shortcomings on this blog – but, in short I will just say that he has shown me very little evidence in his record or in his experience that suggests he would protect and keep the country that I love safe and keep this country the best place in the world for my children and their futures.
With just a little more than 3 weeks until the election, won't you join the growing McCain/Palin mommy movement to help get this ticket elected!
Monday, October 6, 2008
The number of moms getting inked is exploding. Traditionally, tats were for bikers, sailors, convicts…then, trendy teens and college kids started making tats a favorite form of self-expression.
Well, I’m here to say, that the world of tattoos has exploded to now include us mommies.
I consider myself a pretty average, down-to-earth mom, head over heels for her kids. But, when I tell somebody that I have a tattoo, occasionally I’ll get a funny look because I have a tattoo and a couple little kids next to me.
I understand that some might associate tattoos with trashy; unfortunately I’m not one of them. I’m tattoo-ed, yes, yet classy. And, you can be both!
And, I’m certainly not alone. There is definitely a segment of other tattoo-ed mommies out there. In fact, it’s now pretty mainstream with nearly a fourth of Americans aged 18-50 now sporting tattoos, many of whom are just like me and other average, down-to-earth moms according to some recent reports on the news.
On a related note, I recently was in line at Starbucks and couldn’t help but overhear a conversation by a tattoo artist who was saying to a fellow tattoo artist I presume that he sees moms walking into his shop all the time. He went on to say “they get birthdates, and some of them bring the birth certificate with the little footprints in to get tattoo designs of…”
According to an article I read by a leading dermatologist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, there is an explosion of ink on female patients in her practice and not just on shoulders and ankles. The dermatologist noted that “as many as 25% of women in their early 30s may have a lower back tattoo.”
As the mommy tattoo-ing trend has taken off, some doctors have wondered if lower back tattoos could cause problems for women who receive epidural needles during labor. Fortunately, you mommies out there who have the lower back tattoos can rest assured. According to this dermatologist from Johns Hopkins, “there is really no good data on whether tattoo pigment can enter the spinal cord and potentially cause problems with immune reactions." Phew, right?!
Still not convinced those lower back tattoos are safe? Well, Dr. William Camann, who is an associate professor at Harvard and an expert in obstetric anesthesia, says that “pigments do not get dragged into the spinal cavity during epidurals.” Oh, and by the way, Camann noted that he performs epidurals on women with tattoos all the time, sometimes as many as three a day.
One word of caution however: The doctors do seem to agree that women shouldn't get ink drawings while they are pregnant. So, either have the tattoo already when you get pregnant, or wait until after you have that precious little baby to get inked.
I happen to have my tattoo on my lower abdomen, a tattoo which I have now had for nearly 10 years. While pregnant, I thought it would stretch and morph from its cute little design into something unrecognizable as my tummy stretched to tote around twins. Well, the body is truly an amazing thing…after the twins were born and my tummy returned to its pre-pregnancy appearance so did that little tattoo. Today, it still looks just as it did pre-pregnancy. YAY!!!!
While I know that tattoos aren’t for every mommy out there, I’ve enjoyed having a permanent reminder / tribute embodied in my tattoo. Have your own tattoo and thoughts on it? Are you a tattoo-ed mommy also? Email me and give me your two cents on the tattoo-ed mommy trend.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Sometimes, I feel as though my kids have been a little cheated because they’re twins.
That’s right, I said cheated. Now, at first blush, you may be thinking, well what’s that all about…well, let me explain.
Paige and Taylor neither get completely undivided attention and the kind of doting a baby would get from those parents of a first-born. And, in that same vein, Paige and Taylor also don’t get the spoiling, wisdom and experience of those parents of a later born child, like the baby of the family typically would.
Instead Paige and Taylor get a mommy and daddy who are new parents, often bumbling and over-tired, and who always have to attend to someone else, not just them individually. Instead, Paige and Taylor are often tended to as a pair.
Paige and Taylor didn’t choose to be twins, and yet here they are, fighting for attention from mommy and daddy.
For example, when they were just infants, I would have to decide which baby to feed first and that meant that the other one would just have to wait, sometimes, quite sadly and for a long time until the other one was finished feeding. I can recall Taylor getting very distraught, even as an infant, having to wait her turn to eat while reaching her arms out to me.
But, I also think about the advantages Paige and Taylor have of being twins.
While it's true that Paige and Taylor don’t get the experience of a parent of, say, the last-born child in a family, they do both get to be involved in our joys of being first time parents with them as the center of our universe!
Think about it in another way…I was the last-born in my own family. My older brother had so very many baby photos – actually, a ridiculous number of baby photos - because he was the first-born. By the time I discovered America, the photo obsessions and the undivided attention that is often bestowed upon the first-born in a family, had waned by the time I came along. I know this type of experience is pretty typical of last-born kids…I’ve had several friends, also last-born kids in their family, who attest to the same kinds of things.
So, while Paige and Taylor don’t get the undivided attention that a first-born, single baby might get from their first-time mommies and daddies, I also don’t think that we’ve obsessed about either Paige or Taylor to the same degree that new parents often do those first couple of years. Two babies of the exact same age doesn’t afford that luxury to us parents of multiples. We have often had to take a divide and conquer approach. An approach we were introduced to when they were just out of the womb - feed this one, change this one, put this one to bed THEN feed that one, change that one, put that one to bed. Then, repeat it all over again several times a day. But, as I think about it further, that kinda' stuff really won’t matter. It won't matter that Paige and Taylor didn’t have an older sibling to first break us parents in…because they have each other….because having twins breaks you in anyways, in a sense.
Here are a few other pros and cons to life with twins…
As a twin, you have constant companionship… by that same token, the downside is that you’re also never alone when you’re a twin.
You get more (not twice) the toys… the downside is, being a twin also means that you always have to share.
People remember you more easily and you become these little “rock-star” kids always getting a lot of attention wherever you go…the downside of that attention and “rock-star” status is that you’re always known as one of “the twins”.
You’re always getting compared to your other twin (and sometimes you’re the twin that wins)… but, as I said, you’re always getting compared (and sometimes you’re the twin that loses).
With twins, there’s always someone else to blame… or to blame you.
Because they are the same age, they often enjoy the same books, same bedtime/naptime schedules, the same routines. Since they aren’t different ages means that bedtime/naptime is, and pretty much always has been since they were infants, very uneventful. My friends who have children of different ages tell me all the time that it feels like bedtime really drags on for hours because one child goes to bed a little earlier than the oldest child, and one child is into picture books at bedtime while the older child is into chapter-ed books so there comes the challenge of really addressing totally different bedtime routines for the older and the younger children. So, for me, twins is a BIG, BIG PRO from that standpoint. With twins, it’s easy to have one set of rules and expectations at bedtime/naptime.
The joys of raising twins is doubly amazing…the flip side is that the challenges of meeting two babies and toddlers' needs at the same time can be doubly frustrating. Sometimes, I've thought to myself, "man, if only these kids were even a year apart from each other, how much easier it would be"!!!!
Lastly, I think that twins have a bond unique only to twins and to other children of multiples. My hope is that the bond they have together always outweighs any of the losses of not being a single baby getting our undivided attention and getting unprecedented doses of one-on-one doting from parents who have been able to focus on one child at a time.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Taylor on the swings
Paige on the swings
Taylor digging in the sandbox
Paige and Taylor "making castles"
Taylor going to the "twisty" slide
Paige chillin' on the park bench
Taylor playing hide-n-seek