Welcome to my blog - it's like a diary only better. This is my soapbox containing a collection of my thoughts and the experiences of my life raising twins.

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.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

What the #@!^....California to Offer IOUs to Taxpayers

Rats! My husband and I were soooooo looking forward to a nice return from our California State taxes, especially since our family has probably overpaid our state taxes deducted throughout 2008. The article that I'm posting below is a pretty interesting read. In fact, if it weren't so sad and disturbing that the California state government needs IOUs from us taxpayers, I would actually find all this very funny but since our family is one of those taxpaying families who will probably just get an IOU, it's not so funny at all....
The article below was written online by an author who identifies himself only as "Rob".
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California So Bankrupt Tax Refunds Are Being Delayed
By "Rob" , Posted at Say Anything Blog http://sayanythingblog.com/entry/california_so_bankrupt_tax_refunds_are_being_delayed/

This advice is too late for 2008, but in the coming year Californians may want to make sure they’re not overpaying on their taxes lest the government just keep the money. Something that would be deemed “theft” in the private sector.

But in this instance it’s the government, so it's ok.
By the way, if you were expecting a welfare check from the State of California you’re out of luck too. Those are being delayed as well.

The controller said the suspended payments could be rolled into IOUs if California still lacked sufficient cash to pay its bills come March or April.

I take this action with great reluctance,” Chiang said at a news conference in his office. But he said that without action to close the deficit, “there is no way to make it through February unscathed.”

IOU’s? Really?

I’m reminded of a scene from a familiar movie Dumb & Dumber where Jim Carey touts his famous empty suitcase of money. Click here to watch it now:


What’s amazing is that these tax refunds do not belong to the government. I know over the years we’ve all gotten used to the tax-and-refund shell game the government plays to confuse the issue of how much we really pay in taxes, and many have started to think of those refunds as money the government is giving them (exactly what they want us to think), but that money still doesn’t belong to the government.

What’s even more amazing is that nobody in California seems to be talking about a downsizing of government as a way to alleviate this budgeting disaster. Instead, California is lining up at the federal trough with a number of other states and demanding a big, fat bailout.

I think the California government should be left in the wind. And if that’s detrimental to Californians who want their tax refunds or welfare checks…well…too bad. They voted for these jerks and idiots. Let them unelect them and replace them with leaders who can control spending and balance a budget.

Bailing out the state would only serve to prop up the sort of foolishness that led to this debacle in the first place.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Why I Love Twins

Why I love twins…there are so very many reasons to love!

Sometimes it's hard to remember all the reasons I love being a twin mom when my twin toddlers are on a major hurricane rampage all day or are pestering one another for a much-prized toy or doll. Sometimes it’s hard to remember when, say I haven’t had my morning coffee yet and both kids are trying to out-scream each other...

Best thing I remember - and realize - is that they will grow up. Too fast! From the time Paige and Taylor came home from the NICU until now, our whole world has been upside down, messier, with everything revolving around diapers, feedings, big girl pottys, toys, crying, fussing, and the list goes on and on and on.

And then I blink and here they are these little kids - not babies anymore – but toddlers and things have begun to settle down in a big way. I can now take a deep breath and am no longer stressing over the little things that can and will go wrong on a daily basis as when they were little babies just home from the NICU, especially since my twins were preemies with special needs ranging from extremely tedious feedings around the clock to 16 months later the discovery of cerebral palsy with one of the twins leading us to participate in an intensive, rigorous regimen of at-home and in-clinic physical therapy for Taylor.

Whenever I run into a new mom of twins, whether it be at the mall, the grocery store, even church, she and I instantly have this “bond” simply because of our experience as multiples mommies. If it’s a new mom to twin infants, and we strike up a conversation, I find it so strange to be on the end of the conversation where I am giving words of encouragement and advice because after all it wasn’t long ago that I was tending to twin babies myself, always overly exhausted from the rigorous daily routine of caring for twin babies. I find myself now saying the very things that I was told by other twin mommies when I was caring for twin newborns: "Try to focus on the positive and remember that it gets easier!" (I usually leave out the part that it doesn’t really get that much easier until the twins are about 18-24 months old however because after all when your twins are just a few weeks old, the thought of keeping up the pace you’re keeping for another 1-1/2 to 2 years would be quite daunting)

Back to what I love about being a twin mom…my husband and I have become a really good tag team! After raising twins, I have found that we have become like a well-oiled machine. I have tested this theory against some of my single-baby mom friends and it seems that their husbands are far less hands-on, whether they have one, two, three, four children or even more. With twins, husbands don’t have much of a choice but to play a much greater role in feeding them, changing diapers and generally just are more a part of the children’s lives, simply through sheer necessity!!!! I’m lucky I’ve had a great husband and partner in this twin parenting journey.

I think I’ve also had to become very creative in my approach to parenting. As a result of having twins, I’ve learned to be more patient, more organized, more able to plan ahead for anything to go wrong, have a great sense of humor (usually) and definitely much better balance (sweeping up twins continuously from birth and feeding and carrying them at the same time makes a person very agile very quickly). Again, these are things that I think having twins teaches a parent – there are generally going to be times in life when things are just slightly out of control, and having made it through the early infant years – I can now look back on the first two years of my life with twins and see all that my husband and I have accomplished! Our little family of 4 has learned to work together to cope with everything as a unit, an instantly larger family, and somehow that makes us feel unique and special. I also have found more support than I could have ever imagined from other friends who have raised multiples as well; and time and time again, I have found them to always give awesome advice for nearly every multiples milestones from juggling dual feedings to dual potty-training endeavors, etc. Their advice has seemingly always been just right!

Why I LOVE Twins – Here are Some More Positive Generalizations About Twins

I have found Paige and Taylor to be confident, very supportive of each other, creative in their play together and very friendly and outgoing (even to strangers…they never did have that infamous “stranger anxiety” many children do)

Paige and Taylor have also never known loneliness. They have learned to share, wait, take turns, care for, empathize with, play with, fight with and support each other since birth. Granted, lately, there is a lot more fighting with each other, but hey, best friends are prone to do that from time to time.

Now that Paige and Taylor are 3 years old, surprisingly this gives me more freedom like I haven’t had prior to this time in my life with twins. The girls wake each other in the morning, keep each other in check with the “rules”, eat together, and generally between the 2 of them are actually staying out of trouble. Well, most of the time anyways. They always have a playmate so they are not so dependent on mommy or daddy keeping them busy or entertained. In fact, it has actually freed up my time enough in order to build this website! Speaking of this web site - that's become a HUGE positive in my life because I use this site primarily to journal and record my life with my sweet daughters and to record the memories of our lives before I forget them all…occasionally I do get off track and venture into other subjects on this site, but hey my life and thoughts aren’t ALWAYS twin-focused.

So, the raising of our twins…as they have grown, things have also grown easier. Things have finally settled down to feel “normal”. Paige and Taylor truly are a double-blessing and I’m so happy God blessed us with twins! What an awesome experience it has been and will continue to be.

What's Wrong with California?

What's wrong with California? That question is both literal and rhetorical. I happened upon an interesting book this week and perhaps you've heard of it: "What's The Matter with California?" by Jack Cashill.

It's a question I've asked myself many, many times (too many times actually) since moving to California 7 years ago so naturally, the book's catchy title struck a definite chord with me.

According to some of the book's reviews, Cashill is said to do America a "true service by exposing the decay of the country's most dysfunctional state." (I will have to reserve some judgement on that sentiment until digging further into the book, but I imagine that's spot-on...)

It is interesting though isn't it?! The country's most dysfunctional state. I never thought of California in just those terms, but that description does give me a moment of pause...and, I have a feeling I'm going to like this book!

P.S. Obviously, the book has absolutely nothing to do with twins and zilch to do with childrearing making it yet another reason that I'll likely enjoy the book. Ah, yes, an escape into a genre not dealing with kids and/or parenting...how nice this read will be!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wordless Wednesday


Since I haven't posted any photos of the twins lately, I decided to snap a couple while the girls were enjoying their bathtime this evening.



For many, I know that tax time is a dreaded time of year for many families and my heart goes out to them, particularly during these difficult economic times...but, for us, tax time is a welcome time of year every year. I know, can you believe I'm actually saying that I'm a fan of the taxing (sorry about the pun) task of tallying up our household deductions and itemizations and reporting to Uncle Sam our annual income, expenses, etc. every year?! It sounds strange I know, but we always have ALOT of deductions and itemizations to claim each year which in all previous years has resulted in some very nice returns to us after filing.

Now, if you backtrack to my previous posting a few days ago (http://ashley-twinsanity.blogspot.com/2009/01/5000-and-counting.html), then you will recall that I was just embarking upon the process of totaling up our miscellaneous medical expenses for last year. Now, just a few days later, I have compiled all of the medical providers statements showing our out-of-pocket medical expenses for the year 2008 and lo and behold, the final tally reveals a whopping $10,982.98 in out-of-pocket costs for Paige and Taylor! Man, are they expensive, because mind you this $10K+ is over and above what our medical insurance covered for the twins last year. So, I say again, YES!!!!! YES!!!!!! YES!!!!!

Now, I'm only divulging our medical expenses on this blog posting because it all points back to the twins. Kids are always expensive but when you have children with some unique and special needs as Mike and I do, the costs for raising children instantly becomes much, much, much more expensive in that department. I share the medical costs that we pay out-of-pocket for last year only to illustrate just how much those lil' stinkers really cost us...of course, they are ALWAYS AND ABSOLUTELY WORTH EVERY PENNY, but nonetheless, they are expensive in the medical/healthcare department.

In closing, I am getting ready to schedule our appointment with Uncle Sam at H&R Block within the next week and am feeling pretty optimistic that we're once again going to get a nice return this year...thanks to our deductions for owning a home, for our giving to various 501C3 charities throughout the last year, and especially thanks to those extraordinary and exorbitant medical bills for little ones Paige and Taylor!

So, you may be wondering what we might do with our returns this year...well, we're going to stay practical - very practical indeed - and apply our returns to other bills and financial obligations. In previous years, we've splurged on ourselves one way or another. One year, my husband got a great new set of golf clubs while I did a little shopping for myself, the twins and our home. Last year, we even used a portion of our return to purchase a nice LG plasma. However, this year, we're not going to do any of that....these are tough economic times for our country so while we watch and wait to see what our entire overall economy is going to do, my husband and I are going to keep our spending resulting from any tax returns very conservative and send it away to bills and financial obligations. The time for splurging can happen some other time, some other day, some other year. We may even decide to pay off our BMW 3-series a couple months early...the final payment is in May this year, but what the heck, maybe we'll pay that off early just for good measure and to free up even more personal income.

"I Did It, I Did It"

"I did it, I did it, I did it" Taylor shouted from the bathroom this morning as Paige and I were sitting at the breakfast table finishing up our cereal. That is code for me that Taylor either pee pee-ed or poo poo-ed in the "big girl" potty and she is beckoning me to stop whatever I might be doing in the other room and come see right away! As I entered the bathroom, Taylor could hardly contain herself screaming at the top of her lungs "I did it, I did it, I did it."

Sure enough, as I looked into the "big girl" potty, there was her pee pee. I told her, "you're an awesome big girl" and she REALLY is in case you didn't already know that by now.....

And, in other exciting news related to potty training, Taylor and Paige also stayed dry in their "big girl" underwear for a couple of hours this morning. That's our longest stretch of time yet for both of them staying dry. YAY!!!!!

Now, I must sign off for the day as I have lots of errands to run with the girls today...unfortunately, this means lots of drive time in the car so they'll have to don their diapers again for a little while but we'll be back home later today to resume our "big girl" pottying and to sport our "big girl" panties once again.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I Can't Wait for A Little "Me-Time"

Next week, my mom arrives from Virginia for a visit. While she is mostly coming to spend time with Paige and Taylor (hey, I know her priorities and my husband and I are always second in line to the grandchildren), her visit also represents a time when I will occasionally be able to get away, even for just a couple of hours at a time to do whatever I want to do. Maybe I will go to a coffee shop and sit quietly in the corner and read a book. Maybe I will get together with friends I haven’t seen in a while. Maybe I will just take a long afternoon nap. Either way, I am so looking forward to having a little "me-time" while my mom is visiting us…

All of us mothers need a break. I need a break. I love my babies, oh, I love them more than I can even describe, but it's been a lot of snot and poop and whining and fighting and clinging and more whining and much more poop around here lately. Oh, and of course, there’s the Yo Gabba’ Gabba’ on the television. I've watched so much Yo Gabba’ Gabba’ in the late afternoon in recent days, I think it's fried my brain to the point where I now LIKE IT. I even catch my husband getting mesmerized by Yo Gabba’ Gabba’ after his long days at the office. It just has that affect on people. Yo Gabba’ Gabba’ also happens to come on each day in what I often refer to as the “witching hour” at our house. It’s that window of time – after the twins’ afternoon nap, but still well before dinner time, bathtime, and evening bedtime stories – where the twins are just wired. It also happens to be one of my busiest times of the day around the house too – cleaning up messes from the day, getting evening meals ready, getting ready for Mike to come home from work, etc. – so Yo Gabba’ Gabba’ helps to calm the “witching hour” at our house from time to time.

The twins and I basically spend EVERY MOMENT TOGETHER. I wake up in the morning, they wake up in the morning. I eat breakfast, they eat breakfast. Now that we’re making such great headway (finally) in the potty-training department, when I go to the bathroom, they go to the bathroom. I put my jacket and shoes on; and, well, the twins grab their jacket and shoes because hey, if mommy is going somewhere, of course they are going too!

So, as I was saying when I started this post, I am looking forward to my mom’s visit next week. I will enjoy, for just one day, putting my coat and shoes on and knowing that I can go somewhere without Paige and Taylor in tow (besides say to CVS or Safeway). I know that the girls might miss me for the couple of hours that I am away, but they will be in good hands with their grandma.

In anticipation of my mom’s arrival next week, I am already envisioning the “me-time” whereby I will not have to say any of the following words (even if only for a couple of hours):

Don’t touch that!
Get down, that’s not safe.
That’s not nice.
You KNOW that's not nice!
Stop throwing food on the floor!
Did you bite your sister?
Did you pull your sister’s hair?
Keep your hands to yourself.
Do I smell poop?
There's room for both of you on my lap!
Stop fighting!
Did you just take your sister’s toy/doll/baby/purse?
STOP pushing your sister!
You have a big booger, let me get it. I need that booger!!! Let me get it!!!

This Week In Review

What am I doing this week?

1. Watching California. Governor Schwarzenegger says that in just one week, the state of California runs out of money. Could the world’s 8th largest economy really be heading for bankruptcy? And, if bankruptcy, will anarchy follow?

2. Organizing the twins’ bedroom and giving to goodwill some old clothes, furniture, toys and other miscellaneous items for which the twins have no more use.

3. Physical therapy appointments for Taylor.

4. Horseback riding appointments.

5. Finalizing all paperwork, itemizations and deductions for the IRS so we can file our taxes.

6. Cleaning house, catching up on laundry and running errands in anticipation of out-of-town company from the East Coast.

7. Giving myself a much-needed manicure and pedicure. The operative word there is “myself” doing my own manicure and pedicure at home in front of, most likely, some mindless reality show after Paige and Taylor have gone to bed…or, maybe better yet some Lifetime Movie Network premier. I do love Lifetime!

8. Going to the gym.

9. Going to the gym.

10. Going to the gym.


A little venting is in order today.

I happened upon an article this morning lamenting over the crummy housing market in California. The author of the article stated, "If you're a homeowner in California, you have lost some value on your property this year."

Really?! What a shock! (Sarcasm is intended here). No kidding, Einstein, I thought to myself. Saying that California homeowners have lost some value in our homes is a gross understatement. Let's put it a little more plainly: The housing market in California is totally in the toilet. 35% of all the homes I see on the market in California are listed as "Bank Owned" or "Foreclosure". When 35% of the homes in California are in foreclosure or are bank owned, you can just imagine what that does to the value of the rest of the homes in the area.

3-1/2 years ago, my husband and I purchased a brand spankin' new home and we spec'd our home with several beautiful selections of builder upgrades of our choosing from premium ceramic tile flooring throughout, upgraded granite countertops, upgraded cabinetry throughout as well as pre-wiring for entertainment and surround sound in our family room to name but a few of our builder upgrades. Why did we select so many upgrades, you ask? Well, the return you get on such upgrades are typically well worth their investment and boost the overall value of your home so it was a no-brainer to make these kinds of upgrades to our home. We've lived in our home for only 3-1/2 years, and have really loved our home as well as our neighborhood!

Unfortunately, over the course of this last year we have watched our home value plummet....in fact, we just recently received our homevalue report, distributed by the county assessor's office, and our home is presently being assessed at $180,000 LESS THAN WHAT OUR MORTGAGE IS! $180,000 LESS THAN WHAT WE FIRST PURCHASED OUR HOME FOR JUST 3-1/2 SHORT YEARS AGO. Talk about being annoyed. Talk about being, sorry to use such strong language, but talk about being pissed.

What's more, the article I referenced at the beginning of this post went on to say that, "It will most likely be 7-10 years before home values return to their former values."

7-10 years. 7-10 years. I kept reading that over and over again. The more I read it, the more annoyed I got...and, to make matters worse, there is the reality that there are folks now moving into our neighborhood who are purchasing our exact home for half the cost. Now, that's a little deflating, isn't it?

Well, anyways, I don't usually use Twinsanity as a platform to vent, but a little venting and stewing was exactly what I was doing today after I read that article this morning. And, well, now that I have vented, I suppose I do feel a little better...I guess I just had to get some of that off my chest.

A Little Excrementitious Talk

So, we're having some fun in our potty-training these days. The twins are saying the absolute funniest things....while I understand that many of the readers of this blog probably won't appreciate the excrementitious talk, I just have to post a couple of these latest sound-bites from Paige and Taylor.

- Taylor, after pooping on the "big girl" potty, turned to me and exclaimed, "look, it's a hot dog poop"!

- Today, after another successful poop in the "big girl" potty, Paige bent over the potty and as she looked at her latest excrement in the water below asked, "do you see me little poop?"

- Last night, as I was enjoying a homemade brownie - well homemade to the extent that it was Betty Crocker homemade - Taylor came over to me and said, "mommy, you're eating poop."

Funny! One just can't make this stuff up...only out of the mouths of toddlers could bodily waste be talked about in such clever ways.

There are many, many more excrementitious tales to be told, but I will spare you the details. Needless to say, there's been a lot of successful pooping in the potty these days with Paige and Taylor and as many fun stories to go along with each pooping event!!!!!! Good times.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Weekend Outlook

The weather is sunny and warm in Northern California today, and it's going to be sticking around through the weekend. Awesome. With the unseasonably warm weather to enjoy, I'm planning lots of outdoor excursions for Paige and Taylor. (Mike is planning a golf outing with "the boys" for Saturday - it's the first break in cold weather, so I should've known he'd be hitting the golf course - but, he works so hard, he deserves it). There's a great park for the girls and I to visit on Saturday while Mike is golfing....and Sunday and Monday, we can look forward to a field trip or two since Mike will have a 3-day weekend to hang with the family. Be sure to check Twinsanity after the weekend is over since there are likely to be some new pictures posted from our fun, fabulous 3-day weekend.

In other happenings, today we had a routine appointment with Taylor's neurologist. Her neurologist is "pleased" with Taylor's progress and remarked that he "sees a considerable improvement in her walking since the last appointment 3 months ago..." He also signed a new RX order for continued physical therapy in the clinic as well as continued therapeutic horseback riding for Taylor for all of 2009 while also instructing me that physical therapy will need to remain the "cornerstone of services for Taylor's treatment and management of cerebral palsy for several years to come." He also said that he doesn't need to see Taylor back again for 6 months since she seems to be making such great progress. Good news all the way around for Taylor and us today!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

$5,000 and Counting

So, the medical statements and healthcare expenses have been trickling in this week. Already, we're at roughly $5,000.00 (+/- some change) for our out-of-pocket spending for the twins for the year 2008 on just medical/healthcare. Yes, that's right...that's roughly $5,000 out-of-pocket, over and above what our insurance covered for 2008. WOW! And, get this...that roughly $5,000.00 only accounts for 6 of the twins medical providers. I'm still waiting on more medical statements and healthcare expenses from 7 additional medical specialists/vendors which Paige and Taylor have seen in 2008. So, I'm thinking we could be pushing $8,000-$10,000 in our medical and healthcare out-of-pocket costs for just Paige and Taylor by the time all the statements arrive and are tallied for 2008. IRS deductions, here we come! Yeeeeeha! Now, just for kicks, I'll have to thumb back through our last two years taxes to see how our medical and healthcare costs for Paige and Taylor this past year stack up against all previous years...that will be an interesting exercise and an eye-opener one way or another, I'm sure.

Now, while $8,000 - $10,000 a year in out-of-pocket healthcare and medical expenses is certainly a good chunk of money, folks, I must tell you that it's nothing, peanuts, chump change compared to what bills those girls wracked up during their NICU days immediately after they were first born as preemies. I will never forget the bills I saw for those costs...Taylor's NICU stay for 3 weeks after her birth was a whopping $300,000 and Paige's NICU stay for 5 weeks after her birth was equally hefty ringing in at $250,000.

Thank God my husband has a GREAT job and that we are fortunate enough to have PPO insurance with his firm which picks up the majority of all medical bills and costs for Paige and Taylor. Without my husband's insurance, these kinds of expenses could easily sink a family!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thoughts for Tomorrow

"In his excellent biography of Abraham Lincoln, David Herbert Donald recalls a meeting he had with John F. Kennedy in February 1962, in which the young president complained about the way scholars ranked his predecessors. 'No one has a right to grade a president -- not even poor James Buchanan -- who has not sat in his chair, examined the mail and information that came across his desk, and learned why he made his decisions,' Kennedy said." - Philip Klein, Learning from the Bush Legacy

Tomorrow evening, I will sit down in my living room, along with millions of other viewers across America, to tune into President George Bush's final public address to our nation. In recent weeks, I've been hearing and reading a lot about the legacy of President Bush's administration and his 7 years in office... in particular, I have been struck by the manner in which the Bush Legacy is presented by his critics. I hear many "Bush-haters" speaking of his "failures" as they talk in terms of "his costly and unnecessary war" and his alleged "civil liberties violations" to name but a few...these are the rememberances that the Bush administration leaves them.

Yet for me, one of the PERHAPS few, proud remaining Bush supporters and defenders, I believe that President Bush deserves much credit for keeping America safe from terrorists who would seek to attack us again if given the opportunity, just as they did on September 11. America has not suffered a terrorist attack on our soil since 9/11, largely due to Bush's administration and policies. President Bush has regarded the attacks of 9/11 as part of a broader, more complex war rather than some simple criminal matter to be prosecuted in the courtrooms. Let me say it again, under President Bush's watch, no terrorist attacks in 7 years on American soil. THAT is the legacy of the George Bush Presidency, whether his critics like it or not, whether his critics want to believe it or not. THAT is the legacy. THAT is the legacy that I will remember and cherish - that for 7 years, my family, my friends and way of life in America were kept safe.

So, tomorrow evening, I will tune into watch the legacy of President Bush draw to a close. I will watch with respect and appreciation for his efforts and policies in keeping our country safe these past 7 years. I know his critics will not watch with the same appreciation and respect and will ridicule him as they have always done right up to the very end. (Some might even throw a shoe at him). And, that is just fine because I believe that time, future events and history will bear out that President Bush truly was a remarkable president and that his greatest contribution to our country was protecting and defending us and our way of life.

In the words of Philip Klein, I will simply close tonight's blog post with this final thought: "Much like Harry Truman was maligned during his time only to be vindicated later for his early leadership during the Cold War, in this view, Bush will be remembered as the president who set the stage for the long struggle against Islamic extremism, and who toppled tyrants in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Well said, and God bless President George Bush.

Update on Paige - Today's GI Doctor Appointment

With a little patience (OK, a lot of patience over the past 3 years) and a clear plan with Paige's gasteroenterologist (GI Doctor), we are continuing to see some positive weight gains for Paige. We had another routine check-up with Paige's GI doctor today and Paige is now weighing a whopping 25-1/2 pounds putting her in the 4th percentile. That's a two-pound increase from her last weight check with her GI doctor a little more than a month ago.

Now for those of you who don't know Paige, that may not be very impressive, but for those of you who do know Paige and her history with GERD/acid reflux and her strong food aversions, then you understand what a success that is for Paige to now be in the 4th percentile!

While Paige has always eaten like a little sparrow, ever since her NICU days as a preemie, and we've often had to rely upon a great deal of nutritional supplements prescribed by her GI doctor to help fortify her foods and maximize the nutrition of literally every bite of food, Paige is doing great by all accounts and her GI doctor was very pleased with Paige's weight gain since her last visit. At the end of our GI doctor appointment, the GI doctor said simply: "Paige's doing great...just stay the course, keep up all the supplements...and, see you in 3 months."

Since I know that there are some other moms out there who follow this blog on a regular basis and who also have a finicky eater or two in their household, for your benefit, I will share with you the latest line-up of nutritional supplements that I presently incorporate into Paige's daily diet to make sure that she receives all the necessary fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that represent a balanced diet for a toddler. Of course, be sure to check with your own child's GI doctor or pediatrician before introducing any of these items to your child.

Nutritional Supplements
- BOOST Resource Juice
- BOOST Resource Puddings
- Benecalorie Nutritional

The items above are fairly costly, but well worth the investment for their nutritional value. You can find out more information about the above products as well as review the nutritional contents of each item with a quick search online.

In addition to the above supplements, some of the following items can also help round out the finicky eater's diet as well as boost overall caloric intake:

- Half 'n Half
(I use Half 'n Half in lieu of reduced fat or whole milk because it's very dense, contains a lot of calories and contains a lot of nutritious fats, which are all essential to a growing toddlers' brain).

- Expecta Softgel by Enfamil
(While this is generally used by pregnant & nursing moms as a DHA supplement, Paige's GI doctor recommends this supplement in a young toddler's diet to ensure that the right proportions of Omega-3 fatty acids, responsible for brain growth/development, are being achieved. I use one Expecta Softgel capsule a day for both Paige and Taylor in order to help make sure that they are getting enough of their DHAs...I simply cut the top off the capsule and then squeeze the softgel into one of their foods and mix well. It's totally flavorless and therefore mixes well with most foods).

- Grapeseed Oil
(Like the Expecta Softgel, this too is totally flavorless and mixes well into any food, but it packs a lot of nutritional value for a young toddler with its many antioxidants, Vitamin E and its heart-healthy unsaturated fats).

Unlike the more costly supplements by Benecalorie & BOOST, the Half 'n Half, the Expecta Softgels and the Grapeseed Oil can all be purchased at your grocery store or specialty grocery store.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Busy, Busy Week

I know I have been a little MIA this week...there has been a lot to tend to this week on the homefront.

To begin, I am in the process of disputing a decision with the State of California to discontinue one of Taylor's physical therapy services - her therapeutic horseback riding - with the Department of Developmental Services. My husband and I are attending an informal administrative meeting tomorrow morning; and the following week, we are scheduled to appear before the Administrative Law Judge for the Department of Developmental Services for our 1st fair hearing request. I am presently coordinating with one of Taylor's medical practitioners, her lead physical therapist, to have her appear in court with us to present testimony and to offer her medical expertise before the judge on precisely why the horseback riding program represents an essential component to Taylor's overall health, physical and medical well-being and why eliminating the horseback riding program will prove to be detrimental to Taylor's progress in overcoming her disability. Additionally, I am assembling the many medical records and various documentation related to Taylor's diagnosis, past therapy services, assessments and benchmarks/goals as noted by Taylor's various medical doctors and physical therapists in order to present these to the judge at our fair hearing request next week.

Oh, and it's tax time again, so I am in the process of gathering all of the various summary statements for our out-of-pocket medical expenses incurred for the year 2008. Lucky me. I'm in charge of itemizing all the deductions related to the twins and their medical/healthcare. My husband delegates this task to me every year...while it's not a lot of fun tracking down all the expenses and statements from the many, many medical/healthcare providers for Paige and Taylor, it is a necessary evil in our household and it has resulted in much-needed deductions with the IRS in all previous years. It always amazes me how many THOUSANDS of dollars we end up spending out-of-pocket each year just on the twins' medical/healthcare...expenses that are over and above what our private insurance pays. History tells me, based on the past 2 years of our out-of-pocket spending for the twins, that the year 2008 will once again prove to have been just as expensive as previous years...

And, finally, as if all of this wasn't enough to keep me hopping this week, there are the usual physical therapy appointments at the clinic for Taylor as well as a couple of doctor appointments for Paige.

I am sure going to be ready for the weekend...but, alas, it's only Tuesday and the weekend is waaaaaay too far off still to start getting very excited about that!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Bragabout Friday - Horseback Riding

Taylor, that little show-off. She's continuing to make some great progress in her horseback riding program. Today, working with her physical therapists, she started doing some new riding tricks - riding backwards, riding sideways and even standing up while riding the horse. I was thrilled to see Taylor standing up on the horse's back as the horse took several steps throughout the arena. Taylor was steady and her feet and legs were well-planted and she demonstrated great balance while standing on the horse. I thought to myself, "Now that's impressive....a little 3 year old tot perfectly poised and positioned atop a horse as the horse walks about...special needs child or not, that's a hard skill to master."

While the various positions on horseback are targeting and activating a number of different muscles beneficial to Taylor's physical therapy needs, she doesn't know she's "working" hard. All she knows is that she's riding a horse and that there are a lot of people and onlookers in the riding arena cheering her on as she rides backwards, sideways and standing up and she absolutely loves every moment of it.

Taylor riding "Popcorn" backwards.

Taylor getting into position to ride "Popcorn" standing up.

Taylor's up and riding high.

While Taylor was enjoying her riding lessons today, Paige and I romped about the ranch exploring the great outdoors. Paige was also getting some one-on-one wooing from one of the ranch-hands...although quite a bit Paige's senior, he was sure showering Paige with lots of wildflowers. I laughed and thought to myself, "what a foreshadowing this is. I'm sure there will be lots of woo-ing and attempts at winning over Paige as she grows up in the years to come, beautiful little girl that she is!"

Paige receives a wildflower, especially picked for her by one of the ranchers.

Paige petting and feeding "Dance".

Paige enjoying the grounds of the ranch.

Paige...and, she carries a big stick.

If At First We Don't Succeed, Try, Try, Try Again

I am FINALLY feeling pretty good about our potty-training experiences with Paige & Taylor.

How did I arrive at this “pretty good” feeling? Well, to begin, I started surveying some of my friends who have had twins and who have successfully potty-trained multiples. My sampling of other multiples mommies is somewhat small – only 5 moms. Actually, given how rare twins are to begin with, I’m rather amazed that I personally know 5 moms of twins that I can reach out to by phone/email and solicit advice from them! (2 of these moms are on the West Coast and 3 are on the East Coast). Well, anyways, I contacted each of them over the past few weeks to swap stories on our potty-training adventures, and it was so wonderfully refreshing to hear 5 out of 5 tell me that: 1). They didn’t start trying to potty-train their twins until 3 years of age; 2). They trained only one of the twins at a time; and 3). Some of the twins trained quickly – in a week or two, while others trained a lot more slowly, not getting it until closer to 3-1/2 years old.

Okay, so after my little sample survey to my multiples-mommy friends and after hearing them talk about their experiences and approach to potty-training their twins, it sure helped me feel like “okay, for twins in the world of potty-training them, we’re pretty much right in line with what other moms to twins have done…”

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have had these little gals potty-trained at 18-24 months like so many of my other friends have been able to do with their one baby; but, that just hasn’t been possible in our household. (Perhaps if I get pregnant again and have just ONE BABY/TODDLER to focus on the next time around, I’ll have the good fortune of having that one potty-trained at 18-24 months…now, that would be cool).

In the meantime, we are celebrating some real potty-training triumphs of our own these days! Both Paige and Taylor are pooping on the “big girl” potty consistently. I know. Can you hear me shouting a big "YAY" from here? The girls do still have the occasional poop mishap while they’re sleeping at naptime or overnight, but during our normal, waking, playing hours, I am pleased (no thrilled) to report that they’re officially “big girl poopers on the potty”!

Just how have we been celebrating our big girl potty poopers, you ask…well, with all the fanfare and panache that should come with celebrating their “big girl” moments on the potty! With lots of M&M’s and stickers! Okay, so some might think that’s more like bribery; but in our world, I like to think of it as a reward to keep them motivated and inspired to keep right on pooping on the potty!

Now, what’s funny about the whole pooping on the potty thing is this – I’ve heard that teaching little tykes to go poop on the potty is usually the hardest part of potty-training and that it doesn’t come as easily for tykes as the teaching pee-pee on the potty does. Figures. Figures, my girls would be little potty-training mavericks and that even in the area of potty-training, they would do it in the more unconventional way than most kids – getting the pooping part down first. Oh, well, that just gives me another reason to find Paige & Taylor even more endearing…because even in potty-training, these girls don’t follow the typical, standard well-traveled path that most other kids do learning to pee first then poop.

So, all in all, I’d say we’re 50% there on this whole potty-training thing. I can finally start to see the light at the end of the tunnel with diapers. YES! Just gotta’ get the girls interested in doing the pee-pee on the potty and we can kiss our diaper-wearing days goodbye (except at naptimes/overnight at bedtime). I do however remain cautiously optimistic on the pee-pee on the potty successes for Paige & Taylor at this time though. Why, you ask? Well, several factors are working against us…first, Paige still shows no interest in going pee-pee on the “big girl” potty. She actually will hold in her pee-pee while she’s on the potty, then no sooner do we come out of the bathroom, she’ll piddle on the floor, the carpet or even worse one of our nice sofa pillows. Or get this, on more than one occassion, Paige has piddled in her “big girl” underwear and has just kept right on playing. So much for the theory of once a child feels the dampness or dribble down their legs, they won’t like it and will want to be in dry underwear. Not Paige. She could totally care less….she’s too busy playing to let her wet britches and wet underwear slow her down. Ha, ha, ha.

And, how about this one….this one is actually my personal favorite because it’s a testament to how little twin toddlers can learn to outsmart, outmaneuver their parents at the youngest of years. For example, when Paige sits down for her turn on the potty to go pee-pee, right away she starts up with either “All done, all done, all done” or “Taylor’s turn, Taylor’s turn”. (I'm so glad that Paige is looking out for Taylor's potty-training best interests). I know, it’s funny. It makes me laugh too. But, it gets even better. When it comes time for Taylor to go pee-pee on the “big girl” potty, Taylor exhibits that old tried and true case of monkey-see, monkey-do. That's right, she’s heard Paige say “Taylor’s turn, Taylor’s turn” that Taylor thinks it’s only appropriate for her to shout out “Paige’s turn, Paige’s turn” when it’s Taylor's time to go pee-pee on the potty. What a racket these little girls are running on their mommy already, eh?

So, yes, we’re 50% there on the potty-training. Pooping is easy for the twins to do on the “big girl” potty, but that pee-pee on the potty is coming a little more slowly. We’re getting there, but only in Paige and Taylor’s own sweet time.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

East Coast Snowman

Paige and Taylor have yet to build themselves a little snowman...where we live in California doesn't bring snow in the winter, just lots and lots of rain...but, fortunately, some of their cousins and their "Poppa" from New York built one on their behalf to enjoy over the holidays! How cool.

Random Cell Phone Pictures

These are all completely random cell phone pictures...I was scrolling through my phone, deleting a bunch of stuff and came across these pictures (from about 2 months ago) so I figured, before I just delete these completely from my cell phone, I'd first upload them to this site.

These were all taken while the twins and I were hanging out in the parking lot of one of their doctor's offices. We had arrived to the doctor's office a little early so we did some seat switcheroos in the parking lot and the girls got to "drive" the car. Be sure to note Paige's behavior and actions when she's in the driver's seat. If pictures are really worth a thousand words, then what story is Paige telling? I must speculate here and have to think she's mimicking her dear ol' mommy. Sure as I look at her in these photos, it does seem to resemble a lot of my own behavior while driving - pressing the buttons on the stereo, downing a Starbucks and/or a soda, turning around to the backseat to eye what mischief is happening back there....

Monday, January 5, 2009

"The Best Scale Railroad in the Americas"

This past weekend, we took the girls to Sonoma Traintown.

From its many bridges and trestles to its beautiful tunnels and waterfalls situated on 10 densely wooded acres, it comes as no surprise that Sonoma Traintown has rightfully earned the reputation for the "most well-developed scale railroad in the Americas." After boarding the steam-train at the station, we traveled along the train tracks in an open train car enjoying a trip to the miniature town of Lakeville - with buildings scaled to one-half size featuring a school, chapel, jail, firehouse, an ol' west saloon, a railroad depot and a live petting zoo! With its one-and-one-quarter-mile scale railroad and its many train replicas and wild west town of Lakeville from the good ol' days, Paige and Taylor really enjoyed a day of adventure riding the train (a scale replica of an 1875 steam locomotive).

To top off their visit to Sonoma Traintown, Paige and Taylor also had the opportunity to climb and explore 3 full-sized cabooses from the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads. Finally, there were a variety of vintage amusement park rides for Paige and Taylor such as the iron carousel and the antique Sonoma Airline plane ride.

All Aboard the Steam Locomotive at the Boarding Station.

Paige Becoming a Train Enthusiast and Enjoying Her Train Tour.

Taylor (look at that face) Traveling at Lightening Speed through the Tunnels.

Paige (look at that face) Just Giddy over the Many Train Tunnels!

Paige and Taylor Feeding the Goats, Sheep and Llamas at the Petting Zoo.

Paige Making Furry Friends.

Feeding the Animals at the Petting Zoo.

Exploring the Roundhouse at the Train Station.

Walking Along the Train Tracks.

Enjoying Vintage Plane Rides.

Paige Riding the Antique Iron Carousel.

Taylor Is Fast, Faster, Fastest on the Iron Carousel.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Winter - California Style

This past week, we got the winter gear out and hit one of Lake Tahoe’s best ski parks for kids. Paige and Taylor’s “Poppa” from Virginia was visiting and Paige and Taylor wanted to make sure they showed “Poppa” a real fun time – California style. So, we did one of the coolest things that winter in Northern California has to offer – we headed to the mountains of the Sierra Nevada’s to spend an afternoon enjoying snowmobile sleigh rides, snow tubes and riding a very cool snow carousel!

It was an awesome day; one I won’t soon forget. The twins won’t either…they are still talking about their day in the snow! Paige and Taylor got to do it all – climb and play on a snow volcano mountain, ride on the tube snow carousels as well as slide, skid and smash it up in the tubing arena along with lots of other little tykes and tiny snow-bunnies just like them!

A few of the pictures of our day in the snow are posted below. Many, many more photos are shown above in the slide show.

- Ashley with Taylor -

- Paige and Taylor with "Poppa" -

- Mike with Paige and Taylor...Going Tubing -

- Ashley with Taylor on Snow Carousel -

- Exploring the Snow Park -

- Paige and Taylor on the Snow Carousel -

- Big Hugs with "Poppa"-

- Taylor and Paige with Mike -

- All Of Us -