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.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Mommy's 'Wish List' Friday

Some of my mommy blogging friends are posting their "wish lists" this Friday night, so I figured what the heck, I'll play along too. Surprisingly, as I sat down to post my "wish list", the list came rather quickly to me and I can only imagine that my selections here have everything to do with the fact that Mike has been on travel for the past 11 days...

Ashley's Wish List - Top 5

1. Hot Stone Massage

2. Highlights at the Salon

3. An Afternoon to Browse & Shop at My Neighborhood Borders Bookstore

4. A Morning When I Can Sleep In Past 6:30 AM

5. A Relaxing Bubble Bath with Candles

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Puppy Pretenders - Playing Fetch

Yes, this is what you think it is...Tukker's chewbone toy in Paige and Taylor's mouths. You can guess who they were pretending to be, I'm sure - yes, you guessed it - Tukker! (Don't worry though, I'd washed this chewbone toy prior to taking it out of the cabinet because I had a feeling the girls would eventually play with it).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Uneventful Bedtimes, Oh, How I Miss Those Days

Bedtime for Paige and Taylor used to be so totally uneventful. Oh, how I miss those days...

Long gone are the days when they would nap mid-day for a couple hours, here to stay are the days of no mid-day naps. On the one hand, that's a real challenge because once dinnertime rolls around, the girls can start to get very fussy and I'm pretty tuckered out by the time 7:00 PM arrives. On the other hand, that's a real blessing because once dinnertime rolls around and there has been no nap, the twins, like mommy, are also pretty tuckered out and bedtime happens earlier than it used to because they've already had a good 12-13 hour day.

I generally start to initiate our bedtime routines around 7:30 these days - dinner, baths, jammies, teeth brushed - then it's to the bedroom where yet another routine for bedtime has emerged for the twins. After a story or two, then it's into bed along with a barrage of books, stuffed animals, baby dolls, flash lights or whatever else Paige and Taylor might request to have with them in bed. Then, of course, there are the bedtime prayers. These are actually a very special time for me as they lay in their beds and I place my hand on their forehead and pray for them. The prayer is pretty simple and usually goes a little something like this: "Dear Jesus, I pray that you will watch over Paige and Taylor tonight, help them to have a good night's sleep and keep them safe so that they're ready to play again tomorrow. Thank you for making them such wonderful little girls...we love them very much...Amen."

Lately, Paige and Taylor, following their individual prayers, want me to also pray for each of their baby dolls and stuffed animals too. They'll hand me their Minnie Mouse doll, their stuffed elephant, their puppy dog, etc. and one at a time, I'll place my hand on each of the foreheads of every baby doll /stuffed animal in their bed and say a prayer for those too. It is pretty cute, but night, after night, after night, after night, saying a prayer for every single one of their baby dolls/stuffed animals, well, let's just say, it can make for one lengthy bedtime routine. And, although I could do without a prayer for each and every baby doll / stuffed animal in their bed, I always acquiesce because it's just so sweet to see Paige and Taylor's little happy, smiling faces as they hand me each new doll/stuffed animal and ask me to pray for them.

Speaking of bedtimes, as I type this posting - lucky me - the twins are not only both still in bed but YES, they're already fast asleep as well. Woohoo!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Starbucks Not Directed At Children...Okay, If You Say So

If you visit the Starbucks' corporate web site, you'll see that they have a fairly staunch company policy of not marketing to children, but if you've been in a Starbucks lately, you can see that there's some not-so-subtle marketing to children definitely going on. Think oversized Pottern Barn baskets chock-full of stuffed animal bears or bunnies. Last I checked, adults aren't that into stuffed animals. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Starbucks cited its written policy which says, "its overall marketing, advertising and event sponsorship efforts are not directed at children or youth..." Okay, if you say so, Starbucks.

I can't help but question that, even just a little. For example, this summer, the Starbucks in our neighborhood "featured" (translate "featured" as promoted or marketed) its summer drink line-up which just so happened to be available in kid-sized versions. I've even seen Starbucks advertising at the local zoos and other kid-friendly venues around town.

And, really, some of their drinks, are they really targeted at adults? The Vanilla Bean Frappucino for example which on their poster-sized in-store display shows a cup of sweet, cold refreshment piled high with whipped cream! I mean, come on, what's not to love about that image, especially if you're 3-1/2 years old like my girls Paige and Taylor.

In the words of that same Wall Street Journal article which I referenced above, "Starbucks can crow on and on all it likes about how its marketing isn't targeted to children. Its products, its outlets, its ambiance: they're all about children and their parents." And, I have to give Starbucks some serious kudos on their strategy - it is certainly one that seems to be working for them. After all, the stay-at-home moms are often the ones filling the tables of the neighborhood Starbucks stores. How would I know that? Well...I'm one of them! What's worse? I have the pictures as the evidence of Starbucks' genius in marketing to me and my children. Oh, and yes, that is a Vanilla Bean Frappucino that Paige and Taylor are enjoying in the pictures and I blame it all on that gosh darned in-store display poster!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

When It's Personal, It's Significant!

As President Obama pushes for passage of his first major domestic policy change, I've once again pulled out my activist hat and have spent considerable time in recent days in correspondence to my California State Senators and California Congressional Representatives. Some have received emails from me, some have received phone calls from me, some I've left voice messages for, while still some I've had the good fortune to actually speak directly to their staff members to voice my concerns (granted, these were only after waiting on the phone for as long as 30 minutes due to the sheer volume of calls the State Senators and Congressional Representatives are receiving on the healthcare debate, but it was well worth my time to wait it out in order to speak live to someone). It's one of the many perks of being a stay-at-home mom - you can become more involved in grassroots efforts and activism in issues and causes that are personally significant to you and you can dedicate a portion of your time (in your "spare" time) to making your voice heard.

The Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 - which in my estimation based on what I've researched and read amounts to little more than nationalized medicine that will result in inferior patient care from doctors around the country as they are innundated with new patient lists, waitlists for existing patients and as a result, are forced to ration health care.

In the words of one doctor, "This is war," says Dr. George Watson, a Kansas physician and president-elect of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons. "This is a bureaucratic boondoggle to grab control of health care. Everything that has been proposed in the 1,018 page bill will contribute to the ruination of medicine." Another telling statement which caught my eye was that from the Mayo Clinic, the non-profit organization and internationally renowned medical group, in which they stated, "Although there are some positive provisions in the current bill - including insurance for all and payment reform demonstration projects - the proposed legislation misses the opportunity to help create higher quality, more affordable healthcare for patients. In fact, it will do the exact opposite." (July 16 statement from Mayo Clinic web site).

When It's Personal Folks, It's Significant...

This issue is personally very, very significant to me and my family. As many of you know, family, friends or otherwise, who follow this blog fairly regularly, one of our twins has a mild disability (cerebral palsy) that has impacted her ability to walk and to coordinate some of her overall motor movements. For the past 3-1/2 years, our family has provided Taylor with the best specialists and doctors that our private insurance plan could offer to her in an effort to give Taylor every opportunity to live her life to the fullest potential and with the level of dignity and care that she deserves. Often our commitment to maintaining our private insurance plan has come with hard choices and personal as well as family sacrifices. Could my husband and I use the $300.00 - $400.00 per month that we pay out of pocket to our health insurance plan for something else? Certainly, but we choose not to. We choose not to tradeoff the quality of our healthcare for our children, particularly Taylor, and at times, it's not been easy but it's always been worth it. When Taylor has suffered a seizure as a result of her cerebral palsy, we've been able to schedule the necessary tests - EEGs and MRIs - without delay or a moment's hesitation. When Taylor has needed a consult with her pediatric neurologist or pediatric orthopaedist surgeon, or team of physical therapists, we have always been able to access them in a timely manner, sometimes appointments were made within the same day, within 24-hours, or at worst within a week or two.

The government takeover of the practice of medicine is going to ultimately threaten all of this! The government takeover of medicine is going to destroy the private health insurance which our family, and our daughter Taylor, has relied upon in our hours of need. I fear the rationing of the healthcare services, the long lines, and the lost access to the specialists and physicians which Taylor has so desperately needed and will continue to need for years to come. What happens when Taylor needs to be fitted for a new pair of leg braces in order to walk and she is unable to be seen or even scheduled for an appointment with her orthopaedist for six or more months? What happens when Taylor has another seizure and needs to have her dosage for anti-seizure medication adjusted and she is unable to be seen or even scheduled for an appointment with her neurologist for six or more months? Our little girl's life is literally at stake, her future well-being, her ability to thrive and to live a full life to her greatest potential is at stake.

While I know that there are millions of families who desire healthcare and who have their own personal stories to tell in this healthcare debate, I also know that for those families who face special medical circumstances raising special needs children and who day in day out do the best they can to care and manage the extenuating health issues of their loved ones, this debate is largely an open/shut case for us. The families I see each week in Taylor's physical therapy sessions who are wrestling and managing real quality of life issues don't want to lose their private insurance healthcare that gives them instant and open access to the doctors and specialists they need. The mother of the little boy, whose name is Cody, who sits in a wheelchair and relies upon feeding tubes whom we see each week at one of Taylor's therapy appointments would tell you the same - what do we do when our little boy needs a new feeding tube placed in his stomach in order to maintain his proper nutrition? Do we wait six or more months? Do we just sit idly by and watch the medical needs of our child become further compromised? And, only after waiting six or more months for the consult to be seen by the gastroenterologist, do we then have to wait another six or more months in order to schedule the surgery to replace the feeding tube?

It's against this backdrop and within this context that I have done what I can in recent weeks to protest the passage of the Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. I protest its passage for my family and my children but also for the millions of other families who are likewise being threatend with losing the quality healthcare that they've needed for their families and their special needs children. In closing today's blog post, I would like to ask that if any portion of this message resonates with you - perhaps you have your own extenuating personal or family medical circumstances that requires timely access to specialists, perhaps, like us, you are raising a child with special needs who won't fit the cookie-cutter health and wellness checks offered under the new nationalized public health plan - then please contact your local state senators and congressional representatives. Don't delay, and make your voices heard.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Other Kid In Our Family

This is Tukker...she's the other kid in our family! You probably haven't read or seen a whole lot of her on this blog, so I figured it was time for a post that's just for Tukker. In the photos below, Tukker is at the home of a friend of ours. Can you tell that Tukker loves the pool? She swims by herself in the pool and if you're in the pool, Tukker will swim around with you and chase after you. She truly is the sweetest dog.

Tukker swimming with our friend in their pool.

Tukker is now playing chase with our friend.

Tukker sunbathing poolside.
Tukker (left) and Uno (right) hanging poolside. Hey, they even look like twin labs!!!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Vacation to Upstate New York

A week ago we were vacationing in upstate New York, visiting with Mike's family and what an AWESOME vacation it was! I also enjoyed seeing a few new things about my children...such as, they LOVE going to the ice cream stands with daddy. But, it must, must be Rudy's soft-serve ice cream in vanilla (for Taylor) and chocolate (for Paige) as well as be completely covered in rainbow sprinkle candies!
And, touring historic Fort Ontario in Oswego, was a pretty cool experience for the twins too...
They also both enjoyed walking along the shoreline of Lake Ontario with daddy, picking up stones and skipping them across the water...
They enjoy hometown parades, especially the free candy they got from the floats and the flag waving from the sidelines of the parade...
And, finally, they really LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their family, especially their cousins...
We truly had a fantastic vacation...and, you can check out the slideshow above for lots more pictures of our great family vacation!