The twins are really enjoying the Christmas music of the season - they love to dance to it, twirl to it, clap to it, laugh to it! Tonight, when I said to them, "let's dance and I'll take pictures of you", they told me, "we'll wear our princess dresses." So, here are Paige and Taylor enjoying some Christmas music and wearing their princess dresses....
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, November 28, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Here is a little sampling of how some of our conversations went today as we drove in our car from one destination to another:
Me: "Some families and kids aren't as lucky as you girls this year and some people need extra help and it sure would be nice of us to share some of our warm food with these people today..." and "Some people are very poor and don't have enough money to buy food and snacks to eat..." etc. etc.
Paige: "No way. That's our food. The poor people have to go shopping for their own food."
Taylor: "But, we want to eat that food. No, mommy, no..."
And, that's about how it went today as we chatted about how we can help others and about how Jesus wants us to help people when they don't have as many nice things or as much food as we do. While I fully know that the twins didn't appreciate our giving today to the community, someday as I tell them about this experience in the years to come (when they're older and able to understand the significance of giving vs receiving), I think they'll be glad they helped mommy give to the needy today.
I come from the school of thought where it's never too early to start planting the seeds for tomorrow. I don't know what life will exactly hold for Paige and Taylor, and I also don't know what personal financial blessings that they will gain for themselves through their hard work and efforts, but what I do know is that I want them to learn that whatever they may be blessed with, whatever monetary means they may have, they have a responsibility to give a portion back to those less fortunate. Today, was our first step in sowing those seeds in Paige and Taylor. As the years go by, we can continue to cultivate those seeds and I look forward to watching these early seeds in life bloom and grow...
As I reflect on our day and our efforts to give to those less fortunate than us, I know that I enjoyed this experience waaaaaaaaaay more than the twins did. I enjoyed explaining to the girls what we were doing and why we were doing it. Hopefully, however, as they grow older and in the years ahead, Paige and Taylor will come to appreciate this more and will discover for themselves how it truly is more blessed to give than to receive.
Monday, November 23, 2009
God knows everything we've been going through this year and that alone is something that I am grateful for. I know that God never leaves us or forsakes us and even when the times get tough I know I can trust His plan for our lives. He's come through for us time and time again in our lives in recent years as a family, and I'm grateful for that.
It sounds strange but just thinking about BEING THANKFUL makes me even more thankful for all the blessings I have in my life this year. It's about what I DO HAVE in life and not about what I DON'T HAVE at THIS moment in my life. I am healthy, my husband is healthy, our daughters are healthy. I have a great husband and two really awesome little girls - they are the loves of my life and the bright spots in life. No matter what kind of day or year or circumstances I face, my family is always a source of joy and love. George Bernard Shaw once wrote "a happy family is but an earlier Heaven" and how true that is. Give me a family that pulls together in tough times, that still finds happiness and joy even when circumstances are stressful and challenging anyday. My family really is like a little taste of Heaven and God's goodness to us right here on earth, and I'm thankful for it!
So, Happy Thanksgiving to all of us, wherever you are and whatever circumstances you may find yourself in. God never promised us that life would be easy, that life would be without stress but with the love of my family, I find that it does make the journey a little easier and the burdens of this life a little lighter to bear. So, this Thanksgiving, I'm counting all my blessings, naming them 1 by 1 because I really do have so much to be thankful for....
Saturday, November 21, 2009
I bought a gingerbread house kit this weekend which included pieces of pre-made gingerbread, pre-packaged icing, candies, and other tasty treats. All we had to do was start icing the gingerbread pieces together, then decorate. It was also a great way to get our girls involved in the start of the holiday festivities of the season! Mike actually put the basic structure together with the various gingerbread pieces and the icing. After the house was "built", the twins jumped right in and had a ball decorating with all the candies. Now, the real question is - do we keep it in the refrigerator and bring it out as part of our decorating display in the house this holiday season OR do we just start nibbling on it and enjoy all of its yumminess? Decorations schmecorations...I have a feeling we'll be nibbling!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Making that slight change in travel plans also leaves us in town for Thanksgiving but since we just decided to cancel our plans for traveling that day, we are now left with some options. In the past, we've either traveled to the East Coast to New York or to Virginia to spend time with grandparents and other extended family. During the years that we have not traveled back to the East Coast, we have either gone to friends' homes here in California or have had friends over to our house for Thanksgiving. This year, we're not doing any of those things since we are just changing our plans at the last minute ourselves for Thanksgiving.
While Thanksgiving this year will still be a time of connecting and remembering our many blessings, we're switching things up just a bit. Mike is planning on spending part of his Thanksgiving on the golf course. Yes, golf courses are open on Thanksgiving, and the rates are even discounted at the course for Thanksgiving and yes, I'm even 100% okay with him playing that day. While Mike is golfing that day, the twins and I are going to be getting in the giving spirit and will be visiting some regional homeless shelters Thanksgiving Day donating traditional Thanksgiving dinner items (pies, bread, stuffing, turkey, etc.) This year, our church pastor has inspired and encouraged those of us who can give of our resources and our time this Thanksgiving to those who have far less, hence the plans for the girls and I to get out of our comfort zone, so to speak, and visit some local homeless shelters to help those needy and hungry individuals, families and children in our community who might not otherwise have a holiday meal to enjoy.
Sure, it's not how we've traditionally spent our Thanksgivings in the past, but on the other hand, I'm actually more excited about this Thanksgiving because as our pastor has encouraged us - we're putting our faith into action doing something for the hungry and homeless in our neighborhoods. It's also going to serve as a nice reminder of what this season is truly all about - giving to others less fortunate.
A husband who takes terrific care of me and our daughters and who provides us with a wonderful life.
A great playschool in the neighborhood who offers me the occassional break from the twins in order to grocery shop, run errands, etc.
A church that helps Mike and me in our relationship with each other and with God and that provides a Sunday School for our children where they are happy, learn songs and stories about Jesus each week.
Daughters who allow me to see the world with continued wonder and newness and who always keep me on my toes and exhausted (but exhausted in a good way).
A "job" as a stay-at-home mom that provides our children with full-time care from me every day of their young lives. In the words of Dr. Laura Schlessinger, "I Truly Am My Kids' Mom" and I love that part of my life.
A car that runs, okay, 2 cars that run.
A house that is warm.
A refrigerator and cupboards with food for our table.
Clothing that fits.
Friends, old and new, who share in life with me.
A generous and loving God who has blessed me with all of these.
I actually have a much easier time finding which personality traits the kids have inherited from us to this point than their physical traits. They both are independent, free-spirited, confident, determined and strong-willed. Funny thing is these are also how I would describe many of Mike's and my own character traits. They are such determined little things! And, I love that about both of them.
I have heard a number of variations of the sentiment above from authors, psychologists, pastors, historians, etc. but I like the way that Ring Lardner puts it perhaps best of all. Like some people, blogging can occassionally be a form of "therapy" for me. I suppose anytime one puts thoughts to paper, or in this case to the keyboard, it is that way. It is also a way to record some memories (before I forget them) so the memories can survive a muddled brain that is constantly juggling a million things and remembering daily details and a plethora of to do's in our family's life.
I am often in the car driving to and from various doctor appointments as well as speech and physical therapy programs, and the twins are in the back reading stories, singing or chatting with one another as we drive. When you're in the car a lot like I am, you begin to find yourself pondering life, relationships, God, family, all kinds of stuff. Sometimes I think about wonderful things to blog about here, but usually those thoughts are gone by the time I come and sit down at my computer.
My goal in blogging at Twinsanity has always been to share about the positive aspects of my family, my life with twins, my experiences as a wife and as a mother. I may break this "rule" from time to time, but this post today is not one of those times.
I have a lot of really great memories of my childhood. I had a wonderful childhood, oh sure, there were the tough times once in a while and there were times and experiences that I'd like to forget but thankfully, those were the exception and not the rule to my childhood.
My childhood memories are made up of all kinds of moments; and looking back upon my childhood, and as a parent now myself, I find a new appreciation and value in the role of my own parents. They helped me grow, they always loved me, they helped me make good decisions, they comforted me in disappointment, broken relationships or hard times.
Now, I'm a woman and mother myself, and as wonderful as my childhood was, I have recently found myself thinking upon the statment at the outset of this blog posting: "The family you come from isn't nearly as important as the family you're going to have." And, how true that is. While we certainly will always have our experiences from our own childhoods, our parents and our siblings, what is also inescapable is that once you marry, start a family and begin raising your own children, the family from which you came begins to take a back seat, if you will, to the family to which you are now making for yourself. Family is a mystery like that, I suppose. Everyone comes from a family, and those who go onto create their own family begin to forge new family relationships in a way that I could have never even fathomed until becoming married and a parent myself.
So, here at this blog, I often think about that. I think about what I hope and wish for in my children's lives and futures. I realize that they're "ours" for only a few years really; that utlimately they will grow into young adults and young women, perhaps marry, have children, and begin families of their own. I am committed to writing in this blog about their little lives, their futures, their happiness, their potential, their talents, their experiences. I might not always talk here about how as twin sisters they fight because I don't wish for them to remember their childhood fights as much as I wish for them to remember their childhood love and hugs with each other. I also hope that someday when they are young adults, or even mothers themselves, that they will be able to remember memories and experiences from their childhoods, just as I have, that will make them smile, laugh, even cry.....
Life is good these days, in spite of some difficult and challenging situations. We are all healthy. We are a family of 4, blessed beyond measure. Although there is stress in our lives - as any married couple raising children, managing a household, and juggling all the balls of life that come with that responsibility - I'm truly thankful for the haven of my family in between our moments of stress or strife.
As I was growing up, my parents often talked with me about giving everything that is important to me over to God through prayer. I do find myself turning to God in prayer a little more these days because as with everything in life that is important to me and my family, taking it to God in prayer seems equally as important. As I look ahead to the many more years of raising our children, I hope that we will always help to facilitate the same in Paige and Taylor - teaching them to turn to God in prayer in both the good and the tough times, teaching them to make good decisions, comforting them if/when they don't make good decisions, helping them mend broken hearts if their hearts are ever saddened; and, then, eventually watching them take flight from our little nest to building lives and nests of their own with their families. Someday, we will even have the Ring Lardner "talk" with Paige and Taylor about how the family that they "came from isn't nearly as important as the family they're going to have" and/or the children they're going to raise....
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
This evening, for example, as I was getting the girls ready for their evening bath, and as I sat on the floor with Taylor, helping her take off her little braces, I noticed it - a pressure sore on the bony part of the inside of her ankle. And seeing that sore, well, I got very sad. Yikes! A pressure sore.
Taylor has never had one in the 2-1/2 years that she has been wearing her AFO braces. What I know about pressure sores from braces is that once you have one, that particular area of skin becomes weakened and especially prone to getting them again even after the sores have completely healed. And, if there's one thing that a mom of a child with cerebral palsy gets bragging rights about - it's that your kid has never had pressure sores from braces. Oh, well, so much for bragging rights on that...Taylor got her first pressure sore from her AFOs today.
When I saw it, I asked Taylor if the spot was hurting her...Taylor told me that it "wasn't an owie" and it didn't seem to hurt her. (That made me feel a little bit better). After Taylor's bath, I treated the sore with Neosporin, covered it with a band-aid, gave her little ankle a kiss and Taylor an extra big hug and told her that her ankle would be "all better" real soon.
Until the pressure sore goes away, I will NOT be putting Taylor's braces on at all so that the sore on her ankle can fully heal. I also will be contacting the orthotist who crafted Taylor's braces first thing tomorrow when their office opens to let the orthotist know that we need to get her braces checked again for proper fitting and make any adjustments we might need to make as soon as possible!
Perhaps Taylor's just going through a growth spurt and her one foot/ankle is no longer fitting that one brace the way that it was first designed; well, whatever the reason, it's got to be corrected and right away. It absolutely broke my heart tonight to see that Taylor had developed a pressure sore on her ankle from her AFOs, and I just hope that her orthotist can fix whatever needs to be fixed on Taylor's brace so that she will be able to wear her braces again without further issue.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Today, I took Paige to her GI doctor - the same GI doctor who has followed Paige from her early NICU preemie days, the same doctor who has prescribed Paige a slew of caloric supplements and daily regimens of weight gain formulas, the same doctor who has tracked her every ounce of weight gain for the past 4 years - for a routine check-up and all is well! YES, all is well with Paige's weight gain and all is well with Paige's height to weight ratios.
I also can't tell you how awesome it feels to see Taylor making the kind of progress she's making with her physical therapy these days. Between her new braces, coupled with some new in-clinic and at-home exercise programs we're doing with her, Taylor is walking better, steadier and smoother. Heck, her physical therapists even get her on a treadmill each week - she's doing that well! It truly is wonderful to see the progress she's made over the last couple of months and to see her hardwork in physical therapy paying off.
God's been so good to our girls and they get more and more awesome with each new day!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
We'd talked about our vision for Paige and Taylor's preschool from even their youngest years. Even though kids attend preschool and even kindergarten for such a short period of time each day, and that most of their early childhood development and learning happens at home with moms and dads through books, games, puzzles, songs, field trips, etc., we always knew that we would want Paige and Taylor to experience a preschool program once they turned 4 years old.
Well, 4 years old is almost here. Paige and Taylor turn 4 years old next month, and we want them to attend preschool starting in January after the preschool's Christmas break is over. We think it's important for them to learn some core concepts that will be taught in a preschool environment and that will help get them ready for kindergarten - things like confidence, good peer relationships, the abilities to tackle and persist at challenging tasks, to listen to instructions (by someone other than mom and dad) and to be attentive. And, while I think that our girls - as with all twins and multiples - have enjoyed their own built-in peer companionship and have had to learn about sharing and waiting their turn perhaps earlier than those children who are singletons or who have siblings of different ages, I still want to give Paige and Taylor an opportunity to play with other children in a school environment and I think that preschool will really help them learn about the world that exists beyond their twinship.
Well, tonight after I finish writing this blog posting, I will tackle the registration packets for Paige and Taylor and will also write checks reserving their spots in preschool. I had a tour of the school today and absolutely fell in love! I'd visited several other schools in the area and none had really sparked my interest the way that this school did! I toured the classrooms, reviewed the curriculum and the daily schedule for the children and this one today, was THE ONE! The school that we have selected is a Christian preschool (as well as elementary, middle-, high-school) that will offer Paige and Taylor an academically challenging curriculum in an environment that supports Biblical principles - both of which are really important to us as parents. The preschool emphasizes learning through play and socialization; and in addition to having a beautiful school campus, a credentialed teaching staff as well as the latest and greatest amenities in the classrooms, another reason I was drawn to this particular school is that they have a reputation for giving their preschool children a headstart on phonics to help lay the groundwork for their future endeavors in learning to read in kindergarten.
In closing this post tonight, as excited as I am about the twins attending this Christian preschool, I am also a little sad. Sad that my babies are growing up...where did the time go? It seemed like just yesterday we were bringing them home from the NICU, and yet, look at them now, in just another month, they'll be starting preschool and venturing out into this wide, wonderful world!
Friday, November 6, 2009
I wrote briefly about our Thanksgiving travel plans this year in this previous thread:
And, now, we're in full planning mode for Christmas too. Another road trip for us, much like our Thanksgiving plans, yet to an entirely different destination. For the Christmas holidays, we're looking at visiting both Oregon and Washington this year. I have friends in Washington state who also have young children Paige and Taylor's age and I've been chatting with them and coordinating with them about our visit...it will be so wonderful to see ol' friends again! Mike also has an office in Washington state, so he might combine the vacation time with a little work with a brief stop-over to his Washington office and to meet with fellow co-workers.
We do love road-trips! Road trips are easy on the budget too since we always use some of the reward points that Mike has accrued from his job and all his travel, frequent hotel stays making our lodging totally free! And, of course, lodging is usually one of the biggest expenses, and when you're a family on a budget, finding savings like hotel costs is HUGE! So, this year for the holidays, we'll be making the most of them by hitting the road, seeing the sights and will even pack a portable pre-lit, pre-decorated Christmas tree in the car that can be set up in the hotel rooms and that we will set our Christmas presents under. What's so great about kids and family, is wherever you go, whatever you find yourself doing, some things and traditions are pretty portable - presents, small Christmas tree, decorations, stockings, you name it, just bring it with you! I even have some fond memories from my own childhood of the 4 of us (my dad, my mom, my older brother and I) taking to the road for the holidays...they were always fun times and made for fun memories! Yes, it will be a slightly untraditional Christmas perhaps, but one that we'll be sure to remember with loads of new experiences and places to visit for Paige and Taylor!
Last night, Mike was home from work in time to participate, so I took a moment to step back and snap a couple quick pictures.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
For example, how they can overcome the doubting Thomas' of those who may come into their lives, or how they can overcome those who are unwilling to take responsibility for their own actions. Just looking at the first few lines in the poem, you get a glimpse of the challenges that life brings. Mike and I will always seek to instill in Paige and Taylor a sense of personal responsibility for their actions and their inactions. We will teach them not to shirk from their responsibilities or to blame others for their own misgivings or choices. We want Paige and Taylor to learn the importance of accepting one's own responsibility for the choices that they will make in life; not to play the blame game. We will encourage them to look within themselves for the answers and will encourage them to NEVER let others push them around or make them feel small, unworthy of the lives they will lead.
Looking at this poem, it also stresses the importance of being true to yourself and when others try to break you down, you don't let those doubts or negative thoughts keep you from achieving your goals. As parents, Mike and I will endeavor to teach Paige and Taylor to take note of those who may doubt them or criticize them and to always remember that being true to themselves first and foremost will be the most important factor of all. We will also teach them that when disasters occur in life, that they are to learn from them; not ignore the disasters.
We will also teach them to live their lives in a manner that is pleasing to God first and foremost, teaching them what is right and what is wrong according to God's values. As parents, entrusted by God, to watch over them, to rear them and to care for them, we will do all that we can to help them become women of integrity, women of character, women of well repute.
These are just some of the insights I gain from a quick analysis of this poem. I imagine someone else might draw their own meanings and applications from this poem. In short, this poem tells me that if you can get through life with all its curves, good and bad, and if you can tackle challenges that come your way head on, you will have lived a successful life. If you can go through life without whining about your circumstances, realizing that noone owes you anything, and that life is sometimes just plain unfair, yet in spite of it all, you can still achieve your goals and hopefully in the end, life's greatest reward: to be a real man, or in the case of our children, to be a real woman!
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
We're at Target and there we were in one of the aisles, and the shopping excursion almost came down to me leaving a cart-full of stuff in the middle of the store and walking out with each twin thrown over my shoulder....the twins were THAT bad!
I think we had only been in Target for about 10-15 minutes, a new record low for us actually when in a store, and I was about to bail completely and bail fast. Why? Because Paige and Taylor had decided to pitch the worst of fits, voicing their displeasure at not getting a certain toy, and more toys. They were both squirming, howling and crying. After a few attempts to explain to them why they were not getting that toy, or more toys, to no avail, I decided that was it. We were outta' there....
And, then it happened. For the first time ever, I found myself saying what I'd heard my own mother say to me and my brother when we were growing up and were totally unruly: "Wait 'til your daddy gets home and hears about this..." Then, something even more remarkable happened. The twins slowly calmed themselves down. Oh, it wasn't instantaneous, but those words, as they lingered before Paige and Taylor, had impact and achieved a pretty great result. They stopped fussing. They stopped howling. They stopped their obstinate behavior. And, it was nice!
We were actually able to continue our shopping. Just moments earlier, I was thinking to myself I would not take them shopping again for a while...and then my newfound strategy appeared. A strategy that I'd grown up with yet had never actually used myself with the twins. The familiar warning as a child that I'd now just issued for the first time to my own children: "Wait 'til your daddy gets home and hears about this..."
And, isn't that how we all learn - through trial and error, that some things work, that some things don't, that what used to work no longer does? The strategies that had worked so many times previously when shopping with the twins to stem their unwanted behavior weren't working at all yesterday; and then suddenly, eureka, through trial and error, a new strategy instantly came to me. Parenting is pretty amazing like that. It's definitely a continuous journey and the ability to pivot and punt on a moment's notice is a skill that as parents we seem to continually have to learn, to master and to re-invent as our children grow and change.
Oh, sure, there are still some things I know I can't do when shopping with the twins yet like trying on clothes. It's just not going to happen. One of the twins will inevitably try to open the dressing room door and scamper away when I'm half-naked, or they will both discover they can peek at other shoppers through the divider walls. How do I know these things will happen? Because they already have. I know that I am still better off buying clothes when I am by myself. But, we can at least still shop together; and although there will certainly be more days like yesterday (after all momma' told me there would be days like that), when we go shopping and if I'm contending with "Can we go now? I'm hungry, I want that toy and that toy, She's looking at me, She's touching me, She pushed me" etc., I know that when all else fails, I can now turn to the "Wait 'til your daddy gets home and hears about this..." as a last resort to curb their behavior. And, when that strategy proves no longer effective, well, it's pivot and punt all over again.
Monday, November 2, 2009
EXPLORING THE FUN HOUSE
RIDING THE CAROUSEL