How Do You Approach Gift-giving When it Comes to Your Twins?

Christmas is here again, so it’s time to start our shopping …

A gift for sharing, indeed!

When it comes to buying gifts for our twins, we’ve all had the experience (with toddlers and older) that when we give one item and encourage them to share, we hit the inevitable conflict. So, do we try to avoid the fighting and buy two items? Are the items different enough that they can be distinguished yet alike enough so each child knows that he or she is getting the same, equal treatment? For instance, we buy two Barbie dolls but two different styles of Barbie doll. Chances are, as it occurred with my twin girls, that one will still want the others doll, and trading doesn’t always solve the problem!

Alike, but different

So, do we resort to buying two of the exact same items in order to demonstrate equal treatment, and also to avoid conflict? Disappointingly, this isn’t always the perfect remedy either because one twin will just grab both dolls and run off with them, leaving the other screaming in protest and chasing her greedy twin! When it comes down to it, we all want to assure our children that they are equally loved and equally treated. However, fairness and equality are not always attainable, and with further consideration, these treatments aren’t things we’ll always be able to count on in life, right? So, it’s fair to say that we should probably teach our children, twins and singletons alike, that sometimes every effort will be made so he or she will feel fairly treated, BUT, also be aware that this is not always possible and not always appropriate. Still, don’t we hate the fighting?! Don’t we greatly dislike the reactions our children give us after we’ve gone to such great lengths to please them all? My husband and I try to instill in each of our children that they are blessed to receive ANYTHING! They are NOT entitled to anything beyond our parental responsibilities to provide for their needs, so anything they receive for birthdays or Christmas or any such occasion is a gift that should be deserved … and ultimately appreciated. If gifts are fought over, fought for, not appreciated or shown any such reaction … goodbye gift! Now that’s when the tears start … and earning the right to deserve said gift has to begin all over again! Gift receiving is only half of the lesson. Each of my children, when they reached the age of five or so, were encouraged to participate in gift-giving as well. They could create a little crayon drawing for the birthday person or for their siblings and grandparents for Christmas, for example. In doing this little task, they would then experience the pride of seeing the happiness on the faces of their gift’s recipient and share in a little taste in the pure joy of giving. They would then begin to remark about how it was (almost) better than the gifts they received … (almost).

So, let’s discuss the topic of gift giving …

What are your best and most creative solutions for giving gifts to your twins and your other children who may be singletons? How are you teaching them what gift-giving and gift-receiving is really all about?  
Blessings ~

Are You Trying to be A SUPER MOM?

With a large family, there are many aspects of “keeping it together” that need to be maintained on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. While I no longer insist that the entire house is in complete order as I once did before I had children, it is important to me to keep on top of the daily tasks and finances in order to keep our home and lives running as smoothly and as organized as possible! I’ve been asked on occasion if it’s possible to maintain an organized home with lots of kids. Honestly, some days don’t run as smoothly as I’d like, but for the most part, we all pitch in so that we all benefit from our team efforts.

7 Suggestions for Maintaining Controlled Chaos (well, most of the time):

Many share in the messing; many share in the cleaning.

1– Stay on top of daily chores: Keeping on top of the never-ending laundry, the ongoing kitchen tasks with meal prep and clean up, keeping the pantry and refrigerator stocked with the meals for the week ingredients as well as basic staples, paying the bills and keeping control of the household budget simply are musts! But do I do it all on my own? Of course not!

2– Delegate: In our home, our four older kids each have a list of jobs to do around the house that are clearly posted in the kitchen for all to read and refer to (which, of course, they so appreciate being reminded about). Because two kids are 16 and two kids are now 12, each are required to take turns with dinner dishes and folding two large loads of laundry on alternating days in addition to their homework. Our 16-year-old daughters are to keep their shared bathroom clean (not that they always do the perfect job at it) and to help take care of their little brothers for me while I run errands. All are expected to keep their rooms in order as well as the upstairs loft which they all share to play games, computer work, homework and TV-watching.

3– Divide up tasks over several days: I try not to feel like it all has to be done everyday. I’ll spread my tasks out over a few days. For example, I’m content that the bathrooms get thorough cleanings on Mondays, vacuuming gets done on most Wednesdays, and dusting is saved for Thursdays, so that cleaning gets done once a week. The kitchen floor may not get completely mopped each day, but it requires sweeping and spot-washing several times a day.

4– Communicate/Post schedules: As for the children’s after-school activities, as schedules seem to constantly change, we communicate daily as to who needs to be where and when. A large, erasable calendar is posted for all to see showing Brandon’s baseball schedule, Erin’s soccer schedule, and Kathryn’s dance classes, Lauren’s Thespian (drama) club, social activities and presently, Driver’s-ed classes. My 8-seater van shuttles everyone all over the place, but I also have a carpool arrangement with another family. Right now, I have four kids in two different schools, and it’s a real challenge making sure that everyone gets to and from their activities daily.

5– Be money-conscious: Many families with several children are tightly budgeted, which is no easy thing to do. While it can become a habit to place this or that on credit cards when there’s more month than money, it’s frighteningly simple for spending to get out of hand. Before you know it, you’re in deep debt! Our motto is: if we don’t have the cash for it, we don’t buy it. I plan out the dinners for a week and stick to those ingredients so that I’m not tempted to buy lots of extras. I take advantage of sales, coupons and on occasion shop at second-hand stores for kids play clothing, etc. I believe that living this way is teaching our children to appreciate what we have and to respect the costs of daily life.

6– Take care of yourself: When the busy day full of home care and shuttling is over, find an outlet to relax. It’s important not to be hard on yourself when things don’t run as smoothly as you wish, so cut yourself some slack. You’re doing the best you can, and that’s what’s important! Exercise! I actually exercise in the evenings, followed by a hot shower or relaxing bath. The stress relief from endorphin release during physical activity, followed by the hormone oxytocin that the body releases while being soothed in warm water is the perfect prescription for relaxation! Additional Stress Reducers: Some evenings I go out to meet a friend for coffee and dessert or a movie. I also love to go to movies all by myself, allowing myself to get immersed in a good love story or comedy. After having the chance to take a break, I’m a much happier wife and mom!  🙂

7– Go on a date with your husband! Get out once a week or so, just the two of you. Reconnecting often as a couple is VITAL to the longevity, renewal and healthiness of your marriage!

 

You know, people say to me all the time, “Fran, I don’t know how you do it!And often I’ll answer, Some days I do, and some days I don’t!” And that’s the truth … some days go as smoothly as a well-oiled machine, and other days seem to be fraught with a hundred little fires that need to be put out one by one, just like most families experience daily! So delegate the house work tasks, and accept help, take care of yourself, and above all, don’t try to do it all on your own …

And here’s a good question: What is our ultimate goal as moms?

Is it to raise our children to become self-sufficient, independent, life-skilled, confident, responsible adults?

YES!

And there’s no better training for our kids than to entrust them with chores, responsibilities, and expect no less than their best efforts in return for our trust, and in the process, we provide them with our unconditional love, support and encouragement (with doses of correction and redirection when needed!).

 SO, in choosing to raise our kids this way …

We ARE SUPER MOMS after all!

The Inevitable Sibling Rivalry with Twins!

 

Raising and living with three sets of twins, in all twin combinations, there is bound to be head-butting and creative ways that each child asserts to “get his or her way” around our home.

When my oldest twins were between 9-12 months of age, during their crawling phase, we noticed how our older daughter Kathryn (first-born in every sense of the word, although her birth beat her sister Lauren by only a minute and a half) had begun to subscribe to the notion that “what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine”. For weeks, I’d observe as Kathryn would notice a toy that Lauren was happily examining or playing with, and then crawl over to her and snatch it from her little hands. Lauren would then begin to cry from anger and frustration at the injustice of it! As this went on, Lauren began to learn the drill, and I realized one day that Lauren had a plan and decided to initiate it. She decided to openly display herself enjoying a set of stacking cups so that Kathryn would become interested. As soon as Kathryn crawled over, eagerly snatched the set of colorful cups, and began to sit down satisfied that she’d won yet again, I observed as Lauren crawled over to some board books that she loved dearly. After checking to see that Kathryn was occupied, if only for a minute or so, Lauren was content and began to open the cover of the first book … the object she’d wanted to enjoy all along.

Lauren and Kathryn are now 16 years old. To say they’ve had their share of rivalry over the years would be a true understatement! Several years ago, each graduated to her own bedroom, which cut down on the arguing dramatically, but not completely. Recently, Lauren’s light bulb burnt out in the bedside lamp she uses most to study and do her homework by. We were totally out of light bulbs in the house, so she decided to go into Kathryn’s room and steal her lamp’s light bulb. When Kathryn discovered that not only did her lamp not work, but that the bulb had been stolen, she was furious, and knew immediately who was probably the culprit! Needless to say, the light bulb went back and forth for a few days until the poor thing bit the dust! Fortunately, I’d replenished our light bulb supply, thus ending the battle of the light bulb!

The latest rivalry between my eldest children has been over Kathryn wearing Lauren’s clothes without her permission. After battling about it for months, a battle I chose to stay out of since I had four more kids to worry about, Lauren decided to create a contract of sorts. She had Kathryn verbally state that she promised never again to take Lauren’s clothing without prior permission, all the while Lauren was recording Kathryn’s official “statement”.

Now don’t think that the sibling rivalry in our home is limited to only our oldest girls. Oh no … our middle twins are a 11-year-old boy/girl set named Erin and Brandon. Although these two seem to play together the best, they also are fiercely competitive! Neither of them can have a dish of ice cream or a plate of spaghetti placed before them that they won’t argue about who has more. Brandon is determined to always be first … first out the door, first down the slide, first while racing bikes, first to get dressed in the morning, and first to finish eating. But, mind you, if the two of them are eating a bowl of chocolate pudding, and Erin was about to finish hers first, Brandon will point out to her that he still has more than her!

Last year, for their fifth grade year, I temporarily took Brandon out of the Catholic school that he’d always gone to and placed him into our neighborhood public school due to the excellent intensive reading program that he could benefit from. He’d recently been diagnosed as dyslexic, and the recommendation to have him attend this particular school was made by a reading tutor I trust. He’s doing very well with his class, as is Erin with her class this year. Should Erin, however, mention subject that her class was about to cover, Brandon will jump in with, “Oh, we already learned THAT!”

You know, Brandon was the first born of their twin set, but I sometimes wonder if he was truly meant to be. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to learn one day that, in fact, Erin was positioned to be born first, but Brandon just “cut in line” so he could be FIRST!

As for my last set of twins … they are three-year-old boys named Sean and Ben. Although Sean was born first, Ben has taken over the role of “leader”, or perhaps I could describe Ben as the one “who simply gets his way” these days. If he wants something that Sean has, Sean doesn’t stand a chance. Ben will throw his four extra pounds around and very forcefully remove the little car or ball from Sean’s fingers. That’s it. Sean had no defense but to scream at the top of his lungs out of protest for this terrible injustice. I’m sure the tide will change in only a matter of time.

 

Here are 10 tips to attempt to keep the peace!

While doing my own research on some fair, effective strategies for dealing with sibling rivalry (between twins or any and all siblings), I really liked the following list from BetterHealthChannel.gov. Our first reaction to these ever-present  scuffles is to simply break up the fight and separate the children, but these tips seem to hit home:

  1. Treat each child equally. Sibling rivalry is normal when two children are close in age or of the same gender. You may make it worse if you treat children differently or favor one more than the other.
  2. Give each child a turn with your undivided attention. Make the time to do things separately with each child so they have some one-on-one interaction with you.
  3. Focus on each child’s strengths. Don’t make comparisons between children as it will only lead to further competition.
  4. Guide your children through difficult emotions. Acknowledge and talk them through feelings of anger, jealousy and resentment.
  5. Teach your children how to manage conflict without you. Show them how to solve problems themselves or to ignore situations like teasing.
  6. Praise your children when they play well together. Your positive attention may encourage them to be nice to one another.
  7. Be fair. Make sure each child gets an even share of privileges and chores.
  8. Reinforce positive behavior. Set up a reward and punishment system, for example, fighting leads to time out but playing nicely earns a privilege such as staying up late.
  9. Let the children sort out minor differences themselves. Working out ways to compromise with each other will prepare them for healthy relationships in the future.
  10. Be impartial. Taking sides and solving their fights for them is not going to teach your children how to sort out future arguments.

Please also head over to Child Development Institute Info for another great resource for handling sibling rivaly including some common mistakes parents make, and … best of luck!  😉

 

Parenting Twins: Why Spending One-on-One Time is SO Important!

I’ve never been pregnant with a single baby, and when I brought my first set of twin babies home from the hospital, we doubled from a couple to a family of four.  Because I was blessed with two babies from the start, I only knew how to care for two. I changed two diapers, breast fed two at a time, bathed one after the other, and often held them together or carried one in a sling or snuggly while I pulsed the bouncey seat, which held my second baby, with my foot. In the beginning, I found myself thinking about my daughters as a collective, a couple, a duo, a pair. What was done with or to one was done to the other. Although I’d noticed the differences between them immediately after birth, once we were all home from the hospital, I began to notice the subtle (and not so subtle) differences in their moods, temperament, cries, likes and dislikes. Sometimes, one would awaken while the other slept. While waking the other to feed both made sense, and would certainly save time, I sometimes took these opportunities to get acquainted, one-on-one with that particular sleepless little punkin. We stayed a family of four for over four years, and although my two girls and I were inseparable each day, my husband and I often took turns spending alone time with each of our daughters on the weekends. This focused together time benefited both my daughter and me. It allowed us to further bond, make cherished memories shared by only the two of us, and it allowed me to spoil this one child with an ice cream cone, a mommy-daughter lunch, or a trip to shop for something that she alone wanted or needed. When our second set of twins arrived, spending one-on-one time with our older children became all the more important, as it was again when our third set, our baby boys, were born. When our older girls became little women (only one week apart from the other … really) I took each daughter, one at a time, out for a Women’s Day” (an idea I got from an episode of The Cosby Show) … a day that began with special restaurant breakfast, a trip to the mall to shop and get her ears pieced, a chick flick movie complete with popcorn and candy, more shopping, and then a quiet celebratory dinner … all of which was to celebrate this rite of passage and to welcome her into the world of womanhood. One on one time between father and son is equally important. Bruce will often bond with our son (the male twin of our second b/g set) by taking him to the batting cage at the park, the driving range at a nearby golf course, and other male-bonding activities which could also include taking a hike in the woods or just enjoying a pizza while watching a football game together! Not that the importance of spending one-on-one time with our children is any new idea, but as parents of twins, I believe it’s all the more important. It allows the child to separate from his twin and be treated as a single, important, valued individual. As the parents of twins, this one-on-one time also allows us to see, listen to, and absorb all that makes up this one special, unique individual that is our child, not just one half of a pair. For another resource on the importance of spending time with individual children, please visit Families.com, an excellent source on parenting and families today.

What Happens When One Twin is Excluded?

Twins arrive as a set, a pair, a side-by-side little couple of womb-mates turned room-mates. Some of us often refer to them “the twins”, especially when they arrive after or before a singleton or two. For those of us who have more than one set of twins, calling each them “the twins” may be confusing, but that’s beside the subject! What happens to our twin duos when they get older and begin to socialize and become involved in sports and other activities? What happens when one twin girl is asked by a friend at school to be her best friend? How does the other twin feel? Is this other twin automatically invited in activities that involve the other two girls simply by virtue of her twin status? Are the twins assumed to be an inseparable set … or, is one excluded and treated simply as a sibling of this classmate’s best friend? What would happen if one twin was invited to a birthday party and not was other? Another example would be a set of 10-year-old set of boy twins who are both interested in a spot on the school soccer team. If one twin is a stronger player than the other, is it assumed that both will make the team regardless of the fact that one is not as strong a player as the other? A set of identical 16-year-old twin girls played for two years on the junior varsity volley ball team at my daughters’ high school. In fact, throughout their entire lives, the girls have played on every team and have been involved in every activity together. Following varsity volley ball team try-outs, one of the girls learned that she had not made the team, yet the other had earned a spot. The actual words of the coach were, “I’m sorry, but one is just a more valuable player than the other, and please don’t just assume that you’re automatically a packaged-deal …” In my opinion, the coach could definitely have chosen a more tactful way of explaining his reasoning. Hurt feelings of exclusion combined with the discomfort and disappointment of believing he or she is perceived as less important, less wanted, or less talented than their twin cannot be an enjoyable experience initially. However, growing independently and realizing that twins, even identical twins, will at some point in life have different friends, interests, choices and dreams, can only enrich their lives as well as have them develop in maturity, losing the need and constant dependence on his or her twin. When the tears stopped, and the girls’ parents had finished consoling one while also congratulating the others, the young ladies realized that this unexpected change in their lives would present a perfect opportunity for each to grow individually. They could each assert some much-needed independence and temporary distance from each other. The time away from each other would allow each to miss each other, and perhaps discover a new appreciation for each other! There’s no doubt that twins share strong, unique bonds, but when the situation presents itself where one is included and the other is not, twins should take this opportunity to celebrate their differences, and spend some beneficial time apart. Have you experienced this type of situation with your twins? If so, how did you handle it? How did your twins handle the situation? An About.com article article called “When One Isn’t Invited” by my friend Pam Fierro and mother of identical twin girls further discusses this topic.

Please share your comments below … remember, your experience benefit all of our readers!

Blessings ~

Potty-Train Twins: What Fun!

Don’t we wish potty training was as CUTE as it looks?

So, my 3-year-old sons are finally full fledged on board with the program, but only a few months ago, and I’ll be the first to admit that, being so busy and distracted with a slew of other pressing issues going on in our family, I’d probably not been as diligent, committed and focused on potty training as I should have been. So, when my four older kids went back in school, I made the commitment to concentrate and devote the next few days (and probably weeks, but hopefully not months) to getting the job done!

As the mom of three sets of multiples, I’m often approached with statements like, “You’ve already successfully potty trained two sets of twins, and are now on your third … you must be a PRO … so, what’s the trick to potty training multiples?”

My first response is to say that each of my sets of twins have consisted of children who are very different from each other. Referring to them and perceiving them always as a “set”, or a collective of two little people who should be expected to behave and fit into the same mold as the other, is an incorrect assumption. We as moms of twins know already, even identical twins are complete individuals. With that said, I recall my first set of twins (my girl/girl set) having one (Lauren) being completely ready and compliant by 22 months. She showed the readiness signs of expressing her dislike of wet/soiled diapers, demonstrating an understanding of using the potty, and having dry diapers for longer periods. She also was very verbal at that point and could express her desires and understand instructions quite well. Her twin Kathryn, however, was simply not into it at all, and regardless of her sister’s accomplishments, rewards, and “big girl pretty panties”, just wasn’t interested until she hit 2 and 1/2, at which point, she was ready and basically went from diapers to training pants to cotton panties in the course of a week! I believe that ultimately, Kathryn witnessing Lauren’s successes and rewards did play a part in her decision to “get with the program”, so I do believe that a level of peer pressure is a plus! The gap of time that existed between each child’s completion of the process allowed me to focus and concentrate on one child at a time, which was a plus for me. It also allowed for some one-on-one bonding between myself and each of my daughters, one at a time.

My second set of twins are a boy and a girl. Erin would often imitate her older sisters … a REAL PLUS there! By the time she was between 22 and 24 months, she was very into pretty big girl panties like her sisters wore. Encouraging her to sit on the training potty, understanding and enjoying Elmo’s “I Can Go Potty” book, and rewarding her after her successful visits was almost too easy. She, like her big sisters, showed the emotional and physical readiness signs of graduating from diapers to panties, and by the time she was 26-28 months, she was done. Training pants were used at night, but those didn’t last too long with her either, as she would wake up dry and ready to visit the potty upon getting up. Of course, there were often some middle-of-the-night visits, too. Now, Erin’s twin Brandon’s potty training process was a completely different story all together! Although we encouraged him to sit on his own potty, and rewarded him with his successes along the way, he simply decided that the thrill was gone after a few weeks, and decided to regress almost completely after he’d demonstrated his readiness and we’d thought he was just about trained. Ultimately, Brandon was 3 and 1/2 before we could consider him finally potty trained. He was NOT HAPPY as he watched his poo-poo flush away, so we told him that it was probably a fun thing, like going down a water slide! At that point, he decided to say with each flush: “Bye-bye poo-poo, have a good ride!”

Forcing, bribing, coercing, threatening, punishing … of course, were completely ineffective, so we learned and concluded that no matter how many children you have, and regardless of the fact that as a parent, you basically handle situations in the same manner each child, the INDIVIDUAL child is going to be ready, willing and able only WHEN he or she is ready, willing and able.

Benjamin and Sean had been demonstrating the readiness signs for quite some time, and although they were well-acquainted with their own Mr. Potty, seemed to understand and enjoy Elmo’s potty book, had actually both been successful at wee-wee-ing in their potties so far, were simply not consistent, probably because Mommy hadn’t been consistent enough. With a little more time, concentration and LOTS of POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT (we’ve gone through 2 giant bags of M&Ms), I can finally say that we’re finally about done!

Benjamin finally mastered both #1 and #2 finally just before his 4th birthday. As for Sean, however, he was 4 and 1/2 before he finally decided that pooping in his pants was only going to “earn him” toys being taken away and time-outs! For months, he simply REFUSED to use the potty for #2, while successfully going #1 consistently.

It’s just amazing how strong-willed and individually-motivated (or just plain stubborn) each child can be! If you’re presently experiencing stubborn children who refuse to comply with your potty training, you’re not alone. Just be patient, be consistent with your positive and your negative reinforcement, whatever tactics you use, and don’t give up! They WILL eventually get with the program … especially when peer pressure is applied, say for instance, when it’s time to visit friends with children who are the same age (and ARE potty-trained), and also when it’s time to start school, and no other classmates “poop in their pants”!

My friend, Pam Fierro writes for About.com, as an expert on twins. Here is her advice on potty training twins, which I intend to utilize! http://multiples.about.com/od/pottytraining/tp/pottytrainingtwins.htm

Two other great site for tips: http://www.pottytrainingconcepts.com/CTGY/A-Potty-Training-Multiple.html

and Mayo Clinic’s source: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/potty-training/CC00060

The BEST reward of all!

I wish all of you the best of success you endeavor to potty train your multiples!

 

Do One of Your Twins Have Special Needs?

Twins come in identical sets, and twins come in fraternal sets … this is a well-known fact! What is unexpected by most is for one twin to be very different from the other. What if one twin has special needs?

Do you have a special needs child?

I do.

My son Brandon

We first suspected that our then five year old son Brandon (first born of our second set) was learning challenged when he couldn’t seem to grasp and recognize the sight words that his sister was easily memorizing in first grade. In addition, he was impulsive and excessively fidgety when required to sit still and focus on a class assignment. He didn’t exhibit intentionally disruptive behavior, but clearly was unable to control how easily distracted he would become. Although his teacher assured us that he was just wired differently and was less mature than his twin sister (as boys usually are), I felt instinctively that learning to read shouldn’t be this difficult. When second grade began, I was on bed rest with my 3rd twin pregnancy, and spent every afternoon doing homework with both of my younger twins, followed by an extra hour reading with Brandon. He found this activity almost painful. Before Christmas that year, just after my newborn twin boys came home from the hospital after arriving at 31 weeks, I received a message from Brandon and Erin’s teacher requesting a conference with me. We had begun to notice Brandon’s grades dropping despite our efforts with him. I, of course, was expecting this parent/teacher meeting to be called, and had intended to request it myself as soon as I was just a little more settled with our new arrivals.

The following is an excerpt from my book, TWINS x 3:

     (After I arrived at school) I checked the other three kids into after-school care so I could have a private meeting with Brandon and Erin’s teacher, Mrs. Hilgers. When I sat down in one of the plastic chairs designed for the body of an eight-year-old, Mrs. Hilgers asked about the babies and how all of us were doing. When the small talk was over, however, she said, “Now, I know this is not coming as any surprise to you, but Brandon has been struggling, especially in the area of reading.”

     “Yes, I know,” I agreed. “We work with him as much as possible, and at times he seems to improve, only later to fall behind again. Mrs. Torino (his first grade teacher) had insisted that he just needed to do some maturing, that he perhaps processes material a little different, but eventually catches on,” I explained, hoping somehow that Mrs. Hilgers would agree.

     “Well, after assessing his abilities through assignments and test scores, I believe there is a more substantial underlying issue than simply a matter of immaturity,” she explained. “I do believe, based on my professional opinion, background, experience, and training in special education, that Brandon is struggling with a learning disability,” Mrs. Hilgers stated calmly, but with real concern in her eyes.

     Her words hit like an eighteen wheeler slamming into my stomach. As Brandon’s teacher placed a sheet of paper on the table in front of me with a list of resources where I could have my son’s learning abilities tested and evaluated, it took every ounce of strength I had in me not to break down into a puddle, right there in the second grade classroom, in that tiny plastic chair. We talked for several more minutes, all the while I wanted to leave and pretend that this meeting had never taken place. My child has a learning disability. He is learning disabled. What does this mean?

     When the meeting was finished, I walked numbly out of the room and down the hall toward the lobby. I signed out my children and waited to see the come around the corner, as I had so many times before. When Brandon rounded the bend, cheerful, playful, and happy as always, a sense of sadness and protective love came over me. Is this really true? If it was true, and it probably was, I knew that I must fit this situation into my already enormously demanding life. I simply didn’t have any other choice.

There was no denying it. My son is learning disabled. After several months and two comprehensive pycho-educational evaluations, complete with visual and audio processing evaluations, it was confirmed that Brandon possessed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) combined with dyslexia. New Oxford American Dictionary defines dyslexia as a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence. This disorder may not affect Brandon’s general intelligence, but this disability considerably affects his ability to learn, participate and perform in school, and is not a curable. Also, a real link exists between ADHD and dyslexia.

Our Catholic school applied as many accommodations as possible for Brandon, and we hired a reading specialist to tutor him. When we could no longer afford her, we took her suggestion to place him into the public school system where county resources unavailable to us in parochial school could benefit him.

Brandon participated in an extensive reading program the following year, and really progressed. All in all, he did well in public school, but when ready to move on to 6th grade (middle school), we decided to see if he was ready to rejoin his twin at our Catholic school. Today as a sixth grader, he is still challenged significantly in language arts classes, but is doing well in math and science. Organizationally, he needs a LOT of guidance and constant reinforcement.

Again, my son Brandon will never be cured of his ADHD and dyslexia. With a diet free of preservatives, rich in fresh vegetables, fruits and micr0nutrients, combined with medical assistance in the form of a daily medication, Brandon’s ADHD is managed. His dyslexia, however, is still a significant challenge that we face daily. Our school is working with us to make accommodations, and Brandon himself knows that he has to work harder than his classmates. We must stay completely on top of his assignments/projects/homework.  Every day is a challenge.

Do you have a special needs twin? Does one of your twins have severe ADD or ADHD, Down syndrome, dyslexia, autism, or cerebral palsy? Many multiples who are born early face life-long physical and/or mental disabilities. Brandon’s dyslexia may have been genetically passed down from family members, but he was a 35-weeker born at 4 lbs., 13 oz.

For information and support, please visit: NOMOTC’s resource for parents with special needs twins.

RAISING SPECIAL NEEDS MULTIPLES is a another great resource for support by Elizabeth A. Pector, M.D.

Dr. Pector also has a second site called The Special Challenges of Parenting Twins & More.

 

 

Comments About Twins, and Our Witty Replies!

I so enjoy visiting online moms-of-twins forums. Combining my personal experiences with the experiences and topics discussed on these forums, I’ll simply never run out of discussion material to address and blog about!

A few days ago, one twins-mom named Samantha asked our group:

“What are some of the craziest stranger questions or comments you’ve received being out in public with your twins, and what were your replies?”

Oh, this is a good one! I requested the use of some of these comments for this post with the assurance that only first names would be accredited to the various comments, and my additions are in blue. So here goes:

Amber: One of the best ones I saw was when you get, “You have your hands full!” You say, “You should see my heart!” I love that one.  (If I had a DIME for every time someone said that to me, I’d have college tuition for at least one kid!)

Kimberlie: I get “how do you tell them apart?” I get this question a lot, and I always say “Because I am their mama and mama knows”.

Samantha: When people come up to me and say “Double Trouble”, I like to say “Double the Love” 🙂 (I add, double the fun!)

Heather: Well I’m sure we all get the random stranger at the store saying….“glad it’s u and not me”, to them I say “me too”!

Amy: I get “were they natural“?.. I say, well I gave birth to them …

Shelly: Ha! People ask me about the “were they natural?” question (I really think they do not realize HOW invasive a question that is!?) I usually laugh it off and say “Stay away from Barry White, track 5”. (love it!)

Michele: When I get “are they natural?” I say “well no, I had a c section, why do you ask?”

Carissa: If I get asked of we used fertility drugs, I say “does wine count?” (love that, too!)

Carey: I hear the “Oh you have your hands full” and I reply with “Better full than empty” And for the “were they natural” there is a video out there called: “They Are Not Aliens”.

Michele: I like to say that “I had sex twice in one night, and once with hubby, once with, oh I’m not sure who, was it you?” i love their stunned looked. And sometimes I’ll add “if you ask a stranger an invasive personal question, you should be prepared for whatever answer you get!” (you go, girl!)

Wendy: I used to get asked all the time if my b/g twins are identical…lol Guess people don’t know what the word identical means. It used to drive me nuts! (I got that one many times with my boy/girl set … I mean, really?)

Amanda: My favorite question is: Are they twins? My response (at least what I would love to say but bite my tongue) “No I cloned my baby, that’s why they look exactly alike.”

Amy: When asked if they are twins I usually say “no they are born a month apart” and then when they ask are they girls when clearly they are both wearing bows, I just say “no they are boys but I really wanted girls”…lol! My mother in law about died when I told a lady that in a grocery store…lol (LOL)

Tammy: When my girls were toddlers and people would ask “do twins run in your family?” I would say “No, but they run all over my house!” And whenever I hear “I’m glad it’s you and not me”– I always smile and answer: “So are they!”… most people don’t catch on, which makes it all the better.

Chielo: I have two set ID twins and people always ask me if I planned to have twins. (Don’t all of us PLAN to have twins? Really?)

Bonnie: Usually when asked “are they twins” I’d tell them “no, they were having a buy one get one special at the hospital!”

Valerie: We were out trick ‘r treating with the twins and some lady walks up and gets in the babies faces to see if they are real. I told my husband if she actually asked I would tell her… nope we put 2 stuffed animals in a stroller to get candy! lol

Calley: To the “are they natural” question I always smile and say no…they are supernatural….it always makes me giggle and they kinda stop asking questions wondering if I am crazy or not….

Debora: Everywhere we go, everything we do, our identical twin girls are attention grabbers. We just plan extra time, smile, and introduce our 3yo girl and 7yo girl so they feel included. And we stress the amazing BLESSING we have. When people comment “How Cute!” to our twins, my husband says, “Well thanks, I am very cute! But what about our FOUR girls???”

 

Thanks ladies for your creative and clever replies. Over the years I’ve been approached just about all of the above, with a few more additions, like:

— “Are all of those YOURS? OMG, and they’re ALL TWINS? … Harold, HAROLD! Look, this woman has 3 SETS OF TWINS!!”

— “You know they figured out what causes having children …” (wow, that’s some nerve!)

— “Are they all paternal (or maternal)?” I reply, “Yes, they are FRATernal.

My advice: Have fun, just go with it, laugh it off, come up with clever come-backs, and ENJOY living the BLESSING of having TWINS!  🙂  🙂

 

 

Yikes! Twins in Big-Kid Twin Beds!

 

 

It’s been just over a year since my little guys (my 3rd set) left their cribs and graduated to their big kid beds. Transitioning out of cribs has never been a favorite phase of mine, and the reasons are obvious: they are no longer in the safety, security and (I’ll be honest) the controlled-restriction of their cribs! They would now be entering the adventurous world of “being loose” in big kid beds.

At 13 months, I placed crib tents (the white, high-domed netted, zip-up tents) upon their cribs because they began to demonstrate their frightening abilities to lift one leg over the side not knowing what would result could be a terrible fall. At one point, Benjamin nearly fell directly on his head, and would have if not for the cat-like reflexes of his mom catching him. Of course, it took his mom several minutes to recover from the use of her cat-like reflexes and sudden rush of adrenalin.

I used those same crib tents on my previous twins’ cribs because at 11 months one climbed out, and the other while witnessing in amazement, followed right after! I recall sitting on the floor and sobbing. I had two five-year-old twins and two not-even-one-year old boy/girl twins, and I needed NAP time for the babies to be easy and reliable so I could continue to home school my then kindergarteners. My mom, who had seen the crib tents while watching a television documentary on a family with quadruplets, immediately ran out and bought them for me when I wept that “the babies can climb out of their beds” to her over the phone that very day. She called her purchase of them a $130 investment in my sanity! By the time my middle set reached 2 and 1/2, they transitioned into big-kid beds, and by then I was, well, a little more ready.

As for my 3rd set, I knew the time had arrived when I noticed evidence of the attempts of a prison break from their tented cribs. Ben’s tent began to show his efforts of his trying to escape, as if he’d stashed a spoon from the prison cafeteria up his sleeve … I detected little holes in the white netting here and there that became bigger and bigger. Sean decided to pull at a corner seam along the inside of his crib tent and was able to push those wet diapers out and onto the floor that he so often would shed, only to then wet his crib sheets!

So there we were. We’d taken down the twin cribs for the third and LAST time, and set up the twin bunk beds that double as individual single beds against two opposite walls, each having its own bed rail. We’d bought these beds when I was pregnant with my second set of twins so that my eldest twins (4-year-olds at the time) would no longer have to share a full size bed together (which they graduated to from their cribs), and would finally have their own big girl beds.

As most of us who’ve been through this transition have experienced, the BIGGEST CHALLENGE now lay with KEEPING THEM IN BED once nap or bed time arrived. It was so bad with our first set, that we, out of desperation, would take “bed-time drives” around our neighborhood. This drive would begin after jammies were on and teeth were brushed so that the girls would fall asleep in the car after about 10-15 minutes, after which we would lift them out of their car seats and lay them down in their shared bed. We gated their bedroom into the hall so that if they awoke and we didn’t hear them, they couldn’t leave their room and get into any trouble/danger in the rest of the house while we slept.

REFUSING to resorting to this method with my second set, I simply told them to stay in bed! When they got out to play some more, I’d go right in and threaten them with “toy taking”, “no playground the next day”, or something to that effect. The family room was just off the kids’ rooms hallway, so I could hear every sound and could quickly zoom in there. Eventually they would settle down. Sigh. Yes, their room was gated as well.

This time around, well, the kids rooms are upstairs. My biggest challenge is that when I believe they’re settled and quiet, I leave to return downstairs, only to hear the “pitter-patter” above me! This, of course, occurs after we’ve had their settle-down story, said our prayers, had a quiet night-night song, and each had a snuggle and back rub once they’re tucked in. Some nights they stay in bed and crash, while other nights I find myself making many runs up the stairs, finding that they’d heard me coming (no matter how quietly I believe I’m prancing) and quickly jump back into their beds, slyly now resembling the little angels I’d left only minutes before.

Some nights I recruit one of my older kids to be on Patrol. Usually Brandon, whose room is just across from Ben and Sean’s, will be report the status of the toddlers who should be in bed. Bruce and I can resume our evening duties of laundry folding, bill-paying or simply TV-watching while Brandon gives us a regular report from the top of the stairs every few minutes. If one or both toddlers are “being naughty”, he’ll startle them with a quick, “GET BACK IN BED!” order … following which they quickly scamper back into their beds!

Now at having just turned 4, we still have trouble keeping them in bed once they’re told to stay there, but it is definitely getting better! These milestones and transition phases will always teach us new ways of handling the situations, but, as it is with all children, they’re ALL DIFFERENT and need to be handled somewhat differently depending upon personalities, will-power, and their reactions to being disciplined.

 

But rest assured, you can always expect an adventure when it comes to parenting multiples!

Blessings ~