Twinsters: A Movie Review

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Categories Adoption, Book Reviews, Identical, Multiples in the News, PerspectiveLeave a comment

Imagine that a friend sends you a Youtube link to check out. You open it only to find that it features you… except that you never did what you see in the recording. There’s someone out there who looks and moves exactly like you. Could you possibly have a long-lost twin?

This is how Anaïs learned that she might have a biological sister. Samantha was adopted from South Korea when she was and raised across the Atlantic Ocean. The story of how Anaïs and Samantha learned of each other, connected, and eventually met is shared with us in intimate documentary form in Twinsters, currently streaming on Netflix in the US.

Twinsters Movie flier. A remarkable story of identical twins separated at birth.

My 11-year-old identical twin daughters and I watched this movie together. We knew all along that the two young women would confirm through DNA testing that they were identical twins. Still, we were swept up in the suspense as they waited for answers.

As we got to know Samantha and Anaïs, one American, one French, both adopted, both artists, my daughters couldn’t help but reflect on their own relationship, a connection they hold sacred and special. In one of her frequent jaw-dropping insights, M wondered out loud whether twins raised apart might become more alike than those raised together. After all, she pointed out, they don’t have the same pressures on them to claim their unique identities. She’s well aware that both she and her sister sometimes make choices simply to be different from one another.

Although you might be tempted to head over to Netflix immediately to watch this movie with your young children, I offer a word of caution. Samantha has a foul mouth, and Anaïs’ isn’t much better. There is a lot of casual profanity in this movie, so if that is something that bothers you, save Twinsters for the grownups. My kids are mature enough to know that hearing F-bombs used by others doesn’t make using them acceptable in our family. They had already had exposure to these words at school. (In fact, the only profanity allowed in our home, by order of my daughter J, is “Brad Dingleman.” Jenny Lawson fans will get the reference.) Still, we discussed how uncomfortable her language made us feel and I reiterated that her swearing choices made it harder for us to connect with her.

Twin expert Nancy Segal, who has been kind enough to guest post for us in the past, plays a prominent role in helping Anaïs and Sam find answers. Her understanding of twin relationships, in all their guises, has literally filled books. Even more than her presence on the screen, her understanding of twin relationships and what can make them so wondrous is apparent throughout the film.

One huge thing we loved about this story is that it wasn’t just about discovering twin identity. The young women also explored their identities as adoptees, as South Korean in name only, as infants given up by a woman who still insists that they were never born to her. They reconnected with the Korean women who fostered them as infants. They don’t share a language with these women, but they do share love, compassion, and gratitude.

While not a primary focus of Twinsters, we also get some insight into how Sam and Anaïs’ families deal with the shock of discovering that they have another family member out there. Obviously, families with adopted children are already ready to open their hearts to atypical relationships. Nonetheless, my heart warmed at seeing the way in which Anaïs gained not only a sister, but all her sister’s brothers too. I can’t even imagine the feelings the parents had, realizing that there was another child out there that could have easily been theirs.

The thing about real life is that it doesn’t have neat endings. The circumstances of their birth and the reasons they were split up continue to be mysteries to Anaïs and Sam. Sam embraced the exploration of her history more easily than Anaïs, for whom adoption presented a greater trauma than it did for Sam. In each other, though, they both found healing and joy.

Take the time watch Twinsters (without the kids, please) and let us know what you think!

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Kids are Different – More Different When They’re Not Identical Twins

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Categories Education, Identical, Individuality, Parenting, Siblings, Talking to Kids8 Comments

“My kids are totally different,” I tell anyone who will listen.

Identical twins aren’t identical people, after all. They’re siblings who happen to have matching DNA and several months as wombmates.

One of my girls gets anxious more easily than the other. One is loving her Orff ensemble, while the other has us scheduled to attend a sculpture demonstration this weekend. One is all about T-shirts and sweatpants, while the other can spend an hour matching a new top to the perfect skirt.

In celebrating my twin daughters as individuals, I forget, sometimes, how similar they are. Their shared DNA, the shared crucible of our single parent home, and being in the same school and extracurricular programs all contribute to similar interests and abilities.

Girls Scouts: The Reality Check

I’m a Girl Scout leader. Exhausting though it is, I love it. I get to have 9 extra daughters, in addition to a supportive community of other adults who mentor girls from age 5 to 18.

5 Girl Scouts posing. Girl Scout leaders get to experience a massive variation in abilities and interests. The the identical twin kids are different!

Girl Scout meetings, field trips, and cookie sales have made me realize that my daughters are far more alike than different. While my troop runs the gamut in mathematical ability from struggling with subtraction to bored with basic algebra, my daughters are the ones who see math in everything they do. I see all sorts of behavior when the troop is together, but my girls tend to have the narrow repertoire of hard work, silliness, and sulking. My daughters are among the most extroverted in the troop. They’re also the shortest.

One of the moms in my troop is leading the Geocaching badge. I usually plan out badge work myself or help one or two of the girls come up with the plan. I thought it would be nice to share some hard-earned wisdom with the mom on her first badge-leading escapade:

Don’t assume all the girls have the same background knowledge. You may need to cover basics like “the world is a sphere” when explaining latitude and longitude.

Then I remembered that she has two kids of different ages. She deals with different levels of knowledge and ability every single day. She doesn’t need my advice on handling differences in ability. I’m the one who needed that advice, because I’m the one wearing identical twin blinders.

Would I parent differently if I had kids of different ages with a greater variety of talents and interests? I would definitely spend more time marveling at how similar my identical twin daughters really are in contrast.

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(Giveaway) Honor A with The Barefoot Book of Children

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Categories Books, Giveaway, Grief, Loss, Special Needs12 Comments

It is with a heavy heart that I must tell you that Marissa‘s son A, an inspiration to so many, passed away yesterday. He was just a few days from his fifth birthday, which his twin brother D will celebrate alone. Help us celebrate A’s life with The Barefoot Book of Children.

Honour this little boy's memory by sharing The Barefoot Book of Children with a child in your life.

A overcame hundreds of expectations that came with a diagnosis of a chromosomal deletion, learning to walk independently and brightening the days of those who met him. He was the inspiration for his mother’s efforts to bring accessible playgrounds to Utah.

The Barefoot Book of Children is a colorful book for and about children in all their glorious variety.Marissa asks that we remember A by sharing with as many children as we can The Barefoot Book of Children. This book shows childhood in all its diversity: the able-bodied and disabled; the rich and the poor; the rainbow of shapes, sizes, cultures, languages, and everything that enriches our experience.

In A’s honour, I am giving away one copy of this book to a reader. Please enter and share this far and wide. A’s life was cut short far too early, but his footprint remains. This giveaway ends on January 16, 2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

UPDATE 1/12/2017

Adding to this tragedy, Marissa and her family lost their home yesterday in a fire. The two surviving boys and both parents are okay. Marissa smelled the smoke and was able to get the children out in time.

However, their pets did not survive. Mementos of A—his baby things and supplies that could have blessed another special needs family—did not survive. The family cars did not survive. Marissa and David will have a lot of work ahead of them to bolster the children’s sense of safety, and all while they grieve A.

Many generous people have stepped forward to help the Christenson-Lang family. I can’t even wrap my head around so much loss being heaped on one family. You can donate financially to help them rebuild for what is left of their family at Youcaring.

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Saint NICU

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Categories Holidays, NICU, Prematurity2 Comments

A Christmas wish to all NICU families. Thank you, Peekaboo ICU.

A beautiful testament to the strength of NICU babies everywhere, especially on Christmas. Thanks to Peekaboo ICU.

SAINT NICU

‘Twas the night before Christmas, in the neonatal intensive care,
all the babies were sleeping, while sounds of alarms filled the air.

The nurses making rounds, double-checking their meds,
while tucking the little babies, snug deep in their beds.
The stethoscopes were hung, by the preemies with care,
in hopes that they would all soon, be breathing room air.

When out in the hall, there arose such a clatter,
the parents came running, to see what was the matter.
Up from the desk, jumped all of the staff,
to make sure all was well, in each baby’s Giraffe.

The respiratory therapist arrived on the double,
but the babies were all okay, on their oxygen and bubble.
The nurse practitioner was baffled, and exclaimed in a tiff,
“Is this really happening tonight? And on my THIRD shift?”

When what to their wondering eyes should appear?
But a man in a suit, who loved the babies so dear.
With a clipboard in hand, and a velvet satchel too,
they knew at that moment; he must be St. NICU.

He was dressed in red scrubs, from his tip to his toe,
and wearing surgical gloves, so the germs would not grow!
He was a jolly old fellow, with a few extra pounds,
but that didn’t stop him, from making his rounds.

He saw babies in boxes, with tubes and with wires,
preemies and term infants, and their parent’s desires-
To hold and to rock, to kiss and kangaroo;
they all had Christmas wishes, but only these few.

Snuggling the little one, he wrapped him so tight,
he handed the baby, to his mom with delight.
A smile arose from her mouth, with great joy,
for this was the moment, she dreamed of having, with her boy.

Visiting each baby, and their concerned parents too,
He knew right away, there was something special about the NICU.
Placing his hands, on each little head,
kissing their foreheads, he winked, and he said:

“Tiny babies so strong, with determination and might,
so this is where you come, to live and to fight.”
“To breathe and to grow, and to learn how to eat,
what a difficult journey, but such an amazing feat.”

He had a sparkle in his eye, and a hop in his step,
as he approached the incubators, and whispered secrets he’d kept:
“Precious little babies, you are loved, so dear,
by your parents, your nurses, and ALL the staff here.”
“Keep fighting the fight, and showing your power,
and you will grow stronger, with each passing hour.”

Decorating the hallways, with ribbon and tape,
he strung lights on the warmers, the ventilators, and drapes.
He smiled and waved, as he passed by the cribs,
and left presents of pacifiers, and cute little bibs.

His mission was simple, to bring joy where there’s sorrow,
and to remind all of the parents, of a brighter tomorrow.
This Christmas may be spent, behind the walls of the NICU,
but there’s love to be found here, and precious miracles too!

He brought hope to the families, and smiles to the nurses,
as he flew by the monitors, and placed Purell in their purses.
And with a twinkle and a twirl, he disappeared out of sight,
But not before he exclaimed, “Merry Christmas to all” and “keep up the fight!”

© 2014-2016 Peekaboo ICU, LLC

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And the WINNERS are…

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Categories Book Reviews, Infants, Pregnancy1 Comment

Thank you to all who read, commented, liked, and shared our review of Twinspiration, the fabulous new edition by Cheryl Lage!

Twinspiration is a fantastic resource for expecting and new MoMs (and Double Daddies)!

[I can’t type that without saying, WHY didn’t someone put a copy of this book in my hands when I was pregnant with my twins???  I know without a doubt it would have calmed a lot of my fears, made me feel more in control…and made me feel a little less CrAzY a time or two!!!]

Now…without further ado…the WINNERS of the signed copies are…

Amy P.

Brenda H.

Ingrid S.

CONGRATULATIONS!!!  

Cheryl will be in touch with you directly to get your contact information.  And I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

And please continue to share the word about Twinspiration!  What a blessing it is for the multiples community!

~MandyE

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Thoughts on Prematurity, 10 Years Later

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Categories Prematurity2 Comments

Preemie. What image does that bring to mind?

To many people, the term “preemie” is meaningless. To some, “preemie” calls up a perfect tiny newborn.

To many people, a premature infant is just one who's a little on the small side. To others, prematurity becomes a lifelong designation.

When I hear it, the word “preemie” makes my stomach sink, just a little.

I know, viscerally and completely, that my 10-year-old daughters are smart, healthy, talented, and vibrant. Any obstacles that their premature birth once presented have been left far behind us. However, there’s a part of me that will always quiver at the reminder of how close we came to losing them. I can’t help but be humbled by the strength of their 4-lb bodies as they fought to breathe, digest, and eat when they should have been serenely safe in my womb.

Today, on Prematurity Awareness Day, I wear my special shirt.
Some people never meet their heroes. I gave birth to mine. #prematurityawareness

Read the stories of the HDYDI preemies from across the years.

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Twinspiration: Book Review and GIVEAWAY!

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Categories Book Reviews, Infants, Parenting, Parenting Twins, Pregnancy, Toddlers10 Comments

When I heard that my friend Cheryl was publishing a new edition of her book Twinspiration, I was giddy at the opportunity to review it.  See, Cheryl is not (yet!) my friend in real life, but she’s become an amazing virtual friend since my twin girls were born almost eight years ago.

She’s Been an Inspiration for Years

I started following Cheryl’s blog when my girls were infants.  At the time, Cheryl’s boy/girl twins were in early elementary school, and I looked up to Cheryl as a twin mama blogger. The mix of advice and antics she wrote about gave me hope that I, too, would get through the dual dirty diapers and not-enough-hands angst that was my life at that time.

My twin girls are long past the diaper phase, and I have come to reckon with not having enough hands.  Still, I so enjoyed reading Twinspiration. Years past the infant and toddler stages, I found myself nodding my head in agreement with Cheryl, alternately chuckling, “Ain’t that the truth!” and “I sure wish I’d known this ahead of time!” and finding myself misty-eyed, remembering some of the trying times and the fleeting stages.

What’s in the Book

I thought so many, many times, “Where was this book when I was expecting my girls???”  I had several books on pregnancy, and one specifically on multiples, but nothing quite seemed to hit the spot that this book does.

Twinspiration provides a wealth of knowledge on what to expect, specific to a twin pregnancy and twin infant- and toddler-hood.  It’s written from the perspective of a MoM who’s been there, of course, but it’s not just an account of Cheryl’s personal experiences.

Certainly Cheryl writes about her dynamic duo, which grounds the book in real-life experience and practical advice.  But it’s more than that.  Cheryl shares different perspectives, too, informing the reader that things don’t always play out by the book.

There are also tidbits interspersed throughout the book from a pediatrician’s perspective.  What I love is that the book doesn’t attempt to present The Singular Answer, but rather it offers a range of possible scenarios.  As a prospective/new parent, I feel like this book would have equipped me with the knowledge to ask the right questions specific to my particular situation.  And what a treasure that would have been!

Dad’s Eye View

And as an added bonus, there are snippets of insight from Cheryl’s husband, affectionately dubbed “The Double Daddy Perspective”.  I know my husband would have appreciated hearing the spouse’s take on some of the twinfant stages.  Even now, eight years later, I had to share some of Double Daddy’s accounts with my hubby…it made for a fun conversation for us both, remembering things from Hubby’s point of view.

In Short, I Loved It

Twinspiration.  It’s engaging…it’s captivating…it’s a plethora of knowledge and experience.  And best?  It’s such a warm read, like sitting down for a cup of coffee and hearing the tales from someone who has been there…really been there…and can smile a big, warm, welcoming smile as she tells her tale.

Get Your Signed Copy

At How Do You Do It, we rarely do giveaways.  But Cheryl is one of our own. She’s such an ardent supporter of the twin community, and she’s generously offered to give away THREE SIGNED COPIES of her new book to How Do You Do It readers!!!

Are you expecting twins (or more)?  Have a friend who would appreciate the support?  Want to add a copy to your MoMs’ group library?  Or just want to reminisce about those mommy milestones?  Enter to win a copy!

To enter, simply leave a comment or a question on this blog post.  (Cheryl would love to hear from you!)  For extra entries, visit Cheryl’s Facebook page, Twinfatuation, or visit How Do You Do It’s Facebook page! If you like what you see, follow us.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway will run through November 16, 2016.  Please help us spread the word!

***

MandyE here.  Cheryl provided a copy of Twinspiration for me to read.  And I loved it.  The views I expressed here are my own.  I joyfully recommend Twinspiration to any of my MoM and soon-to-be MoM friends!

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The Better Solution to Labelling Your Twins’ Things [Inchbug Coupon]

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Categories Products, Wouldn't Do Without Wednesday4 Comments

The only item received in exchange for this review was the HDYDI16 discount code for all InchBug products.

Parents have to label everything. Jackets, shoes, bottles, sippy cups. Every item that could come unattached from a child must be labelled. For those of us with identical twins, even the children need to be labelled for the first few days of daycare or school.

It only took a couple of washes for me to realize just how impermanent permanent marker really is on plastic and glass.

Permanent marker

In addition to packing a diaper bag or backpack every day for daycare, I needed to relabel everything for my twin daughters. On the rare occasion that the permanent marker persisted, I was annoyed that the item couldn’t be switched between my children. I’m cantankerous like that.

Enter my friend Sara. A great friend listens to you complain while you bounce three babies on your combined hips. The best of friends goes home, does some research, and gives you an actual solution to your quandary as first birthday gifts for your daughters.

Sara with her baby and Sadia's twins.

Sara gave me packages of personalized InchBug orbit labels. You just put them on cups or bottles like a snug bracelet. They go on and off easily and can stay on in the dishwasher.

Inchbug orbit labels stretch and contract to stay on bottles and cups.

 

I now had 4 labels each with my daughters’ first names on them on high quality plastic that could stretch and contract to fit around any bottle, snack cup, or sippy cup I dared throw at it.

Sadia's twins used Inchbug's Orbit Labels to distinguish their bottles and cups for 10 years.

How do I know it’s high quality? Until we finally lost the last one with its water bottle a few weeks ago at Girl Scout camp, these babies gave us a full 10 years of faithful service, running through the dishwasher surely hundreds of times. A decade, people. Name two other things that your kid can use for 10 years. (Classic books are the first exception. That’s why I asked for two.)

A massive plus for us is the fact that every label comes with embossed print on the front and Braille on the back. We have a friend two doors down who happens to be blind. We’re very aware of how a seemingly small gesture like Brailling labels can open the world up to her.

Imagine my delight when Kayla at InchBug asked if I’d like to offer you all a 15% coupon of everything in the InchBug store. The coupon code is HDYDI16.

Use code HDYDI16 at inchbug.com for orbit labels, MyDrinky juicebox holders, and other goodies.Personally, I can only speak to the exceptional quality and usefulness of the Orbit labels. However, InchBug offers other products, including adhesive labels for clothes, books, backpacks, and the like. They also sell the snazzy looking and practical MyDrinky.

Inchbug MyDrinky makes juiceboxes and packs less messy in little hands.

MyDrinky is a solution to squeezed juice boxes. You know when you’re taking a long car ride, and you stick a straw in a juice box and hand it back to your kid, and you hear “Uh oh” and know that it’s going to be a really long day? Just me? MyDrinky lets your kid drink his drink without risky an inadverent squeeze that doubles your laundry load.

InchBug also sells sippy cups, water bottles, and other stuff, but their real strength, in my opinion, lies in these one-of-a-kind products that have stood the test of time. Again, our InchBug coupon code is HDYDI16, good through November 10. You won’t regret trying them out.

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Lumi Finds Her Light: Free for You Until November 10

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Categories Book Reviews, Books, Giveaway2 Comments

Ever been in a rut?

There are times in my life when I just go through the motions. In graduate school, although my area of study was deeply interesting, I didn’t feel the glow that came with doing what I was put on the earth to do. I was just doing; I wasn’t living.

I felt dim.

Today, I’m living. Working single motherhood in the suburbs, and all that entails, lights me up from my toes to the ends of the hair. Who could have ever guessed that was my purpose?

Don't apologize if motherhood is what lights you up... or if it isn't.

When I present a new idea to my daughters and their peers and see it click, I feel that glow. When I write to you here, reaching out to the multiple birth parent community, I feel that glow. When I catch a bug in the software I test before it can cause trouble for a customer, I feel that glow. I count myself among the lucky women who have found our light.

Last weekend, my daughters and I met Sandy Parker, author of Lumi Finds Her Light. She told me that her inspiration for the book was all the women who feel “a bit dim”, who may have given up on even seeking the thing that makes them light up. It was obvious that inspiring others to find their passions is what lights Sandy up.

She’s so passionate, in fact, that she’s offering the Lumi Finds Her Light app free (iTunes/Google Play). It’s free to everyone, everywhere through November 10. It’s essentially an electronic copy of this sweet book, complete with audible narration. Send a text to 22828 with the word LUMI. That’s all it takes. Get a copy for your kids. Tell your friends.

Get the Lumi Finds Her Light book app for free through November 15, 2016.

 

About the book

Lumi Finds Her Light: The Inspiring Story of Being YOU! is the sweet story of Lumi, a firefly who doesn’t yet glow. She has a supportive mother, but feels incomplete as she watches her peers find their lights. She hates being the last one to mature. Eventually, she finds what it is that makes her light up, just as we all hope for ourselves and our children. The pictures draw kids in, and parents connect to the subtext.

Meeting the author

Sandy’s blogger event at Genuine Joe Coffeehouse was intimate and sweet. There were four moms there, plus the author, and 3 of us had our kids with us for a total of one 2-year-old, two 7-year-olds, and two 10-year-olds. While the book itself was a little babyish for my 5th graders, they immediately caught on to the message and saw its value.

It took about 10 seconds for Sandy to realize that the idea of “mischief” was what made my Twin B light up. In fact, the author managed to drop that word into conversation multiple times just to see Twin B transform into light.

Author Sandy Parker reads her book Lumi Finds Her Light to kids in Austin TX

Sandy wants to start a movement, encouraging all people to seek their light.

I’ll admit that while they enjoyed meeting Sandy, my daughters were far more taken with the glow in the dark experiments hosted by Mad Science Austin. One of my girls left with a recipe for her own phosphorescence experiment. And how adorable are those lightning bug mason jar cookies Crumbs by Jules? They taste as good as they look, too.

 

Sandy was kind enough to give us an autographed copy of her book. I look forward to sharing it with kids–and moms–who could use a boost.

Get a free copy

Now, go and get your copy of Lumi Finds Her Light free.

Get the Lumi Finds Her Light book app for free through November 15, 2016.

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