Twice Upon a Time: A Fairy Tale Weekend in Twinsburg, Ohio

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Categories Celebrations, Fraternal, Higher-Order Multiples, Identical, Multiples in the News, Parenting, Travel5 Comments

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We just returned home from our family’s 4th annual trip to Twinsburg, OH for the Annual Twins Days Festival. My Twin Boys are three, we went the first time when they were 9 months old. I have written here on HDYDI about Twins Days before, but it is just so much fun I wanted to share it again. Every year the festival is the first full weekend in August in the Ohio town of Twinsburg. (Near Cleveland) Twins (and triplets and more!) come from around the world to celebrate their twinship, meet other twins and partake in the festivities. It is such a fun weekend and we have met so many amazing people. So many adult twins we have met have shared how special the weekend is to them, and one duo we met said how the rest of the people in their family have weddings and birthdays and celebrations, but for them, Twins Days is their best time. 

We drive from Chicago for the weekend, leaving early Friday morning, arriving in time for the Welcome Wiener Roast for twins and their families on Friday evening. Waiting in line that evening to pick up our registration packet for our boys, a new mom of twins behind me in line said she couldn’t stop giggling and staring, she said it felt like the Twilight Zone where there was two of everyone. I told her we felt the same way our first year, as non-twins my husband and I actually felt sad at the end of the weekend to not have a twin. We loved how much everyone enjoyed and celebrated being a twin, and we wanted our boys to share in that celebration. We’ve been back every year since then. 

Our boys are young and don’t really understand what it means to be a twin, so for our family, the highlight of the trip is always the Double Take Parade. Any twins who are registered for the festival are invited and encouraged to walk in the parade. Each year the festive has a theme, generally announced a few months in advance of the event. This year’s theme was fairy tales “Twice Upon a Time” so everyone was decked out in their finest fairy tale costumes. There are some that are quite elaborate with costumes and outfits, turning wagons and strollers into mini floats, but some twins just walk the route in matching street clothes. That’s the fun thing about Twins Days, even the adult twins dress alike for the weekend. 

Here are some of my favorite shots from the parade. My boys are in Prince Charming outfits I made for them, and they even had tiny glass slippers they tried to fit on nearly every pair of princesses they could find. It was pretty, well, charming. 

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The parade isn’t like most. There are floats for sure, but the first few waves are just pairs of twins, usually in matching themed costumes, walking down the street. And the street is lined with people, shoulder to shoulder, some twins, others just locals coming to watch the parade or grab some candy.

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After the parade there are plenty of photo opportunities. One set of twins generally asks another for a photo, then more and more join, two by two, until it is a huge group. These Cinderella and Prince Charming pairs were happy to include their tiny doppelgängers for a group photo. (and be sure my kids tried their glass slippers on those princesses too. 

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After the parade the festival opens, there are carnival rides, lots of food vendors, free Twin Pop popsicles, research study opportunities, a craft fair, a beer garden, and contests. My boys were in the theme costume contest. (the didn’t win.) but there are also contests for most-alike and least-alike twins, oldest twins and youngest twins, twins traveled from the furthest distance and more. 

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The youngest twins in Saturday’s contest were 3 weeks old, the oldest are 98 years young!

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 Then in the afternoon there is a break in the contests to take a group photo. We’ve been lucky the past two years to meet some very helpful older twins to wrangle mine for the photo since it takes about 30 minutes to get everyone into place for the group photo. My kids are sitting in the middle on the laps of their new friends. 

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A Charming Weekend indeed.

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If anyone else was in Twinsburg this weekend and wants to share photos or experiences, we’d love to hear them. And mark your calendars for the first weekend in August next year, it’s definitely something every twin family should see at least once!

 

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Time out for Mommy

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Categories Balance, Family, Mommy Issues, Toddlers4 Comments

I decided my theme for 2012 is going to be New Year, New Me. Original, I know. Doesn’t everyone try to reinvent themselves at the first of the year and peter out about two weeks later? Not me. Not this time. Toward the end of last year I was feeling burned out. The day to day detritus of chores and child-wrangling was wearing me down. I was feeling bad about myself, my parenting, my health and my weight. I didn’t want to take my boys anywhere because they were testing their boundaries and making outings really difficult.  Our house was a mess, and I didn’t have the energy or desire to remedy it. I know I indulged in way too many cookies and sweets around the holidays, and my too-tight jeans told that tale loud.

Last summer, I quit my job to stay home with my twin boys full time. They turned two in November and are curious, energetic, enthusiastic, smart little boys. Which is to say they can be exhausting. (In the most wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experience with 2-year-old twins kind of way.) So I made an Epic To Do List, which included the regular things I wanted to accomplish with the kids, around the house, etc. But also included lots of “Take care of Mommy” items as well.

Now we are a month into the new year, and my plans for New Year, New Me are still going strong. I am making a conscious effort to do more things for myself, even if that means the dishes sit in the sink or the laundry remains unfolded. The thing is, though, I am doing my own things and find that I am still getting the chores done too. I have renewed energy and enthusiasm for my family and our home when I take a break from them. I am eating better and exercising regularly. Since the end of December, I have lost 11 lbs, and completely quit eating sugar, bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, fried food, fast food. I joined the MYFA contest Liz at Goddess in Progress set up. (I am sure I am a long shot since I just started exercising in the past three weeks, but I am motivated to get up and do it so I can report my weekly stats and be proud. This week I logged 195 minutes of exercise, impressive only in that I have not exercised regularly in years.)

For Christmas, my husband bought me a new sewing machine and starting in January, I signed up for a sewing class at a local fabric store, six weeks, start-to-finish quilting. I am happy to say that I just finished the binding on one of the two toddler-bed quilts I am making simultaneously for my boys in the class. I really enjoying sewing, can’t wait to start my next project, and I use nap time to unwind and clear my mind in front of the sewing machine. Plus, super cute quilts!

My boys are newly potty trained (as in we are in week three and I still wear shoes around the house just in case). But I did take them out to a playdate recently. When they were not listening to my directions and insisted on playing in the public restroom, we packed up and left. But at least we went. We don’t go far or for long, and if we go out to eat as a family we can expect at least 5 or 6 trips to the potty.

This is all to say I am giving myself some time outs now, taking much-needed breaks that help me refresh and be the best me. Is it perfect? Far from it. I have found that staying at home has just as many challenges in balance as working, they are just different. I was struggling to find time for me and not taking breaks. I was always on duty, and wasn’t taking care of myself. I still struggle to fit my needs into our day. I had been getting up before the kids to work out and shower. They started waking up earlier. So I got up earlier, and so did they. And now we’re at an insane still-dark wakeup time that is two full hours before the time they have woken up for more than a year. I have tried to do a workout video while they eat their breakfast, but they protest and beg to watch something else. I know I don’t spend enough quality time with my wonderful, amazing, supportive husband. I would love to do things one-on-one with each kid. At least I have a to-do list for the life I want us to have, and I am checking off things gradually.

 

Jen Wood is a stay-at-home-Mom to adorable, wonderful, amazing, newly potty trained 2-year-old twin boys who exhaust her indescribably. While she is attempting to achieve the perfect balance of home and family and her own sanity, she enjoys spending time together as a family, photography and new-found love of quilt-making You can follow along with their adventures at http://goteamwood.com.

 

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Creating Holiday Traditions

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Categories Family2 Comments

This is my boys’ 3rd Christmas, but the first that they really have any idea what is going on around here with the tree in the living room and the lights everywhere. They were born at the beginning of November, and as anyone with twins or more babies knows, the first few months are a blur. We didn’t put up a tree their first Christmas, and we didn’t even wrap gifts. There was a big pile of Amazon boxes we just opened up Christmas Eve. I knew when we had kids I wanted to really enjoy the holidays and make it magical for them. That first year, though, was tough. We did dress the boys up in holiday outfits, took the requisite photos, and we did the one thing I knew we couldn’t skip: We took them to see Santa.

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It was incredibly cold out, and our local Santa is outdoors (He has a little hut that is heated.) I think Santa was a little surprised when we handed him two one-month-old babies. We snapped our photo, wished him Merry Christmas and left. Easy peasy. Sure, it’s not the best photo, but it was their first Christmas and it was on my must-do list. The rest, the tree, the wrapping, the hoopla, we skipped out of necessity and exhaustion.

The second year we did put up our tree, which interested our not-yet-walking one year olds but not anymore than a cardboard box might. And they opened their presents Christmas Morning (which were wrapped!) However, our must-do photo on Santa’s lap was sort of a fiasco. We went to see the local Santa again, which was a no-go since there was a crazy line and it was snowing sideways. As time ticked by, I realized that I would regret not getting the photo so I went to the mall on the 23rd of December and the three of us waited in line for, and I am not making this up, FOUR HOURS. I had to text my husband and have him bring extra provisions since we had exhausted the milk and snacks I brought along.  It was insane, but it was something I knew I wanted to do and would be completely bummed it we didn’t. I wanted my kids to be able to look back and see their visits to Santa every year since they were a month old. So we waited. And they were amazing, they sat in their stroller, waited patiently (I pretty much just kept a steady stream of snacks going in their direction.) and we got the best photo I could have asked for.

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So this year, I got smart. We went to visit the man in red even before Thanksgiving. Early? Yes. long lines? No. All day leading up to the visit, my boys were saying, “See Santa?” and were really excited. We talked about how the visit would go, I asked them what they wanted to ask Santa to bring for Christmas and was repeatedly told, “Cheese.” And then the big moment came. And, well, it didn’t go as picture-perfectly as last year. But it’s honest and true and I love it.

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I love that we’ve created the tradition of visiting Santa. And now we’re putting up decorations and making cookies and decorating Gingerbread Houses. It took a couple years for us to get our footing with the holidays and start making our traditions with our boys. Now that they are really starting to understand the world around them, the things we do this Christmas may shape all our yearly traditions to come.

But no matter what, they will have their Santa photos, and hopefully memories of the fun things we’ve done together as a family for Christmas.

You can read about our adventures on and off Santa’s lap at goteamwood.com.

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Fighting the Urge to Compare

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Categories Family, Fraternal, Mommy Issues, Toddlers6 Comments

I am not one of the twin moms who shuns the idea that my kids are a unit. They were born together and I regularly refer to them as “the boys on my blog and quite often in real life. I figure if I had two boys of different ages I would likely shorthand it to “the boys” anyway. I have dressed them either alike or similar since they were born because it’s cute and it’s easy. I think the fact they were born together is incredibly cool and should be celebrated. Yes, they need to be individuals, but since they are fraternal twins there hasn’t really been an issue with individuality. They are so different in temperament and personality and have been since before they were born. They also look different. One has always had more hair. One struggled with weight gain. One had horrible reflux. When I was pregnant, there was the active one and when they were born the bald one, the pukey one, the small one. As they have grown they have taken turns being the clingy one, the needy one, the cuddly one.

The fact of our situation is that there are two children of the same age and developmental station living in our home. If one is doing something the other isn’t, it’s difficult to not compare. Sure, one had to walk first, right? But when it was the same one crawling first, then walking first, then climbing and running first, it made the other seem to be falling behind. When one was saying words and the other was only grunting, we doubled our efforts to help the one we viewed as struggling. (All the while both were well within the expected range for those skills.)

Now they just reached their second birthday and had their 2-year checkup. In the past 6 months we have seen our littlest guy who struggled to gain weight (who was born 1 ounce heavier but by one-month was a full pound smaller) get not just a little bigger, but much bigger than his brother. Suddenly people are asking how far apart they are in age, since there is now a 3 inch and 4 lb. difference in size. I admit was scared to go to the appointment because while I knew one had really grown over the summer (He went through 3 shoes sizes since May!) and the other hadn’t.  was terrified we’d learn he hadn’t grown at all, or worse yet, he would have lost weight. I was afraid the doctor would question why he isn’t growing, why he hadn’t gained weight. I was questioning my own parenting, were we doing enough to make sure he’s eating the right foods? Should we be doing more? Was he really not growing, or was his brother just growing faster so it seemed that he was staying the same size? If we had only one kid that age would we have even noticed his slow-down in growth? Would we notice that he is wearing the same shoes he’s had since Spring is his brother hadn’t gone though so many pairs by now?

I dreaded that appointment for a month.  The good news is that he did gain weight, and height, though admittedly not much. He’s always been on the low end of the percentile chart, but he’s on the chart and his line is moving in the right direction. He’s healthy and happy. He’s just small. The doctor wasn’t concerned about his size or weight. She has a much better perspective of seeing them as two different kids, just two more patients that happen to share a birthday. I was relived to know he did gain some weight. And he did grow a little. I was even more relived that the doctor was fine with his checkup and deemed him healthy.

It’s hard not to notice he’s smaller than his brother. It’s hard to not compare. I have a friend whose twins are 2 months younger, who once told me she always worries about her kids whenever we get all four of ours together because her kids aren’t doing the same things mine are doing. I tried to reassure her that she shouldn’t compare our kids since 2 months at this age is a big difference. In another year they’ll have gained all those milestones and all be about the same skill-wise. Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t do the same thing with my own kids. Why is that one doing such and such and the other isn’t? Am I doing enough to make sure one doesn’t fall behind? Maybe the hallmark of a good parent is to worry about these things, after all, I want the very best for my kids equally. How do other parents fight the urge to compare?

Jen Wood is a former computer geek turned stay-at-home-mom to amazing, vastly different and newly minted 2-year-old twin boys. You can follow the daily adventures of our family as we navigate the crazy road of twin toddlerhood, home preschooling and attempt to raise happy, well-adjusted citizens at goteamwood.com.

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Capturing Little Moments

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Categories Activities2 Comments

Judging by the comments on my last post, I am not alone in my struggle for balance between giving my kids a good life and the limits of my own two hands. We really do, as a family, try to live life and do things together. Since starting preschool at home in August, we certainly have done a lot more outings and really seen great responses from my boys. Recently we learned about apples and went as a family to a local apple orchard where my toddlers picked apples then helped make pies. The weather was beautiful, the day was perfect, I literally took hundreds of photos. It was a day I wanted to remember.

We all know that not every day is picture perfect, blue skies, happy kids, family togetherness. At the beginning of this year I began a project to take a photo a day and post it to our website. While the so-called 365 Photo Project is not my idea, nor even a new idea, it was new to me. I took lots of photos of my kids before, but this year I have made it a part of our days. My “good camera” used to only come out for special occasions like the apple orchard, now I leave it in the living room so I am always ready. So far this year I have captured one boy’s first steps, a first haircut, family vacation moments, other goofy milestones, and more. But I have also captured spontaneous brotherly hugs, candid interactions with the dog, smiles, tears and many other moments that make our lives amazing. I highly suggest doing the photo-a-day thing if you want to capture the more mundane, daily things that are also worth remembering, and if you want to be better with your photography. Exercising that photography muscle every day will really strengthen your images.

I wrote at length about safeguarding these memories on my own website, so I won’t rehash it all here, the nutshell version is back up your stuff. Back it up in as many places as possible. Hard Drives, Memory Cards, Off-site storage. I worked in a technology job for more than a decade and I can tell you I have seen the worst side of technology. This is not an idea unique to moms of multiples, everyone should back up. But since we know how fast it all goes (That first year? Total Blur.) and how difficult it can be to get out and do things, it is worth saving. I love my photos. I love looking through old ones. I have some printed on canvas on my wall, even my iPhone case has a photo of my kids. But if my kids are to be able to enjoy them and share with their kids, I need to make backup as much of a habit as taking a photo every day.

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Mommy Guilt x2

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Categories Family, Infants, Mommy Issues, Parenting Twins23 Comments

When people ask, “How do you do it?” or anything similar while we are out and about chasing our twin toddlers, my husband and I have our general response: These are our only kids and we don’t know any different. Which is true, we have always had two kids. Two babies. Then two toddlers. We have our proverbial hands full.

While I don’t know what it is like to have just one kid, I do know that there are days that I have double the guilt to go with double the kids. My boys were born at the beginning of November in last nice week for months. When they were newborn it was such an ordeal to go places, we often didn’t go unless we really needed something. We would go as a family, one parent would wait in the car and the other would run in and complete the errand. We ate lots of meals in parking lots because it was easier to go pick up a sandwich and sit in the car lot than unload everyone. With the cold weather, the every-two-hours feeding schedule, the baby support items, it was easier to just stay home. So we did. Other moms with their one baby could pop him into the carrier, stroll peacefully around the mall, in and out of the bank, sit quietly in a restaurant. Our outings were logistical operations that make me tired just thinking about them. So we went out when truly necessary. We usually didn’t go to more than one place, since the load and unload was such a fiasco. They were infants, they didn’t notice.

When a brand new mom in my mothers of twins club recently asked what to do when her 4-day-olds were both crying, I remembered those blurry early days and told her, “sometimes you just have to let one cry.” It was tough on me remembering that, and made me feel callused and uncaring. But it is the truth. One person only has two hands and when you are outnumbered by needy infants, you do the best you can. I just kept telling myself they would learn to be patient, to take turns. And they did. But not before my heart broke over and over while I could only tend to one at a time.

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My husband, the BEST DAD EVER, just before the boys were a month old, multitasking a middle-of-the-night feeding.

Now our boys are almost two and there are lots of things we do even though it is hard. We go out to dinner. We take the boys to the zoo, to museums, to parks. Even still, we sometimes pass on things that might be fun for them because it’s just too much to work with two toddlers. Last month we went to the Day out with Thomas where we saw and had the opportunity to ride trains. The railway museum was large and crowded so we took the stroller. The couple of times we let them out of the stroller it was a fight getting them back in, so it was easier to just skip anything that was indoors where strollers needed to be left outside. Did they notice they missed a second train ride or a visit to the switch tower? No, they did not. But I did.

I regularly take them to parks or even the splash pad on my own, which is exhausting and often stressful, but I want them to experience those things. However, for their safety, I can’t just load them up and take them to the beach or a crowded indoor play place. To make it fair to other families, we can’t go to parent/tot classes just me and them. We do go to story time at the library and they just started tot gymnastics, but we do both of those when my husband can join too and we each take a kid.

Since they were born, I have wanted to spend one-on-one time with each of them. And nearing their 2nd birthday I think I have taken one kid once on an errand once and the other kid by himself to the doctor once and that’s it. When my husband is home we want to be together as a family so we do things with the four of us. All this is to say that having two babies at once is hard, but not always for the reasons I expected. I expected the exhaustion. I expected the expenses. I expected to be pulled in two directions. I didn’t expect that I would feel so guilty about dividing my time, about skipping out on things after weighing the pros/cons of the logistics, about not being able to meet both of their needs all the time. Hopefully, like our parenting experience, our boys don’t know any different.

Keep up with our efforts to raise well-adjusted kiddos as guilt-free as possible at goteamwood.com.

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Avoid Throwing Money Away in the Diaper Pail

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Categories Infants, Parenting Twins, Theme Week, Toddlers5 Comments

As we drove home from the fateful appointment where we found out we were expecting not one baby but two, my husband sat quietly seemingly forever. He is usually thoughtful and easy going, but perhaps this time a tad overwhelmed. When he did speak he said, “We have to buy two of everything… like BIKES!” He had already fast-forwarded through the pregnancy, infancy, toddlerhood and arrived at bikes. In reality we haven’t had to buy two of everything. We have tried to minimize doubles and shop frugally. One of the big ways we have saved a ton of money is by using cloth diapers.

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Yes, we use cloth diapers. No, it’s not disgusting. When I was pregnant and checked out stacks of books from the library, one book suggested that twins could go through as many as 16,000 diapers before potty training. Sixteen Thousand! At nearly 25¢ each before coupons or sales, I could not imagine buying something so expensive with the primary intent of throwing it away. For two babies. While we did spend a chunk of money up front on cloth diapers and accessories, we calculated we broke even by the time our boys were six-months old. For well more than a year now, our diaper changes have been essentially free. (And what is more frugal than free?) Plus the additional bonuses: less garbage, no late-night runs for diapers, our kids never outgrow them half-way through a box, and no blow-outs. (For real. Never once had the up-the-back situation.) Yes, there is a little more effort. And a little extra laundry. But it’s small potatoes compared to the savings. When people ask how we could possibly use cloth diapers with twins, I generally respond, “How could we not?”

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On the left is our duo just before 4 months old, and on right at almost-18-months — wearing the same diapers they will wear until they are done with diapers.

We started with cloth when our boys were about 2 weeks old, once the freebie hospital diapers ran out. We have used them almost exclusively since then. (We have been on two different road trips that required stays in hotels, so we did use disposables. I estimate we have used about 200 disposables since our boys were born 22 months ago.) Ours are not like your grandma’s cloth diapers. There are no pins. No scrubbing on a washboard. No plastic pants. Cloth Diapering has come a long way and fits into our modern life. Our diapers go on with hook-and-loop closures, similar to disposables, and are one-size, adjusting from 8 to 35 lbs., which should take us through to potty training. We wash them ourselves in a high-efficiency washer and saw no noticeable increase in our utility bills. There are lots of different modern cloth diapers, and a ton of information available online. If I had it to do all over again, there are lots of baby “essentials” we could totally live without, but I would not hesitate for one second to use cloth diapers. Cloth Diapers work for our family, we love them, love the savings and we can’t imagine it any other way.

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If you want to know more than you ever thought possible: More than you ever wanted to know about cloth diapers is my little cloth diaper manifesto on the topic from my own website, goteamwood.com where you can also read all about our family adventures.

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Preschool at Home with Toddlers

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Categories Preschoolers, Theme Week, ToddlersTags 13 Comments

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A month ago I was a working mom of 21-month-old twin boys. Suddenly, I was a former computer nerd who quit my job of six years to stay home. If you had told me six weeks ago that I would be not only unemployed but also trying to teach preschool for my twin boys, I would have laughed. Of course if you told me three years ago that I would have twin boys, I probably wouldn’t have believed that either. But here I am, a mom of twins, attempting to put together a plan for home preschool for the under-2 crowd.

Like most parents, we want our kids to be smart and polite and kind and curious. We want the best for them, we want them to thrive and succeed. Enrolling them in an actual preschool sounds great but is out of the question, budget-wise.  Last month when I quit my job to stay home with them full time, it was rather impulsive and it is now part of my role to be frugal and make the most of our one-income household. So, here I am: absolutely no training and zero experience, a whim, a fuzzy plan, a library card and a desire to make the most of our days, I am starting home preschool. I figure that I was mildly under-qualified for two infants simultaneously and so far that is going OK, so maybe I can do this.

Luckily for me, there are tons of resources online for homeschooling: Printable lessons, Units of study for purchase, Themes, Book lists, activities and an overwhelming number of resources. Our home preschool needs to be a no or very-low cost endeavor and needs to fit into our days. Starting small, I collected ideas using Pinterest, then I moved onto formulating a real plan. My basic strategy is to pick a topic each week and add books and activities using that topic as a guide. We are relying heavily on the library, local free and low-cost activities and the Internet’s endless bounty of “someone else probably already did this” resources. (Seriously, if you haven’t checked out Pinterest, you should.)

Our first week’s topic was Bugs, Bees and Butterflies. We checked topical books from the library and planned a trip to the local Nature Center to see butterflies and bees. (It was free but had a suggested $1 donation per person which we gladly paid.) This week’s theme is The Beach and the Sea so made the boys’ first trip to the local (also free) beach. I have books, art projects and a sensory activity planned. In coming weeks, I have marked our calendar for a visit to our CSA farm, a trip to the zoo (free since we are members), the fire department safety open house, an indoor botanic garden (also free), an apple orchard and the not-at-all-free-but-awesome-anyway trip to Day out with Thomas at the Illinois Train Museum.

The nice thing about doing this with not-quite-two-year-olds is that we can be flexible and incorporate it easily into our days. My boys are really learning to understand the things around them, to talk, to sign and to explore their world. Home preschool will allow us to have a plan each week so we don’t get into a rut and resort to TV, but allows us to have our routines and fit these activities into our day. We spent about an hour each day last week reading or learning about bugs.   When we have other stuff to do, that is fine too. We still read non-theme books and embrace teachable moments. We let them play and explore and be toddlers. We have playmates and outings with other kids. And, most importantly, we don’t do school if they are not up to it. The first week was a lot of fun and I the boys actually learned a lot. They both point out bugs on the sidewalk and sign butterfly and try to flap their wings to fly. By any measure, I think our lessons were a success.

The nitty-gritty of planning preschool for 1-year-olds with no any training or experience has been interesting. First I brainstormed topics that would appeal to little boys: Bugs, Beach, Farm, Firemen, Dinosaurs, etc. Next, I outlined the over-arching goals I want from each week. No matter the theme, I want to make sure we continue to include colors, numbers, letters, senses, foods, music, self-care and manners. I have jotted down any notes that pertain to our theme, whether free activities, book lists or online resources. I scheduled themes around free days at museums or upcoming community events. We can all get out of the house, take advantage of the great places we have in our area for free and cheap educational experiences and hopefully raise smart, upstanding citizens along the way.

The computer nerd in me sort of took over and I leaned heavily on the Internet for resources (seriously, how did people raise kids without the Internet!) and used a couple different applications to organize. My notes and lists all go into Evernote, my schedule of themes and activities are color-coded in iCal and any documents I find or create are all organized using Dropbox. I can access the notes and documents from any computer, my phone or iPad. (See, told you I am a nerd.) I know I am not the first to do this homeschool thing, and I am certainly not forging any new path. This is what works for our family, and is something we find really exciting. I am documenting it all as we go on our blog, mostly so I can look back and see what we accomplished.

So this is our home preschool, one week in, finding our way, entertaining and educating while spending as little money as possible. I have units mapped out until the end of February on a wide variety of toddler-friendly topics. I want my boys to have great experiences and continue to be excited to learn and explore. It’s amazing how fast they are approaching two, I feel like we were just driving home from the hospital with our tiny babies. Their enthusiasm to learn and my desire to stay busy will hopefully be a recipe for success. If you’re interested in seeing how we are doing as this project rolls on, you can visit the Preschool category of our Go Team Wood. We also welcome any suggestions for activities, homeschool, preschool or anything else that might help this endeavor. After all, this is new to all three of us!

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Seeing Double at Twins Days in Twinsburg, OH

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Categories Activities, Fraternal, Identical, Multiples in the News, Parenting Twins, TravelTags 3 Comments

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Our family just arrived home from our second trip to the Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, OH. Last summer we attended a wedding in Philadelphia with our 9-month-old twins. We packed the car for a road trip from Chicago but had to divide our drive into a few days. Looking for a half-way point we saw Twinsburg, OH on the map and thought, “Hey, we should stay there, it’s a town named Twinsburg.” A quick Google search revealed Twins Days Festival, a record-setting gathering of twins from around the world which just happened to be the weekend we were driving through Ohio. We had to go. How could we pass it up?

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We enjoyed our first Twins Days experience so much, we decided before we even left Ohio we would try to go back every year. It is an experience unlike anything I have seen. The sense of community and camaraderie among twins from all over really is amazing. Among the many activities, our favorite has been the Double Take Parade, which encourages any and all twins to join in the themed parade. This year’s theme was Circus, a truly fitting theme for a gathering of twins. My boys were dressed as Human Cannonballs, with their wagon outfitted as a cannon. There are also lots of research studies for twin participation, and mingling with twins young and old. The youngest set there was 8 weeks, the oldest was 96 years old! There are lots of contests, carnival rides, food, and fun. Friday night is a Wiener Roast for twins and their families, Saturday night there are fireworks and Sunday morning is a pancake breakfast. For older twins there is a golf tournament, a 5K and lots more.

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So much I have read and heard since we were expecting twins focuses on the challenges: the high-risk pregnancy, the bleary-eyed, soul-crushing sleep deprivation, the expense, every-rough-patch-times-two. Dress them alike. Don’t dress them alike. Separate them in school. Keep them together. Everything I read seems to threaten all the ways I am destined to mess my kids up. Plus, as much as strangers are fascinated with and willing to offer up comments about twins, they are almost always negative. “You’ve got your hands full!” or “Double Trouble!” or “Better you than me!”

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It is easy to lose sight of how wonderful it can be raising twins. We have twice the giggles, twice the hugs. My boys are growing up spending every day with a best friend. I get to watch my two tiny infants as they grow into little boys. My boys are 21 months old, racing from milestone to milestone, growing noticeably each day. I wonder every single day how they can possibly be cuter than they were yesterday and how did I get so lucky to be here for the ride. The truth is that while my boys are fraternal and are very different, they were born a pair. Twins Days is such a unique celebration of twinship, I want my boys to grow up appreciating how truly special it is to be a twin. In Twinsburg for that one weekend a year, they can be among people who know what it’s like to go through life with a doppelganger, with a relationship unlike any other. They can be part of the community and celebrate being twins.

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My boys are often subject to lots of attention when we are out and about, and sometimes I feel like they are a spectacle. (I imagine it is nothing compared to identical twins or even triplets or quads!) I want them to feel proud that there are two of them, and love that they came into this world as a set. Twins Days Weekend is always the first weekend in August in Twinsburg, OH. For more photos and information about our trip, you can check out our rundown of our weekend as well as photos form this year and last. You can read more about the adventures of our family at goteamwood.com

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