My birthday is 6 days after that of my twin daughters. Both usually fall in the same week as American Mothers’ Day. In the widest conceivable stretch, all three events occur within a 9-day period. We’re nothing if not efficient.
This year, Mothers’ Day fell on M and J’s birthday. My birthday was the following Saturday, the day before yesterday.
On Thursday evening, M informed me that she wanted to take me out for a birthday/Mothers’ Day treat. Her grandparents had given her a Starbucks gift card for her birthday and she wanted to spend it on me. This is probably not what they had in mind, but I have the world’s sweetest kids.
Here’s what J presented to me. She’d made me birthday breakfast in bed:
Toast, cut into shapes, spread with Nutella, with “Love Mom” and “Best Mom” inscribed in royal icing. Seriously, sweetest kids ever.
M was insistent that our Starbucks celebration be exclusively ours. Her sister was not invited. I told her that I’d arrange a solo playdate for J so that she and I could have our mommy-daughter date.
We happened to be leaving an after-school school-sponsored event when we had this conversation, so I decided to see whether I could locate my girls’ best friend’s family, whom we’d just seen. They were still there. I asked whether they’d be willing to have J over. They said that they could make it happen the very next day.
They would pick J up from school with their daughter while M went to after-school care. I could pick M up at the regular time. It would be nice for their daughter S to get to play with J, since Mom and Dad have been quite occupied welcoming their one-month-old into the world. (Aren’t they wonderful friends? I wouldn’t dream of asking anyone else with a newborn to watch my kid!)
M and I had a lovely time. I took her out for dinner at Mimi’s Café and then we headed to Starbucks for dessert on her dime. She got a chocolate milk and brownie. I got a decaf soy java Frappucino and cookie. We talked the entire time, about her friends, what she’s been reading, the state of the dwarf planet Pluto, what I’ve been doing at work, and the importance of feathers in art.
Age nine feels like a watershed between little girlhood and tweendom.
I was not allowed her to kiss her in public, but M did want to sit in my lap. I was not allowed to take photos, but she took my arm everywhere we went. She told both the waitress and the barrista all that we were celebrating. She didn’t mention her sister to either of them, which was a first.
I loved this one-on-one time, in no small part because I knew that J was having an equally good time. It also helped that there wasn’t any time pressure on us to retrieve her. Both my daughters (and their friend) would get tired around the same time, so we would very naturally ending up picking J up in time for bed.
We’re planning a mommy-daughter date for me and J in the near future. M will head off for a playdate with a different friend.
Making quality one-on-one time is a challenge for any parent with more than one child, but it’s all the more challenging for a single parent of multiples. If you’ve ever wondered how you can help the single parent in your life, how about offering to watch one or both children? Don’t be offended if he or she doesn’t take you up on it right away, or ever. It really is the thought that counts.
I’d never been one to think of my birthday as anything but another day of the year, but this year, my girls made it truly special.
Yesterday, a package arrived in the mail for my daughters from their father. It contained, among other things, the stuffed toys M had left at Daddy’s house. She had been waiting for their arrival since January, so you can imagine how excited she was.
She introduced her North Carolinian “children” to their Texan siblings.
“I’m so glad you’re all together, just in time for Mothers’ Day, which is also my birthday!”
In my 9-year-old’s mind, today as Mothers’ Day was as great a celebration of her as it is as her birthday. She has a mother’s heart.
Happy Mothers’ Day to everyone who loves with a mother’s heart.
… to you who ever carried a child in your womb.
… to stepmothers, grandmothers, and aunts.
… to you who welcomed a child into your family through adoption.
… to you who opened your home to foster a child.
… to you who took a moment to show someone that they mattered.
… to you who have dreamed of a child who will some day be yours.
… to you whose child has left us too soon.
… to teachers who have touched the lives of students.
… to nurses who have been there in those most frightening of hours and celebrated every victory.
… to mentors who have nurtured the spirit, intellect, and hopes of a new generation.
… to therapists who have seen each child’s potential.
… to you who have crossed paths with a child and hoped you made a difference.
For American Mothers’ Day 2006, I received the most wonderful gift: two 3-day-old daughters, doing better than anyone imagined they could, having been born at 33 weeks gestation.
A week from today, on Mothers’ Day 2015, those tiny babies turn 9 years old. Halfway to college.
Motherhood has been more than I could have ever imagined. More joyous. More fulfilling. Surprisingly, easier than I expected.
There are many others out there, men and women alike, who have planned to have children, only to encounter the monster that is infertility. They would love to be celebrating Mothers’ Day with a child, but have faced obstacle after obstacle in making that child a reality.
Last year, we ran a series called (In)Fertility Tales. I encourage you to read these stories to understand the variety of challenges would-be parents face and how you can help. Hear from the blogger who explains why she remains anonymous when addressing the topic and the news anchor who had her whole community watching as she carried triplets, only to lose two of them.
My tiny step to this end was to ask the church pastor’s wife to see whether “mothers at heart” could be given roses this coming Sunday, not just those who the outside world perceives as mothers. Let the roses be a balm and not a thorn, adding to the pain of infertile would-be mothers and loss moms.
(Yes, today is Sunday, not Monday. Sorry to give any sleep-deprived mamas out there another reason to doubt their sanity. [Been there!] I would like to say that I was *ahead* of the game…but that’s just not the case. I wish I’d done my crafting a week ago…but I didn’t. So I’m posting this hot off the press…on Sunday, not Monday.)
For the last several years, my girlies have had SO much fun with their Advent calendars, counting down to Christmas. I had visions of doing something fun for Valentine’s Day…but with my girls’ birthday immediately following Christmas (the first week of January), I just didn’t have it in me for another big project.
I happened upon some Pinterest inspiration, and I decided I was up for a week of counting down. And I can’t wait to see my girls’ faces when they see this little surprise!
I bought a $1 pill box for each of them (check the dollar store or Walmart). I am glad I found an extra-large one…it will be easier to fit tiny treasures.
I cut paper to cover each of the days, stamped out a little message, and Viola! this Valentine’s Day countdown was born.
I put in a Hershey’s Kiss for today.
The balance of the week I plan to fill with some tiny treats (conversation hearts, M&Ms). I also plan to put in a couple of activities…I’ll write something like “Make Valentine’s Chex Mix“…to mix things up a bit.
I love sharing holidays with my girlies! What fun things do you have planned this week? We’d love to see your ideas!
MandyE is mom to six-year old fraternal twin girls. She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.
We try to keep holidays sweet and simple at our house, and I’m doing my best to impart the joy of giving of ourselves in my twin girls, who are now almost six.
I love to think of opportunities to involve the girls in the process of making handmade gifts, at least in some small way. Approaching six years of age, there are lots of things the girls can do, especially when it comes to making holiday goodies with me in the kitchen. I had to be much more creative when they were smaller…the idea of four little hands in the flour was not one I wanted to tackle with twin toddlers!
Today I’m sharing a some of the things we’ve done over the past few years, going back to when our girlies were approaching two.
Gift tags. It’s become a tradition that our girls make gift tags to adorn the presents and goodies we give to our friends and families. (I love that a few family members save the tags and use them as ornaments!) The first year, I let the girls go to town with green finger paint on white card stock.
I used a scallop punch to cut out 2″ ‘wreaths’, and I punched holes to show through to a red paper circle of berries. I applied glue to the ‘wreaths’ and let the girls put the two pieces together. Here’s the finished product:
Another year I let the girls loose with a ‘present’ stamp, which they then colored. (I had visions of checkered red and green packages…but they had other ideas, using almost every color in the crayon box.)
And my favorite to date the girls did last year. At almost-five, they were able to complete these all by themselves, but these could be done with younger kiddos with some supervision. We used washable brown ink to make thumb prints, and the tip of their index fingers in washable red ink made the nose. The girls used markers to draw the eyes and antlers. I love all the personality these little reindeer have!
Gift bags. The girls had such fun making these bags when they were near-three. I let them pick out button eyes, and I assembled the other pieces from card stock, felt, and sequins. I applied glue to the pieces, and they put them in place.
Cards. I LOVE making cards with the girls. These were some of our earliest holiday creations. At not-quite-two, I had the girls scribble with green crayons. I cut out their scribbles in the shape of a tree, and I glued them to a blank card. I let them decorate the tree with stickers, a favorite pastime at that age.
Charitable giving. The last couple of years, the girls have had so much fun shopping for the food bank…it’s the one time of year I let them drive the miniature shopping carts at the grocery store, and they so look forward to it. And of course we have to decorate bags to carry our goodies.
Tidings of Cheer. The girls always go with me to deliver goodies to our neighbors.
Since they were tiny, I’ve worked with them on a holiday message. The first year they were able to participate, just shy of two years old, it was a simple, “Merry Christmas!” We worked up to them singing, “We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!” when they were almost three. The last couple of years, they’ve sung an abridged version of Jingle Bells as we passed out our goodies. (Reindeer antlers add to the fun!)
Holidays seem infinitely more fun with littles in tow, and I love involving my girlies in all the festivities. It’s something pretty special to see the light in their eyes when they share their own creations with our friends and families.
How do you involve your kiddos in the holiday season?
MandyE is mom to almost-six-year-old twin girls. She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.
Happy Halloween! Popping in to share one of my favorite Halloween Traditions: Our Annual Pumpkin Patch trip. My boys were born the first week in November, so they were nearly a year old their first Halloween. I went with another twin mom to an Apple Orchard/Pumpkin farm and snapped this picture of them in the field, which became one of my favorite photos ever. It is enlarged and hangs on my wall. Every year since then we have visited a pumpkin farm to snap a photo and watch them grow. Because it is so close to their birthday, these are great milestone photos too.
This the the only tradition we have kept up for Halloween every year, we have been out of town for the past two years, so my boys are trick or treating tonight for the first time they might actually remember. (we have beeb before but they were 2.)
Age: Almost 1
Age: Almost 5
Age: Almost 2
Age: Almost 3
Age: Almost 4
Jen lives near Chicago where she is the Mom of these rambunctious, adorable almost-5-year-old twins and a sometimes-blogger at HDYDI.com and her family blog Go Team Wood that is mostly Instagram photos if we’re being honest.
Last year was my twins’ first Halloween. Big Sis was 3.5, and her brother and sister were 11 months old. It was my first chance to come up with coordinating costumes for my kiddos, and I ran with it! They were dressed as Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2– top hat, white gloves, blue wigs, and all. We went to Picture People for photos, and I now have irrefutable evidence of how cute they were. (To give you an idea, one picture poses Big Sis in an armchair reading The Cat in the Hat to her brother and sister seated on a bench.)
Obviously, I hope to continue these coordinating costumes for as many years as I possibly can.
This year, now that my eldest is almost 4.5, with many ideas of her own, I included her in choosing their Halloween costumes. I gave her some ideas, but ultimately we decided together. I suggested she be a chef, she changed that to baker. She wanted her siblings to be cupcakes, I changed that to chocolate chip cookies.
Baker’s costume was easy. I found a chef jacket and baker’s poofy white hat and ordered them on Amazon. But after scouring etsy and pinterest, I decided to make the chocolate chip cookies myself.
Materials for two cookie costumes:
1 yd light brown felt
2 pcs dark brown felt
1 yd batting
1 spool dark brown thread
2 yd dark brown thin ribbon
1 yd dark brown thick ribbon
I first found a template to use for my circle cutouts. After looking around the house, I found this SuperSeat base that had the diameter I was looking for, about 16.5 in. I traced it with a Sharpie and cut out 4 disks at a time from a 1/2 yard of felt that was folded over twice. I did it again with the other 1/2 yd.
Then I freehanded the chocolate chips to the dark brown felt. These came in 9×12 sheets. I pinned them together and cut them out 2-ply.
Next I randomly pinned the chocolate chips to four of the round circles. I could have attached them with a hot glue gun or even spray adhesive, but I chose to actually sew these on. It was time consuming, but felt much more solid.
In the middle of the other 4 round pieces I sewed on a 1/2 yd length of the thin ribbon, just attached at the center about 6 inches. These are the straps to tie on the sides. On top I sewed in the shoulder straps, about 9 inches of the thick ribbon each. (I heat sealed all the ribbon ends so they don’t fray.)
Then I pinned the chocolate chip side to the strap side, wrong sides facing out, making sure the side ties line up. I decided to sew all the way around instead of leaving a side open for stuffing. That’s because I’m horrible at hand-sewing, and I knew that with my skill the cookie would turn out lopsided.
Instead, I chose to cut a slit under the strap, and pulled the cookie inside out through it. I did end up hand-sewing these closed, but there would have been no problem leaving them open.
I stuffed it using the batting I cut from the same SuperSeat template, after trimming it about an inch around for seam allowance. I did this four times. My guess is that they took about 4 hours over three separate nights.
The completed cookies consist of four cookie pads, one for the front and back of each twin, attached at the top with ribbon, and tied on the sides with ribbon. Here’s Baby Boy sporting his new Halloween costume. Baby Girl decided not to cooperate.
How cute are they? I’m just giddy thinking about Big Sis in her baker’s costume, holding the hands of her chocolate chip cookie brother and sister! Next step, booking a photography session.
lunchldyd has her fingers crossed that all her kids cooperate for another set of adorable pictures. She is grateful that her current part-time teaching schedule is allowing her to think creatively and enjoy time for her crafty pursuits.
The Multiples of America (aka NOMOTC) Convention last week was an intense experience. I learned a lot and made a lot of new friends. I was inspired in my parenting, my writing, and my advocacy. Above all, I had fun. A lot of fun.
Before I Arrived
I took the entire week off work to attend. I could have easily attended Wednesday through Saturday and learned nearly as much. The first few days were purely social, filled with tours of the local sights and get-to-know-each-other activities. Pre-convention activities began on Sunday, July 20, but I didn’t show up until Monday.
I’d never really considered attending the conference before this year, although I was vaguely aware of its existence. This time it was in Austin (Texas), where I work. My children were away visiting their Dad. The timing and location just seemed right. It seemed to me that How Do You Do It? being a resource for parents of multiples, we should know a little something about this organization for parents of multiples. I encourage you to check out Multiples of America’s quarterly magazine, Notebook, filled with articles and ideas specific to parents of multiples and the clubs that support us.
I went into the convention without expectations. I’d given the schedule a once-over, but I had no idea what the participation in the various events would be. I didn’t know whether everyone would be carrying diaper bags, backpacks, or purses. I guessed that conference goers would be predominantly female, but I didn’t know. I knew a little about Multiples of America: that it maintained a registry of MoM clubs around the US and that it supports research into all things multiples. That was pretty much everything I knew Monday morning.
As I wrote on the way back from the Hill Country tour, I was overwhelmed by how warm and welcoming everyone was. I felt that the convention was more like a family reunion than like the professional conferences I’ve attended in the past. (I work in IT.) MoMs who had been coming for years, most whose children are now adults, were there to see their friends. They were quick to open their hearts to me as a new member of the family. A few husbands tagged along, but this was definitely a women’s get-together.
I was among the youngest, if not the youngest, of the MoMs to attend the pre-convention fun. A couple of adult multiples, accompanying their mothers, were younger than I. (I’m 35, my twin daughters 8.) I suspect that this is not unusual. The pre-convention tours, while mostly not actively excluding children, were not child-friendly. My daughters would have probably loved the LBJ ranch tour, but wine tasting and the cute stores in Fredericksburg might not have been as much fun for them. I didn’t attend the Austin Sixth Street club/bar night, but that would certainly been out of the question with children in tow.
In addition to being better kid-free, the tour prices were prohibitive. Few mothers of young children have $35-$65 to spare for each of up to 5 tours, especially after factoring in travel expenses and hotel room costs. I had a surprise windfall with which to pamper myself: when my ex-husband suddenly decided that he wanted our daughters to visit for nearly 2 months, I was able to recoup summer camp costs. Still, I didn’t stay at the hotel and didn’t have to worry about travel expenses beyond what I usually spend on my work commute.
I understand from the lovely women planning next year’s convention in Cincinnati that there will be more child-oriented activities. Still, I will have to scrimp and save to make it to that convention, and will likely have to bring my daughters if I am able to attend. Judging by the number of adult multiples I met who have been attending the Multiples of America (then NOMOTC) conventions since they were children, my girls would be welcome, loved, and plenty spoiled, even if we were limited to participation in only certain convention events.
I’m an extreme extrovert, so my favourite part of convention was the downtime. I loved getting to know so many lovely women on the bus to and from our tour locations, over meals at local restaurants, and over drinks in the hotel lobby.
I have a feeling that many of these women will be friends of mine for life. I loved hearing about pairs who see each other only once a year at convention, and who have shared hotel rooms annually for 20 years or more.
There were mixers, dances, and banquets aplenty, in addition to the downtime. I can’t remember the last time I danced so much or had so much fun doing it! I appreciated the thought that went into ensuring that some of the events seated strangers together while others, especially those later in the convention, allowed people to choose the others at their table. Door prizes and raffles provided extra encouragement to show up!
Getting Down to Business
The Multiples of America Convention 2014 wasn’t all fun and games, although there was plenty of that. The business at hand included voting on proposed changes to its laws, electing the next executive board, deciding on future convention locations, reviewing the budget and organization finances, and other non-profit concerns. Only delegates of Multiples of America member clubs were eligible to vote, although all convention attendees were welcome to attend the business meetings. Only existing executive board members ran for their positions, so the board was reelected by default.
The executive board appointed additional volunteers, called National Workers, to move the organization’s mission forward over the next year. I was appointed Single Parent Coordinator, and hope to use that role to advocate for outreach to single parents of multiples and military families by local parents of multiples groups around the country. I’ve already learned that one obstacle some single parents face in joining a club is the membership fee. Please be aware that many such clubs are prepared to cover membership costs for parents of multiples who can’t afford them. Don’t be afraid to ask!
I detected some severe generational tension between NOMOTC traditionalists and younger Multiples of America members. In the age of social media, clubs that meet in person can feel outmoded, and I got the impression that local clubs with younger memberships tend to feel that Multiples of America no longer adds value. I love that the organization changed its name last year to recognize the greater number of higher order multiples in the population, as well as the increased parenting role that fathers and other non-mother caregivers are taking in our world. I think there’s plenty of room for communities of all sorts, especially when our shared goal is to do the best we can for our children. Membership in multiples clubs in general has been dwindling, and I’m certain that the ease of finding community online is partly responsible. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, by any means, but there’s a place for both online and local community. I hope that the executive board hears this and acts on it. Multiples of America should be about supporting multiple birth families, not just keeping Multiples of America going.
In addition to the core business meetings of Multiples of America, the Austin Mothers of Multiples group that organized the convention allowed time for structured sharing of ideas between parents and between club representatives. There was a resource room and MoMs’ Mall with information and products available to the multiple mom, whether new, expecting, or experienced. Discussions on consignment sales and school placement were particularly active and rewarding. I can honestly say it had never occurred to me how much goes into keeping a MoM club running! Since HDYDI is an informal group funded out of my family budget, I’d never given any thought to what location-specific clubs have to do to guard against embezzlement or legal challenges that might exist to providing childcare during club meetings. I’m starting to realize how little I know!
I appreciated learning about the research that is underway in partnership with Multiples of America. Of particular interest was Dr. Susan Griffith’s presentation on the Post-Partum Mood Disorder study that the International Council of Multiple Birth Organisations (ICOMBO) is running. It’s not too late to participate! They need all MoMs, whether or not you’ve dealt with PPD, to fill out their survey, to get a handle on how PPD affects us after multiples births in particular.
Multiples of America has also partnered with local clubs to raise awareness of multiple births in the month of April. Who knows? Maybe HDYDI will participate in Multiple Birth Awareness Month next year!
I am so very glad I went to the Multiples of America Convention this year. I made many new friends and got some wonderful parenting insights. I’ll be writing another post on the different concerns that parents of fraternal multiples have from those of identical multiples when it comes to school and education. I came back energized to speak up for issues specific to multiples and empowered to advocate for single and military parents in my volunteer coordinator role.
Thank you to Debbie, Ada, Heather, Karen, and Elizabeth for all the work that went into putting on an extremely successful convention. And if you’re in Central Texas and looking for a photographer, Hannah Day was amazing! She managed to get all the pictures without ever seeming to be in the way.
Have you ever attended a state or national multiples convention? How does your experience compare?
Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 8-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She is the newly minted Single Parent Coordinator for Multiples of America, also known as the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs (NOMOTC). She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and currently blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering as well as here at HDYDI.
Next week, my little monkeys will be ONE! That one saying is so true. What is it again? The days go slowly, but the weeks and months fly by, or something like that? The other night my husband and I were watching photos float by on a slideshow from the past year. While it’s impossible to adequately describe the first year with twins, a few of these moments help summarize the roller coaster.
Photo: both 8-week-old babies are in just a diaper, passed out on my husband, who is also asleep. My son’s arm is draped over the face of my daughter, whose mouth is wide open. Everyone looks exhausted. I recall this night in particular, because it was taken at the end of the first night we decided to “try” one of us going out for a few hours during the “witching hour.” This witching hour was so very real in our house between about 5 weeks-13 weeks or so. This particular night they started crying about 10 minutes after my husband left the house (of course), and they seemed to ratchet each other higher and higher on the scale of hysteria for the next 45 minutes until I called him, beckoning him home. I still have no idea what got them so upset, but it was one of those nights where I needed to put them each in their crib and walk away for a good 3-5 minutes because I truly did not know how to calm them. Eventually they stop crying for just as mysterious of reasons as why they started. I still feel shell shocked by those first few months with two infants. I can almost still feel the anxiety, counting the time until I’d need to go pump or breastfeed two babies again, or feel the burn in my sleep-deprived eyes.
Photo: taken after a bath, and the babies were laying side by side, and my son reached out and was touching my daughter on the arm. She smiled back at him. They were about 5 months old and it was taken on our first trip (see also: only) with the kids. (We really took on the challenge of a first vacation with infant twins: Cold weather. Over Christmas. Staying at high altitude. Attempting to take turns to go skiing.) It wasn’t likely the first time they connected like that, but I do think it was the first one we caught on camera. It captures the hope that I have for a close relationship between them and the warmth I feel in my heart when I see the connection between them.
My heart aches and is filled with gratitude simultaneously when I see the photo of my son smiling, holding a small box of cheerios in a hospital gown, the morning after our first night (and, hopefully, only for a very long time) in the hospital a few weeks ago after he took a bad fall and sustained a head injury. We spent the night saying prayers that all would be okay, while we realized the vicarious pain one can feel for their child, as a parent. Seeing this photo, even just a few weeks after, makes me so grateful that he is okay. I’m almost equally as fearful of other accidents and illnesses that no doubt lie down the road for us as a family. I was warned about how you experience pain when your children hurt, but it is truly something you cannot understand until going through it.
Photo: my daughter standing, holding onto the collar of our 8-year-old pitbull-boxer mix makes me giggle. I remember coming around the corner and catching her standing there with our dog, who patiently sat and let our daughter examine her “necklace.” Mind you, she cannot walk yet, so this means she crawled over and pulled herself up on our dog’s collar. Her fascination with jewelry has begun early, as has her love of feeding this doggy all her vegetables. This photo captures the delight and fascination I feel as I watch these kids discover their world and learn new skills every day. It’s incredible to watch them stand for the first time, or make a new sound and see their faces light up with pride.
And, that has been the emotional cycle of the past 12 months: Exhaustion, Joy, Fear, Fascination, or some derivative of these feelings. I truly wish I could stop time for a day or at least an hour to really reflect on the ways life has changed and motherhood has changed me in the last year. But, for now, a post like this will have to do.
Katie has b/g twins that will be one next week. She lives in Chicago and balances full-time work, being a mom and training for a sprint triathlon for which she regrets signing up.