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

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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!

 

Trust

I recently had to take an emergency trip from my home in Texas to London, where I was needed to help care for my 2-year-old nephew. A co-worker pointed out that this went against the norm. It’s normally the UK that exports its nannies to the US, he said.

It didn’t make sense to bring my daughters with me, financially or practically. I didn’t want them to miss school. We wouldn’t even get to see London because I was going to have to focus on my nephew. Besides, I wouldn’t be able to get them passports in time. I cut it close with my own passport as it was. It had expired, but, fortunately, I fell within the criteria for an emergency travel credential, a passport substitute, good for this trip only. I drove 300+ miles roundtrip while my first graders were at school to obtain it.

I had to figure out how my daughters would be cared for while I was away. Their father lives 600 miles away and wasn’t going to be available. I don’t have any family nearby. What I do have is the village that it takes to raise a child, the people who are more family than family. These are the people who love J and M nearly as much as I do, from choice, not obligation.

I sent out two text messages, one to our babysitter Angie, and one to our former neighbour Heidi.

Angie used to teach at the daycare J and M attended for over 4 years. She’s known the girls for over half their lives, and is a trained childcare provider. She’s creative, funny, and affectionate, but doesn’t accept any disobedience or lack of discipline.

Heidi’s daughter is two months younger than my girls, to the day, and our girls have grown up like sisters, at least sisters where one sister can’t tell the other two apart. Heidi used to be the person I’d call if the girls wanted to play outside while I was in the middle of cooking dinner. As early as age 3, I knew I could trust them to go out the front door by themselves as long as Heidi knew they were out. I’d just usually end up stretching dinner to feed both families. I taught Heidi’s daughter how to bake, and she taught mine how to navigate the swampy area behind our first home. All 3 girls have known all their lives to listen to both sets of parents as if they were their own, and that the different rules of each house started at the edge of lawn and extended from the sidewalk to the back yard.

Both Angie and Heidi immediately said they could help care for the girls whiIe I was away. I went with Angie, because she could come and stay at our house with the kids, minimizing the disruption, avoiding the packing, and saving me having to find someone else to feed the cats and discipline the kitten. Her nannying schedule worked out to be a perfect complement to the girls’ school and after school care times.

I didn’t just want a babysitter for the kids, someone who would just ensure that they were safe and on schedule. I wanted someone who could fill in as Mom while I was away. Someone who would address their concerns about my absence openly and completely. Someone who wouldn’t take shortcuts to get through the evening, but would instead carry forward the work of raising the girls, discussing the choices they’d made during the day, challenging them to be responsible, building their confidence while emphasizing humility. What a gift to have two such people actually available to us on a week’s notice! There are still others in our community who would have gladly done it, had their work or childcare obligations allowed.

While I was in London, I videoconferenced with the girls on Skype every day, some days twice. I could tell that they were comfortable and happy. Their smiles were genuine, their stories from their day those of typical 6-year-olds, and their trust in Angie palpable. A couple of times, they had worries to discuss with me, but for the most part they wanted to hear about my day, be silly with their cousin, and confirm that I was okay before getting back to their busy lives of art projects and games of pretend.

Angie was the first person I gave a key to my home to after I bought it. There is nothing more precious to me than my children. I’d never leave my kids with someone I wouldn’t trust with my house keys. Anyone I can trust with them, I can trust with all that I own. After all, I’m trusting them with my life.

 

Sadia lives with her 6-year-old daughters in the greater Austin, Texas area. Her trip to London was her first to her home country in over a decade. She was too busy with a toddler and bureaucracy to see much of London.  Still, she was reminded that snow needn’t be too deep to crunch underfoot, that people walk on the left there, and that British biscuits are a far superior comfort food to American cookies. She heard a lot more Portuguese and Spanish than was spoken in London in her childhood, and was happy to learn that 11 years had put no dent in her closeness to her cousins or closest college buddy.

Mum Connections

A month ago, we had dinner at the Calgary Airport. What better restaurant to have our last meal in oil and beef-heaven than at a steakhouse?

The waitress greets us with a cheery smile, asks us how many we are. “Four adults, two children,” I answer, pointing out L and R. My parents are sending us off before they head to Montreal the next day.  As the waitress walks us to a booth, she asks if I prefer high-chairs or booster-seats for the children.

“What are booster-seats?” I ask, fully aware of my ignorance. “Little seats that you can move around. They add height to any other regular seat,” she replies, without a hint of condescension.

The booster-seats sound perfect. My kids hate high-chairs.

“Great! Come on over this way. I’ll get the brown paper laid out first, and then bring out the crayons.” She smiles as she walks away in her black pants, and black t-shirt; her blond pony-tail bobbing along behind her.

“Here’s the crayons, and some menus. You need anything else, give me a shout. I’ll be back for the order in a few minutes,” she assures us. How wonderful! L and R sit at the table happily, unrestricted; and they draw pictures with my parents.

When she returns, Maher asks if she can suggest any vegetarian options for my mum. She pulls her pen out of her apron and uses it as a pointer, “There’s the garden salad, the coleslaw, there’s a veggie fajita, and we can do most any of the starters’ vegetarian. You just ask me, and I’ll request it in the kitchen.”

“Fantastic!” he replies.

“One chicken fajita should be enough for the two children right?” I ask her.

“Plenty. Portion’s big here.”

We place the rest of the order, and just before she turns around to leave, she asks if we want the fries out first. Maher and I looked at each other and then up at her. She understands. “Yes please, and the guacamole, and anything that’s ready. They’re hungry.” We didn’t mention that they won’t stay put for very long.

She smiles, winks, and asks, “They twins?”
“Yes, 23 months old,” I reply.
“I have three kids. A four year-old, and two year-old twins. All boys.” She says with a gleam in her eyes.
“Really? That’s wonderful. So you know!” I sigh with a sense of relief that sweeps across me.

I don’t usually stress out about being at a restaurant with my toddlers. In China it’s easy. Children are welcome everywhere, easy-going restaurants for sure, fancy places are no exception. The hosts, even the guests happily chat and play with them. That’s not to say that I’ve had any criticism in Canada over the last 3 weeks, neither in Montreal nor in Calgary; but it’s on my mind that they have to behave a bit differently. I do my best to keep the situation as much under-control as possible, without making a big deal out of it. And with my parents there to help, at least we’ll all get to eat.  But the mess we leave is always bigger than at the other tables, and our sweet waitress is the one who’s got to take care of it.

My stress dissipates after she hangs out longer, and after she tells us about her children. I feel a connection with her just for being a Mum of Twins. It’s not rational. But she understands what it’s like to be at a restaurant with excited twin toddlers. She’s not fazed by their loud chatter, their need to switch seats as they spill the water, and their desire to reach for the knives.

Part way through the meal, L needs a change of diaper. As we walk back from the washroom, the appropriately positioned toy store – right across from the restaurant — with a large poster of a crocodile eating a monkey, sucks Leila in. Before long, Rahul and two adults in our group join her. 15 minutes into the discovery, and a number of different dynamics later, I am back at the restaurant finishing up my meal, with my mum. I pick at the colourful bell peppers and onions from the children’s fajita, after I’m done with my own dish. It’s time to go though; time to say goodbye to my parents. I ask for the bill.

While I pay, the sweet waitress and I have a little chat. She’s the kind of woman who calls you honey. Not in a patronising sense.

“Who helps you with the kids?” I ask.

“My husband. He takes care of them in the day while I’m here, and he works at night. I was just talking to my co-worker over there,” she tilts her head towards another waitress, “Was just tellin’ her it’s been a week since I saw him. ‘N’ we live in the same house.”

“Man, that’s not easy,” I sympathise. She looks up at me, shrugs her shoulders and smiles. That’s when I notice the dark circles around her eyes.

“Have a good flight!” She waves.

“Thanks, and good luck with it all,” I pat her shoulder, and push our over-packed stroller out of the restaurant.

My mum and I walk over to the crocodile and monkey toy shop to pick up the rest of the gang. We slowly make our way to the security check.

Just this morning, L and R talked about a crocodile eating a monkey.

Have you had random mum connections that you still remember?

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Natasha, mum of Leila and Rahul was an Ashtanga Yoga teacher until her little yogis became the teachers. You can find more of her thoughts and stories at Our Little Yogis.

Seeing Double at Twins Days in Twinsburg, OH

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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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Same Different: A Constant Pull

Just as we are working to affirm and encourage individuality in our daughters, they seem committed to being more definite about being treated the same. For example, if one is wearing a sweater to go outside, the other one wants her sweater too. If one is wearing her brother’s shoes or bike helmet, the other wants to do the same. If one of them is reading a book with me, the other one goes to get a book to read. Or, even harder yet, if I’m carrying one, then I’d better be prepared to carry the other one next.

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So, I’ve started experimenting to see how they respond to different situations. I’ll admit I’m as curious about multiples and the “twin connection” as the next person. So, I’ll get one girl dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. Then I’ll offer her sister a choice of outfits that is either similar to her sister or different.  Now, I can’t say they always choose the same or always choose different, but I can say they are definite about their choices.

At snack time, if one does the sign for milk and her sister does the sign for water. I’ve noticed that if I get water (or milk) for one girl, her sister will change her mind and want the same. If one finishes her snack more quickly and asks for more, her sister will expect more even if she hasn’t finished what she already has.

The other day, I tried switching their cribs to see how they responded. About the only consistently different thing between the girls has been their cribs. Since we moved and set up two cribs in their bedrooms, they have consistently slept in the same crib, unless we get them mixed up, unless the nanny isn’t as concerned about this as I am, as far as I know. So one day when they were playing around a nap time, and neither wanted to get in her crib, I plopped them in to the closest cribs, which meant they were in the “wrong” cribs.  This didn’t seem to bother them at all. Nap time went without any problems.

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So I’m left wondering do they have a sense of individual identity or shared connection or not? Do they care who sleeps in which crib or who has which blanket, or does it only matter when someone is getting special treatment or extra attention?

And most importantly, I continue to wonder how do we foster individuality when they spend so much time together and they seem so much alike?

A Pivotal Twenty Sixth Month

So I’ve been writing this series of posts (on my blog) about how we’ve been blurring the lines of our formerly iron-clad (at the demand of the twin’s, not us!) routine. Things like pushing back bedtime, and going to the zoo when they’d typically be going down for a nap, and taking a day trip to the beach, and staying out “way past” bedtime, and traveling during the time that the kids are usually long in bed.

All this in the last six weeks!

It’s like all of a sudden we can finally do things we haven’t been able to do and we actually have fun while doing it and we’re not always scared we won’t ever get to sleep ever never again, and we’re actually able to relax (a little bit) while the kids entertain themselves instead of living our public lives in a sweaty, running in opposite direction mess.

And it only took TWENTY SEVEN MONTHS!

Any breakthroughs, milestones, realizations for you this summer? Anything you long for? (I long for a margarita.)

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Rachel’s family is breaking new ground over at Motherhood.Squared .

Good-Enough Traveling

Some families, by necessity, started off right away traveling with their twins (and then some) – because family lives across the globe, or because work required it, or because they’re just plain crazy. As an example of the latter, a friend drove her three children – 26 month old twins and a 10 week old – to see family for the weekend. Six hours away. Solo.

Us? We live 400 miles round trip by car to get to family. And because my entire family lives in that one city, we’re the ones that have to do the traveling – about six times a year. And every time we just don’t know what we’re going to get. Sure, I’ve got a spreadsheet packing list with formulas for how many diapers and outfits to take based on how long we’re gone. (This makes it easier for my partner and my nanny to participate in getting us ready to leave town. And yes, I know that is anal.)

But I will be honest when I say that going out of town with the twins is pretty close to the bottom of favorite things to do. Why?

They hate sitting in a car. Yes, all this fostering of independence from an early age we’ve promoted, all this learning to walk by us without leashes, has produced toddlers who cannot stand to be stuck in a carseat for three and a half hours. They also hate strollers.

I’ve tried everything – making sure we have enough snacks, breaking down and buying dual monitor DVDs (it helps!), stickers, coloring books, books, toys, an iPod playlist with favorite music, and iPhone app for white noise, and knowing our one stop for a breath of fresh air and a diaper change. All those things work, but there is inevitable unhappiness, and omigod, the whining!

We’ve tried leaving first thing in the morning, after breakfast. That didn’t really work because they hadn’t run off some of their energy and we’d end up arriving with overtired kids. We’ve tried leaving just before the morning nap (back when they were still taking two naps). That worked somewhat, but inevitably the boy wouldn’t need as much sleep and would start talking away and then wake up his still-sleepy sister, and then it would be hell. We’ve tried leaving in the late afternoon and that was flat out a disaster of tears. Now that they are down to one nap a day, we’ve tried leaving right after breakfast and also right before the nap. With mixed results. And just this last trip, we tried leaving long after the afternoon nap (so that they’d at least be rested), anticipating a pre-bedtime arrival, thinking the waning daylight would help calm them down. IT DIDN’T.

We have not tried leaving at bedtime because I am just too risk-averse to jack with night time sleeping, and because my kids are not the kind of kids that stay asleep from carseat to bed. We have not tried driving in the middle of the night because neither drivers are night owls. And we have not tried getting up before dawn because, well, trust me, you do not mess with the girl’s sleep.

For us, knowing that there is no great time to travel with our kids, we’ve concluded that after breakfast arriving before lunch, is the best of the worst window of opportunity. That gives us time for a snack in the car, some Dora, minimized whining, arrival at Grandma’s just before all hell breaks loose, lunch at Grandma’s, a romp outdoors while we set up their sleeping spaces, and then a nap around noon.

I cannot even imagine when we’ll ever travel together “for fun” and it not be a family birthday or major holiday. Maybe when they’re six.

How about you? What’s your best window of opportunity, and why?

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Rachel blogs about life with twins and a two-mom household over at Motherhood.Squared .

Having twins doesn’t mean you have to buy a minivan

At this time last year, we were shopping for a new car.  When we planned for a second child, we knew we’d need to replace our Toyota Corolla because it wouldn’t hold two car seats.  My main request was a car with power locks so I didn’t have to put everything down to unlock the car.  Then when we found out we having twins, we  knew we’d really need to do some serious car shopping. In fact when we told people we were expecting twins, they often replied with “so, I guess you’ll be buying a minivan.” With a brother-in-law with three kids who sells cars, we knew where to start. He assured us we’d need a minivan, so we test drove a couple of different minivans.

I’ve always driven small cars, and the thought of driving a huge minivan was scary. Plus, I didn’t really want to be a “minivan” parent with all that implied. I endured a few more test drives until we settled on a Toyota or Honda minivan as the best options for safety, layout, fuel efficiency, features, etc. We didn’t like the dealership after the test drive for the Toyota, so we decided to try another dealership.

In between, I was curious about car seat arrangements in the vans so I called the health unit to talk with the nurse who runs the car seat clinic. She answered my questions, including “is it possible to fit three car seats in  a car?”  She said that yes, in a full size sedan you can fit three car seats.  I did some more research on the topic at http://www.car-seat.org.  (They have a great forum where parents share questions and information about car seat safety. Many of the participants are trained car seat inspectors.)

So, armed with two borrowed baby seats and our son’s car seat, we headed to another dealership.  We tried installing the seats in a number of different cars. And, guess what, it is possible to fit three car seats in a car.  So, we abandoned the idea of buying a minivan and settled on a Toyota Camry instead.

Now, with 11-month-old twins and a three-year-old, the Camry is serving us well.  There is room for three car seats and the double stroller fits in the trunk.  We can pack enough stuff, including a playpen, for a weekend trip to visit family.  But, we really look out of place at our local twin and triplets club events where we’re almost the lone car among the vans and SUVs.

I have to admit there are some limitations to having a car.  We can’t take any extra passengers, adult or children.  So, to make our playschool car pool work, I have to borrow our friends’ minivan.  It has only been a few weeks, but I can already see the advantages of a minivan when come to loading and unloading children, and buckling car seats.  The van doors that open with the push of a button are nice when you’ve got a couple of three-year-olds with their backpacks to get to and from playschool.

So, I’m guessing at some point, we’ll be back on the market for  a minivan.  Maybe it won’t be until the children are ready for hockey or some other sport that requires hauling equipment, or maybe it will be much sooner when the girls outgrow their baby seats and we have to figure out how to buckle in three children every time we leave the house.

What decisions did you make about vehicles?  Did you buy a minivan or not? What suggestions would you have for other parents making this decision?

Strollers.

How many of you felt your breath catch just reading that word? Shoes are to Carrie Bradshaw what strollers are to, well, most of the people who socialize with me. It’s a short list, but we love our strollers.

I’m not a stroller snob. I had an Evenflo travel system with my first child, and got a Combi Twin Savvy when my boys were born, even though what I really wanted was the Mountain Buggy Urban Double. (You should click that link just to see the price. It’s worth the chuckle.) I needed a double stroller with a sit and stand but they didn’t exist when I was cranking out my brood.

When we found out I was pregnant with #4, the twins were 1.5 and A was 3. I mentally calculated my boys’ ability to walk alongside me plus my daughter’s capacity for obedience, multiplied by my anxiety level and divided by the number of hands God saw fit to give me, and found that I was lacking. I knew I could make do for a short time with the baby in a sling and the boys in the double stroller, but my aptitude for sling use drops off sharply once a baby moves out of the limp doughy phase.

I wanted a triple stroller, and scoured the resale shops for one. Instead, I stumbled upon a J Mason Quad Carriage for $100. You can bet I snapped that thing up and dragged it home. I want to make some shoes reference here, like, “…Carrie Bradshaw finding a pair of vintage blah blah somethings at a thrift store,” but I don’t know enough about high end footwear, plus I bet Carrie Bradshaw would never step foot into a thrift store.

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The quad stroller – or “four stroller,” as my children call it – wasn’t perfect. But alas, what union between parent and stroller is? The quad was heavy, bulky, and a real beast to maneuver on uneven terrain. But for trips to the zoo, for example, it was a godsend. And let’s be honest: I was staying home with four kids 4 and under. I wasn’t going much of anywhere.

Three days before the twins 5th birthday, I sold the four stroller. The kids were devastated. They wept in protest as they watched me clean it up, and they begged me to keep it. We settled on one final ride.

A’s gangly legs didn’t fit in the back; she had to throw them over the lap bar in the front seat. The boys climbed into the back, I placed baby #4 into the open front seat, and we set off. As I sweated and gasped for air, I reflected on my maiden voyage with the quad stroller, three years ago. Then, too, I sweated and panted my way around the block, Braxton-Hicks contractions kicking in as I pushed my 90 lb toddler payload. This 2009 haul was more like 150 lbs, and left me grateful that I don’t have to do this anymore.
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When the couple purchasing my stroller arrived, I was happy to saunter back inside and watch from the window as they wrestled that mammoth into the back of their van. Never again will I watch my husband sweat and curse quietly while struggling to fold it. Never again will my children stream out from the quad stroller’s depths like it’s a clown car. Never again will we look like a circus sideshow in public. The moment was bittersweet, until I remembered I’d just made $75, and then it was only sweet.

We Took To Vacationing Separately

Rachel is a number cruncher by day, the birth mom in a two-mom household to boy/girl 16 ½ month old twins. A new website is coming, but for now, you can read more about ‘em at http://rajencreation.wordpress.com/

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She’s done this for years.

Hours upon hours, she is happy to look out over the gently rippling coastal waters of south Louisiana, casting a line over the boat, sitting, sitting, sitting, egrets flying overhead, a wild boar rustling in the marsh, a breeze rushing by to move the warm air, sitting, sitting. And then. “zzzzZZZZZZZzzzzzz!”, the sound of a speckled trout or redfish or drum or flounder taking the bait. Up on her feet, rod bowed, reeling firmly and quickly until the fish becomes weightless in the salty air, a net rushing in underneath it to bring it into the boat. And then. Again.

Beloved Fishing

I have been witness and participant for nearly a decade, once, maybe twice a year, nothing more relaxing for Jennifer than to go fishing for days on end. It warms my heart to know there is something she is so excited and passionate about.

So in July, when an opportunity presented itself for her to go, we didn’t think twice about it. She would go. And she would fish. And she would relax.

A.L.O.N.E.

Because being in a car for six hours sans kids seven to ten hours ONE WAY to get there? Only to arrive and sit on a fourteen foot boat with twin toddlers for six hour stretches? Or me taking vacation days to stay with the kids on a non-baby proofed barge surrounded by water for fourteen hours a day… WHEN WE HAVE A PERFECTLY GOOD HOUSE AND NANNY AT HOME? Are you kidding me?

We’ve never been big vacationers. We take quick weekend trips here or there, for cousin birthday parties or family gatherings. In fact, most of our time off is huddled around holidays and our vacation time is spent traveling to and from the homes of our family. Our current commute maximum is a three hour drive. Everybody else gets a card.

Life is too short to spend it stressed. With the twins, we’ve felt that the amount of work preparing for and during said ‘vacation’ times is simply counteractive to any desired relaxation. Would I have liked to have gone fishing, too? Absolutely. But during this phase of post-infancy toddlerhood, it’s just better for our family unit, for one of us to stay home with the kids while the other travels. Because what’s the point of BPA-free if you willingly subject yourself to the toxicity of the nuclear fallout that is two kids forced to adjust to everything unfamiliar.

So when an opportunity presented itself for me to crash in my sister’s hotel room FOR FREE while she was in New York City on business, I went. I’d never been. And I’d always wanted to go. Side note: the pace of New York City – the city, the traffic, the subway, the foot traffic – is nothing compared to parenting twin toddlers.

In the days before I left town, I had lunch with a business associate who said to me “uh oh, separate vacations is never a good sign”. But I completely disagree (and so did she once I explained): By traveling separately, neither of our kids was forced to be subjected to change for the sole purpose of fulfilling our individual travel opportunities. Not to mention that neither locale was conducive to young children. There will be plenty of time later to travel together for a destination vacation, maybe when the kids are in their mid-two’s. Until then, three days apart each trip wasn’t horribly painful. We tasted the sweetness and great joy of love and affection for each other and our kids upon our respective returns. We returned spent, but refreshed. And we both got to do something we enjoyed.

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Want to know how my super fun trip to New York City went? Click here!