Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesdays in Twinland: Dress Them the Same or Dress Them Different?

First outfit we bought for the twins. Note the coordination.
When I first found out I was pregnant with twins, I remember stating quite emphatically, "I am not going to constantly dress them the same! That destroys their individuality. I want them to know they're individuals and not just twins."

How naive was I?

Once I grew used to the idea of twins, I said, "Okay, I'll dress them the same occasionally, but most of the time I'll dress them in coordinating outfits." I assigned Thing 1 the color green and Thing 2 the color blue while they were still belly babies. I still use those colors to keep things like sippy cups straight, and when they wear coordinating outfits, whichever shirt has the most blue is Thing 2's and whichever shirt has the most green is Thing 1's.

baby shower clothes!
And then my baby showers came. And the majority of the clothes I got--and I got a lot of clothes--were matching. And it was so darn cute. And so adorable. And I was so grateful for all those adorable outfits, and of course I wasn't going to return and exchange them, and it turns out things are so much cuter when they come in twos. And I thought, "Okay, if people buy them outfits that are the same, I'll dress them in them. But when buying clothes myself I'll only buy coordinating outfits."

Then the twins were born. And I started buying clothes for them. And I discovered that while it's easy to buy two of the same item, it's really hard to find two items that coordinate. So I ended up buying a lot of the same clothes despite my lofty declarations months earlier. And you know what? I'm okay with that.

more baby shower clothes
Now the twins are 20 months old, and at least half the week they wear the same outfit--same shirt, same pants, same shoes, same jacket. It's just easier to grab two of the same thing. And guess what? It hasn't killed their individuality. They haven't become clones of each other because they dress the same. They don't even notice they're dressed the same. They still have distinctly different personalities, and I don't think I'm a bad mom because they wear the same clothes.

When buying clothes, I still try to buy them coordinating outfits, but that's more so I'll have a greater variety of outfits to pick from if I ever have a singleton boy down the road. If it's taking too much time or proving too hard to find coordinating shirts, then I buy two of the same. Thing 1 and Thing 2 also get lots of clothes from both sets of grandparents. Sometimes they buy the same, sometimes the buy different. And I really don't care either way. We're just grateful for the clothes.

Going home from the hospital outfits. Coordinating.
Plus--and this is an evil little secret of mine--I really think it's funny when I dress them the same and we go to family parties and people can't tell them apart.

My weird quirk is I want them dressed all the same or all different. If they wear coordinating clothes, then their shirts, jackets, and pants all have to be different. If they're dressed the same, then every item of clothing has to be the same. I'm weird like that. 

So dress them the same or dress them different? I don't think it really matters. Do whatever is easiest and most comfortable for you as the parent. Personally, I'm not going to worry about it one way or another until my twins are old enough to want to dress differently. Once that happens, they can make their own choices about clothes. Until then, I'll keep dressing them the same most of the time.

Any of you twin moms out there want to weigh in on the matter? Do you dress your twins similar, different, or a combination of both like me?

TWIN MOM TIP: Don't stress out about the similar-or-different aspect. Your twins don't really care one way or the other when they're little.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesdays in Twinland: Fraternal vs. Identical

Quite a few people lately have asked me to explain the difference between fraternal and identical twins. Now I am by no means a doctor, but since finding myself pregnant with twins I have learned a thing or two about identical versus fraternal.

Identical Twins

Identical twins develop from one egg--fertilized by one sperm--that then splits, creating two babies. Identical twins share one placenta. They are genetically nearly identical and share nearly 100% of the same genes. Identical twins are always the same gender, and have nearly the same features, hair color, eye color, etc. 

There are three basic types of identical twins.

My twins at 9 weeks. You can see they have separate sacs.
Monochorionic-monoamniotic identical twins occur when the egg splits more than 9 days after fertilization. These twins share both a placenta and a sac. This type of twin is pretty rare and extremely risky (at least according to my obstetrician). It only happens in about 30% of identical twin pregnancies. Because they share a sac, there is a high risk of the twins getting tangled up in each other's umbilical cords. This is of course very dangerous and can result in serious complications.

Monochorionic-diamniotic identical twins occur when the egg splits 4-8 days after fertilization. These twins are much more common, making up about 70% of identical twin pregnancies. This is the type of twin that Thing 1 and Thing 2 are. Mono-di twins share a placenta, but each have their own amniotic sac. While a twin pregnancy is always risky, mono-di twins are much less risky than mono-mono twins since they don't share a sac.

Conjoined twins usually occur when the egg splits 12 or more days after fertilization.

Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome is a dangerous condition that can occur only in identical twin pregnancies. Basically one twin "hogs" the placenta, receiving the majority of its nutrients. The result is one twin getting too much and the other twin getting too little. This is extremely risky and dangerous to the lives of both babies. Luckily, I never had to deal with this.

Fraternal Twins

Fraternal twins develop when there are two eggs, fertilized by two different sperm. They each have their own placenta. They can be the same or different genders, and they are not genetically nearly identical.

the basic difference between identical and fraternal
And that's it--the basic difference between identical and fraternal twins.

But wait, you say. Are twins really genetic?

Fraternal twins can be genetic, but only if you're female. Fraternal twins result when a mother releases two eggs instead of just one at ovulation, which can be a genetic factor passed though the female line. If your mom is a fraternal twin, and you are a female, your chances of having twins are higher than the average person's. If, however, you are a male, your chances are the same as anyone else's.

Identical twins have no known genetic link. There are 20 sets of identical twins in your family, you say? Well, science says that's just a lucky coincidence. Because identical twins are a "fluke of nature" and not something you're genetically predispositioned to have

Twin Statistics
from the book When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads by Dr. Barbara Luke and Tamara Eberlein

60% of twins are born before 36 weeks gestation.

Approximately 1/3 of all twins are identical.

The natural incidence of twins is 1 in 89 births. However, due to fertility treatments, the instance of twins in the United States is about 1 in 33 births. 

Nearly 1/3 of all twins are a result of infertility treatments.

If you have already given birth before your multiple pregnancy, you are half as likely to give birth before 35 weeks as someone who has never given birth before.

Women over age 30 are significantly more likely to make it to at least 35 weeks gestation.

Multiples are usually more mature than singletons of the same gestational age.

The average birth weight for twins is 5 lbs 3 oz.

How Do My Twins Compare?

Because I know people will ask...how do my twins compare to the statistics?

Thing 1 and Thing 2 are not the result of fertility drugs. I've done the whole fertility thing before the twins and after the twins. But they happened all on their own. 

Thing 1 and Thing 2 were born at 34 weeks 2 days gestation--nearly 6 weeks early.

They spent 17 days in the NICU, mostly learning how to eat and gain weight.

They were born via c-section.

Thing 1 weighed 5 lbs 5 oz and Thing 2 weighed 5 lbs 8 oz.

So to recap--identical, 1 egg. Fraternal, 2 eggs. And that's basically what separates fraternal and identical twins from each other.

TWIN MOM TIP: Don't do too much research while you're pregnant--you'll just freak yourself out. Just be smart, take care of yourself and your babies, and get all the rest you can. Once they're born, you're going to need it!


Monday, April 22, 2013

Author Interview with Rebecca Rode

I'm so happy to have Rebecca Rode here today! She is promoting her new book, How to Have Peace When You're Falling to Pieces. She was kind enough to let me interview her for my blog. But first, here's a little bit about her book.

Book Description
"How can I have inner peace as a mother when I feel so stressed and scattered?" For mothers who feel they are constantly juggling multiple demands, How to Have Peace When You're Falling to Pieces is packed with uplifting stories, poems, quotes, and scriptures that instill fresh perspective on the work of a mother.  

Sounds like my kind of book. The description immediately intrigued me, and I knew I wanted to find out more about Rebecca's inspiration for writing the book. I had a fantastic time interviewing her, and I'm so glad I get to share it with everyone here.

What was the inspiration for your book?
A couple years ago, I was going through a family crisis of sorts, and I just wasn't handling all my demands very well. I felt emotionally drained and void of emotion. I didn't enjoy being a mom anymore, you know? So I went to the library looking for a book to solve my problems. I wanted a book about having peace--not just for anyone, but for moms specifically--with fun stories and quotes and short chapters. And I couldn't find it! When I realized it didn't exist, I decided to do some research. That was the birth of my book, How to Have Peace When You're Falling to Pieces. The book was as much for me as anyone else.

Your book focuses on finding inner peace as a mother. I remember as a new mom of twins, I sometimes felt anything but peaceful! A lot of my friends have told me they felt the same way after their first baby was born. If you could give one piece of advice to new mothers, what would it be?
Oh, wow. I admire you so much for doing the twin thing, first of all. I can't imagine my kids coming in a package deal. :) But to answer your question, I think all moms, new and otherwise, take themselves way too seriously. We need to learn to relax and enjoy the moment more, which usually requires us to drop a few of those less important things. When my daughter was born, I was so nervous about her growth charts and development that I stressed myself out. It's important to remember that, inexperienced or not, we are the best parents for our children, and we should feel more confident in that role.

You talk about 7 different puzzle pieces to finding peace in your book. Which piece do you think is the most difficult to fit into place, so to speak?
Great question. I can't speak for everyone else, but for me, Purpose was by far the most difficult. That's why I put it first. I talked to a lot of moms for my research, and they were all incredible women. But even they struggled with this one! That surprised me a lot. Why do we put others on pedestals and beat ourselves up? Why do we take responsibility for things that other people do? Why do we stuff our schedules so full and then complain that we're too busy? It just comes with the territory, I guess, but they're all things that prevent us from having peace in our lives.

Sometimes it's really hard, in the craziness of daily life, to find--and hold onto--peace. What do you personally do each day to try and retain your inner peace?
For me, stepping back and remembering the purpose of motherhood is essential. It's so hard to do, though. When your house is destroyed and you need to get dinner started, but your two year-old just wants a snuggle session, it can be really hard to remember that. But really, my family is my purpose right now. Everything I do--cooking, cleaning, chore enforcement, homework duty, driving (and driving and driving)--is for my family. And if those secondary things get in the way, then something needs to be changed.

Sometimes I get to the end of the day and feel like a completely horrible mom. I've lost my temper, the house is a disaster, the kids would only eat crackers for dinner, and I'm overwhelmed. I think a lot of really great mothers often feel like awful ones. What suggestions do you have for combating bad mom feelings?
Oh, I know exactly what you're talking about! That was the motivation behind the chapter entitled "How to Win When You Just Can't Win," about mom guilt. When I'm cleaning the house, I feel guilty because I'm not playing with my kids. But when I'm playing with my kids, I feel guilty because the house is a mess! It's a catch-22. We can't do everything at once, and certainly not perfectly. Everyone has bad days (or weeks or years). I've learned to recognize what I'm doing right, figure out if there's something I can change, and start again fresh. The book has several ideas of how to do that.

Everyone knows that stressful as it is, being a parent is the best job in the whole world. What is your favorite part of being a mom?
My payoff is when I see my kids doing the right thing when they don't know they're being watched. A teacher will tell me about something profound my daughter said, or my son will help a crying child who has fallen down. Someone once said, "Behind every good child is a mom who's pretty sure she's messing it up." I think that's so true. My kids aren't perfect, and I'm certainly not, but at moments like that, I realize that I must be doing something right. I guess that's all that really matters.

Thank you so much, Rebecca! The book sounds absolutely fantastic, and I cannot wait to read it.

Author Bio

Rebecca Rode won awards for her writing in high school and college, eventually publishing an acclaimed personal essay about Romanian orphans in BYU's literary publication, Inscape. She received a Bachelor's degree in Child Development and a Minor in English in 2004. She also wrote for Schooled Magazine for two years. In 2011, Rebecca became a contributor Deseret News in Salt Lake City and KSL.com, a Utah broadcasting network website. How to Have Peace When You're Falling to Pieces, a guide for frazzled mothers, is her first book. Rebecca and her husband are raising their three children in Utah County. 

Social Media Links

Buy Links

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesdays in Twinland: Out of Ideas

Time for another twinland post. I realize I've only written like 14 of these posts, but I'm running out of ideas. It's not that I don't have things to write about--I totally do--but I just don't know what's interesting to others. Teething woes? Reflections on a twin pregnancy? Life with newborn twin? What?

I'm totally open to suggestions. So today, for the twinland post, I'm asking what heck I should write about. I'm an open book, so I'm willing to write about pretty much anything. What do you all find interesting? What do you want to read about?

Seriously, please comment with suggestions. I'm all ears. 

In the meantime, here's an ultrasound photo of the twins. I know I don't share photos of them here, but I felt comfortable sharing this one. :) This is proof that they have always fought for dominance. It's kind of hard to see, but Thing 1 is kicking Thing 2 in the head. Hilarious.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

And the Winner Is...

Thanks to everyone who entered! Are you ready to find out who won?

How about now?

Okay, now.

Random picked the winner.

And the winner is...


Congratulations! Laura will contact you soon to find out whether you want book 1 or book 2.

Thank you so much to everyone who entered, and thanks to Laura for providing the book to give away. Book 1 is still only $0.99 so snap it up while you still can!


Friday, April 12, 2013

Rebellion by Laura Josephsen

Can I just say I'm friends with a lot of really cool people? My friend Laura Josephsen just released the second book in her "Rising" series, Rebellion. And she is offering a lucky reader of this blog a FREE e-copy of either book 1 or book 2--winner's choice. Keep reading to find out how to win!

But wait, you say. I haven't read book one yet! Have no fear. You can pick up Rising book 1: Resistance for only $0.99 on kindle and nook for a limited time. Buy links are at the bottom of this post.

Rebellion Back Cover Blurb
Lachlan's had a rough summer. First, the girl he shares a painful history with didn't remember him. Then Brenna, the woman he loves, showed up after seven years away and wants nothing to do with him. To top it all off, he almost died with the rest of his people when soldiers invaded his country.

Now the enemy could be using Lachlan's people as assassins. When Brenna leaves to find the truth, Lachlan invites himself along.

As Lachlan struggles to rebuild the trust he lost with Brenna, they unravel the dark secret their enemy has worked long and hard to hide--and its consequences for them are greater than they could have known.

Rebellion Excerpt

The wind blew tendrils of hair that had escaped Brenna's braid into her face. She didn't look at him, but something in her voice caught his attention when she murmured, "Same old Lachlan. Always the dreamer."
Lachlan's gaze fell on her hands, clasping the top of the gunwale so tightly they were white. He reached over and laid his hand on one of hers. Her face tilted up toward his, and her kohl-lined eyes were as tired as they'd been the night he'd woken up in the Viarre encampment.

"It's good to have dreams," he said quietly. "They keep us going."

Brenna's hand remained tense under his and she shook her head slightly. "The only dream I have is taking down King Tristran and his government."

Personally, he saw that as more of a goal than a dream, but he didn't say that. "And after that?"

Brenna laughed harshly. "You're assuming we'll survive this. There have already been so many times we should have died." She pulled her hand out from under his. "Dreaming about anything else only leads to disappointment and heartbreak."

"My life's already been full of both. So has yours." Lachlan turned fully toward her. "Some things are worth the risk of more disappointment and heartbreak."

"How can you say that? What in your life could possibly lead you to believe that?"

"Tegan. Reynold. Adria and Bailey and Ivy. Derrek, Lorelei, Riordan, and Mairwyn." Lachlan leaned toward her. "You."

Brenna leaned in even closer to him and whispered, "Then you're going to be very, very disappointed."

"Because you think you'll end up dead? Or because you think you're not worth the risk of heartbreak and disappointment?"

Brenna's face tightened just a bit and he knew he'd hit on something. She drew back from him. "Forget it, Lachlan. You let go of me in the years I was gone; stop trying to hold on again." She strode toward the ladder that led below deck and scrambled down it.

Lachlan hurried after her. "Brenna, wait."

She ignored him and pushed through their cabin door. He stepped through before she could close it in his face and shut it behind him. The tiny cabin was sweltering, and Brenna yanked the blanket out from under her shirt and threw it on a mat in the corner.

"Brenna." He caught her wrist.

She twisted out of his grasp. "I said forget it."

"I can't." Lachlan spread his arms. "You're wrong, Brenna. I had to accept that you left. I had to accept that I couldn't find you and I had to move on with my life, but even then…even then, I couldn't let go of you."

"Well, you should have." Brenna's voice was low, carefully controlled, but she folded her arms across her chest.


"No! Just shut up! You still don't get it!"

"Then tell me! What don't I get? What?"

"Everything I touch breaks, Lachlan! It dies and bleeds and falls apart. I'm not like you. You grow things and make them come alive, and all I do is destroy anything that matters. I swore I wouldn't let it happen again, I swore I would stay away, and then I had no choice because of Ziphas's weapon. I was prepared for what I might find when I got to Alatia again. I was prepared for you to have settled down and started a family. I was prepared for you to never want to see or speak to me again. The only thing I wasn't prepared for was this." Brenna waved a hand at him. "You, still waiting for me!"

Now I know that makes me excited to read the book! I know you want to read it too. Want to read it for free? Well, you're in luck. Because I wasn't joking when I said Laura is giving away a free e-copy of either book 1 or book 2 to a lucky winner. Just leave a comment here about something. Easy-peasy. You have until the twins' nap time tomorrow to enter to win...so approximately 11 a.m. MST on April 13th. I'll pick the winner then and announce it here.

Author Bio
Laura Josephsen has authored several novels and works as a freelance editor. She likes to listen to music, watch sci-fi shows, and drink coffee. She believes there's no such thing as having too many socks. She lives in Tennessee with her awesome husband, imaginative children, and feisty cats.

Social Media Links

Buy Links
Rising book 1: Resistance...only $0.99 for a limited time!
Rising book 2: Rebellion 


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tuesdays in Twinland: Revisiting Sleep Training

The twins are still teething, and life has been a bit crazy lately. They STILL haven't had so much as one of the four teeth they're each getting cut through yet, even after three months of trying. Poor babies. :( Anyway, I didn't have the time or brain power to write a new post this week, so you get a recycled one from my family blog. :)

This post was written when the twins were almost 5 months old. We had just barely moved them from the pack n play in our bedroom into the nursery (I was a wimp and was terrified of having them that far away from me at night). And they became a sleeping nightmare...

Sleep Training Nightmares
Is it Tuesday yet? Because the UPS tracker on my Walmart.com purchase says the books will be here Tuesday. It cost me $23, but if it makes these babies sleep through the night again, it'll be worth every cent.

Whoever coined the phrase "sleeping like a baby" clearly never had one. A baby, I mean. Or two. Because babies? NOT good sleepers after they exit the "newborn" stage, turns out. Whoda thunk?

Ever since returning from vacation and moving the boys into the nursery for nights, they have absolutely, positively refused to sleep for me. I also have been trying to change their bedtime from 10-11ish to 7-8ish. Good moms make their children go to bed early, right? Besides, now that Neil's schedule has changed with school and everything, it just makes more sense to have them go to sleep earlier. Before Neil would get home at 10:30 and since I waited up for him, it made sense to put the boys to bed after he got home so that we could maximize our sleep. Now, however, Neil gets home anywhere from 7pm-midnight, and while his schedule is crazy, I feel like the boys' schedule needs to be more consistent. So 8pm is the new bedtime for them.

You know, if they'd actually go to sleep.

At first I thought it was being in the nursery. Even though they'd been napping in their cribs for about two months, I figured nighttime was different somehow. But after a week passed and they were sleeping no better, I thought maybe it was my milk supply. So we tried giving them a bottle with two ounces of formula after they fed. That was comical! You would have thought we were trying to poison the twins. Apparently they've decided they hate formula, and they absolutely refused to drink a drop.

I thought, "Okay, let's heat up some breast milk then." So I warmed up some breast milk. They refused that as well. I think my boys have become boob snobs. They just don't want to mess with a bottle anymore. Of course, they don't want to put in the work required to get a let down from nursing either, so feeding times have become somewhat stressful.

After some serious coaxing, we did manage to get each boy to down an extra ounce and a half of breast milk from a bottle. But they still only went 6 hours between feedings that night, so I guess being full isn't the problem either. Thing 1 especially has a really hard time relaxing and falling asleep on his own.

I just don't know what to do anymore. I am out of ideas. So I gave in an ordered Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins from Walmart.com. Stephanie, one of the NICU nurses and a mother of twins herself, recommended the books. I certainly hope they work, because I am exhausted! I think you are given special adrenaline or hormones or something to help you cope with sleep deprivation in the newborn phase, because even though I get more sleep than I did when they first came home (even with them no longer sleeping through the night), I feel more tired. Add to that the fact that Neil has started school again, and the only time we see each other is when I'm helping him with homework, and I am definitely ready for something to give.

My boys are little angels during the day. They coo and laugh and are so dang much fun. I love it! But at night, I just want them to sleep so that I can sleep.

Is it Tuesday yet? 


I posted this so that any twin moms out there struggling with twins who won't sleep can know they aren't alone, and know that it DOES get better. Reading this post now, I have to laugh a little, remembering that time of life. But let me tell you, I was NOT laughing at the time. I was desperate and nearing hysterical status.

Now the twins are almost 20 months old, and are sleep champions--most of the time. We still go through rough patches, but using the Sleep Habits books, we were able to finally sleep train the twins. Now they go to bed between 7 pm and 8 pm, and wake up 12 to 13 hours later. They typically take 1 1/2-2 1/2 hours of naps a day. They are much happier. I am much happier. Daddy is much happier. It's amazing what good sleep can do for a family.

So to any moms out there, with singletons, twins, triplets, or more, who are struggling with getting their babies to sleep--I'm sorry. I've been there, and it isn't fun. 

But sleep training DOES work. It's a lot of sadness upfront. We eventually had to just let the twins cry until they fell asleep (and that method works amazingly well). A little bit of grief and pain upfront is totally worth it for all the nights of restful sleep you'll get later.

TWIN MOM TIP: Get thee hence and sleep train thy children! Seriously, go buy a book, read it, and get to work. I totally recommend the two books listed above. Try and pick a week to start sleep training when your husband or someone else can be around to help. The first few days are the hardest. It gets better!  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Book Review of The Secret by Taryn Taylor

One of my friends, Taryn, asked me a few weeks ago if I'd do a book review of  her new book THE SECRET. Of course I said yes! Taryn and I go way back and used to be in a critique group together. I've always been a big fan of her writing. I was eager to read the book anyway, and the review gave me an excuse to push it to the top of the pile. 

Well it turns out I'm super busy and reading time is practically nonexistent these days, so I actually ended up listening to the book instead of reading it. Have I mentioned I adore audio books? It's how I do about 70% of all my reading. So when I found out I could buy the audio of THE SECRET from the publisher for only $2.99, I was like, "add to cart." Yeah, pretty cool. Anyway, I listened to the book and really enjoyed it! Taryn did a fantastic job, and the reader was fantastic.  

Back Cover Blurb

A Young Adult, Modern Fantasy/Paranormal tale, with a touch of Romance!

Seventeen-year-old Delanie Hart has a past she wants to keep hidden.  Moving to a new state and attending a new high school seems to be just the thing - until she accidentally sees a mark exactly like her own.  When the people she is running from come after her, Lanie is left with a choice - give up what she wants or save her friends. 

My Take
THE SECRET is an episodic novel, and it took me awhile to get used to that format. However, once I did, I really enjoyed how the episodic form lent to a really snappy pacing throughout the book. I don't have a lot of patience for lag-time in a plot, and THE SECRET had none of that! 

I also liked that THE SECRET constantly kept me on my toes. I felt like nearly every chapter had some unexpected plot twist that kept me wondering what would happen next. 

Anyone who knows me well knows I love me a love triangle, and this book even has that! I enjoyed the tension between Sam, Lanie, and Jake and I liked watching the drama between the three of them unfold. 

Without spoiling anything, let me just say there were a lot of "I can't believe that just happened!" moments for me. I found myself making up reasons to keep listening so I could find out what happened next. 

This is a quick read, great for an evening at home. The kindle version is only $1.99 right now, which is a steal! THE SECRET is Taryn's debut novel, and I can't wait to read more from here. I love Taryn's writing and can't wait to see what she comes out with next!
Author Bio
Taryn A. Taylor grew up moving from small town to small town every few years.  This helped her gain an appreciation for good books, loyal friends, and the fact that a home is a lot more than a house - it's the people that love you.  After receiving a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Communications, she finally began putting all of her stories down on paper, finding it most helpful to eat chocolate during this process. In between raising four amazing boys she loves to go on dates with her husband and watch movies late into the night.

Social Media Links
Twitter: @tarynataylor
Facebook: Taryn A. Taylor  

Buy Links
Big World Network * amazon