GIVE 30 Days of THANKS!

Posted by on Oct 17, 2013 in From My Perspective | 1 comment

Oh my gosh!  I’m so excited!  Like squealing over here!

I’ve got such a great idea and I want to share it with you!  Sharing is so fun!  Because then my great idea becomes your great idea, and you get to be as excited as me!

So here it is:

This November I am going to…

GIVE 30 Days of THANKS!

Every day in November, I am going to surprise one unsuspecting person with a random act of kindness to give them a joyful reason to be thankful!

Here’s how the idea started:

Last week on facebook, my post was:

“Reason 423 why I love fall: The smell of pumpkin spice coffee.”

To which my Furloughed Friend Roxy responded:

“I live right beside a Starbucks….it Is KILLING me to not get a pumpkin spiced latte every morning. My mouth is watering just thinking of one.”

So I sent her a Starbucks giftcard via facebook so she could treat herself to a guilt-free pumpkin spiced latte the next morning.  I was so excited!  I giggled just thinking about her reaction of surprised delight when she opened the notice.

Then, two days later, I read a post from a fellow blogger friend of mine:

“Who will be Twinfamy’s 500th liker? I’m on pins and needles.

OW! That’s a sharp freaking needle.”

It made me laugh!  I can relate to wanting more “likers” on my facebook blog page, but also feel a bit silly when I campaign.  The next morning I checked out of curiosity to see if he had reached 500.  When I discovered he hadn’t, I decided to help.

I grinned with eager anticipation as I typed the following post:

“So my friend JP over at has 499 likes. How about some of my peeps go over there and like his page to give him reason to celebrate today? He’s a stay at home twin Dad, a self-proclaimed Super Hero, a husband, a doctoral student, and a musician. Ya…he’s got lots of funny stories.”

Then I inboxed a few of my online friends to help ensure the delivery of my unexpected surprise.  Not only did he reach 500 Likes, but he shot up to 512!  I couldn’t wait for him to find out!  Again, it made me giggle just thinking about his reaction because I knew how happy that unsolicited little favor would make me!

It wasn’t attention or praise I was after.  It was knowing that my random act of kindness – that was so easy to do – was going to make someone else’s ordinary day shine a little brighter!

That knowledge felt GOOD!  I wanted more of that good feeling!  And I wanted other people to experience it with me!  So I started to brainstorm.  That’s when it hit me:

For years I’ve read November facebook posts that celebrate 30 Days of Gratitude – A month long intention to recognize, appreciate, and focus on your blessings in life.  It’s a very healthy practice to develop and maintain a positive attitude.  So do it.

But don’t stop there!  Spread your inner spirit of gratitude out to those around you!  Bless others with your positivity!  Give someone else a reason to smile.  You’ll be so thankful you did!

So who wants to join me this November and

GIVE 30 Days of THANKS!

photo credit: Jane Dawson Photography

photo credit:
Jane Dawson Photography

If you want to participate:

Click here to go to the GIVE 30 Days of Thanks facebook page.

(Wait ’til you see the awesome graphics my friend Jane at Jane Dawson Photography whipped up for the occasion!  It’s worth a look, trust me!)

Once you’re there, “Like” it to make it part of your newsfeed.

Then share your random giving experiences with the rest of us!  I have a feeling it’s going to be a great place to be!

Note: Squealing is totally allowed.


Please feel free to share with your friends and encourage your kids to participate as well!  Let’s get this party started!

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The Evolution of the Great Twin Split: Part III

Posted by on Oct 15, 2013 in From My Perspective, Twin Turbulence, Twins | 2 comments


The first marking period is over.  Parent-teacher conferences were Friday.  I feel it is a fair time to report on the progress of the recent classroom split of our 9 year-old identical twin daughters.  For the whole story, click on the following links in consecutive order:

The Evolution of the Great Twin Split: Part I

The Evolution of the Great Twin Split: Part II

At conferences, we learned that even though Sydney is an excellent student, she could benefit from challenging herself more.

This was never the case when she was in the same classroom as her twin.  Their innate sense of sibling rivalry drove Sydney to perform her very best.

We were shocked to hear Taylor was very quiet – “almost shy” – in the classroom.  Her teacher urged us to encourage her to exhibit more social confidence.

This was never the case when she was in the same classroom as her twin.  Taylor’s previous teachers described her as chatty and eager to be part of classroom conversation.

After listening to both 3rd grade teachers tell me about their students, I posed the same question about each of my daughters:

“Do you see any evidence that being split from her twin is affecting her in a negative way?”

Both of their answers were the same:

“You would never know the split was an issue in the first place.”

Both times I received this answer I closed my eyes, pursed my lips (just in case biting my tounge wasn’t a fool-proof method for keeping my mouth shut) and exhaled deeply.  As I did this, I nodded my head slowly in agreement – willing myself to believe that I would continue to get my girls where they needed to be.  Because it was obvious that I was the only person that was still concerned for them.

I’ve already accepted the split – that was not the source of my frustration.  I was even happy to hear that the girls appear to be doing well at school.

But here’s the whole truth.  The real truth.


The split was hard for them.  The split continues to be hard for them.  Even though it’s not obvious to people that don’t know them before the split, it is very obvious to those of us that do.  This is what I’ve seen at home:

  • Taylor’s work is perfect.  Like scary perfect.  She spends so much time on her homework now that we fight because I tell her enough is enough.
  • Sydney’s work is lazy and sloppy.  We fight because I tell her she is capable of doing more.
  • Since the split, they want to look the same.  Same hair.  Same glasses.  Yesterday they wore the same uniform.  Over the weekend they chose to buy the same Spartan shirt for the MSU tailgate.  The other day Sydney was thrilled when Craig mistook her for Taylor.  They used to revel in their individuality – now they take great joy in being identical.
  • Taylor has suffered from nightmares.  She dreams about something horrible happening at the school (a tornado, a hurricane, etc.) and she can’t get to Sydney.  Finally they are back home together where they “are safe.”
  • Last night the girls cleaned their entire shared bathroom – drawers, cabinets, everything.  They told me it was because they’re getting ready to move back in together the next time their Grandpa comes to help them.  Taylor has wanted this to happen since the moment she found out about the split.  Sydney had resisted – until now.

The point of this blog is not to complain.

I am not trying to bash the school or their teachers.  It is not my hope that they will again be put in the same classroom.

The point of this blog is to make people aware.

Especially other parents of twins and their educators.  Twins being forced to split classrooms feels like a big deal.

The reason it feels like a big deal is because it is a big deal.

Facing the world alone for the first time separate from the person you’ve been with since conception is a very serious emotional and psychological struggle for twins.  Behind their sweet little smiles.  While they enjoy their fruitsnacks.  As they paint their pictures.  When they write their make-believe stories.

So please don’t make the mistake of assuming all is well.  Even though you can’t see it, they are fighting a battle inside their confused little minds.  Conflict remains.  Fear looms.  Anxiety haunts.

Educators – Even if you aren’t convinced that splitting twins is a big deal, please be careful with your words.  Don’t tell the parents they wouldn’t recognize it was an issue in the first place based on current classroom behavior.  Just because the warning signs aren’t neon and blinking, it doesn’t mean they’re not there.

Instead, ask questions.  How are things going at home?  Do you see any evidence that being split from her twin is affecting her in a negative way?  Is there anything I can do to help?

Parents and Educators – It should not be a competition to discover who was right or wrong, but a willing collaboration to ensure that the twins adjust positively to their new school environment without any lingering side-effects at home.  Keep in mind the only thing that matters is the current emotional well-being of both twins.

And unless you take the time to discover the whole truth – the real truth?

You are simply not qualified to judge.


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Picture Perfect Retakes

Posted by on Oct 9, 2013 in Family Life, From My Perspective, Raising Great Kids | 3 comments

“Mommy, today is picture retake day!” Sydney reminded me this morning.

“Okay…Do you want to have your pictures retaken?” I asked her.  We had talked about it, but never confirmed.

“Well, don’t you remember my hair in the last one?” she asked me.

Yes.  I remembered her hair.  I also remember how annoyed I was that the photographer didn’t take the time to push her hair away from her face.  Several messy strands were actually hanging over the front of her glasses.  To make matters worse, the lenses of her transition glasses were tinted slightly brown.  It must have been too bright in the room where the pictures were taken.  Sydney is a beautiful girl.  This was a very average picture of her.

Not to mention the fact that her identical twin sister’s picture was pretty perfect.  Even though I know better, I couldn’t help but compare the two.

Sydney and Taylor

Sydney and Taylor

I dried Sydney’s hair and styled it with a round brush, assuming she had opted for retakes since she brought the subject up.  She pulled her bangs off to the side with a bright yellow bow – it’s become her signature look.  This picture would be precious based on her appearance.

“Momma, there’s only one bad thing about today,” she said with concern as we packed to go.

“What, honey?” I asked her.

“I can’t find my glasses anywhere, and I really wanted to have them on like I did in my last pictures,” she confessed.

“Well, I can’t help you there, Syd,” I said.  “Your glasses are a mystery.  I’m afraid we’re gonna have to buy new pair.”

“I know,” she sighed with some shame, but mostly disappointment.

“Honey, you do know that you don’t have to get retakes, right?” I asked her.

“I don’t?” she asked in surprise.

“No,” I assured her.  “These are your pictures.  If you are happy with them just the way they are, then I’m happy with them too.”

“But I thought you didn’t like my hair,” she said.  My heart sank.

“Sydney, you look beautiful in your picture!  Mommy should have never said that about your hair.  I was just being picky.  I’m sorry if I made you feel like I didn’t like it.  What matters the most is that you like it.  If you feel good about yourself when you look at this picture, then put that packet down and forget about retakes!” I instructed her with authority.

“Really?!” she asked with excitement.

“Really,” I promised.

“Thanks, Mommy.  I really like this picture, so I’m gonna stick with it,” she decided with ease.  She threw the packet on the counter and ran to the car.

I looked down at her picture that before had seemed frustrating and average.  Suddenly it was beautiful.  Probably my favorite picture yet.  In a world of digital takes and retakes, my little girl accepted herself just as she was – imperfections and all.  Shame on me for derailing her confidence with negativity.

Lesson learned, SydneyRella.  I promise you, it won’t happen again.


Sydney had her own School Picture photo shoot with her American Girl Doll, Kit.

Sydney had her own School Picture photo shoot with her American Girl Doll, Kit.

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Torment of Taylor and The Toad

Posted by on Oct 2, 2013 in Family Life, From My Perspective, Musings from the Mayhem, Raising Great Kids | 4 comments

Often times, I feel like a drill sergeant when parenting my three children – thus the origin of my blog logo.  This is especially true almost every morning before school.

Getting the kids ready and to school on time requires focus.  We all have jobs to do.  We all know what those jobs are.  Those jobs never change from morning to morning to morning.

However…things pop up that you don’t expect.  A forgotten homework assignment that needs to be completed.  A shoe that’s been hidden by the family dog.  A cereal spill that requires an unexpected change of clothes.  Et cetera.  Et cetera.

In order to keep all three kids on task at the same time, it requires great strength in leadership from me – the drill sergeant.

Today Taylor was off in La La Land.

First, she was distracted by student email on her school issued ipad.

“Taylor, put that ipad away right now or I’m not going to let you take it to school.”

Begrudgingly, she closed the case and walked towards her backpack.  On her way, she was distracted by the lego car sitting on the counter.  She stopped to make some improvements.

“Taylor, if you don’t put that lego thing down, I’m gonna break it into a million little pieces,” I threatened with seriousness.

“Momma!  I worked so hard on this!” she was appalled.

“I’m sure you did.  But now is not the time to mess with it,” I scolded her as I nudged her in the direction of her backpack.

“Momma!” she yelled from the mud room.  “I need help!  The zipper on my backpack is stuck!”

Of course it is, I thought.  I went to fix her backpack.  She stood there and watched me.

“Put your shoes on,” I commanded to keep her moving.

She obeyed with a grunt.  She was as unimpressed with me this morning as I was with her.

Finally I got her out of the house and into the garage.  As I followed behind, I noticed her lunchbox sitting on the counter.  I took a deep breath and grabbed it – thankful that I noticed, and annoyed that she didn’t.

Just then, Gabe came bursting through the door.

“What are you doing?” I seethed.  The only thing more frustrating than getting three kids in the car at the same time is convincing them to stay there.

“There’s a frog in the garage!” he exclaimed with excitement.

“A frog?” I asked.

“I mean a toad,” he corrected himself.  “And it’s big!”

“Well, it’s just gonna have to stay there for the time being because we have to get to school!  Now go get in the car!” I shooed him out as I dreaded the thought of coming home to a toad in my garage.  I hate toads.

I reached for the knob to pull the door shut.  When I turned around I collided with Sydney, who was beaming with excitement.  I didn’t care.

“What are you DOING?” I snarled through clenched teeth.

“Look, Momma!!!” she squealed, ignoring my frustration.  “I found a toad!”

She was holding the toad in an upside down costume fedora.  When I looked to see, the toad hopped in my direction attempting to escape the wall of the hat.  I jumped back three feet.

“Sydney!  Get that OUT OF MY HOUSE!” I shrieked with panic.

She giggled, “Okay, Momma.  But what do I do with it?”

“Take it outside!!!” I hollered.

The kids laughed at me.  By now all three of them were back in the house.  I shook my head in disbelief.  I was failing miserably.

“Sydney, how did you get the toad inside the hat?” I had to know.

“I picked it up, Momma,” she answered.

“With your hands?” I shrilled.

She laughed again.  “Yes, Momma!  You know I’m an animal lover!!” she pointed out the obvious.

“Here Sydney!  Let me hold it!” Taylor begged.  “I love animals too, Mommy!” she tried to convince me, even though she had gone to the trouble of putting on her pink fleece North Face gloves.  She wasn’t touching that warty beast with her bare hands any more than I was.

“Go put it outside, Taylor!” I commanded.

She snatched the toad from her twin sister and ran to the garage – where she began to set it down.

OUTSIDE, TAYLOR!” I yelled at her.

“Oops!” she giggled as she picked it back up and ran to the bushes.  As we sat and waited on her, I was thankful that we were finally going to get to leave.

We were half-way out of our sub when I heard Taylor’s voice from the backseat.  “Mommy!  Wait!  I forgot my notebook!”

I shuddered with fury.  “Do you need it?” I asked with quiet venom in my tone.

“Yes, Mommy!  I do!  It’s really important!” she promised.

I turned the car around, conceding to the fact that we were going to be late.  My patience was fried.  I no longer cared.  I didn’t feel like putting up with the panic attack that would have ensued from Taylor had I said no.  This decision was about preserving my own sanity.

When we finally arrived to school with only two minutes to spare, Taylor was the first to hop out of the van.

“CAR!!!!” I heard Mr. Greg, our school janitor/traffic guard, shout.  Taylor had failed to look before crossing the on-coming line of traffic.  Mr. Chow-wah had to brake suddenly to avoid hitting her.

“Taylor, you have to be careful when crossing!” I heard Mr. Greg reprimand her.  “I don’t want to have to mop your brains off the cement.  That wouldn’t be fun!”

I rolled my eyes with disgust.  “First a brain would have to be present before you could mop one up.  I’m not so sure that’s the case this morning,” I muttered so only he could hear as I passed him.

I followed my bouncy little girl into school.  She didn’t have a care in the world.  I leaned down to kiss her smiley face.  I shook my head and smiled back at her.  I was happy to say goodbye for a little while too.

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