It’s a Sign…with wine.

Posted by on May 29, 2014 in From My Perspective, Musings from the Mayhem, Twin Turbulence, Twins | 0 comments

(Thanks to Nicole Barczak Photography for this family photo.)

Last week Craig and I went on vacation.  We were in need of some deep breaths – the kind that make you feel human as opposed to the ones that keep you from losing your mind.

Upon arrival, I sat on the elegant terrace with a glass of white wine.  I took a sip of liberation.  I laid my head against the quaint rocking chair and closed my eyes.  The moment was orgasmic.  Full of pleasure, excitement, and most of all release.

I opened my eyes feeling lighter.  For four days I would not be bothered with the constant needs of my kids.  For four days I could live according to my own agenda.  For four days I was free.  I really liked that story.

I started to admire the view.  The beautiful green grass.  The flowers in bloom.  The creative design of the landscape.  The warm rays of the sun on my pale Michigan skin.  Then I noticed a sign in front of me:


I began to read the sign and connected immediately.  As a mother of multiples, my natural response to the word MULTIPLY was automatic.

I read the definiton of the verb:

increase or cause to increase greatly in number of quantity

I nodded my head in agreement.  When our identical twin daughters were born, we went from a family of three to a family of five inside of just two short minutes.  That felt like an enormous increase of quantity.  And chaos.  And confusion.  And cluster.  And CRAZY.

I took another sip gulp of my wine.  That memory alone required it.

Then I continued to read the synonyms:

increase, grow, become more numerous, accumulate, proliferate, mount up

At first this list was perfectly suitable.  But then it was confusing.  Then?  Downright hilarious!

Let me attempt to explain.

I was connected to, invested in and intrigued by this sign.  So I analyzed every single word and how it was used.

I was fine all the way through accumulate.  But signals started blaring at proliferate.

I needed to know more about this word.  I’d heard it before, but never used it myself.  What exactly did it mean?

Proliferate.  I repeated it a few times in my head.  Funny, I thought, it kind of reminded me of prophylactic.  Which led me straight to a condom.  You obviously see the natural gutter-mind progression here.

I squinted my eyes and pursed my lips in eager anticipation of the punchline I knew I’d find.

Mount up was all it took.  That phrase had nothing to do with numbers.  Trust me.

And lastly the example.  In red!  As if it’s a warning:

“Let’s multiply.”  

Are you KIDDING me?  What kind of a freak came up with this definition?!  Was Freud related to Webster?!

I laughed.  Out loud.  By myself.  (Craig was getting me another glass of wine.)  It was a deep belly kind of a laugh.  The scene in my head was just too funny.

Funny stuff

“Oh Craig!  Come on!  Forget the prophylactic!  Mount up, baby!  Let’s multiply!!!

Had this been the scenario a decade ago, he would have run.  Very fast and very far.  And a decade ago this sign would have meant nothing to me.

But now?  Now it was pure filthy entertainment!

Just like our twins.

Twin Fun

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Deep Breaths

Posted by on May 6, 2014 in From My Perspective, Raising Great Kids | 0 comments

Parenting is deep breaths.  One right after the other.  From the time they wake up, until the time they go to sleep.  (Actually when they go to sleep it’s more like a sigh of relief, but a deep one nonetheless.)

“Mommy!  I can’t find my school shoes!”  Deep breath.

“But I don’t like eggs anymore!”  Deep breath.

“I didn’t mean to spill my milk!”  Deep breath.

“But I don’t want to sit in the back of the van!”  Deep breath.

“Turn the station please!”  Deep breath.

“Stop touching me!!”  Deep breath.

“I’m hungry.”  Deep breath.

“She hit me!”  Deep breath.

“I don’t know how to do this!”  Deep breath.

“But I have to use glitter for my homework.”  Deep breath.

“Mommy!  I cut the neighbors’ flowers for you!”  Deep breath.

“I didn’t know I had mud on my shoes!!”  Deep breath.

“Mommy, will you practice my hair style for tomorrow?”  Deep breath.

“Mommy, remember when you said I could paint your nails?”  Deep breath.

“Hey!  Let’s play a board game!”  Deep breath.

“Go to bed?  But we haven’t even had a chance to cuddle!”  Deep breath.

“Will you read us a story?”  Deep breath.

“Mommy, will you bring me water?”  Deep breath.

“Mommy!  I can’t remember your tuck-tuck!!  Just one more kiss?”  Deep breath.

“I can’t sleep, Mommy.”  Deep breath.

I could go on and on.  But it’s not necessary.  If you’re a parent, you don’t need to be convinced because you already know.  And if you’re not?  More than likely you’ve left a houseful of kids thinking, “Thank God I don’t have any of those!”

But here’s the thing.  All those deep breaths?  They add up over time.  They get built up in reserve, and that’s a good thing.  Because when you least expect it your child takes her first step, offers you an unsolicited hug, bursts in joyful song, dances as free as a bird, creates with infinite possibility, offers to help clean up the kitchen, hurries to the car ahead of you so he can get your door, opts to carry her big brother’s monogrammed backpack with pride even though the other kids think it’s weird, makes it a point to kiss you in front of his friends, etc.

And those moments?  Well…they take your breath away.  Just like that.  BOOM.  It’s gone.  Every last bit of it.  So the only thing you feel in your chest is your heart.  Your great big happy heart which feels as though it may just explode with love.

Then, when your breath returns – thanks to the reserve – you exhale pure gratitude.  Thankful that your children are happy, independent and full of so much loving spirit.  Lucky to have been blessed by the amazing little people they’re turning out to be.  Gracious for every  deep breath of patience you’ve ever taken, because right then you know one thing and one thing only:

They are so worth it.

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Is there an I in TWIN?

Posted by on Apr 30, 2014 in From My Perspective, Twins | 0 comments

I have identical twins.  They are 9 years old.  You would think by now I would be used to having twins.  That I wouldn’t still be amazed every time they answer a question the exact same way in separate conversations.  Or still enamored when their arms and legs are ever tangled, as though they inhabit the same personal space.  Or shocked when they unknowingly mispronounce the same exact words.  Or dumbstruck when I discover they’ve missed the same questions on standardized tests.  Or surprised when they’ve disappeared from the rest of the world in Twin Mode, their own impenetrable bubble of joy.

You would think that eventually I would get used to this phenomenon they share.  But I know I won’t.  Because I’ll never fully understand their identical twinship, even though I’d love it more than anything if I could.

Last week Taylor was coloring a picture beside me while I was folding clothes.  Out of the blue she asked, “Mommy, why did Butter die?”

Butter was a very sweet puppy that belonged to our close family friends.  Butter’s unexpected and premature death has really bothered the twins.

“She was born with bad kidneys, sweetie.  They didn’t work right, so she couldn’t pee out the yucky waste inside her body.  The waste turned into poison, and made her very sick,” I tried to explain in the simplest terms she might understand.

Taylor was very quiet for a minute.  Then she asked with uncertainty in her tone, “Mommy?”

“Yes?” I waited, nervous for the question that was to follow.  I prayed I’d be able to come up with an appropriate and applicable answer.

“Do we have bad kidneys?” She put down her marker and looked straight into my eyes.

“No, sweetie.  You don’t have bad kidneys,” my heart ached for her anxiety as she related Butter’s young age to that of she and her siblings.

“Does Gabe?”  She caught me off guard with this question – I had assumed Gabe was included in her collective usage of we.

“No, Taylor,” I assured her, while my mind spun to process her train of thought.

“Hey, T?  When you are scared for yourself, how often are you scared for Sydney too?” I asked, realizing that she used the pronoun we the same way singletons refer to themselves with I.

“Always,” she said, matter of factly.  “Whenever I dream, Sydney is always in my dream with me.”

“Every single time?” I asked, amazed this was the first thought that popped into her head.

“Yep,” she said.

“You’ve never had a dream about just you?” I had to be sure I was understanding.

“Nope,” she answered.

I couldn’t believe it.

“When you are awake, do you ever think about just you?  Or do you always think about Sydney too?” I probed further.

“When I think about me, I think about Sydney too,” she stated a simple fact.

“Every time?!” I couldn’t hide my surprise.

“Yes, Momma!” she giggled.  “Every time!”

My mind was blown.  Again.

Forever I will be mesmerized by their innate bond.  They exemplify the purest form of love.  A love composed of complete acceptance and total understanding.  I will never fully relate to their twinship.  But I will always be thankful to witness it.


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Changing My Luck

Posted by on Mar 18, 2014 in Family Life, From My Perspective, Musings from the Mayhem, Twins | 1 comment

I should not be writing.  I have way too much to do.  But I NEED to write.  So the rest will just have to wait.

Last night Taylor woke me up at 1:45am.  “Mommy, my belly hurts.”

“Okay,” I said.  “Climb in.”

An hour later, Taylor’s identical twin sister Sydney nudged me awake.  “Mommy, I woke up because I knew Taylor was gone.  Is she okay?”

“Yes, she’s fine.  Go back to bed,” I grumbled.

Sydney didn’t budge.  She was hesitant to speak, but clear that she was going nowhere without her sister.  I sighed with tired defeat.

“Get in,” I succumbed.  There was no use fighting Twin Mode.  It’s a battle that can not be won.  Especially at 3 in the morning.

Another hour later, I left my overcrowded bed and moved to the couch.  There I slept like shit while Craig, Sydney and Taylor slumbered peacefully.

I awoke at 6:15 – to a dog that needed to be rushed to the Emergency Vet because she was choking and having difficulty breathing.  Also, Taylor’s belly still hurt, and she would be staying home from school.  Again.

$350 later, I left the vet with two prescriptions to treat either kennel cough or pneumonia.

I came home and went to the fridge.  I was hungry.  I noticed something wet on the floor.  It was brown.  I opened the fridge to find the bottle of Worcestershire sauce on its side without a lid, and its contents spilled everywhere.  I wanted to cry.  Craig could tell, so he offered to help clean it up.

I sat down at the table where Taylor was eating her breakfast.  Apparently her belly was feeling better.  Which meant a forty minute round trip to and from the school was now in my near future.  I took a deep breath.  Then I heard a thunk.

“What was that?” Craig asked.  “It’s the second time I’ve heard it.”

“I think there’s a bird in the house,” Taylor said with her mouth full.  “I swear I saw one earlier.”

“Are you serious?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said, nonchalantly.  Birds love our house.  Unfortunately, this was not anything out of the ordinary.

Craig walked upstairs to verify the truth Taylor told.  We trapped the bird in Sydney’s room and let it fly out the open window.

Another deep breath.

“Okay, T.  Let’s go to school,” I told her.

Halfway there, I glanced at my gas tank.  My eyes grew wide with surprise when I noticed the needle was not only on E, but almost on the wrong side of E.  I looked at the passenger seat to find my purse.  It was not there.  I had taken it in the house with Bella’s medication.

“Great,” I muttered.

“What’s wrong, Mommy?” Taylor asked.

“I have no gas and no money,” I told her.

“Uh-oh,” she said.

“Yeah.  Uh-oh,” I agreed.

I dropped her off at school and then scoured my van.  I found one single dollar bill.  That’s it.  The kids had wiped my change compartment clean for the last “donate” day at school.

So I went to the gas station and handed the clerk my one single dollar bill, gassed up all 8 seconds worth, and then prayed to make it home.

Thankfully, I did.  Now I pray I make it back to the gas station.  Even as I say it, I feel like it’s asking a lot.

So, I’m writing.  Writing with the hope that if I get it out, my luck will turn around.  And if it doesn’t?  Well, then I guess I’ll have more to write about later.

So at least there’s that.

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Christy Ann Linder and her Artistic Journey to The American Cup

Posted by on Mar 10, 2014 in From My Perspective | 1 comment

Not too long ago, I received a text from my friend Christy Linder:

Media request granted!!

To which I responded:

I'm all in.

Here’s the rest of the story:

Christy and I grew up in the same gym.  Together we survived competitive gymnastics.  We leaned on each other when the grueling sport threatened to break us.  We are teammates.  Our bond is for life.

Rarely do we talk.  Texting works best for us.  It most closely replicates the millions of conversations we shared in the gym.   Time is of the essence when you’re almost next in line.  We knew to be discreet and keep it to a minimum so coach wouldn’t assume we were messing around instead of concentrating.  Punishment was not a risk worth taking.

Gymnastics is a sport of discipline.  Obedience.  Focus.  A constant test of emotions.  Mental toughness.  Self-control.  Darwin was right: only the strongest survive.

Canadian Victoria Moors

Canadian Victoria Moors

Christy and I were Level 10’s – the level required to have any hope of receiving a full collegiate scholarship, which we both did to Michigan State University.  While we were not elites – the level at which Olympic gymnasts compete – we both understand the commitment, sacrifices and  mindset required to continue to return to practice hour after hour, day after day, year after year.

Gymnasts are determined forces of nature.  They do not give up.  Not when they fall.  Not when coach says she’s not good enough.  Not when she’s dying to quit so she can just be normal.

German Sophie Scheder

German Sophie Scheder

Gymnasts are far from delicate, even though their televised appearance may tempt you to believe otherwise.  Gymnasts are warriors.  Machines.  Athletes.

Linder gets this.  She was a great gymnast.  Like all great gymnasts, she understands that no skill worth having comes easily.  Now her skill is gymnastics photography – recognizing and capturing the  true essence of what it means to be a gymnast.

A year and a half ago she picked up her first camera and started with the basics.  Since then she’s practiced a countless amount of hours, done thousands and thousands of repetitions, and made the necessary corrections to master her skill.  She has sacrificed time with her family and put her finances on the line to invest in her dream.  Along the way she’s proven herself by becoming the most popular photographer for UCLA Gymnastics.

Her candid results  have been breathtaking.  Electrifying.  Mesmerizing.

Christy Linder’s images are real.  She does not cover little girls in pretty boxes.  She  captures women.  Women who can bust through brick walls with fierce determination and  strength.  Superheroes who are not afraid to bleed in the name of victory.

Italian Vanessa Ferrari

Italian Vanessa Ferrari

Two weeks ago, I sat in the stands as Christy photographed The Nastia Liukin Cup – the pinnacle meet of any Level 10’s career – and The AT&T American Cup – the most prestigious elite international competition the United States has to offer.  When I learned she’d earned her media credentials to photograph from the floor, I knew it was a really big deal.  I was all in.  I booked a flight and watched with pride as my teammate continued to make her gymnastics dreams come true.

Christy Linder’s photos are the best gymnastics pictures I’ve ever seen.  She uses her lens to portray the complex sport of gymnastics with beautiful artistry, honesty and great detail.  The whole world is noticing.  The gymternet is begging for more.  The name Christy Ann Linder is becoming recognizable.  Elizabeth Price, Brenna Dowell, Victoria Moors, Nastia Liukin, and Jordyn Wieber are all fans, just to name a few.  Mary Lou Retton even personally thanked Christy for “capturing priceless moments” as she and her daughter, Level 10 gymnast McKenna Kelley, celebrated her Nastia Liukin Cup victory.

Mary Lou Retton and daughter McKenna Kelley, Nastia Cup Co-Champ

Mary Lou Retton and daughter McKenna Kelley, Nastia Cup Co-Champ

Christy Linder brings to the world of gymnastics photography her athletic experience, her artistry and her game face.  She nailed her international debut.  I’m so glad I was there to watch her shine.

American Cup Champs Sam Mikulak and Elizabeth Price

American Cup Champs Sam Mikulak and Elizabeth Price

Check out her stunning photo blogInstagram and Twitter.  When you like what you see – because you will – give her a follow.  You’ll be glad you did.

Brenna Dowell and Coach Al Fong

Brenna Dowell and Coach Al Fong







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