Birthdays Parties, Splitting, and Message Boards (what I really think)

Yes, I’m going to split this post into three sections b/c it’s my last post on this wonderful website and I have to get it all in before it’s gone forever!!

Dramatic, huh?

Let’s start with birthday parties.  I’ve found several questions on random message boards lately that relate to birthdays and multiples.  Here’s what I’ve seen and what I really think:

  • If one twin is invited to a birthday party, there are people out there that think it is acceptable to call the host and request that their other kid is invited too.
  • Some people even question why you wouldn’t do this.  It makes it so much easier for you and no one gets his/her feelings hurt.
  • Some people think that it’s a great time to take the “uninvited” child and do something fun.
  • What I really think:  I think it’s terribly rude to call up a parent and ask if another child can be invited to her child’s party.  Their child invited who they wanted and that’s that.  Plus, let’s not even get into the issue of what an awkward position this puts the parent in…who would say no when put in that awkward position?  Take your kid and have some one-on-one time.  It’s not about you or how easy this would make your life…it’s about the birthday kid.

It’s really easy to segue into birthday gifts.  Here’s what I’ve seen and what I really think:

  • It seems acceptable by most to purchase two small gifts…one from each of your children…rather than one large gift.
  • However, some feel that one large gift would suffice as long as the money adds up.
  • What I really think:  Do whatever you want.  If the kid is into arts and crafts, two small gifts would be easy.  If the kid is into those ridiculously expensive Legos, one large gift would be appreciated.  There is no right or wrong (even if some people on FB try to make you think there is)!!!

Several parents are posting about splitting their kids now that school registration has begun here in the US.  Should I split them up?  Should I keep them together?  Here’s what I’ve seen and what I really think:

  • Many parents think it’s widely acceptable to go against what the school says.  Most school systems have policies on multiples and try their damndest to make sure they’re followed.  Many parents just think they’re wrong…or stupid.  Schools rarely do research when forming their policies, don’t you know?
  • Many parents think it depends on the kids.  If they’re very reliant on each other, it may be a good idea to keep them together.
  • More parents than I realized thought that it was a good idea to keep them together because it makes it easier for themthe parent…without giving a whole lot of though to what might be best for their children.
  • Then you have parents whose twins were very reliant on each other who think it helped them tremendously to split up.
  • What I really think:  No one really knows what is best for you.  It’s good to get other opinions on the matter, but too many opinions can also muddy the waters.  I split mine up in preschool.  It’s been the best thing we’ve done.  They’ve both come out of their shells and now they’re not competing in the classroom.  Sometimes they actually have normal conversations at school without trying to tell me what the other one did wrong during class.  It’s up to you, but give it a lot of thought before you make any final decisions.  I think that it’s important to treat twins as individuals as well as a unit…just gotta figure out when the “unit thinking” is appropriate.

This brings us all to message boards.  Here’s what I’ve seen and what I really think:

  • These message boards can be a really good place to ask questions or request feedback.
  • They can offer lots of ideas and experiences.
  • They can also get nasty really quick.
  • Online “talking” was really important to me when the Crazies were very young and now it’s gone by the wayside a little bit as I’ve seen people really come out over the internet.  It’s scary what people will say over a computer instead of what they might say to your face.
  • What I really think:  Message boards and FB can be valuable tools.  They can be a “lifeline” to those of us cooped up in a house in the dead of winter with two (or three or four) sick kids.  However, make sure to read everything with a grain of salt and watch for those trolls.  You know the ones…the ones who will say things just to get everyone all fired up.  They’re lovely little people in real life, I’m sure, but stay away from them on the internet.  Don’t engage.  It’s what they want.  Find your community…wherever it may be…and treat it with tenderness.

Lots of luck to our lovely hostess with her future endeavors!  This website, in particular, was a huge source of information for me and Husband on our path to having the Crazies and getting them through the first few years.  Thank you so much for having this community for us, Amanda!

If anyone wants to come over and visit us at Casa de Crazies, feel free!  We love to have company (but leave your trolls at home)!

Spender? Or Saver?

Do you ever get sick of hearing your children repeat the words “I gotta have that” or “I wanna get that” over and over and over?

Yeah…thought so.  We all do.

I think we all tire of having to fight the “I want that” battle every time we enter a store, watch television with commercials, or browse on Tarjay’s website.  It’s a fight that really isn’t worth having, but happens all the time anyway.

I get why they want everything.  Things are cool.  Things are new.  Things represent happiness to them.  Things are the equivalent of love to some of them.

It’s developmental.  The more things they have, the better life is.  Why do you think the Crazies collect the pellets from neighborhood kids’ pellet guns and hoard them calling them magic beans?  It’s because these useless pellets are things and the more they have, the closer they are to being the winner.

Winner of what?  I have no idea.

There is no logic.  We were all like this once upon a time.  It’s just how they are.

So, we decided to start giving them allowance.  I saw this thing on Pin.terest where there were three jars (save, spend, give away).  I thought that was a great idea…we’d start with $3 and they could put a dollar into each jar.

Unfortunately, Husband pointed out that we have pretty savvy kids and if they followed that logic (at this point), chores would go right out the window.  They wouldn’t buy into it because there would never be a way for them to purchase anything that they really wanted.

He had a point.  I’m not saying the Crazies are completely spoiled or anything, but they have expensive taste.  They’re way into Legos (Ninjago) and those things aren’t cheap!

So, I rethought this.  His idea was $5 per week for making beds, getting dressed independently (i.e. without me having to hawk over them and scream like a crazy person), cleaning up their rooms, cleaning up the playrooms (when asked), and anything else I could think of.  For instance, they cleaned up the bottom of my closet the other day as a chore.  My shoes have never been more organized.

Yes, I’m brilliant (sometimes)!

Okay, so we agreed on $5 per week to be given on Fridays.  We decided that we’d wait a little longer to get to the “save” part of this allowance thing.  We were also going to wait a bit to get into the “give away” part of it as they are only four and we really need to focus on the basics at first.  Doing chores, receiving allowance, and spending it wisely.

They were way into it.  They needed a little help with their beds at first (they’re only 4 after all).  They got dressed without being asked.  Things went very smoothly for the first week.  They got their allowance on Friday, put it into their envelopes, and felt very accomplished.  Their envelopes already had some cash in them from Valentine’s Day.  I’ll admit it…I exchanged candy with Red #40 dye for money.  Boy Crazy is a nut job with too much Red #40.

So, they each had $9 in their envelopes.

Since Monday was President’s Day, we decided to head off to Tarjay.  I can only go there once a month because I’d spend copious amounts of money on “nothing.”  So, now we’re all limited…and for good reason…it’s exhausting!!

We headed straight to the toy department…the Lego aisle to be specific.  Girl Crazy decided she didn’t want to spend her hard earned money on boy Legos, so she waited patiently while I told Boy Crazy what he could and could not afford.  They both listened with disbelief as I explained the number of weeks they’d have to save in order to receive certain items.  Dumbfounded.

Boy Crazy found what he wanted and we went off to Bar.bie and My Litt.le Pony.  Girl Crazy decided on a “Friends” Lego set after all was said and done.  It was $5, so she’d still have some money left over.  She was satisfied.

We went to look for my things and Boy Crazy had changed his mind.  He didn’t want to spend his money after all…he was going to save it.  So, back to the toy department we went.

When we got there, you could see the pain on his face as he put back the thing he didn’t really want in the first place.  I could feel the agony when I told him that he couldn’t afford what he really wanted.  The tension was palpable when I explained that if he just waited until Friday for his next allowance, he could afford it then…all he had to do was wait and save his money.

I explained that walking out of a store empty-handed is not a bad thing.

I explained that Daddy would be so proud of him for waiting for what he really wanted.

I urged him to consider just saving his money.

He had a serious internal struggle going on.  I could tell he really wanted this other thing, but he couldn’t afford it.  I could tell he wanted to wait, but he also wanted something new.  He wanted a new thing.  It didn’t matter what it was…he wanted it.

Then his bottom lip started quivering when I told him we’d have to leave soon.  I saw the tears welling up as he looked from affordable toy to unaffordable toy.  He kept saying, “I just don’t know what to do.“  I fought the urge to make a deal with him.  I knew this was a lesson that had to be learned.

It was a rough lesson to be learned.

In the end, after many tears, he bought what he had chosen online before we even left the house.  He was going to walk out with no money, but he’d have something.  Husband called and mentioned the price matching program Tar.jay had now, so I did skim a bit off the price which was nice.  It would have killed him to walk out with a completely empty envelope.

As he counted out those eight dollar bills, I could see the struggle continuing.  I could see that he still wasn’t sure.  Even as we drove home, he said that he didn’t really want that and thought he should return it and keep his money.  It was really hard to just stand by and let him figure this out!

In the end, as he sat at our kitchen table, putting his thing together, he was happy.  He carried it around all day and he was happy.  He calmly accepted his much lighter envelope back at the end of our trip.  He didn’t seem to be struggling any more.

In the end, I think it’s a good thing that I’m doing this at an early age.  First, it shows them how much things really cost and that it’s hard to afford everything they want.  Second, I think that we’re definitely teaching them the value of money and how it can be wisely spent (and unwisely, I’m sure).  Third, I think that by introducing the saving and giving away aspects a little later, we’ll also be instilling in them more fiscal responsibility, but when they’re ready.  They’re just not quite there yet.

It was also incredibly interesting (as usual) to see how they reacted with this newfound responsibility.  Girl Crazy knew what she didn’t want and found something that worked for her.  What she bought didn’t use up all of her money, but still gave her that thing.  Boy Crazy tortured himself…which is completely typical for him.  Poor kid…I think he’ll always be like this!

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So, what are your thoughts on allowance?  Do you do it?  How did you introduce it?  Is it tied to chores?  Do you oversee how it’s spent, saved, or given away?

Want to see how it goes?  Check us out over here!

One and Not the Other?

I have to admit it…I hate to admit it.  I learned something from Husband this month.

The age requirements for Spring sports around here are weird.  Even though the cut-off for schools is September 1, the cut-off for baseball and t-ball is you have to be five by July 31.  This is significant for us as the Crazies were born in August.  It’s significant because Husband wants to coach the kids he coached in Soccer this Fall, but the Crazies aren’t allowed to play.

I told him to coach anyway.  He loves it.  The kids would benefit.  He’d be happy.  The Crazies need to learn that even though they aren’t able to participate in everything, we support our family members no matter what.  We’d show up every week and cheer on Dad’s team because that’s what a family does.  We had a breakfast conversation about it and everything.  They were fine with it.

Then I got an email.  There is a local softball league for little girls and their cut-off is July 31.  Hmmm…technically Girl-Crazy could play.  I immediately dismissed the notion citing “if one can’t play, then neither can play” in my twin-Mom-everything-has-to-be-fair logical brain.  I think we all do this, right?  We try to make everything even so that no one can come back and say we favored one or the other at any time in their lives ever!

Twin-Mom brains work like that (maybe all Mom brains work like that, but I’m only the mother of twins…it’s all I know…cut me a break)!

I offhandedly mentioned something to Husband about how dumb I thought it was that the age requirements were different.  I lightly lamented the fact that she could technically play, but how I’d never do that.  Then he said two words that changed the whole thing.

He said, “Why not?”

He then went on to explain that he didn’t think it was fair to hold Girl-Crazy back from something just because Boy-Crazy couldn’t do it.  He continued to tell me that one of our jobs as parents was to make sure that our kids have every opportunity that is available and not to withhold anyone from anything that they were actually ready for.  Therefore, just because some dumb rules would keep Boy-Crazy from playing t-ball didn’t mean we’d have to hold Girl-Crazy back and we’d actually be making a mistake if we held her back.

I was stunned.  He was 100% RIGHT.  After all, if Boy-Crazy could have played, we would have let him.  We would have encouraged him to do his best even if he was the youngest on the team.  There would be no holds barred.

(Then I got into this whole internal dialogue about whether or not I was sexist because I would let him play, but I didn’t even think that she should play and does that make me a bad mother because I was going to completely eliminate this opportunity for her…blah, blah, blah…internal dialogues suck sometimes)!

So, we signed Girl-Crazy up.  The situation was explained to Boy-Crazy and Husband told him that he’d be the manager of the t-ball team.  Boy-Crazy seemed happy with that because, if nothing else, he enjoys bossing people around.

Now, I want to be clear…this isn’t always the right approach.  For instance, I am considering holding the Crazies back another year before they start kindergarten.  This is primarily for Boy-Crazy’s maturity and just to give them another year to prepare before entering elementary school.  Emotionally, Girl-Crazy could handle it which leads me down the path of the great girl-boy debate.

I can’t tell you the number of people who have asked me if I’m sending her this year and holding him back.

Those questions have caught me completely off guard.  If we were holding for academic reasons or if one of them had a delay, I could see it, but emotional and maturity issues?  Nah…they’re both being held for a year.  Who could it hurt?

So, it’s not always cut and dry.

Have you guys run into any situations where you would have one child do something and not another?  I’m just wondering the mind-set of other multiple parents when situations like this arise.

Come follow along on our journey of Craziness at Unexplained X2!

The Chrazies at Christmas…ding dong, the bells are ringing (and they’re making me NUTS)!

The bells…the dinging…the singing…the chimes…the merriment…make it stop!!!

Christmas came early for the Chrazies and they are really making me work for this holiday cheer and marshmallow world nonsense!  Their attitudes and behavior are out of control.  I’m SURE it’s just because of the copious holiday merriment they’re provided every day thanks to yours truly, but here are a few things that I’m definitely instilling as of today (never too late to start, right?):

  1. Quiet voices only at the table.
  2. There will be no standing on chairs at the table.  Sounds easy, but the Chrazies are Italian…not only do they speak loudly to make their points, they they also stand up on their chairs.  It’s madness.
  3. No getting down from a meal unless they’re excused.  I have no idea how this even started, but it’s becoming a big problem and I’m done with it!
  4. No name calling.  This has gotten HUGE!!!  The Boy Chrazy especially.  He’s a nightmare (crap!  No name calling…this is going to be harder than I thought)!  I’m working on a zero tolerance program in Casa de Chrazies.
  5. If you hit, you’re automatically in time-out.  We’ve had this rule in existence for a while, but it’s recently become a problem today.  Let’s take today as an example.  Boy hits Girl.  Boy goes into time-out.  Girl comes over and hits ME!!!  Girl goes up to her room.  WHATISHAPPENINGHERE????
  6. No arguing…PERIOD.

Maybe it’s the joy of being four.  Maybe it’s knowing that you’re getting a multitude of presents from visiting grandparents, friends, aunts and uncles, and the blessed Santa is also coming your way (because instead of scaring my Chrazies into thinking they’re not getting gifts, that blasted mall Santa was nice to them and actually told them he heard they’d been nice all year too…WHATWASHETHINKING????  Doesn’t he know he’s a scare tactic at this point???).  Maybe it’s because you’re eating differently (ugh…the Red #40 is EVERYWHERE).  Maybe it’s the fact that they’re going to bed later for various reasons (Christmas specials on television, Advent gifts, phone calls and Skyping with relatives, general nuttiness).  Either way, things are way off in Casa de Chrazies and I’m putting my foot down!!

Do your disciplinary actions change around the holidays?  Are you also losing your  mind?  Do you ever wonder if it’s them and not you?  Gah…I sound like a support group leader!  Maybe that’s actually a good idea!

Come visit us if you’re game at Unexplained X2 (and good luck making it through the next two weeks…just think, after this, we have the joys of being housebound in the Winter to look forward to)!!!

And Then They Turned Against Me

I was lucky enough to get pregnant.

Even luckier to have twins.

Even more lucky to have boy/girl twins.

“The best of both worlds,” people would say.

“The perfect family,” they would gush.

“You’re all done!” they would exclaim.

As the mother, I never believed these happy little comments.  I would have been happy to give birth to a pair of monkeys after all was said and done, but I was lucky.

After a while, I realized that if one Crazy was giving me the business, the other would be calm.  If the other started picking up the slack, the first would calm down.  It was the weirdest thing.  It was like they knew that if they both freaked out at the same time, I’d lose my mind and be sent to an asylum.

Smart little buggers…they were 100% right.

As time went on and developmental (or genetic…take your pick) normalcy took its course, Boy Crazy really started to rear his ugly head with a nasty temper.  He’d throw a tantrum and Girl Crazy would simply sit back, observe, and turn away with slight amusement.  She wasn’t one to join in.  She rarely got upset and when she did, it was usually justified.  Oh, and when she did get upset, he would sit back and do his thing until I was able to bring her back under control.

One of them was always on my side…

However, now that they’re four, the seasons are changing again.  Boy Crazy still has an ugly temper (one that can often be reduced to pointed grunting during particularly bad breakdowns), but Girl Crazy is starting to pick up the slack in a big way.  She has taken to screaming in my face, pounding doors with her fists, and even went to far as to call me “Stupid Mommy” during one of her tantrums.

She only did that once…trust me.

Again, they’re still not acting out simultaneously…until yesterday.

We had a ton to do yesterday morning.  We had to drop Dog at the vet, return cable boxes from when we moved (over a month ago), go to Tarjay, and get the Crazies to their 11 AM dentist appointments.  The Crazies had been up super early for some reason and were irritable.  It was pouring down rain (which eventually turned to ice…thanks Mother Nature…love ya too) and no one wanted to leave the house, but we had to.  I am not one to miss appointments due to bad weather…that’s just lame.

I finally get the Crazies and Dog into the car.  I remind the Crazies that they really need to be careful of the car today as we only purchased it two days ago and footprints on my upholstery would not be tolerated.  They complied, nodding their heads, and smiling.  I thought this day might turn out better than expected.

The vet drop-off went without incident.  I did have to remind them about the seats, but nothing big.

Then we drive out to the cable place and they’re both getting irritable.  They don’t like the snacks I brought with me.  Their water doesn’t taste right.  They’re bored.  They want to see planes (wha???).

We get to the cable place, tumble out of the car, narrowly miss getting ran over by an armored truck, and finally get inside the cable place.  Mercifully, there is no line.  I ask them to sit down and watch basketball…they ask me to change the channel.

I finish my business and direct them out to the parking lot.

They both proceed to jump in every single puddle in the parking lot.  I am annoyed because I know they have to get into my nice new car with their stupid wet feet, so I give each hand a little jerk as I remind them to stay away from the puddles.  I help each Crazy into the car and shut the door because it is God-awful cold and raw outside (and smart Mommy only wore a light raincoat because, as a mother of twins, I just end up a sweaty mess anyway, right?  Who’d expect to be in the cold for more than a few minutes?).  I get into my seat only to realize that neither of them are in their seats.  They’re sitting on the hump (a novelty for them) playing and tickling each other.

Normally this would be cute, but at this point, with all we had to do, it was not.

So, I get my nasty teacher voice ready and say, “I asked you to buckle in, please buckle in.”

Only to hear, “I CAN’T!!!  I NEED HELP!!!  MY COAT IS TOO BIG!!!”

So, I have to get out of the car, run to the other side, buckle Girl Crazy (after getting her to bend her legs which “wouldn’t bend cuz they were freezin”) and run around to the other to buckle Boy Crazy.  I get back in the car and turn it on and blast the heat.  I was freezing.

Then I hear Boy Crazy say, “Look!  Look at my feet on the seat…isn’t that funny?”

I lost it.

“Funny?  That is not FUNNY!!!  We’ve had this car for 2 days and you KNOW the rules about your FEET!!!  Please get you feet OFF THE SEAT!!!”

Girl Crazy is laughing HYSTERICALLY.  Then Boy Crazy jumps in with his evil little giggle.

There is nothing worse when you’re really upset than your child laughing at you.  Two children laughing at you should be illegal.

Like most good mothers would, I give the old swat to the legs at this point to make sure that there weren’t any more feet on the seats and hit FOUR feet.  They thought this was even funnier.

“You can’t get my feet!!!  They’re still on the seat!!!  Bahahahahaaa!!!”

My head nearly blasted off my body.

It was at this point that a stupid (and what I say “stupid,” I guess I mean “rational”) voice from way back in my brain said, “You should be happy…they’re working together.  They’re acting as a team rather than against each other.  You should be happy.”

And that was it…it happened…they had turned against me and I should be happy because they’re working together.  The irony is painful to a point where all I could do was stop talking.  I couldn’t say another word.  I was silent for 10 whole minutes on the way to Target only to hear upon our arrival, “can I get something?”

Then my head actually did blast off my body.

Have your multiples turned against you yet?  Wanna share your story?

Come visit the Crazies!

Twins First?

Ever feel like you have no idea what you’re doing?

Yup…me too.  All the time.  It was worse when they were babies, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

A little while after having the Crazies…when I finally felt like I was getting my act together, I realized that I had several other women in my life who were having twins.  It’s all very exciting as they call you to get your advice and to find out what your experiences were.

For the first time, you feel like the expert.

Then they have their babies and it all seems so easy for them!  They’re basically exerting no effort (this is what my mind tells me…I know it’s not true) with these babies and I started feeling like I was crazy.

I KNOW it’s hard.  I KNOW it’s exhausting.  How were they making it look so easy??  Why didn’t they look like they were about to keel over??  I know I looked like that my first year…what was happening?

All of the sudden, it dawned on me.  All of these women had older children before they had their twins.

That’s the ticket!

We all know that having two or more babies at once is beyond difficult, but if you’re already armed with the Basic Baby Knowledge, you’re in a MUCH better position than those of us who don’t have other children.  You know things…things we don’t know…things we find out along the way.

These Moms know that their children will eventually sleep through the night whereas the rest of us are convinced that it will NEVER happen.

These Moms know that head injuries are common and realize that CPS will not come knocking on their door whereas the rest of us spend 2 weeks in the house to avoid the “what happened to his head?” question.

These Moms know what a let-down is and when they’re really feeding their children whereas the rest of us have to guess and mistakenly starve their children for the first month of their lives…what?  No one else had that experience?  Just me?  Oops!

These Moms know that a little TV won’t instantaneously turn their children’s brains to mush whereas the rest of us grab the remote from Husband the minute we walk in the room!

These Moms know that a little “twin skin” is normal and may eventually go away whereas the rest of us stare at this mass of flesh on our tummies and lament not taking more pictures in bikinis pre-pregnancy.

These Moms know that while the marriage may be strained during the first year, it will eventually go back to normal whereas the rest of us cry at night wondering if we’ll ever be “normal” again and contemplate how one could raise twins alone as our husband peacefully snores on the other side of the bed.

These Moms know that milestones are different for every child whereas the rest of us sit around staring at our children for signs of brain activity.  I know I wasn’t the only one gently pushing one other other twin to roll over “on their own.”  Yes, I cheat at board games too.

These Moms know what activities are available whereas the rest of us wander around town hoping that someone will invite us into a group of some sort.  Preferably not a cult.  Let’s face it…a cult would have been welcome a few days during that first year.

These Moms know that babies noses can turn orange when you’re introducing foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash whereas the rest of us scrub and scrub and scrub just knowing that this evil baby food has stained his/her beautiful face!

These Moms know that eventually you just stop picking up the thrown sippy cup.

These Moms know that fighting amongst siblings is totally  normal whereas the rest of us think we’re failing our children and try to keep the peace 24/7.

These Moms know that a child will definitely climb out of the crib whereas the rest of us sit numbly during the blessed nap time wondering what that loud thud was.  Again…just me??

These Moms know that you stop using that impossibly heavy infant carrier thing as soon as possible whereas the rest of us continue to let that thing violently thump against our thighs just because the children are contained!

So, while I would never want any other children other than the Crazies because they’re all I can handle without going completely out of my mind, I just wanted to let you “rookie multiple” parents all know that you’re not crazy.  These women make it seem like it’s easy because they’ve already gone through the “figuring out how not to kill a baby” part of parenting.  They’ve already taken their lumps with one baby while we’re just going through it for the first time with TWO!  You’re not crazy (well, maybe you are, but who am I to judge?)!!!  If that doesn’t make you feel any better, I don’t know what will.

 

PS – Just because they make it look easy, it’s not…it’s really not.  Smoke and mirrors, my friends…smoke and mirrors.

 

Love, Rebecca and the Crazies