The featured blogger this week is Juli of Wake Up Laughing! Juli is the proud MoM of 11 year old H, 3 year old C and 13 month old twins L and O.   Juli’s blog is fresh and offers a great perspective on being a twin mommy. I hope you love this blog as much as I do!

What made you decide to start a blog?

For me, blogging started with a rekindled interest in photography. I had been into photography in high school and college but through the years of working and getting married and starting a family I hadn’t really stuck with it. In 2005 a creative friend and I took some digital photography and lighting classes together and I started a blog to show off my pictures. That blog is long gone, but since then I’ve still used blogging as a way to explore things that are of interest to me. And, of course, in the past few years it’s been a way to stay in touch with family and friends and connect moms of multiples.

Were you surprised by the news of twins?

Surprised is putting it mildly! I was SHOCKED. We are the “let’s-have-one-more-ohmygawd-it’s-twins” joke realized. My husband took the news better than I did initially but I’ll blame the wretched morning sickness for my lack of perspective. That said, neither of us thought twins were a possibility. It just didn’t even occur to us, and I was never of the “I always wanted twins” camp. I love my all my girls, but after having one baby I had an idea that multiples would be… hard. Turns out, it is hard. And, all those other words associated with parenting: Rewarding, tiring, surprising, fun, tiring, joyous, tiring… 🙂

How did your other two daughters take to the news of twins?

Our oldest took the news rather well. The funny thing is, two years before she was in love with the notion of a new baby. Especially when she learned she was having a little sister – it was all very novel and exciting to her. By the time we came at her with news of the twins, she had a more realistic idea of what a new baby meant and she was a bit more subdued. Our three-year-old was just under two when we found out about the twins, I think she didn’t really, really understand what she was in for until we brought the babies home. But then, it was quite an adjustment for all of us.

What challenges do you face having a blended family?

On one hand, we’re lucky to have a decent working relationship with my oldest daughter’s father and his family. We have been able to do joint birthday parties, fairly easily split the holidays and discuss what she needs as it comes up (like recently with the new expensive of braces). On the other hand, her father doesn’t live in the same city anymore and so there are a lot of ways that he’s not present in daily child-raising. As she gets, and we’re very busy also meeting the needs of our three young ones, my husband and I are having issues negotiating the discipline boundaries of parent/step-parent. My husband worries about this more than I do, and admittedly, I’m not a step-parent and don’t have the same frame of reference. I also feel like we’ve approached raising our younger kids with a parenting philosophy that’s perhaps different than the way I went about things as a single parent. That’s ok, but it is also hard on our oldest as she adjusts to the ‘way things are’ versus the ‘way things were’. Our family changed a lot in a short amount of time, especially with the addition of the twins…. I could go on for days about this, it’s complicated. It’s complex. It’s challenging. I wonder, is there anything about parenting that isn’t?

Having four daughters is challenge enough, but add in the media’s definition of perfection it’s a lot to take in. How are you going about raising your daughters to be healthy, kind, loving & well-adjusted?

Speaking of complicated, complex, and challenging… Raising our daughters while negotiating media influence is hard. With our younger children, I look for healthy examples of young girls and women in the media – books where girls are the main characters, go on adventures, solve problems. We are not TV-free, so I also look for the same things in TV shows and movies. Honestly, it’s not easy stuff to find and I do make a point of keeping the TV off for the most part. Some days I’m better at that than others. In our daily life, we are lucky to have lots of women role models doing lots of different things – raising families, going to school, working in the home and outside of the home. We also have friends who make non-traditional choices and my girls see dads at home full-time and parents who split physical and emotional care-taking as fairly and evenly as they can.

But, of course, with our oldest, it’s even harder. Not just because of the influence of TV, movies, and friends. There’s also the Internet, phones, cell phones and her growing sense of self and independence. We recently had to have the talk about her digital image, texting and the consequences of sending her image to friends. We live in a world where kids want to make the same choices (or mistakes, if you will) we did as children but the consequences are much, much bigger. So, she and I talk about that stuff, about healthy self-image, sexuality, how women are framed in our culture and what perfection actually is. And, a lot of the time I feel like I’m floundering and I don’t have enough of the right words to get these things across to an 11 year old. But, I figure something is better than nothing and so we just take it moment by moment.

What are some of your favorite activities to do as a family?

We love building Legos together (and Duplos for the little ones). Now that the desert is giving us a reprieve from the heat we’re getting out to play at the park and hopefully will be able to get back on our bikes again sometime soon. The little ones also love to color, play with water and play dough, and recently they’ve been loving glow sticks in the bathtub at night with most of the lights off, and painting with pudding which was a yummy adventure for them.

What question(s) do you have for the other families in the community?

First, I’d love to know what your favorite toddler/preschool home activities are.

Second, I have not had very much luck leaving the babies in babysitting situations outside of home (for example at the gym, or even at a mom’s group where babysitting was provided so the moms could get together child-free for an hour). I thought having them together would help, and I didn’t have this issue with my older two, who might do the standard cry for 5 or so minutes and then get on with playing. But, my twins FREAK OUT for any length of time that I’m gone, from a few minutes to a few hours. Anyone have tips in that area?