By Erin Sweeten
Lean in close, because I’m about to tell you the secret conspiracy behind everything you know and love about PVMOM. You’ve seen the fabulous Facebook posts. You’ve been to a glam Moms’ Night Out get together. You’ve scored amazing deals in the online auction, let your kids run wild at a family party, swapped stories at a playgroup, and learned a thing or two at a workshop. But have you ever wondered-- REALLY wondered-- how all these things happen?
Is it magic?
Is it angelic visitation?
Is it state lawmakers?
Is it a reality TV production crew?
Nope. It’s …. drumroll, please … other moms of multiples! Who volunteer! On the PVMOM board! I know you’re shocked. But it’s true. There are about 20 leaders who meet, plan budget, and execute so that the rest of us can have a good time. The roles and responsibilities shift from year to year to best fit the talents of the current board members, but the PVMOM Board is organized into four basic areas: social events, fundraising/budget, communications and membership, and philanthropy. These are overseen by the executive board. The two responsibilities that are the busiest are fundraising and social events. Do you want to meet some of the women who make the magic happen?
She says that the qualities needed to be a successful president are being “Accessible, relatable, confident, and willing to put in the time.” So what does Beth get out of serving on the board? “I really love making connections with the membership. I’ve always had a passion for giving back, so I love getting to give back to our moms of multiples community. I love getting to know our members on a personal level, and I enjoy working for a bigger vision."
Jenny Bruso, PVMOM Treasurer
Jenny has been treasurer for three years. She reconciles our bank account balances and our investment account. She also, in collaboration with the rest of the board, creates and monitors the annual budget. She continually monitors the funds and communicates with other board members to keep the organization where it needs to be financially. As an executive board member, she oversees fundraising, especially the auction. “I’m on the board because I love the friendships I have made in the club, and I was looking for a way to get more involved and spend more time with these people I like spending time with. I have an accounting background, so being the treasurer was a natural fit.” For anyone stepping into the treasurer role, “You need to be comfortable in an Excel worksheet. You need to be willing to reach out for Fundraising and step in when the chair of that needs assistance.”
Tera Williams, National Rep
Tera is our contact for the national organization to which our club pays dues. As an executive board member, she also oversees social events, which is broken up into three chairs: large family events, playdates, and Moms’ Night Out. She helps her team with planning events and reaching out to members to invite them there, though most events follow the same templates as previous years. “I’m on the board because I get a lot from the organization and it’s my opportunity to give back. I also enjoy the interaction with the moms. I like knowing what’s going on with things I’m involved in and being part of something bigger.” A person involved with planning social events should be “Creative, organized. Outgoing is good, but there are a lot of us who help out at these events, so if you are not super outgoing but still want to be the one organizing and putting it all together, someone else can be the front man for you.”
There are two more Executive Board members that I didn’t get a chance to interview: VP Meg Behrens and Secretary Lindsey Steele. They oversee membership, workshops, and New Mom Mingle. The next time you see any of our dedicated committee chairs and board members, be sure to thank her for her efforts! Though they make it seem like magic, they do a lot to make it happen.
by Erin Sweeten
When I imagined myself as a parent, I thought about the hugs, the milestones, the cute outfits. I did not anticipate how often I would decide to do things knowing in advance a) what a pain in a butt they would be and b) how low the chances were for success. Pretty much every day of my life when the kids were little I’d say, in so many words, “Why don’t we do that activity that takes longer to get ready for than to do, and that will cause someone to feel miserable for at least part of the time? It’s going to be great!”
Let’s say a friend calls to invite us on a hike. It’s cool, sunny day, we’re bored out of our minds, we love this friend and her kids. Do we say yes?
Before kids, the answer is obviously yes. Prep is simple: throw on some sneakers and some sunscreen, grab a water bottle, head out the door.
When the invite includes three young kids, I must carefully assess my stock of essential supplies, my mental health, and my emergency reflexes before saying yes.
Prep takes at least 45 minutes: we have to find six pieces of weather-appropriate clothing that fit together in approximate pairs; ditto socks and shoes; someone forgets he has underwear on instead of a pull-up and pees in his clean pants; everyone is sort of blotchy and white from the two gallons of sunscreen we applied and someone got it in her eyes; we have to collect enough wipes and first aid for each child; ditto water cups and snacks; ditto extra clothes and shoes, since there’s a creek on this trail.
The hike itself will be some combination of fun and extremely difficult. Technically, all three kids can hike, but realistically, one of them hikes and the twins just blunder about. I have to keep an eye on the boy who wants to “check” every cactus to see if it is actually sharp. Another one decides that ants are terrifying and refuses to go on until he gets a bunch of almonds and a pep talk. The oldest kid suddenly has to poop when we are half a mile from the car. I talk her out of it. There is some happy splashing around at the edge of the creek, and then crying. Why is that nine-year-old allowed to climb to the top of a boulder but we three-year-olds are not? I apply ointment and a bandaid to the kid who fell trying to climb the boulder anyway. I chat a little with my dear friend. We manage to get 33% through one conversation before it is time to go. Two of the kids are sure they can’t make it back to the car. I bribe them.
We’ll all be exhausted after an afternoon of exercise and emergency interventions. We arrive home in various stages of undress. I put all three kids in the tub even though they don’t fit anymore. They screech and complain as I scrub off their weapons-grade sunscreen. They wrap up in blankets and watch a TV show while I collect all the wet clothes, balled-up socks, bath towels, and mysteriously filthy fresh clothes into a huge pile. It’s a two-washer-load pile. I start a load of laundry and try to figure out a dinner that includes some kind of vegetable. The TV show finishes and the kids start begging to pre-eat dinner before it is plated. They are excited that it’s quesadillas and carrot sticks but one is upset because she has been comparing the sizes of the triangles on each plate and feels she has been shortchanged. One twin takes the opportunity to eat everyone’s strawberries while I am negotiating with his sister.
At dinner, all the kids want to know when we can do that hike again. Remember that crawdad? Remember all the shiny rocks we brought home in our pockets? Did you see how high I climbed? Weren’t those other kids nice? They taught us to skip rocks!
All this goes through my mind in fifteen seconds as I hold the phone to my ear. Do I say yes to the hike? I have the wipes, snacks, sunscreen, waters, and clothes. I got enough sleep, more or less. The more often we get outside, the greater our general happiness, and the more the life of the furniture is extended. It’s a solid yes.
by Erin Sweeten
I hope this letter finds you well, and me on your Nice List. I THINK I’m on your nice list. Once during bedtime prayers my daughter thanked God for creating me with such a wonderful personality, which I feel should count for something in your book, even if she was doing it to get permission to go to a sleepover. I do yell sometimes. More than I want to. But, Santa, even your magical holiday patience would be tested if you were in my shoes. Have you ever asked your elves to clear off the table, and had one elf put away just two crayons because those are the only colors he used, and another elf refuse to put away ANYTHING until all the other elves helped equally, and another elf kick the table leg so crayons rolled onto the floor? I hope I’m not out of line when I say that I can totally picture you bellowing, "EVERYBODY PICK UP A HANDFUL OF CRAYONS AND PUT IT IN THE BIN. NOW!"
I’m not justifying the yelling. On a better day, I would have nicely (see what I did there?) gone to each child and mapped out his or her personal Crayon Pickup Zone. But they can’t all be better days, and there is not always time for a Personal Mapping Session for every child, and if it’s a choice between burned taco meat and not yelling, I sometimes make the wrong choice. Now I feel like I’m digging myself into a Naughty List pit. I say I’m sorry afterward. Does that help?
Anyway. Santa. As a mom of multiples, my wish list is a bit much for ordinary mortals. That’s why I’m coming to you. I’m told you have all the best magic, and you know how to wield it. First, if you could send a Cleaning Fairy to my house on nights I’m feeling overwhelmed, that would be awesome. Preferably one who knows exactly where all the weird dishes go, so I’m not frantically hunting through drawers for a tea strainer in the morning before school. And can my wishes be retroactive? Because I also would have really appreciated the sudden appearances of a Putting a Baby to Sleep Fairy and a Toddler Chasing Fairy and a Car seats/ Stroller/ Cart/ Grocery Bag Handling Fairy.
I hope I’m not overtaxing the Christmas Wish System when I ask to have retroactively received enough sleep for the past six years. The past three years or so have been okay, but you’re going to have to frontload a lot of extra hours into 2012-2014. I also checked all the Cyber Monday deals, but did not find the appliances that would be most helpful to me: a cloning machine, and a morning prep machine that you can step into for one minute and step out again clean, in flattering clothes, with hair done, teeth brushed, and makeup on. Will you please check your warehouse to see if you have both of these in stock?
Finally Santa, I have some requests that are more on the woo-woo side of things, the human heart stuff. (I’ve cross-posted this paragraph to God’s discussion board—please delete if not allowed.) Would you please make sure that the love part of my twins’ love-hate relationship is always the strongest part? And though my attention is often divided, will you help me confirm that each child of mine feels fully seen and loved? When they eventually hit puberty, will you time their highs and lows in the most manageable way possible, from a parenting perspective? I imagine it would also be helpful if you could drop off an extra refrigerator and guarantee that they will be more or less equal in the good looks department during their teen years. Thank you so much.
At Full Niceness,
A Mom of Multiples
by Erin Sweeten
Arizona has its issues with education, but one thing that is not lacking is choice. When your children reach school-age, the options can be dizzying: your zoned public school, a different public school, a charter school, a private school, homeschooling, and more. Start looking in the December before the year your children will start kindergarten. School open houses and lotteries typically take place in January and February. I’ll walk you through some of the factors to consider.
The first place to look is your neighborhood public school. The benefits are many: you will not need to drive your children to and from school (though you can if you want to); you and your children will make friends in the neighborhood; it will be easy to get to and from school events. Don’t undervalue your own time or your kids’ time. The more time your children spend in a car, the less safe they are and the less time they have to just be kids.
If your local school is not known as “good,” look at it anyway. Greatschools ratings and Department of Ed grades can’t tell you much about the quality of the teaching or environment. Visit the school and talk to everyone you can. Things to ask:
1. What is the teacher turnover rate? How many teachers are long-term subs or have emergency credentials? Most schools have turnover due to the low pay and tough working conditions. It’s a good sign if there is at least one veteran teacher in most grades and few open positions.
2. How does the school place multiples? Some schools have a policy that twins must be separated. Clarify what role you will play in deciding their placement.
3. How does the school implement Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)? The school should have a well-functioning plan in place to create a mutually respectful and caring environment. Detentions and suspensions should be rare.
4. What services does the school provide? Does it have all-day kindergarten? Before- and after-school care? How does it handle special education needs? Gifted kids? Does it have specials (art, music, P.E.)?
5. How ethnically and economically diverse is the student body? Diversity is key if you want your children to learn how to get along with people from different backgrounds at school.
6. How active is the PTO? Parent-teacher organizations make the fun stuff happen: the fall festivals, the teacher appreciation, the field days.
7. How does the school keep students safe? Our school is gated and the only way in during school hours is through a locked door after your presence is approved by a staff member.
8. What are typical class sizes? Our Title I school has class sizes in the low 20’s. A nearby school that has lots of open enrollment kids has around 30 per class.
9. What is the size of the school? I prefer smaller schools with only a few classes per grade. I love that every adult at my daughter’s school knows her by name.
If you have concerns about your neighborhood school, you can choose a different public school. Contact your desired school directly to find out the enrollment requirements.
Charter and Private Schools
I’ve grouped these together because they operate similarly, though charter schools are free and have a few more regulations than private schools. Ask these questions in addition to those above:
1. What are the criteria for hiring teachers? These schools do not have to hire certified teachers with a background in education. Find out how they choose their staff.
2. What is the attrition rate for students? How many students leave the school yearly? How many of the sixth graders were there in kindergarten? Some schools work hard to serve all their students well. Others shrug if kids are struggling and hint that they should look elsewhere.
3. How are the school’s finances? Charter schools receive an annual rating on how well they are managing their money, which you can look up at the Arizona Republic’s database (it contains the same data as the charter board’s database, but is easier to access). Charter schools do fail sometimes, so check out the financial health of the school that interests you.
4. What services cost extra? For example, some charter schools offer half-day kindergarten for free but charge a fee for full day. Some private schools require students to purchase their own textbooks.
5. What is the educational philosophy? Often, private and charter schools offer a non-mainstream education, such as Montessori or classical. Find out what and how they want to teach.
6. What level of parent commitment is required? Some schools expect parents to fundraise, volunteer, and/or donate large amounts of money. They may want parents to agree to a beliefs statement or certain conditions on home life, including screen time and nutrition.
7. How does my child get in? There may be a competitive application process or a lottery system. Ask how the school handles siblings—if one gets in, are the others automatically accepted too?
Homeschooling is when parents coordinate their children’s learning at home. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a parent teaches them directly. Parents may enroll their kids in an online school, hire tutors, or participate in a co-op. The best place to learn more about your options is the Arizona Families For Home Education website. This group also sponsors a convention in July where you can find out about local co-ops, support services, curricula, and more.
I know, it’s a lot. But chances are that whatever you choose will work out fine. Do your due diligence and just go with it. I promise that your children’s lives will not be ruined by an imperfect school year, and there is always another option to try.
by Erin Sweeten
It's our last installment featuring PVMOM members who joined in 2012 or earlier. This week, meet Gina Salazar-Hook and Judy Krendick, both of whom have twin teens! Virtual high fives to both of you for your great support and example through the years. I've also gotten notes from some of you asking when my interview will show up, so I did one too!
Gina Salazar- Hook
Member Since: 2003, when I was about 3 month pregnant with my fraternal twin boys. I couldn’t wait to join, ask millions of questions from car seats to strollers. I always thought PVMOM would be “for my twins” but it ended up being life changing for me!
Children: I have fraternal twin boys, Michael and Kendall age 14, and a daughter, Makena, age 13.
Favorite Thing about PVMOM: PVMOM changed my life in so many ways. First and foremost, it helped me become the best mom I could be thanks to all of the speakers and the support of other families going through similar things. Second, I am blessed with the best “playgroup” ever. We have 10 families who have remained close all these years and who I know will be my best friends for the rest of my life. We still celebrate holidays, birthdays and vacation together. Lastly, my years on the PVMOM and MOA boards revealed skills I didn’t know I had and inspired me to continue doing non-profit work that I love.
Funny Parenting Story: One that always stands out is the time we had two toilets overflowing at once… one with solid waste! The toilets were clogged so bad we had to call a plumber. It turns out my precious toddlers flushed 10 plastic Disney characters down the toilets.
Best Parenting Advice: The days are long but the years are short. Our children grow and change so quickly. Cherish each moment because time moves too quickly.
Member Since: 2003. I am almost positive I became a member in 2003 but could have been 2004. My mind is mush after close to 14 years of my fabulous twins!
Children: My twins will turn 14 in November.
Favorite Thing about PVMOM: I love the resources it has provided over the years! For instance, if you were looking for a doctor or dentist it was right there at your finger tips!
Special Parenting Memory: Hosting the NICU Reunion fundraiser over 10 years ago was a very special time for our family. The Scottsdale Shea (Honor Health) NICU was incredible for the short time our son was in their care.
Best Parenting Advice: When you know better, you do better!
Member Since: 2012
Children: Abigail, age 9. Ronan and Callum, age 6
Favorite Thing About PVMOM: All the tiny tots. Now that my kids are past the tiny, squishy stage I know I can get my baby fix at any family event!
Funny Parenting Story: When the boys were about eight or nine months old, I was in the midst of a messy diaper change with Ronan when my three-year-old started narrating Callum’s sudden blow-out. “Mom, he has poop on his back! Now he’s rubbing his hands in it! Now he’s crawling behind the chair! Now he’s wiping it on the wall! Now he’s COMING THIS WAY! I’m getting OUT of here!” Callum was just out of my line of sight, and I just had to giggle at Abigail’s tenth-level drama as I worked at lightning speed to wipe, butt paste, and seal up Ronan in a new diaper. Every twin mom should have a preschooler narrate her life.
Best Parenting Advice: Jot down the things that make you laugh or warm your heart.The early years become such a blur later on—I love having those little snippets now.
by Erin Sweeten
Each week in October, PVMOM is featuring some of our most loyal members on the blog. This week, take some time on your lunch break or during afternoon nap to get to know a little more about Shenen Dietrich, a past President of PVMOM and our national rep, who clearly looks quite youthful despite what her kids say; Monika Miller, owner of the Once Upon a Child consignment store, a longtime business partner of our club and a twin mom who deserves hardship pay for her experiences with breastfeeding; and Sue Hutchinson, a past board member and frequent giver of sage advice whose children are all now taller than she is, perhaps because of all the peanut butter they used to eat. What a great group of women we have in PVMOM.
Member Since: 2010
Children: My boys are 8 years old
Favorite Thing about PVMOM: The friendships and the sense of having survived and prospered, both as an individual and as a club.
Funny Parenting Story: Two Halloweens ago, our family dressed up as the Scooby Doo bunch. I was Daphne in a purple dress and pink gogo boots with a red wig. Blake, one of my twin six-year-old boys at the time, said that I didn’t look much like Daphne. I asked him why since I was all dressed up. He said that Daphne doesn’t have wrinkles and I had wrinkles. Out of the mouth of babes!!
Best Parenting Advice: Keep to a schedule, ask for help when you need it, and keep them napping for as long as possible.
Member Since: 2010
Children: Brooklyn & Brianna are 7, Bianca is 5
Favorite Thing about PVMOM: Friendships and the ongoing support from other members.
Funny Parenting Story: Imagine trying to breastfeed a newborn with 2-year-old twins non-stop jumping on the bed.
Best Parenting Advice: Life is a journey, not a destination.
Member Since: 2004-- That would be 14 years ago! I am still friends with the moms who referred me! We met at the Paradise Valley Community Center while our 4 year olds were taking an itty bitty sports class. Those four year olds are graduating high school in May!
Children: I have three boys, 13, 13 and 17. They are all over 6 feet tall now, so I am the shortest one in the house!
Favorite Thing about PVMOM: I really loved having the opportunity to learn from other moms of multiples before my twins were born. Their wisdom and recommendations for gear and books, made for much smoother sailing when my twins were born. As my children grow up, PVMOM members have provided a great support system and a resource network. In turn, I enjoy giving back and have served on the board and try to respond on Facebook as much as possible.
Funny Parenting Story: There is the time that I found both of my toddlers sitting on the kitchen floor armed with butter knives, elbow deep in a large jar of peanut butter. They were such a mess, I couldn't even be mad, I just ran for the camera! But even funnier is the time that one of my sons said, "Girls don't have a penis; mommy has a big butt!"
Best Parenting Advice: I have found as a parent of three boys, it is best to choose your battles wisely. So I don't argue with them if they don't want a haircut, even when it falls to below their shoulders and hides their eyes. There are just more important things in life than controlling everything and being "right" all the time. And.... expect to go to the principal's office at least annually!
by Erin Sweeten
Welcome back to the blog for our latest group of interviewees in this month's Member Appreciation series! These wise, real, funny moms have BTDT (been there, done that). I'll let them tell you all about it themselves.
Member Since: 2008. I joined shortly after we moved here when the girls were 10 months old.
Children: My fraternal twin girls, Mia and Rachel, are now 10 years old.
Favorite thing about PVMOM: it is a group of women from all different backgrounds, many who have experienced a complicated path to get here, and we all have come together to share the journey of raising our multiples.
Parenting memory: When the girls were two months old they were finally both home from the NICU. One day, Rachel just wouldn't settle down. She was crying nonstop for over an hour and nothing would soothe her. I was sitting on the couch holding her and I myself crying, feeling so frazzled and not knowing what to do. My husband came down from his office to try to help and he looked at the coffee table in front of me and asked, "Whose bottle is that?" This bottle sat inches away from me and in my exhaustion I hadn't noticed it or realized until that moment that I hadn't fed Rachel her last feeding. The poor baby was starving! Needless to say, we set up a feeding chart that afternoon. So, this isn't exactly a funny story but looking back at it, I recall how overwhelmed and exhausted I was and how hard those early days were taking care of two babies. That incident made both my husband and I realize that I needed more help and more time to take care of myself and that is the advice I always give new moms.
Best Parenting Advice: When my girls were babies, I asked a good friend, who has twin boys two years older than my girls, if it ever gets easier. Her response was, "it doesn't get easier, it just changes." I have found that to be true. I didn't know how we would survive the transition to solids, potty training, moving into big girl beds, grade school, etc. Each time we do survive it and we look back and laugh that we thought it was such a big challenge. Now we face the preteen stage and I'm not sure how we will survive that. Wish us luck!
Member Since: 2006. I started out in BAMOM(Birmingham Area) when my twins were 8 wks & when we moved to Phx in 2006 (then 18 mo) I promptly looked for a new MOM club.
Children: Six children, ages 16, 13, 13, 10, 7, and 4
Favorite Thing about PVMOM: I love the unique connection and instant camaraderie twin moms have. There is absolutely nothing like gestating, raising and loving two (or more) of the same aged kids. I love that we all “get it.” I love being a twin mom and connecting with other ones. I just wish I could do it more.
Funny Parenting Story: I just ran across an old email detailing a day in the life of my energetic two year olds- smashed bananas in the carpet, hair pulling during library story time, flooding the kitchen with the water dispenser and their crowning achievement: working together to get the garage door off its tracks and falling onto the car! There sure were some crazy times, but boy have they always had fun together, and I consider that one of the biggest gifts I’ve given them as a twin mom. They’ve had little undivided attention but they have always had a built in best friend for life. I still love to watch their special bond grow and deepen with time. They’re such a blessing to each other and to me.
Best Parenting Advice: Listen to all advice politely and then promptly do whatever works best for you.
I’ve included “then and now” pics. I always loved that the newspaper hat was unknowingly a BOGO ad in this baby pic;)
Member Since: 2012. I have been a member of PVMOM for 6 years! That's about 40 in singleton years.
Children: My b/g twins Sofia and Nathaniel are 7.5 years old.
Favorite Thing about PVMOM: I met my best friends through PVMOM and it has been my savior through the challenging and often isolating experience of raising twin tornadoes.
Funny Parenting Story: Oh, man, where do I begin? Usually my brain blocks everything out - it's a self-defense mechanism. But I have a fresh example today. See the pic. #SoBlessed
Best Parenting Advice: The best books on raising toddler twins are made in the Napa valley and come in a bottle.
PVMOM is adding new members by the week, and we're so glad you are all here! We want to take the month of October to introduce everyone to some wonderful women you may not know yet: those who have been faithful members of PVMOM for at least six years. Some of these moms have twins in early elementary, while others are navigating the teen years. These are the twin moms who have been there, done that. They have offered advice and friendship through years of parenting. They've made it through the newborn stage and the baby stage and the toddler stage and many more stages, and they've stuck with PVMOM through it all, often serving on the board or in other volunteer roles as well. We are so grateful to have them as part of our mom tribe. Without further ado, let's meet this week's group.
Member Since: 2011
Children: Boy/Girl Twins, turning 7 next month
Favorite Thing about PVMOM: I love that soon to be MoMs & new MoMs have a database of other MoM's in the area to learn and grow from. All of us have a moment of panic when we find out that it's multiples and we just need a community of woman to support us and that is exactly what PVMOM gives. We get a chance to ask different MoM's going through different ages & stages of their children's lives what it has been like raising multiples. We really do have a unique experience raising multiples and it's good for other members to hear them.
Funniest Parenting Memory: After almost 7 years with twins I have so many...but I guess it makes sense to start with the first funny memory. Me being a first time mom of course wanted to have some newborn pix of the kids & Andy and I. Well we show up to this photography studio for these pix & the first picture in Andy is holding Blaze and Blaze starts to pee on him. That is funny enough in itself, but the best part is that I have a picture of my husband Andy trying to cover Blaze's wee wee with a finger laughing hysterically and swearing like a sailor. It was awesome, and I love that I get to see the picture every time I go up my stairs.
Best Parenting Advice: Andy and I have a firm belief that our job as parents is to not raise a-holes. So that is our personal family mantra...definitely not for the more conservative families but it really works for us.
Member Since: 2011 - Jillian Constantino and I attended our very first meeting on the same night!Children: Twin girls, age 7
Favorite Thing about PVMOM: Friendship with other moms who “get” it and being able to offer my experience to help other moms.
Funniest Parenting Story: My kids didn’t truly understand that boys and girls and were different until we had a sleepover early last year with another twin mama’s boys. One of the girls was brushing her teeth and one of the boys came running into the bathroom to go potty. So he’s standing there, relieving himself, and you can see the moment of realization as she stops brushing and openly gawks at him, “What is going on???” I had to explain that boys and girls are different and why boys pee standing up.
Favorite Parenting Quote: “The days are long but the years are short.” It’s so very true.
Member Since: 2008
Children: Twins, age 10; Singletons, ages 6 and 2
Favorite Thing about PVMOM: The support of other twin moms. We face unique situations with twins and it’s nice to know I’m not the only one and I’m not going crazy!
Funniest Parenting Story: I remember just a few weeks after bringing the twins home I was so tired. It was 2 am and they were up. I was changing my daughter and right as I pulled her diaper off, she had explosive diarrhea that shot all the way on the wall, on my feeding pillow, the floor! I was exhausted and at my wits end. But after she did this, I burst out in laughter. It was one of those necessary moments that just got me back on track as a mom. Needless to say, I was up late cleaning that night, and giggling the entire time.
Best Parenting Advice: I was so busy with them at times, I wasn’t in the moment and enjoying it with them. Sometimes we are so busy being moms caring for them, we forget to enjoy them.
Member Since: 2011
Children: Twin boys, age 7
Favorite Thing about PVMOM: Being able to connect with other mothers of multiples who get it! Parenting twins (or more) is different in many ways than parenting children who arrive one at a time, so while I have other friends who are mothers, they can't necessarily relate to all of my challenges and concerns in the same way that other MoMs can.
Special Parenting Memory: Wow, after nearly 7 years of parenting, there are so many that it's hard to choose! One of my most precious memories from the newborn days was the day that we brought our second twin home from the hospital. (They were born nearly 6 weeks early and had to stay in the hospital for a while to "feed and grow," and one was ready to come home a few days before his brother.) When I placed him into the crib beside his already-sleeping twin that evening, he looked at his brother and reached out his hand to touch him, as if to say "There you are! I've been wondering where you went."
Favorite Parenting Quote: This quote is attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus and applies to life in general, but I think it is particularly applicable to parenting: "The only thing that is constant is change." Since my sons were born, I have found that children are always changing. Just when you think you have things figured out, they change.
by Erin Sweeten
Halloween approaches, and if you are lucky, you can still persuade your adorable multiples to dress in themed costumes. Somehow my family missed that window. The closest we got was in 2016 when Abi wanted to be a witch and Callum wanted to be a lion. I tried to convince Ronan to go as a wardrobe, but he had his heart set on radioactive frog. Oh well. Once you've done Thing One and Thing Two, what else is out there? I have collected nine unique DIY family costume ideas for twins, triplets, and the whole family.
For this costume, you will need poster board, elastic, and yellow duct tape. Staple elastic to painted poster board cut-outs to create point a and point b masks, and apply the tape to your kids' shirts for roads.
2.Bob Ross and a Painting
Bob needs a curly wig and a drawn-on beard, plus a big paintbrush (bonus if you can find a palette). For the painting, just pick up a landscape painting at a thrift store, remove it from the frame, and let your child wear the canvas like a sign around his or her neck.
3.Rock, Paper, Scissors
You can buy this adult costume on Amazon, or you could just paint and cut out some kid-sized cardboard or poster board.
4.Three Blind Mice
Give the kiddos cute mouse ears and tails (white laundry rope would work fine for the tails), dark round sunglasses, and canes. If you want to get edgy, you could let one kid have a shorter tail while you carry a piece of rope and a big toy knife like you're the farmer's wife.
5.Where the Wild Things Are
Max needs a white sweat suit, a gold paper crown, and a wolf tail, which you could make from a fuzzy scarf. You can create or buy as many monster costumes as you'd like; big horns and shaggy fur/hair or big scales are a plus. Click on the image to see how this family put their costume together.
Finally! Something to do with all those diaper boxes! Spray paint them and connect them with black duct tape. If your kids are small, you will need to use smaller boxes, but hey, you buy wipes in bulk too, right? If the kids don't want to actually be inside the boxes, you can make them 2D to wear sandwich board style.
Okay, Trolls are not SUPER unique, but they're so fun! Leotards or camis, bright tutus, and plenty of colored hair spray for the win!
A very easy costume created with cardboard squares and a black sharpie. This one works especially well for a big family. You come up with the funny words or phrases. My family of 5 might do "CANDY." A great word for a group of seven people would be "WINNING."
This dinosaur trainers costume might be my favorite, because it is so representative of actual life with multiples some days. Kid dino costumes are easy to find at thrift stores or on swip swaps if you don't want to buy them new. Parents wear fitted red shirts under white safari-type shirts, with claw marks cut into the white shirts so the red shows through like blood. Khakis, outdoor hats, and boots complete the ensemble. Click on the image to see how this family put their costume together.
Welcome to the fourth and final installment of our series on parenting special needs kids. This week, Jill Hanon, our PVMOM special needs forum moderator, gets real about the strong emotions that often come with the parenting process. You can find the previous installments here:
Part 1: What to do when you Notice Developmental Delays
Part 2: When your Children are too Old for AZEIP: DDD, Developmental Preschool, and IEPs
Part 3: Advocating for your Special Needs Children
Erin: Some parents describe going through shock, grief, or guilt when they realize that their children face extra difficulties. What was your experience, and how did you get through it?
Jill: It was hard. But I’m the kind of person who says, “It is what it is, let’s just do what we have to do.” Just tell me what it is and what I have to do, and I do it.
Erin: What has been the hardest part of parenting special needs kids?
Jill: The hardest part was about a year into it after their diagnoses. It was so tiring. The kids were melting down and having regressions. I felt despair sometimes, and would cry myself to sleep. I would think, “He’s never going to be normal but he’s going to be expected to be normal.”
Erin: How did you get through that time?
Jill: You just go through it. And you see progress. You see a path ahead. You focus on the little bright spots and the things that make life easier. Like for us, I made a giant schedule in the kitchen to keep track of everything. You remember that you are not in it alone. Get with people who can tell you, “You’re going to be okay. There is a light. You just have to keep going.”
Erin: What other advice do you have for people walking this path?
Jill: Get through the process of dealing with the emotions of the diagnosis as soon as you can, and start working on how you can help. Go lock yourself in the bathroom and cry it out when you need to.
Erin: How does parenting special needs kids affect marriage and co-parenting?
Jill: Sometimes one parent handles most of it and the other doesn’t really see it, or maybe accept it. I recommend that both parents stay involved in the appointments so you are both fully aware.
Erin: What advice do you have for keeping your relationship strong?
Jill: Communicate! Tell your spouse when you are at the end of your rope. Find time for yourselves. If your children are in DDD, you may qualify to receive respite care. Take advantage of it.
Erin: Jill Hanon, thank you for sharing so much of your heart, your wisdom and your experience with us this month. I know you have helped encouraged many families.
Have something you would like to share? Email email@example.com to find out more about writing a blog post.