Category: Birthdays and Events

10 Truths About Twins … and Matt and Nate Turn 6!

Next week, Matt and Nate turn 6. SIX!!! That means they’ll no longer be part of the early-childhood set. They’ll officially be considered big kids. And I just can’t believe it. I feel like I’ve been through the biggest challenge of my life and have made it through the other side mostly unscathed, aside from a few more wrinkles and gray hairs.

2 month old twin boys
Whaaaaaaat? We’re turning 6 years old???

I started this blog when I was pregnant with the boys and admittedly terrified at the prospect of having twins. Once they were born, it was comforting to write about the challenges of having two babies—the huge expense of buying two of everything, the struggle to get anywhere on time, the lack of sleep.

But at some point—and I can’t say exactly when it was because it just snuck up on me—having twins stopped being so difficult. At some point, once both boys were potty trained and could dress themselves and we stopped having to lug the giant double stroller everywhere—having twins actually got easier than having a singleton in many ways. I’ll explain more here, along with nine other truths I’ve learned over the years about having twins:

  1. Twins become easier than singletons in certain ways. The main reason for this is that they always have a playmate! Two winters ago, we got slammed with a blizzard that closed school for a week. I’d get texts from mom friends saying, “Losing my mind!!! Running out of entertainment ideas! Must get out of house!!!” But Matt and Nate spent hours playing with action figures, having light-saber battles, and building LEGO creations in the basement. When they started kindergarten and got on the bus for the first time, I was significantly less nervous than my fellow kindergarten moms because I knew they had each other to sit with. And when Nate went through a phase where he was afraid of the dark, we got him to (mostly) stay in his bed at night by reassuring him that Matt was right next to him.

    Twin boys wearing Buzz Lightyear and Woody Halloween costumes
    They’ve always got a friend in each other!
  2. If twins are the same gender, people won’t be able to tell them apart. It doesn’t matter if they look completely different or they’re different sizes or they’re wearing t-shirts with their names on them: People, especially kids, will consistently mix them up. Matt and Nate have different eye and hair colors, an 8-pound weight difference, and different face shapes, yet they’ll still get called each other’s names. Kids who’ve known them for months will ask them, “Are you Matt or Nate?” Usually they let it roll off their backs, but sometimes Nate will get tired of being called “Matt” and yell, “I’m NATE!”

    Twin boys in baseball gear
    When we really want to confuse people, we give them eye black and matching Angels shirts!
  3. They’ll develop at different rates. Matt walked at 11 months, Nate at 17 months. Nate potty trained right after turning 3, Matt took until almost 3 1/2. Nate has been zipping around on a two-wheeler for months, Matt is still mastering pedaling. Matt just lost his first tooth, Nate doesn’t even have a loose one. I could go on and on, but my point is that I learned early on to NOT COMPARE THE TWINS. Seriously, don’t do it. All new moms worry when their kids don’t meet milestones as early as friends’ kids, but the worrying can really get out of hand when you’ve got another child the exact same age in the house. Just take a deep breath and remember that even though your twins shared a womb, they are individuals who will develop at their own rates. Relish each milestone as it comes!

    Twin 1-year-old boys eating birthday cake
    At one year old, they discovered a mutual love of cake!
  4.  What’s best for one set of twins isn’t necessarily best for yours. One instance when this becomes true is when they start elementary school. Some schools require twins to be in different classes, while others leave it up to the parents. And that’s when you have to consider your own twins’ personalities and learning styles. The default at Matt and Nate’s school is to keep twins together for kindergarten and then separate them in first grade. But I spoke with the boys’ teacher, who said they are not competitive, that neither one relies too much on the other, and that they each do their own thing at school. For those reasons, we have decided to keep them together until we have reason not to. But other twin parents I know had to separate their twins because they were too attached, too competitive, or simply wanted to be in their own class. So do what’s best for your twins and your family!

    Twin boys' first day of kindergarten
    Headed off to kindergarten together!
  5. They’ll want their own stuff. One of the benefits of having a same-sex twin is that you’ve got double the toys and double the clothes. But at a certain age—for my boys, it was 4—twins start to want to claim things as their own. I’ll never forget the first time I pulled a shirt out of their drawer to put on Nate and he said, “No, that’s Matt’s shirt!” even though they had always just pooled their clothing. That was around the same time the boys started identifying which toys belonged to each of them. Even if they had two identical dinosaurs, they’d somehow be able to tell which one was Nate’s and which was Matt’s.

    They definitely need their own bikes now!
  6. Some kids will find them intimidating. My friend has a son Matt and Nate’s age and our boys get along well. But whenever we’d set up play dates, her son would retreat to the other side of the room or the park and get really quiet. After this happened a few times, she asked him why he did that. He confessed that he felt left out because there were two of them and only one of him! It seemed like such an obvious thing that neither she nor I picked up on. At 4 and 5, kids are still learning how to make friends and interact with others. It’s natural for them to feel insecure around two kids who already know each other so well. So talk to your twins about being sure to play with the other kids during parties and playdates!

    Twin boys wear pirate accessories
    Ahoy, mateys! Ye can play with us too!
  7. People will continue to be fascinated by them. I imagine this is especially true of identical twins. But even my boys, who look nothing alike, still draw admirers. People will look back and forth at them a few times, ask me if they’re twins, and get very excited when I say yes. Then they’ll tell me about their mother’s cousin’s best friend who has twins, ask a probing question like, “Were they natural?” or spout out a cliche like, “You have your hands full!” When I was an exhausted new mom I’d admittedly find it irritating at times, but now it just makes me realize how blessed I am to have twins.

    Boys wearing stormtrooper helmets
    Yes, they’re really twins. No, they’re not really stormtroopers.
  8. You’ll share a special connection with other twin parents. I’m lucky to have lots of mom friends I bond with over tantrums and school struggles and our perpetual exhaustion. But no one gets me quite as much as other twin moms do. I imagine this is similar to the connection shared between military members who’ve gone to war together. Yes, I’m exaggerating … but only a little.

    Mom with toddler twins
    Twin moms, ya feel me???
  9. The twin bond is real. Seriously—my boys are very in tune with one another. When they were smaller and still learning how to pronounce words properly, I’d sometimes ask them to translate what the other was saying for me. If one is in a bad mood and won’t tell me what’s wrong, I’ll ask the other, and his guess will usually be spot on. They also really look out for one another and are generally concerned for each other when one of them is sick. It’s heartwarming to watch. Of course, they can get into bigger fights and arguments than anyone else I know, too. But they always make up in the end!

    Twin boys on bench
    They were fighting about 10 minutes before I took this picture!
  10. Life will never be boring … or quiet. This is true for any parent, but there is something about having two kids the same age in the house that brings a whole new energy. Add in a little sister, and you can be sure you’ll be on your toes pretty much non-stop. You just never know what kind of adventure each day will bring. I recently had a root canal, and when the endodontist walked in to start the procedure, she told me I was the calmest person she’d ever had in her office. I told her it was because it was the first few minutes of peace and quiet I’d had all day!

    Three kids at doctor
    Even a doctor visit turns into a fun time!

Needless to say, having twins has been an incredible experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Though the early-childhood years are behind us, I know the school-age years will bring many more adventures, challenges, and happy times. I couldn’t be prouder of the kind, hilarious, smart, silly, and handsome little men my boys have become. The fact that my preemie twins who couldn’t even eat on their own in their first days of life are now reading, playing baseball, and spouting out the names of all 45 presidents is so amazing, it brings tears to my eyes.

Happy 6th Birthday, Matt and Nate!

Lily’s “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” First Birthday Party

As hard as it is to believe, our little Lily turned one year old on September 5. We celebrated with a pink and gold “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” themed party in our backyard with about 50 guests, 20 of whom were kids. Yes, I may be crazy, but the party was a ton of fun. Everyone—especially Lily—had a blast!

Here are photo highlights from the party. Most of the photos, including the gorgeous first portrait of the birthday star herself, were taken by children and lifestyle photographer Daniel Marino of Marino Photography (http://danmarinophoto.com). Lily’s outfit and headband were made by Etsy shop Princess Cute Boutique:

Baby in first birthday outfit
We set up a canopy over the backyard patio and hung gold stars of various sizes from it. We also put gold stars on the sliding glass doors behind the food table, as well as an adorable “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” banner from Party Made Pretty:

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star banner
I ordered Star Fantasy Napkins from The Stationery Studio and had them personalized to say “Our little star Lily.” If you’re not familiar with The Stationery Studio, you should check out the site! With over 22,000 products to choose from, The Stationery Studio is the online leader in personalized stationery and gifts. Its large celebrity fan base includes Kim Kardashian West, Elizabeth Banks, Bethenny Frankel, and Julie Bowen.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star napkins

I couldn’t resist these glittery gold star straws from Etsy shop Fabulous Little Party:

Pink and gold star straws

For food, I kept it simple with catering from Wegman’s. Everything from the sandwiches to the sushi to the chicken bites was delicious! For the kids, my sister-in-law used cookie cutters to make star-shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and topped them with awesome gold star cupcake toppers from Etsy shop Below Blink:

Star-shaped sandwiches

Of course I made a giant bowl of sangria, which was a huge hit. The stickers on the water bottles matched the invitations and thank-you cards from Etsy shop Ooh La Llew:

First birthday sign
Entertainment was a bit tricky because there were so many kids of different ages. Luckily I happen to be friends with an amazing woman and party entertainer who goes by the name of Miss Mollie, and sometimes Mollie the Clown! Miss Mollie did face painting, parachute play, and balloon creations for all of Lily’s little friends, and the kids were absolutely thrilled. I highly recommend Miss Mollie for kids’ events. If you’re in the Northern Virginia area and have kids ages 0 to 5, you can check her out yourself every second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 10:45 a.m. at PB & Jack in Fairfax.

Children standing under a parachute at a birthday party

Kids standing around a parachute at a birthday party

A party entertainer makes balloon creations.

At the end of the party, everyone moved inside for cake and dessert. Rachel from Dazzle Cakes, LLC made a delicious and gorgeous star cake that everyone loved. She’s based out of Burke, Virginia. My best friend Christine from SugarSisters made equally beautiful and yummy Rice Krispie treats that doubled as favors. SugarSisters makes incredible candy tables and treats for events and is based out of Staten Island, New York. I also picked up some star cookies from Costco and, for a homemade touch, made pie-crust star crackers. In the background of the last photo, you’ll see the banner I made with Lily’s monthly photos:

Star themed birthday cake

Star-shaped Rice Krispie treats

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star themed dessert table

First birthday party dessert table

The highlight of the party was singing “Happy Birthday to Lily” and then watching her tear into the special cupcake Rachel made just for her. It was her first cupcake ever, and it’s safe to say she loved it!

Baby in 1st birthday hat clapping

First birthday cake smash

I know the party was a bit over the top, but it was so much fun and completely worth it. Thank you to all of our family and friends who came to help us celebrate our little star, Lily!

Disclosure: I received complimentary products from The Stationery Studio to use at the party and include in this post. My high opinion of the products is completely my own!

Our Disney Side @Home Celebration

I’ve been a huge Disney fan since I was a kid. During our 15 months in Southern California, I passed that love on to Matt and Nate by taking them to Disneyland no less than 10 times. (Keith and I had annual passports, and the boys got in free since they were under 3 at the time.)

Naturally, I was thrilled to be one of the bloggers selected by Disney Parks and MomSelect to host a Disney Side @Home Celebration. For the celebration, I received a party kit full of awesome free products from some amazing sponsors. My kit’s theme was Disney Cars, one of the twins’ favorite movies. Here’s what it contained:

  • Tons of fun Cars party decorations, including napkins, cups, plates, a tablecloth, treat boxes, and more
  • A Wilton Mickey Mouse cake pan, a Duff Goldman by Gartner Studios Tie Dye cake mix, and colorful Wilton sprinkles (with which I attempted to make a Mickey cake and failed miserably—see the photo at the end of this post)
  • Disney-themed games and activities, including “Pin the smile on Mickey Mouse,” Bingo, paper fortune-tellers, and more
  • Goodies for the kids: Cars place mats, chore charts, Crayola crayons, fun prizes including a Mega Bloks Hot Wheels building set and a Disney puzzle, and more
  • Goodies for the moms: HP CMYK (Create Memories You Keep) Packs containing HP photo paper and envelopes, Twinings Tea from Twinings of London, Disney luggage tags, and Beyond Meat coupons
  • Goodies for me: A giant tub of All detergent Mighty Pacs and samples of Wisk Deep Clean detergent and Snuggle Scent Boosters fabric softener (By the way, I love the Mighty Pacs. They are way more easy and convenient than pumping or pouring out liquid detergent and dripping it all over my floor. I just make sure to keep them out of reach of the kids, since detergent pods can be dangerous if little ones ingest them.)

We received the party kit in late January, and the boys had a blast opening it. Since we were required to have the party in January or February and didn’t have much time to plan, I decided to turn it into a giant play date for some of the new friends they’ve made since moving to Virginia a few months ago. I figured it was a good excuse for the mommies to get together as well. And because we’ve had a pretty brutal winter and everyone is going a bit stir crazy, we had an awesome turnout for a Tuesday afternoon—13 kids and seven moms!

I set up a fun party table with some of the goodies we got. The Cars cupcake tower I received in my party kit served as a display for the kids’ treat boxes that also came in the kit. (I filled them with Cars stickers and inexpensive Cars fruit snacks I found at the grocery store.)

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Since the party was at 1:30 pm and everyone had eaten lunch already, I kept it simple and put out some light snacks such as carrots and hummus, pretzels, and veggie straws. Luckily, my friend Amber livened it up a bit with the fun Mickey-shaped Jell-O treats you see at the front of the table!

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It doesn’t take much to entertain a bunch of 3- and 4-year-olds, so I kept the activities simple by pulling out pretty much any Cars-themed item the boys own. We had coloring books, puzzles, and magnetic scenes.

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I set up the boys’ Cars cars on the train table.

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I also set up little coloring stations around the house with the Crayola crayons that came in the party kit and some Cars coloring sheets I happened to have. They were a huge hit!

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We even got some of the bigger kids to play “Pin the Smile on Mickey Mouse,” though they refused to be blindfolded and simply stuck their smiles onto the correct spot on Mickey’s face.

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Overall, our Disney Side @Home Celebration was a blast for the kids and grown-ups alike! Unfortunately it was so hectic (in a good way!) that I didn’t get a chance to take many photos of the kids, but that’s a sign of a fun party!

Also, though my Duff Goldman Mickey cake was delish (I swear!), it … um … didn’t end up looking so great. (I am not a baker!) Since many other Disney Side hosts have been posting pictures of their gorgeous bakery-like Mickey cakes, I thought I’d put myself out there and post a photo of my monstrosity:

IMG_8544Hahahahahaha! My cake may have been an epic fail, but our party was a big success—and that’s all that matters! We all had a great time showing our Disney side! Thank you, Disney Parks and MomSelect, for this fun opportunity!

If you want to host your own Disney Side Celebration, visit disneysidecelebrations.com for lots of great theme ideas, recipes, activities, and inspiration!

I received free products in order to host a Disney Side @Home Celebration. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Hello Again!

Well, I’ve taken unintended hiatuses from this blog before, but this one takes the cake. It’s been nearly four months since my last post, and for that, I apologize. But when you add together two-year-old twins, a two-week trip to New York, a move halfway across the country, a month straight of visitors, two working parents—and, well, life—things can get pretty overwhelming. Not that I’m making excuses or anything…

As I sit here in my new “office” at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, I will give you all a brief update of our lives over the past four months.

  1. The boys turned two on June 19, 2013! They celebrated with two construction-themed birthday parties. One was with all of their friends at Gymboree Play & Music in Colorado Springs, and the second was a small family party at my parents’ house in New York. While living so far from family does stink, getting two birthday parties is certainly a benefit. 😉 Here is a shot of them enjoying pizza and birthday cake with their pals at the Gymboree party:

Matt and Nate_2nd BDay 176

 

  1. We officially moved from Colorado Springs on July 2. We parked our car at Denver International Airport and flew to New York for two weeks. Then we flew back, spent the night at a hotel near the airport, and hit the road for our 1,600-mile drive to Southern California. Along the way, we made stops in Eagle, Colorado; St. George, Utah; and Las Vegas. The boys were absolute champs, and we didn’t even need to pull out the iPads all that often! We did, however, have to listen “When I Build My House” and “The Cowboy Song” by Parachute Express about 8,000 times in a row. If you’re not familiar with those songs or that group, Google them … or not.
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Me with the boys at gorgeous Sylvan Lake in Gypsum, Colorado. We had just made them get back in the stroller after they’d hiked on their own for an hour, so they were a bit grumpy!

 

  1. We moved into our new home in a gated community in Torrance, California on July 20. It has a large outdoor patio/yard, and the community has a gorgeous pool, a small playground, and a fitness center. The best part is, it’s only a mile from the beach and the Redondo Pier! We walk to to the beach often. It is absolutely perfect for us! I am just now getting over the fact that I don’t have the word “Beach” in my address, even though the house is only a few feet away from the Redondo Beach city limit. 😉
I snapped this cell-phone shot of our new home the day we moved in, right as the movers arrived. The garage is now our gym/storage unit!

 

  1. We had about 10 days to unpack and settle in before our month of visitors began. Each set of visitors arrived the day after, or the same day as, the last. Our lineup, in order, was Keith’s brother Ken, my parents, my cousin Kim, my best friend Christine and her three-year-old son JJ, and my brother and five-year-old niece Ava. That means the boys and I were on vacation for a month as well! We spent the entire time exploring our new city guilt-free. We had tons of beach days, visited Disneyland twice and California Adventure once (we have annual passes), splashed around at the Seaside Lagoon, attended free concerts at the Redondo Pier, pretended to be tourists in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, took lots of walks along the strand, and ate way too much In-N-Out Burger, Johnnie’s Pastrami, and Tito’s Tacos.  It didn’t take me long to see why Keith loves LA so much … and for me and the boys to grow to love it as well. This place is seriously full of amazingness. (Yes, I made up a new word.) It was really hard for me to choose just one photo to share from our month of adventures, but it had to be the one of the boys meeting Mickey Mouse with Grandma and Grandpa!

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  1. It’s been only three weeks since the final visitor left, and already I feel like we are settling into a nice routine. The boys have a new part-time nanny, Ashley, whom they love. She stays with them a couple of afternoons a week while I get work done and run errands. I’m still writing three posts a week on a variety of parenting-related topics for Baby Gizmo. I’m also doing a ton of writing for Scholastic News Online and for several Scholastic classroom magazines. The boys and I go to Gymboree once a week and to art class once a week. I have a few pilates, barre, and strength-training classes I attend during the week that are whipping me back into shape. Keith absolutely loves his RAND Corporation fellowship and has determined that this is the type of work he wants to do after he retires from the Army (which is less than four years away now). And, his flexible schedule has allowed us to continue having fun!  Last weekend, our sister-in-law Beth stayed with us for a couple of days and we went to the beach and watched dolphins and a sea lion play in the water. The next day, we went to an Angels game—the boys’ first MLB game! This weekend, we’re heading to a Dodgers game. It’s the last home game of the season and also my first Dodgers game, so we’re pretty excited. Here’s a family photo of us from the Angels game. Let it be known that I will ONLY wear an Angels shirt for these little guys!!!
First Angels game
Matt and Nate’s first Angels game, September 22, 2013.

 

And the boys? Well, let’s just say they are keeping us on our toes! In the last couple of months their vocabulary has really soared, and they are little chatterboxes. Gosh, they are so grown-up. They still love all vehicles and baseball, but Matt’s love for the sport has grown into a full-blown obsession. One of his favorite pastimes is swinging his bat around the yard, saying, “I’m Mike Trout, Mama!” And Nate’s latest obsessions are Ultraman (a Japanase superhero) and Johnny and Roy from the 1970s TV series “Emergency!” They both remain fun, silly, and very sweet little boys who are—most of the time—a joy to be around.

Overall, Keith and I are both so proud of how well-adjusted Matt and Nate are. I was so worried that the move would be really hard on them, but we are so shocked and thrilled by how quickly they adjusted to their new lives here in California. They didn’t even a skip a beat! On their very first night here, they slept all night in their new room, and have continued to do so. They already know every nook and cranny of our new home, they ask to go to specific places, and they even start shouting out where we are going as soon as I turn my car in the direction of a familiar place. They’ve also become total beach bums. They’d spend the entire day on the beach if we let them—and we often do! They do miss their friends from Colorado, though, and ask for them often.

We’re having a great time, and—although Army life could really suck sometimes—none of this would be happening if it weren’t for the military! No, it’s not easy to move around so often. You have to start over in new places and make new friends, only to do it all over again a short time later. But it’s also an adventure. You get to live in and visit places you never would have otherwise, and you learn things about yourself you wouldn’t have known.

Well, I could go on forever, but I’d better sign off for now. I’m so happy to be writing on this blog again, and I plan to do so once or twice a week from here on out. Be sure to follow me on blog.babygizmo.com and scholastic.com/news as well!

Almost Two!

What a busy time it is for my family! We are getting ready for the big move in four weeks, so the preparations have been keeping us occupied. We got home a few days ago from a four-day house-hunting trip in Redondo Beach, California. Since we’ll only be there a year, we are going to rent. I look forward to telling you all about our new home. 🙂

Sometime in the past month, the boys officially put infancy behind them and became full-fledged toddlers. And boy—whoever made up the term “Terrible Twos” wasn’t lying! Nate, in particular, has been treating us to tantrums whenever he doesn’t get his way. These tantrums usually occur at the most inopportune times—such as during their two-year photo shoot over Memorial Day weekend. We took the boys for their photos early because our beloved photographer, Julie Pearson of Julie Pearson Photography, is moving as well. Unfortunately, Nate decided he did not want his picture taken, and screamed and cried for almost the entire half hour. Luckily, he has the most adorable boo-boo lip:

Nate boo-boo lip

Matt, on the other hand, continues to be a generally laid-back, agreeable little dude, as evidenced by this photo from the shoot:

Matt smile

But that doesn’t mean that Matt doesn’t have strong opinions. He does not like to share, and if Nate has something he wants, he won’t let it go easily. We’ll often catch the boys chasing each other around the house, screaming and babbling at each other, as they try to grab a toy out of each other’s hands. It’s actually pretty hilarious. Matt also will put up quite a fight when we take him away from something he’s engrossed in. Just try to take him inside for a diaper change when he’s playing with his trains and see what happens!

The boys have also grown up in other ways:

Vocabulary: That “twin language” you always hear about is real! For the past couple of weeks now, the boys have been having full conversations with each other. To us it sounds like gibberish, but I swear they each know exactly what the other is saying. Their vocabularies are also expanding at warp speed. They both count to 10 and sing along to many songs. They’ll also repeat everything they hear. And they surprise us every day by pointing at things they see in books or in everyday life and saying their names. Some of the latest things they’ve identified are rainbows (“bay-bow”), monkeys (“muh-mee”), chicken (“chichin”), newspapers (“noo-paper”), and bulldozers (“bull”). Matthew has also taken to saying “Oh, YEAH!” “Oh, boy,” and “Oh, well” all day long. We’re not sure where he got those expressions from, but he likely picked them up from us!

Interaction: For the longest time, the boys would simply play alongside each other. Now they play with each other—when they’re not fighting over toys, of course. They entertained themselves for hours in the hotel room last weekend by playing hide-and-seek with the curtains. One would hide behind the curtains, the other would “find” him, and then they’d laugh gleefully and chase each other. The boys also love to wrestle, hug, and tickle each other. But my favorite is the way they take care of each other. Each morning, whoever gets changed first makes a beeline for the kitchen to get his cup of milk. But now, instead of just getting his own milk, he’ll point to the other boy’s cup until we give it to him, then bring it to his brother. Or if you bring one boy his shoes, he’ll try to put them on his brother’s feet instead of his own.

Comprehension: Every evening, I recap the day for the boys. I’ll always start by asking them, “What did we do today?” Until recently, they would always just stare at me and wait for me to tell them. But the other evening, I asked them, “Where did we see bubbles today?” and Matthew responded with, “Lie-bay (Library)!” And after Gymboree, I asked them which of their friends we saw, and Nate said, “Pey Pey! Ah!” (That’s Peyton and Oz.) The boys have also learned the appropriate responses for things. If you compliment them or give them something, they’ll say “thank you.” (In Nate speak, it sounds more like, “TANK!” In Matt speak, it’s, “TAY!”) I also love it when I tell Nate something and then ask, “How’s that sound?” He’ll say, “Good!” Or I’ll ask Matt if he wants to do something, and he’ll say, “Ya!” or “No.”

But my absolute favorite aspect of the boys’ personalities is how loving they both are. They love to show affection. Every now and then, Nate will make his way over and hug our legs, nuzzling his head on our thighs as if he’s a little cat. If you ask for a hug, he’ll almost always oblige, and he loves to blow kisses. He’s also a big cuddler! And Matt—gosh, that sweet little boy! I’ll be in the middle of doing something, and all of a sudden he’ll amble over and smile at me in a goofy way. I’ll say, “Hi, Matt!” and he’ll put his arms up. I’ll pick him up and he’ll cup my face in his hands, touch my nose with his, and give me a kiss on the lips. I kid you not. That boy is gonna be a ladies’ man when he’s older!

Well, that’s my update for now! We’ll be super busy with moving, the twins’ 2nd birthday party, and a trip to New York over the next few weeks, but I’ll do my best to keep you all posted.

P.S. As for the two-year photo shoot? Despite Nate’s tantrums, Julie managed to get some amazing photos! Here’s one shot of the two boys. I think it showcases their personalities perfectly!

Boys

Here’s one that shows off Nate’s blue eyes:

Blue eyes

And here’s a shot of me and my mini-me!

Matt and Mommy

A Month of Travel

I finally have some time to blog after an incredibly busy month that took Keith, the twins, and me to the east coast, back to Colorado, to the west coast, and back again. I now understand what other parents have meant when they’ve told me they needed a vacation from their family vacation! Since we hit three different time zones during the month, the boys’ sleep got really messed up. And now that Matt and Nate are mobile, very loud, and very energetic, it’s no longer easy to fly with them. (More to come on our airplane adventures in a later post.) But, we all survived and had a great time, and the boys enjoyed many milestones! Here are the highlights:

On June 12, we flew to New York to spend some time with my family. There, the boys took their first trip to the beach. They absolutely loved playing in the sand, and they squealed with delight as they splashed around at the water’s edge.

Us at Rockaway Beach!

Matt and Nate also took their first trip to the aquarium (the New York Aquarium in Coney Island) with their cousin Ava and Uncle Dan. They loved the sea lion show, but then Matt fell asleep in his stroller while we walked around. Nate, though, loved waving to all the fish!

Hi, fish!

And, the boys  took their first carousel ride! Since then they’ve ridden many carousels and absolutely love it.

First carousel ride! They were a little apprehensive at first…

We spent a nice Father’s Day with my parents, brother, and niece. The next day, we drove to Washington, DC. On our way there, we had a milestone of another sort that involved Keith’s arm being covered with poop in the middle of a rest-stop Burger King—but we don’t need to delve any further into that.

We spent four days in DC with lots of family. While there, the boys turned one! We also had a service for Keith’s dad at Arlington National Cemetery. Keith’s dad passed away the day after Keith deployed to Afghanistan, and since Keith had already stayed behind for nearly a month for the boys’ birth, he couldn’t come home. So,the family decided to wait until the deployment was over to hold the service. It was worth the wait—the service was wonderful and very well-deserved for a man who spent 30 years in the Air Force!

We then returned to New York for five more days, where we held Matt and Nate’s first birthday party in my aunt and uncle’s backyard! We had a pool party with an “Under the Sea” theme. Everyone seemed to have a blast, including Matt and Nate. They did get a bit frightened when the whale pinata broke open, and Matt got a little freaked out when 30 people started singing “Happy Birthday” to them. But overall, they really enjoyed “swimming”, playing with their little pals, and eating all the yummy food and birthday cake!

Ready for the big party!

We headed back to Colorado June 26 for three days before hopping a flight to LA. There we spent four days in Santa Monica. We had lots of beach time, explored the Santa Monica Pier, shopped, and ate lots of yummy food. It was our first family vacation where it was just the four of us. It was a lot of work, yet really relaxing at the same time. It also marked the boys’ first trip to California, which is as big a milestone as any in our family!

Santa Monica

Next, we headed to Coto de Caza to visit Keith’s brother, sister-in-law, and niece. Keith’s sister flew in for the occasion, too! We had a lovely 4th of July—we watched a community parade and then barbecued with some family friends. The next day, we went to Disneyland!!!

We weren’t sure how the twins would do at Disneyland. After all, they are so young. We didn’t know if they’d be afraid of the rides or the characters, or if they’d get really cranky during such a long day. But it turns out we had nothing to worry about. Matt and Nate LOVED going on all the rides! Their favorite was It’s A Small World, but they also loved Dumbo the Flying Elephant, the Jungle Cruise, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and so many others. They didn’t even get scared on Pirates of the Caribbean. (In fact, Matt fell asleep on it.) They also loved watching Mickey’s Soundsational Parade and meeting the characters. What a fun and memorable day it was. (Of course, it probably would not have gone so smoothly without all the help from our family.) I only wish we could have gotten more pictures, but it’s so hard with two toddlers to wrangle.

Us in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle
Meeting Goofy!
Watching the parade with Daddy and Uncle Ken in their first pairs of Mickey ears!
Meeting the man himself

We spent our last day in California visiting Doheny State Beach before we headed back to Colorado on July 7. Keith returned to work July 10, and we’ve had a ton of events to go to with his unit since then. So, we are just now feeling like we’re getting settled back in. And for the first time since early June, I actually got a full night’s sleep last night! Whew!

Soon-to-Be Birthday Boys!

When I was a kid, my birthday (September 8) would occasionally fall on the first day of school. How badly does that suck for a child? It’s like, “Happy Birthday! Now say goodbye to summer fun and sleeping in!” In fact, my birthdate fell on my brother’s first day of kindergarten. My mom finally got him out of the house during the day and then I came along to steal away any taste of freedom she may have briefly had.

Now, as I am getting ready to celebrate the twins’ first birthday, I’m realizing that their special day falls on a challenging date as well—June 19. We are having their birthday party in New York so that our family can be there for the big day. Keith does not believe in celebrating birthdays ahead of time, so we’re having the party the weekend after their birthday. The problem is, that is right around the time when New York schools let out for the summer. So, several of the boys’ friends can’t come to the party because they have family graduations to attend. Even my brother and niece, Ava, have to come late because Ava’s preschool graduation falls on the same day as the party.

June is also wedding season. And dance recital season. And the start of summer vacation season. So, scratch more of the babies’ cousins and friends off the party list.

Only about half of the people we invited to the party can come. But, they are all people who are very special to us and to the boys, and the party is going to be tons of fun. It’s future birthday parties that I worry about.

Keith and I plan to settle back in New York or in Washington, DC after he retires from the Army, which will be in roughly 4 years and 11.5 months from now (not that I’m counting or anything). DC schools have a similar calendar as those in New York. Plus, let’s face it—June will always be wedding season and dance recital season and the start of vacation season. Right now the boys won’t even realize that only a few of their pals will be at their party. But can you think of anything more heartbreaking for 5-year-old boys than inviting a dozen of their friends to their birthday party and having only a handful show up?

I guess I’m going to have start planning a bit better when choosing dates for the boys’ future birthday parties. This year, I really didn’t have any wiggle room. After all, we are traveling 1,600 miles to have this party. But in future years I can avoid any birthday party disappointment for Matt and Nate by calling my brother and cousins and the parents of their closest friends ahead of time and finding a date that works for the majority.

For now, though, I am going to focus on putting the finishing touches on this year’s birthday party—the twin’s very first one! It will be not only a celebration of Matt and Nate’s lives, but a commemoration of the end of a very challenging, yet extremely wonderful and rewarding year.

Here is a preview of all the birthday fun to come. Photo taken by Rick Louie of Hansrico Photography: