Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Twins - Our Life With Them So Far *smile!*

Having identical twin girls has been so fun for our family of 11 ( so far)!  *smile*  It was fun researching strategies for "doing twins" before ours were born, and it's been a fun 17 months so far growing along with our twin baby girls.  This post is just a glimpse in to what our life with twins has been like, and answering many of the questions we're asked by people often:
  • What was your twin pregnancy like?
  • How did you choose names for them?
  • How do you tell them apart?
  • Did you swaddle them to sleep?
  • Do they sleep together, or apart?
  • Did you feed them simultaneously?
  • How do you orchestrate their play times?
  • Do you dress them matching?
  • How do you afford purchasing multiples items? 
  • Photos and a video of the twins playing


What was your twin pregnancy like?
My pregnancy with the twins was pretty much just the same as with the other babies, except that it seemed like it went about 2 months "too long".  *laugh*  When I was 7-months along I looked and felt like I had when I was 9 months with the other babies...and I wondered, "Oh my word...how do I get bigger than this?!"  Then when I was 33 weeks gestation my body started showing signs of being ready to deliver.  My Dr. promptly put me on bed rest, which was incredibly hard for me.  (Here's me at only 7 months *whew!*)


But the Lord so met us in our need, and He brought friends and family to help me 6-days a week, Monday through Sat. (my husband was needing to work 6 days a week at that time) from 8:30 am until 2:00 in the afternoon!  We were so, so blessed.  I couldn't even lie down on the couch until that friend arrived in the morning, but then once she was there she was able to move the kids easily through our morning schedule (and having that in place was a blessing for each of those helpers, they each told me).  At 2:00 the youngest children went down for naps and the older ones had quiet, independent activities, and I could stay on the couch without difficulty.  At that time my husband was working 7am-3pm, so was able to be home by about 4:00, so I didn't need outside help in the afternoons with him home.  


What made the bed rest time difficult for me were the many physical discomforts; watching the children's behavior training go out the window (I couldn't keep up with it from the couch); watching our home become more and more disorganized (friends helped clean-up, of course, but they just can't know how we've had it organized) and become more and more dirty.  I didn't know how I would ever catch up again.  Training children the first time is difficult, but re-training?  The thought of it just about kills me.  

But there were blessings in addition to the friends who helped.  We do have a comfortable couch right in the family room, central to the whole house so was able to be with everyone all day.  Many friends brought dinners to us, which was so wonderful (smelling delicious home-cooked meals when I couldn't do that myself; so disheartening in itself!)  And I read a few great books in between directing children, and snuggling them in turn on the couch.  It was a hard 5 weeks of bed rest, though.  I know that sounds contradictory - I thought bed rest sounded so nice in the beginning.  But that lasted for about 2 days and then it was hard for me.  However thanks to the help of those precious, generous, loving friends and family  we successfully made it to 38 weeks gestation and healthy babies!

At 38-weeks we planned to induce labor, which according to my Dr. is recommended with twins, and I was feeling way beyond "done" as well.  However the Lord confirmed that this was His timing for the babies as well by starting my labor on my own the night before the induction.  My labor began on a Sunday when Bobby was home - a huge answer to prayer - and I called a neighbor to come watch the kids for us until my mom could come over.  My mom had turned her cell phone off during church, thinking that we were "in the clear" with the risk of starting labor since the induction was scheduled for the next morning.  *laugh*  I won't go in to the whole labor and delivery story in this post, but in a nut shell we were able to have a very healthy delivery naturally (well, with an epidural at the hospital) and not a c-section, which is almost unheard of for twin deliveries.  The girls were 7.7 pounds and 7.9 pounds, a nice, big healthy size for twins.  And we got to go home the next day, also unheard of.  *smile* The several doctors and nurses in the operating room for the delivery all said that they had never even heard of a twin delivery going so smoothly and non c-section. Here is a picture of our baby girls at the hospital, sharing crib.



How did you choose names for them?
This turned out to be more of a puzzle than we thought it would be!  We had to come up with not one, but two sets of first names and middle names that we liked and that went together, and for a variety of possible gender combinations.  All of our ultrasounds had revealed that we would have two girls.  So we had two girl names selected, but also two boy names (you never know!), and then also a boy and girl name combination in case the genders were predicted incorrectly.  It was trickier than you may think to agree on all of these names!  *laugh*  

Via ultrasound during pregnancy we could see that our babies had one placenta and two sacks.  This was so good, because if there is only one sack for the both babies there is a high likelihood that a cord would wrap around one of the babies necks and both would not "make it".  But this news could not reveal whether or not the babies would be identical or fraternal.  We could not know if they were identical or fraternal twins until they were born!  Oh the patience this required for me!  *smile*  My Dr. explained to me that whether they are identical or fraternal depends upon if and when the egg split.  If the pregnancy began with two separate eggs then the babies were fraternal, each their own little separate person.  But if one egg split then they would be identical, sharing the same...I don't know actually...DNA structure I guess.  *chuckle*  But identical babies can share the same placenta or sack or not.  It all depends upon when exactly the egg split.  If it split at 3 days gestation they they may have two separate sacks and two placentas; if it split at 4 or 5 days then they may have two sacks, one placenta; if it split a few days later then they may have only one placenta and one sack to share.  As it turned out the predicted genders were correct, and we got to use our girl names.

We had initially decided that the first born baby would be Lilly and the second born would be Lacey, just because that was the natural order in which we were inclined to say their names.  But as we told people that the babies names would be "Lilly and Lacey" many people said, "Lillian and Lacey"?  Since we did not choose the one name to be Lillian but Lilly, we made the decision to name the babies Lacey and then Lilly respectfully.  This seemed to clear up the name confusion with people and we were happily settled.  We chose the spellings of their names simply by what looked the most feminine to us:  Lacey with an 'e', and Lilly with two l's (unlike the flower which is spelled with one 'l').


How do you tell them apart?
To tell the babies apart at the hospital we had both their wrist and ankle ID bracelets (good to have both, as sometimes one of those would slip off!  *yikes!*  *laugh*).  I had also decided to stitch in advance the babies names on to two newborn hats (we had had several ultrasounds during pregnancy that all identified 2 girls, so this was a safe bet) so that we could even more readily identify them at the hospital (and at home) when they had their hands and ankles swaddled in blankets and covered up out of sight.  We loved having these, and the twins wore them all the time for the first several weeks.

Once we got home, however, in addition to having their hats I painted Lacey's thumb nails with pink nail polish to set the twins apart.  The girls were totally and completely identical (and still are), except that Lilly had a slight red mark on one eye lid but this was fading quickly.  The nail polish was a life-saver.  Even so, once in a while the little thumb nail polish would chip off in one whole piece because that little nail was so tiny, and we'd all gasp and run for the nail polish bottle to painted the nail again.  *laugh!*  I wondered, what if we got them mixed up and accidentally switched them for life?!  And then one day when they were about 2o-years-old some doctor would have to say to them, "Um...you're not actually Lacey...you're Lilly!"  

I was very relieved though when the babies were 3-months-old and we could pierce their ears with different colored stones.  Lacey has pink stones, and Lilly has white ones (since the Lily flower is white this was easy for us and others to remember).  I love, love the look of having babies ears pierced, and was so relieved to have a more permanent identification in place for them.  Even today at 17-months-old we identify them by their earrings nearly every time we look at them.  It's nice for us to have their identification on their ears, up at their face level, so we do not have to search for another method of identification that's harder to see quickly.  Sometimes we can identify them by their outfit that day, and sometimes we can just slightly identify which one is which just by their facial expression but that is still not very consistent yet.  But mostly we tell them apart by their earrings (click on photo to enlarge and see their "bling"!  *laugh!*)



Did you swaddle them to sleep?
I received a great idea from a friend while I was pregnant with the twin babies!  We had always swaddled our babies, wrapping them up tightly in receiving blankets for a feeling of security and warmth.  However our babies have always been on the bigger side, 8+ pounds, and so would very soon start unwrapping themselves when they would wiggle, and then they'd cry and cry until they were re-swaddled.  This was quite time consuming, and would be so especially for two babies.  But this friend of mine simply put her newborn little son strait in to a blanket sleeper as a newborn, which I thought was brilliant!  Baby was warm and cozy, but could not of course un-swaddle himself.  We had had babies in isolettes for Jaundice at the hospital before, and in those situations the babies cannot have any clothes on except a diaper; but they are so warm under the Bili lights that they never minded not being wrapped up.  So I decided to try this idea of not swaddling with blankets.  I didn't know if the babies would cry because they didn't have that tight, in utero feeling being wrapped up tightly in blankets, so I was open to swaddling the babies if that would be better for them; but I wanted to try the blanket sleeper idea first.  As it turned out Lacey & Lilly were perfectly cozy and content in their blanket sleepers, so we stayed with that plan, and I was very grateful.


Do they sleep together or apart?
Before the girls were born I did a lot of reading about twins and whether to have them sleeping together or separately, but much of it was "pop psychology" which seems to us to be very fluctuating and unreliable.  For this decision we decided to go off of what we already had learned about babies.  

We purchased from Craig's List two wooden mini-cribs (about pack-n-plays size) which fit beautifully together in our master bedroom walk-in closet.  *smile*  This enabled them to be close to us but while still having their own room in essence.  We desired for the twins to be able to sleep together, but to be able to sleep apart as well if necessary.  If one was sick, or if one needed to be in the hospital for any reason (which did happen for us when Lacey got RSV - an lower respiratory illness - and had to be monitored in the hospital for about 5 days), or to enable them to still sleep when they became mobile and needed to be separated in order to enable this to happen well.  So we had the babies sleep half the time together in the same crib, and half the time in separate cribs which were adjacent so that they could hear the other breathing and feel her presence.  They slept at night together, and for naps during the day separate.  This worked beautifully and the girls never seemed to know the difference.  We started this right from the beginning as newborns knowing that we would establish a habit from the beginning.

 
When the babies became mobile and would disturb each others sleep by rolling over or crawling on each other, we had them sleep separately by with cribs adjacent all the time.  Lacey & Lilly seemed to love this, and at first would reach through the bars to touch fingers but then move back a little ways to sleep undisturbed; and now later they love to stand up together in their separate cribs and play cute games before falling asleep.  Before the babies were about 1-year-old we found them usually sleeping with their heads still near to each other even when in separate cribs.  *smile*  But now they just sleep with cribs adjacent, but wherever is comfortable in their own spaces. 


Lacey and Lilly often throw their blankets or their blanket bunnies in to the other's crib, or pull them through the bars when they can reach, and they they play the cutest little games before falling asleep at night.  When the twins were about 9-months old we let them share a bedroom with their sisters, so now the 5 girls all share a bedroom (there's a trundle bed under the bunk bed) and the older girls enjoy reporting the baby girls antics to us. 



From what our older daughters tell us, Lacey and Lilly have always been pretty funny at night.  *chuckle*  They would stand together and such each others fingers, or hold each other's ears.  They would duck down and then stand up again playing peek-a-boo with each other.  And the funniest was at about 14-months-old when one of the twins would turn around with her back to her sister, the other twin would unsnap her blanket sleeper neck (their sleepers were put on each of them backwards to stop them from taking their sleepers off at night and getting cold - so much for that idea!)  After the sleeper was unsnapped, that baby girl would bend down and touch her toes causing her zipper to unzip down her back.  Then she'd climb out of her sleeper!  *laugh!*  It's actually still a problem to this day, at 17-months-old, because we have yet to find a solution and a way to keep the sleepers on safely.


Did you feed them simultaneously?
I was not planning to nurse the twins because I had always many, many complications with nursing previous babies.  I nursed the first 3 of our babies, but the others we bottle fed very successfully, healthfully, and joyfully.  (Watch for a future post on the how's and why's of bottle feeding.)  However I have had several friends who have nursed twins very successfully, at least for the first couple of months when the babies were very small.  They would nurse with either a "football hold" on each (one under each arm); or stacking them, one on the top of the other each nursing on separate sides simultaneously; or one dear friend would nurse one and give the other a bottle and then switch them at the next feeding.  But they could not do this in public as it was just impossible to do simultaneously.

But I still had the problem of trying to figure out how to feed two babies simultaneously even with bottles.  Whether nursing or bottle feeding, this is a common difficulty.  I knew that I needed to feed them at the same time otherwise I would be feeding alternately and doing so all day long without break, which would make it impossible for me to effectively care for the other children.  As the Lord would have it, my husband was out of work for Lacey and Lilly's first 3 months so he was available to feed a baby together with me during the day times.  At night he and I would take turns feeding them by ourselves, feeding Lacey and then Lilly or vise-verse so that the other of us could get some sleep in more consecutive hours.  Then when Bob went back to work, one of our older daughters would feed a baby with me during the day most of the time, and our oldest daughter would get up once with me in the night to feed the twins, because Bob needed to sleep a full night in order to be able to work his best during the day.  That daughter would then sleep a little longer in the morning if she needed to, but the feedings only took about 30 minutes in total, so she was usually still rested enough without sleeping in.  She and I would watch 30 minutes of a favorite movie during that 3:00-ish am feeding, and we really enjoyed that time together, she and I and the two baby girls.  It was actually much more fun to be up with our daughter at night than it had been to be up by myself at night with our other single babies.  *smile*  Here's a photo of me feeding the babies with my sister's help.

When a daughter was not available to feed a baby with me and the twins were still very young and needed all of my concentration to feed and help them burp, I had to feed them one at a time.  My strategy was to just have one "play" on the floor while I fed sister, and then I'd switch them.  Our twins were always fine with this, waiting a little while to eat when necessary.  I had also read  the idea of using bouncy seats to feed babies simultaneously, but I didn't feel I could do this well when the babies were very little and I needed to pay attention as to when they needed to burp mid-bottle.  Eventually, when the babies could take an entire bottle at once without needing to be burped during the feeding, I could feed them simultaneously.  *smile*  I loved this.


When the babies were eating table foods in booster seats, we still fed them simultaneously; an idea which I had read before they had been born.  Such a simple idea, and worked beautifully.  We just fed them from one bowl and off of the same spoon.  *smile*  And we still do this today.  



We now use these booster seats by Fisher Price called "Space Savers", which strap to our kitchen chairs and do not take up as much space as high chairs.  These are brilliant booster seats, in my opinion, and we bought four total (used off of Craig's List) so that our 1-year-old and 2-year-old could use them, too!  The seats have a five-point harness, which helps them stay seated very securely, and the seats can recline for real little babies, or the back can be removed so that it functions as an older child's booster seat.  The seats are $52 new from Wal-Mart, but we got ours for $20 each off of Craig's List. 


Before the babies were eating solid foods from the table, I would prepare for them vegetables by pureeing cooked vegetables in the blender and then freezing that in ice cube trays for easy service, 3 or 5 ice cubes usually at a time, warmed.  We also used every day a baby Food Mill ($36 from Amazon), which successfully purees almost any table strait from our dinner table!  It's brilliant!  *smile*  We pureed chicken, casseroles, peanut butter sandwiches (with a little water added afterwards to make it more liquidy), pizza, pastas, whatever!  (Pretty much anything except raw vegetables)


How do you orchestrate their play times?
Until Lacey and Lilly were about 6 months old, they took 3 naps a day, so having activities for them to do wasn't really an issue.  When they would have some time to play on the floor we would usually have them play on our master bedroom floor with a sibling behind a baby gate so that the other young kids (the next two older siblings were 11 months and 22 months when the twins were born, and the next ones up from them were only 4, 5, & 8 - so we needed controlled "visiting" *chuckle*) couldn't get to the babies unsupervised.



 (Melanie reading aloud to Lacey & Lilly *smile*)

Since the twins have been old enough to have play time, and have only needed only two naps during the day, and then one nap after about age 1, we have had them rotate between activities.  This way we didn't need to have two megasaucers, or two bouncy swings, etc.  We don't have room in our small house for this, and would not choose to afford it even if we could.  So I would put one baby in the megasaucer, and one in the bouncy seat for 30 min. and then switch them.  Then we'd give them time with a sibling for a while, or our oldest daughter and I would wear them in front packs for a while.  And then we would let them have play time in a pack-n-play and in a crib with toys, and after 30 minutes we'd switch them again.  This allowed us to homeschool smoothly, and the babies had both time with siblings and with me, and time to play alone in an activity.







Do you dress them matching?
Let me tell you, one of the most fun things for me is dressing the twins in identical matching outfits.  It is so much fun!  *beam!*  However, I cannot afford to go out and purchase brand new matching outfits for them just because I like to (and probably wouldn't even if I could afford it, as that just doesn't seem to me like a wise use of the finances God has given us).  Also, we already have most of the clothes for one baby girl as hand-me-downs from a big sister, which are perfectly good.  We've been given some matching twin outfits as gifts, and I've found a few matching outfits used at Value Village or from the SNOMOMS sale (more on that below), but other than that I just try to dress the twins in matching colors or matching styles most of the time.  And this has worked out beautifully!  *smile*  I've found that if I put a white tee-shirt and white leggings (for warmth) underneath two different denim jumpers, the babies still have a matching look to me.  The twins look pretty matching in floral jumpers even when they aren't technically the same fabric.  Here are some of their outfits that are not technically matching but which I think look pretty matching cute anyway.






How do you afford purchasing multiples items?
Most of the time I purchase used clothing for our children at Value Village or the Good Will when they need it.  I love finding nice, quality items very inexpensively there, having learned some great strategies for shopping there successfully.  But my favorite place to shop for the twins is at the SNOMOMS (Snohomish Mothers Of Multiples) sale here in Snohomish Washington.  This group offers many things for mothers of multiples, such as play dates, forums for information and questions, group activities, and activity nights, but my favorite are the bi-annual clothing and supplies sales!  These are like garage sales for every kind of children's items (clothes, strollers, furniture, toys - everything), especially for multiples, and is held in Edmond Community College's gymnasium (this photo is of a different location, and is much, much more crowded than it is now in a college gym).  

Mothers without multiples can shop there as well, which I did years ago when we did not have multiples.  But now that we do have multiples and I can be a member of SNOMOMS, I get to enter the sales 30 minutes early with the rest of the mothers of multiples, before the rest of the community gets to shop.  Because this group is hosted by mothers of multiples, many of the items there were purchased for twins and so they match or be used for multiple babies, such as double or quadruplet strollers and such.  This has been a very fun place to shop for matching twin outfits.  SNOMOMS is also associated with the Northwest Association Mothers of Twins Clubs (NWAMOTC) and the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs, Inc. (NOMOTC).  If you are a mother of multiples would encourage you to look in your area for a similar group to become a member of for support and opportunities for swapping clothing and other items. 


Photos and a video of the twins playing











(They love to sit inside of toy boxes or baskets)



(They love wearing the Mr. Potato Head glasses around!)

(Playing dress up)

(Waking up from naps)

(They've got pony tails! *cheer!*)

  
I would really love to hear from other mothers of multiples!  *smile*  Our little twin muffins are still so young, I would really love to have more ideas for strategies for older twins that I can apply as our Lacey & Lilly get older.  So break out all of your secrets!  Here is the place!  

And just so it's said - we do not consider twins to be all the more wonderful than singleton babies.  *smile*  Every baby is precious, precious, beautiful and uniquely created by God.  We absolutely adore all of our 9 children.  And all of your children are also wonderful creations by our Heavenly Father.  This post is just to share a glimpse in to our world of having multiples, because so many people are curious and love to know, and so many parents of multiples need to share ideas!  *smile*  I hope you all can understand this and just enjoy the twins with us.



Blessings to your family!

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42 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this glimpse into the world of twins. They are so cute! I am 7 months pregnant with one baby and people (normally strangers) keep saying that my bump is large and am I expecting twins? I think it is about average size. I always think that they clearly haven't seen a twins bump... I think I might send them to your blog to see the fantastic picture of you at 7 months. :-)

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    1. I totally understand - for my last few pregnancies people have started asking me at about 7 months gestation if I'm due any day? "No...I still have 2 months left" *half smile* *chuckle* I think we should make a button for pregnant mothers to wear that says, "Stop! Please think before you speak."

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  2. Oh they are SO ADORABLE!!!! I enjoyed this post so very much. I don't have twins but I have always been curious about them, especially identicals. I know that mothers of twins say how much hard work twins are, but all the same I do hope God will bless us with twins someday! I am due my 6th little boy next week, and I adore having all these little boys, but twin girls would be so exciting! :) I always like seeing news or photos of Lacey and Lilly, because my last baby is the same exact age. Such a great age they are at now! So much fun! :)

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    1. Thank you *beam*! And congratulations to you!

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  3. Hi Erika,

    what a lovely post, your twins are such cute girls!
    You can be really proud of yourself for the non-c-section birth (although this is not unheard for me, I've heard of a quite a few twin births, even home births). Did you ever have a c-section or all of your kids naturally?
    Since you wear the babies in a front pack I've wondered if you have ever considered to wear them on your back? My 3rd baby ist 11 months now and I wear her alot at my back, in the house und outside too. I find that more comfortable than in the front (which I've also done in the first months).

    Greetings from Germany
    Salo (with kids 6, 4 and almost 1 year old)

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    1. Nope, no c-sections.

      I haven't ever worn them on my back, although I can see how that would be more comfortable. I guess just because I love to see them and kiss on them and touch them easily, and since I don't wear them for long periods of time really, wearing them on the front has been fine. But I always consider wearing them on my back; or with one of those wrap-around slings instead of a front pack...

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  4. Thank you so much for your post, I love hearing about other twins as well. My identical twin boys are now 11 months and it doesn't seem possible that their birthday is coming up so quickly! When did you start pureeing the table food for them? I have made the boys food myself from the beginning, but having trouble figuring out when to stop pureeing just veggies and stuff and start on the actual table food :) You are such an encouragement and blessing!

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    1. Well I don't offer "solids" until about 9 months old, just because the babies haven't needed it earlier than that (growing nice and big already) and when I tried it with earlier babies they never had the reflex yet to bring the food from the front of their mouth to the back and then swallow, so it was a lot of effort for nothing. So now I just want until later, at 9 mo. So when we start solids we just jump right in. I let them adjust first to baby cereal, and then try all of the vegetables pureed, individually, one at a time every few days; and then we let them eat from the table as our naturopath Dr.s have recommended lately. They used to say to introduce things very slowly and one at a time, but supposedly the new recommendation is to feed them strait from the table asap. (Of course not giving them strawberries or honey before age 1 I think it is? - I've forgotten already *shesh*)

      We've LOVED having them eat and taste everything we eat. It's made transitions to real solids (not pureed) so easy. However the babies have not liked Gerber after they've had table foods. LOL - I can't say I blame them. But I did like the convenience of packing some Gerber food in the diaper bag when we were out. Oh well. It's still worth it in our mind. =)

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  5. I have a 3 year old daughter who has been taking her sleepersoff, too. We found a great solution! We use a (cloth) diaper safety pin to pin the zipper in place. Put the pin through one side of the PJ's, then through the zipper tab hole, and then through the other side and close the pin. Even my strong 3 yr old can't undo the pin! I hope this helps!

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    1. I was going to suggest this too. We safety pin one of our 2 1/2 year old fraternal twins pjs every night so he doesn't take his diaper off. We just use a regular safety pin and pin around the zipper just under the pull

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    2. Oh great! So simple - I'll do that tonight! =)

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  6. Just wanted to say hello! I've been following your blog for a few months. Our fraternal twin girls turned 17 months old last week! So, I thought it wasfunny that our girls are both the same age and had to leave you a comment. They are our youngest two. We have two older daughters- 10 yrs and almost 8 yrs old. Praying for more :)

    Have a blessed day!

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  7. Erika, I just have to say how much I love your blog. It is so well-organized. I love, love, love all the pictures you include. It really feels like I can step into your home for a visit. I am a very visual person. ;) I love the "feeling" I get every time I read about your family or your home or your schedules and especially when I can "see" how you live your life. :) I want so much to duplicate most of what you do in your home in my home. But I am really struggling with turning those hopes into reality.

    I am a bit of a packrat - a mild one (if there is such a thing), but one nonetheless. I find it very difficult to pare down beyond what we've already done (to give myself some credit we just eliminated about ten large apple boxes/Rubbermaid totes of stuff last weekend at a yard sale and the leftovers were donated to charity), but our apartment still feels too crowded and cluttered and constantly messy. :( We have about 1000 sq ft (give or take a little) just like you guys, but we don't have the luxury of a garage to convert to living/usable space. (How much extra square footage do you receive from the garage area or is that already calculated into your 1100 sq ft? It can't possibly! Your home seems so much larger than our apartment, at least with the garage area.) We live in student apartments and have four (and a half!) little ones (8, 6, 4, 2, soon-to-be). We have three bedrooms that are all almost identical in size. My hubby and I have one and the kids all share another (I've tried separating them into a boys' and girls' room, but I don't think they are ready yet (boys are 8 and 2, girls are 6 and 4. My 8yo is the one who doesn't want to sleep "alone" and he doesn't consider his 2yo brother old enough to be proper company I guess.) The third bedroom is our laundry room/dressing room/closet. Our dryer is in this room. Hubs and I use the built in closet for our clothes, and the kids have short racks for their clothes, our dressers are in here also. That leaves the closets in the two bedrooms for storage and two tiny, tiny closets/shelves in the entry area for all of our storage needs.

    I also struggle with staying away from the computer sometimes. *embarrassed shrug* Which means I have trouble following our schedule. I get overwhelmed trying to make it all work and turn to the computer for relief. :( We aren't used to having an actual schedule like your family has, but I want (NEED) one to be productive. I don't live intentionally without it. My very biggest challenge with the schedule though, is getting out of bed in the morning. I love to sleep in the morning. It feels like the only restful sleep I get is in the morning hours.

    Do you have any words of wisdom for me? I need some help. Do you have any ideas or tips for me? Thank you for the source of encouragement and wisdom that you are for other mamas out there, like me. :) I truly appreciate your service to us. :)

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    1. That was longer than I intended - sorry. *sheepish grin* I'm a talker too! :)

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    2. Crystal,
      Oh bless you! Wonderful! That's just what we strive for and hope for. =)

      Well great start on de-cluttering! =) Our garage is about 400 sq/ft, and it does add a lot to our workable space. But we've been without a garage before, in an apartment like you, and we made that work, too. Just takes prayer, creativity, and a willingness to part with stuff that you don't use every day. Sounds like you've already got a great plan going on how to "think outside the box" and use those bedrooms however they work for your family. =)

      What I do is try to maximize every inch of space. Toys are in clear Rubermaid containers so we can see what is available to play with (if they can't see it, they don't use it), and if you don't have shelves for those then you can just stack them on the floor. Shelves are idea. And I keep only what we use all the time. Not what we envision using some time, or things I just like, but things that are worn, or played with, or used all the time. Everything else goes. I just don't have space to store extra stuff, and I don't have time to manage it. There's great freedom in having less. =) Believe me, I know.

      What really helped us get a handle on this idea was when our house was on the market and we put everything in to a storage unit that we weren't using in the next 6 months. It would be worth even renting one for a month or a few for you. Box everything up, and make your apartment as spacious as possible. It feels easier, in our opinion, when the things you're boxing up aren't going away permanently, but rather "temporarily". You could get them back in 1-6 mo. if you desired; but we found that our house felt SO NICE being more spacious that we liked the house that way more than we liked the stuff!! So we gave most all of it away, or sold it. Felt GREAT.

      I literally only keep like 2-3 of my favorite pens and pencils, no longer hand-fulls of them. I only keep the towels on our towel racks, wash those and put them back up; not extras. Maye a cleaning towel or two, and some beach towels, too, which our kids play with year round. If you haven't read my post on de-cluttering I encourage you to do so. http://www.largefamiliesonpurpose.com/2011/04/de-cluttering-first-steps-to.html

      And we have toys that are either small and don't take up much space, like "Sweet Street" doll houses, and things that fold up or collapse up in to a small shape I can put away. Like pop-up nylon play tents, car mat carpet, music CD's that encourage large movement/activity, and such.

      About scheduling, I really encourage you to put one together - you can read my posts on scheduling to get direction for doing that if you'd like. Living "unintentionally" without one, is actually an intentional choice to not learn to do one, and put one together. *hugs* =) You can do it. You'll be amazed at how much time you find yourself with! And yes, getting up in the morning is a discipline; as is getting to bed in a timely manner so that you can get up in the morning (even if you're a "night person" - it's time to learn a new skill).

      Blessings on your efforts. =)

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  8. I love that picture of them sleeping in the exact same position. So precious.

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  9. We do not have twins ourselves, bur know a few families that do. I look up and applaude all of you! We practice attachment parenting and it just seems like it would just be to difficult with twins. You are an amazing mother.

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  10. This is so astounding! I passed you and your lovely family on the walking trail yesterday and shared that our 30 & 31st grandchildren were on the way & they were identical twin girls. Then today one of my daughters sent me a link to your blog.I'm grateful for wonderful people with great Christian values in a world that has in large part chosen an opposite way. I haven't read much but loved the skirts part. I wear them a lot and always on Sunday but am often cold and dress in jeans and long sleeves for warmth. God Bless you and your family.

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    1. S.Ann, Oh my goodness! =D That's so funny! I believe that God delights in sending those little fun surprises to us sometimes. *hugs* I love that. Blessings on you today, and on all of your wonderful children and grandchildren.

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  11. Our boys are faternal twins...age 14! We just had a blessing and prayer over them at church by my husband today as they have completed 8th grade (home school) and are moving onto high school (still home school) in the Fall...hard to believe how fast they grow! But we also have 3 girls (16, 13, & 10)...and 3 little fosters also! So it is a full house!
    You seem to be doing so well with all of your blessings!
    Our boys made it to week #35 in the pregnancy after 90 days of complete bedrest (in & out of hospital)...then were both born naturally within 4 minutes of each other. They weighed 5 lbs. 8 oz. and 4 lbs. 13 oz.
    Today, they are AMAZINGLY strong young men that are taller than me (& I'm 5'7"!!)
    While it is amazing to have twins...they are each so special in their own way!

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  12. Hi Erika
    This post totally made me smile & brought back so many memories. I have identical twin boys who have just turned 6. This is the first year we are officially home schooling them & it has been wonderful, but challenging too. I intend to write a post about home schooling twins at some point. I did many of the same things as you when they were babies. For id we used the hospital bands & then nail polish & then we were so thankful that one of our boys had a birth mark come out at 3 months old as we were thinking we'd have to use polish for years ( being boys they can't get their ears pierced). Having older twins is so fun too ~ they seem to enjoy the twin thing at times, but other times I know it is frustrating as even David ( hubby) has troubles telling them apart (yes, after 6 years). Thankfully I have no troubles even when they try to play tricks on me :) I breastfed my twinnies until they were 14 months & generally double fed them. With the older 2 being so close in age ( I had 4 babies 3 & under) I couldn't afford the time to single feed them. It was so beautiful though & if I was out in public I would single feed then ( unless I could find a very private baby room to hide in- twin feeding is very immodest). For someone expecting twins & hoping to b/feed, a twin breastfeeding pillow is a must ~I picked mine up through the multiple birth association lightly used. Oh I could write so much here Erika, but I won't ( I may use these ideas for a post on my blog sometime though). If anyone is expecting twins my greatest piece of advice is remember they are different people. I loved dressing mine identically & sometimes the boys still choose to dress that way & to lots of people they are the same person, but to family & mothers in particular they are different, wonderful people & need to be treated as such by us ~especially as they get older. I love having twins & would have them again in a second, but as you said all children are blessings. One last thing~I do not abide people saying "double trouble' I a try to have a gentle reply of the blessing they are. Thanks for the memories & the smiles.
    Blessings
    Renata:)

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  13. I have 8 year old fraternal twin boys (#3 & 4 out of 7). They are a lot of fun! Mine were born early at 30 weeks so we had a bit of a rough start but you would never know that looking at them now. I was able to breastfeed them until about age 15 months, but never really fed them both at the same time. I figured separate feeding times was a good way to get some one on one time in. :)

    I joined a local twins club and met some wonderful friends. I also loved shopping at our twice annual sale. I loved to dress them in matching clothes but as they got older I let them choose for themselves. Once in awhile they match but it's usually on accident! Maybe girls would enjoy matching more than boys so you can enjoy that longer!!

    One of the best "twin tips" I ever got was to get make sure each twin has a their own birthday cake and to sing "Happy Birthday" twice, once for each twin. My boys always get a kick out of that!

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  14. We have identical twin girls too. They are now 6 y/o. I was able to successfully bf them both simultaneously for 18 mths. A good pillow worked wonders! I was determined to make it work, I was not going to feed my babies nasty chemically loaded formula. If I had to I would have made my own lol.

    I too went on strict bedrest... for me it was at 20 weeks. And I had a 13 month old daughter running around. We ended up hiring a live-in nanny. And she also did the housekeeping and she cooked the breakfast and noon meals, my husband made the evening meal. (yes, I'm blessed to have a husband who loves to cook!)

    It was hard for us at first to distinguish the two. But I did the nail polish thing too. All 10 fingers and toes got painted lol. The brightest red and blue I could find. But once their personalities shined thru (not long lol) it became easier. Now our one daughter is taller than the other. :-)

    We decided when before they were born to not dress them alike. 2 different persons, 2 different personalities. It was something we were strongly against.

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  15. Erika,

    Was searching for a GF's blog with twins and came across yours. Started reading and came across your post about making the decision having your dd's ears pierced at 3mos mo old w/different colored stones. Hope you don't mind me leaving a comment, but I did our g/g twins at that age and they did find. I think you were a smart and thoughtful mommy for piercing your girl ears early.

    Our ped encouraged me to go ahead early and even gave me some suggestions for moms having their dd's ears pierced. I had so many moms try to give me advice which didn't work with identical twins. The only thing which worked was their earrings. I must say it does look adorable on them and made look like baby ingenues.

    Admittedly, I know a lot of people have strong feelings when to pierce a child’s ear. “Let them decide” is being replaced by parental decision when mommy intuition knows, “earlier is better” from either personal or friend’s experiences of unpleasant childhood ear piercing.

    Congrats on making a thoughtful decision on behalf of your dd's ears. They look adorable with some bling in her ears. I think babies with earrings are the cutest things. Little earrings celebrates their femininity and femaleness. After all, they are little girls.

    Promise your girls will thank you later for the "gift of pierced ears" as an infant. If you or any mom would like any of our ped’s care tips for
    infants, then don’t hesitate to write me an e-mail.

    Angie

    angietune@hotmail.com

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    1. Angie, Thanks, I totally agree. =) When our girls have gotten older then we let them change the earrings, buy them new ones, etc. Until then they just wear their locking studs. And if they don't want them pierced when they're older they can always just not wear earrings. Not big deal. But like you said, it's so feminine and fun, our 5 girls have always loved them! And we got great advice, too, on how to do it well. There's no danger at all - some people just totally over react in my opinion. It's not that big of a deal.

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  16. Yup and for us we did NOT pierce our baby's ears as infants. And don't plan on having them pierced till they are 12 or 13. I personally don't like the look of pierced ears on babies. But there are those who do. It's the parent's decision to make based on BELIEFS/personal convictions and their own thoughts.

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  17. My ears were pierced when I was four. DH and I decided to save "ear-piercing" for a special birthday---in our home, the 13th birthday. Just because we want to make a special Daddy/Mommy/daughter date out of it.

    That being said, if I ever have identical twin girls, I would TOTALLY pierce their ears if it made it easy to tell them apart! What a great idea. And they look positively adorable with their little ears pierced. :)

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  18. Just a thought for PJ's. We couldn't use the sleepers with our last one as she got too hot (which may be why the twins take them off!:) so we've used the jammies with a top and pants. They are not as easy to take off, but keep her clothed at night.
    I always wanted twins...but we had all singletons. I did have a mother of twins tell me once, "The only people who wanted twins were those who didn't have them." and I thought, "Well, yeah, cause we don't have them yet." But she did not mean it in a kind way. Glad you are enjoying yours.
    Keep up the God work.

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  19. I love having twins! My identical boys are almost 15 months! They are #5 and 6 for us; I am so thankful that they are such easy, laid-back babies! They were born vaginally at 39 weeks 6 days and were both great weights and we went home from the hospital after 2 nights (we could have gone sooner, but I wanted more rest before going home to 4 more kids). My pregnancy was picture perfect; just like a singleton pregnancy.

    We have always been able to tell them apart (for the most part). When they were born, Baby B had a large bruise on his face from the vacuum extractor for a few weeks and by then we could kind of see subtle differences. When they were about a month old I noticed a tiny freckle on one of their legs (that the other baby didn't have); I'm sure you can imagine how excited I was to find that. Before they were born, I thought I would love dressing them alike, but I hardly ever did. We usually dress on in blues, red, and white; the other in greens, orange/yellow, and brown. They are color coded!

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  20. Erika,
    Fun post on the twins! They are just sooo cute!! I have twins who just turned 7. Adding on to the last post, one of my twins was "green" and the other "blue" (you could do pink and purple). In addition to dressing, this was so convenient on multiple (no pun intended!) levels: from everything to water bottles to sandals to towels, etc. I never had to think twice.
    A thought about school: They may not be identical in their abilities or pace, and I am glad I finally made the decision to let one "pass" the other up in math. I was reluctant at first, just having the one child "wait," but it has worked out just fine! I tell all of my children that there are some things you are better at, and some things others are better at than you. It is okay! We make it a non-issue and don't belabor being "sorry" that they aren't where their brother is...
    About birthdays: We have always told them that it is such a huge blessing from the Lord that they are twins and God gave them each other, in addition to their other siblings of course, but it is in a special way when you are a twin (in my opinion). You share a lot of things with that someone. This includes birthdays. I have never heard either make mention that they don't get their "own" birthday or grudgingly that they have to "share" their birthday. This is not OUR attitude, therefore they have not adopted it. It's a special day to remember the way God brought them into this world together!! It is the way the Lord had it, and let's celebrate! We do sing twice, which is fun. In fact, another fun idea is to sing and blow candles at the exact moment they were born. For us it works well at 6:01 and 6:18pm. Oh, I also have them make each other a little card or present just like on their other siblings' birthdays.
    God bless you guys! Love reading your blog!
    Shannon

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    1. Fun doing separate colors for your twins; and I love your thoughts on simultaneous birthdays. That's what I hoped it could be like. =)

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  21. Oh I think this is one of my favorite blog posts! Your little twins are just adorable!!! I always wished I would be blessed with identical twins but it never happened.

    When I was a teen, I used to babysit two little identical twin girls named Lacy and Lexy! I learned to tell them apart only from a freckle pattern on their noses - otherwise it was impossible. It was always so fun though and I remember their mom enjoyed dressing them alike!

    Thank you so much for sharing.

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  22. This was such a fun post to read and look at all the pictures.

    I enjoy your blog and visit often but I rarely comment.

    Thanks for sharing so much.
    Praising Him,
    Kim

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  23. A friend directed me to your blog, specifically this post. We found out just last week that we are going to be parents of twins, numbers 5 and 6 in our growing family, making us a family of 8! :)

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    1. Oh praise the Lord! =D So exciting! Congratulations! And try not to let people scare you with stories. ;) For some reason all of a sudden everyone I met wanted to tell me of stories of people they knew who lost a twin or both, or terrible stories online or on TV - totally not thinking about how that might effect me. You may want to think about your response to those. I could tell by how their eyebrows went up, and their face got excited as if they had juicy news to tell me. I would try to gracefully put up a hand and stop them and say, "Sorry, not scary or sad stories please."

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  24. Hi Erika,
    I would like to know where you found your maternity jumpers? I have never fit into maternity pants well. They are very uncomfortable, they don't stay up and honestly by the end of the day I'm a bear because I'm so irritated. I'm having a hard time finding simple maternity jumpers like you show yourself wearing in this post. I've checked all the thrift and consignment stores we have and still no luck. Thanks so much.

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    1. Anna Mary,

      I totally understand about the pants! I was SO uncomfortable and irritated, too, when I was trying to wear them! Always either underneath my tummy which made me cold, or way over my tummy and squeezing my stomach (which was up to my chest). Ugh. Yuck. LOL I was so comfortable in jumpers/dresses! SO nice. Well the first jumper, the blue one, my mom sewed for me from a pattern because even the few maternity skirts/dresses I did have I out grew with the size of the twin-baby tummy! And the next picture with the green jumper is actually a regular dress, believe it or not, that just happened to be very roomy in the skirt part! I loved those two. I actually never loaned them out even even when I loaned my maternity clothes to friends because I knew I could not easily replace those jumpers if they got stained or ruined in someone's wash cycle or something. *chuckle*

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  25. I just skimmed through your post and loved it. I'm looking forward to going back through it piece by piece. We just found out that we are expecting twins. We have 6 living children. We lost our baby boy May 17 at 20 weeks, we believe due to a blood clot from a genetic mutation I didn't know I had. So to be expecting twins has brought a double joy and restoration to our hearts. Look forward to reading more.

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  26. Hello Erika. I was wondering which baby carrier you used, and if you liked it. They have many expensive ones out there, and I am wondering if they are worth it for someone who doesn't use it all the time. I tried the sleepy wrap, but just too much to do and undo for me since I don't wear baby for long times. Suggestions? Thanks!

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    1. Alicia,
      We love the Baby Bjorne front packs. =) They're fairly expensive new, but you can almost always find used ones in consignment stores if you keep looking every week for a while (if you have time for that before babies are born). I've tried several kinds but they all pulled my shoulders and back badly. These are very nice, and quick to get on and off, and I can even do it by myself whereas some were so hard to get baby into I almost needed help, or a bed to put baby's back on while I tried to get in to it right. I haven't tried wraps because like you said I only wear them short periods of time. And I just didn't put out the expense when I already had two Bjorne's. The ones we use are pictured in this post.

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    2. Thank you for your reply! I value your input.

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