Summer of beards

Things have changed since I last posted. I married my high school sweetheart after 37 years and am now living on the other side of the country.

I now have three young-adult step children, totaling five in college. Yes, more Top Ramen for me.

My three boys showed up for summer vacation looking like extras for a Grizzly Adams movie sequel. Three degrees of beards. My identical twins used to look different but now it’s easy to mistake them, especially when you see their profiles.

Photo: Getting country crazy in Nashville after the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.

Guys with beards 2

One of my twins is taking off for a study abroad program in Germany. His older brother went to Hong Kong for a year, and now Deutschland is on the horizon. I expect we’ll all be heading that way over the next 12 months. I love adventure. I need to start drinking beer. So I’m told.

All for now.

Advice to Twins Auditioning for American Idol

Hi twins,

This season of American Idol has been a lot of fun thus far. With the exception of seeing twins audition together. It’s heartbreaking sometimes. It’s not uncommon for the judges to select one twin and send the other one home.

When the twins leave the judges’ room, they are greeted by their family. That’s the hard part. It is so difficult to know how to react. You are happy for the successful twin and sad for the one who didn’t do well. What do you do?

I had a similar experience when my guys went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to take their written driving test. One twin passed and the other one didn’t. The ride home in the car was very solemn. We couldn’t console the brokenhearted twin and celebrate the other. We eventually had some time alone with our son who passed, and we expressed our feelings of happiness for his success. He told us he knew we couldn’t react because of the disappointment his brother was feeling.

The morale of this story is, when auditioning for anything, do it separately. You might have a greater chance at success because the judges won’t compare you to your sibling. In the end, it might not be as traumatic for your family members if the outcome is not the same. Trust me on this.

All for now.

It’s a wonderful feeling

Moms, have you ever had an overwhelming feeling of contentment knowing that your twins are safe and happy and embarking on new adventures a.k.a. their lives?

I talked to all three of my college boys this weekend and was so pleased that all of them are thriving in their new environments. They are happy.

Rearing children, in general, is challenging but helping twins find their individuality and independence yet keep their special bond is even harder. Throw in an older sibling who was used to being the center of attention and the situation gets tougher still. 

Our goal as MOTs (Mothers of Twins) is to raise well-rounded individuals who can still celebrate their twinness. 

After talking with each son, I felt good and also confident that my husband, extended families and I did our job well. It’s a great feeling. 

I am going to pat myself on the back today. Pat yourself, too, and have a good day. 

All for now. 

Twin astronauts in space study

Hey MOTs, I hope you have been following the careers of NASA’s identical twin astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly.

Scott Kelly, 49, flew two space shuttle missions and lived on the International Space Station for six months. His brother, Mark Kelly, is the husband of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. Mark has flown four shuttle missions.

The study is called “Differential Effects on Homozygous Twin Astronauts Associated with Differences in Exposure to Spaceflight Factors.” Scott will launch in March 2015 on a yearlong mission on the International Space Station where he will be tested. Brother Mark will undergo many of the same tests on earth.

I am fascinated by studies and research that look at identical twins and examine how lifestyle, good/bad eating habits, smoking, exercise and the environment can affect not only how they are health wise but also how they look.

How will living in zero gravity for a year impact Scott’s body and appearance? How will what he eats and the rigid NASA sleep schedule affect him? How will the lack of vitamin D (sunshine) make him feel? Will he age less than his earth-bound brother or will there be other factors that might make him look and feel older?

Aren’t you curious? Stay tuned. As a self-proclaimed space nerd I plan to follow the Kelly brothers as soon as the rocket lifts off!

NOTE: Please tell your children not to give up their dreams of being astronauts and living in space. I believe America will move forward. It just might take a while.

All for now.

I’m just saying

I love all things twins.

I love how people talk about the twins they know when I mention my guys. I am fascinated by their relationships, whether they are identical or fraternal. I am especially interested in the bond between same sex fraternals.

I met a woman last night who said her husband (second marriage) has a set of fraternals and a set of identicals. Yes, a lot of work but how cool is that?

Tomorrow I am going to see my boys after a being away for about a month. They are 19 and doing their own things. They are getting ready for year two of college. They are young adults with strong opinions and strong voices. I really like them.

I feel special being an MOT (Mother of Twins) and I think highly of and have a deep respect for other mothers of multiples. We’re in a unique club. So, celebrate ladies, and hug your twins (and other children) as often as they’ll let you.

All for now.

Being a Twin — Harmful to Dating?

I recently attended a lovely brunch at a trendy restaurant in Sacramento with my neighbor’s epicurean club. (I felt so cosmopolitan.) A woman sitting across from me has 11-year-old fraternal twins who look almost identical. She said they are bonded at the hip and have very similar personalities.

Seated next to me was a 50+ woman who said she was an identical twin. She and her sister were highly competitive growing up and thus, didn’t like each other very much. Hated each other, actually. Today, she and her sister do a lot together as they are both divorcées looking for love.

She complained that whenever she and her sister are together in public, people (eligible men), can’t get past them being “twins.” And then there’s the competition thing. Being a twin was apparently a detriment to dating. Who would’ve thought?

I have been told by twins that there’s a “twin adage” — you marry me, you marry my twin. In researching my book, Twin Stories, I never once heard a complaint that being a twin hurt your chances in the dating world. Is this real? Should I include this question in my next book? Or could it have simply been the mimosas talking?

I will follow up with my identical twins and keep you posted.

All for now.

Flying nightmare revisited

Sitting across the aisle from a young mother of two on a 1 1/2-hour flight today, watching her struggle to keep “Dilly” (short for Dylan) from screaming, I couldn’t help but remember my own  personal flying nightmare – with twins.

The guys had just turned two and we were moving from Florida to California. My husband, father and five-year-old son drove across country with a rented moving truck, a car on a flatbed, and another vehicle. My mother and I flew.

I cheaped out and opted for “lap children.” To my fellow passengers that day, I plead temporary insanity.

The plane was delayed and stuck at the gate for more than an hour. They wouldn’t let anyone get off the plane, of course, and the flight attendants weren’t serving. The guys quickly consumed all of the juice packs (this was before 9-11 when you could bring liquids onto a plane) and most of the snacks. They were two. They were wiggle worms. They were bored and soon to be overly tired. Once the plane was given the green light for take-off, we still had a five-hour flight.

Perhaps nightmare is the wrong word. I don’t swear (publicly) so I’ll just use baby talk and say it was H-E-double toothpicks. Mothers of twins, you know what I’m saying.

Advice. Spend the money when flying with toddlers.

All for now.

Back to Reality for the Hong Kong Twins

After 14 days in Hong Kong, more than 36 hours of flight time, and a New Year’s Eve they will never forget, our twins are back to reality. One son started college classes last week and the other starts on Monday. Jet lag has not been their friend.

It’s hard to imagine the culture shock they are experiencing after being immersed in the Hong Kong way of life. (If you want a college student’s impressions of HK, read our eldest son’s blog.)

The guys had a layover in Tokyo, then landed in San Francisco, hit the Bay Area traffic and finally arrived in Twain Harte, our sleepy little mountain community. The village is a block long. If you blink during a parade, you miss your kid.

I digress.

Their lives have been forever changed by their adventures. My husband and I are betting money that they choose to do a study abroad program, like big bro.

As far as their bonding experience, they shared a hostel room and a bathroom. The walls were paper-thin and they heard a couple having a romantic romp next door more than once. (I hope those earplugs I packed were well-used.) I digress again.

They haven’t shared a bedroom in about six years. I hear they got along well and depended on each other as they traveled and explored.

Someone posted a photo on Facebook of them at a dinner. I didn’t know I had triplets! Let me know if you think this other guy is close.  I think he is.

It’s back to dorm food and homework for my global trotting twins. I can’t wait to see where they go next. I just hope WE don’t have to pay for it.

All for now.

Triplets circled

Off to see the world

I put our guys (twins) on an 11-hour flight to Narita Airport, Tokyo, the day after Christmas. They had a 90-minute layover and then it was off on another flight to Hong Kong to stay with their big brother for two weeks. Yes, I was one of those silly people who kept watching until they got into the TSA body scanner. I kept smiling and trying to catch their eyes. I waved far too many times.

The guys are in college now and almost 19. They’ve been to China with their grandparents. When they were 14, they took a cross-country, red-eye from Cali to Florida, with big brother, alone, with a stop at LAX. They played it cool at the airport yesterday, but I can read them like books. They were as anxious as I was.

I was so happy to receive an e-mail from the oldest twin (two minutes apart) who said they arrived. He included three exclamation points in his brief message. I finally stopped fretting that I should have booked a non-stop. You never stop being a mom.

Happy New Year.