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Friday, February 28, 2014

Parenting Twins: A Narrative

Dulce and Natalina want to watch a show.

During a commercial, I tell them to get dressed for bed.

They want the same nightie. It belongs to Dulce. In a rare show of possessiveness, Dulce (who usually just gives Lilly what she wants) insists on wearing it.

It goes to Dulce.

Lilly throws epic tantrum.

She's sent to her room, no show.

Dulce freaks out. Makes Lilly come out and apologize to me.

I accept on the condition that she stop crying and get dressed in her other nightie. She starts crying again.

Goes back to her room.

Dulce freaks out again, missing a significant portion of the show because Lilly can't watch it. Finally, caves and gives Lilly her nightie.

But I say no. I tell Dulce that teaches Lilly she can cry for 20 minutes and then get what she wants.

Dulce throws a tantrum because she is opting to miss the show rather than watch it without Lilly, and me giving her her own nightie is somehow my fault and the worst thing ever.

The End.

Twenty minutes later though, they've turned back into this:

Which is why I still keep them around.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Twins, Distinctiveness and Social Identity Theory

Although distinctiveness theory has a wide arena of applications for small groups in terms of their members’ social identity, and these implications present ample opportunity for empirical and applied research into media, social media and advertising avenues, I simply cannot write about this without trying to work out ongoing issues I have with my identical twin girls.

Identical twins are formed when an egg is fertilized to be one child and that egg splits after fertilization making what was once one, two. Can you imagine having to live your entire life with a second you always right there? Self-definition becomes cloudy because while you define yourself, and you understand your own tastes, groups, and etc., there is a continual other force acting upon you, and when it is there from birth, it becomes part of yourself. My kids, for instance, fight all the time. But they fight as if they are fighting themselves. It’s creepy to watch, to be honest.

Vignoles et. al (2000) adapted a 1985 definition of identity as follows: “the subjective concept of oneself as a person, and therefore a form of representation” (340). Despite my best efforts against this (I dress them differently, their names are not similar, etc.), and although I’m sure it will lessen as they age, my twins, at five, subconsciously define themselves as DulceandNatalina. Therefore, if Dulce wants to do something, Natalina must also do it. If she decides not to do it, Dulce is distressed, not because she doesn’t have a companion, but because she can’t understand why her own self doesn’t want to do what she wants to do. If one of them is having a snack, the other must. If the other is not hungry, the first will opt to forego the food as well. And these are tame examples. Falling not far from the proverbial tree, my kids tend to be extreme.

So that I can see firsthand what Vignoles et. al mean when they state, based on research by Apter (1983), “developmental studies have suggested that the distinction between self and others arises very early in life in association with other dimensions of identity. Furthermore, the absence of this distinction is experienced as a loss of self in some forms of psychosis” (341). I’m not calling my kids crazy, mind you, I’m just saying. When observed in the moment it appears that an intense battle over their mismatched identities (self identity vs. identity as a twin) takes place, and very rarely does the self win out. Because of this, confusion and irrationality can reign as they constantly try to pull their twin into themselves. This draws upon another statement in Vignoles’ paper: “I cannot have a sense of who I am without a sense of who I am not, which entails distinctiveness” (340). Without a sense of who they are not (the other twin), my girls can get easily lost in everyday decisions.

Vignoles says that distinctiveness is imperative to a meaningful sense of identity. As my twins attempt to attain this, the road becomes ever more winding. As a parent, I am not allowed to spend more time with one than the other. In fact, I cannot even compliment one with a bland “good job” without the other one throwing a fit. As they try to come to terms with the fact that they are separate human beings, rather than accept their uniqueness and individuality, they seem themselves as opposite sides of the same pole. So that a compliment to one is a disparagement to the other. Saying “you’ve done a good job” to one means “you’ve done a poor job” to the other. Saying “good girl” to one means “bad girl” to the other. The refrain “you’re different girls” has been repeated in this house thousands of times in the past few years, to no avail, of course.

However, there is obviously some form of self-identity within the twins. Vignoles uses individualism vs. relational orientation to explain differences between Western and Eastern cultures and retain the cohesive value of the theory when taken globally. I’d like to very unscientifically take those (individualism being where distinctiveness is determined by separateness from others and unique qualities, and relational being where distinctiveness relies on position within your social sphere) and apply them to two (tiny) individuals as opposed to vast cultures. Because my twins may very well still have retained some form of distinctiveness at this point in their lives, simply a more relational type.

While my kids may not show differences in physical characteristics, they do clearly display differences in terms of traits, abilities and opinions, despite their denial of this. What they are truly lacking at this point is separateness. They cannot separate one from the other in terms of their very selves, and yet, as a unit, they see that this categorization of twins separates them from everyone else, further entrenching their combined identity issues. The easiest path to distinctiveness within them would be to concentrate on position, perhaps. By emphasizing that one is the sister or the twin of the other, maybe it will further imply that because the sister is the object in that sentiment, they truly cannot be the same person. In this way, perhaps Gao was right in 1996 when he said “self is defined by a person’s surrounding relations which are often derived from kinship networks and supported by cultural values” (83). Of course, since this is Confucianism meant in the context of Eastern cultures, as a parent, I’ll probably have to find another way.


Monday, February 24, 2014

The Conversation at the Post Office

I don't often have time to go on wacky adventures with my kids anymore. We're all busy, unlike the lazy and horrific days of yore when I had to spend all day walking them two miles to the library and two miles back because they were babies and I didn't have a car, or a life, or any friends. So, if you were wondering why I hadn't posted any adventures, lately, that is (thankfully) why.

Anyway, that ended today when we went to mail out our Valentines.

But it's February 24th, you say. Why on Earth are you sending out Valentines now?

Answer: I made the tragic mistake of putting one flat lollipop in each envelope.

Before February 14th, we all piled in the car and went to the postal shop right near our house. The crusty postal worker there (who has known me for four years now, and still can hardly crack a smile most days) told us they were too thick to be considered regular mail, and we'd need an extra 20-cent stamp on each.

But they didn't have any 20-cent stamps and they weren't scheduled to get any in apparently ever. So I took my Vcards back (haha), and kept them in my car for two weeks, like any normal person would do.

Today, however, I had to go to the bank anyway, so I thought, 'let's find that elusive real post office and mail these suckers.'


First of all, I looked online, and the first link I tried for an address sent me via GPS to a Dairy Queen. Awesome.

The second link I pick gave me a real post office, but it was all the way across town. I spent an hour trying to get to a post office. With my tired, just-got-out-of-school-and-haven't-eaten-yet kids. They performed admirably under the stress.

When we finally got there, there were a lot of empty spaces in the front, so I looped around to get to one...and found myself behind the longest stream of cars ever (which appeared out of nowhere!). By the time we snuck in, all the empty front spots were taken. I took a spot in the back. And we got in the loooong line. Right behind a police officer. Which is where our story really begins.

For a while, the girls amuse themselves with just me, but soon enough they tire of that and begin taking in the world around them. Almost immediately, Dulce asks: "Mama, is that a--"

"Yes, it is." I cut her off. I knew what she was going to say. "That's a police officer."

Not willing to be foiled, however, she pushes forward. "Is that a cop?"

Grimace. "Yes, but it's more polite to call them police officers." (At this point, he's staring at us.) I continue. "You can also talk to him, you know. He's standing right there. It's rude to talk about people loudly who are right in front of you." He nods in a kind and goofy way. (Thank God.)

Dulce is not going to let this go. "I thought they were called cops."

I just shake my head.

We spend a few blessed minutes in silence before Dulce gets braver. She walks closer to him. "Excuse me?"

"Yes?" he answers.

"What's that on your belt?" And we go through all the radios and guns and tools he's got on his belt. And I have to sternly say, DO NOT TOUCH THAT GUN to them in a post office. Grand.

Then Natalina gets involved. "Excuse me?"


"Is jail real?"

(Remember there are like 50 people in line. All of them are laughing at this point.)

"Yes," he says. "So make sure you never go there."

She nods seriously, and takes a few moments to contemplate her future decisions. Then...

"Excuse me?"


"Are you in charge of jail?"

"No, I just take people to jail."

"You took someone to jail?"


"What was his name?"

"I don't remember. There have been a lot of them."

Her eyes widen.

"Why do you keep putting people in jail? You look nice."

Then it was the officer's turn up at the counter, and he made his exit.

I called out thank you to him, and wondered if I should tell him he got off easy. The other night the girls had asked a man with long hair and a bit of a belly if he was going to have a baby.

Five is a loud age, guys.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Moment of the Week - Dramatic pop song show

My singing is atrocious and her dance moves are hilarious! We're a rocking, waiting-room team.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Five Unbearable Internet Facts That Will Make You Headdesk for the Rest of your Life

Guys, what are we doing? What is it in our nature that compels us to click on stupid headlines? We already know that whatever that content is, it's not "earth-shattering", it won't "blow our minds" and it probably won't even "melt our hearts". It's very unlikely anything we can read from these aggregates will make us hate humanity, we probably will actually be able to believe it, and you know, the danger probably isn't really in our own home. So, why do we click? Why are we allowing click bait to be a thing? For this, I have no answer. Onto the headlines:

10: "This Weirdly Realistic Human Typeface Will Leave You Traumatized" (source: Huffington Post)

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that for the majority of people, no typeface will leave them traumatized. Why is an adverb thrown in there, seemingly arbitrarily? (My guess is the headline flows better. Plus, now we know it's not only traumatizing, it's also weird). What even is a human typeface? That's a legitimate question, but does it combat the fact that you couldn't care less about a typeface that you'll never see, never use, and is no technically better than a bit of high-tech clip-art? It doesn't. But in case it does, better click. (Spoiler: It's typeface colored like white human skin with eyeballs on it. Looks a bit like muppets. Not traumatizing.)

9: "Another Monster Mother, But, Hey, She Means Well" (source: NPR)

This is actually an interesting review on a movie, and I'm glad I read it. But I only clicked on it because I'm looking for stupid headlines, and seeing one from NPR surprised me. From this hed, we can't see that it's a review, that it's for a movie, or basically anything about this story. What constitutes a "monster mother?" What constitutes a mother "meaning well?" Have any children been harmed? Is this real life? (That's actually not a question because the reader assumes the headline references something (though what, exactly, we don't know) that happened in real life.

8: "Graduation Surprise Video Saves Biggest News for Last" (source: Huffington Post)

Guys, you guys. This couple graduated college and are also expecting. And they made a corny video about it. No one else has ever done this. Ever.

7: "WestJet Christmas Surprise Will Make You Believe in Santa" (source: Mashable)

This is a great example because the story went wide, with many, many informative headlines like "Airline Asks Passengers What They Want for Christmas, Delivers Gifts at Baggage Claim", "WestJet Finds Out What Passengers Want For Christmas, Leaves Presents At Baggage Claim (VIDEO)". The difference? The first headline got 1.59 million shares on Facebook. The other two got 10,000 and 95,000 respectively. (While I'm just a blogger and can't really control for popularity of website, I tried to choose stories that ran on the same day, by publications with roughly the same number of subscribers).

And even I find the first headline the most compelling. I'm not saying we shouldn't (well, sometimes, but not in this case), but I am wondering why a headline that is basically a teaser (again, in this case, unlike the typeface one, a good teaser), that tells us virtually nothing about the story, and makes assumptions about us as readers do so well. We spend so much of our internet breath telling marketers and other people that they don't even know our lives and shouldn't try to tell us about ourselves, and yet, when a headline does it, we're like, HUH?! SOMETHING COULD MAKE ME BELIEVE IN SANTA? (And we know it can't). WHAT COULD BE THAT COMPELLING TO ME? THANK YOU FOR TELLING ME WHAT I AM COMPELLED BY.

I'm just saying, I don't get it, is all.

6: Blah blah blah Blow Your Mind (source: Everywhere.)

- 65 Amazing Facts That Will Blow your Mind (source: MentalFloss). Not only will they blow your mind, they're also amazing. And they're facts! About what? Are they related? We don't know. Better click.

- 10 Optical Illusions That Will Blow Your Mind (source: Huffington Post). Spoiler: They don't.

- Facts about Walmart to Blow Your Mind (source: Business Insider). This seems fairly legit, to be honest. I bet they could have headlined this with intelligence and people still would have clicked.

6b: blah blah blah mindblowing blah (source: Everywhere)

- 11 Mindblowing Facts That Will Completely Change Your Perspective on the World (source: Huffington Post). OMG, STOP.

- 29 Mind-blowing Coincidences You Won't Believe Happened (source: Cracked). Well, that's repetitive, isn't it? And chances are your mind will not be blown and you actually will believe these things happened, since someone is going to tell you they did, then back that shit up with citation.

- 9 Out of 10 Americans Are Completely Wrong about This Mind-blowing Fact (source: Upworthy). You know, I didn't know there were degrees of wrong, really. But okay, completely wrong. And not only will the fact blow your mind (whatever genre of "fact" it is), but also, EVERYONE ELSE IS WRONG ABOUT IT. Click quick! Then you can be smarter than 9 out of 10 people.

You know, I was going to do ten of these, but my eyes are already crossed. I'll do the next five in a follow-up post. Good day to you, internet clickers. I said GOOD DAY.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

There Are No Ten Best Things About Having Boys, Sorry

Dina Relles posted recently on ScaryMommy, who has a huge platform, listing out ten reasons boys are great! Which would be fine, except for that's not what the post was. The post was a blatant, horrid social comparison piece between girls and boys, in which (in the blogger's world) boys emerged as the clear winners. She even starts by saying "gender stuff" is real.

So to her, I say, before you get any legos stuck up in your Batman undies which could also get in a bunch, let's just talk about whether or not "this gender stuff is real." Because it's not.

I mean sure, you throw us a quick sentence link about how not all boys blah and not all girls blah, and then you go on to show how incredibly unique and awesome boys are while painting all girls into one docile, pink corner with your Star Wars laser brush. Come on, now.

In terms of the odd sentences you've heard about boys:
"I only want girls, because boys always leave their mothers."
"I don’t want to have a third, because I don’t want three boys."
"We want to find out what we’re having because we just want to make sure it’s not a boy."
Well, I've never in my life heard those things. Of course, that may be because I have all girls. And I can assure you, those of us with girls get the same darn thing. Oh, and let's talk about those of us with twins. Just take a moment to imagine the kind of talk that goes on about having twins. Okay, good.

Now, I have a little secret of my own: It's freaking fun to KIDS. Boys, girls, whatever, doesn't matter because they are individuals! So, onto your list:

1) The toys are cooler. False. The toys that marketers deem boy toys may be cooler if that's what your child is into. I know plenty of adorable five-year-old boys who love to dress up as princesses and play in the toy kitchen. Princesses might not be real, but fancy clothing sure is, and so is food. Also, trucks and ambulances and buses and whatever aren't just for boys, dude. This has been making the rounds forever, since it's, you know, 2014, and the message is correct and clear:

2) Getting out of the house is easier. You mention shoes, and barrettes, and tights and braids, in comparison to your pants / shirt combo. But there are boys who have mohawks, and boys who have long hair, and boys who do actually care about what they wear. On the other hand  you have my girls:

No barrettes, or braids, or shoes, or even matching clothes. And no effs given.

3) Public restrooms. Here you say "enough said," but actually, that's not enough for me. I have no idea how public restrooms are more awesome for boys than girls. First off, they're totally grosser. Little guy might not have to sit on a seat, but what are the odds that puddle he just stepped in is water? Also, when girls are little and need their moms to take them to the restroom, we don't have to deal with shady people being stupid about whether or not we bring a boy into the ladies' room. (Which is ridiculous and shouldn't happen, and yet it still does.) Anyway, point being, kids of a certain age know how to use a restroom and not to touch anything and everything should be fine, regardless of men's or ladies'.

4) Even if they're all the same sex, they're NOT all the same. Correct. I know this is shocking, but this is true for girls, too. My girls have as much energy as any kids I've ever seen, and I've, for years, said boys will be boys? Nah. Kids will be kids.

5) It’s good to parent someone who’s not like you. "It’s a healthy challenge to raise someone different than you. To try to relate. To understand where they’re coming from. Having two girls gets me out of my comfort zone, and out of my head, to embrace a more physical, tactile approach to the world. And notice things I normally wouldn’t. Like the shape of the rocks near the shoreline. Or the number of red pick-up trucks we pass on a drive up the Turnpike.

My girls are mischievous and spirited. Curious and carefree. They are energy and wonder and play. They need to move and do instead of just be. They will not sit still and just talk. Or listen. But boy do they know how to live life out loud. They’re good for me."

^^Hey! I fixed that for you! And all I had to do was replace the word boys with girls! Looks like our kids would get along, eh? Just because my girls are girls and I am also a girl does not mean we are like each other. At all.

6) We have each other, we moms of boys.

Okay, what are we even doing here? I like my friends' who have boys FB posts about their rowdy little dudes. And they like my posts about having to carry my twins football style out of the Pharmacy because I won't buy them the Hot Wheels they wanted.

Like I really, really hate to keep harping on the same point you keep harping on, but I'd be right in there with you with your 'knowing eye rolls.' And I'm just not sure what world you're living in if you think the girl teenage cliches are any better. Another life-changer, here, you know, I'll also someday be a mother-in-law. As far as being envious of people with It's a Girl Balloons and pigtails, I guess you've got me there. I'd never be envious of any baby, or baby paraphernalia. As far as I'm concerned, I am almost free.

7) They can have it all. YOU SAY: "Or at least have an easier time trying. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think women can’t try to do and have it all—they should. I’ve been there. Done that. Outgrown the (collared) t-shirt. I’ve witnessed firsthand the unparalleled intelligence and efficiency of women who are mothers AND professionals. But I don’t pretend it’s not harder. Would I want my (theoretical) daughter to be a surgeon or a litigator? Not sure. My sons? Go for it."

Okay, this is just the most indescribable crap. What even is this steaming plate of garbage on my computer screen right now? By the time my girls are adults, society (with no help from you, apparently) will hopefully have come farther in allowing fluidity in gender roles, more lenient maternity and paternity leaves, women will make the same as men, and even now, even now, you're right, we can be intelligent and efficient and be mothers. While you get to be happy that your boys can be surgeons and litigators, I'll be working my motherly ass off to make that the same case for my girls.

But what really gets me here, what really gets me, is that you're not sure you'd want your daughter to be a surgeon or a litigator. 1) Why the hell not? 2) It doesn't matter what we, as parents, want our children to be. That's their choice. And 3) Attitudes like yours make my job a lot harder. So thanks. It's my favorite when people perpetuate gender stereotypes because they think they're 'realists.'

8) Boys speak their mind.  You say, blah blah blah, you prefer the company to men than women, they get right to the point, no chatter and--

I just have to stop you right there. Because even if you didn't have boys, apparently you'd still be a dick.

Then you talk about how they may not call you every day (by the way, my husband calls his mother more than I call mine), but when they do, they'll get right to the point. (Because girls apparently will only want to talk about their nail polish and shoes?) And my favorite:

"Have boys. Not bullshit."

Did you just call my kids bullshit? Or did you call the habits you just randomly assigned them based on their gender bullshit? Either's bullshit.

9) They love their mamas in a special way. So. Do. Girls. (Man, I feel like a broken record.)

10) They’re your children, after all. "No matter how many of what kind you have, you’ll love them all fiercely, instinctively, and without effort. They will amaze you and delight you. Every single day. And you won’t be able to imagine your family any other way."

Well, I mean, you didn't even try with that one. As much as all of these are all-kid things, this one is an obvious one.

You may not have pictured yourself being a mom of all boys. I didn't picture myself being a mom at all, least not to twin girls. And we love it.

...It's not that your kids aren't special. They are! I'm not trying to take that away from you. But drawing the gender line and using the arbitrary societal ideology to do so is really saddening to me. Your kids aren't special because they're boys. They're special because they are yours.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Day In The Life - 2014 Edition

Since I've had this blog, I've done a DITL every Valentine's Day. Looking back at one photoed day, in its entirety, for each year, is a trip and a half, to be sure. My days have changed so much since the girls were babies / toddlers. And I, for one, am so grateful. Phew!

This year, a bunch of my guest and contributing posters came together and captured a full day of their own this past week. And looking at each one, our days are so varied, and yet all of them so spectacular!

This is my day. And at the end of it, links to everyone else's day, and also links to my February 14ths from each year. It's a really interesting project. And I love it.

6:30 a.m. Wake up, buttercup. Time to get the kids ready.

6:45 a.m. They're obviously not feeling it.

Oh, well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Time to make the beds.

I'm supposed to be getting their breakfasts ready, but, oh look, a full dishwasher, and more dirties in the sink. Grand. I do that first, then the breakfasts.

7:40 a.m. I don't know why we always leave ourselves 30 seconds to get to school, but it is what it is.

Welp, they'll be safe here for a few hours. Off I go.

8 a.m. - I post my blog (an easy one this day, just the 365 feminist selfies update). Then I edit this manuscript. (I'm a romance novel content editor in my free time, true story.) Thankfully, I've already read through this one once, and now I'm just looking for typos and such.

Welcome to my break room.

9:30 a.m. I've made our breakfasts and his lunch. My husband will leave for work in about 20 minutes.

As soon as he leaves, I do, too. I'd promised the girls I'd "eat lunch" with them that day. They're so cute when they see me show up at school.

10:30 a.m. and I run back home to print out some paperwork for the Internal Review Board for a research paper I have to do this semester. Of course, then I'm late to yoga.

11 a.m. And who is snapping photos when class is already in session? I'm so very zen. I'm sure none of these people minded the distraction at all.

On my way back from yoga I stop at the Publix to pick up some SweetHearts (for my sweethearts. HAH).

12:30 p.m and I am STARVING. Thank God for leftover lasagna.

1 p.m. - I've only got a few minutes before I have to pick up the girls, so I try to update Don't Need an Excuse, and good news! I got paid (peanuts) for my blog that day! Perhaps I won't overdraw my account this month after all! Huzzah!

1:45 p.m. - These are the happy faces I can't wait to pick up each and every day.

Feed them! QUICK.

Phew. Now they're feeling better. Maybe they'll even take off their coats (I swear they don't live in their coats!!)

Now that they're settled and playing, I suppose I should take care of this bad boy.

But not yet. First I'll lay down because I CAN.

15 minutes of lay-down time, and the girls wanted to ride their bikes. It's just as well. I have shit to do, and it's a beautiful FL day out there. Peace out, kids!

Lookie! All clean. Now I can...oh wait.

I forgot today was bathroom day. Ugh.

Okay! Now we're done time for...oh wait.

How does this happen, dishes?

Living room? What do you have to say for yourself?


YOU'RE CLEAN NOW, TOO. Are you happy? Damn, I hate housework.

5 p.m. Kids are back and I'm starving again. So I get pretzel chips and brie cheese.

And the girls get pizza bites, blueberries and banana for dinner, because did you see all the cleaning I just did? The mom shop is closed, for real. (Also, I was their BFF for this dinner. Dulce actually said, as she hugged me, "I will never forget this, mom." LOL

Okay, Cinderella, this will never do. That ball ain't going to attend itself.

I clean up pretty nicely. I'm excited because my husband and I are going out for Valentine's Day for the first time in seven years. Yup. Also, it's our first date night since August. We are so glamorous.

Didn't get a shot of the tapas place where we ate, but here's the outside area of one of the bars we went to after our meal. V classy. I had a "mint juliep". Haha.

Here's a selfie at the next and final bar we stopped at, to prove I actually did get out of the house. (Carlos isn't much one for taking pictures while you're supposed to be out on a romantic date. So you all just get me. You'll just have to take my word for it that he was there.)

And home again, home again. Time to get into bed and do it all again the next day.

Not enough of me? We've got 2013, 2012, and 2011 all cued up. LOL

Had way too much of me already? Check out some AWESOME days from other people: (These are seriously worth your time.)

Joella at Fine and Fair

C.A. from Smibbo



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