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Fall 2012

perilous pregnancies: the journey to hope

breast exams: what to expect


for the holidays 1

survive &

keep the spirit alive

bonus: gift guide for large families

what to do when they ask “why?” 6

Encourage a back-to-school routine to help make it through!

36 Five Minute Fix: Change the


Homemeade Christmas Crafts

37 Do Something Good - Multiples


Club Spotlight

12 5 Things to Do with leftover Halloween Candy

39 Fiddlers and Reindeer on the

roof: why it’s important to start your own family traditions

14 Insert boob here! 16 Crockpot creations for fall 20 Handwriting and how you can help prepare your twins for success!

42 Fashion Finds for Less: It’s time

to update that fall wardrobe & we share some colorful ideas!

46 Fall and Winter Book Review:

22 Product Buzz - the scoop on

must-have items for everyone in the family!

24 Home for the Holidays:

reading the whole family can enjoy!

49 Elf on a Shelf - It’s time again!

preparing for your family

50 Why Ask Why? Because I said so!

26 Is your lunch trashy? Find out

53 Pets as Gifts - Things to consider!

with the Eco-Friendly lunchbox

30 Trick-or-treat: Make it a family affair!



54 Perilous Pregnancies 59 The Dr. is in: What every mom should know

cover cuties Ella and Aidan are 5 year old cuties from North Carolina, who have an equally adorable little sister named Lauren. They have just recently started kindergarten at a Full Language Immersion school studying German and are experimenting with horse riding lessons and soccer. When they grow up, Aidan hopes to follow in his daddy’s footsteps and be a firefighter and Ella would like to be a ballet dancer. photos courtesy of Firewife Photography multiplicity


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mom squad What to do when they ask “why?” “Because Y is a crooked letter.” That is what my Grandmother, Anna, would always say to me when I asked her “why?”. Funny enough, it always shut me up and I never remember challenging her. I find myself wanting to give the same response to my twins and I don’t know if I want to say it for nostalgia, or because I just want them to be quiet. Funny enough, I have no idea what my Grandmother meant by her phrase, but apparently, I’m not the only one who used to get this response from their grandparents or parents. There is actually a Facebook page dedicated to this odd saying. I’m not kidding; Google it. Despite my desire to give the same response as my Grandmother, I usually answer my kids’ questions honestly when they ask “why?”. However, as they get bigger, the “why?” gets harder to answer. In the beginning they would ask “Why can’t we go to the park?”. Now they ask “Why does Kyle not have a Mommy?” or “Why do parents get divorced?”. The questions keep getting harder, but I try to be as honest and sincere as possible. I’ve learned that lying Natalie Diaz founder/publisher

to my kids will get me nowhere. Sure, I may candy coat things, but ultimately, I tell the truth. I’m dreading the “Why did he break my heart?” and “Why can’t I borrow the car?” which will be asked before I know it. Like the saying goes: Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems. Perhaps then I will bust out with “Because Y is a crooked letter.” Maybe I’ll keep sayings like this in my mental archives and break them out to confuse the children. Just like you, I have so many “why?” questions of my own. “Why has my body still not returned to “normal” after having my twins seven years ago?”. “Why are my twins growing up so fast?”. “Why can’t I win the lottery?”. We all know what my Grandmother would say if she were here. Perhaps I’ll just pretend she is and shut up! No matter the “why?”, embrace the fact that they ask and still listen to what you have to say. Miss you Nani! This one was for you. (Dedicated to Anna Catenaccio 19202007)

Talitha A. McGuinness executive editor

Publisher Natalie Diaz Executive Editor / Creative Director Talitha A. McGuinness Photographers Firewife Photography Jane Goodman Photography Cleobella Photography Contributing Writers Vicki Berke Kristen Felty Sherilyn Craig Angel Rodrigues Rhonda McMullen Frankie Howley Terri Babin Karen Finchum Traci Zeller Julia Fritze Jill Marcum Tobi Stewart Kathleen Ecker Amanda Nethero Michelle Leichty Cara Krenn Helena Eynon Social Media Mgr. Jill Marcum Contact us: 141 Mulberry Street Apt. C-1 New York, NY 10013 917-442-2020 Multiplicity is published as a digital magazine four times per calendar year, with additional supplements as desired. Multiplicity cannot assume responsibility of statements made by advertisers. In addition, though hand-picked and carefully reviewed, Multiplicity cannot guarantee the accuracy of editorial pieces. No portion in whole or in part of this publication may be reproduced without express written consent from the publisher. Questions? Email editor@



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The air is cooler and the leaves have turned bright colors of yellow, green, orange and red. Some have even begun to fall to the ground, making it easy to watch your children enjoy the pasttime of jumping into their mountainous piles! Here’s to football, trick-or-treating and other holiday festivities, and most importantly, enjoying the miracle of the season and giving thanks for all we have.

happy fall!

special kids = special needs how to encourage them in their back-to-school routine

by vicki berke


he start of a new school year is exciting for most children that have enjoyed their summer break. It means being able to go shopping for new clothes, school supplies and seeing friends that they have not seen for a few months. For children that have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity (ADHD), this can be a traumatic time for them. New experiences are not fun for children with these disabilities. It means that they have to start a whole new routine after they just settled into a routine for the summer. Sensory Processing Disorder is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. This means that a person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. SPD may affect one or more senses - certain people may over-respond because they find sensations such as light, physical touch, noise or food to be too overwhelming. Others may under–respond, or have little to no stimulation to a sensation. Still, many children that have an appetite for stimulation have many times been diagnosed to have ADHD instead of SPD; this leads to misdiagnosis and therefore often wrongly treated. Other problems that may occur are motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, or school failure if the disorder is not treated effectively. Having become more common terms, Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity Disorder are characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity. ADHD is the most common diagnosis behavioral disorder in children, more prevalent in boys, and affecting up to 5% of school aged children. Some common distinctions in a child that has ADD are difficulty keeping attention during tasks or play, does not seem to listen when spoken to directly, does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork and chores. The hyperactivity included in an ADD diagnoses is notable by its distinct characteristics, which may include fidgeting with hands or feet, squirms in seat, 6


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runs/climbs in inappropriate situations, blurts out or talks excessively, interrupts or intrudes on others, and has difficulty waiting their turn.

photos courtesy of jane goodrich photography

Now just imagine having not one, but multiple children diagnosed with one of these disorders. Parents of multiples have to prepare even more for a school year to begin. In my 13 years’ experience as an exceptional children’s teacher, I learned early and fast that open communication with families was the key to a successful school year for the student. I suggest that parents of multiples with any type of disability first sit down with paper and pen. Make a list that will help your children have a successful start to a new school year. Do the same for yourself. Try not to write too many goals as to overwhelm your children or set the bar too high. Some tips to help your twins or multiples have a successful transition from summer vacation to the beginning of a new school year include:

1. Visit the school. Call ahead

and try to set up a time that you can have your multiples visit the school (within a two-week time frame of school starting). You may not be able to meet the teacher, but your multiples can now walk around in a stress free environment while learning about their surroundings. Do this more than once if your multiples need to see the school again.

then ask for a meeting before the school year begins. If you have already had your multiples’ IEP meeting, then ask when you can meet the teacher before the school year starts. Most teachers work a few days before the school year begins. You may be able to email him/her or leave a voice message requesting a time to meet.

3. Transportation. Discuss with

your multiples about how they are going to be dropped off and picked up from school. If you are picking up and dropping off your multiples, find out ahead of time from the school’s main office where the car pool line is. If your multiples are riding a school bus, you may want to contact the school and ask for the transportation office. Someone there should be able to answer your questions.

4. Positive Reinforcement.

No one ever said that raising multiples was easy. Keep a positive outlook on the whole process. You may come across several bumps in the road that you were not expecting. If your twins feel like they are being

pushed, you may want to look at your list again. Don’t be afraid to let your children read the list if you think that it will not overwhelm them.

5. Shopping. This can be very

difficult for some twins and fun for others. Have the twins make a list of school supplies they will need. This will make them feel like they are in charge of their items. You may also make a list, but try to give your twins some of the responsibility. This gives them some ownership of the process. Set a date and time to go; this allows the twins to anticipate the time. Most stores are open early or late, if crowds are a problem for your children. If you have a twin that is too sensitive to shop, have them make an art project out of the shopping list. They could draw or cut pictures out of magazines of items that they would like to have for school. This way, all children are included in the process.

6. Routine. This is one of my

favorite words. You may want to start a new bed time as much as 2 weeks early as school starts. This allows your twins to settle into their new routine. Most children do well if their routine becomes familiar and predictable. There are several other areas of interest that you may find that you have added to your list. Depending on their unique set of needs, each list is going to be different for each child. The main point is to make sure your multiples have a successful transition into the new school year by doing your best to equip them for taking on each day!

2. Meet the teacher.

If you have not already had your twins or multiples’ Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting, multiplicity

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surviving the holidays &

keeping the spirit alive

by frankie howley

Tis’ two months until the holidays, and all through the house, your multiples are running, wreaking havoc and jumping on the couch! With so much excitement, the hustle and bustle of the holiday shuffle may leave you without a clue, of what to do. But before visions of dollar signs dance through your head, instead keep it simple, and try planning ahead! Whether you’re shopping for gifts, planning on attending a party, or sticking to annual traditions, there are multiple ways to simplify the stress of the holidays, while also maintaining the magic of the season for your children. Brightening up the season doesn’t have to be a chore that will cost you more than double. Start by thinking of gifts that will last them all year and stick to their basic interests in toys, games and activities. To find the most thoughtful gifts, simply start by shopping as early as October, or even throughout the year. Beginning your shopping early can also increase your bargain for a better buy. Look for ways to save through deals, both in-store and online. For more tips that may save you time, money and from standing in line visit Cutting Corners for Multiple Savings. Once you’ve wrapped up your holiday 8


shopping, preparing to address the multiple social invitations to parties can be very stressful, too. Before you accept, evaluate how you’d rather spend your ‘free’ time. Ask yourself what would be more enjoyable for you and your multiples. If it’s worth it, remember to keep it simple and only attend what fits your schedule. Should you need to decline the invitation, don’t feel bad. Be polite and prompt with an RSVP, briefly explaining that you’ll be unable to attend, and commit to your decision. Sometimes the best solution for enjoying the holidays with your multiples can be achieved from memorable moments right at home, rather than material things. Think back...what holiday traditions did you have as a child growing up, that you’ll never forget? Pass that same joyous feeling and wonder onto your multiples by starting your own traditions. Whether it’s a craft, a recipe, a decorating party, an annual event, or attending a holiday performance, these are the moments that your multiples will remember. So before you stress over how you’re going to survive the holidays with your multiples, embrace the magic of the season. Keep your spirits up. Change your way of thinking. Keep it simple. And soon, you’ll remember just how fun the holidays can be for your entire family!

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christmas crafts & decor by helena eynon

salt dough decorations

Homemade Christmas decorations made with salt dough are a fantastic way for all the family to get crafty together. The dough is easy to make, and once dried, the decorations will be hard and durable, and can be cherished for years to come. You will need *2 1/2 cups of plain flour *1 cup of cold water *1 cup of salt *1 T of vegetable oil *Rolling pin *Baking trays *Baking paper *Cookie cutters *Kebab skewer *String or gift ribbon *Paint - acrylic paint gives a finer finish, but regular poster paint is perfect for little hands. *Paintbrushes *White craft glue *Glitter, sequins, pens, etc. Making the dough Place two cups of the flour and the salt into a mixing bowl and combine. Add the water and mix well until the ingredients begin to form a dough. Add the oil and mix again into a ball of dough. The salt dough is now ready to use. Cutting the decorations Line the baking trays and pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle the remaining flour onto the work surface. Break off a small

ball of dough and place onto the floured surface, coating both sides so that it rolls out easily. Roll to about 2mm in thickness, and cut out the shapes using cookie cutters. Use a skewer to make a hole in each ornament for the ribbon. Drying out The quickest way to dry the decorations is to place them in the preheated oven for two hours, then turn them over and return to the oven for one more hour. Do not turn the oven up any higher than 200 degrees Fahrenheit, as the dough will burn. The decorations can also dry out at room temperature.

Painting the decorations When the decorations have dried and cooled, they will be ready to paint. Acrylic paint gives a lovely finish, and is available from craft stores in a range of colors and effects, including fluorescent and metallic. Rinse each brush with water, but dry them thoroughly, as excess water can make the decorations damp. multiplicity

Why not try‌

glittery tree hearts

After making and drying some heart-shaped decorations, mix up poster paint and craft glue and get to painting. Before the paint is dry, shake some glitter over the hearts, and leave to dry overnight. Then, simply tie up with gift ribbon and they are ready to hang on the tree.


A garland is very easy to make, and you can incorporate everyone’s individual pieces into one special decoration. For a garland of stars, simply make, dry, paint and decorate as many star shapes as you can. Once everything is finished, cut a length of string or gift ribbon and thread this through the first star. Knot the ribbon through the hole in the star to keep it in place. Then, repeat until all the stars are secured. The garland can hang on the Christmas tree, and it also makes a lovely room decoration for hanging on the stairs or mantel.

molded decorations

Salt dough works a lot like modelling clay, and older children especially love to make and mold their own models and ornaments without using cutters. However, remember that the bigger the model is, the longer it will take to dry before painting. Enjoy the crafting time with your family!

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confessions... of

by cara krenn


’ve always been a bit of a germaphobe. I was terrified of lice as a child. I always open public doors with my elbow or feet. I don’t like to stand close to people while waiting in lines. I hate airplane bathrooms. But times have changed. I now have two one year-olds. And there’s nothing like two toddlers to eradicate any obsessivecompulsive germaphobia I may have generated over the years. As my twin girls have grown from sweetly sedentary babies to fully mobile tornadoes, things have become wild at my house. I repeat, the girls have gone wild. And by wild I mean the babies are now super speedy walkers who enjoy exploring. And eating random things. And licking the floor. And often while going in opposite directions...what’s a twin mom to do? In the early days I was fully prepared to protect my twins from all potential illnessinducing germs. I had hand sanitizer bottles strategically placed throughout my house so that any guests would be within an arm’s reach of disinfectant. If a toy or pacifier was dropped on the floor, I quickly picked it up and washed it off. When our dog licked the babies’ faces or hands, they too were scrubbed clean. (Can you tell I’m a first-time parent?)

dog hair when your babies are virtual human Swiffers. Luckily, medical research backs up a (reasonably) relaxed attitude toward germs. According to What to Expect The First Year, “every encounter with a virus or bacterium builds immunity and makes your baby stronger, so don’t worry the next time your baby gums the shopping cart handle.” Even anti-bacterial soap is no longer recommended for a normal household. Sigh of relief! Finally letting go of my germaphobia has been a natural and perhaps inevitable process. It’s liberating and gross all at once. Oh look, a soggy Cheerio that’s been hanging out on the rug for a week? Delicious! A pacifier discarded on the floor at Costco? Back in the mouth. Dead insect? Tasty snack. And so on. While it’s a little disgusting what twin babies can pop in their mouths before you can stop them, it’s great to know that germs aren’t really going to hurt them. I’m confident that I’m building the immune systems of champions for my twins. But I’m still wiping down that grocery store cart, ok?

As the months wore on, the clean routine gradually became more lax as the girls’ developmental milestones chipped away at my vigilance. It’s hard to care about a pacifier dropping on the floor when your babies are actually licking the floor with unbridled enthusiasm. It’s difficult to be concerned about 10


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Cara Krenn lives in San Diego with her husband and fraternal twin girls. A freelance writer, editor and stay-athome mom, she blogs about her many adventures at www.

a recovering germaphobe



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Top 5



things to do with leftover Halloween candy!

Donate it!

So you went trick-or-treating and now you have TONS of leftover candy. What to do with it all? Read on for some great ideas. Whichever you choose, have fun and be safe, be sure to brush those teeth, and for all those who try the candy-flavored vodka, drink responsibly!

There are several ways to do this, but here are a few suggestions: *Make a care package for someone in the armed forces. What better way to teach your children about sharing than for them to make and send a care package to a service person protecting our Country. Websites like Operation Gratitude and Operation Shoebox are great places to help you organize your donation. *Donate to a local soup kitchen. To find one near you visit Helping the Needy. While there, ask if they need help at the holidays and if your twins can help. This is the time of year for giving, why stop at candy? photo courtesy of one charming party



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*Ronald McDonald isn’t just about burgers! The Ronald McDonald House gladly accepts donations of wrapped candy in all of their locations around the globe. With Houses in over 53 countries, you are bound to find one close to you.

2 Save it.

You can do a couple of things, like freeze it for other projects or use it as currency. If you are confused by that statement, mention to your child holding a sack full of candy, “I’ll give you 10 minutes of TV time for five Reese’s Peanut butter Cups!”, and see what happens. Leftover candy could also be used as bribes rewards for doing homework in a timely manner, or when doing chores without being asked, etc. On the other hand, saving it allows you to store many candies in your freezer for your holiday cookies and gingerbread house decorations. Why spend the extra money that you could use elsewhere during the holidays when you have a freezer full of perfectly good candy? Using double freezer bags will ensure that the candy will keep and perhaps, even keep them out of your kids’ and spouse’s bellies. (*disclaimer - multiplicity makes no promises to the validity of the last statement!)




Make a craft. Give thanks. Make a Centerpieces and other The month of November drink and crafts can be used and more importantly, all throughout the Thanksgiving often get toast! If all else fails, season. Check out social sharing site Pinterest for adorable centerpieces like candy topiaries or the one at left that even little ones will love to look at (but be sure to put it out of their hands’ reach or it won’t last long at all!) Want more decor? Make a candy wreath that can be decorated for fall, or get creative and see what you can come up with for the winter season ahead. Have a little girl who loves to wear fun jewelry? Consider a new spin on the candy bracelet and make your own out of leftover pumpkins! Want something for everyone? Create a fun party favor for Thanksgiving. Who wouldn’t like to receive a fall inspired, English-style cracker at their place setting? The kids (and adults, too!) will enjoy pulling the ends to see who wins the prizes! multiplicity

lost and forgotten in the rush of Halloween and Christmas, so why not have fun with the kids celebrating all of the things for which you are thankful throughout the month of November? Consider making an advent calendar and use leftover candy as part of the daily special treats, which is far better than the kids eating a ton at a time.

Never had an advent calendar and need some ideas? Be creative and make your own. They can range from decorative cloth calendars to hang on the wall or door, to small, wrapped trinket boxes used within a wall shelf. Not feeling that crafty? Search sites like Etsy for the handmade look like this special stocking (I’m sure they could customize it for the fall season, too!). Places such as Target have lots of choices, such as a mirrored version, which can be used any time throughout the year.

and you really want to get creative and enjoy, go for it and make Candy Flavored Vodka. Thinking it sounds too difficult? We have faith you can handle’s how: First: Fill a Mason Jar with Vodka (you may even want to try a different liquor.) Second: Add your candy of choice (unwrapped, of course!). Hard candy like lemonheads, skittles, peppermints, jolly ranchers, butterscotch, etc. work best. Third: Let it sit for two days in a safe spot, out of the reach of little hands. You’ll notice some candies will desolve, while others will leave little bits and pieces at the bottom. If that should happen, simply strain and serve on the rocks! TA-DA…candy flavored booze. Now who said Halloween was a kids’ holiday? Here’s to changing all that!

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will be so experienced. * Tell your technician about any pain or discomfort you are feeling and try to schedule your test a week before your period when your your breasts might not be as sensitive. * DO NOT wear deodorant the day of the test. Some of the ingredients in deodorant could block off, or interfere with parts of the X-ray (i.e. no need to panic just for the sake of smelling fresh!)

insert boob


* Wear pants and a shirt, not a dress. This way you have less to expose in only needing to remove your top.

by natalie diaz


ormally with a title like that, in a group like ours, one might think this article would be about breastfeeding, but surprise! It's definitely not. So what the heck could we be talking about? Well, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month I went for my first mammogram. Fact: I'm 35 years old and most insurance companies will not cover a mammogram until you hit the big 4-0. However, considering that I've had pain in my left breast for over three months, and my Grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 39 years old, my doctor suggested I bite the bullet and go for the test. So folks, I did. And as I write this article, I'm still sitting in the waiting room for my part two of the exam. Already I wish there were things that someone told 14


me to make the process a bit smoother like... * First, have a drink. Only partially kidding, but you do need to take a deep breath and try to relax. Personally, I'm not a hypochondriac, but with the close family history, I can't help but think "what if?". My sister keeps saying "Relax. If anything shows up, we will deal with it." In my mind this translates to "OH MY GOD, she thinks there is something wrong!", but all she is doing is being the supportive sister/ best friend that she always is. So take a deep cleansing breath and relax. * Find a mammogram facility that specializes in this kind of test. Like the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. So going to an experienced facility can help make the test less awkward, since your technician

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* Put your hair back. My hair is medium length and it kept getting in the way of the machine or stuck under my arm. I would have gladly pushed it back if I had a hair band on me, but I wasn't prepared.

For the test itself:

After hearing horror stories from friends about their torturous experiences with mammograms, no wonder I was a wreck. I was under the impression that my boob would be squeezed to its limit and the pain would easily compare with the vaginal delivery of my twins. I am happy to say, that it was nothing like this. When I first got to the facility, I checked in, filled out some paperwork, and was instructed to undress from the waist up. I was then brought into the room where this giant upright X-ray machine stood. My technician explained what was going to happen and did just as she described.

I peeled my gown from my waist up and moseyed on up to the machine that I was sure was going to make me cry. The technician placed my breast on a clear plastic shelf and tilted my breast into position. She then lowered another clear plastic shelf on top and started compressing. It was my total misconception that the technician had to compress it as much as it would go, but this was not the case at all. She simply compressed until it was where she needed it to be. Maybe it's because my boobs are somewhat "deflated" from breast feeding, but personally for me, it was no bother at all.

She took two X-rays of each breast (you may require more), one from the top, and one from the side. The entire procedure was over in less an 30 minutes. The actual compression of my breasts was only seconds each time. The results will be sent right to my doctor, and hopefully she will give me a clean bill of health. If anything should show up, I'm told I'll go for some follow-up tests and possibly a biopsy, but

My technician took a series of x-rays, allowing me to see the developed films when they showed up on the screen. She explained what was breast tissue, what were veins, and where my muscles were. I felt like I was watching a show on the Discovery Channel.


I'm not going to worry until someone says to do so. If you feel a lump in your breast, you will automatically be required to have more testing done. Just note, that is typical, and nothing to worry about until you get an official diagnosis. You will typically hear from your doctor within 10 days from your mammogram. Even if you don't have health insurance, there’s no excuse NOT to get a mammogram. Many hospitals offer free services for families who qualify and you can even check out The American Cancer Society for discounted rates near you. Nothing is worth the risk of losing your life to something that could have been prevented. Nat's Results: Her boobs are 100% awesome. No issues, no problems, no worries. She already marked on her calendar when it's time for her next one. What are you waiting for? You read it wasn't so bad. Call your doc and make your appointment today!

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creature comforts

in your crockpot

by karen finchum


know for many of us, what we are going to fix for dinner isn’t the top priority of our day. I usually get that moment of panic around 5 p.m., wondering what I will possibly make for my family. That is why I decided to cook more often with my crockpot. I wake up in the morning, spend around 10 minutes of prep time, and I am able to come home to a nice hot meal for my family. If your family doesn’t like something listed as an ingredient in some of my favorite recipes, just swap it out for something else and make the recipes your own! Happy Crocking!

Perfect Pot Roast Cook: 7-9 hours on low

What you need: *Beef Roast – any type will do *½ pkg. of dry Ranch dressing mix *1 pkg. of dry Italian dressing mix *1 pkg. of dry brown gravy mix *½ cup of water *1 pkg. of frozen carrots 16


What you do: Add roast to crockpot. Mix all dry ingredients together and sprinkle over roast and add water. In the last hour of cooking, add frozen carrots. **No salt is needed, as the Ranch dressing will act as a salt**

Fix and Forget Fajitas Cook: 8 hours on low or 4-6 on high

What you need: *1 yellow onion, sliced *3 sweet peppers, sliced *1½ lbs. boneless chicken breast or beef strips *½ cup chicken or beef broth *½ teaspoon salt *2 tablespoons cumin *1½ tablespoons chili powder *1 T. of lime juice (Optional) *1 can of stewed tomatoes, drained *Tortillas What you do: Use a crockpot liner for easy clean-up, (or grease your crockpot before you add ingredients). Slice up onions and peppers (removing all seeds). Place your chicken/beef

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on top of your vegetables and add broth over the top. Mix dry ingredients and sprinkle over the meat. Add lime juice to the top. Cook on low for 8 hours or 4-6 hours on high. **Optional - add stewed tomatoes around the last 30 minutes of cooking**

Easy Breakfast Casserole

Cook- 8-10 hours on low What you need: *8 slices of bacon, cooked *1 yellow onion, chopped *1 clove of garlic, peeled/minced *1 bell pepper, seeded/chopped *1 2lb. bag of frozen hash browns *1½ cups shredded cheese *12 eggs (or the equivalent for an egg substitute)

*1 cup of whole milk *1 tsp. of dried dill *½ tsp. salt *½ tsp.pepper What you do: Spray crockpot with non-stick cooking spray. Cook bacon until crisp and chop into pieces. Sauté onion, pepper, and garlic for 5 minutes. Place 1/3 of hash browns into crockpot, add 1/3 of bacon, 1/3 of the onion, pepper, garlic mixture, and then add 1/3 cheese. Repeat layers with final layer of cheese. In a large bowl, mix eggs, milk, dill, salt & pepper together and pour over ingredients in crockpot. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. When completely cooked, the internal temperature should read at least 160 degrees F.

*spraying plastic containers before placing leftovers in prevents stains, too! Karen Finchum has been married to her husband Michael for 10 years and they are the proud parents of 2.5 year old twin boys. She is currently pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education, working parttime as a preschool teacher and a full-time Mommy. She blogs about her daily adventures as a twin mom.

what you’re talking about... Is there “stranger danger” in placing your kids’ monogrammed names on backpacks, clothing, and other items?

We all know that so many festivities go on throughout the upcoming season, but readers tell us about their favorite thing about fall.

If someone wants to lure any child in, it won’t matter if they know their name or not. Stranger danger is such a misconception - most abuse is from family & close family friends. If people want to place judgement on me because I don’t live in fear, so be it. - Erica G. Communication is HUGELY important -- TEACH your kids not to go with a stranger just because they might know their name. I don’t think we give our kids enough credit. - Robyn H. You’d be amazed at how many parents get their kids’ names (sometimes full) on their soccer/ softball/baseball uniforms. It surprises me that they are not more cautious. My twins NEVER have their names on anything. - MiaRose H.

Cider mills, pumpkin spiced lattes, sweatshirts, colored leaves & Halloween. - Mel Perez-S. Football, fireplaces, fall harvest, time change (why, yes I will take that extra hour of sleep thank you!) and family get together for the holidays!! - Jami F. Temperatures become more comfortable, insects begin to die out, yard & farm work slow down, indoor activities pick up and holidays begin!!!! - Mike P. Hikes, sweaters, fall colors/leaves changing, raking and then jumping into a huge pile of crunchy leaves...LOVE this time of year! - Sonia K. Hikes, sweaters, fall colors/leaves changing, raking and then jumping into a huge pile of crunchy leaves. - Jessa H.


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modern day circus freaks by julia fritze


hen I first found out I was pregnant with twins, it threw me for a bit of a loop, but I had babysat twins before, talked to other twin moms, joined my local twin club, Darling Doubles, and read any twin parenting book I could get my hands on. I felt prepared. But then one fellow twin mama said something that didn’t make sense. “Be ready for the rude and inappropriate comments.” I wasn’t sure what she meant and I brushed it off. I figured she was just overly sensitive about things. I had no idea this was probably one of the most important pieces of 18


advice I would hear. General pregnancy comments started early on. They were the usual. “When are you due?”, “Is it a boy or a girl?”, “Do you have your nursery set up?”, etc. None of these seemed out of the ordinary. But then things changed. As my pregnancy progressed and it became obvious either I was a “very big girl” or perhaps to the more astute stranger I was having more than one baby, the comments changed. That is when I realized something. Multiples do something to people. They lose their inhibitions. They feel they can make any comment

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and ask any question they like of us mothers. We are the modern day circus freaks. Feel free to stare, ask your questions, and by all means, please, please give me unsolicited and useless advice. The grocery store seems to be my nemesis. I’ve found that all social couth is left at the door and it is a free-forall. When I was pregnant, I remember one man telling me, “Honey, you look like you are going to pop at any minute! You can’t be walking around like that.” When I told him I was 6 months along with twins and didn’t plan to spend the next three months as a shut-in, he seemed surprised. Then he asked “...are you sure you don’t have a full litter in there?” Now don’t get me wrong. I appreciate his concern for my well-being, but “litter” is never a word a woman wants to hear to describe her children. On another visit to the same grocery store, (when I realized perhaps I need to find another place to shop), I remember a woman came up to me rather shyly. She asked me about the girls. It was the usual questions that we should all be given the answers to on business cards when we leave the hospital with multiples. Are they identical? Who is older? Is it hard? Do twins run in your family? But then she threw me for a loop. This woman I had known for approximately 3 minutes had one more question for multiplicity

me. “What sexual position do you use to get twins?” Seriously, I stood there stunned. I won’t begin on my concerns of the state of the health education in this country, but sexual positions are not something I discuss with my closest friends, much less the woman who randomly was shopping for bananas at the same time as me. I vaguely remember mumbling something and shuffling away as quickly as possible.

“this woman...had one more question for me. ‘What sexual position do you use to get twins?’” I have another twin mom friend whose father-in-law informed them on finding out he was about to have two more grandchildren, that his son must have “left it in too long”. Why does having multiples make what goes on behind closed doors a matter of public discussion? And don’t get me started on the questions of if it was natural or IVF. I don’t ask you about your prostate exam, breast implants, or your latest cholesterol count, so please don’t ask me about my medical history. To the woman who told me I shouldn’t take the girls out without their mother during the middle of an epic double meltdown, assuming I was a babysitter, I (contd. pg. 28)

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d the importance of handwriting

in today’s classroom by kristen felty



espite the influx of computers in the classroom and the workplace, handwriting remains the main form of communication and knowledge assessment in today’s classroom, particularly for elementary students. In later school years, students must be able to complete handwritten components of state standardized tests, as well as the College Board SAT. Furthermore, many careers also require legible handwriting skills. However, many of today’s elementary aged children struggle with handwriting. Their letters are often backwards, formed incorrectly, don’t sit on the lines, are too close together, or their writing is painstakingly slow compared to their peers. Their work is typically sloppy and lacking in creativity. They do not enjoy writing at all, often avoiding the task

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altogether or racing through a writing exercise just to be free from the discomfort they experience when writing. As a result, these children typically receive lower grades on their school work, thus affecting their confidence and their ability to succeed in the classroom. How can we help these children master the skill of handwriting? It’s simple…start when they are young by giving them opportunities to build their motor skills and pre-writing skills. Then, as they reach Pre-K, ensure that they receive formal handwriting instruction. The bottom line is that handwriting is a foundation skill for literacy development. If you want your child to be able to read and write successfully, they need to learn HOW to write. Not all children will learn handwriting at the same pace and with the same degree of success. My own children are a perfect example. My sons, Mac and Cooper, are surviving fraternal triplets who are rising third graders. Their handwriting is drastically different, despite having learned from the exact same curriculum.

Pre-Writing Skills

Handwriting is a developmentally acquired skill, meaning that a child needs to have mastered a certain set of skills prior to being able to properly form the strokes required in letter and number formation.

Formal Handwriting Instruction

The pre-K year is when children typically begin formal instruction since they’ve learned all the necessary pre-writing strokes that are utilized in making

each letter and number. It’s important for you, as parents, to be aware of how your child will learn handwriting. Ensure that your school follows a formal curriculum for handwriting instruction. The three most commonly used handwriting curriculums are Handwriting Without Tears®, Zaner-Bloser and D’Nealian. If they aren’t formally taught how to write, your child will create their own method of letter formation which usually results in excessive strokes, muscle fatigue, and decreased speed and legibility.

“Not all children will learn handwriting at the same pace and with the same degree of success.” What do your elementary age children need to know from a handwriting perspective? Typically, kindergarteners must be able to recognize and name all upper- and lowercase letters, to print many upperand lowercase letters, and to understand that words are separated in print. By the end of first grade, students need to be able to print all upper- and lowercase letters and also write about a topic with guidance and support from adults. As children progress to higher grades, the expectations increase with respect to presentation of knowledge via writing. multiplicity

Home Activities to Develop Writing Skills

There are so many “everyday” ways that we can help our children develop these necessary pre-writing skills. For children ages 2 and 3, encourage use of playground equipment including swings, slides, and push toys. Stick with classic toys like puzzles, nesting blocks, and toy trains and cars. Encourage undressing and dressing and picking up small food pieces. Use dough or pipe cleaners or ribbon to form shapes. These tasks build fine motor skills needed for crayon grasp. For children ages 4 and 5, promote building tasks, finger painting, easel painting, and drawing using small pieces of chalk and crayons to help develop grasp. Provide them with play-dough, wind-up toys, and crafts like bead stringing, lacing projects or Perler/FunFusion beads. Play with Legos, Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, or Lite-Brite. Use kiddie chopsticks or tweezers to pick up small things. All of these activities promote fine motor development. Do the wheelbarrow walk, climb a tree, master the monkey bars, ride bikes, have them get on their belly on a skateboard and push with their hands, or jump on a trampoline. These are great activities for building the shoulder and core muscles that are necessary for good handwriting posture and muscle control. You can do several activities at home to encourage letter practice and improve writing skills. (contd. pg. 48)

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the buzz

twin tested... MOM approved!

the scoop on things worth giving

a try

la dee da dolls

My girls recently started playing with the la dee da doll line and LOVE them! They have Dee, the City Girl, which comes with her own paper suitcase for placing the stickers that are included, a tiny story book and plenty of accessories to coordinate her skyline dress. What makes this doll so different is the ability to change up her outfit by switching the bow to various places, removing the sweater, changing the look of the dress with the pull of a string, using the ring as a watch, etc. Other dolls represent a Safari, Bollywood, France, and even a Kabuki Cutie, all with interchangeable jewelry and accessories. This doll even comes with her own stand to keep from getting messed up after being styled so well. Every little fashionista’s dream come true! ~ talitha


I’m obsessed! Something you may not know about me...I LOVE word games. It started way back when doing jumbles in the Sunday paper. Now one of my favorite things to do is play word games either on my iOS device or any word-based board game. Well TADA! Here came Dabble. Dabble is a fast-paced word game where you start with 5 layers and 20 tiles. The first person to turn all their letters into words, wins! There are MANY variations to the table top game that can easily fit kids of all ages. This game can be challenging, but in a really positive way. Since my kids are a bit on the young side for this game at seven, I’ve been playing with my parents and sister. When they aren’t around, I’ve been brushing up on my Dabble skills online where I’ve been known to play eight or nine games straight. It’s outstanding. I love it. It’s not your traditional word game, but it’s easy enough to pick up the rules on your first time around. For my fellow word lovers, grab this game today. ~ natalie

seez-it labels




Anyone else feel completely lost and discombobulated when not organized? What diaper bag about when you’re a new mom and you can’t remember where you put anything in Organizing Labels that new diaper bag that will become your new trusty purse for the next say, 12+ months? Seez-It labels were made with you in mind! They offer packs of refastenable, paperless labels that help you organize each and every pocket for that pacifier, bottles, diaper rash cream, name it! There are also 2 blank labels for writing your own items. What’s even better is that this company has recently expanded to offer labels for purses and travel bags, too. You know what they say...when mom is organized, everyone is organized (and happy, too!)! ~ talitha

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mabel’s labels

Parents of multiples need all the help they can get to be organized. Mabel’s Labels does just that! I no longer have to settle the “that’s mine” argument of my twins. I love their ability to withstand the abuse 22


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of my boys; these labels are made to last! They are waterproof (except the book labels) and UV resistant, and the clothing labels stay on when put through the wash. Of course, these are great for adults, too! I am ordering some with our family name on them to use on other items like DVDs we lend out or on the dish and spatula I take to pot luck dinners and never fail to leave behind. Need a great holiday gift for teachers? These would ensure that items belonging to her classroom make it back to her classroom! ~ jill

ella’s kitchen

When I was first introduced to Ella’s Kitchen a few years ago, I was drawn to them by their great colored pouches and amazing, yet simple flavors. I’m lucky enough to be one of their “Queen Bees” and get new product samples from time to time. When the latest box came, I was so excited to see that they have added Nibbly Fingers and Yum Yummy Baby Cookies to their already extensive selection of foods. I cracked open the box and dug in. HEY! Who says they are just for kids? I had a hot cup of coffee and needed something to dip into it. I’m thrilled to say that not only are you babies going to enjoy these new treats, but you moms will, too! These gently baked snacks were specially created for kiddos 7 months+ and will melt in their mouth (or your coffee) perfectly. So if you are in the market for a delicious, nutritious baked treat for your tots, grab either the Milk + Vanilla and/or the Apple + Ginger. I personally give them my two thumbs up! ~ natalie

glitter girlz headbandz

Unlike me with the obnoxiously brown, curly hair, my twin girls have stick-straight, beautiful, blonde hair; mind you, hair that also doesn’t like to stay put in hair clips and headbands. Imagine my delight in discovering the glitter girlz headbandz that are not only cute, but actually stay in my girls’ hair --- ALL DAY LONG...even when at gymnastics and playing sports. It was a miracle! They are wrap-around bands with a velvet like underside to keep them in place. The headbandz are $5 each and come in a rainbow of colors, including some in polka dots and even glitter. Visit their site today to hook your own little girl up with some fabulous new hair accessories and tell them Talitha sent you! ~ talitha

wacky wand

Have little ones that love the tub? Give them a wacky wand and see what happens! This little toy provides plenty of entertainment with a squirting whale that also floats, a “catching” unit on each side, and sprinklers that can even be used to help rinse when it’s finally time to get out of the tub. Laughter and clean babies in the tub. Who could ask for more?!? ~ talitha

stay tuned to our facebook page later this month for a fun halloween photo contest to win a photo book from shutterf ly! multiplicity

YOU could be our


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home for the holidays


tips and tricks for cooking your family’s favorites! by kathleen tirella ecker

erry Como sing’s it best: “Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays.” This is one of my most favorite Christmas songs and in our house we love spending the holidays at home and entertaining. To us, Christmas is all about family and food! Our children love having our extended family over for the “big Christmas Party” on Christmas Eve, where we typically have close to twenty people for a seated dinner. It is a perfect blend of my Irish/Italian heritage and his Polish heritage, new traditions that we have started with our own children, and our favorite holiday dishes we grew up with. Our Christmas Eve Menu consists of: Shrimp Cocktail, Mushroom Soup, Pierogies, Salad, Baked Ziti, Eggplant Parmesan, Fish, Seasonal Vegetable, Italian Bread, Assorted Christmas Cookies and a Special Dessert. We pretty much serve the same thing or close to the same thing every year, and that is okay with us! The special dessert does change from year to 24


year, as does the types of fish and vegetables. We like to use fresh food that is available locally, but as long as I’m not cooking the Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes, it is fine with me! Here are some of the things that work for us to ensure we have an enjoyable holiday meal with a smooth preparation and here’s hoping it helps you, too!

write it down – I cannot live without my

notebook where I will store my coupons and recipes and have a separate page for each of the following: guest list, menu, grocery list, to-do list, timeline for the day of (so I know when to put things in and take them out of the oven). Modern twist - put it all on your tablet or PC!

lighten it up – Some of our favorite dishes that

we grew up with are definitely not considered healthy by today’s standards! However, this is an easy fix, as family favorites can easily be lightened up without sacrificing the taste. We no longer cook with salt. Homemade pasta dishes or macaroni and cheese can be made with milk

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instead of heavy cream. You can also use skim or low fat cheese (I do this for my baked ziti). I have tried replacing the pasta with whole wheat pasta, but that didn’t go over very well! When I make my eggplant parmesan I use a fraction of the breading and skim mozzarella cheese. The eggplant can also be baked instead of fried. The same goes with our fish; we bake it or broil it. I love cooking fish in the oven in a pouch made out of aluminum foil, too, as it does not dry out this way. Desserts are also easy to lighten up. You can often replace oil with applesauce or yogurt. Casseroles and sauces are great places to “hide” extra servings of veggies. Your children will enjoy and never know they are there!

do a test run – If you are making something

for the first time, do a test run. You do not want to serve a dish for the first time to a large group (even if they are family!) and have it not be a success. Last week I had my brother and his family over for dinner and did a test run on my lightened up version of the eggplant parmesan. The verdict: they liked it better than my old recipe. Come Christmas, there will be no questioning which version I should make and serve!

if no one eats it, don't make it

– If only one person is going to eat something, take it off your menu. Growing up, each year for Thanksgiving Dinner my mother would make pearl onions in a cream sauce. No one would eat it but her and it would appear on the table year after year. Now when I host Thanksgiving Dinner I don’t make these and my mom is okay with it (at least she says she is!).

it's okay to ask for help – If a relative makes

a fabulous dish you would love to include at your Holiday table, ask them to bring it! Or, ask for the recipe and do a trial run with them so they can show you their little secrets. Some of the best recipes, especially ones that have been passed down from our grandparents, are not written down. It is a little of this and a little of that! My older sister is an excellent baker. Christmas would not be Christmas without her tray of amazing Christmas cookies and petits fours. Everyone looks forward to having her multiplicity

bring these treats each year. If you are having a house full of holiday guests, it is also okay to not make everything from scratch. The last few years my husband has not made the Pierogies from scratch. His Granny makes them best and we cannot get the dough quite right. Sometimes we will order them from the local Polish Deli or his mom will pick them up from us at the Polish Church.

get the kids involved - This is the most

important tip I have! Get your children involved. If your children are involved, they will be excited about the holiday meal and entertaining. Also, if they are involved with the food selection and preparation, they will most likely eat it. I love listening to my kids tell Grandma how they helped to stir the sauce and picked the vegetables. In our house the kids are involved from start to finish. They help with everything from setting the table, to cooking in the kitchen to refilling the bread basket. My oldest helps to carry up the “kiddie” table from the basement and set it up in the dining room. My little ones help to set the table and love to make personalized place cards for each family member. They also love putting out the Christmas Crackers and candies on the table for our guests. Start new traditions with them and pass on old ones. Growing up, my younger sister and I always visited relatives to make traditional Italian Christmas Cookies (inset). My sister and I have so many wonderful memories of these days and now I make these cookies with my own children. How will you plan your family holiday meal and what tradition will you pass down? KathleenTirella Ecker is a full-time stay at home mom, part-time blogger and part-time event planner for DC Event Planners. She and her husband Bart have been married for ten years and were blessed with four beautiful children in four years, including a surprise set of twins. Kathleen lives with her family in Loudoun County, Virginia, where they love exploring the local farms, cooking together, playing tennis, and visiting the beach. Be sure to visit her blog to see how she is surviving and thriving as a mom of 4 wonderful & crazy kids. 25 the must-have magazine for all moms of multiples

the eco-friendly lunchbox by terri babin

We all know that “going green”, and taking strides to reduce our family’s carbon footprint is the right thing to do, so why not get started with a way that can save you some “green” too! With the school year back in full swing it’s the perfect time to start thinking about packing an eco-friendly lunchbox, and if saving the planet isn’t enough to get you motivated, perhaps saving an extra $30-$60 per month or more will. Now let’s take a look at some “food for thought” and see just how much “green” packing an ecofriendly lunch can actually save…

“The Trashy Lunch”

• PB&J sandwich $0.90 • Juicebox $0.41 • Prepackaged applesauce cup $0.52 • Individual package of carrots/ranch $1.10 • Individual bag of chips $1.08 • Disposable sandwich baggie $0.06 • Disposable spoon $0.05 • Brown paper bag $0.03

The Trashy Lunch Total: $4.15 26


“The Eco-Friendly Lunch”

• PB&J sandwich in reusable baggie $0.90 • Serving of juice in reusable bottle $0.20 • Applesauce in reusable container $0.32 • Carrots/ranch in reusable containers $0.36 • Serving of chips in reusable baggie $0.70 • Disposable products $0.00

Eco-Friendly Lunch Total: $2.48

Using the example above, packing an ecofriendly lunchbox offers a monthly savings of $33.00 per child, and as a parent of multiples, you can at least double the savings. And don’t forget eco-friendly lunches aren’t just for the kids, working parents can enjoy the earth and money-saving benefits, too! Yes, you may have to invest in some eco-friendly lunchbox gear to get started, but the benefits of investing in a few reusable snack/sandwich bags and containers, far outweigh the overall cost of a “trashy lunch” to both your pocketbook, and the planet. Plus, if you really want to get creative, just Google “Bento Lunches” to see how moms

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mom squad

lunch picks you use plastic bags for * Ifpacking sandwiches and other

(and dads) are taking ecofriendly lunches to a whole new level of fun and cuteness! But in all seriousness, making a waste-free lunch really does make a difference. It’s estimated that the average school-age child using a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. That’s 18,760 pounds of waste for just one average-size elementary school! Here are a few simple tips to help you get started: *Waste Free Lunches is a great place to start, offering a wealth of resources, including information about how to pack a waste-free lunch, and where to get a “laptop lunch box” with reusable containers that neatly fit into a lunch box. *Check out for alternatives to help reduce disposable plastic and paper bag waste. Also be sure to check out their Waste-Free Lunch video on YouTube. *Kids Konserve offers waste free lunch containers. *Waste-Free Lunch Guidelines - Download this document with helpful waste-free lunch guidelines developed by 4th graders at Prospect Sierra School.

*Lead in Lunchboxes - Learn how to test your child’s lunchbox for lead, find alternatives to vinyl, and join the campaign to stop the manufacture of toxic lunchboxes. *Healthy Lunches - Get ideas for packing a healthy lunch from Chef Ann, or transform the lunch offered at your school with the Rethinking School Lunch Guide from *Avoid Harmful Plastics - Check out these tips from Healthy Child Healthy World to learn how to make the safest choices for your family. Most importantly, when it comes to going green in any aspect of your life, take it one step at a time, and don’t be afraid to seek out advice! Terri Babin, a.k.a. EcoCrazy Mom, is committed to helping moms go green, without going crazy! For more tips on living an eco-friendly lifestyle, be sure to visit her blog, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter to stay upto-date on all the latest eco-crazy news, get answers to your eco-living questions, and more!

items for your little ones, consider WEXY bags with four funky monster designs to which they can relate that are BPA free and completely biodegradable! These bags come 28 to a box.

that their hands * Worried aren’t the cleanest when they

sit down at lunch? Pack a 1 oz. bottle of CleanWell hand sanitizing spray. There are no harsh chemicals or alcohol. No mess, no fuss, no worries!

your kids some love! * Show Let your children know you’re thinking of them while away, with Lunchbox Love. Each note also includes a fun trivia fact, so why not teach them something new, too? Each pack contains 12 cards.

*also, custom order your reusable sandwich and snack bags from fellow mom business owners 27 like eco mcplanet!

ask the veterans

twins beyond the twos... Q: Have you recently delivered or are you expecting another baby and your twins are still preschool age? How do you get out and about with all three in tow? Aside from getting crazy looks when you’re out and about, what’s a twin mom to do when she has three or more under three??? Actually, there are a ton of options, and surely something to fit every need and budget. Ema Lam said, “I’d use a double stroller and babywear the new baby, but you could also try the Bumbleride Indie Twin with a twin in front, a twin in back on a buggyboard seat, and get the infant bassinet attachment for the new baby --- a set-up that will grow with you as the children grow!” Another option, Lisa Gonzalez said, “I have the City Select 28


jogging stroller. It’s sold as a single, but you can get an extra attachment for another seat and also can purchase a board. It’s light-weight and folds up small.” And what about the worry of older sibling(s) running off? Shelley O’Brian Johnson said, “unload the babies first because [you can] secure them. I kept big brother strapped in his carseat until I had the babies situated in the stroller, and then would get him out and situated. That way I could handle it if he was feisty and wanted to bolt off.” Here’s to successful mobility for all the twin moms who dare wish for more than double love!

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contd. from - circus freaks

must warn may receive a pineapple to the head if we ever meet in the produce section again. To those that tell me I “really should have tried harder” at nursing and have no idea of the effort, struggle and number of tears I shed over it, should learn when to keep quiet. We do the best we can with the resources we have. To those that say “Wow, you must really have your hands full!” as I juggle a diaper bag, a baby on each hip, and my groceries and then let the door slam on me without a thought of holding it, or (here is a novel idea), offering to carry my groceries, have earned a special place in my heart. And to those that comment that if I used IVF, without even knowing if I did or not, that “IVF is a sin”, to you, I ask, please don’t speak to me or my beautiful, smart, funny, amazing children again. They are a blessing to humanity no matter how they were conceived. I will admit to crying in the car more than once as I drive away from wherever I run into these strangers and their variety of rude comments. And sadly, I usually don’t think of my witty comeback until about two blocks away. At times, I’m very tempted to turn the car around and find that individual again to say what I wish I would have said initially. But then I realize I would have to get the twins back out of the car again, and it is just too much effort. However, I do love to go out with other twin and triplet moms. The attention that is garnered by having multiple

multiples is just amusing. My favorite question, which has happened on more than one occasion, is when people ask us twin moms if we are sisters. It cracks me up, especially when I’m out with a twin mom who looks nothing like me. Of course, logic says we must be related since we both have two children. But all that said, now that the girls are 20 months old, I’ve come to terms with being the modern day circus freak family. My girls are amazing! They do deserve everyone’s attention. I’ve learned to accept the usual questions and get a chuckle out of the really stupid questions. It’s great to be a multiple mom and the rude and inappropriate are just a minor downside of having the great kids. I’ll accept it with a smile on my face. It gives us multiple moms something to talk and laugh about when we get together. Plus I’ve been working on perfecting my witty comebacks, so go ahead...try me!



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trick-or-treat makin’ it a family affair 30


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Wizard of 32



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jessie & woody multiplicity

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let’s go on


host a special dessert table with tons of spooky fun --- cupcakes with marshmallow ghosts, bat cookies, popcorn, candy corn, and to-die-for cake pops that every little monster will enjoy!



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*a very special thanks to our vendors: on location at Hodges Family Farm in Charlotte, NC; photographs by firewife photography; bat cookies by creative cookies; themed cake pops by cake pops by cindy.

ask joan I have twin toddler (3.5 year old) boys. They are inseparable; they literally share everything (or fight for everything). If one goes somewhere, so does the other. I recently spoke to our curriculum developer at the boys preschool who suggested moving the boys to separate rooms. The boys seem to think that they must play with one another even at times when they clearly do not want to play together. What are your thoughts on allowing preschool aged twins to have their own space? I am noticing they also have some behavior issues and tend to ignore/disregard requests from me and my spouse. Any thoughts on this matter, Joan? ~ Rhonda Dear Rhonda: It seems that both you and the preschool professional are recognizing that your sons need some space from each other. Helping twins gradually get accustomed to being separated from their twin is an emotional gift with lifelong benefits. At times, the twinship, like many other intimate relationships, can feel intrusive; we all need some alone time (some of us need more than others). The fact that your boys feel compelled to be together, even in the face of conflict and aggressive behavior, suggests that they have not had the opportunity to experience time away from each other. Since your boys are so accustomed to being together, I don’t believe that giving them separate bedrooms at this particular time is the best solution. Rather, I suggest that you and your husband begin to spend time alone with each of your sons. However, you must be prepared to handle the complaints that will undoubtedly erupt as you begin to incorporate alone time into your family routine. It is best to begin with small increments of time and then gradually lengthen the outings as everyone begins to enjoy the luxury of oneon-one time. For example, begin by taking each boy out on an errand and switch off the next time so that each one has time alone with you and your husband. Be very clear about explaining that this is a new family activity that is going to be fun because each will have mommy/daddy to himself. You will be amazed, pleased, and relieved to experience how well-behaved each boy can be and how lovely it is to appreciate each child’s personality without his brother around. You can arrange as much separate time as your schedules allow, and as the boys can tolerate. When they are comfortable with this new routine, you can also multiplicity

suggest alone time with other family members, as well. Your family must be committed to the idea and follow through with taking turns and making plans in order for alone time to be cherished and effective. Another terrific benefit of instituting alone time is that you will discover that you can successfully exert more control over the boys’ behavior. On some level the boys are practicing “the power of two”. In other words, they are using their twin capacities to gang up on you, being willful about testing limits and interfering with your efforts at setting boundaries. In the long run, this “double trouble” scenario is a lose/lose proposition for all concerned because the boys will feel out of control and anxious if mom and dad are not firm and consistent about expectations and rules. You are correct in intuiting that your sons are ready for and desirous of growing into their individuated sense of self. As you evaluate your children’s capacity to enjoy and manage their separateness, you will feel confident making informed decisions about separate bedrooms, as well as assessing future situations. Your boys are individuals first and twins second. This perspective should be honored throughout their lifetime. Dr. Friedman is a prominent and well-respected twin expert who shares her passionate views and insights with twins and their families throughout the world. The fact that she is an identical twin and the mother of five, including fraternal twins, makes her ideally suited to this task. Her commitment to twin research and her treatment of twins of all ages demonstrate the breadth and depth of her skills and experience. She conducts ongoing groups for parents of twins and provides consultation on twinrelated matters such as school placement, developmental discrepancies, and behavioral issues. the must-have magazine for all moms of multiples


five minute fix:

change the lampshade by traci zeller

Have you paid much attention to your lamps? So many people don’t! If a lamp comes with a shade – and many do – we tend to leave it as-is. Of course, a classic white shade is rarely wrong. But a less ordinary lamp shade is also a great place to inject some personality into a room! Changing a lamp shade is one of my favorite “five minute fixes.” It’s an easy, inexpensive change that you can quickly accomplish to make your home look and feel better. After all, it never fails. Doesn’t at least one child need something absolutely as soon as you’ve started any kind of project? This black and white striped lamp shade adds so much energy and interest to an otherwise plain glass lamp. The lamp simply wouldn’t be as dynamic with a white shade! Decorative lamp shades are readily available at big box stores like Target or Lowe’s and home retailers like Restoration Hardware or Pottery Barn. Before you shop, make sure to notice whether your lamp uses a harp, or requires a shade with a fitter that sits on the socket. Here’s a quick rule of thumb for choosing the proper shade size: The bottom diameter of a shade should be approximately 36


equal to the height of the lamp from the bottom of the base to just below the socket. Can’t find the style of shade for which you are looking? Never fear! This shade was purchased as-is, but striped shades are easy to DIY with either grosgrain ribbon or bias binding tape and some fabric glue. Need a patterned shade or perhaps an unusual color? Just use paint! You can even cover an existing lamp shade with your favorite fabric. Now the only thing left to do is enjoy your new look … and think about which lamp shade you are going to change next! Named by Charlotte Style magazine as one of Charlotte’s 50 Most Stylish People in 2010, Traci Zeller is an interior designer known for her clean, sophisticated mix of classic and modern pieces. As a busy wife and mother to active twin boys, she appreciates the need for spaces that are beautiful and functional. Traci also authors a blog, in which she shares her stylish favorites with as many as 120,000 readers per month. Her firm, Traci Zeller Designs, provides full service design and e-decorating packages.

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do something

GOOD by amanda nethero

There is a special bond between families of multiples that I have never seen in any other group of people, and hopefully this is something you have experienced in your own multiples club. Only other parents of multiples can truly understand the joys and complete chaos that comes along with having twins, triplets, or more. One such club that goes above and beyond with supporting their families is the Charlotte Mothers of Multiples (CMOMs).

(Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome). Being a part of this 5K not only is a way to support our members and make them aware of fetal syndromes, but is also a way to celebrate the children and parents that have survived these diseases.” While some members of CMOMs may not have direct experience with TTTS, the support they give is immeasurable.

Each year, in Kannapolis, North Carolina, the Race for Fetal Hope 5K takes place. The race is put on by the Fetal Hope Foundation and is a way to raise awareness of fetal syndromes and to help raise money for the Foundations’ missions in supporting families when their babies are diagnosed with fetal syndromes. Part of a National Race Series, the races host to more than 3,000 people.

The support that all of these families give to each other is inspiring. For more information or to find a race near you, visit the Fetal Hope Foundation online.

President of CMOMs, Lindsay Wilson shared what being a part of the 5K is all about: “Part of our mission is to create support services to parents of multiple birth children in order to help them thrive, not just survive, in their efforts to care for their children. As a club of MoMs, we are faced with fetal syndromes, especially TTTS 37


she is all too familiar with loss. “Prior to having my twins, we experienced two miscarriages back-to-back. They were early on but still painful to experience. Then we went on to have two twin pregnancies without any complications. We realized throughout our journey that many parents of multiples cannot say that. The [race] was our way to support those families who have experienced the loss of a child through complications. We plan on participating again this year, eagerly pushing our two sets of twins along with us!”

Member Jen Klaus is one of those MoMs who did not experience TTTS with either of her twin pregnancies, but

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Amanda Nethero is a native south suburbanite of Chicago who has the accent and White Sox apparel toprove it, that now lives in the sunshinestate. Amanda is the proud MoM of 4 year-old-twins, Aaron and Jillian. Amandaworks as an information specialist and runs Multiples and More a blog network for families with multiples. You can also keep up with her on Twice the Love…Half the Sleep. Amanda is also a lost toy finder, boo-boo kisser, peace talk negotiator, pop cultureknow-it-all, baker, cook, and loving wife.

Parents of multiples are extremely busy people at any time of the year. The holidays can only increase to-do lists and responsibilities. Be sure to make tradition time with your multiples a priority.



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reindeer fiddlers and

on the roof:

why family traditions are so important and how to start them


by tobi stanton stewart

very year during the holidays, millions of us fall victim to the frenzy. We get so caught up in the wrong things that we end up tired, stressed, and far from merry. Having special family traditions can be a fun way to bring lightheartedness back to the holiday season. Creating family traditions is like weaving the fabric that will form your children’s memories. Your multiples will not recall every gift under the tree with perfect clarity next year. However, they will remember the way it felt to spend time with you. Traditions are an opportunity to put the focus back on your family and the quality of the time you spend together. When we treat our rituals and traditions as sacred they can truly fill the season with glad tidings. You may think sacred is a pious word to use for a sugar cookie binge or inflating a giant illuminated penguin, but when these things are done with love they become memories precious beyond anything that can be purchased. Doing them year after year provides a family with a sense of continuity and belonging. There is something very reassuring to seeing that crèche, tree, reindeer, menorah, or multiplicity

penguin come out every year and the rituals associated with them. In our house, the twins must take turns every year being the one who adds baby Jesus to the manger scene. We started with toy figurines and are slowly working up to family heirlooms. It’s a great teachable moment about our faith. They cannot wait for His birthday to come. We get a birthday cake and sing “Happy Birthday, Jesus”, as it is something that my family always did. If there are memories you have that truly embody a happy holiday feeling, try recreating them this year. Perhaps it’s the stillness of midnight mass, or laughter floating in the icy air during a sled ride. Find that inner joy that radiates from the past and share it with the people you love who are important to you now. Was there a particular album or artist that embodies the holidays for you? Download it on iTunes and introduce your multiples to Johnny Mathis, Bing Crosby, or 98 Degrees as you begin your decorations. Taking it the must-have magazine for all moms of multiples


Has it been ages since you tasted your grandmother’s latkes? Get the recipe out and try it with your kids. Don’t get self-critical if they don’t taste exactly like hers. They should taste like yours! Enjoy and celebrate the difference.

Your multiples are nourished by much more than candy canes and delighted by more than toys. An advent wreath is a beautiful way to slow down the season and revel in small moments. Having one on your dinner table encourages Sunday dinners together. Lighting the candle and saying a prayer or counting some blessings is a beautiful way to focus the family on gratitude. If your holiday memories are not happy ones, it is time to create new traditions of your own. Many faiths focus on light and love during this season. Whether your approach be secular or religious, every family 40


can embrace the spirit of giving, helping those less fortunate, and treating others with kindness. Your multiples are nourished by much more than candy canes and delighted by more than toys. They will be filled with the spirit of the season when they see you treat a salesperson with kindness or round up all the family’s old toys & clothes to be donated. Traditions will be kept when they start organically. Don’t force things. Follow your inner joy to create new memories. If you hate baking, then stop making yourself miserable with it. A trip to your local bakery, or a box of store bought cookies and some hot chocolate will suffice. Pick the kids up from school and tell them its a cookie-fest! Your excitement will make the memory. Mostly, it’s about the energy in the room and carving out time together. Switch off your cell phone and plug in to your family. Years from now your multiples will be fighting over who inherits that illuminated penguin. They’ll smile, chuckle and say, “What a great tradition!”

Tobi Stanton Stewart is a twin mom and writer who blogs about the good, the bad, and the fabulous world of multiples at The Posh Mommas.

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gift ideas


down shouldn’t be a solitary endeavor either. Pizza and wings can sweeten the deal and turn the clean-up into family time.

large families by angel rodrigues

Not-So-Secret Santa. *Family Depending on the age of your

children, a family can come up with a secret Santa model for gift-giving. Each member can pull a name out of a bag and buy only for that person. It doesn’t have to stay a secret though; it’s up to you how you design your family’s model.

is Heartwarming. *Homemade Set aside a definite dollar

amount and decide on what you want to make each other. Whether it’s baskets filled with cookies and fresh fruit, or popcorn and tickets to the dollar movie theater, making homemade baskets can be exciting and fun.

Aren’t All Bad. *Electronics Consider buying one large

gaming system for the whole family to enjoy. You can find great deals at the holidays and they require physical participation for all, too.

A Gift To A Large Family. *Give Make premade cookies,

soups, breads, and other dry mixes in festive holiday bags, with pretty bows and recipe directions attached. Sure to put a smile on their faces!

Whether *Memberships. you’re giving to a large family or buying for your own, memberships to local places are a wonderful gift that can cost one flat, lower rate than buying individual tickets and can be used all year round.

follow the mom squad via video on the latest and greatest products and toys for you and yours!

is headed to the ABC Kids Expo!

cloud b . bumbleride . pediped . mam . sugarjack . lambs & ivy

wish you were there?

boppy . dutailier . medela . 1st steps . baby brezza . primo . bebe au lait . safari ltd. . leachco . combi .


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the scoop... on jessica: snakeskin blouse - TJ Maxx $19.99 on carla: black military-style jacket Ross $16.99

fashion finds

for less by talitha a. mcguinness



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the scoop... on ann: animal print, belted jacket - TJ Maxx $29.99 on erin: leopard print top and chardonnay colored jeans - Ross $8.99 & $16.99 43


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the scoop... on erin: purple sweater dress - Ross $22.99 on jessica: rust colored tunic and scarf - TJ Maxx $24.99 & $12.99 on carla: plum colored, belted dress - Ross $12.99 44


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the scoop... on ann: bronze sequin dress - TJ Maxx $39.99 on carla: rust colored, shirred dress - Ross $16.99 on erin: gold sequin dress - Ross $39.99 45


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book review for preschoolers & families by michelle leichty

Shorter days and cooler weather are upon us - the perfect time to cuddle with your children on the couch with great books. Here are some family favorites:


With baseball season reaching its climax, fans (and nonfans, too!) will enjoy reading Brothers at Bat by Audrey Vernick. In this non-fiction picture book, Vernick tells the story of the Acerra brothers, who loved baseball, created their own team, and played together (semi-professionally) for 14 years. The author’s note in the back includes a picture of the real brothers and quotes from those still living. Ages 4 & up. Even if your children don’t enjoy ghost stories, they will enjoy Georgie by Robert Bright. Georgie is a small ghost with a job to do, until the house owner fixes the squeaks and creaks. Georgie’s 46


routine is shattered, leaving him wandering around without purpose, until one night... I’m not going to give away the ending! If your children love Georgie as much as mine, you’ll be thrilled to know Bright wrote a whole series of the books. Ages 2 & up. Preschoolers and elementaryaged children will enjoy listening to Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh. Jonathan’s mother sends him on an errand to his aunt’s house on the other side of the mountain. Jonathan is afraid he’ll run into bears, but his mother scoffs at the idea. Off Jonathan goes, and on his way home, he discovers there ARE

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bears on Hemlock Mountain! Using his ingenuity and quick wit, he hides himself until his father rescues him. Dalgliesh’s book has just enough suspense to keep kids interested without causing nightmares. Ages 4 & up.


Alice Dalgliesh also wrote our family’s favorite book about Thanksgiving: The Thanksgiving Story. This cross between a picture book and a chapter book tells the story of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving in simple language with large, colorful illustrations. Ages 3 & up. While not technically a Thanksgiving story, The Great Turkey Walk by Kathleen Karr is about turkeys, and 15-year-old Simon Green who decides to walk one thousand of them from Missouri to Denver as a business venture. If you’re planning a long drive for Thanksgiving, I highly recommend you find the audio book. Narrator Tom Stechschulte brings Simon Green and his friends, (and enemies), to life. Ages 5 & up. One Candle, by Eve Bunting tells the story of one Jewish family’s modern-day Hanukkah celebration that traditionally includes a potato. Bunting gently and graciously relates Great-Aunt Ruth & Grandma’s experiences in a World War II concentration

camp and why it’s important to remember the meager Hanukkah they celebrated there. Ages 3 & up. Alexandra’s Scroll by Miriam Chaikin is the story of the first Hanukkah, told from the perspective of a young girl who happens to be a scribe. She describes her anger when she and her mother have to leave Jerusalem because of the danger, and her joy at returning and seeing the restoration of the temple. Ages 8 & up. Children will especially enjoy The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Mary Engelbreit. Her colorful and richly detailed illustrations accompany the famous Christmas poem. Ages 2 & up. The Light at Tern Rock by Julia L. Sauer is a short chapter book telling the story of Ronnie, his Aunt Martha and their unexpected Christmas at a lonely lighthouse. It’s a story of making the best of difficult circumstances and the real meaning of Christmas. Ages 4 & up.


For a quick, fun bedtime story, look for The Story of a Boy Named Will, by Daniil Kharms. Children will enjoy the rhyme, rhythm and repeating in this story about sledding down a hill, and what Will

inadvertently collects on his sled as he goes down. Ages 18 months to 7 years. Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton is a classic picture book worth reading again and again. Katy, a red crawler tractor, loves to work hard. One day, snow starts falling. It falls so quickly the truck plows can’t keep up with it, so Katy is called into action. She works and works until she’s done plowing out the entire city. Ages 2 & up. For older children, Snow Treasure is a delight. The Nazis have invaded Norway in the middle of winter. What can the children do? Fool the Nazis, by sledding gold down the mountain right under their noses. This exciting story will capture your attention, as well as your children’s. Ages 8 & up. Michelle Leichty has read hundreds of books to her four children in the course of their homeschooling journey. So many people asked her to recommend books that she started blogging about her favorite children’s books at You can find out about her writing business at multiplicity

we vote

YES! With the election just a few weeks away, perhaps you’re searching for a way to explain the process to your children. Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio is a colorful picture book which follows a mock election in a school classroom. See How They Run by Susan Goodwin is a clear, concise and funny, if somewhat irreverent, look at the election process and past elections. It also encourages older elementary and middle school children to become involved in politics. Vote, a DK Eyewitness Book, gives children a broad, historic view of the elections. It includes lots of pictures and sidebars, making it easy for children to pick and choose what they want to read.

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contd. from - handwriting

Here are some of my favorites: *Draw letters on your child’s back with your finger while they guess the letter. *Write letters in sidewalk chalk. *Have your child form letters out of play-dough, toothpicks or pipe cleaners. *Write letters with a flashlight, laser pointer or water gun. For older children who are practicing writing words, have them try the following: *Write your grocery list. *Write postcards from vacation. *Write a journal page at the end of each day. Formal writing needs to occur every day in order for it to truly develop into a fluent and automatic skill.

When and How to Find Handwriting Help

Keep in mind the following 8 components of handwriting

when determining if your child needs help. If you feel they are lacking in any area, consider the services of a Certified Handwriting Specialist. And remember, early intervention is always best! By third grade, many bad habits can be formed and they can be difficult to break. 1. Memory: remembering and writing dictated letters/numbers 2. Orientation: facing in the correct direction 3. Placement: putting on the baseline 4. Size: how big or small 5. Start: where each begins 6. Sequence: order and stroke direction 7. Control: neatness/proportion 8. Spacing: amount of space between letters in words and between words in sentences Certified Handwriting Specialists can evaluate, instruct and remediate handwriting. They have attended dozens of hours of training, completed

comprehensive self-study exercises, and passed a thorough certification examination involving handwriting case studies. Their expertise covers both letter formation and physical presence such as grip and posture. Their fees are typically lower than those of an Occupational Therapist, but you can expect to pay them the typical rate for academic tutors in your geographic area. Locate a Level 1 Certified Handwriting Specialist and get your children on the path to handwriting success today! Kristen Felty is a Handwriting Specialist and operates Buckhead Handwriting in Atlanta, GA, where she provides handwriting evaluation, instruction and remediation for children in grades Pre-K through 5. You can visit her on Facebook, as well.

developmental stages in handwriting readiness age 2 year-old

writing hand holds crayons with all fingers in the palm of hand; arm is in air expressing anticipation.

helper hand no useful purpose.

strokes mastered random scribbles

3 year-old

holds crayon with all fingers in the palm of hand; forearm is down on table, but not well planted.

realizes hand can be used to hold paper steady.

horizontal line vertical Line

4 year-old begins to show signs of mature deliberately holds paper grasp using thumb with 1 or 2 steady. fingers on crayon; elbow is up in air.

horizontal Line vertical Line circle cross

5 year-old uses mature grasp with hand and consistently/purposefully elbow now resting on table. holds paper steady.

horizontal Line vertical Line circle; cross square; triangle



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it’s that

time again... Has your elf begun it’s visits to your children to report if they’ve been naughty or nice? Our elf, Elvis visited back in September for my husband’s birthday, and my kids were ecstatic since they hadn’t seen him since the holidays. What will he be up to this year? Not sure yet, but this mom will definitely be perusing Pinterest and the likes to come up with some new inspiration for this coming holiday season! New to the Elf on the Shelf? It’s pure holiday least for most children under the age of 8 (or sadly, whenever they learn that Santa isn’t real). The elf comes to visit and “watch” their behavior and reports to Santa at the North Pole each night while they are sleeping. Sort of adds a whole new level of authenticity to the naughty or nice list! Also, watch for our posts on facebook to hear all about some crazy antics that get them more than their fair share of attention, and feel free to share what your little imp has been up to!


Hint: Identify things using switchable seez-it labels



Don’t have an elf yet, but want one? Now is definitely the time to purchase...before the craze begins and there are none left on shelves anywhere! Just don’t forget to move your elf, as your twins will notice if he/she is in the same spot from the day before (you’ve been warned!). ~talitha

Made in USA



Calm the clutter

and instantly reduce organizational stress with new switchable “velcro-style” labels for diaper bags, travel bags, handbags and more. Now in custom writable sets just perfect for multiples! toll free 855.273.3948

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why ask



by rhonda mcmullen

f you have toddlers, you may have heard the all too familiar “why, Mommy?” questions. Most likely you have heard this repeatedly from your toddlers. Children begin to ask “why” in order to learn. This is a developmental stage in their lives and can often cause parents to all but lose their minds. Children learn by seeing, doing, and asking questions. To be honest, that’s how I learn, as well. Let’s begin with why children are so inquisitive. Children learn how to do things by asking questions and by observation of their parents, teachers, and peers. Being inquisitive is a normal part of your toddler’s developmental stage and typically occurs during the 3-4 year old age range. At this stage in a child’s development, they are discovering the wonderful world



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around them. They ask questions to engage others in their environment. When preschoolers ask questions, they simply want an explanation. Although the continual “why, why, why?” can become a little frustrating, it’s very important to your child to be provided an explanation and to understand. Over the years I’ve heard toddlers asking the infamous “but why, Mommy?” and in return I hear the mother reply, “Because I said so.” There’s no explanation in that reply.

photos courtesy of jane goodrich photography

With my 3 year old twin toddlers, I try to keep it simple and fun while incorporating learning strategies. Rather than simply rushing through a simple explanation to appease them, I turn it into a game and often reply with a question for them that will help them understand the concept of the task at-hand. If your child asks “why do I have to pick up my toys?”, you can return the question by asking “why do you think we should clean up after ourselves?”. This type of question puts the responsibility back in the child’s hands and helps them build independence. This strategy encourages the thought process and also allows them to provide their own explanation, better equipping them in conversational exchanges with peers. Try not to be too busy to answer your child’s questions. Children are developing their conversational techniques, as well as their language and processing skills. Encourage your children to keep asking questions. The more they ask, the more they learn, and the more they engage in conversation with those around them. You want your children to come to you with questions. If you’re often too busy to answer their questions, they will learn to seek out their answers from other sources, rather than seeking answers from their parents. Asking and answering questions with your toddlers builds communication skills and develops trust between you and your child. For example, if your child asks “why do I have to wear my shoes?”, you may reply with “what might happen if you don’t wear your shoes?”. For my children, I like to use exageration techniques. So, if I were to say to them “time to put your shoes on”, they might reply, “why Mommy, where are we going?” At that point, multiplicity

I make it interesting and fun for them and turn the task of putting their shoes on into a game. I might say, “we are going on an adventure and will need our shoes to trek across the wilderness”. This typically means we are going for a walk, but if I make it sound more exciting, they usually rush to be the first with their shoes on. Another fun way to answer the never-ending why questions is to make a riddle or jingle out of the answer. Let’s say your child asks “why do I have to go to bed now?”. You might reply with an answer in song that grabs their attention and gets them dancing while getting ready for bed. For parents of multiples, this may really be a challenging stage in our children’s development. However, it can also be frustrating for multiples. Not only are they sharing everything with a twin, they now have to share the attention of their parents as they try to get answers to all of their questions and concerns. While one sibling is asking, what to them is, a very important question, the other sibling might be getting into mischief. What do we do as parents? Our first reaction most often is to rush to the child that is misbehaving. Where does that leave the child with the question? It leaves them with a lingering unanswered question. It can definitely be tough to drop what you are doing with one child to rush off to the needs of the other, but return promptly to answer the questions the child had. Even though it may seem like your child is trying to test your last nerve with the never-ending whys, they are simply looking for legitimate answers to all of their inquiries. Remember to make it fun for both you and your children. Rhonda McMullen began her life as a small town girl who was very shy and introverted. She later joined the Air National Guard and enjoyed several years amongst her Air Force comrades, until becoming an Army Wife and moving to Germany. Rhonda has had the pleasure of working at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center while stationed in Germany. She is inspired to create children’s books by her twin boys Aiden & Kiernan who have inadvertently molded her into who she is today. Current works by Rhonda include Itsy Bitsy Giant Bug; Aiden & Kiernan go to the Zoo; & Miss Maria’s Big Helper. the must-have magazine for all moms of multiples


photo courtesy of cleobella photography

pets as gifts

what every parent should consider before caving in! by sherilyn craig



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ommy, I want a puppy! PLEASE???” or “I would LOVE a sweet little kitten!” We have all heard these statements, along with, “I promise I will take care of it, feed it and play with it.” As parents, we want our children to have the best and adding a little pet, or fur baby (as I call our 100 pound German Shepard), seems to be a great idea….but is it? Many people purchase pets as gifts and then discover it takes more time and care then they anticipated. Puppies and kittens take daily handling and need lots of love to become members of the family. Having a couple of kids and then throwing a new puppy or kitten into the mix can turn a happy household into a chaotic mess quickly. So, before running out and buying a new fur baby for that little one in your life, take a few things into consideration. With the Holiday season approaching, getting little Alec or Brooke a new pet may seem like a good idea (you will be the rock star of the season!), and yes, puppies and kittens are cute, but they will get into all kinds of trouble when left with little attention and nothing to do. Remember a puppy or kitten is not just a pet; it is a new member of the family. It takes lots of love and care. Make sure the recipient of the new pet really wants this pet as a gift. Equally, the new pet should match the new owner’s lifestyle, temperament, and living situation. A large breed dog requires a yard and lots of exercise, where a small dog or kitten doesn’t require as much. Too many pets end up in shelters because it wasn’t what the recipient wanted or they became too much for the new owners to handle.

Ask yourself if the recipient is age-appropriate for a new pet. Will he or she be able to take on the responsibility of walking their new puppy or feeding their new kitten? Responsibility is a key factor. Many pets get left in cages and ignored because no one wants to deal with the responsibility of taking care of them. Also, toddlers tend to be rough and do not understand how to respect the warning signs from an animal. Even the sweetest dog can nip when handled too roughly, and kittens can scratch when they feel threatened. It’s probably not until age 7 that a child understands the responsibility of a pet and how to care for and nurture it. Another huge consideration is cost. Properly cared for, a new pet is expensive. You may be giving your sweet little niece an adorable pet, but her family will have the expense of all those vet bills! Then there is feeding, grooming, spaying/neutering… and on and on. According to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the average cost for a dog in the first year is between $1,300-$1,800, depending on size. The average cost for a cat is a little over $1,000. Needless to say, having a new pet is costly and should be discussed as a family or with the family for which you are buying the pet. A good alternative to giving a pet for a gift would be to purchase some of the supplies needed, or books on how to care and train a new pet. Also, be sure to keep in mind the general stress of the holiday season. The memory of your child’s delight seeing their new puppy will fade fast when you come home to a Christmas tree shredded and ornaments everywhere! Pets can confuse multiplicity

those shinny decorations as food or toys and eat them, thus becoming sick (creating yet even more vet bills!). Families spend a lot of time away from home and have lots of guests visiting during this time. This can be very stressful to a new pet that is adapting to their new surroundings, and a stressed pet is going to cause stress in the household. Another alternative to giving a pet during the holidays may be to give a gift certificate for the amount of the animal. The family can go to a shelter and select the right pet once the holidays have passed. This allows the family to choose a pet together when life is back to normal and they have more time to devote to training and socializing. This also gives the family time to discuss all responsibilities that come with having a new pet and what to expect before the new fur baby comes home. Cute little puppies and sweet little kittens don’t stay small forever. Trust me! Our German Shepard grew from 15 pounds to 100 in a matter of weeks! And, they aren’t just animals; they are loving members of your family and deserve all the love and attention you can give so that everyone is happy. Sherilyn Craig and her husband, Scott, are a blended family of 6 with the youngest being their 7 year old identical twin girls. She is a full time mommy and a professional photographer in the Tampa Bay area, with her own photography business, Cleo Bella Photography. In her spare time, she enjoys writing and reading mystery novels.

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photo courtesy of marin mason photography

perilous pregnancies: three families’ journey to hope by talitha a. mcguinness


earning of a twin pregnancy brings so much excitement, and especially uncertainty with the journey for the next nine months and beyond, yet it also brings with it its own set of anxiety. Multiple births are at higher risk of a number of things including prematurity, yet no mom expects to learn that her baby has an intrauterine fetal syndrome, some of which are more common amongst multiple birth pregnancies. With literally hundreds of fetal syndromes known within the fetal/maternal realm and being researched today, most still have no known cause, and even more unnerving, are still beyond the mother’s control. The only resounding comfort is that the mother does nothing to cause it.

(TTTS) category. TTTS is a rare disease that affects twins who share a placenta. The disease affects both babies because of sharing nutrition and blood flow through select vessels across the placenta. While one twin, known as the donor, is in jeopardy from anemia among other issues, the other twin (the recipient), likewise suffers due to the strain with which it is presented in trying to maintain for both babies.

When the Tyrells (pictured above) decided to add to their family, mom Jenna had no idea she would see two babies during her 10-week ultrasound. Like many new and expectant moms of twins, she was also quickly introduced to lingo never before heard.

“We were introduced to [Selective] Intrauterine Growth Restriction (SIUGR), something we would deal with throughout the entire pregnancy,” said Jenna. “I was offered to terminate Baby B, but it was not something [we] could consider. At the time, surgery wasn’t commonly used for SIUGR, but we were ready to go to Florida to see Dr. Quintero, the Specialist that would perform fetal surgery if the fluid levels reached a certain point on each twin.”

At 16 weeks, there was obvious size discrepancy and fluid levels were different, but not enough to fall within the Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome

SIUGR occurs when there is unequal sharing of the placenta. Because this factor may result in poor nourishment of only one of the twins, resulting



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in subsequent poor overall fetal growth, it is coined “selective”.

about it in a nursing journal,” said mom Elizabeth. “The doctor agreed to a referral, but was not optimistic. We left feeling totally alone and devastated.”

With the likely help of unofficial bedrest at 20 weeks, the Tyrells never got to the point of requiring fetal surgery. Baby B continued to grow, but was 50% smaller than Baby A for most of the pregnancy.

While more than 800,000 families each Jenna saw the Perinatologist at year receive the news least once a week. “I was on the of a fetal syndrome, the phone with my family and friends Carreres did their own after visits, and my husband was a research and found Dr. luke and ethan today rock star. If he was as scared as I, Quintero and the Fetal he never let me see it.” Hope Foundation who were a constant support throughout the entire As it turned out, Jenna delivered the boys one pregnancy. day shy of 34 weeks during a scheduled cesarean section, as the survivor rate with IUGR significantly Elizabeth said, “We felt strongly that the laser starts to decline after week 34. Luke and Ethan surgery was the only way to cure our babies and Tyrell were born on July 18, 2007, with nearly one give them the best possible outcome. For us, month’s stay in the NICU. They both had some there was really no other choice.” gross motor delays that required physical therapy, After having intrauterine surgery, Elizabeth but were caught up by age 2 and have not spent the summer on bedrest. She had weekly needed additional help since. The Tyrells say that appointments, yet at 23 weeks, there was bad life today is completely normal, chaotic and crazy. news. Something was wrong with Baby B’s heart. If ever diagnosed, Jenna strongly recommends “[Baby B’s] right ventricle was basically not finding someone experiencing the same journey. working. Our goal was to get them as big as “I met a woman in Texas through the Fetal Hope possible for Baby B’s anticipated open heart Foundation who was dealing with IUGR at the surgery shortly after birth.” same time as me. We became very close, despite our distance. She was one of the first people I The girls were born Adelaide and Genevieve called after each appointment, [as] no one really Carrere on September 5, 2007, at 35 weeks. understands quite like other twin moms do.” “The delivery was a STAT c-section and the babies were rushed to the NICU. Adelaide The Carreres learned of their twin pregnancy at stayed for two weeks without complications, an elective 10-week ultrasound. In retrospect, had but Genevieve was transferred to the Cardian they waited until a later scan, they ICU at St Joseph’s Hospital. more than likely would have lost However, her surgery one or both of their babies due was delayed because she to TTTS. was too ill to survive the procedure. Her lungs were After their 18 week scan and an the biggest problem, so answer they did not understand, by the time she was able the doctor said the words ‘Twinto breathe on her own, her to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome’ heart started doing better,” and their lives changed forever. said Elizabeth. “He gave very little hope and I “We were humbled to was actually the one who brought see the hand of God in up laser surgery, as I had read adelaide and genevieve at 5 weeks her healing. Our girls just multiplicity

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turned 5 and they are happy, healthy and thriving.”

A had little fluid around him and no bladder showing.”

In 2010, the family welcomed a baby boy to the mix. Elizabeth says that the girls know their story well, as it is such a part of who they are as a family.

The plan was to be rescanned on Monday to see if things had reversed, and where intrauterine surgery might come into play.

“The girls have seen the in-utero pictures from my surgery and could point out their tiny body parts at a young age. We have also had the opportunity to introduce Dr. Quintero to our girls on two different occasions and continue to be so grateful for his many gifts.”

“That Sunday I started to feel ‘off’. I wasn’t feeling the babies move as much…I think I knew that something was really wrong,” said Angela.

the carrere family

On a different front were Ethan and Angela Stowell, who in 2011, were ecstatic to learn of their first pregnancy. However, at an early scan the Stowells discovered that they were expecting twins, and quite possibly, identical boys.

During Monday’s scan, the sonographer immediately said “I’m sorry, Angela. There are no heartbeats.”

“Everything after that was a blur. We felt like, at 25 weeks, we were so close to the end.” On July 20, 2011, Angela was induced and delivered two beautiful boys, Nathaniel Hudson and Gabriel Charles. “We spent time holding them, cried a lot, and said goodbye.”

“Everything looked fine until we went to our anatomy scan and Baby B was found to be smaller. It was not significant enough for intervention, but we were referred to Eastside Fetal Maternal Medicine for further monitoring,” including weekly scans for the next six weeks.

Ethan and Angela received an outpouring of support from among their family, friends and peers within the restaurant business. In the months that followed, they wanted to make sense of their sons’ deaths and to redirect their grief toward something to help others.

During one of the scans, Baby B was diagnosed with SIUGR. His amniotic levels were lower, but at around the 24 week mark, the levels were evening out. The doctors were optimistic that the boys were healthy and that Angela would make it to 30 weeks before seeing issues with SIUGR.

Angela said, “We got involved with the Fetal Hope Foundation and drew upon our restaurant peers to put on Eat. Run. Hope., a 5K and Feast that would bring the community together. The race was a huge success and we are looking forward to this event every year as a way to spread awareness about TTTS, and as a way to honor our sons.”

photo courtesy of geoffrey smith

However, at 25 weeks, conditions worsened. While SIUGR was always present and they never received a diagnosis of TTTS, the tell-tale signs were present during an ultrasound. Angela said, “The ultrasound showed Baby B as the recipient. His amniotic level had jumped up to 10 cm and his bladder was huge. Baby 56


angela and ethan

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***Note - the Stowells recently delivered a baby boy, Adrian Charles (Charles after his angel brother, Gabriel Charles). Their next child will have the middle name of Hudson - after angel brother, Nathanael Hudson. It will be their way of telling their living children about their brothers.

a trusted resource

A must-read book... “For anyone expecting or raising multiples, this book needs to be on their recommended reading list!” —

If you or someone you know is ever in a situation where there is a diagnosis of a fetal syndrome like TTTS, SIUGR, or a number of other syndromes, the Fetal Hope Foundation is a trusted resource for helping families during one of the toughest times in the pregnancy.

“Full of information, it is richly flavored with tips and tricks that are certainly very practical for the busy parents of twins.” — Twin Research and Human Genetics

photo courtesy of jane goodrich photography

Together with a Medical Advisory Board comprised of top fetal physicians around the U.S., Fetal Hope serves as a liaison in getting accurate information on diagnoses, treatment options, prenatal and post-operative care, etc. into the hands of the families who need it most. Through its online repository of fetal syndrome information, along with its unique forums, family matching, bereavement counseling resources, and Travel Grant program, Fetal Hope is poised to help parents through the entire process in saving their babies’ lives.

“Offers advice to frazzled parents.” — Brooklyn Daily Eagle

*New book about adult twins coming soon, too!

Dr. Joan A. Friedman, PhD

wish to advertise within multiplicity? we’ve got the perfect space for you! reserve your space today by contacting or call 980.721.5799.

Designed GREEN for a new generation of eco-minded mothers and their babies

Founded by families who also experienced fetal syndromes, Fetal Hope arms parents with information in becoming the best advocate for their unborn babies. Want to help? November is National Donation Drive month. Donate as little as $10, set up an online recurring donation, or even your own fundraising page to help other families when in need. To learn more, visit multiplicity

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prescription for success: the doctor / parent / child relationship by jill marcum



the must-have magazine for all moms of multiples

Pas de trois – A dance that requires three people. This “dance” can also describe the balance in having a successful doctor-parentchild relationship. I sat down for a Q&A with Dr. Preeti Parikh to ask her how we as parents can have such a successful relationship with our child’s Doctor. Dr. Preeti Parikh is a Board-Certified Pediatrician holding degrees from The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and Columbia University. She currently is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Pediatrics Department at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and works in private practice in New York City. She also serves as the Medical Director of Programming at Her interests include preventive medicine, advocacy and patient education. Her goal is to empower both parents and children with the right knowledge and tools to achieve their optimal health. She enjoys her free time with her husband and twins. She is also the contributing Pediatrician for the upcoming book “What to Do When You Are Having Two” to be published next year, written by our very own Natalie Diaz, founder of Twiniversity. Q: What type of doctor should a child have? A: There are two types of doctors that take care of children. One is Family Medicine doctors. They practice pediatrics and several other areas such as internal medicine, orthopedics, obstetrics and gynecology. The second is Pediatricians. These are medical doctors that specialize in newborns to young adults up to age 21. Q: How can a parent find the right doctor for their child? A: It is great to get recommendations, but you should also conduct your own research. Check their credentials to see if they are multiplicity

board certified, where they trained, and if their standing is good in the hospital. Also, if your child has special needs, it is important to make sure the doctor you choose is qualified to care for those needs. The most important quality of finding a doctor is one who you feel comfortable with and have mutual respect. Your doctor may not share your views on all aspects of your child’s medical care or parenting, but the key is to have a comfort level. The best way to find out if a doctor is a good match for your family is to meet the physician in person. You can make an appointment to meet with your potential doctor to find out firsthand if they are a compatible fit for your family. You will be spending a lot of time with your children’s doctor so you want to make sure you will have a functional relationship. Something important to consider is how they approach doctoring. Some physicians are open to making a decision together with the child’s parent and having an inclusive dialogue. Others may prefer to be paternal/ maternal in their doctoring. This does not involve as much of a dialogue, but allowing the doctor to advise you, the parent, about what is best. Also, if you like to follow homeopathic treatments, then you would want to find a doctor who is familiar and comfortable with that sort of treatment. Q: What factors can influence the doctor/ parent relationship? A: Open communication is the key to a good relationship! You should never feel intimidated to talk to your child’s doctor about your viewpoints on your child’s care or your parenting style. You should always be able to have an open dialogue with your physician. If one or both parties are set in their own viewpoints and are not open to having a dialogue, proper care for the child can break down. the must-have magazine for all moms of multiples


get all your questions answered. * During the visit, focus on one child at a time. First review everything for one child, then move on to the next child. When they get older they should be in separate rooms to get their own individual time with the doctor and parent. * If you have small children or babies your doctor’s staff may be able to help you. Many times it is nice to have another set of hands to help you when trying to learn more about the care of your babies.

Q: How can a parent be a good advocate? A: If you as a parent want to advocate a particular treatment, you should not be afraid to consult your child’s doctor on the matter. Have a reliable source of information to present to the doctor for reasons why you want a certain treatment. If your child’s doctor is not comfortable with a form of treatment themselves, then it is possible they can refer you to a doctor who is more specialized in such a treatment. The parent as well, needs to be willing to listen to alternatives and concerns from the doctor. Mutual respect is very important! Q: When should a parent consider changing their child’s doctor? A: A breakdown between doctor and parent can occur for many reasons. When you don’t have an open dialogue, mutual respect, or feel like your questions or concerns are being addressed, and of course, if your child does not feel comfortable, it may be time to choose a new physician. It would be good to first discuss your concerns with your child’s doctor. A doctor who takes care of your child is not just treating him/her when there is an illness, but they treat him or her as a whole person. Q: What are some tips for taking your twins to the doctor so it’s not so frenzied? * Make sure to write down all your questions beforehand. That way you can make sure you 60


Q: Being a parent of twins yourself, what are your top tips for parents of multiples? * Treat each twin as an individual. They are unique and will have their own interests and personalities, and it is important to recognize them. Try not to compare, but celebrate their similarities and differences. * Give yourself a break. If you need help, don’t feel afraid to ask for it and make sure you take time out for yourself. * Consider joining a local twin parents group or visit online forums dedicated to twin parents. Knowing that there are other people out there who can relate to you about parenting twins is helpful. Being a Pediatrician doesn’t make being a mom any easier. Being a mom is being a mom no matter who you are. It’s nice to share your experience and know you are not alone in this journey! *EXTRA* What is board certification? To become board certified, a pediatrician must pass a written examination given by the American Board of Pediatrics. To keep current on changes in children’s health care, pediatricians must recertify by taking examinations every seven years. They also must take a certain number of continuing medical education (CME) courses each year to be eligible for license renewal in the state in which they practice. Life is full of surprises! Little did Jill Marcum know that she would end up having twins and that it would open up so many new doors to friendships, knowledge, and even a career. Her boys are now over two years old and are very active keeping her on her toes! Jill is a Contributing Writer for Twiniversity and Multiplicity Magazine.

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One in 200 babies never has a chance at life. They die each day as a result of an intrauterine fetal syndrome. ANDREW CAROLINE JULIA JOHN HELEN DAVID WILLIAM PAUL KATHLEEN JANE JONATHAN ANNE CHARLES ELIZABETH HENRY


As little as $10 each month can help provide life-saving information and travel for treatment.

Be the hope you want every family to have.


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Cultural Care Au Pair offers: *Flexible, live-in childcare for up to 2 years *A low weekly cost of just $350/week *Qualified & carefully screened candidates *Personalized matching service *A cultural exchange experience for the whole family More Information? Contact Rebecca at 704-942-0729 or Rebecca. Peplinski@rep.


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photography by firewife photography



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Profile for Multiplicity Magazine

Multiplicity Magazine - Fall 2012 Issue  

From preping for the holidays to tips on improving your childrens handwriting, this issue of Multiplicity will help make your days smoother...

Multiplicity Magazine - Fall 2012 Issue  

From preping for the holidays to tips on improving your childrens handwriting, this issue of Multiplicity will help make your days smoother...


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