Letter to my daughters post election 2016

Good morning my sweet babies. I just sat and watched you sleep for nearly three hours trying to figure out how I am going to explain the results of this election to you in the morning. You, like so many others, went to bed last night expecting to awaken to very different news than what you are about to hear. I am not shocked but saddened by the outcome of this election. 

I’m not sad because he who shall not be named won, I’m sad for why he won and what it says about our country. However, one good thing that has come out of this distasteful campaign is the unveiling of racism, sexism, prejudice and bigotry that has until now been kept behind closed doors. Friends and family whom we have held dear in our hearts have made comments and passed judgements I would not have otherwise heard had “political correctness” not been swept aside thanks to the recent election propaganda. While hurtful, it is enlightening and empowering to know where you stand with folks.   

Ironically, as you know, I’ve been saying to Daddy since spring that this would be the outcome. Having lived in the South in the 70s, I am all too familiar with the racial undertones of rural America. Though I had hoped to be wrong, there was too much enthusiasm and energy on the one side and smug complacency on the other. We live in a reality tv generation where a wrestler can become governor of Minnesota, a movie star governor of California and now this 😒 

I am sorry that you had to endure some of the hurtful conversations that took place at your lunch tables this fall. When I was growing up, politics and religion were never discussed at parties or in social scenes. It was just “not the place”. Now, as you tell me so often “the conversation at our lunch table got really political today”, I am glad that we are able to openly discuss our thoughts and beliefs because they frame who we are and our relationships with those around us. I don’t know what today will bring as all of your friends and classmates will gather around to discuss the results and what this means for their families and us as a country, but I am thankful that you have the confidence and self-love to see past differing opinions and make your own educated conclusions. You have the opportunity to discover something I didn’t see much as a child, that we don’t have to see eye to eye on everything to love and respect one another. 

I truly hope that we don’t see the outrageous incidents here in the US that have plagued Great Britain since Brexit, but one thing that will bring me peace when I am finally able to still my mind and fall asleep is this: when you surround yourself with love and live in faith, nothing seems unbearable. This election does not change who you are, who we are as a family and what we stand for and believe in. Do not, as many are already crying on social media, leave this house in fear today. Walk as you always have with your head held high and your heart full because no one can take away your joy. Love life.  

I love you both to the moon and back  xx
 

Mommy 

Separation 

The night before we took off, Madison squeezed my arm at the dinner table and sobbed “Mommy, I don’t want you to go.” I wanted to fling my arms around her and declare, “I don’t want to leave you either baby.  Don’t worry, mama’s not going anywhere.” But I was. Our bags were packed, the flight was leaving in less than twelve hours, and for the first time ever, my twins would be separated overnight. And if I’m honest with myself, that was my biggest anxiety. I had left the girls for business trips. They had gone off to camp for two and then three weeks the past couple of summers, but never had the two of them spent a night away from one another. 

I was going to miss Madison terribly. I can’t deny – I cried all night in the hotel my first trip away. But this was different. There was separation without the comfort and security of one another. I packed with a heavy heart reminding myself they had actually asked for this. Victoria was excited for two theatrical performances she was gearing up for back in NY and Madison was adamant that she didn’t want to come home early but wanted to stay and finish the season at WEF. And now, here she lay in my bed with a tear stricken face begging me not to leave her. 

Luckily, we left for the airport at 5am so it was too early for a teary goodbye. I wondered how the girls would fare without one another – although they separated bedrooms two years ago, they still are sometimes found cuddled in one bed in the morning. Being the eternal optimist that I am though, I couldn’t help dwell on all the good that could come of this. Each girl might come out of this stronger and more confident in her own intrinsic value. How liberating it would be for “Madison and Victoria” to be simply “Madison” and “Victoria”.

I can still recall the day Madison came home from kindergarten and proclaimed, “I have my own best friend.” The separation from preschool to two classrooms was one of the best things that could have happened to my girls.  It came at just the right time as they were fighting for independence and autonomy. Sure, they connected at recess, but only sometimes. 

And what a gift for me to be able to give Victoria my undivided attention and really strengthen our bond over the next couple of weeks. Each could bask in the limelight free of competition and the inherent comparisons that come with being twins. Hmm if we can get through the initial separation blues – mama being the most guilty – we could be onto something here! 😉

Twin Sisters

I Like this quote I dislike this quote “If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you.” ~ A. A. Milne

  

Twin Sisters

My favorite place is right next to you

  

Thank you Rachel!

Six years ago, I sat down in front of this very computer – yes, do tell Daddy that Mommy needs an upgrade – and began our blog. Three years have passed since my last post, and most of our memories remain – as many do – trapped in devices from iphones and tablets to camcorders and laptops. I was just talking last night to a few friends about how much I want to get my act together and compile photo albums and maybe even a few home movies. I dream about this endeavor in between laundry and carpools and work.

Then this morning, I received a message from a fellow mama of twins who had been following our blog and had enjoyed comparing our stories with her own sweet girls two years your junior. Emily’s girls are off to camp for the first time this summer, and she was wondering if you girls had been and how you handled different tents, etc. She had hoped I had written about it on our blog. So many times – in between planning the nights I would extend our albums beyond age two – I thought, “I really miss blogging.”  It wasn’t until my conversation with Emily this morning that I decided to do something about it.  Emily and I talked a bit about a blog post which recently resurfaced and has gone viral again, to the mom who forgot herself. If you haven’t read it, check it out. I had read it a couple of days ago, and it struck a chord with me. Not because I’m not working towards my goals, but because I do think I blink sometimes and realize that in the rat race I may have forgotten about me.

I consider myself a hybrid SAHM. I work but am self-employed so enjoy the luxury of choosing my hours and, with the exception of the basketball season, am able to pick you nearly every day after school. I love my job, it definitely brings me joy, not as much joy as my kids truth be told, but joy and satisfaction. But, something Rachel wrote resonated, “So from today forward I want you to do one thing each day that makes YOU smile.”  I literally wrote that down and stuck it to my bathroom mirror.  I thought about it all night yesterday.  At first, I chuckled and said to myself, I smile every day at least a dozen times.  It can be Madison uttering something in her adorable little voice that makes me just want to squeeze her or Victoria dropping her witty humor like only she can do. I smile when I get to meet a new local mom at our store  or when one of my basketball players puts the skills we’ve worked on into action in the game. When I’m just about able to claw my way up a tree, I head out for a mani pedi, and I do treat myself to the occasional massage. But we’re talking every 2 – 3 months here, and Rachel says “each day”. What do I do for myself that makes me smile each day? Better yet, what would I like to do each day?

I absolutely yearn to read a good book.  One that has nothing to do with running a business, coaching basketball or raising kids. A good ole fashioned novel that grips me in the first few pages and never lets me go. I actually don’t think I’ve read a good book in ten years. I went through a stage of audio books on my long treks to and from VT – yes to coach basketball 🙂 Each year, I bring two or three books to Florida in hopes that I will find, no make, the time to read for pleasure once again. Alas, they always come home dusty.  My other passion is writing – poems, short stories, journals and for three years – blog posts. I love writing even more than I love reading. And so today, after a three year hiatus, I have decided to return to my blog. This blog was started for you sweet girls and for Nana who yearned to see you more so loved hearing of your adventures, but now I write as much for myself as for you because writing fills me with joy and makes me smile every day.

Thank you Rachel!

Tales of a love-struck mother

I was talking to a friend of mine who has a preschooler, and he was remarking how excited his little one is to ride the bus and be a “big girl”, and he’s looking forward to the whole beginning of school thing – more time to get things done, etc.   I said, “Oh trust me, don’t rush school!  With it comes all the angst of separation, sitting at the lunch table alone and unexpected inexplicable tears in the middle of the day.  And then of course, there’s the stuff your kid goes through!”  🙂

My girls have just completed their first full week of second grade, and I’m just getting over the daily worries of are they happy today, did they eat all their lunch… Yes, I have first-time Mommy issues.  I understand by the third child, some parents don’t even wait to wave at the bus as it comes back around the cul de sac.  What? You other first-timers don’t do that either?!

First day of 2nd grade

First day of 2nd grade

I mean, how can I not be love-struck by these two munchkins.  We just spent the most glorious summer together – only two one-week camp sessions all summer surrounded by care-free days by the pool, play dates, sleepovers and day trips.  It all culminated with an amazing week in Canada hiking, biking, hitting the zip lines, kayaking, horseback riding, rock climbing and exploring the wilderness of western Canada.

First big hike - 2 1/2 hrs around this beautiful lake

First big hike – 2 1/2 hrs around this beautiful lake

Clayoquot Wilderness Resort

Heli hiking the glacial mountains near Clayoquot

IMG_7118

Now we’re back to the daily school routine, and alas I’m back to eating lunch alone and only occasionally shedding a tear when I stumble upon baby pictures 🙂

Girls, I love you to the moon and back!

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It’s okay to be THAT Mom!

I was so proud of myself, it was one of our first “free” weekends of the summer, and I had managed to keep our schedule light with a trip to the barn, a little stop at the local grocers and shockingly – a nap. Not a cat nap, no quick shut eye here – a true, hour +, shades drawn, heavy breathing, possible drooling – Mommy nap. The kind you wake up from feeling as if you have just returned home from vacation. It was glorious!

The girls busied themselves with an assortment of dolls, fashion shows and pottery. As I prepared their lunch, I had no idea what the next 72 hours had in store for our family. The girls took the dogs for a walk around the cul de sac but then came back way too quickly. Madison reported matter-of-factly that Victoria had been “bitten by a bug.” Victoria emerged around the corner and showed me a nice-sized bump on her calf with a clear hole which appeared to look just like one of the many bee stings she has gotten in her life. The only difference this time was that she was not crying hysterically as she usually does. I put a little ice pack on it, and she went back to playing with the dogs.

Five minutes later, Victoria came into the kitchen and complained, “Mommy I have these bumps all over my body and they itch.” She lifted her dress to reveal a torso riddled with bumps. Shocked, I took pictures to send to her pediatrician and turned to good ole facebook to reach out to other moms and friends who might have seen a similar reaction. The problem was, I had no idea what had bitten/stung her, and she has never had an allergic reaction before. I went to get the antihistamine cream that Nigel’s mum brought over from England, but before I could get that far, she started crying saying that her body hurt and she was really tired. I immediately put her in the car and decided to head straight to the ER. Rushing to the hospital, all sorts of thoughts went through my head, could it have been a snake in the bushes and rocks of the cul de sac? Was it some sort of awful venomous spider? I was trying to remember the hole in her leg – was it one hole or two? She fell asleep in the back seat within minutes, and I pushed the accelerator a bit harder. Before we arrived at the hospital, Victoria called from the back seat, “Mommy, I feel better. Look my bumps are all gone.” I pulled into the ER circle and lifted her dress. Surprisingly, all the bumps across her back and torso had in fact subsided. The leg itself looked just like a simple bee sting or large mosquito bite. I was embarassed to go into ER with a seemingly fine child showing only signs of a minor bug bite. I didn’t want to be that mom so bewildered, I turned around before the parking lot and headed home and sent my husband who had followed with my other daughter off to pick up dinner.

allergic reaction, bee sting

Bite on left calf resulted in bumps all over torso 10 minutes later

Victoria seemed fine the rest of the day. On the way back from the hospital, she and I stopped in to visit a neighbor we hadn’t seen in quite a while. I showed her Victoria’s leg, and after a few minutes of speculation, we shrugged it off and caught up on nearly a year’s worth of anecdotes. She joined us for an impromptu dinner on the patio and my worry over the bite was all but nonexistent until shortly before dessert when Victoria started crying and scratching. Shockingly, her neck and cheeks were red, blotchy and swollen and her thighs were covered in bumps. What in the world, we all thought! Never had I heard of an allergic reaction to a sting or bite showing up, subsiding and then flaring up again hours later. She was breathing just fine, didn’t seem totally uncomfortable besides the irritating itch and this still didn’t seem to warrant a trip back to the hospital so I thought we’d give her a little Benadryl and maybe take her to the pediatrician in the morning if she wasn’t any better.

Hanging out at our friend's house, she was just fine and dandy

Hanging out at our friend’s house, she was just fine and dandy

 

allergic reaction, bee sting, spider bite

Hours later, bumps and blotches show up in new places?!

By the time the girls brushed their teeth, Victoria’s face had cleared up, and her legs were no longer sticking together. I was beginning to be thankful I had even taken pictures. Otherwise, the pediatrician might really think I was nuts. She slept through the night, woke up without any bumps or rashes, went to swim team practice and was just fine, and so we carried on with our day. She had no more Benadryl all day and didn’t show any further signs of irritation. That evening, as I sat in our Friends of Karen board meeting, I got a call from my babysitter, the call that no parent ever wants to get. Victoria was unresponsive and was being rushed to the hospital. I couldn’t even feel my feet moving. I don’t remember the drive from the meeting to ER, all I know is I freaked out because I somehow managed to get to the hospital first. No one was answering their phones, and all I could imagine is my baby laying there. As I sat there waiting for what seemed like ages, I went through the last 36 hours in my mind and just beat myself up. Why didn’t I stay at the hospital yesterday? Why hadn’t I taken her in to the pediatrician this morning? Why was I afraid of being THAT mom?

Nigel was on the way to the hospital as well, and when I finally reached our sitter, she said that Victoria’s leg was hard as a bat, swollen and hot to the touch. Victoria was lucid and seemingly in good spirits when she arrived. As the doctor and nurses examined her, I sat there answering a flood of questions not making sense even to myself – there were bumps there were no bumps. She was breathing fine, she was unresponsive and oxygen levels were low. It was all a scary blur, and I was just trying to put the pieces together into a picture that actually made sense. Hours later, we left the hospital with a prescription for antibiotics for a nasty infection. The attending physician outlined the margins of the area with a Sharpie and recommended that we follow up with our pediatrician the following day.

Imagine my surprise when the pediatrician looked at her leg the next morning and informed me that “there is no way this is an infection. An infection would not clear up that quickly after just one dose of antibiotics.” That’s right, Victoria’s leg – although not its original size, had softened, was no longer warm and the margins of the rash had decreased nearly 20%. Her pediatrician gave us a diagnosis of a systemic reaction and recommended we see an allergist to follow up.

I went back and forth over whether or not to share this post, but for days following our final trip to the pediatrician, I had so many friends give me mixed feedback on whether they would or would not have headed to the doctor sooner. We all agree now in hindsight, that a trip to the ER or at the very least the pediatrician was more than warranted that first day, but those who shared my apprehension also voiced the common worry “I wouldn’t want to waste their time while real emergencies needed medical attention” or “Who wants to be THAT mom”. So I decided to share our emotional roller coaster ride and let all my fellow bloggers and parents out there know that there may really be no such thing as panicking too soon when it comes to your child. Since I received that call from our sitter, my entire world as I know it will never be the same. All of a sudden, that comfort and security you feel is shattered and you are faced with the frailty of life in its purest nature. And I will always remind myself from now on that the worst that would have happened is perhaps a nurse rolls his/her eyes at me and sends me home with a metaphorical slap on the wrist or sugar pills to appease me. Either way, my daughter may have been spared from the pain and discomfort. We might have gotten better answers from her bloodwork.

Nonetheless, we are the fortunate ones. I was able to bring my baby home, and she is going to be alright. I thought it was ironic and not a mistake that I was at my Friends of Karen board meeting when Victoria needed me most. After those six hours, which seemed endless to me at that moment, I became fiercely aware of why what we do at FOK is so critical to the hundreds of families we serve. For those six hours, nothing else in the whole world mattered to me. I now imagine months and months in the hospital where that is the case. In the commotion of the evening, no one gave much thought to Madison and what it must have been like for her to see her sister suffer and her parents worry. Yet, just a couple of nights ago she ended up in my room because she had a nightmare “that you got bitten by a snake and Alyssa and I couldn’t wake you up” Clearly, she was affected more than even I realized. What pain and angst do little ones hold inside when their siblings are suffering with a critical illness, I wondered. My abrupt departure was clearly a distraction for my fellow board members that evening, but I also think it provided us all with a small-scale wonderful opportunity to understand the importance of the support and services we provide at Friends of Karen for more critical situations. That evening was a close-to-home example of how quickly one’s life can be turned upside down. Again, I am thankful that we were upright within hours. Never again will I second guess or worry about being that mom.

 

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Is it summer yet?!

My children are busy – there’s no doubt about it.   I never think of us as over-scheduled, and they have a nice balance of indoor/outdoor and group/individual activities mixed with play dates.  However, when all these little commitments converged on one weekend, it made for a whirlwind of recitals, competitions and performances.   The fun began last Friday with the 35th anniversary of Friends of Karen at the beautiful Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club.   The evening fell on the night of hubby’s birthday so we had the pleasure of toasting 35 years of a stellar organization built by and around amazing people while celebrating my husband’s birthday with some of our dear friends and family.  A late night of dinner and dancing would be no excuse for not hitting the floor at 6:30 the next morning to get the girls ready for schooling at Ox Ridge for the Sunday show.  And so the insanity began!

We instantly doubled our child count with two more princesses from our dear friends who were in Massachusetts attending a wedding.  Joining our twins on the go last weekend were Lindsay, a two year old with the appetite of a 20 year old — MAN and Samantha, the most adorable, precocious six year old you could spend the day with.   They were such troopers though and somehow managed to survive the four day marathon of activities.  Our atypical weekend chaos looked something like this:

Saturday

8:30 – 9:30  Daddy takes the girls to their riding lesson while I prepare a pancake breakfast for our six guests from Friday evening.  Lindsay and Samantha said goodbye to their Mommy and Daddy, then we dashed to the pool for

10am – pick up swim team uniforms and paraphernalia.  Afterwards, we stayed a little while and played in the park then headed home for shower, hair and make up to be on time for

1 – 2:30 dress rehearsal for ballet recital.  I then hand our budding pianist over to Daddy to get to  her

4 – 5:30 piano recital while I change the baby, pack more snacks and start my mental plans for dinner and Sunday’s itinerary.

Sunday

9:30 – 10:30 am, girls jump into the town pool for their first swim team practice of the season.

11:45 – 2:30pm arrive backstage and change into costume for spring ballet recital.   The girls’ class were Dutch dolls in the dance school’s The Magic Toy Shoppe.

pull off leotard, decide tights are a great substitute for long socks to ride in and don breeches and jackets for

3:15 horse show at Ox Ridge.  You may or may not know that my twin girls ride and have been since they were two years old.   Victoria has ridden in her twin sister’s shadow pretty much from their first Lead Line at three.  That’s four years of following your sister out of the ring, and in this case, watching her head expand as she basks in the glory of her blue ribbons.  Don’t get me wrong, I am as proud as a mother could be of Madison and all that she has accomplished with her riding.   If the kid competes in 15 shows, she is Champion in 13 of them.  It’s unreal!  But with this rapid success comes the hard life-lesson of falling hard when one does fall – figuratively of course.   And, for the twin sister of such a natural talent, it is easy to begin to doubt your own abilities and whether you will ever stand with your mount and be pinned champion.   For my sweet Victoria, that time finally came last weekend at Ox Ridge.   Despite a full weekend of ballet and piano recitals, swim team and baby Lindsay waking her at night, she somehow managed to work with JB to put together three beautiful classes and top ten other ponies and their riders to claim the Champion ribbon.   It was such an emotional end of the weekend – for both girls, but the way Victoria handled her big win just made my heart melt for her even more.   She was quite humble with her win, and only when asked would share the news.   However, it was her final words to me Sunday evening , “I’ve always dreamed I would be Champion one day”, which prompted me to put together the following video for her.    I am so proud of you my love.

Oh yea, somewhere in there, remember to kiss my husband and tell him how much I love and appreciate him on Father’s Day 🙂

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Short stirrups? Check!

We’ve just wrapped up the final week of the HITS spring series, and I have to say it was VERY strange to be here without my boys. Our barn packed up last week and headed home, and I missed our crew and all my four-legged children.

I am very glad, however, that the weather improved. The first week was a monsoon, the second week was a sauna and today was simply picture perfect for Kids’ Day! I know my two will be bummed to have missed the horseless horse show sponsored by Eastern Hay.

Their last trips over jumps were great fun. They finally got to enter their coveted short stirrups division, and oh what great big smiles they had! The first weekend, the intermittent downpours and howling wind caused us to scratch Saturday, and I got to deal with one very pouty girl and one who I think was relieved of butterflies. Come Sunday though, they hit the ring with their ponies and overcame the elements and the butterflies to string together a couple of great trips. Then last weekend, as they moved back into the usually scheduled short stirrup ring, flower boxes were added and the span of the ring increased. Both girls noticed the magnitude of the situation at hand, and I must say, I was nearly floored by their composure and focus as they entered the ring.

Madison was pinned Champion both weekends. She is soaring with pride and never stops talking about her beloved “Lady”. Victoria placed well both weekends and got to hang some great ribbons including a blue for a fabulous trip last week. She is clearly riding with heightened self-confidence.

It’s hard at times for me to piece together how we got to where we are from a simple walk down the aisle on the most amazing pony in the world, but I’m so glad we did!

best pony

Our beloved Charity

Victoria and Just Because “JB” – short stirrup equitation

20130608-000020.jpg

Madison and Fashion Talk “Lady” – short stirrup equitation

20130608-080647.jpg

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