2
sick day, kind of

Claire started with a nasty cough on Monday, the kind of cough that gives you pause to think, “Should I actually send this child to school with a cough like that?” But then you see she has no fever and after shoveling down an egg, a bowl of chocolate Cheerios, and a banana (and still asking for more), you tell yourself she’s fine! Really. Kids cough. It’s what they do. If there is a crowd of kids and one of them isn’t hacking up phlegm, then you probably live in a better neighborhood than I do. Just kidding! Coughing knows no class distinction.

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Anyhoo, the cough has been consistent, but it hasn’t kept her down at all, until Tuesday night, when it actually kept her UP. She wandered into my room at 3-something in the morning, crawled into bed with me, and proceeded to toss and turn and toss and turn (awesome) and squish me up against Christian (who was snoring, so double awesome).

Sidebar: One of the things that has really become obvious since we realized Claire is a sensory seeker is the fact that she has a really hard time getting settled and she often claims that her bed isn’t comfortable. In the past I would have brushed this off as a lame excuse, but after learning more about sensory issues, I realize that the poor girl just really must have a hard time getting comfortable sometimes.

I eventually took her back to bed, but she got up again at 5:22 and came to lay with me. I remember the time because that’s exactly 8 minutes before my blasted alarm goes off.

Homegirl needed to get some rest, so I took my pillow to the couch so my alarm and subsequent 3-4 snoozes wouldn’t keep her awake. Only she followed me, sniffling and coughing, because she just had to lay with me. Cozy mom problems. So we crawled back into my bed, where she told me her voice didn’t work, and then she tossed and turned and tossed and turned, while my alarm went off every 9 minutes and I kicked Christian every 6 minutes to get him to stop the damn snoring. If I hadn’t been so fucking tired, I would’ve just gotten up long ago to avoid all the annoyances.

Deciding let someone stay home from school because they “don’t feel good” is one of my least favorite calls to make. I am terrible with instincts, so if there’s no fever or vomiting or massive head wounds, I say go to school. But this time I figured no voice + nasty cough + the strep notification that was sent home last week = good enough to stay home.

Plus there was that time I decided to listen to her plight of a sore throat and stomach ache and let her stay home (sick!), only to be made a sucker and take her to school after I found her running circles around the living room with Zoe (not sick!), only then to receive a note home that one of her classmates was diagnosed with strep and the common symptoms were a) sore throat and b) stomach ache. We went straight to the doctor and came home with one strep diagnosis.

So if she was going to stay home today, we were going in for a strep test.

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It was negative.

She was playing on the trampoline by the afternoon.

And running up and down the street after her bath in the evening.

So not so much a sick day as a “I got to stay home and draw and watch TV and play Dad’s iPad all day” day. With bonus chocolate sandwich for lunch.

I don’t regret keeping her home. The cough was super nasty. But I don’t often get this kind of one-on-one time with my girls, and if this is one way I can get it, then so be it.

NaBloPoMo November 2015

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3
celebrating prematurity

A version of this was originally published on November 17, 2011.

I remember standing in my hospital gown at Claire’s bedside at 3 days old, staring at her tiny then 2 lb 12 oz body all curled up on her tummy with her bottom in the air, swimming in a preemie diaper. I remember the nurse telling me she wasn’t digesting her food, she was still losing weight, and she wasn’t sure if the doctors were going to try and insert her PICC line a third time to get her more nourishment. She was so tiny they couldn’t get it placed right, and no PICC line meant that they’d just have to keep finding new places to insert IVs in her tiny veins.

I bawled by her bed, another nurse trying to console me. I returned to my room and bawled some more. And I prayed like I’ve never prayed before.

The next day she turned a corner. She was digesting her food, even if it was only 2-3 mLs.

It wasn’t long before the neonatologist started referring to them as boring. And boring was good.

I watch this video now and all I see is a fetus. I living, breathing fetus who came out of the womb way too early. I see a woman who had no idea how to be a mom to these two preemies. If I seem distant in the video, it’s because a) I had no idea how to feel, holding this tiny thing against my body, and b) I was afraid to move a muscle.

Seven and a half years later, I look at my happy, healthy, smart, playful, and insane former featherweights and marvel at the progress they’ve made. I’m so thankful for the hard work and dedication of the doctors, nurses, volunteers, and more who all made that possible. And I’m so thankful for the love and support we received from friends and family when we needed them most.

 

prematurity awareness day

Today we celebrate World Prematurity Day for all of the tiny heroes out there, both in our homes and in our hearts.

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7
I met Wendy Davis

So this happened:

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That’s me (right), with Wendy Davis, Jenny Kanevsky, and Jill Robbins.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, or if you’re just not from Texas, Wendy Davis is a Democratic politician who is best known for her 11-hour filibuster (this article, and the accompanying videos sprinkled throughout, is very much worth the read) in June 2013, where she attempted to block a senate bill that included more restrictive abortion regulations for the state of Texas. The filibuster was successful in delaying the passage of the bill beyond midnight, which ended the legislative session.

I didn’t watch the filibuster (no live TV, waaahhhh), but I did follow it closely on Twitter. I went to bed feeling triumphant, almost as if I had been there in the capitol building myself.

I woke the next morning and found out that the bill had somehow passed.

What followed was a debacle of deception, where there was talk of changing timestamps on legal documents in order to get the bill passed during the session. The bill was declared dead (yay!), but then-governor Rick Perry called a special second session (booooo!).

For the first time, a political decision brought me to tears as I looked at my three girls that summer morning, sitting on the couch watching Netflix in their pajamas.

I believe in the work that Davis does to empower women, not just so they can have access to healthcare, but to be their best selves, despite their obstacles and roadblocks. Davis’s own story is a rags to riches one, and I don’t mean just financially. Her story is one for the teen mothers, the single mothers, the mothers working full time and attending night classes, the mothers supporting their own daughters through various hardships, trying to find their way through this life that sometimes doesn’t seem at all fair to women.

I don’t talk politics much here, or in real life, for that matter. But one thing I will always, always support is the right for my daughters to choose what to do with their bodies and their lives. It doesn’t mean I will always agree with them. But it does mean that I will make sure they receive the information they need to make an educated decision. And I will always support their right to ultimately make that decision on their own.

NaBloPoMo November 2015

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1
scenes from a Saturday

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Quality Spider-Man comic book reading and couch wrasslin’, quickly followed by couch chasing, followed by overzealous couch chasing, followed by SHE HIT ME! followed by WELL SHE MESSED UP MY PONYTAIL! followed by I HAVE EXACTLY ZERO SYMPATHY FOR EITHER OF YOU (re: rasslin’ and chasing).

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Floor shopping! With three helpers! Why didn’t I get a photo of Zoe laying on the floor using a Lowe’s ad as a blanket, like a tiny home improvement store homeless person? Clearly I was lacking foresight.

Not pictured: The first soccer game we’ve had in like 3 weeks because apparently Saturdays = ALL THE RAIN. Also not pictured: arguing over math games on the computer, arguing over who’s going to go to the store with Dad, arguing over which movie to watch for pizza night, arguing over going to bed (hasn’t happened as of this writing, but I assure you, it will).

Basically, your normal Saturday, with plenty of hugs and snuggles in between all the maddening arguing and chocolate cookies for dessert.

We settled on Toy Story 3 (depressing).

And it’s raining again (also depressing).

And Rachel just went and got all of her toys to snuggle with on the couch (super cute).

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And Zoe just tooted (super gross).

 

NaBloPoMo November 2015

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4
some stuff: awkward moments edition

Christian hopes we can go out on this level of glory.

Perfect response.

Grammar gifts! I need #4.

This is amazing:

Awkward moments with The Bloggess (Mine’s in there somewhere)

20 minutes feels doable.

That’s it! I haven’t read much this week. I’ve been really busy with activities and stuff and playing lots and lots of Cascade.

 

NaBloPoMo November 2015

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6
one day

One of the things I love most about blogging – or at least about how blogging used to be a few years ago – is getting a dose of a slice of life. Sometimes these slices were similar to mine: small children, maybe even twins, and sometimes they were wholly different. Like people who had leisure time.

Tuesday I participated in #OneDayHH, hosted by Laura of Hollywood Housewife (talk about a wholly different lifestyle). I love this day each year because it reminds me to document the daily happenings of our life, mundane or not. Here’s a glass of water I am drinking! Yum! Tuesdays are my least busy days – the day we don’t have therapy or any extracurricular activities. I love having something to go to in the afternoons, but I also love having no plans so we can just chill all afternoon.

#onedayhh work from him hand to hold

After taking the kids to school, I usually jump right into working. Tuesday I was working on blog and social media stuff for Hand to Hold, a nonprofit I work for that provides services and support for families who have been affected by prematurity and/or endured a NICU stay. I run their blog, Preemie Babies 101, as well as the PB101 Facebook page. I really enjoy what I’m doing, and the work this organization is doing is amazing.

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The glass of water I promised! Some coworkers and I got together for lunch to bid one of our coworkers goodbye and best wishes on a new endeavor. I’m still fairly new to the organization, but I’m enjoying getting to know these ladies and soak up their knowledge of this line of work.

ANYWAY, we went to the Hyde Park Bar & Grill, which also happens to be the restaurant to which I went on my first date with a college boy, mere days after moving here. I’ve been there only a handful of times since, but it was nice to be there as a grownup. Mainly because I am old enough to order alcohol!

dolce vita mural austin

I parked behind Dolce Vita Gelato & Espresso Bar, facing this super cool mural. One of the things I love about Austin is how much art is everywhere.

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Holy crap, when was the last time I was at 38th & Lamar? I used to work a few blocks away from here and navigated this area every day. This corner used to be a strip center, housing several local businesses. Looks like businesses are still going in on the bottom floor, but it’s so slick-looking.

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Zoe went to a play date after school, so I had these two all to myself. It was actually my first time sending one of my kids to someone’s house that I don’t know really well. Claire thought it was so unfair that she didn’t get to go too, but life isn’t fair. Then to really drive that point home, she stood in an ant pile.

They ate a little snack, drew a few hundred drawings, and then I relented to iPads because I had to fold laundry and not hear any more begging to take them to the craft store.

And yes, the Halloween decorations are still up, and there’s a random ladder in my living room. Realness.

adult coloring book meditations through coloring

Opened the front door to go get Zoe and found this little surprise! I could definitely use some meditation. And it came with teeny tiny pencils! Review coming soon-ish.

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2nd grade homework: measuring in feet and inches. Kill me now.

I really really suck at teaching my kids. I’m pretty sure if I had a curriculum that told me HOW to explain these concepts to her, I wouldn’t flounder so much. But my inabilities mixed with her apathy pretty much make this torture.

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“Fingers do not go in your butthole.” That is a thing I just said. Tell me you have to say these things too.

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Please to explain how I ended up with two of these jackets in my house, when this is not an item I have bought 2 of. It’s like the time I picked up a crumpled up black t-shirt off the living room floor, only to find out it was NOT a t-shirt that anyone in this house owned. It had an awful ornate cross on it, like the kind you see bedazzled on the butts of “fancy” jeans, but this one wasn’t bedazzled. And it smelled like someone soaked it in cheap cologne for days. It was by far the creepiest thing I’d ever found in my house, because where the fuck did it come from? We never found out.

Anyway, these were different sizes, so I knew which one to send back to school.

carrie bradshaw sex and the city

Christian was out at a work thing, so I painted my nails and crawled in bed to watch the very last episode of Sex and the City. I’ve been binge watching the whole series on Amazon Prime for the past several weeks. If you haven’t watched it from start to finish, I highly recommend it. Season one with it’s lack of internet and cell phones is pretty historic, and when you watch season one and two episodes back to back, you have a hard time figuring out why Carrie’s so stuck on Big, because he’s such an a-hole to her. And every season I said, “Ooooh! I want Carrie’s curls!”

So that’s your average Tuesday around here! What’s your day look like?

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10
the table

Friday afternoon I poured my sacred cup of afternoon coffee, grabbed my laptop, and went to set up at the end of the dining room table, where I could keep an eye on the kids out on the trampoline. There I found a message waiting for me:

 

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If I didn’t know better, I’d think that was an incriminating “Claire Torres” scrawled into my beautiful mahogany table. But I also know that Claire knows how to spell her name, unless the thrill of digging into my only really good piece of furniture was just too distracting for her.

My first reaction was a complete, wide-eyed “what the fuck?” gasp, followed by a brief investigation into the severity of the marks, which then quickly disintegrated into an apathetic shrug, because this is just a part of my life right now. I’ve given up trying to have nice things. My stuff gets messed up. I don’t appreciate it, and I don’t condone it, but I can’t waste precious energy trying to keep my furniture in showroom condition.

When we bought this house ten years ago, the only thing I could picture in the combination living/dining room was a long, dark-stained table, topped with a funky centerpiece and surrounded by enough chairs for all of our friends. We found the perfect piece: long, mahogany-colored, and solid – the first real piece of furniture for our new house. It clashed terribly with the beat up couches and cheap TV stand that migrated over from our apartment, but it served as a precedent for what we wanted to create in this home. We entertained friends, served meals, and kept the table clean and polished.

Just over two years later, we became parents to twins. We entertained less. We still ate at the table, although the meals often consisted of whatever we could throw together. When Rachel and Claire started crawling, we moved all of the chairs out so that fat, explorative baby legs wouldn’t get stuck in them, or so they wouldn’t pull them over onto themselves. When they started walking, we pushed the table against the wall to create more room to roam in our small house.

The large mahogany surface eventually became a drop station for mail and other miscellaneous junk. It served as my work station, holding my computer and later, an infant in a bouncy seat. The table was the only safe place for her, out of reach of four little 2-year-old hands that loved to poke and prod. And smack. Claire loved to smack that baby.

Once Zoe was a toddler, I declared I wanted my table back. We moved it back to its proper place, put a bench on one side and the original chairs on the other. Still, we rarely eat there. Today it serves as a homework table, craft station, drawing table, and Minecraft Central. It’s constantly covered in paper, colored pencils, homemade books, and LEGOs. Instead of the funky centerpiece I originally envisioned, a not-so-funky pencil organizer sits in the middle, keeping drawing utensils and scissors within easy reach.

This table is a well loved, forever piece of furniture. Its once smooth surface is covered in pockmarks where the kids have pounded with pens and pencils. There’s a spot of purple nail polish I can’t quite get off, from when Claire decided to go rogue in the nail painting department. It rarely gets more than a quick swipe for dust and crumbs. And now there are these lovely words scrawled into the corner, words I’ll have to call one of them over to decipher.

I’m not itching to erase any of that right now. Each scratch and ding is an indication of imaginations running wild, stories being written, homework being fought about. It’s a part of our home and of our family. Someday I’ll get it refinished, erasing all of the marks that once screamed “this is a house with impulsive young children!” But for now it’s still our precedent, a reminder of where we are in life.

Besides, it goes well with the cracked tile in the foyer, the stickers on my front window, and the patched over holes in the wall where the baby gate used to hang. Someday we’ll have nice things. But today is not that day.

 

NaBloPoMo November 2015
(I cheated today – this has been in my drafts for months, so I finally decided to post it, because you guuuuuyyyyyyssssss every day is a lot and the laundry must be folded. I know you other NaBloPoMo-ers understand.)

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8
my kids, today

On Mondays I pick Rachel and Claire up early from school to go to therapy. I love these early pickups because it gives me a rare opportunity to just hang with the two of them for a couple of hours. You’d be amazed how the dynamic changes when you have just one less kid with you. One fewer kid? IDK.

This photo makes me LOL every time. Perfectly captures their personalities.

This photo makes me LOL every time. Perfectly captures their personalities.

Today the girls were chattering on about how Claire got to invite a friend to have lunch in the classroom with her. She invited Rachel. They watched Magic School Bus and were having so much fun they almost forgot to eat. I was so proud that she met her goal and achieved the reward, and it warmed my heart that the friend she decided to invite was her sister.

When we told Christian about it at home, he said, “Well, you either get the carrot, or you get – ”

“THE STICK!”

Today they got the carrot, but seriously, what the hell with the random idioms I did not realize we were teaching our children, and by “we” I mean my husband?

 

Zoe worked for 2 hours straight this evening on her “hide the turkey” project. This girl is a hard worker. She was determined to color the turkey EXACTLY like a real one, asking to see actual photos for reference, not cartoon clip art versions with multicolored tail feathers. Eventually the large amounts of impending brown got her to relent to some color.

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“Zoe, you sure are working hard on that!”
“I know, right?”

Kindergarten: Now with 100% more sass.

And just so you know, she did 100% of the work on this, which I always encourage with my kids, but I do remember a couple of years ago maybe helping a little with a princess dress and a pirate disguise. But she did this from start to finish with no guidance, and her solution to hiding the turkey is so logical it’s scary.

“Scaredy Turkey flew over the fence to hide from the farmer so he would not get eaten for Thanksgiving dinner.”

She really is my clone.

hide the turkey project

It’s important to me that you (and the kindergarten teacher) know that I realize it says “Paste tab under top of turkey,” but that’s what happens when you jump right in and don’t wait for help. She gets that from her dad. She didn’t need it anyway. I’m not in the business of crushing dreams. I did enough of that with the other two when they were in kinder. KIDDING. I think, although that kind of thing may have driven me batty back then. Yay for personal growth!

NaBloPoMo November 2015

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8
what I wore to about a million events

I skipped Saturday in posting for NaBloPoMo, and I can’t give two damns about that. The second half of last week was crazy busy (for me), and by the time I got home from Saturday’s event, I just wanted to sit in a comatose state and not talk to anyone for about a week.

Moving on. When I talked about how shopping is torture, I promised pictures of the outfits I put together for the events I had this week. There are a few things you should know:

1) I am not a fashion/style blogger.

2) I am not even a fashion/style person.

3) I didn’t really remember to have anyone take any full body pictures of me in any of these getups. 7 years into this blogging thing, and I still can’t be bothered to actually follow the rules.

 

So lets start with the lunch date I had on Wednesday with some girlfriends. I wore a striped cardigan over a wrinkled white tank top, with jeans and TOMS. No photos, because I was too hungry. Also who cares? It was lunch.

 

Thursday I attended a luncheon for a non-profit (different from regular lunch in that it included fancy napkins and iced tea in goblets), featuring Deanna Fei as the speaker.

This kind of thing is totally not my jam, but I really wanted to hear Fei speak. A few years ago she made headlines when she wrote an article in response to AOL CEO Tim Armstrong’s remarks that he had greatly reduced his employees’ benefits due to two “distressed babies” that had been born the previous year, whose care cost the company a lot of money. One of those distressed babies was Fei’s  daughter, who was born at 24 weeks (her husband worked for AOL at the time). I’d wanted to read her book (affiliate link), and since I now work part time in this sector, I felt it was in my best interest to attend. But I was still as awkward as a moose on ice skates.

Fei was lovely, but I will not post the photo of us together because the woman who took it did not help a sister out and alert me that I was standing half in front of the projector, causing scary shadows. So you get this lovely bathroom selfie instead.

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I’d been looking for something to wear with this LuLaRoe Cassie pencil skirt for months, so I was thrilled to find this chambray tunic at Target. The luncheon was downtown, on the top floor of some fancy building, and most people were in suits and business attire. I am not businessy, so whatever. I was me.

 

Friday I worked at Hand to Hold‘s 2nd Annual Baby Shower Luncheon fundraiser. This was what I was agonizing most over finding something to wear for, but I did, it was comfortable, and I was happy with it.

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My friend Kristin was able to attend, which further proved that we are attached at the hip (like literally – look at our hips!). Listen to Your Mother season just revved up, so you’ll be seeing a lot more pics like this.

 

Saturday I attended MomCom15, a super fun local conference where inspiration and entrepreneurship and moms all come together. I’ve attended every conference since it started in 2012, and I’ll go out on a limb and say the sessions in this event were some of the best I’ve ever attended.

I went casual for this one, with jeans (okay, jeggings), a cute top I got from Stitch Fix, and mah favorite boots.

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I’m on the far right, surrounded by (L-R): Nicole, Lisa, Melissa (the sassy redhead), Susanne, Traci, Catherine (in the back), Kristin, Sadia (in pink), Jenny, and Virginia. Blog friends are amazing.

 

Today I am in comfy jeans and a tshirt, which is a step up from the see-through leggings and hoodie I spent half the day in while I mopped the floors. Nothing but realness going on here.

What are you wearing? Keep it clean, people.

 

 

 

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11
look alikes

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Sometimes I forget that I am the mom of identical twins. I mean, I know I have twins, but I forget sometimes how different our family dynamic is from most others.

Rachel and Claire have a special bond that I will never truly understand. But I think what I love most about it is that they don’t know any different. They’ve been together since conception, save a 38 day separation in the NICU. They are always on each other’s radar, the first person they want to talk to when they wake up in the morning or come home after running an errand with one of us. They can’t help it; they are each others’ person.

Being identical comes with its cons though. Even though they have distinguishing characteristics – Claire cut her hair into a short bob at the beginning of the school year, while Rachel still insists on her long ponytail every day –  it’s remembering who is who that stumps most people. Kids at school often come up to them and say, “Are you Claire or Rachel?” or they simply address them by name – a name that’s not theirs. And I wonder, since they look completely different to me, what it must be like to look at them and see two faces that are seemingly indecipherable.

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Their P.E. teacher admitted to me one day that she calls both of them Torres, because in the moment, it’s just easier than trying to figure out which one is which.

As a mom, this makes me cringe. But as someone who has several friends with twins, I get it. Over the years I’ve devised little tricks in my head to help me keep my friends’ twins straight. Even with fraternal twins that look nothing alike, remembering which name goes with which child can be super hard for someone as brain dead as me. For example, we know a set of twins named Wyatt and Nolan. Wyatt is blonde, so in my head I said, “White Wyatt.” I never said it was a genius method.

I try to see these instances of mistaken identity as opportunities to talk to them about it and see how badly they are being scarred for life by being called the wrong name all the time.

Me: “So what does Mrs. M call you again?”

Them: “She calls us Torres.” (Notice how I am referring to my kids as a unit here. Like they are completely indistinguishable from one another. See? Even we twin parents do it too. Adding to the therapy fund now.)

Me: “Why do you think that is?”

Them: “Because it’s our last name!”

“Yeah, but WHY does she call you Torres and not Claire? Or Rachel?”

“Because she calls us Torres!”

“I KNOW. But she calls you Torres because you guys look SO MUCH ALIKE, she doesn’t always know which one of you is which.”

*blank stares*

“You guys know that you look exactly alike, right?”

“WHAT?!?!?!”

Yes. My girls are 7 years old and know they are twins, but until this conversation, they apparently had no idea that they looked exactly alike.

NaBloPoMo November 2015

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