Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Petraeus-gate: The Twin Angle

So, like much of America, I'm trying to understand what the heck happened with General Petraeus, the woman in North Carolina he apparently was having an affair with, the woman in Florida he allegedly wasn't, the FBI agent who sent shirtless pictures to the woman in Florida, etc., etc.

So does this picture of Petraeus with his arm around Jill Kelley, the woman in Florida, mean anything? It might, if it were a picture of him and Jill Kelley. Instead, it's a picture of him with his arm around Natalie Khawam, Jill Kelley's identical twin sister.

So there you go. There's always a twin angle. (Except when there's not.)

Friday, October 5, 2012

No, no, no

Someone wrote into Carolyn Hax's chat with the following issue:
My sister has a beautiful 4 year old daughter. She's pregnant again - and about a month ago she found out she was pregnant with twin girls. Meanwhile, our brother and his husband have been talking more seriously about starting a family; years ago my sister told them she would consider being a surrogate or egg donor when they were ready to discuss it. Yesterday, my sister told me that since she found out about the twins, she has had the crazy idea of exploring the possibility of my brother and brother-in-law adopting one of the girls.
Among the responses:
  • "Has either of you talked to any twins? I imagine they'd be strongly opposed to the idea. I don't have a twin myself, but two of my kids are, and that leads many of the adults we meet out in the world to point out that they also are twins. Then come the stories of how amazing it is to grow up that way, with your better-than-best friend." (From Hax, a twin mom herself)
  • "Um, babies aren't cookies. You don't give your brother one just because you've got two."
  • "I have twins also and their bond is incredible, so much so that the "Parent Trap" bothered me because I couldn't imagine parents splitting twins up. I think it would have to be difficult to discover that your cousin is actually your twin."
  • "As a twin: NO. Do not encourage this idea. My relationship with my twin sister is by far the defining relationship in my life."
  • "I'm a twin with a twin brother and reading this question just gutted me. We've had our ups and we've had our downs, but I would be horrified if someone had split us apart at birth. I can't even contemplate it, no matter how well seeming the idea appears. DON'T DO IT! Please."

Friday, July 27, 2012

Twins in the Media

The new show Political Animals is an interesting, movie-quality series with top stars, from Ellen Burstyn to Sigourney Weaver. This political roman a clef changed enough details to fake it. One detail: the former first lady/Secretary of State/presidential hopeful played by Weaver has twin sons: Bud & TJ, played by unrelated actors, and born "3 minutes apart" according to a scene in episode 2.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Twins Down Under

The Australian state of Victoria had its triennial Twins Plus Festival last weekend, and the Herald Sun newspaper had some interesting interviews with identical twins. I often find the twin perspective to be more enlightening than the twin-parent perspective, so this made some interesting reading. A favorite bit:
Once I went on a date with a girl who had brown hair and we went to this particular restaurant; after that Peter and his blonde girlfriend went there and this waitress threw the meal down on the table. It was not until we went on a double-date there that the waitress realised there were two of us; she thought one of us was dating two and doing the dirty, and she'd taken the woman's perspective - "Here's your bloody spaghetti". She was so apologetic.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Twins!

At the end of this Washington Post column on brothers born on consecutive leap days is this amazing fact:
Mike said: “I seem to recall some woman in Ireland had twins on consecutive leap years so we got outdone.” That would be Christine McDonnell, who gave birth in Dublin to James and Ann on Feb. 29, 1956, and to Robert and Patricia on Feb. 29, 1960.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Twin Brother to the Rescue

One of our hopes for our boys is that they'll be there for each other in times of need. I don't think anyone in the Murdoch family ever expected it would come to this:

Travis Murdoch, a police dispatcher with Prince George's County Public Safety Communications and a Bowie volunteer firefighter, was tasked with initially assessing and treating the injured when authorities responded to the crash at 2 a.m. Wednesday near Stonehaven Lane and Stoneybrook [sic] Drive in Bowie. Police say that the single-car crash occurred when the vehicle left the roadway and hit a tree, trapping two men in their early 20's in the car. But when Travis and other units arrived at the scene, they quickly realized that his twin brother, Chris, was one of the victims.
 Chris is in critical condition; our thoughts are with the family.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Twins in competition

One of our sons--Salem-- just succeeded at the potty for the first time. (Jon gets some credit, too.) We were all very excited, and I brought Jack out to see what his brother had done, and set them free to roam the front rooms. I even got out the new box of crayons (bought to replace the chewed-up half crayons), and offered Salem a prize for his success. All the books recommend this type of prize. He was very excited, but so was Jack, who also wanted a crayon, and pushed his way to the box.

What's a twin parent to do?

Well, give them each a new crayon, naturally.

If you have a singleton, it makes sense to only reward them when they clearly suceed, or try darn hard. But with twins, rewarding one so clearly and obviously makes the other feel left out, punished; I could see it on Jack's face; he seemed to be wondering if he also deserved a crayon. Well, clearly he didn't, but I treated the whole event like a party to which he was invited, and he too got a door prize, though the clear "winner" was Salem, who got first choice of the new box of crayons.

I'd rather foster a sense of cooperation than competitiveness, so giving each a crayon makes sense. Also, it's clear to me that they both understand how to work together, learn from each other.

For example, Tuesday I was reclining on the beanbags in their playroom, waiting for Daddy. Jack ran up and started playing with my glasses, and when I took them off & pocketed them, he looked at me thoughtfully. Then he ran behind the couch to Salem, they conversed briefly and giggled. Jack came running back out, came back to me, and sat where he'd been sitting, on my left. Salem then joined us, rushing to my right, distracting me with an adorable "Hi!" and then lying down on my hip. (Just so adorable.) Jack was out of arms' reach with my glasses before I knew what was happening.

They coordinated a simple distract-and-grab, Jack picking my pocket for the prize glasses while Salem worked his toddler wiles on me. The oldest con in the book.

I feel that I can apply this cooperative effort to potty training. I remember seeing a Dateline about the McCaughey sextuplets (the first to survive), and reading about them in Time or Newsweek. The mom had 6 potties, all lined up with kids on them, and when one went wee-wee he got a cookie. The others, seeing this, quickly followed suit and soon she had 6 trained toddlers.

This is the lottery ticket twins -- and twin parents -- draw. Raising twins means a lot of repeated work; we might as well draw from the benefits offered by a permanent playmate, and teach them to learn from each other. By this I mean everyone celebrates the victories, however small, and hopefully they will work together to get more crayons.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Four of Them

This blog is about twins, so we usually avoid covering higher-order multiples. We, do, however, have a long-standing exception for identical quadruplets.

In this spirit, I bring you the news that four identical quadruplet girls were born in Leipzig.

I take issue, however, with the following part of the news story:
They were conceived naturally and were delivered by Caesarean section.
Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I don't believe the circumstances of conception belong in a birth announcement.

It brings to mind the following lines from Douglas Adams:
 "You were about to ask me," she said, "a question."
"Yes," said Arthur.
"We can do it together if you like," said Fenchurch.
"Was I found..."
"...in a handbag," joined in Arthur.
"...in the Left Luggage office," they said together.
"...at Fenchurch Street Station," they finished.
"And the answer," said Fenchurch, "is no."
"Fine," said Arthur.
"I was conceived there."
"I was con--"
"In the Left Luggage office?" hooted Arthur.
"No, of couse not. Don't be silly. What would my parents be doing in the Left Luggage office?" she said, rather taken aback by the suggestion.
"Well, I don't know," sputtered Arthur, "or rather--"
"It was in the ticket queue."
"The ticket queue. Or so they claim. They refuse to elaborate. They only say you wouldn't believe how bored it is possible to get in the ticket queue at Fenchurch Street Station."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Twin Criminals: More White Supremacists?

I'm hoping not to make posts about white supremacist twins a regular feature of this site, but it was too hard to pass up this one.
The twins are accused of sending a mail bomb in early 2004 to a government diversity office in Scottsdale, Ariz., injuring the office’s director and two of his employees. Both are charged with conspiring to blow up a government building while Dennis Mahon is also charged with carrying out the bombing as well as teaching someone else how to make a bomb.

The FBI used the informant in interesting ways in this case.
In one example, Williams testified that the investigators got her to pose for photographs wearing a bathing suit with a grenade hanging down from her neck in between her breasts. For the pictures, she stood in front of a pickup truck and a swastika flag. The photos were then mailed to the brothers.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Great Fathers of Twins: Desmond Howard

One of the pleasures of my senior year at the University of Michigan was watching Desmond Howard have one of the most incredible seasons in college football history. Howard, also a senior, graduated with our class, and we shared a graduation ceremony. (It was funny to hear people criticize him for leaving school "early". If you can get a degree in four years while being a standout athlete, that's not early.) I was happy when he went to my Washington Redskins, though that didn't work out as well as anyone hoped.

Still I've followed his career with some interest, and I follow him on Twitter. My interest was piqued yesterday when he tweeted,
Picked up my 5 yr olds and 1 says,"I watched a movie on MLKJr today,I wanna use your iPad to learn more about him before I play"
My interest was piqued. Now, "5 yr olds" -- there's more than one way to go about it, but the most straightforward way is twins. Could it be? We share so much already -- Michigan, class of 1992, Super Bowl MVP (kidding), could we also have the twin father bond?

Looks like it.  Further, he met his wife in DC while with the Redskins, so I guess that worked out well enough after all.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Neat Pictures of Twins

National Geographic has an article about identical twins in their latest issue. Check out some really beautiful pictures from it.