TwinWatch: Reality show features identical twins test

About TwinWatch @ BeTwinned

by Diana Day

According to Springfield, MO’s News-Leader, the Discovery Health Channel made an appearance at the annual Twins Days festival in Twinsburg, Ohio last August to audition identical twins for its upcoming reality show America’s Most Identical Twins Test. (check your local listings, but the show is supposed to run Sunday, March 12 and Sunday March 19).

But how much of a test could it be? Gee, judging from the picture in the News-Leader article, all the sets of identical twins look, well, identical. Reality TV must be running out of options if they have to test identical twins to see which set is, um, more identical.

Also, I don’t know about anybody else, but the last thing I need after this show airs is more people stopping and asking us everywhere we go whether our twins are identical, whether anyone can tell them apart, etc. Reminds me of a friend who has triplets — she got so tired of people asking her whether her triplet girls were triplets that she started to say, “No. They’re not triplets. They’re quintuplets. We just left the other two at home.”

TwinWatch: A new twins’ festival in Australia

About TwinWatch @ BeTwinned

by Diana Day

The Australian Multiple Birth Association, supported by the Australian Twin Registry, is holding its first annual TwinsPlus Festival in Canberra, Australia on March 11.

AMBA is a network and resource for multiple birth families.

The Australian Twin Registry, according to its website, is the largest in the world with a whopping 30,000 sets of twins registered.

You can find out about other twin festivals on the Center for the Study of Multiple Birth’s website.

Toy Review: Spell-A-Word Alphabet Board

About Toy Reviews @ BeTwinned

by Jane Day Rasmussen

Spell-A-Word Alphabet Board
Photo from Toys to Grow On

Name: Spell-A-Word Alphabet Board
Manufacturer: Lakeshore (sold exclusively online at Toys to Grow On)
Category: Puzzles
Manufacturer’s Suggested Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Our tested age range: 3.5 years and up
Learning Components: Independent Play, Word Building
Price Value/Honeys: Three Honey Pots(what are Honeys?)

This is an awesome educational toy that is well-made and fun. The large, sturdy board has all the letters for puzzle action, or use it with the stand to slide on the color-coded letters for spelling fun!The cards are sold separately, making the toy a bit pricey, but overall it is worth the money. The cards are double-sided – one side has the picture and the word, and the other side has just the picture for a more advanced speller.

My son, Jake, loves finding objects he wants to spell and then goes to it all on his own (at 3 ½ he still uses the side with the color coded letters!). He feels a real sense of accomplishment by “spelling” the words without any help from mom or dad.

The alphabet board has helped Jake understand that the letters have a bigger meaning and aren’t just for singing the alphabet song. He now sees other words and asks what that spells.

This toy would be great for multiples – they can either work together to spell a word, or take turns with their own spelling bee.

It is sold exclusively online at Toys to Grow On, a family-owned company that strives to provide toys that have an “extraordinary play and educational value.”

With the Spell-A-Word Alphabet Board, they’ve done just that.

TwinWatch: Thrill to the scale

About TwinWatch @ BeTwinned

by Diana Day

Djuna thrils to the scale
Djuna thrills to the scale of the Sharp & Fellows #7 locomotive at Griffith Park’s Travel Town Museum
Photo by Dwayne Booth (a.k.a. Djuna’s Daddy)

We just got back from Travel Town in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park! It’s our favorite place to take our 2 1/2-year old daughters. This section from an article I wrote recently for the Daily Breeze, a local Southern California newspaper, sums up why we all thrill to the scale of Travel Town, a museum full of real trains on real tracks:

When our twins turned two, we took them to a seaside amusement park to celebrate. After about an hour of loud music, scary rides, gross hot dogs and tears, I turned to my husband and said to him, “Remind me. Why didn’t we go to Travel Town?”

“It’s mellow, it’s peaceful. … It’s a nice, relaxing place to come with your family on the weekends,” said Kurt Ulbrich, operations manager of Travel Town Museum, located in Griffith Park. “It’s kind of a unique museum. … It’s more hands-on than your average museum,” he added.

Travel Town Museum has been a destination for Southern California children since its founding in 1952 by Los Angeles Recreation and Parks employee and rail enthusiast Charley Atkins. The museum is mostly outdoors, some of it under an elegant European-style pavilion, and boasts an impressive collection of authentic locomotives, freight cars, cabooses and more, dating from the late 1800s to the 1940s.

“It was originally considered to be a ‘railroad petting zoo.’ That’s what they actually referred to it as in correspondence,” said Tom Breckner, Management Analyst II of Travel Town Museum. …

“The scale of the locomotives is thrilling for kids,” Breckner said. “It’s something special to be in that space, to look through the windows and imagine yourself a railroader traveling down the tracks … that’s always something that will be accessible [at Travel Town],” he added.

Dinah and Djuna, since they have been able to walk, love to run alongside the huge trains, yelling, “Trains! Trains!” They love being boosted up into the great engines and to look out the windows at all the friendly park patrons below.

In an increasingly virtual world, it’s a great opportunity for kids to experience a real train in a full-on sensory environment, to balance little sneakers on real train tracks.

And even though the giant scale is exciting, of course the girls love something just their size at Travel Town — the miniature train ride and the indoor play area complete with a Thomas the Tank Engine train table.

And they don’t mind the hot dogs either.

TwinWatch: Some informative news about twins & multiples, for a change

About TwinWatch @ BeTwinned

by Diana Day

Considering that the media overplays certain predictable twin and multiple stories, it’s nice to see a couple of different types of articles in the last few days.

One story circulating is about whether twins and multiples should be separated in school. The article has a good review positions pro and con and brings up some issues I had never thought of (since my twins are not yet school age), like the possibility that having twins/multiples in different classrooms with different teachers and different assignments creates havoc at home.

[Check back soon here on to see what Dr. Eileen Pearlman of has to say about separating twins in school and about the development of twin/multiple identities in general.]

Another recently published article is about increasing birth rates of twins and multiples. The article is superficial and laden with generalizations:

Twins tend not to be the very top achievers in their fields, many observers have informally noted, although no one has actually studied this. We have had no twin presidents, for example. Bill Gates isn’t a twin; Picasso wasn’t a twin, nor was Bach or Marie Curie. On the other hand, twins do excel in athletics, perhaps even beyond what their numbers would indicate, with well-known examples such as gymnast Paul Hamm, an Olympic gold medalist, and his brother, Morgan.

The article also deals too quickly with the topic of how these increasing rates will affect society. But, it was nice to see some positive press: “There is also anecdotal evidence, according to Segal, that twins, because of their unusual side-by-side upbringing in which so much is shared, tend to be concerned with fairness and sensitive to the needs of others.”

Even though the reporting on the second article is not first-rate, I note it here out of curiousity … maybe we are about to see a little surge in informative mainstream news about twins and multiples.

Children’s Book Review: Sweet Jasmine, Nice Jackson by Robie H. Harris

About Children’s Book Reviews @ BeTwinned

Review by Sandra Horning

Sweet Jasmine, Nice Jackson
Sweet Jasmine, Nice Jackson: What It’s Like To Be 2 – And To Be Twins! by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Michael Emberley
image from

Sweet Jasmine, Nice Jackson (from the Growing Up Stories series) follows the energetic day-to-day activities of two-year-old African American twins, Jasmine and Jackson. They shout “No,” learn to get dressed by themselves, ask questions, throw tantrums and even pee on the potty as they grow up and experience life at the age of two.

Each spread includes a box of factual text providing interesting information about twins and explaining why two-year-olds do the things they do.

Emberley’s watercolor, pastel and ink drawings cheerfully portray the twins as they go about their life at this stage. The text is written for an older sibling or child, but some patient younger children may also enjoy listening. Parents and children will all learn something from Jasmine and Jackson.

Ages 4-7

Toy Review: Thomas & Friends Conductor’s Figure 8 Set

About Toy Reviews @ BeTwinned

by Jane Day Rasmussen

Thomas & Friends Conductor's Figure 8 Set
Photo from

Name: Thomas & Friends Conductor’s Figure 8 Set
Manufacturer: Learning Curve
Category: Planes/Trains/Automobiles
Manufacturer’s Suggested Age Range: 3 years and up
Our tested age range: 1 year and up
Learning Components: Motor Skills, Independent Play
Price Value/Honeys: Three Honey Pots(what are Honeys?)

My best friend gave my son, Jake, this Thomas & Friends Conductor’s Figure 8 Set for his first birthday. Thinking Jake was a little young for the concept, I tucked the present away for a rainy day (hint: a practice I’ve continued so new presents miraculously appear throughout the year, and not just at birthdays and the holidays).

What can I say? When we opened the box several months later, it was love at first sight. My son hasn’t been seen without a train in his grip since. This set is a great introductory set for the soon-to-be Thomas enthusiast – or, all you will need to have a great set of trains for your non eat-drink-sleep train guy or gal. I have since given this gift many times over and was thrilled when my twin nieces loved this gift on their second birthday.

The set includes a stone bridge, conductor’s shed, tree, stop sign, signal, Sir Topham Hatt, wooden track, and wooden Thomas, boxcar and caboose. If you are buying this for multiples, I would recommend purchasing some extra trains for more fun – especially if your multiples will need to play with Thomas at the same time.

The quality of the toys is exceptional – the wooden track and trains are nearly indestructible. The track goes together (and stays together) easily, so even the littlest of engineers can maneuver and create their own railroad.

My son loved pushing the trains on the track when he was one year old and now loves to act out the storylines in the videos at the age of three. The twins take turns with the track design – one loves to make circles and the other loves more intricate layouts. Both must have Thomas in their sight, although they are content sharing twin trains Bill and Ben.

Of course, there are tons of accessories to go with the wooden Thomas railway system – visit for the complete list. I will admit, the Thomas craze can get expensive; that is why I only gave it three honey pots out of four.

If you have an A.C. Moore in your area, they have great 20 percent off sales on Thomas stuff pretty regularly, and look out for videos that have a train inside – a great money saver. I’ve also gotten some cool trains and sheds on E-bay. PBS airs Thomas in our area every Sunday morning – so we can get a regular Thomas fix.

There are also other great Thomas products that are not compatible with the wooden railway system – Thomas Take Along (smaller, plastic track, and less expensive version of a great theme) and a battery-operated set that runs a blue plastic track made by Tomy. My son and twin nieces love these as well.

This set has won several parenting awards, and I’d be remiss not to mention them:
In 2003 – Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine, Teachers’ Picks “Top 10 Toys of the Last 10 Years”; and in 2002 it won the prestigious Parents’ Choice Award. A similar item, the Water Tower Figure 8 set won the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, Gold Seal in 2004.

Overall, an excellent toy choice and guaranteed to pay for itself with hours and hours of fun. All aboard!

TwinWatch: Kemp-kemp, Mama, kemp-kemp

About TwinWatch @ BeTwinned

by Diana Day

My daughters have this little catch-all phrase they use to ask my husband Dwayne and I to clean up or fix something: kemp-kemp. I’m not sure what it’s derived from, perhaps “clean up” or something like that.

It infuriates me, and I don’t really know why.

I think it makes me feel overly bossed around. Being bossed around by 2 1/2-year old twins is the story of my life now, but I am normally at peace with it. I figure it’s the job of a 2 1/2-year old to boss a little; after all, they are still learning the finer points of courtesy. But for some reason, the “kemp-kemp” command is more than I can swallow.

This morning, as Dinah and Djuna were eating their cereal, if the tiniest pin prick of a drop of milk splashed on the table, they delighted in calling out, “Kemp-kemp, Mama, kemp-kemp!” I felt myself getting irritated, so I put on my cleverest Mommy thinking cap and decided to put a paper towel under their bowls so they wouldn’t be so bothered by the little drops.

Djuna loved the paper towel, but Dinah was dead-set against it, so I removed the offending obect. As soon as I turned my back to put Dinah’s paper towel back on the kitchen counter, she called out, “Kemp-kemp, Mama, kemp-kemp!” As if it’s not enough to have to wipe up every little drop of spilled milk, I have to endure it from a toddler who is, essentially, saying, “Waiter, get a move on!”

But, we all made it to naptime, exhausted. Looking at my disaster of a house, I realize that I have to kemp-kemp just to navigate safely through the ocean of toys to the kitchen so I can make myself a relaxing cup of cocoa.

So, kemp-kemp it is. And then cocoa.

Children’s Book Review: Love and Kisses by Sarah Wilson

About Children’s Book Reviews @ BeTwinned

Review by Sandra Horning

Love and Kisses book
Love and Kisses by Sarah Wilson, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
image from

With love and kisses in the air for Valentine’s Day, this sweet little board book is good for sharing kisses with your little ones for the rest of the month and year. The rhyming text is complemented by the lovely watercolor illustrations beginning with a girl kissing her cat, who then kisses a cow, who kisses a goose and so on until the kiss returns back to the cat and the girl. Pucker up and be prepared to kiss and giggle with all of your children.

Ages 2-6