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Friday, September 21, 2012

Chasing The Dream

As I type this, I am watching the twerpies "discuss," in their adorable non-senseical language, how to properly play with the small t-ball set that we got for them a little over a week ago.  And I can't help but realize that they are getting more and more independent.  The baby stage is truly a thing of the past, at this point.

I hear lots of moms talk about how sad this makes them.  But not me.  I am proud.  My heart literally sings as I watch them play and enjoy each other and learn new things.  Every time they don't need my help for something, I know we've done something right, and they are learning and growing the way that they should.  And, maybe it's because I've had double the demands for nearly two years now, but I so enjoy these short moments of me time, even if it sometimes just long enough to open a Diet Dr. Pepper.

During the longer me time moments, I am putting all my effort into fulfilling what has been a life long dream for myself, and starting my own photography business.  I have always had a love for photography, since I was little and asked Santa for my first camera.  Santa was generous and got a very little girl and very nice, grown up camera.  It was a 35mm Olympus point and shoot, and I could have been happier.  That camera was good to me, too.

I took photography in college, but after school, I got caught up in making a career, and although I was always the person with a camera on me, I never took it too seriously, until my best friend was ready to take some maternity pictures.  I begged, and she willingly granted me the opportunity to capture this very important time in her life.

That shoot was definitely a learning experience, but I felt pretty good about how it all came out.  Those pictures sparked a very positive response from friends and family, and even a few job offers.  However, with a big move on the horizon, I put it off.  Now that we are getting settled, I am taking a chance and chasing that dream, and have finally started my business.  On Sunday, I'll have my first shoot down here, and it will be my first client that I have no connection too.  I am excited and nervous and really proud that someone, I don't know, saw my work and called me up and hired me.  I think I just might be able to do this!

Visit my website, and like my Facebook page.  Wish me luck and leave us some love!

Monday, September 17, 2012

A New Chapter

This blog has been on the back burner for a few months while our lives have taken some exciting new turns, with our big move to Southern California, and Makayla's surgery.  We've been settling into our new home for a few weeks now, and Makayla is well, and more active than ever, so it's time to get back to sharing our life with twins and adjusting to life in the Palm Springs area...located, just a few inches from the mid-day sun.

As we start a new chapter in our lives, I think this it is inevitable that this blog will change as well. 

Of course, this will always be a place to share our stories of chaos, success, laughter and failure, that is life with double the trouble, heading quickly into their terrible twos.  But, I will also share my journey as we I adjust to life away from home, for the first time, make new friends, and learn to become a So Cal girl. 

I am also looking forward to sharing some of my Pinterest projects gone wrong, and, I hope, right, as I work to furnish and decorate this new house on a tight budget, and work our way out of a dinner rut.

We miss our friends and family back at home, so much, but we already feel really at home here.  We have wonderfully helpful family, and amazing neighbors, surrounding us and it's just about everything we were looking forward to about moving here!  I've joined lots of mom/playgroups and am making lots of friends for myself and the twerpies already.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Saying Our "Goodbyes"

In just a few short days my husband and the twerpies will be on their way to our new home in Southern California, where we will get to live across the street from my husband's sister and her family, and across town from his parents. I will stay behind an extra week so that I can go to a couple of important weddings, but since the twerpies will be gone by Tuesday, we are starting our goodbyes now.

Today was our last visit with our local twin group.  When I first found out I was having twins, I joined a local twin mom group that is made up of probably a few hundred families.  At just three of four months old, we started meeting up with a smaller portion of the group that had twins all the same age.  At first it started with just two other moms, three sets of twins and an older sibling, so eight kids.  The twins were all three to four months old.  We have met almost weekly with a few exceptions over that time frame and our group has grown considerable to about seven moms on a regular basis and a handful more that join now and then. 

I have come to appreciate this group so much.  In the beginning, I just looked forward to a safe place to get out of the house with the kids, but it grew into an amazing support system.  I have met with these moms since the day we found out about Makayla's nystagmus, and all of her tests and treatments.  We have compared mommy notes. 

Being with these kids and their moms make me feel normal.  I can be having the worst week, and be coming down so hard on my self and my kids, but an hour with these moms and I feel so sane again, and normal.

There isn't anything quite like this twin group near where we will be moving.  I will miss these moms and our weekly playdates.  I hope that when I coem up to visit I can sneak in short playdates with our first friends.  I hope I don't miss out on seeing these fun kids grow....thank goodness for facebook!

Today, for our last visit, we ventured out from our usual home visit, to a local fun spot for toddlers called SuperFranks.  Watching them in a new environment, being so independent, I couldn't help but think back to the first time we met and all the babies slept through the playdate in their carseats.  They interact now, "talk" to each other. 

We had too much fun, and tuckered out quickly, but I am so glad we had that chance to get in this last playdate.  Our friends even had goodbye cards for us, that while no one was looking, brought tearsto my eyes!

Until our next visit playgroup!  We will miss you!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

To Spank Or Not To Spank

I didn't want to write this post.  But I want this blog to be honest.  I want to share all the beautiful and ugly parts of motherhood and raising twins...

So here it is: I gave the twins their first spankings, two days ago.  Although I did feel badly about it, I also felt a great deal of relief, because it worked!

For a few months now, I have been having a really hard time with the kids.  They are on a never ending mission to destroy our home.  No, I don't mean make messes that I don't have time to clean (but, yes, that too), I mean they are literally ripping the blinds down from the windows, tearing the molding off the walls, and tearing down the baby gates.  As much fun as it is not to live in a home that looks like it's been hit by a tornado, that is really the least of my concerns.  I worry about them being hurt when the blinds come crashing down onto them, and the nails from the molding scrape their skin.

The pediatrician's solution is to pretend it's not happening because if you give them any sort of response, it just encourages the behavior.  Well, if we keep that up any longer there will not be a house left in a week's time.  So we have tried distracting them, and redirecting them, and telling them, "no."  Honestly, nothing has worked.  If I take them away, they just run right back to what they are doing, as soon as I let them go, laughing the whole way.

Finally, on Thursday, after way too much yelling and begging, I pulled them each away from the blinds and gave them a firm smack on the butt, over their diapers.  Austin was stunned and cried a little.  Makayla just scratched her head and looked at Austin.  But they stopped.  And they stopped for the rest of the day.

Butttttttttt, the next day they were at it again.  I am so sick of yelling and chasing them, and although, I am not exactly anti-spanking, it cannot be a way of life.  I cried, and let them do whatever they wanted.  I begged my husband to bring home dog crates, from work, to lock them in.  He refused, or thought I was joking.

So, I reached out to an online mom's group and begged them to tell me anything except "it's just a phase, it will pass."  Tell me how to survive until it does.  There were amazing supermoms with six kids, and twins moms and funny moms, and they gave me some great tips. 

Along with getting a sitter once a week so I that I can get a break, and getting them out of the house as much as possible, they pointed out that we may have too many toys for the kids.  Too many toys?  Who ever heard of such a thing?  Turns out, it makes a lot of sense.  They are totally overwhelmed by the choices, and because there are so many things, all the parts are never together, so some things are impossible to play with.

I hope that once we settle into our new place we can put some of these wonderful ideas to good use.  I am looking forward to downsizing the amount of toys we have and having less things to trip over all day and night!  And I sincerely hope that the spankings were a one time thing.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Big Changes!


We're moving!  And I don't mean across town, or to the neighboring city.  We are making the big move from the San Francisco Bay Area, to the Palm Springs area, to be closer to my husband's family.

Over the last two years my husband's parents have not only come up every three months to visit and get to know their grandchildren, but they, along with my husband's sister, have also made a combined five trips up just to help when we have had our hands more than full, like the week the twins came home from the NICU, during my two gall bladder surgeries, and our last trip to Ohio.  They will be coming up again in just a few weeks, while I take Makayla to Ohio for her surgery, to help with Austin, so that my husband doesn't have to miss work.

It was during our flight home from Ohio, in April, that we realized how much they have been a help to us since the twins were born, and how silly it is that they have to come up here every time we need and extra set of hands.  Although we had talked about it for years, that's when we decided that we were going to make moving near his family a reality.

This isn't to say that we don't have amazing people in our lives here who have helped us many times.  My dad is just 10 miles away, and we have four very close friends that live in the same city we do now who have been very good to us, but they work, and have lives of their own that they are responsible for. It will be so hard to leave them.  I am so sad.  These are people who have been in our lives for all or most of the 12 years we have been together.  They have been our family.  I hope that never changes.  A seven hour drive isn't so bad... And if they won't come see us, they will at least go visit Disneyland, and all I need is an excuse to go to Disneyland (I hear So Cal residents get discount tickets too!).  Flights from LA to the Bay Area are frequent and cheap, so I do plan to be able to visit often.

As long as our two families live far apart, there will never be a perfect situation.  And as sad as we are to leave our wonderful tight knit group and family, we have lots of things that we are excited about.  Did I mention that So Cal residents get discount tickets to Disneyland?  My husband grew up in that area and is looking forward to raising his children with the kinds of memories and experiences that he had as a child.  As it looks right now, we will be living across the street from my sister-in-law, and just across town from my husband's parents.  When his parents used to live up here, we had family dinner with them at least once a week.  That is something that I have missed every single day since they left (oh my god, did I really just tear up??) and I look forward to returning to that tradition.  With all the help they have been to us, I think we owe them more then a couple of dinners!

However, I have lived all my 30 years just a few miles East of San Francisco.  This is going to be a big change for me and everything I am used to.  Do you know this crazy place we are moving to gets up to 115 degrees, at times?  I will need a part time job just to pay for the air conditioning!  I keep asking my husband about where we are moving, as bizarre things pop in my head.  Last week I asked if there were parks down there.  He laughed at me and reminded me that we are moving to the desert, not the moon.  I guess that means the desert has parks.

Please hang in there with me while we tackle this overwhelming move.  I'll update when I can, and if you don't hear from me I'm shoulders deep in moving boxes or having and anxiety attack!

Monday, July 9, 2012

25 Years

From left to right: Me, Lil Sister Amber, Aubrey
As of this summer, I have had my best friend in my life for 25 years.  This is truly a milestone worth recognition!  How many people even manage to stay married for that long?  We have been a part of each others' lives since we were five.  

We met the summer before first grade at our day care and we were immediately inseparable. Apparently, too inseparable.  More than a few times, we were told by the lady who ran our daycare that couldn't play together anymore because we were "too clique-ish".  I don't remember ever excluding anyone from playing with us.  We weren't mean girls, we were just always together.  I can't think of a single memory from early childhood that she isn't a part of.

 We held a sidewalk sale once, and sold art work we had made.  Lemonade stands are for the boring.  We made $1.25 that day. 

There were countless sleep overs. All night dance-a-thons. Laser disc movie nights. Roller skate dates.  Family vacations.  Ghost hunting.  Matching outfits for Twins school spirit day.  Plans for a road trip across the country after high school and for matching tattoos. And 14 birthday parties....

And then I moved.  Just before the seventh grade, my family moved about 20 minutes away.  Sure that doesn't sound too far, but when you can't drive yet, that may as well be out of state.  Determined to stay as close as ever, we talked everyday, and we mailed each other the notes we used to pass in class.  We spent almost every weekend together, and went to each others' school dances and proms.  Once we started driving and graduated high school, it was a lot easier.

We have been there for every single one of life's big events, and every heartbreak.  There is truly no one else in the world who knows all the events of my life the way she does.  She may be the only person, besides my husband, who can keep my complicated extended family straight.

She is the sister I never had.

We stood next to each other at each of our weddings.  A year and a half ago, she was there when my life changed forever, as my twerpies made their debut.  And yesterday, she welcomed her first baby, such a handsome little boy, into this world.  I am so happy for her and her family, and  am so looking forward to this new chapter in our lives.

I love you, Mrs. Harkey!

Friday, July 6, 2012


I've been all but absent from blogging for a few weeks.  You could say, I've been a bit preoccupied.  Not only have I been working to get As Makayla Sees It up and running and to shape it into the tool and resource I want it to be for other parents, you may have noticed that Happiness Is got a little bit of a makeover too!

In addition to our new look, we are now featuring ads for your blog or small business.  To celebrate we are giving away 10 of our small ad spots! 

All you need to do is visit the Sponsor tab at the top of our page and select the "Small" ad spot.  Once you have uploaded your ad, you can enter the promo code GRANDOPENING for 100% off your small ad.  This is on a first come, first serve basis, so hurry! And if the code is no longer working, it means you missed out...but do not fret, a small ad is only $7 or you could snag one of our large feature ads for only $20.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

As Makayla Sees It

I have been neglecting this blog a bit lately. 

I initially thought this blog would a place to share stories about my twins and keep family up to date on our journey to diagnose and treat Makayla's nystagmus, but as the number of visits to this blog increases (which I am so excited about and grateful for) I am connecting with fellow moms (twin moms, new moms, and moms of children with low vision) that are looking for very different information from my blog, and I'm finding that I don't really know who I'm writing to anymore.

So, I have moved all my posts about nystagmus and albinism over to my new blog, As Makayla Sees It, with a focus on Makayla's vision.  I hope that it will be a resource for information for my fellow nystagmus and OA moms as well as a tool to communicate to all the people who love Makayla, the details of her progress and our journey.

This blog will remain a blog for me to share my mommy moments, tears and laughs and a peak at our family life.  Of course, Makayla's vision will always be an important part of our life and I will continue to share important updates here, but maybe in less detail.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

We have a WINNER!

The 4th of July giveaway ended yesterday and we have a winner!

Comment #18 is from Pamela Rote!  Congrats Pamela!  Please email me at acmoshier@gmail.com so I can set you up with your prize!

Please remember that everyone who entered the contest is eligible for 20% off their order with Gussied Up Bows through the 4th of July!  They truly have some unique accessories and she creates custom bows for special occasions!

Monday, June 18, 2012

4th of July Giveaway!

It's summertime and it has certainly been heating up around here!  If you're anything like me, you are looking forward to all the outdoor fun that comes with summertime, especially the 4th of July!

To help us get in the spirit and celebrate, Gussied Up Bows, designed an adorable Bedazzeled 4th of July Firecracker Bow, just for me to give away to one of my wonderful readers!

Gussied Up Bows makes unique and affordable hair bows and accessories for little girls.  Make sure you check out all the other fun accessories they have on their Facebook page, because they are offering a 20% discount on everything through the 4th of July when you enter the giveaway below and use promo code FIREWORKS when placing your order between now and July 4th!

So, make sure you enter this giveaway so you can get your discount and win this fun bow for your little girl to wear, this 4th of July! 

Entering is easy!

Make sure you visit and "like" Gussied Up Bow's facebook page here, and make sure you have "liked" Happiness Is on facebook, here, then leave a comment here on this blog post letting us know that you have done so!

If you would like to earn extra entries, you may do so by doing all or some of these tasks below.  For each task you complete, make sure you leave an additional comment here on this blog letting us know that you have done so:

1)  Share the contest on your facebook page

2) Share the contest on Twitter using hashtag #GussiedUpBows

3) Share the contest on your own blog, and leaving a comment here with a link to your blog post

4) Share the Gussied Up Bows facebook page on your facebook timeline.

5) Subscribe to this blog using the subscribe wigdet on the right column

6) Follog this blog using Google Friend Connect

That's up to seven possible entries!  So, what are you waiting for?  A winner will be drawn using Random.org on Friday, June 22nd!  Good luck!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Morning Brain Spillage: Albinism

When Makayla was three months old, and her pediatrician diagnosed her with nystagmus, one of the first things they asked me was if it was possible that she was albino.  I laughed and just said that she took after me, thinking to myself, "can they not see how light I am?" 

My own dad (who is very dark in his skin, hair, and eyes) and I joked when I was a kid, that my mom's family was albino and that's why they, and I, were so, so, so pale (I actually REALLY hate the term pale, I prefer fair.  Pale sounds sickly, fair is just really light.).  But it was a joke!  I already knew that nystagmus was common in people with albinism, but obviously the doctors were just jumping to conclusions, because my daughter has all the same coloring as me (my eyes are green now, but were blue through elementary school and started changing in 7th grade), and I could not possibly be albino, since my eyes are green, and I have freckles, and although none of my friends would call it a tan, my skin tone does change some, when I get sun.  Although, my hair was white as a baby, whiter than Makayla's, it's now a very dark blonde, maybe even a light brown.  Obviously, I can't be albino.

But with more and more doctors asking about Makayla being albino, and now with her ocular albinism diagnosis, I'm learning so much more about albinism.  You might think of Powder or Whitey from Me, My Self & Irene when you think of someone with albinism, with the red or blue eyes, and the white hair and the translucent skin.  In fact, there are many different types of albinism and some include having some levels of pigment.  Now knowing this, I've asked doctors, if Makayla is albino, is it possible I am too?  But I'm always shut down, told that since my eyes are fine, I can't be albino, and that if I were the one with albinism that it would have been passed down to Austin, not Makayla (There is a dominant gene carried by mothers and passed down to sons, without the father having to carry a recessive gene, because Makayla is effected, and not Austin, we know this is not the case for us).

The more I read, I'm realizing that just may not be true. It really is frustrating how much information doctors just blurt out without really knowing for sure. 

I was catching up on my friend Amy's blog, Through the Eyes of Liam, and was reading a post she has on Oculocutaneous Albinism.  In the post, she lists characteristics of the most common types of albinism, and I couldn't help but notice that this part, aside from the vision problems, describes me to a T:

OCA1b- A quick rundown:

White or light yellow hair at birth but darkens with age, can change to a golden or light brown
Skin remains white but often has some generalized pigmentation
Tans with sun exposure
Iris color remains blue or change to a hazel/green or brown/tan
Transillumination shows in streaks or clumps of pigment in the iris
Fine granular pigment may develop over time in the retina
Visual acuity is usually between 20/100 and 20/200 but can be as good as 20/60
Nystagmus and Strabismus is possible.
Involves tyrosinase enzyme--which converts tyrosine (an amino acid) into melanin

There are many other types of albinism, so I have to wonder if there is one that would include the first half of this description, but leaves out the part about transillumination, or maybe the transillumination improves with age, because I remember being a lot more sensitive to light as a child than I am now. I remember my eyes aching when I stepped outside some mornings.  I am just so curious...  In a lot of ways it would make so much sense, like how my dad ca be so dark, but I'm so fair, and how I don't exactly tan in the sun, I turn a sort of pink color.  It's not the same as a burn, but it's definitely not a a brown tan color.

I'm not sure what any of this actually means.  It doesn't change my life in anyway, and it doesn't change the way we go about treating Makayla, but it sure is facinating to think that you can go 30 years and not know something to significant about your self.  Regardless if I am albino or not, I probably at least carry the recessive gene, and my husband must also, in order for us to have passed it on to Makayla.

We are still waiting for the referral for genetic testing to come through.  Our pediatrician has sent a request to Stanford, but they are so backed up with referrals we don't expect to hear from them until November and then probably wont have an appointment until early next year.  That is just to see a geneticist and find out if our insurance will cover testing, which we don't think it does.  Besides wanting to know to quiet my own curiosity, finding out will help us to learn how likely we would be to have more children with albinism, and how likely Makayla and Austin are to have children with albinism.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

VEPs And Stuff

Oh bloggy, blog, blog.  Did you miss me?  It's been too long!  Having this blog has not only helped me to connect with amazing moms of children with nystagmus and ocular albinism, but it helps me feel like I'm partaking in adult conversation when I'm locked in the house with toddlers for 12+ hours a day.  There is only so much, "ew, stinky poopies!" a thoughtful and intelligent person can take!  But...over the past two weeks, our normal routine was shaken up by a new, almost non-existent nap schedule, and I'm having a hard time figuring out where blogging fits back in. 

Today, we spent all of our morning and most of the early afternoon out of the house, so they are pretty happy to be home and chasing after the dog, for now.  And so, I write!

What took all morning was a visit to UC Berkeley.  Almost a year ago, Makayla's vision therapist helped us get into a research study at UC Berkley, in which they are studying how children with visual impairments learn about, and understand, the world around them.  For our participation in the study, the optometrist overseeing the study provides annual eye exams.

Makayla had her first when she was 9 months old, and we learned that she has only a very slight astigmatism, and that at that point glasses would not be beneficial.  The optometrist also preformed a VEP during that visit, which Dr. Hertle was able to use, since Makayla did not cooperate in Ohio.  The optometrist also predicted that, as her nystagmus improves (as it often does up until age 6), her vision may improve to be as good as 20/50 or 20/40.  To give an idea of how good that is, my "bad eye" was 20/40 at my last eye appointment, thanks to astigmatism, but I can still drive without any required correction.

Today, I got to share with the optometrist all about our trip to Ohio, and that we'll be going back soon for surgery.  I also shared with her that Dr. Hertle diagnosed her with a very mild form or ocular albinism.  She was very excited to hear all the news and updates on Makayla but had her doubts about the ocular albinism diagnosis...  She said that Makayla's ability to see contrast has greatly improved and that she is in the normal range for kids her age.  She said that the VEP test showed that Makayla sees quite well, but noted a new nearsightedness.  Part of Dr. Hertle's after surgery plan is to get Makayla in contacts as early as possible to help with light sensitivity and to slow her nystagmus, but since she now has a nearsightedness the optometrist predicts that by the time she is in the contacts, she will likely need a prescription.

We also did a new VEP test today, which Makayla was very cooperative and happy throughout.  The VEP test is a strange looking test where they put several leads on Makayla's head for measuring her brain waves, as she watches a monitor with various moving and flickering lines.  The optometrist explained that they are measuring her brain's response to various details and contrasts in the lines to determine how well she sees. They did the test with both eyes, then just with the left eye (since the left eye is currently dilated in preparation for her upcoming surgery), then they did both eyes at a further distance.  They will be sending the results of the exam and the VEP test to Dr. Hertle before her surgery.

The optometrist says that Makayla sees very well.  She said that her vision is "reduced by 2".  Normal would be 0 and she explained that most the kids she sees with nystagmus and ocular albinism are reduced by 6 to 10.  That being said, her depth perception will likely always remain very poor and she will always be sensitive to light, and obviously both of these things will effect her vision outdoors and in new places.  The surgery that Dr. Hertle will be doing will still help her vision.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

My Week In Instagram

I hope you all had a wonderful week, and are enjoying your weekend.  Our week was busy and eventful, and here are the photos to prove it!

White wine, peach, basil sangria!  Lately, my sister in law and I have been experiementing with sangria concoctions because drinking sangria just feels so summery.  For Memorial Day Weekend, we sent my husband out into the hear to BBQ us some steaks, while we made this delightful beverage...and finished it all between the two of us!

Makayla came down with the stomach flu early in the week.  This is her pouting and snuggling up to me.  Wish I could make her feel better!

Making silly faces with my favorite little boy!

I found our cat sitting in the dryer between the countless loads of laundry I did for Makayla's ruined clothes and sheets.

After about four days of the stomach flu and not keeping anything down, we had a trip to the ER to get some much needed fluids in our dehydrated little girl.  They were able to give us some Zofran to help her keep her liquids down, and she steadily got better after that!

My four point lunch, on weigh in day.  Salad made with a yummy yogurt ranch dressing, and a fruit for dessert.  I lost 3.2lbs this week.  That's 9.2lbs so far!

After spending all afternoon in the backyard playing in the water, this little boy still had enough energy to throw and chase after balls in the house!

Finally feeling better, but worn out from the afternoon in the heat and water, she snuggles up to me.  The very best feeling ever.  This is what I'm a mom for!