Staying connected with pre-teen/teen boys - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 32 Old 06-06-2006, 02:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My two boys are almost 12 and 13. I'm finding it more and more difficult to stay connected with them. I try to maintain dialogue with them when they are at home by asking what they did during the afternoon, who they played with, etc. They are allowed sleepovers every weekend and I often let them bring a friend along if we go do something. But I still don't feel like I do a good enough job. I got Pam Leo's book "Connection Parenting" for Christmas, but I have only read the first chapter. We homeschool, so of course we spend a lot of time together, but I feel like something is missing.

So, my question is, how do you stay connected, or develop an even better relationship with you boys as they become teenagers?

Stacy
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#2 of 32 Old 06-06-2006, 09:06 PM
 
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My relationship with my son (and my Dd too of course) is very important. He is almost 15 and we have always been very close. We just click well with each other. We talk a lot about music, movies, what he wants to do in the future, we debate politics a bit, we laugh a lot.

I think relating to the stuff he likes is key. Can you schedule a bit of time to go do something with them one on one like a movie or lunch or shopping or something?

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#3 of 32 Old 06-06-2006, 10:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My almost 12 year old is easier to connect with. We spend time in the garden together and like to be outside doing stuff. My 13 yo is high functioning autistic. His interests are so incredibly limited. All he likes to do is play video games. I would really like to find another activity that we could do together that he would at least tolerate.

Thanks for your thoughts. I will need to do some brainstorming!

Stacy
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#4 of 32 Old 06-07-2006, 04:07 PM
 
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I have a 12 going on 18 year old son. Staying connected with him has been a challenge, but I make it a priority in my life.

One of things I have done is simple -- I am interested in the things he is interested in. Sometimes I will listen to "his music" so we have something to talk about. Music opens the door to many bigger subjects. I don't always like the music he chooses, but I try to find some common ground to discuss.

I learned how to keep score for his baseball team. I now know the rules, so we can discuss certain situations that happen in a game.

I don't like to play video games, but my husband will sit and do it for hours with him. I think they manage to get some quality time in with that!

I am always on the lookout for ways to stay connected to his world. Their world is so different than ours was at that age -- they have media bombardment all day, ads, shows, movie, stores, product lines, all aimed at their age group. Computer technology is another way I try to stay connected with him. I often forget that he doesn't remember a life without a computer and internet access!

It isn't always easy -- I get the typical pre-teen attitude alot. He is in that stage of not being a child but not yet a grown up -- so one day he needs me and the next day he doesn't want anything to do with me. It kills me on the inside but I let it go.
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#5 of 32 Old 06-08-2006, 01:09 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnschoolnMa
I think relating to the stuff he likes is key. Can you schedule a bit of time to go do something with them one on one like a movie or lunch or shopping or something?
ITA. It's hard when they are in school outside the home and I plan on going back to homeschooling when my son completes middle school just for this very reason. I don't want to lose him. My sister has teenagers and I've been told it gets harder as they get older. And I thought they were tough when they were infants, not quite!

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#6 of 32 Old 06-08-2006, 02:44 PM
 
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I have a 14 year old son. There are two things I'm glad I do even though I don't want to do them. I learned the hard way, so I want to share them with you in case they apply to your situation.

1.) When the weekend comes and I can finally get the chores done and tackle a million projects I've put off and I'm motivating myself by thinking that if I can turn into the white Tornado and get everything done, I'll finally have five minutes of peace and quiet, ds usually says, "Can so-and-so spend the night?"

I smile cheerfully and say, "Of COURSE he can! You know he's always welcome here! Is there anything special he wants me to make for dinner? Any foods he doesn't like?"

BECAUSE

If I don't say yes, so-and-so's mother will eventually. Then my son won't ask, he'll just say "goingtospendtheweekendatso-and-so's. Seeyamonday. Bye." until he forgets and I don't even freak out that he's missing because of COURSE he's at so-and-so's house; that's where he is every weekend.

2.) The house is filthy, I need to study, dinner is late, I forgot to go shopping, the tires are threadbare, the gas tank is empty, and I've been reading about Peak Oil and Global Warming all day and am terrified for my kids, so ds says, "Can I have a ride to such and such?"

I smile cheerfully and say, "Let me get my shoes on and grab a credit card that isn't maxed out because we need to stop at a gas station on the way."

BECAUSE

For some mysterious, unknown reason, there is something about being in a moving vehicle that makes young men willing to pour their heart out to you and open up and have very serious conversations about what's on their minds that they would never have in any other context.

Yea, I know it's silly, but it works. I'm no saint, I inwardly groan when I hear those questions, and I want "me" time too, but I've come to understand that both of those annoying questions are invitations to be a part of my boy's world and that I'll have more "me" time than I want very soon. They grow wings and fly away so fast.
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#7 of 32 Old 06-09-2006, 06:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I hadn't thought of the music. We do listen to the same radio station. Both boys have been wanting to learn how to download music and use the ipods. I need to make it a priority to figure that out. We have an fm modulater, so we can listen to the music together once we have it downloaded.

Thanks for the confirmation about the constant sleepovers. I hate them, but I have gotten so I almost always allow them. It is very unnatural for me to always have a house full of boys, but in reality, I prefer that my kids are at their house and not at other kids' houses. I will work on having a more positive attitude about that.

I just talked to dp about continuing with our plans to finish our basement. He started a couple of years ago, but never finished. Well, actually, he barely started. I want to finish it off with a large room for watching tv and playing pool, as well as a studio for my 2nd son who is a bit of an artist. I know it will stretch our budget quite a bit, but it will give all of the neighborhood kids someplace to go and something to do.

Thanks for the suggestions!

Stacy
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#8 of 32 Old 06-09-2006, 09:10 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noordinaryspider
For some mysterious, unknown reason, there is something about being in a moving vehicle that makes young men willing to pour their heart out to you and open up and have very serious conversations about what's on their minds that they would never have in any other context.
ITA. My son is only 10 and he tells me more while driving in the car or out at lunch together than anywhere else. I guess because we are just stuck together and can't get away and do anything else and can't get distracted.

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#9 of 32 Old 06-09-2006, 07:49 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noordinaryspider
For some mysterious, unknown reason, there is something about being in a moving vehicle that makes young men willing to pour their heart out to you and open up and have very serious conversations about what's on their minds that they would never have in any other context.
omg! thank you so much for posting this! its so true and i need to re-evaluate what i am doing. with ds3 (5 months), dh ends up giving ds1 a ride most places..esp. to friends houses,etc. I need to be the one to do that now in order to be more in touch!

Again,
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#10 of 32 Old 06-12-2006, 05:55 PM
 
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Although my ds is only 8, I have spent a lot of time thinking about this subject. I really love what everyone has said so far, especially noordinaryspider about the spending-the-night-thing and the car-thing. Thank you wise mamas!

I really believe young men need strong mamas who want to connect with them - I think it dictates a lot abou t how they relate to women as they get older and more "manly".

The one thing we have started doing that I hope we carry on through our ds teen year is music, not just listening but also playing music. Currently, dh, ds and I are all taking music lessons. This gives us something to talk about, impress eachother with, work on together. Being part of group where we are not "above" ds really makes him feel good. Ds thinks it's funny to watch practice and not be perfect-model-adults and just hang out and be silly together. : I hope we still have this in five years, although I know it will be different.

The other thing I have committed to ds is that once a year he and I will take a trip together. This year we are going to Yosemite on the Green Tortoise for five day together, no little kids allowed!
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#11 of 32 Old 06-21-2006, 11:16 PM
 
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I have to say that the best times with my sons are at dinner time. I make sure we eat dinner together every night. We all share a love for music and since they are really into Led Zepplin and Jimi Hendix is great. I find if I badger them for conversation they get ticked, but if I leave them alone they will come to me and we talk on their terms. One thing I like to do is take them somewhere alone with out the other brother. This way we can hang out without the bickering that they are so famous for.
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#12 of 32 Old 06-22-2006, 08:38 AM
 
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My 11yo son and I email each other, read each others blogs and I generally try to take an interest in his interests. Not always easy. He is hs'd so our connection is easy to keep strong.

I mostly want to post to recommend Hold on to Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld because it's a wonderful book, and sounds like just what you want to read.
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#13 of 32 Old 06-22-2006, 09:52 AM
 
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I agree that the car is a great place to talk. We take turns on which of the older kids goes grocery shopping with me and it gives us some one on one time.

I also try and learn about things that he's interested in (I never knew a thing about football until DS became interested! : ) even if I'm not so much.
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#14 of 32 Old 06-22-2006, 04:20 PM
 
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I'm lucky that ds1 likes the same music as I do...that gives us a starting point for a lot of discussions. I was also a comic book reader (hugely) in my early teens, so he loves that he can use me as a resource on the history of the X-Men and Spider-Man. (How odd that our bonding over pop culture is helping to keep him away from pop culture!)

He loves video games. We don't allow the tv to be on very much around here, so he can't play them a lot, but he talks about them, and talks about them, and talks about them. I'm not interested, but I work really hard at staying focused on this stuff, because I know he's into it. Right now, he's really into learning to draw the characters from the Zelda games.

We also try to do day outings as a family. He's usually a little relutant to go with us, but almost always enjoys himself once he does.

DH & I run into one problem. I vastly prefer to have ds1's friends come over here, instead of ds1 going over to his friends homes. DH, on the other hand, needs to have quiet time and his own space. So, he's not that happy when he gets home from work and one of ds1's friends is here. We compromise on my nephew a lot...he's family, and I'm very close to him (my sister's family and mine shared a house for almost four years, starting when my nephew was only 2.5). DH can handle having him around more easily than most of ds1's friends.

It's hard, but so far things are going okay. DS1 still wants me at all the school functions and such, which I think is a good sign. I always go, too...it's really important. I see so many kids who have no parent coming to Sports Day or watching them in the talent show or whatever. I realize sometimes it can't be helped on the parent's part (work or whatever), but it's sad when you see it a lot.

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#15 of 32 Old 06-22-2006, 05:45 PM
 
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2 things my ds likes to do with me are playing board games/card games and cooking. While we are doing these he tends to open up and talk more about things
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#16 of 32 Old 06-22-2006, 09:15 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PancakeGoddess
I mostly want to post to recommend Hold on to Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld because it's a wonderful book, and sounds like just what you want to read.
I highly recommend that book as well. I have borrowed it so many times from the library, I think it's time to buy my own copy.

Speaking of books...

As the Mom of an almost 12 yr old Ds, one of our ways of staying connected is through our love of reading. When he finishes a book he really enjoyed he usually encourages me to read it - which leads to some great discussions while I am doing so, and afterwards. I love when he excitedly asks if I have gotten to a certain part of the book that he particularly liked.

Good Luck Stacy, have fun finding many of your own special ways to stay connected!
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#17 of 32 Old 08-27-2006, 10:11 PM
 
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Found this post and am bumping it up because it has some great ideas, just what i needed mamas.

Me and my wonderful husband serve God. Blessed with twin girls 2/11/11. <3

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#18 of 32 Old 08-27-2006, 11:18 PM
 
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Thanks FEDUP for bumping,

I generally stay connected to the things that he is interested in. He is thrilled when I will play video games with him. I even am playing a Final Fantasy game with another friend of mine and he seemed so shocked and happy, and in awe when I told him that I owned and had played 3 hours of FFX. I even have the guidebook. I told him that we could only play together after I have beaten it with my friend. I told him that I know it is not a dual player game, but that we take turns (mostly I play it)

I even introduce DS to music he likes...I genuinely like his music (mostly) I have a good idea of his taste. I think it keeps me young.

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#19 of 32 Old 08-27-2006, 11:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnschoolnMa

I think relating to the stuff he likes is key. Can you schedule a bit of time to go do something with them one on one like a movie or lunch or shopping or something?
: I wholeheartedly agree with this, I find with my 14 yo ds that relating to what he likes is the key to staying connected. Especially so for us because he is with his dad during the week and I just had a new baby 1 year ago so after 13 years of being my only he now has a sibling. Its hard juggling a toddler and a teenager but I find the only way to truly give ds his time is to do things oustide the house. He loves, loves movies and has similiar taste as me ( he started watching Kevin's Smith' stuff.. he loves Clerks as well as Tarantino) that helps alot. I also find he likes when we do meals sans my hubby (his step-dad and sister), its when he gets my 100% undivided attention. I also got involved with My Space as a way to connect with him.

Like another poster said also when they want to have a friend sleep over despite wanting to say no, say yes.

I also think that music can be a connecting point, my son is into rap a lot the underground stuff, well the advantage of having had him at 19 and being 33 now is that I still own a lot of the early rap/hip hop CD's and he loves to get into my stuff. By the same token I can honestly say he as turned me onto quite a few artists I would never have sought out on my own. Its funny when he sees I bought a CD for myself that he liked. We also connect over stuff like the Chili Peppers as well.

HTH. Teen boys can be a mystery but I love seeing the young man my son is becoming.

Shay

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#20 of 32 Old 08-27-2006, 11:33 PM
 
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Shay, thanks for that. My son is 12 and my baby is 2, so, like your son, he is adapting to having a younger sibling around, plus he is at his dads all week too. Its kinda(Ok well it IS)hard having a teenager and a toddler!!! :

Me and my wonderful husband serve God. Blessed with twin girls 2/11/11. <3

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#21 of 32 Old 08-28-2006, 12:38 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FEDUP
Its kinda(Ok well it IS)hard having a teenager and a toddler!!! :
Yeah, it is hard. I find that my Mama friends who only have little ones always ask me if ds helps or babysits.. : um, no not his thing at all. Yeah, he will keep an eye on her while I make dinner or run to bathroom but he has no interest in babysitting and he is quite fond of his sister. He tells his buddies that she is the only girl he deals with at the moment. : That said he likes and needs his space.

I find that my son is a lot moodier than I would have ever thought a boy to be. Sometimes he gets totally bent out of shape about the most minor things, talk about keeping me on my toes. Interestingly enough I find that taking time out to connect with him provides a nice outing away from the little one. At least once a month I get to see a movie and have greasy popcorn.

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#22 of 32 Old 08-28-2006, 12:41 AM
 
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This is an awsome thread.

I am glad it was started!


I have a good relationship with all three of my boys.. (11, 9, 7). I just pray that my boys are comfortable, still have the trust, security, and honesty at the age of 15 to come to me and ask if I had ever had a "three-way" as they have been at this age now.
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#23 of 32 Old 08-28-2006, 01:18 AM
 
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Hooray for this thread - I've been feeling like the only one! Teething, Toddler and Teenager - oh don't you love it. I worry that I am always so busy with the two little ones that ds1 loses out. We do try to go out for breakfast together every other Saturday morning, but more often than not I end up bringing the baby along because it's easier for dh to only have dd. Still it's a habit that I'm trying to build for us to have that time together, I would prefer it if we did something more active but he loves to eat out and it's his time. I don't feel we've really touched on anything deep but I do think that it helps to strengthen the bond a little bit. When ds and dh had an issue a little while ago, ds called me into his room to say he felt like running away, so we talked about where would be safe places to run to, I also suggested that anytime he felt that way that he call his Nana Susan and ask her if he could go hang out there until he felt better. That worked, he went to Nana's and I cried because I felt/feel like he really is being so shortchanged by suddenly becoming a big brother to two little energy absorbers! Please keep posting, it really helps to read the suggestions and to know I'm not alone in this combination.
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#24 of 32 Old 08-28-2006, 12:06 PM
 
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Momma Earthical..

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#25 of 32 Old 08-29-2006, 05:07 AM
 
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Several things that help (helped) to stay connected:

1) Physical things - skiing, surfing, rolleblading, biking
2) Music - DS got interested in guitar and later in piano - thankfully I am music-literate (played piano in previous life)
3) "Intellectual" but fun things - we played sudoku, scrabble, chess and again, thankfully I was able to help him with his math, even into his colledge years (proudly patting my self on the back )

Still... slowly they do "slip away", by becoming adults. Bittersweet...
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#26 of 32 Old 08-30-2006, 11:48 PM
 
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I also have a toddler son and an 11 yo dss. It is so hard. When dss was little, we did crafts, baked cookies, and all that. Now he speaks another language:

"My nightelf. . . .I'm levelling!. . .I'm joining a guild. . . " He is really into video games, comic books, skateboarding. I try to find the things we can talk about, but it is so hard. I usually just let him talk and talk about all these things though I only understand about 1/2. I want to find ways to reconnect with him without having to learn to play World of Warcraft!!
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#27 of 32 Old 08-31-2006, 12:02 AM
 
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My oldest (17) loves to try new resturants. Me too. The apple doesn't fall too far from that tree. lol Checking places out together is often fun.

We also enjoy some of the same types of movies, and he will often ask me listen to music he downloads off our computer. We can also talk about certain books together.

Recently, we took a family vacation and my oldest was happy to play mini -golf with us, and was really sweet about helping his sibs learn how to play more advanced Fresbie. I know it sounds silly, but we all like to play cards or board games together. But not Sorry or Trouble, lol. However, my teen likes Scrabble or Outburst-- esp if we invite friends over to play. A couple of pizzas go a long way in keeping them at the table, kwim?

Also, from what I have noticed over the years, teens aren't always interested in sharing when you're feeling fresh. Often, my teen will ask me my opinion about certain things late at night.

All I can say is be available, and be open...which can be difficult. Also, make time to be together as a family-- without computer or other distractions. Easier said than done, I know. But the world is pulling hard.
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#28 of 32 Old 08-31-2006, 02:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UUMom
Also, from what I have noticed over the years, teens aren't always interested in sharing when you're feeling fresh. Often, my teen will ask me my opinion about certain things late at night.

All I can say is be available, and be open...which can be difficult. Also, make time to be together as a family-- without computer or other distractions. Easier said than done, I know. But the world is pulling hard.
This is so true. I have noticed with my son that he often gets in a serious talkative mood late at night generally when I am thinking sleep. Yet I have learned to let him have that time with me and that's when it can be a balancing act particularly with a younger child or baby. However the older ones need attention just as much as the babies and I have learned that as much as ds loves his baby sister he needs time with me that is one on one. Its hard though.

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#29 of 32 Old 09-01-2006, 02:45 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noordinaryspider
For some mysterious, unknown reason, there is something about being in a moving vehicle that makes young men willing to pour their heart out to you and open up and have very serious conversations about what's on their minds that they would never have in any other context.
Here's my theory: When you're in the car, you can't look each other in the eye. I think it's easier to kids to talk when you're not staring them in the face.
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#30 of 32 Old 09-01-2006, 02:50 PM
 
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: in love with my hubby
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Taking my son out tomorrow to buy a new jacket for the fall, and to play some major arcade games!(air hockey anyone??) Looking forward to this time alone with him! Keep lovin those teens mamas!

Me and my wonderful husband serve God. Blessed with twin girls 2/11/11. <3

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