When you visit the "Snoopy" preschool at Severna Park United Methodist Church, don't be surprised if you think you have stepped into a Wrigley's Double-Good, Double-Mint Gum commercial. Everywhere you look there are two matching faces. Among the two groups of 3- and 4-year-olds, there are five sets of twins: three sets of identical girls and two pairs of boys.
During a recent photo session with The Anne Arundel County Sun, nursery school director Pat Miller and her teaching staff introduced the twins, and in no time at all it was easy to see how these adorable duos have "doubled the pleasure" of life for their families.
Three-year-old Heather and Elizabeth Stinson, are the identical twin daughters of Ty and Hope Stinson of Arnold. Twins don't run in the family, but there are cousins who have twins.
With three children in diapers, the first couple years were hard, says Mrs. Stinson. In fact, they were in the diaper business for five long years, but as they got over each hurdle, life became easier and now at this stage, with 5-year-old Drew, everything is wonderful.
The twins find great joy in one another. When the girls, who are in separate classes in preschool, meet at recess or after school, they run madly into each other's arms.
Four years ago, already the parents of two sons, Evan and Helen Brierly decided to have one more child. Not that they were trying for a girl, because their boys, Garrett and Christopher, had been easy children, but they thought that three would be just right; however, three suddenly became four when twin boys, Paul and Alex, were born.
As with most twins, Paul and Alex have different personalities, but they carry their dissimilarities even further. Because they joined a family of all boys, they behave more like members of a foursome than a twosome. Mrs.
Brierly says they might just as well have been born at different times.
They are not dependent on each other and, although they choose to be best friends sometimes, they often go their separate ways.
She does concede that when they were babies it was easier dealing with twins. Each was happier being put to bed with a buddy in the room and they entertained one another, allowing Mom to get a little more work done.
This is the first time in nine years that she has had a free afternoon.
So, she says, "what do I do?" She's back in school taking a refresher course to continue her career as a registered nurse.
Five-year-old Maureen and Natalie Hooker are the opposites of the Brierly twins. They came into the world together and that is the way they like it, side-by-side, hand-in-hand.
Completely contented with one another, the twins will play by themselves for hours. And each sister is the first to come to the aid of the other.
Their parents, Charles and Kathy Hooker, say that people marvel at how uncomplicated raising twins appears to be, but early on it was not that easy. Early in her pregnancy, a prenatal specialist was called in and discovered not one, but two tiny fetuses. When the babies were born prematurely at six and a half months, weighing 1 pound 14 ounces and 2 pounds 8 ounces, there was much concern, but today they are the picture of good health.
The girls' big brother is Ian, 8.
The official Survival Award goes to Sharon Panetta and her husband, Michael. Their twins were numbers four and five in a family of six children, with the oldest 4 when the twins were born.
Mrs. Panetta says that at that point, the family was living in Pennsylvania, where they found themselves in the middle of an outbreak of twins. One of her good friends received the Survival Award with Diaper Pin Clusters when she delivered two sets of twins 11 months apart.
Danny and Nicholas, are very different in coloring from their siblings, blond and blue-eyed while the others are brunette. The two are opposites, says Sharon. Nicky is energetic and tries to do everything for himself, while Danny is quieter and looks for help whenever possible.
The other Panetta children are: Michael, 9, Randi, 7, Stacey, 6, and Vincent, 2.
Three-year-old Katie and Megan Latonic, identical twin daughters of Leo and Susan Latonic, arrived in a family of two big brothers, Michael, 8, and Matthew, 5. Mrs. Latonic's dad said they had produced the perfect family-times-two.
Susan, a CPA who manages offices for a group of gynecologists-obstetricians group, is always up on the latest twin information. She says that identical twins like hers are just the luck of the draw.
Looking back on the early days, she can't believe she handled four children under 4 and worked outside the home. "I must have been out of my mind," she says with a laugh.
The junior high youth group at Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church has a clever premise for a party: a Polaroid Scavenger Hunt. Just take snapshots of items on the list, watch the evidence develop before your eyes, and presto, you're a winner. Participants are required to bring along a photogenic smile.