IF YOU happened to go by Christ Episcopal Church on Saturday morning, you might have thought you were having a spell of double vision. But don't bother to get your eyes checked - it was a Halloween party put on by the Columbia Area Mothers of Multiples group.
As the name implies, this organization, called CAMOM, caters to mothers of twins. And triplets. Sextuplets would be welcomed, too, should you have any.
"People join even if they're pregnant" with multiples, said Laura Munns, president of CAMOM. She joined the group in 1997, as soon as her identical twin boys, Ethan and Alec, were born.
CAMOM, pronounced Kay-mom, offers support and companionship to 160 members, most of whom joined when their children were younger than 6 months old. Most are parents of twins, but thanks to the popularity of in vitro fertilization, the group includes more than a dozen sets of triplets, Munns said.
Members run the motherhood gamut, from single teen-agers to professional women in their 40s, said Munns, who is 33. The mothers come from Howard, Carroll, Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties and Baltimore City.
Some of the members have not yet given birth to their multiples, while others, like Kathy Bonebreak, have sent their twins off to college. Bonebreak joined the fledgling organization in 1983, two weeks after twins David and Christina were born. Bonebreak was especially grateful for the support group - she had no idea that she was carrying twins until after David was born.
"They were a total surprise," Bonebreak said. She said that she had some help from relatives and even tapped into her husband, Byron's, pool of teen-age orthodontic patients for extra sets of hands. But she found that she needed the valuable insight that CAMOM, then called the Columbia Mothers of Twins Club, gave her.
"Even one other family that has twins makes a good support group," she said.
The group started in 1983 with about a dozen families meeting in members' homes. By 1986, membership had multiplied, so the members relocated to Jeffers Hill Community Center, where they met monthly before moving Oct. 1 to larger quarters at Christ Episcopal Church on Oakland Mills Road, Munns said.
The meetings, held the first Monday evening of the month, are geared toward parents. Speakers typically address issues such as separating multiples in school, helping babies develop healthy sleep habits and discussing general medical questions "that you don't have time to ask" during visits to the pediatrician, Munns said.
CAMOM also sponsors monthly playgroups, family field trips, "Coping Coffees," Mom's Nights Out, a "Big Sister" program (teaming an experienced mother with a new mother) and a Sunshine Committee that provides home-cooked meals to mothers with newborns.
"It's truly a family organization," said former President Pam Bianco, a CAMOM member since 1986, when her twins Danny and Kathy were 2 months old. She said her children benefited by having a place where they did not stand out as an oddity.
"The kids feel normal. Everybody else is a set," she said, noting that her children would look at "singletons" and ask, "Where's their other half?"
CAMOM will hold a children's second-hand clothing and equipment sale from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday at Centennial High School. Admission is $1. "You need not buy in pairs," Munns said.
Celebrate Pooh's birthday
A steady diet of "hunny" seems to have done wonders for the ever-youthful Winnie the Pooh. The silly old bear turned 75 years old Oct. 14.
Children ages 5 through 8 are invited to celebrate the occasion at 4 p.m. Nov. 8 at the east Columbia library. They will hear Pooh stories, make a Roo puppet and play games such as "Pin the Tail on Eeyore."
Registration is required, and it begins Thursday.
An opening reception will be held at Columbia Art Center in Long Reach for two new shows at the center that will run through Dec. 2.
"Texture" features oil paintings by Roberta Morgan that incorporate different surface textures with words and phrases. A second exhibit features acrylic paintings by Mary Jo Tydlacka, who uses bold colors to depict landscapes and indoor scenes.
The free reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.
The only thing cuter than a child dressed up for Halloween might be a set of twins dressed up for Halloween.
CAMOM member Kirsten Sitnick remembers outfitting her twins, now nearly 6 years old, in handmade Alice in Wonderland costumes a few years ago. Daniel liked his puffy caterpillar suit well enough, but Noel fell in love with her blue and white Alice dress.
"I sewed it for her, thinking she would wear it once or twice," Sitnick said. Instead, she put it on every day for a year after Halloween. "It was in tatters in the end," Sitnick said. But she has saved her daughter's well-worn costume in a special box.