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Summer of 2016: Raising Twins, Four Other Young Children, And a Puppy (Re-Posted by Demand!)

There may be some consensus that this is the finest piece of work I’ve ever posted–my brother Scott’s article about raising twins and four other young children. I decided to bring it back, along with sharing about Scott’s new finance newsletter and subscription program.

Scott, now the father of eight children, is a CPA and the founder of Hoover Financial. Normally his company works with large companies who pay thousands of dollars a month for their financial services. Recently Scott launched a finance newsletter (free) and an interactive subscription ($20/month) for small businesses called Be Your Own CFO (Chief Financial Officer). More at the end of the article!

Scott Hoover with six children
Summer of 2016–Scott with the baby Violet under one arm, surrounded by Brad, Alyssa, David, Aaron and Eric and Oreo the puppy.

Summer of 2016

by Scott Hoover

People say life comes at you in stages.  You don’t start parenting with five children.  First you have one and shudder to imagine what it would be like to have three.  Then you have three and that feels doable but now you gape in disbelief at people with eight.  And so on.

People also say no matter how big a family gets, the most difficult point is three children.  That is where you have to switch from one-on-one defense to more of a zone approach.  Plus, none of your children are old enough to help with the work.  After you get past three children, the oldest take over the chores and help raise the younger ones, so it goes much better.

Under these pleasant delusions I entered the summer of 2016 in confidence.  Yes, we’d just had Violet, our sixth baby.  Yes, we had 2-year-old twin boys.  Yes, our oldest child was only six.  But our ship was on its way out of the stormy gales into the shallows of the glorious middle years.

In looking back, I wouldn’t say it all fell apart in one catastrophic shipwreck.  Rather it was like riding a battered boat that sputters and finally dies at sea.  In the end you can’t be certain what did it in, but it is clear you are adrift far from land.

Violet’s arrival in April is when the motor started knocking.  She is the best baby we’ve had, but she takes Priscilla away from the other five.  That is huge.

We get home from church in the evening and Priscilla needs to feed Violet.  That leaves me with five children to manage.  Brad and Alyssa (now 7 and 5, respectively) can PJ themselves but it doesn’t happen on autopilot.  David is “drifty” (a fitting word I heard recently) and has the uncanny ability to get ready for bed for a solid 10 minutes and barely even have his shirt off when I come up with the twins. 

Yes, the twins.  The first step to getting them in PJs is to authoritatively say “Come to the bathroom”.  When that fails, you round them up (both or one) and get started.  It is dead weight work from start to finish, especially at the end of a long day or an evening away.  You grab one, take off his clothes, take him potty, try to find his PJs, take a time out to stop the other twin from rubbing his hands on the toilet bowl while he waits his turn, at which point the first one is running around the living room with very little attire.  You eventually find some PJs, grab the first twin the living room, and finally, finally one twin is totally ready for bed. 

Then you repeat, unless you calculate that you would be ahead to get the prepared twin into bed, before you start on the second one.  You have to estimate how much trouble the unattended twin will get into while you are gone and compare that to the stress savings of only dealing with one twin when you get back.  You should also assume that while you’re putting the first twin to bed, you will notice David on the bedroom floor, with only his church pants off and say “David, do you understand what Dad means when he says get ready for bed?” David will look at you with a hurt serious look that says “Dad can’t you see how much effort went in to taking my pants off?”

Eventually, almost impossibly, they will all be in bed, all five.  It’s like herding cats to get that far, and when they are all in, you are still not done.  Getting the last one into bed is the cue for everyone to talk to Dad to delay actual bedtime as long as possible. 

“Dad, how kind are mom cows?” 

“Dad, my stomach is itchy”.

Or from the twins, a guttural “uuggg, uuggg”, which means their first hug wasn’t good enough.

There may even be someone who magically needs to go potty again.  David probably left his favorite teddy downstairs and needs to go get it. 

Finally, Dad says that’s it, it’s time to be quiet.  Someone starts sobbing because they had a very important thought Dad has mercilessly crushed. 

“Okay,” Dad says, “but this is the last question”. 

Then Dad slinks away as fast as possible.  As he passes down the stairs under Alyssa’s bedroom, he is reminded of the night this winter when she called down, “Dad, you forgot to say that you love me.”  Indeed, what possibly could be happening to Dad that he could forget something like that!

In the quiet that hopefully follows, Dad crashes on the recliner.  There is no energy to catch up on the things that could be done when the house is quiet.  Dad goes into survival sleep or low-energy reading, grazing on rest while he can.

Violet may have set the engine knocking, but if we look for the pivotal moment when the knocking switched from a minor nuisance to the sound of impending catastrophe, we look no further than the twin’s second birthday.  As the twins surged into spring and hit the two mark, Priscilla and I had the general awareness we may have met our match.

Two 2-year-olds are not twice the trouble of one.  I’d say at least thrice.  Collectively they will combine wit and power to destroy everything and everyone.  They will wear you down until you break.

I could point to the time they got into the fresh strawberry bowl and started a strawberry war on the dining room carpet.  I could point to the dominoes in the toilet (well only one for sure, but several are missing).  I could point to a giraffe in the toilet. There was the time Priscilla left two brownies on the counter and went upstairs.  When she came back, there were merely crumbs and a boy with bulging cheeks.

There is a hole in the plaster of our living room wall where the door handle punched through (probably the twins).  One evening, Priscilla found the twins standing cautiously around the hole.  When she asked what happened, they said “Phone, Mom phone”.  Yes, indeed, one of the family phones was down the hole, deep in the wall, never to be seen again.

There was the time Priscilla left a large bag of baking M&Ms on the counter then went to bathe Violet.  The twins pulled in a small stool, climbed up and sent the M&Ms spraying across the kitchen floor. 

They made a game of throwing fresh peppers down the basement stairs.  They drew on the couch with markers and hauled cereal boxes (with cereal in them) out by the machine shed.  They emptied the dish soap on the kitchen floor.  They enjoyed a game of throwing rocks at the calves.

They start laughing in glee when they do these things.  When that laugh drifts in through open windows or doorways Priscilla says “Oh no” real fast and quiet, and runs to the scene.

Another contribution to the slow shipwreck was our dog, Oreo.  We got her so the children wouldn’t be afraid of dogs.  Unfortunately, she was half Jack Russel Terrier and wilder than the children.  She chewed crocs, jumped on people and ran away periodically. 

One day the FedEx man left a box with 12 pounds of raisins on our doorstop.  When Priscilla came home Oreo had opened the box and every container of raisins.  The raisins that were left lay strewn over the concrete.  Somewhere in there Priscilla said she is just glad dogs at least don’t have souls.

The running away character flaw is what finally did Oreo in.  The neighbors would call and say our dog was at their place again.  Or they would just bring her back.  One low point was when our neighbors a mile to the south brought her back after we were all in bed.  Oreo had joined their campfire party. 

The stress was just too much.  I finally suggested to Priscilla that we get an underground dog fence.  She said without much hesitation “or maybe we should just get rid of the dog”.  Priscilla is a woman of incredible mercy and patience.  When you run that well dry, let’s just say you are very bad dog.  We’ve been married long enough I knew it was time for Oreo to go.  It was one of the best decisions we made all summer.

When you are at sea like we are, you want to stay close to home.  Sometimes it’s hard for people to understand that.  You dread taking the family anywhere.  The dread stems both from the time it takes to get ready and from the fear of what will happen when you get there.  You must plan way ahead to make it anywhere on time.  

For it to work, many stars need to align.  It depends on length of naps, number of recent social events, and the current level of naughtiness and hyperactivity that day.  Even if all those stars align and it looks like going away might be possible today, you still must consider how much stress debt you will accumulate during the event, that will certainly be repaid tomorrow and the next day.  

Getting ready for church Sunday morning means moving six children through the bath tub and getting everybody dressed.  Again, the oldest ones can basically bathe and dress themselves but they aren’t self-sufficient yet.  Sometimes you start stuffing youngsters in the van, before its time to leave, just to get them out of the way so you can focus on the remaining needs.

At church it only gets worse.  You wade through the people to get to a bench.  During the wading process, all the children get drifty and you can soon end up feeling like a single man again.  Except you aren’t, and it just means you’ve got six children to find before getting to the sanctuary.

After church it’s no better.  You try to talk to people but out of the corner of your eye you see the twins are pulling song books out of the holders and one twin is dangling a song book by its ragged cover.  If you hear a crash or screaming, you know there is a good chance it’s one of yours.  When you finally get everyone packed back in the van, drive slowly home and unload everyone, you would hardly say it was a fulfilling morning of worship and fellowship.

Even just going to town is an ordeal.  Let’s say you want to run into town for pizza.  Everyone needs footwear and they all need to be pre-emptively taken to the bathroom.  Then they all need to get buckled into their boosters and car seats (yes, all six are in boosters or car seats).  When you get to the pizza store they all want to go in.  You help unbuckle everyone, parade in for a pizza, then back out and buckle everyone up again. 

Apparently, we make an impression.  One time I went in to the pizza store alone and they still gave me packs of graham cookies for the children.  When I expressed my surprise, they said something about remembering certain customers.  In my mind, I can see the employees at the farm supply store and the feed mill nodding in agreement.

I’m not perfect and my conscience often reminds me of this fact.  But this summer the children starting becoming my second conscience.

“Dad, what is the speed limit?”

“Well, 55.”

“How fast are we going”.

“Well, uh, 60.”

“Dad are we speeding?”

Or when I try to sneak a few cough drops to take along to work, the twins will see me and say NO Dad! NO Dad!, and my cover is blown.  They are banned from dealing in cough drops right now, and view my grab as crossing a moral line.

To say the summer has been completely bad isn’t fair either.  We played kickball, me on one team against Brad, Alyssa and David.  It’s been the first time I truly enjoyed a game with them. Brad is showing the competitive streak he gets from his mother (wink, wink), crying when he loses a hard-fought game.  

When I mow lawn the children listen for the sound of the mower deck shutting down.  They come running in all directions and I have happy memories of driving around the circle drive with five children and me on the mower on our way to putting it back in the shed.

There are also encouraging signs we might actually be entering the peaceful shallows of the middle years of parenting people talk about. One day this summer Priscilla took Brad to pick strawberries.  She left him there for an hour and when she came back he had picked almost four pails.  Then she and the children processed the berries for the freezer.  They hung in there and got it done.

Recently Alyssa stayed up until about 9 pm helping Priscilla. Alyssa has endless energy and gladly folded a basket of laundry then put it all away.  Really they all are good workers.  It’s something we don’t think about as often as we should.

We also forget to count our blessings.  A lady at work has a daughter who has triplets, and two of them have disabilities.  They need therapy and extra care, and even with that, may never grow up to be “normal” adults.  Our children our all healthy.  We have no excuse for any attitude but humble thankfulness.

There are also early indications that twins can be more than double the good too.  Recently I saw one helping the other take his shoes off when we got home from church.  You don’t get that kind of teamwork when you raise singles. 

We’ve learned a few things too.  Like keeping at least one empty bed available for children to sleep in after they have peed their first bed.  The second stage to that though is a child can effectively find himself switched to a new bed, as the days go by without the mother having time or energy to put new sheets on the first bed.  It’s still a good parenting tip, though.

You learn things you never thought you would have to learn.  The other evening I was away and Priscilla needed to help Brad and David with the chores.  The twins were hyper and hungry and she knew they would mow through whatever food she gave them before she would be back in from chores.  She suddenly thought of frozen blueberries and told Alyssa to feed them some of those, hoping that would slow them down until she got back.  That’s a mother from the trenches of motherhood right there…predicting a problem only a mother in those shoes could see, and having a solution.

We are learning, but folks, we aren’t there yet.  If all the children were as serene as Violet we could write a nice book about effective parenting.  But let’s just say under the present circumstances there will be no book. 

I’m reminded of a recent evening when we were deciding who would do chores, who would help in the kitchen and who would mind the twins.  Priscilla with a slightly desperate tone in her voice said, “whoever takes care of the twins can have half the kingdom.”

The summer of 2016.  If ten years from now someone uses that phrase and we flinch like someone in the dentist’s chair who hears the drill start, just bear with us.  If you can still flinch after ten years, it means you are alive and by the grace of God you have survived another stage of life.

One year later: summer of 2017.

Having Survived That Stage of Life, Scott Presents “Be Your Own CFO”

For someone like me, who has a small writing business and kind of hates spreadsheets, this idea of having professional help to keep my numbers straight is appealing. Marnell usually bails me out. However, he’s busy with his own work and if I could just improve my game a little it would help us all. So I’m already signed up for both the newsletter and the support program.

BYO CFO Email Newsletter

This is still in development but it will likely have a format like the following, and come out roughly once a week.

  1. Fatherly Advice. Thoughts on the human element of entrepreneurship.
  2. Small Business Spotlight. Brief picture/description of a small business. If you’d like to be featured, send me an email at
  3. Finance Flash. Interesting finance-related news item.
  4. Quote of the Week.
  5. Fun Finance Fact. Fun infographic (like this one from my brother William):
No alt text provided for this image

You can sign up for the newsletter here.

Be Your Own CFO Subscription

  • $19/month
  • An exclusive Slack channel, moderated by Hoover Financial, where subscribers can ask questions at any time. (I’m not currently a Slack user, but I think I will become one just to get the chance to ask any burning questions and see what other people are asking.
  • A weekly Q&A session via Zoom where people can ask real-life questions and get real-life answers. Questions from the Slack channel will be discussed as time allows. Real-life business scenarios from entrepreneurs will be presented as case studies.
  • Discounted access to 1:1 support calls. (While these won’t be free, it’s one of the most appealing parts of the subscription to me, just to know I could schedule a call with someone if I needed to.)

Sign up for the free trial at Be Your Own CFO.

After all that, if you still want to sign up for MY newsletter (and haven’t yet) you can do so below! Lol.



10 thoughts on “Summer of 2016: Raising Twins, Four Other Young Children, And a Puppy (Re-Posted by Demand!)”

  1. Refreshingly fun coming from a Dad’s viewpoint . So often it’s the Mom, writing about the beautiful chaos of parenting.
    Support an uodate, definitely!

  2. Wow, thanks for posting this! Very interesting and fun to read, but makes me a little nervous for when my twins get older. Thankfully we only have one older than the twins so hope we will survive the 2-year old stage! 😄

  3. Hahaha! 😆 I feel this even though I have only 3 kids and no twins. I have one exceedingly drifty child who can destroy things and make messes to rival any child I’ve ever seen. It feels like wading through mud a lot of the time

  4. Thanks for this repost, it made my day (: I laughed out loud a couple of times. I’d love to have an update from Scott on how life is in 2022.

  5. Being a new subscriber i haven’t seen this yet and I must say he did a excellent job in covering everything that happens in a large family in a very beautiful way. The humor and the intensity are something very few people can put to words. Blessings to their family, definitely needs to be updated.

  6. It was fun reading this piece! Thanks for sharing! I am not a mother of twins, but a grandmother of twin boys! I had to laugh at these antics as it reminded me of when my twin grandsons were toddlers! Now they are almost 11! I can’t believe how fast time flies!

  7. I remember this one,! I enjoyed it as much as the first time. They say “oh u will miss this stage”…. Haven’t missed it yet😀 But I do miss the snuggles of little people, and seeing their personalities emerge. Scott should give us an update😉

  8. Katrina,
    Thanks a million for sharing this piece again. I laughed, was highly amused…We never had twins but did learn that God uses our children to hasten the maturing process in stubborn adults! And God does have a sense of humor! Love that!
    Now, will save this piece… 🙂

    Sandra Miller

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