How to talk to kids about the Orlando shooting: 5 musts

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Categories Anger, Community, Fear, Grief, How Do The Moms Do It, Mental Health, Older Children, Parenting, Talking to KidsLeave a comment

I felt like I was falling. My immediate reaction to learning of Sunday morning’s Orlando tragedy was visceral. I felt my stomach and heart drop before my brain could catch up to put words to my feelings. Grief. Anger. Fear. Above all, confusion. How could someone be so evil? Why would anyone bring a gun to a place of joy?

I quickly confirmed that everyone I knew who had even the most remote possibility of being at the scene of the massacre was safe. They were. My entire focus then turned to my daughters. How was I going to talk to my kids about the Orlando shooting?

Like so many parents, I’ve wrestled over whether to talk to my children about the horrific murders committed by a single deranged man. My daughters are 10. They interact with other children during the day. If they were going to learn about the shooting, I wanted them to learn about it from me, in a way that was honest, age appropriate, and non-sensationalist. I thought long and hard about how I would talk to my kids about the Orlando shooting specifically and mass shooting in general.

The way our morning went Monday, I only got around to talking to one kid. When I picked the kids up from camp, she was the one to encourage me to talk to her sister about the Orlando tragedy.

“Something really bad happened yesterday,” I started.

“49 dead? 53 injured?” she interrupted.

It turns out that she had read about the tragedy in Orlando on the news ticker. There was sports programming playing on TVs at the day’s field trip destination.

I wished I had spoken to her before she’d read those details, but she didn’t seem too traumatized. I got the impression that my willingness to discuss the matter did a lot to counter the children’s fear of this act of terrorism. Their confusion mirrored mine.

My willingness to discuss #Orlando with my kids did a lot to calm their fear. Click To Tweet

My daughters are as goofy and energetic as 10-year-olds come, but they are unusually mature. They, like me, feel empowered by information. You know your children better than anyone. If they are at a stage where they still think that everything that happens is because of or about them, they may be too immature to handle the news. Protect them from the television, radio, newspapers, and unthinking adults. You need to decide for your family, for each individual child, how to talk to them about the Orlando tragedy.

I knew that my daughters needed to talk this horrific event through. I explained that a very wrong man went to a place that is specifically intended to be a safe place for gay people to meet and hang out.

“That’s a great idea,” my daughter interjected. “It’s nice that there’s a place where gay people can know that all the not gay people will be nice to them.”

Obviously, my kids were already familiar with the concept of homosexuality. I told them that boys could marry boys and girls girls when they were toddlers. They’ve since noticed a number of lesbian and gay couples among my friends and met kids with two moms.

“But,” my little girl continued, “that makes the bad man even worse. Because he picked a place that’s nice to be mean.”

She was right, I told her. There were five massive ideas at play in the Orlando shooting, as I saw it. She had already identified two: terrorism and homophobia. She brought up 9/11 and we talked about the parallels between the two events for a bit.

It was then easy to segue into the religion part of the discussion. I told my daughter that a lot of people associate terrorism with Islam. A lot of our Muslim friends and family feared hatred from people who painted all Muslims with a single terrorist brush. I confessed that a small part of my choice to keep my married name after divorce was to avoid a recognizably Muslim name.

“But mostly to match us?” she asked. Yes, I mostly kept my married name to match my kids.

“But Mom,” my daughter realized out loud, “Christian people do bad things sometimes, but I’m not a bad person and I’m Christian.”

She was spot on. “What does it mean to be Christian?” I prompted. “If someone hurts a bunch of people, is that following Jesus’ example?”

“No,” she realized, “and he wasn’t very good at being Muslim either.”

Whenever I can, I let my children draw their own conclusions. I learn far more from them than they do from me.

“That’s three things, mom. You said there were five.”

The other two things were mental health and gun ownership. We have depression in the family, so we’ve talked in the past about chemical imbalances in the brain. I told my daughter that there was probably something very very wrong with the shooter’s brain for hmm to even imagine what he had done, much less follow through.

Next, we briefly touched on gun rights. Her father is a soldier, so she’s familiar with responsible gun ownership. I told her that my personal belief is that guns should be treated like cars, with training, licensing, and insurance required.

It was a great conversation, although one I wish we didn’t have occasion for.

“I understand the five things,” my thoughtful child told me, “but I still didn’t understand.”

I told her the truth. I didn’t understand either. No one would ever understand. There was nothing sensible, logical, or comprehensible about what this man had done. The families who are smaller today will never understand why their loved ones will never come home. The big question – WHY? – would always be out there confusing us all.

My daughter accepted my answer. She was old enough to get that this story wasn’t going to wrap up neatly. She asked me to spend the night in her room, because she was sad. We snuggled up in shared sadness, confusion, and complete love and trust.

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The Death of a Twin, Through the Eyes of a Child

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Categories Grief, Loss, Perspective3 Comments

It was a Christmas party, all jollity and camaraderie. I was an elementary school kid. Our parents introduced me to the pre-teen children of my father’s work friend. The boy and girl were twins, one or two years older than I. This was my first experience with multiples. At the time, I remember being confused because they were fraternal, not identical, twins. They looked more to me like “just” a brother and sister, but I was still enthralled with the idea of those two people as a unit.

We spent most of that first meeting playing with He-man action figures and other toys upstairs while the parents talked and chattered with their clinking drinks downstairs. I also remember reading some of my new friend’s Choose Your Own Adventure books. Eventually, after many rounds of snacks and drinks, and after a well-timed visit from Santa, it was time to go home.

We met once or twice again throughout the year, attending a BBQ or two with the family and hanging out poolside that summer. But it was the following annual Christmas party that I remember most vividly. I recall the twin sister falling down the long carpeted stairs of the house, while I looked on, unable to help. Amidst the confusion that followed, I learned that she was actually quite sick. She had a brain tumor that would occasionally make her dizzy, confused, and disoriented. This invisible invader had likely caused the fall.

If this one doesn't touch your heart, nothing will! Zyana reflects on how the death of a childhood friend, a twin, has shaped her perspective.

Her parents fought to save her as hard as they could, and she fought as well. I learned of their visits with countless pediatric specialists and more than a few late-night visits to pediatric urgent care centers and the E.R. In the end, she succumbed to her cancer a few months later. I wouldn’t consider us close friends of the family, but I do remember that the mother gifted me all her daughter’s books, the same ones that I has enjoyed reading the year before. I found that notion very hard to digest.

I always wondered what it was like for the remaining twin, to lose both his sister and twin, to a fatal disease for which they were unable to find a cure. I know it must have been painful for the whole family to go through, but especially hard for him. I imagine he experienced a roller coaster of emotions from guilt, to confusion to anger to sadness, and everything in between. Eventually I know that the family was able to make their peace with her death and move forward though life, but the shadow of the pain always remained.

"[#Twin loss] taught me to love my family despite their flaws." Click To Tweet

Years later, after all of us “kids” were married, I learned that the brother twin was blessed with twins of his own. That must have been an amazing full-circle moment for him. It must have brought up buried memories of grief, but the moment would also be made golden by the joy of meeting his own beautiful twin boys, whom I am happy to say are healthy and thriving today.

Parents of twins, and twins themselves, often speak about the beautiful bond that their children share. For those of us who have not yet been blessed with the experience of twins in our lives, it can be hard to understand all the challenges and celebratory moments. But whenever I see twins or triplets now, I think back to my first experience meeting this duo of real live twins. I marvel that they were around to share each other’s company and love for as long as they could.

This experience was formative for me. From a young age, it taught me to love my family despite their flaws. I learned to give extra care and love in the hardest moments. We don’t get to choose what challenges life hands us, but we do get to choose how we react to them. I now know that even in the face of the most excruciating circumstances we can always choose to respond with compassion, love, and grace.

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The Summer Childcare Quandary

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Categories Childcare, How Do The Moms Do It, Older Children, School-Age2 Comments

Like most people with full time jobs, my work hours remain the same during the summer when school is out. Like the other 12 million single parents in the US, finding childcare for my children falls solely to me. Technically, the girls’ father has summer visitation privileges, but I need to have a plan in case he doesn’t show up. I also have to choose between missing registration deadlines or forfeiting deposit payments if he does decide to spend time with the children.

Given the enormous variety of summer camps available here in suburban Texas, you might assume that the only challenge for summer childcare for my elementary school children is our custody situation. You’d be very, very wrong.

Most day camps sold as “full day” camps run from 9 am to 3:30 or 4 pm. After-school childcare programs suspend for the summer, so those of us who work fairly typical hours (8 am to 5 pm in the US, plus commute time) are out of luck. Some companies, including mine, can accommodates shorter hours in the office to allow us to work from home to make up the balance. However, that’s not an ideal solution, either. When I’m home with my children, I want to be actively with them, not simply physically present but mentally at work. My daughters aren’t huge outdoors kids, so shooing them out into the Texas heat to play only buys me a few hours per week.

Ever year, starting in March, all the working moms I know begin our summer care hand wringing. It never gets better, though. Given that stay-at-home motherhood is no longer the only norm in our society, I really don’t understand why we haven’t come up with better solutions. Year round school would work. Full day summer camps would be great if their hours mirrored daycare programs for infants and toddlers. After camp care, similar to after school care, including transportation where necessary, would be enormously helpful.

I must acknowledge that most of these options don’t account for how out of reach summer camp costs are for many single parents, often around $150-200 per child per week, more for extended care. I know. This is quite a bit less than infant care, but it’s still a major stressor for families. I know of kids my daughters’ age, 10 years old, who have been staying home along during the summer for years. While that may have worked in past generations, when free range parenting was just called “life”, it not a sustainable way to keep kids out of trouble in 2016.

Childcare for elementary schoolers when school lets out for the summer can be a nightmare for the working parent.

I’m very thankful that we have a full day gymnastics camp only 15 miles out of our way that always makes room for my girls. My boss is open to my leaving an hour early every day to pick the kids up before they close. Neither of my daughters does gymnastics during the school year, but they enjoy the program for the summer. In all honesty, they’d rather attend others, but I can’t meet registration deadlines because of visitation challenges. In a pinch, teacher friends will watch my girls, but I can’t expect that for the 10 weeks school is out.

Any great ideas for fixing our summer childcare culture?

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Multiples Arithmetic

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Categories humor, Infertility4 Comments

This is how I entertain myself.

I had an ob/gyn appt today and here’s how the conversation went with the nurse who was gathering my information:

Her: How many pregnancies have you had?
Me: 5.
Her: Any pregnancy losses?
Me: 3.
Her: How many live births?
Me: 4.
Her: Okay… wait, 5 pregnancies total and 3 losses?
Me: Yes.
Her: And how many live births?
Me: 4.
Her: Did any of those children pass away after birth?
Me: Nope.
Her: Something’s not adding up. How did you have 2 pregnancies that resulted in 4 live births?
Me: Two sets of twins.
Her: You could’ve just said that in the first place.
Me: I could have but where would the fun have been in that?

Something's not adding up. How did you have 2 pregnancies that resulted in 4 live births? #twinparenting Click To Tweet

I haven’t been blogging lately, but you can get another laugh by checking out “What good is being married to a computer geek if i can’t take advantage of him?” or cry with me at “The desperation of infertility“.

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Respecting Boundaries

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Categories Independence, Individuality, Mommy Issues, Older Children, Parenting, Perspective1 Comment

Last night, I scrubbed the girls’ bathroom from top to bottom after tucking the children into bed. I then took a little break on the couch, eating a piece of chocolate while watching part of an episode of Turn on Netflix. Next to me lay my daughter’s sketchbook, closed. She had once again failed to put it away.

I was tempted to peek.

My daughter turns 10 in a few days and her artistic abilities are impressive. Her classmates commission drawings from her. She entertained a 4-year-old a waiting room for an hour the other day, drawing what the littler girl demanded: a ballerina performing on a stage in front of an audience. The perspective was spot on, the stage curtains elegant and heavy-looking, the dancer light on her feet. Some of the seats in the front row were empty, the audience members a mix of children and adults. The kid can draw, not professionally by any means, but well.

I am tempted to share her drawings with you.

I didn’t peek. I don’t share her drawings with you until I get her consent.

image

My daughters have boundaries and I choose to respect them. My little girl will let me leaf through her sketchbook when she is ready. She has shared some drawings with me but says I need to wait to see others.

I am allowed to hug her, but the bedtime kisses on the nose have been banned for a few months now. She was feeling poorly earlier this week and wanted snuggles. I forgot myself and kissed her on the top of her head, then apologized. “It’s okay,” she told me. “Feeling better kisses are okay.”

She shares with me her thoughts on school, life, family, and friendship. I feel like I know what’s going on with her.

She knows that I will respect her boundaries, despite temptation. This is how I keep boundaries from coming between us.

 

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Twins and another, and another

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Categories Fear, Pregnancy, Singletons, Twinfant Tuesday1 Comment

I realize a post about adding to your family when you already have multiples is probably better suited for the toddler section, and not ‘Twinfant Tuesday.’ I happen to agree that, if you’re smarter than I, you would probably not even dream of adding another baby to the mix anytime after surviving the first year with twin babies. Enough’s enough, amIright?

Ah, but what good comes with predictability? As twin moms, we all learned at one point or another to just give in, surrender, let the chips fall where they may and just try our best. So, when I stood in my bathroom looking at a positive pregnancy test over lunchtime, having left my husband downstairs feeding our twin 7-month-old identical girls and older 3-year-old, I was somewhat…gobsmacked. I felt a little like an irresponsible teenager: how did this HAPPEN? I was still pumping breastmilk five, six times a day! For two babies! Who just started sleeping through the night?

The numbers continued to perplex me: Three under three, four carseats, four little bodies growing and eating from my body at once (two nurselings, a fetus and my own). I was 26 years old, scared, overwhelmed and experiencing a new level of humble pie, faced with the prospect of another baby already.

That baby is two and a half now, and from the other side of that craziness (it was, no doubt about it, a chaotic time), I have some thoughts for moms of twins who are expecting another or thinking about it.

  1. Savour it. Chances are, your twin pregnancy was coloured in themes of panic, concern, fear, amazement and a sooner-than-expected delivery. This time, if it’s just one bean in there, slow down and take it all in.
  2. The guilt is real. Twins require so much of us from the very beginning. More than we felt they ever got, and not nearly as much as they deserve. Bringing another baby into the picture can spur guilt from the onset (it did for me!). Que cera cera. Your babies will know love from you, whether there are two of them, six of them, spaced apart or all born close together.
  3. You have veteran status. You have successfully brought two babies from birth to wherever they are now, and that was no easy feat. This is just one! You can do this! What’s one baby waking up hungry? Pssht, child’s play.

I promise, you’ve got this, mama. Now, if you’re the planner type, my advice is: Don’t rush to have a baby 16 months after twins! I mean, it’s doable, but oh, I still feel that time period aged me five years.woods2

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Travelling With Multiples

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Categories Ask the Readers, Preschoolers, School-Age, Toddlers, Travel3 Comments

Who else has Spring Fever??? So many people have been slammed with snow, us included, that I’m getting slightly tired of it…and it’s only February! Colorado had a rare 70 degree day yesterday and it got me thinking about our travel plans this Spring.

My family lives here in Colorado close to us. Special K’s family lives in Kansas. Google Maps says it takes 5.5 hours door to door.

We have four kids…we know this isn’t true…for us.

All in all, it takes us under 7 hours to get from our house to my in laws in the van. And we’re actually pretty good at handling it…both the kids and the grown ups. Here are some of my road trip survival tips with multiples (or with multiple children):

  1. Start them early.We began doing this trip when each child was about a month old. It wasn’t always easy, but it was worth it because now they are used to being in the car for long periods of time. You may be thinking, “thanks jerk, my kid is four, this tip is worthless.” Sorry! Read on, I have more up my sleeve. :)
  2. Plan ahead. Before we go on any trip that is longer than an hour, we plan for potty breaks and possible leg stretching breaks. We will alter our route to ensure that there are ample opportunities to walk and pee if necessary. If no one needs the break, we just cruise on by. We also pack snacks, diapers and extra clothes. These may seem like “duh” moments, but a few weeks ago we had a trip to the aquarium, which is just over an hour from our home. I packed snacks just in case, thinking we wouldn’t need them…but there was a HUGE car accident that left us sitting on the highway for about 45 minutes. If I hadn’t packed those snacks, there would have been an uprising! 3 of my kids are in diapers, so this seems like a silly thing to add to the list, but again, I always plan for more than I could possibly need, because I am terrified of running out. If it’s a day trip, I still bring at least one change of clothes because spills happen and diaper leaks happen and no one wants to sit in wet clothes!
  3. Leave right before nap time or bed.The bedtime one might be hard on the grownups if you’re cool like me and go to bed by 10, but it is soooo nice to have a quiet trip the whole way! Typically, we leave right before or right after lunch…that way, there is some activity in the car as a distraction (food), and then the littles have their nap afterwards. This can buy us anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours of silence.
  4. Pack comfort items.This is critical, especially on our long road trips to Gramma and Papas house. H still uses a binky, but we are strict that she only gets it for nap and bed time. The one exception to this rule is long road trips. It’s her way of soothing herself and if it keeps her happy, then we all are happy! M likes her monkey and her blanky…she gets those too. Whatever it is, even if you don’t pull it out unless you are desperate, bring it. It is way better to have it and not need it then to need it and not have it (I’m talking one item per kid…don’t use this logic for the whole toy box!).
  5. Pack activities.My oldest is seven, so she can have things like a book or coloring pages. Sweet Pea also enjoys a folder of coloring pages. For this I simply print up free coloring pages that I find online, hole punch them and put them in a 3-ring binder. Each child also gets their own pencil box with crayons/washable markers. I get some of the free coloring pages from PBS Kids and others from my favorite mom bloggers. Do a little looking on Google and you can find a whole lot of free goodies! As for the Twinkies, I simply pack some toys that they haven’t seen or played with in a while.
  6. Electronics. I know, I know…they are young and electronics are so pervasive, but seriously, it is a seven. hour. car. ride. We have a Kindle Fire, kids version, that has an account for M&M and Sweet Pea, as well as a dual monitor DVD player that the Twinkies use to watch shows and movies. The kids only get such electronics in the car for our long haul trips, which keeps them special…and highly effective.

Now for the fun part. We just booked a trip to visit my Grammy in Florida this May. YAY! Here’s the kicker…we’re flying. The Twinkies are 2, so they need their own tickets now. Okay okay, even if they weren’t two, I would buy them their own seats because who wants to have a wiggly kid on their lap for 6 hours? Not me! Only M&M has been on a plane…my three littles are total newbies.

So what did I do? I read about 3715 blog posts on how to travel with toddlers on airplanes, but none of them really addressed the issue of multiples. Three of my children are under the age of four, and all of them are in diapers. I know that this will be challenging. Thankfully, some of my above tips can be modified for the airplane, but I’m still wondering how to manage this?

Here’s our current plan:

We have two flights with a nearly 2 hour layover in between (the gates are really close together and they are with the same airline, so we didn’t feel the need to factor in more time there).

We are bringing the car seats with us so no need to worry about renting them in Florida.

We will be bringing above mentioned coloring kits, Kindle Fires (we have two) and our laptops. That brings us to one coloring kit and electronic device per child.

I am planning on packing lots of little snacks that they will have to spend time opening (like presents!), and am considering giving them things like mini M&M’s that they don’t normally get.

We are also seriously considering purchasing a Trunki for each child.

10835410-1375201107-272949Have you ever seen such a thing? Have you ever heard of these? There are loads of rave reviews on them, and according to the website, they can handle all four of my children. Well, not at once. But one at a time! The kids can sit on them while we wait in various lines at the airport, and there is a “leash” attachment where we could drag them behind us…or they could drag each other.

If you’ve used these, could you please let me know what you think? We might buy just one and see what we think, before committing to three more.

Okay dear readers:

What have I missed? 

What tips do you have for travelling with multiples? With toddlers? 

Do you have any advice specific to airplane travel?

Happy travelling!

 

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How Did I Do It?

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Categories Parenting, Twinfant TuesdayLeave a comment

My 2 sets of twins are pretty high maintenance right now. Between school, sports, hw, chores, potty training, work and family, I am stress paralyzed most of the time.
In the meantime, our office manager just had a baby. She brings him to my house everyday to work. He is a happy 3 month old that eats, sleeps and plays on a blanket on the floor. I hold and rock him while he is fussy to help out. While I was rocking him the other day I remember thinking, “how did I do this with 2?!” It seems impossibly hard. Every time this new mom asks me a question about milestones, or a sleep schedule or what formula to use, I just shrug and answer, “It doesn’t matter. Just keep him breathing and he’ll be just fine. I had twins remember–the only goal was to make it to the end of the day.” I find myself being so jealous of this mom who gets to cuddle and rock her baby all day. I actually long for the days of sitting on the couch covered in spit up. At least then nobody can spill the crayons, or poop in their underwear.
But then this sweet baby did something that made it all okay. He started cooing. Babbling just a little bit. And I remembered. My twinfant days were more than just bottles and routines. When my girls were fussy I would put them close face to face and say, “Talk to your baby!” . They would gurgle and coo and smile at each other. It was the first indication of a lifelong bond. I would smile and tell them: “you’re lucky-not everyone comes with their own baby.”

Having twins may look different than the rest of the infant world, but as Daniel Tiger sings, “In some ways we are different, but in so many ways, we are the same.” and so I say to you who are strapped to the couch with infants: it might seem impossible and unfair some of the time. But you are just the same as any other new parent; you just have a bonus baby or two 😉

SAMSUNG

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Never Will I Ever: Toddler Thursday Edition

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Do you remember the drinking party game Never Have I Ever? I was part of a group of friends in college who loved to waste away long winter nights playing this game. It was a fun way to get to know someone you had a crush on or just learn new and interesting things about friends.  If you’ve never played let me quickly catch you up: You all sit in a circle.  The first person makes a statement beginning with “Never have I ever…” If you’ve done it you take a drink you’re out. The object isn’t necessarily to be last person standing, but rather to be the person to create the most awkward social situations.

Before I had the twins I had several very basic parenting standards.  When it was just the three bigs (that’s what I call my older three sons) it was so easy to adhere to them that I really didn’t even know I had them.  They were almost “parenting givens”.  Then Laurel and Rhodes turned two.  Now I have no standards.  Seriously.  They have won every round of “Never Will I Ever…” we have engaged in. They are masters at creating awkward social situations.  Let me show you:

Never Will I Ever buy a toddler something just to stop a tantrum.”  In December my two oldest sons needed new shoes. I hauled everyone into the shoe store and set up camp in the aisle with the “almost man” sizes.  Laurel and Rhodes were playing happily in the same aisle so I was lulled into thinking it was ok for me to look away.  Rookie mistake.  I looked up and Laurel was gone.  We split up to find her perusing the clearance racks having chosen a new pair of very sparkly, very pink, 1 size too big, hello kitty, slip on shoes for herself.  When we found her she was clutching them to her chest and had her eyes closed in reverence.  She was in love.  I admired the shoes and calmly told her that it wasn’t her turn for new shoes and we needed to put them back.  She opened one eye and stated “IS my turn. MY shoes. YOU go.” and turned her back to me.  The three bigs were standing behind me and I could hear them start backing away and begin silently putting away the shoe boxes we were done with. Rhodes summed it up with an “Uh Oh”. They knew what was brewing.  I got down on my knees and softly asked her to put the pretty shoes back.  She started shaking her head as tears were rolling down her cheeks. I asked her one more time.  After she still didn’t move to put the shoes back I reached for them.  Before I could touch them she began shrieking. It was a sound straight from Hell. It was loud, high, and unending. The screaming was so disorienting I almost couldn’t figure out what had happened.  Laurel was backing into a storage room (still clutching her precious shoes and still shrieking) and looking at me as if I was coming to eat her. I grabbed her, grabbed my purse, and called to the bigs to get their shoes and meet me at the cashier.  Sweet little Rhodes had found a display of koosh balls and was quietly rummaging through the bin (we won’t discuss why a shoe store had these for sale). As I called for him to come with us to the register he began whimpering and whining for a ball.  At this point sweat was dripping down my back and Laurel was still shrieking while I held her horizontally across both my arms.  “OK, Rhodes.  Bring a ball.  Let’s just GO!” When I finally make it to the register the cashier asks if I would like her to put the Hello Kitty shoes away.  “No, No, I wouldn’t.”     Twins: 1    Mom: 0

“Never Will I Ever have a car so dirty it’s embarrassing… or a health hazard”.   In January I decided to get a car wash.  Before pulling in I made sure to stop at a gas station and do a quick clean up so I wouldn’t be too embarrassed when dropping it off.  After choosing a wash and paying I made my way to the waiting area which happened to be right next to the vacuums. I glanced over and saw that the man who had been vacuuming my car had stopped and was now pulling on gloves. I mentally shrugged my shoulders and assumed he must have been cold.  Then I paused and looked again… he hadn’t put on leather or wool gloves.  He’d put on LATEX gloves.  That’s right.  The carwash man had been so disgusted by the state of my captain’s chairs he’d felt the need to protect himself from communicable diseases. Guess who sits in that part of my suburban? My precious goldfish crunching, apple juice swilling, milkshake spilling, tissue needing toddlers.      Twins: 2  Mom: 0

  • “Never Will I Ever feel the need to host every playdate at my house for the rest of my children’s lives.”  When the twins were infants I usually invited friends to our house for playdates because it was more convenient.  I didn’t have to haul my giant twin nursing pillow to someone’s house.  When the babies were sleepy I could put them down in their own beds.  I didn’t have to worry about putting on real clothes.  Now I usually invite friends to our house for playdates because I have more control over the environment thus reducing the potential for humiliation. After finding myself in the following scenarios I’ve learned my lesson:
  • Twin locks themselves in bathroom
  • Twin found in teen’s bedroom trying on their new lip gloss
  • Twin rummages through refrigerator and helps themselves to pre-prepared lunch
  •  Twin found in bathroom brushing teeth with husband’s toothbrush
  • Twin grabs host’s coffee and pours onto pristine white carpet

Thank goodness my friends were gracious and able to see the humor in these situations.           Twins: 376  Mom: 0

Never Did I Ever think having two toddlers would be this hard… or this funny! I am so fascinated by these two little people.  While learning how to navigate this big world they are having two totally different reactions to the very same situations.  That is bound to leave this mama in some seriously crazy circumstances!

Tell me about a situation you never thought you’d find yourself in.  Ready to play Never Will I Ever?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Raising Readers

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Categories Development, Developmental Geekery, Language, Toddlers2 Comments

Spending time reading to children isn’t a matter of convincing parents whether or not to raise literate children. That’s a no-brainer in North America; either be literate or be left behind in this big, fast-moving world. Fostering a love of reading, and setting the foundation for kids to easily learn to read, that‘s what’s on the table.

Love of #reading. Setting a foundation for kids to easily learn. That's what's on the table. Click To Tweet

I get it: It’s the end of the day, you’ve wrestled your multiples (and maybe their siblings) into the bath, into their jammies, teeth brushed and into their bed. Why, oh why, throw a book into the mix? Why not call it a night, tuck them in and head downstairs for some much-needed adult time?

Whether you choose to incorporate reading into bedtime routine (which is common and easy to stick to) or throughout the day, reading daily to children as early as possible has substantial benefits. Anecdotally, I have seen kids learn sight words from repetitive rhyming books (like Dr Seuss). Academically, study after study supports early reading as a pathway to early reading and writing, language development, ability to focus and self-regulation. Many hospitals send new parents home with a book for baby, pushing home the point that reading is just as important as basic necessities like diaper changes and bathing. It is!

With my twin girls, their interests differ, but they have learned to wait their turns to sit in my lap, having me read (and re-read) their favourite books. I’ve noticed they frequently choose the same five or six titles for months at a time, so while I may be mind-numbingly under-stimulated, their little brains are firing away, developing at a rapid pace with each reading.

As twins, their language development has been slow, (which is common for multiples). Daily reading, asking them open-ended questions about the story and encouraging them to finish sentences they’ve memorized has helped tremendously. It’s a calm situation, they know the story, and are eager to please me by contributing their own thoughts and words, few as they may be. As they prepare to start kindergarten later this year, I am less nervous they will be behind in their slower-paced verbal development, because I see the spark of early, voracious readers.

It’s so easy: five, 10 minutes tops. Everyone has access to books, in any social situation (go to the library, borrow books, start your own collection). There are a great many books about twins geared towards all ages, and my girls love identifying themselves in the pages of twin stories. (for a list of twin books, see a past HDYDI post here). Find books that pique their interest, make it a habit, and watch your little readers soar.

 

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