Talk to Your Children About What You Read

I’ve been reading The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. I really should be reading the version for dealing with children, since I’m single with no intention of changing that. However, it doesn’t take much to see how the simple premise of the book relates to parenting and sibling relationships.

As you have probably gleaned from others discussing this book, the message boils down to this: people usually give and receive affection in one or two of five ways, or “love languages”. Identify your loved one’s primary love languages, seeking to display your love (and accept theirs) in a way that brings them joy, and they will be able to recognize your affection.

The five love languages are:

  • Words of affirmation
  • Acts of service
  • Receiving gifts
  • Quality time
  • Physical touch

Me? I tend to show love and appreciation through quality time and words of affirmation. I am most touched by acts of service and words of affirmation.

My daughter J, my snuggle bunny, needs physical touch and quality time.

M is glutton for words of affirmation and physical touch. Until her dad I divorced, her secondary love language was actually receiving gifts or treats..

The basics of applying the 5 love languages to parenting. Recognize what your child needs to feel loved and validated.

I’d heard about this idea before, but it really rang true for me. As I was chatting with my daughters after school, getting that quality time in, I told them about what I’d been reading. J, in particular, was fascinated. We went to the book series website so that they could examine the list of love languages at their leisure.

“That makes sense!” she told me. “I need snuggles more than M. And she is always talking! What’s your love language?”

I told her that spending time with her and M was what really filled my heart, and hearing “I love you” made it overflow. So, quality time and words of affirmation were mine.

Next, she wanted to know what her teacher’s was. I told her I wasn’t sure, but that her teacher and I had a lot of other character traits in common, so we might have love languages in common too. I knew that she volunteered at the local food pantry and was always going the extra mile to help us out, so I suspected acts of service were up there for her.

The conversation eventually wound down to a logical end, and I didn’t think too much more about it.

The next day, J and M’s teacher texted me a photo of a letter she had found on her desk.

A 7-year-old wrote this to her teacher after learning about the 5 love languages. From hdydi.com

J had taken away from our discussion the idea of words of affirmation and put it into practice. Instead of just hugging her teacher or trying to perform her best on schoolwork to show her appreciation, she put it into words.

I was reminded of the bigger lesson. In order to build their literacy, it’s critical to talk to your children about what you read. It’s amazing what they can understand. By letting them know that you are a reader, you’re showing them that reading is a pleasure, not simply something one does because an adult orders them to do so. By discussing what you’ve taken away from your book, you demonstrate basic critical thinking skills, how to identify key points, and self-reflection. It’s also helpful, once they’re reading silently, to develop the habit of discussing what each of you has read to confirm that each child’s reading comprehension is keeping up with their reading fluency.

I may have taken this a little far. I used to hold extended monologues on literature with the girls when they were infants. There wasn’t much I could do while breastfeeding besides reading. They were my very passive and rather greedy book club.

Encourage your kids to read, but let them see you read too. Show them how you think critically, and they will copy you.

Do you and your children discuss what you (and they) read?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

The Problem with Great Readers Is that We Run Out of Books

“Mom!” said my 7-year-old, M, when I arrived from work to pick up my kids from daycare, “I checked out three chapter books from the library three hours ago and now I’ve read them all. I have nothing to read!

I checked her backpack to see whether she’d picked out particularly short or easy books, but she had a 90-odd page Bailey School Kids book, a decent length presidential biography and a Katie Kazoo book in there. I asked her to tell me about the books and she regaled me at length with not-quite-summaries of what she’d consumed.

I know. This is a pretty great problem to have. My kids love to read. They’re fast. The challenge it poses, though, is a very real one.

Given a choice, this is the problem to have. Still, finding enough reading material to satiate voracious readers is a real challenge.

This is J. She was the one who happened to have a book in her hands when it occurred to me to take a photo for this post. M was brushing her teeth.

I do what I can to keep my kids supplied with reading materials.

  1. We take regular trips to the public library. Each child is allowed to pick out 7 books. Any more than that, and they lose track of where they are. I reserve a cube of the Ikea Expedit shelves in our living room for library books to keep them in one place.
  2. I haunt bookstores. We visit Half Price Books frequently and keep an eye on their clearance racks both for our home library and their classroom book collection. I invest in books that my girls will want to read again and again.
  3. Their school library is relatively well-stocked, although my daughter J took advantage of a persuasive letter writing assignment at school to ask her principal to invest in harder books.
  4. I donate outgrown books to the girls’ classroom teacher, in part so that she can also snap up more advanced books for her collection when she’s adding to it.
  5. I do a lot of book shopping online. Ebay sometimes pops up pretty fantastic lots of books. I can always donate any duplicates that we have. My girls have tablets, but they just prefer the feel of paper books to reading ebooks on their devices. I limit my Amazon.com shopping to books on specific subjects that I want but can’t find at the library, like foster care or divorce.
  6. Our loved ones know what readers J and M are. They are wonderful about giving them gifts of books.
  7. Paperbackswap.com is a great place to trade in old books for new for just the cost of media mail.

Anyone else have this problem? Any solutions I’ve missed?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Spiral Learning: Permutations for Elementary Students

Permutations for Elementary Students

When I was browsing the lovely photos on MathiasQuads.org yesterday for this morning’s post, my daughter M took great care to read the names in each photo caption. She wanted to be sure to match each face to the right name. As an identical multiple herself, she understood how important it was to see Mary Claire, Anna, Grace and Emily as individuals.

M, aged 7, observed that they were rarely in the same order between photos.

M: There’s 16 ways for them to be lined up.
Me: How did you figure that out?
M: Because there’s 4 sisters and 4 spots and 4 times 4 is 16.
Me: That’s a very good deduction, my mathematician girl, but it’s actually 24. Can I show you how?

Is 7 a little young for combinatorics? Sure, but M showed an interest in it, so I dug back into my 8th grade math memories. I drew her a picture to show her how to think of permutations. She picked the colours for each sister.

Explaining permutations for elementary students. Showing them the first quarter of the pattern allows them to derive the pattern themselves. From hdydi.com

Me: There are 4 sisters who can go in the first spot. I’m just going to draw one of them. Once she’s in her place, there are only 3 sisters left to go second.
M: Then 2, then 1!
Me: Exactly. So there are 6 orders available for each sister who goes in the first spot.
M: And 6 times 4 is 12 and 12 is 24.
Me: Which is also 4 times 3 times 2 times 1.
M: Well, that was easy.

We’ll probably chat about combinations tonight during bath time.

Spiral Learning

I’ve always taken this approach to educating my daughters. If one or both of them is interested in something that illustrates a larger pattern or important skill, I explain it to them at a level that is pertinent, interesting, and within their abilities. Later on, when they’re more intellectually mature, I’ll come back to it. In a couple of years, I’ll show M how to use factorial notation.

My teacher friend Kaylan tells me that the eduspeak term for this is “spiral learning.”

Spiral learning is the practice of returning to a topic over time to build an increasingly sophisticated understanding

What sparks your child’s interest? What’s your approach to teaching?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

An Introduction to Girl Scout Cookies

It’s Girl Scout Cookie season here in Central Texas. If you live in the US, chances are that you’ve seen little girls in uniform selling boxes of cookies in front of stores or had them knock on your door.


 

Perhaps you have a little Thin Mint addiction. Perhaps your No Soliciting sign has a Girl Scout exemption.

This post is an introduction to Girl Scout cookies for those unfamiliar with the point of cookie sales beyond satisfying your sweet tooth. It’s also for parents just getting started on their daughter’s Girl Scout journey. I know I was a little lost last year when cookie season began.

Where Cookie Earnings Go

Girl Scout cookie sales raise money for Girl Scout troops, but that’s not really the core purpose. From the $4.00 price tag of each box of cookies, our troop earns a measly 10%. That’s right. $0.40 for each box goes into the troop fund for the kids selling you cookies.

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There’s no obligation for Girl Scouts to sell cookies. In our troop, we ask parents who aren’t up for participating in sales to contribute what they can to the troop account, which we spend on things like badges, outings and a charitable donation.

Why Scouts Sell Cookies

Troops (groups of Girl Scouts who meet regularly and share activities) decide as a group what to do with their earnings. The point of cookie sales is to teach our girls the basics of entrepreneurship: Goal Setting, Decision Making, Money Management, People Skills and Business Ethics. 

Each girl sets for herself a goal for how many boxes of cookies she can sell during the sales season. Based on her age, she more or less independently sells the cookies. Daisies (kindergarten and 1st grade) are accompanied by older scouts at their sales booths and adults handle the money for them. Brownies can make their own change but parents are nearby for assistance.

Last year, my girls convinced me to buy a box of cookies from them, then handed out free samples in our vet’s waiting room. Not surprisingly, they were able to score several sales off this approach. This year, I asked my 7-year-olds what they thought they were learning to selling cookies.

M: People listen better when we stand up more confidently.

J: Counting money.

To keep things fun, the Girl Scouts each earn an award for selling a certain amount of cookies. In addition to the badges and pins they can add to their uniforms to show the skills they’ve exercised selling cookies, they earn extra incentives for selling different quantities of cookies.

A Twin Thing

My daughters actually asked me whether they could pool their sales toward a single (presumably better) incentive by crediting just one of them with all their sales. I said no. They were individual Girl Scouts and didn’t get to work the system. Our sales are evenly divided between the two children. We will probably modify that approach if they stick with Girl Scouts when they’re old enough to sell cookies more independently.

Keeping Track

One of the more challenging things for little girls is keeping track of what money is coming in and what cookies are going out. I made my daughters a chart, shown below, to help them keep up with sales. They used tally marks to track cookie boxes and wrote down donation amounts in dollars. (Click the image for a printable PDF.)

Cookie Sale Tracker

Different troops handle orders differently. In our troop, we discuss sales goals with our daughters and provide and initial estimate. Our Cookie Dad puts in an order for the troop and distributes the cookies once they arrive. If we realize we need more cookies, we can ask him and he’ll put in a couple of additional group orders during cookie season. We’re free to sell door-to-door or to our friends, but we’re also welcome to serve at booths set up at businesses around the community.

Other troops take orders by order form and only purchase cookies to meet their orders. They must then deliver the cookies. A couple of troops sell cookies online.

Types of Cookies

One of the things I found most confusing was the different types of cookies. Seemingly identical cookies had different names. People wanted to know why we weren’t selling their favourite cookie from the year before. People wanted to know why their cousin 100 miles away could buy Lemonades when we didn’t have them.

There are two different bakeries licensed to make Girl Scout cookies. They use different names (and recipes) for the cookies, although Thin Mints are Thin Mints regardless of bakery. So Samoas are Caramel Delites. Do-si-Dos are Peanut Butter Sandwiches. Also, Trefoils are Shortbread, Tagalongs are Peanut Butter Patties. Apart from the core 5 cookies, they make different types. Little Brownie Bakers’ lemon cookies are bite-sized powdered sugar-covered crescents called Savannah Smiles, while ABC Bakers’ Lemonades are lemon-iced shortbread cookies.

Also, from the official Girl Scout Cookie FAQ:

Half of the Girl Scout councils served by Little Brownie Bakers are taking part in the “Super Six” initiative and selling the core five favorite Girl Scout Cookies (Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-si-dos, and Trefoils) and Savannah Smiles. Research shows that these core varieties appeal to the vast majority of customers. This initiative has been very successful and well received by both Girl Scout members and cookie consumers. The primary benefit to the participating Girl Scout councils is better management of cookie inventory and a way to streamline the sale process for girls and volunteers.

When Is Cookie Season?

Cookie season varies from region to region. I imagine that weather plays a role. I’m certain that Minnesota troops have no interest in selling cookies while there’s snow on the ground, while we Texas troop certainly don’t want our cookies melting in our cars in the summer.

Officially, cookie season is limited to 6-8 weeks to allow girls to focus on them for that period of time and then move onto other Girl Scout activities. Unofficially, I wouldn’t be surprised if the limited availability was intended to maintain consumer interest in the product. After all, people are more likely to buy a whole lot of cookies if they know they won’t be available again for 10 months than if they can run to the store if they run out.

If you’re interested in seeing when you’ll be able to buy cookies, you can check out the Girl Scout site’s cookie finder.

Any questions? What’s your Girl Scout cookie preference?

A big thank you to Michelle for editorial review!

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Toddler Thursday: Great iPad Apps for Toddlers

For my birthday, about 7 months ago, I received a wonderful gift… an iPad. I’ve always wanted one, but I knew if I got one, it wouldn’t be myself using it, but rather my kids. And it’s not that I have a problem sharing it with them since we have enough computers here to go around anyway. It’s more the fact that my kids happen to be twin toddlers, which means they both don’t yet understand the meaning of the word ‘share’. ‘Share’ to a toddler means ‘I get to take it from you when I feel like it’. And I have 2 of these toddlers so…you get the idea. I deal with enough fighting between the two of them on an hourly basis, so the last thing I need is a ‘toy’ like the iPad for them to fight over.

So I never purchased one, but since it was given to me, I right away started searching for and downloading apps for them (before even using it myself first, I might add). And while they did fight over it at first, they share it very nicely now (or at least as nicely as you would expect twin toddlers to share an iPad). I definitely believe it actually teaches them to share, as well as taking turns, because if they don’t, they know I’ll take it away, which to them would apparently be much worse than sharing.  It’s also taught them to share their toys as well (I’ve never bought 2 of anything).  They know if they don’t share nicely during the day, they won’t get their 30 minutes of iPad use at quiet time before bed.

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Since receiving this iPad I’ve downloaded tons of toddler apps and both myself and my kids have tried them each a number of times. Many were erased right away and for some it took a bit longer for my children to become bored with them. But here are the apps (in no particular order) which are played on a daily basis and thus, have made the short list:

1. Elmo Loves ABC’s
Price: $4.99 (you can download the lite version for free but you only get letters A, B and C)

  • Learn letter recognition through sight, sound and tracing of both upper and lower case letters.
  • Four different versions of the alphabet song with videos.
  • Coloring pages.
  • Includes games and videos for each letter of the alphabet.

2. The Wiggles Alphabet Adventure
Price: $2.99

  • Hands-on interaction for each letter of the alphabet. For example, for the letter ‘V’, the child gets to actually play a violin, for letter ‘A’, they get to eat an apple, for letter ‘C’ they get to cook up a stir-fry.
  • Very colorful with great animation.
  • If your child is a Wiggles fan, this will be there favorite app.

3. Preschool EduRoom
Price: $1.99

  • 16 different games that focus on matching, memory, colors, numbers, sorting, telling time and shapes (ie: matching shoes, matching shirts to the same color hanger, matching numbers on a clock, putting dirty clothes into the hamper).
  • Bright colors.
  • Cheers when your child gets something right.

4. Preschool EduKitchen
Price: $2.99

  • 5 games that focus on sorting/organizing, counting, memory and making healthy eating choices (ie: placing items with recycling sign into recycling box, adding only sliced oranges to a fruit pop, placing only the dirty dishes in the dish washer, setting the table).
  • Bright colors.
  • Cheers when your child gets something right.

5. Candy Count
Price: Free

  • Great for leaning colors and numbers through sorting and counting colored candies.

6. Preschool Memory Match and Learn
Price: Free (you can upgrade to more options for $1.99)

  • 7 categories including colors, shapes, numbers, fruits, vegetables, nature and ABC’s.
  • Many different settings and options.
  • As your child does better, it will get more difficult so they will continuously be challenged.

7. Abby Monkey Basic Skills Preschool
Price: $1.99

  • 14 activities which help children to learn patterns, numbers, letters, counting, sizes, colors, shapes and matching.
  • Prizes encourage children.
  • Children love the monkey that guides them through the games.
  • Easy to navigate.
  • Lots of variety.

8. I Spy With Lola
Price: Free (you can upgrade to more options for $1.99)

  • Travel to different locals around the world and search for hidden objects (similar to I spy).
  • Helps children learn object identification and word association (a picture of the object is shown and the narrator says what the object is as well).

9. Duck Duck Moose Musical Me
Price: $2.99

  • Copy patterns, recognize rhythm and pitch and play different instruments.
  • My kids love to sing along to the songs in this app.

10. Gingerbread Crazy Chef
Price: Free (you can upgrade for a fee to get more options)

  • This is a just-for-fun game.
  • Bake a gingerbread cookie from scratch and then decorate it.
  • Choose from 20 different cookie types, 6 backgrounds, 30 accessories, 30 candy decorations, 30 eyes, nose and mouth options and lots of different costume options.

11. Pizza Maker Crazy Chef
Price: Free

  • This is a just-for-fun app.
  • Make a pizza from scratch by adding the ingredients and mixing it in a bowl. Then stretch it out with a rolling pin. Mix up some sauce and spread on pizza. Choose from over 100 toppings and place in brick oven to bake. Then decorate your pizza and either eat it, slice it up and serve it or deliver it.
  • If your child likes this game, there is a similar one called Cupcake Chef which is just as great.

12. Toca Boca Birthday Party
Price: $2.99

  • This is just a fun app.
  • Choose birthday party theme, choose dishes and cake that match the theme and set the table. Serve the cake, pour juice, blow out the candles and open a present. Eat the cake and move all the dishes into the dishwater when finished.

13. Ice Pops Maker Salon
Price: Free (you can upgrade to more options but it’s not necessary)

  • This is a just-for-fun app.
  • Children can make their own ice pops by choosing from a variety of different molds, flavors/colors, fruit additions, ice pop sticks. Then they drag their ice pop into the freezer and wait until it’s frozen. Take it out of the freezer and add other decorations such as sprinkles, candy and frosting. Then eat it.

14. PBS Play and Learn
Price: Free

  • Your child can choose from games themed from familiar locations such as the grocery store, home, playground, bathroom and the kitchen.
  • 13 games and 52 hands-on activities, all very educational.
  • Each game has a note for parents that discusses the math and/or literacy skills involved in the game.
  • Includes an open-ended sticker game.
  • Additional creative ideas for parents to do with their children.
  • There are no pop-up adds that you would normally find with free apps.

15. Duck Duck Moose Draw and Tell
Price: $2.99

  • Encourages open-ended play, creativity and imagination.
  • Children can draw, color, use stickers, create animations and record songs and stories.
  • Children can choose from 27 colored crayons, paints and colored pencils as well as rainbow and glow-in-the-dark crayons, more than 150 stickers, 32 backgrounds for pictures and more than 60 stencils.
  • All drawings and recordings can be saved.

Note: For the apps that are free with an option to upgrade for a small charge, it may be worth it if your child is too young to know how to navigate past the advertising pop-ups that come along with free apps (excluding the PBS app).

If you do intend to place your iPad into the hands of your toddlers twins, I highly recommend purchasing the Speck Products iPad 2 iGuy.  If we didn’t have this, our iPad would have been in a zillion pieces the day we decided to share it with them.  At first they won’t understand they have to share it with their twin, which will result in the continuous throwing of the iPad across the room.  Just a heads up!

A list of great iPad apps for toddlers from hdydi.com

How do you do it? Parenting Link Up #4

Skip to featured posts | Skip to linkup rules | Skip to this week’s links

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from HDYDI to all of our readers!

How Do You Do It? is a community of mothers of multiples. We believe in supporting each other, in sharing our experiences and questions, in friendship, and in encouragement. And what better way to do that than to do a weekly parenting link up party, a link party open to all of our readers, whether you have multiples or not, where you can share your wisdom, your favorite posts, your insights, with our online community here at HDYDI.

We want to know: How do YOU do it?

How do you handle pregnancy and everything around it? What’s your potty training secret, your housekeeping kryptonite, or your trick for a good night’s sleep? How do you handle colic or cold, flu and RSV season? How do you handle being a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, or a single parent? How do you find time for your partner?

If you are a blogger and a parent, caregiver, or parent-to-be (no multiples required), we want YOU to link up! When it comes to parenting: How do you do it? Let us all know!

Link parties are a great way to connect with other bloggers, to share your wonderful content and posts, and to be inspired! Plus, each week we will be picking some of our favorite posts and featuring them the following week on our site! Plus, we’ll pin them on Pinterest, tweet them on Twitter, and share them on Google+ and Facebook! Talk about exposure for you!


We had such great posts linked up last week! We had a really hard time deciding which ones to feature from the 15 links!

So, I’m going to do some “honorable mentions” again this week!

As mothers of multiples, it’s so great to know we can survive trips to the store, score discounts and freebies for being a Mom of Multiples, and can fondly look back on how our twins’ bathing routine has changed with time. Also, here’s a little bit of advice on mothering boys – sometimes, it’s just best not to look!  Now onto our featured posts!

This week’s featured posts:

link - building blocks of contentmentTanika of Davis Family Chronicles shared some great post with us last week, but I especially loved her post “Building blocks of contentment that reminded me to stop and give my kids what they really need – me! – not more discipline.  Also check out her post called “Caught in the act, and I don’t care!

Picture taken by TwinBug Photography at twinbugphotography@yahoo.com

Picture taken by TwinBug Photography at twinbugphotography@yahoo.com

Cleaning the house with twins (heck, any kids!) around can be just darn near impossible, and completely overwhelming, but Kimber of Kimber’s Navy Family shares how despite ditching her housekeeper and gaining a bigger house, she has found housekeeping has gotten easier! She shares ways she’s incorporated her children into the housekeeping chores, enforced a no-whine policy, and made a cleaning schedule. Are you making regular cleaning one of your New Year’s Resolutions?

M is for Music - Preschool Lesson PlanTeaching our children is a big task for parents, but Katelyn of What’s up Fagans? has presented a thorough preschool lesson plan on the letter M – M is for Music. She has suggestions on games, songs, crafts, writing practice, matching, snacks, and even a free printable. If you are a homeschooling preschool mom, I would definitely check it out (and her other preschool lessons).

If you were featured above make sure to grab our featured button and sport it on your blog! How Do You Do It? Featured Post


Parenting Link Up Party

Rules for the How Do You Do It? Parenting Link Up Party:

  1. Follow and connect with HDYDI on the social media platforms that you use. Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Google+ | Blog Lovin
  2. Link up to 3 great parenting posts below! Please, no recipes posts! Of course, link directly to a post, not your main page. Also, under “name” put the title of your post.
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Helping Kids Deal with Emotions

My 7-year-olds have had a lot to deal with of late. It’s no secret that J finds it easier to express her emotions constructively than her sister. J certainly does her share of acting out, but she has a prodigal ability to identify the source of her feelings and concerns and verbalize metaphors that help her keep then manageable. M is a more typical child. She gets overwhelmed by her emotions and lashes out, not quite understanding why she’s behaving that way.

Helping Kids Deal with Emotions

Recently, after her last explosion the night before, M had a question for her sister on the drive to school.

“With your angers, J, how do you throw them out?”
J had the expected response. “What?”
“I think what M is asking,” I attempted to translate, “is how you get yourself to stop being angry or behaving inappropriately when you’re feeling angry. Is that right, M?
“That’s what I said.”

That’s debatable.

“Oh!” J exclaimed. “I take a break until I feel calm.”
“What if you can’t take a break?” M wanted to know.
“I explain nicely that I need a break and will talk about it later. And I read a book or snuggle with Blankie and Blanket.”
“But what if you CAN’T?” M was started to need a break of her own.
“For example,” I tried to clarify, “like right now, when we’re all in the car together?”
“I take my deep breaths. I ask for help.”
“Okay…” M was unconvinced.

J said she remembered times that she’d cried because she couldn’t get away from a difficult conversation at school and times she’d burst out in anger. I was proud of M for recognizing that she needed to work on managing her emotional reactions, and proud of her for recognizing that J was a good role model.

M had a rough day. A kid at after school care had yelled in her face because she said she liked the YMCA. She’d had a stomach ache most of the day. I was certain that her stomach ailment had a emotional cause.

That night, while I gave the girls their bedtime snuggles, I told M that she and I had something in common.

“M, I think that you and I let our feelings about one thing affect everything. For example, if an ant bites me, I’m really angry at the ant, but I feel mad at everything and everyone around me. Does that make sense?”
“I guess,” M said.
“J’s different. She’s really good at knowing that she’s just mad at the ant.”
“I don’t get mad at everything except sometimes,” J added helpfully.
“Exactly,” I told her. “M, can I tell you what works for me?”
“Yes.”
“I find it really helpful to talk to people I trust about what I’m feeling,” I tried to explain talk therapy and friendship in elementary school terms. “They help me figure out why I’m feeling what I’m feeling and then I can put my different feelings where they belong. After a lot of years of doing that, I was able to talk to myself inside my own head and figure it out.”
“I can’t do that,” M said, panic in her voice.
“You can’t talk to people?”
Her, “No!” was filled with frustration.
“You need to talk to people?”
“Yes! I can’t do it by myself. If I don’t talk to people I erupt like a volcano.”
“Sweetheart, you don’t have to do it alone,” I assured her. “Never, not until you decide you’re ready. When you’re 18 or 19, you may decide you don’t need someone else to help with your feelings, but I’m here for as long as you need me.”

We chatted about the things that were on her mind, the happy and sad, the easy and the challenging. We agreed to have a pre-sleep chat nightly to help her sort through her feelings for as long as she needed. I’ve noticed that when I ask the girls to tell me about the best and worst things that happened during the day, they can come up with one or the other, but rarely both. If my daughter tells me the best thing of the day, she’s had a good day. If she has something that’s “worst”, we’re in for a rough evening.

How do you conduct emotional education in your family?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Favourite Chapter Book Series: Rainbow Magic

A review of Daisy Meadows' Rainbow Magic books from hdydi.com

Halloween DIY Costumes - HDYDI.com

M as Amber the Orange Fairy and J as Heather the Violet Fairy.

In the first of our chapter book series reviews, J, M and I would like to introduce you to Rainbow Magic by Daisy Meadows. M and J love these books so much that they even dressed up as characters from them for Halloween a few years ago. It was when I realized that my daughters were actually reading these books, not just looking at line drawings, that I figured out that they could read.

Rainbow Magic trivia: Daisy Meadows is actually the pseudonym for a group of four women who write these books together. They’ve done some really great marketing. There are sticker books and paper dolls and all sorts of Rainbow Magic craziness out there.

M J Sadia
What are these books about? The Rainbow Fairies are one series. The Petal Fairies are another. At the end of the series at the 7th book, Jack Frost's heart softens but then at each series he starts having another kind of the fairies. First is Rainbow, then Weather, then Jewel, then Petal They are about Kirsty and Rachel helping out the Rainbow Fairies and Kirsty and Rachel are trying to get rid of the goblins and Jack Frost. Eventually, Jack Frost has a change of heart but only for a while. This series of books is divided into 7-book series, in each of which best friends Rachel and Kirsty must work together to find 7 magical objects (one per book) to save a group of fairies from the evil Jack Frost and his minions. The books can be read alone, but make the most sense read in order.
Who are the main characters? Kirsty, Rachel and the fairies and Jack Frost and his goblins. Jack Frost and his goblins are the bad guys who are trying to harm the fairies and the fairies and Kirsty and Rachel are trying to stop him. Rachel and Kirsty are elementary aged girls who meet on vacation in the first book, Ruby the Red Fairy, and become fast friends. Their adventures all occur while they're visiting each other.
Do you have a favourite book? Which one? That's hard, 'cause in each series I have a favourite! Well, Scarlett the Garnet Fairy in the Jewel Fairy series. And Amber in the Rainbow Fairy and then we have Goldie in the Weather Fairies and in the Animal Fairy Series, we have Ashley the Dragon Fairy. The Princess series, well there's Elisa the Royal Adventures Fairy. Anya the Cuddly Creatures from the Princess Fairies collection. Not really. They're really quite formulaic.
What do you like about these books? I love adventures. In most books, there are these cool boys who are the superheroes, but actually in this series there are fairies and two regular girls who are against goblins and their really mean master. They're really adventurous and you're inspired to fun things and play instead of things that require asking. You just know that you can do it. I have a soft spot for these books because they're the first one my girls read independently. I highly recommend them to get young girly girls engaged in reading and excited about books.
Is there anything you don't like about these books? No actually. They're my favourite series. No. They're great. Even though I'm a higher level than them, they're so nice. Once you've read one series, it's not hard to see where each of the others is going. I'm honestly surprised that my kids aren't bored with them yet.
How hard are these books to read? Only takes about 20 minutes, so not hard at all. Even though they're easy, they're nice. Beginning chapter books.
Do you think boys and girls would like them? Yes, actually, 'cause boys would like the superhero part and it would get girls to like goblins better and boys to like fairies better. Yeah! It has some pretty hilarious things boys and girls would like. They're really for everyone. I don't think so. They're very much targeted at little girls. The only recurring male characters are the bad guys and the girls' fathers.

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Favourite Chapter Book Series: Books for Advanced 7 Year Olds

Chapter books for advanced 2nd graders from hdydi.com

My 7-year-olds, M and J, have helped me put together a list of books that they greatly enjoy. They are typical 7-year-old girls as far as their interests go. They’re intrigued by the following things in their own lives and the books they read:

  • Interpersonal relationships and conflict resolution
  • Family dynamics and friendship
  • Fairies, magic and adventure
  • Dance and song
  • School
  • Math, science and personalities in history from the everyman to famous people

They read significantly above grade level, around a 4th or 5th grade level in 2nd grade. While this is a very good thing, it does present something of a challenge when locating books for them. It can be hard to find books for academically advanced but otherwise typical 7-year-olds. I want to them to read things that stretch their analytic skills, their vocabulary, and their understanding of human nature without confounding them with excessively mature topics, inappropriate words, or conflicts beyond their ability to handle.

With no more ado, here is our list, in no particular order.

My daughters have been helping me review each of these series, but this post started getting really long. I’ve decided to publish the review of each series as its own post. I’ll link them above as I publish them.

What are your children’s favourite books?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Twins Comparing Grades

My 7-year-old M was on a communication kick Monday night. She spoke to her father on the phone, texted her stepmother, and texted her grandmother. Grammy immediately called her back, and they had a nice conversation.

AplusA major news item that M chose to share with Grammy was that she was one of only two kids in her class to get 100% on their latest math test. Not even her twin sister J had made 100%, she told her, and then shared J’s grade (still an A, by the way).

J was livid. M was still on the phone with Grammy when J stormed over to me, near tears.

“Mom, M told Grammy my grade on my math test. She shouldn’t do that! That’s personal information!”

She was so indignant that it took a couple of tries to get J to notice that I agreed with her. I told her to speak to M once she was off the phone to air her concerns. J wasn’t convinced at first. She felt that M should already know that telling someone her grades was off limits. I told J that she could come to me if she felt that M wasn’t listening.

They had their conversation in their room, and M came out, running. Her attitude was a mixture of embarrassment and anger.

“I didn’t know, Mommy! I didn’t know it was personal information!”

I told her that it was fine, but that she needed to respect J’s need for privacy going forward. She agreed and J was mollified. I thought that this topic was closed.

Yesterday morning, however, J confessed to me that her confidence had taken a beating. She was convinced that M was smarter than she was because she got 100% scores consistently in math, while J had a couple of grades in the 90%-95% range. It was hard to maintain a serious demeanour as I saw my own elementary school misgivings played out in my daughter’s mind.

I did my best to point out that an A was an A, and that J still did better than the majority of her classmates, many of whom she considers plenty smart. I pointed out that she had been able to independently identify the mistake she had made on her test by looking at M’s answers, without even having her own test in front of her. I pointed out that she was just as good as M at solving problems in our everyday activities.

I know that I’ll need to boost her confidence over the next while, until J realizes that slight differences between her performance and her sister’s on tests don’t indicate an intelligence differential. Both kids are extremely bright. I give them 3-digit multiplication problems to do in their heads at home and their writing teacher has given them Latin roots to work on, all at age 7 (second grade).

This incident makes me wonder, though, how parents of multiples who aren’t as evenly matched in academic ability handle kids’ tendency to compare themselves to their siblings, whether they’re comparing grades or other measures of success.

Do your twins or higher order multiples compare their performance to that of their siblings? How about different aged siblings? How do you handle differences, whether perceived or real?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.