Monday, August 30, 2010

Just Me and My Little Girl

After having some one on one time with one of my twins, I feel the need to revisit the subject and express how truly important it is to spend time alone with each child.
My eldest is homeschooled, so she and I spend everyday together doing schoolwork. Occasionally, we will go shopping together or run errands. This affords us many opportunities to talk about whatever she wants to discuss - a blessing in this time of her growth and change into a young adult.
Spending one on one time with the younger children can be a bit more challenging and requires forethought and planning. It is assuredly worth it, though!
This weekend I spent the day with "My Angel," while the others went fishing with Dad. We did a few chores, then went to the library, got a treat at 7-11, went swimming, practiced yoga, and did manicures and pedicures. It was a calm and beautiful day for the both of us, and I'm sure we both will remember the good time we had together for a long while. She has the pleasure of happy memories with Mom and felt very special just for being her. I believe it's good for the twins to know that they are individuals and that I see them as such. The alone time reaffirms that I feel that way, and gives them a self-esteem boost - something that every kid craves and needs.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Twins in The Same Classroom

Wowee! The end of August is here and what a whirlwind! We returned to the South and had one week to prepare for days in school and evenings in activities. I put the twins in the same classroom again this year. It is always something to think about at the end of the previous school year, and I found myself discussing it with several twin moms. I very much appreciate that in my state, parents have the ultimate say in whether twins are in the same class or separated. This is a wise and compassionate law, because every twin family has different opinions and feelings about their own children, and not every twin will thrive in a mandated situation. Before we moved, the school district in which my twins attended school had a non-negotiable policy which separated twins. Not only was this a hassle for me (attending 4 different classrooms, etc) but the girls were genuinely sad to be separated from their best buddy all day, every day.
Now, I do some deliberation and have a conversation with them, then write a letter to the school principal with my choice. Other twin families I know let fate decide if their kids are to be in the same classroom, and some opt for separation. Of the families I know that separate, it is interesting to note that they are all boy/girl twins. A common theme with them is that the girl twin ends up spending much time nurturing the boy, not allowing him to be responsible for himself.
Like most decisions a family has to make, having twins together in a classroom or separate is a very personal one. It should be made with the children's best interest at heart and not dictated by a principal, superintendent, nor a lawmaker.

Friday, August 6, 2010

So Loving the Summer!

We've had such an amazing summer. The camps in June were wonderful, then we were off to the Midwest to enjoy 5 weeks of visiting with family and friends, golf, tennis, yoga, boating, art, shopping, music making, attending shows, and even the quirky tourist activities of bumper cars and go karts. I felt like it was very important to keep the kids busy to avoid squabbles and TV watching, and for the most part, this plan worked. There was the occasional tormenting car ride where I resorted to bribery and "quiet contests." Our usual mode of transportation is a conversion van, so it was difficult for them to pack into a sedan style car.
Everyone had their favorite summer activity. My 9 year old's was the New Shanghai Circus performance. She was mesmerized and is still talking about it 2 weeks later. The tween especially liked the Titanic Museum. The twins were not able to pinpoint a particular activity as their favorite, they loved it all!
So, in 3 days, we end our season in the Middle and return to the swampy south, to school, activities, our man, and our cats!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Full Hands, Full Day

Not until July will we experience the bliss of sleeping in and going with the unscheduled flow of a real summer break. June this year brings reading camp, band camp, gymnastics camp, and art camp. I'm so grateful that the girls get the opportunity to go to fun and enriching activities, but the experience is really taking it's toll on my energy level. Here's a breakdown of my day:
6:30 up, dressed, cat boxes cleaned, trash and recycling gathered and put to the curb
6:50 lunch boxes packed
7:00 get the girls up and going
breakfasts made and eaten, preliminary kitchen detail
8:00 out the door
8:20 eldest to band camp
8:30 next to reading camp
9:00 twins to gymnastics camp
9:15 home, clean, laundry, bills paid, check e-mails, facebook
10:30 leave to pick up from reading camp
11:00 pick up
quick run to the health food store
11:45 pick up from band camp
home, make and eat lunch, chores
1:30 take child to art camp
home, rest, blog, chores
3:45 leave to pick up twins
home briefly
4:35 leave to pick up art camper
5:20 home, make dinner, eat, clean up
It's all worth it though, when I hear my daughter play her clarinet better than ever, the twins are tired from their fun-filled day, I see and display new 9 year old artistic creations, and know that great gains are being made in reading.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

One on One Time

With a busy schedule and a house full of children, it can be a real challenge to spend one on one time with each child. However tricky the logistics may seem, when the effort is made, it is so rewarding. Last night, just one daughter wanted to swim and was very pleased to have 100% of my attention. (And 100% of the pool!) She felt so special and happy, and it made me remember that having time with a parent, not sharing the spotlight, is a wonderful thing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

They Are So Lucky To Be Twins!

It's that time in the twins' lives when the Tooth Fairy makes regular visits. Interestingly, the littlest girl, "Baby B," the one who used to be about 2 weeks developmentally behind "Baby A," lost her tooth first. Reaching the milestone marker first no longer is predictable, as the training wheels also came off Baby B's bike while the other's remain firmly attached to the frame.
When the latest tooth loser was expressing her fear of pain and the aversion to a little blood, the experienced one stepped in and offered her support, advice, and encouragement. It was heartwarming, and really showed how they care deeply for one another and can rely on one another. It's a little different from having a big sister. This twin bond seems to be more intense, because the experiences are so similar with very little time separating them. They are so lucky!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Recycled Materials Craft Project

Here's a great activity that combines your child's love of crafting with a history lesson - making a Medieval Castle. After researching the necessary parts of the castle, we started with a few cardboard boxes and cut the crenellations (the top of the walls.) We made a gatehouse, a keep, and the walls and hot glued them together. Then my daughter spray painted the entire thing and added some details we printed from Google Images. All parts were labeled and we called it finished. Now three more to go until everyone is happily playing with their castle!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Getting Creative with Lunches

There are times when I must go to great lengths to get my children to eat healthy foods. I have resorted to creative presentation lately, to inspire giggles, delight, and enthusiasm for what may otherwise cause them to turn up their noses. Behold, the always popular Hello Kitty rice balls. I filled them with chicken, carrots, and broccoli, and decorated them with romaine lettuce. They were such a hit, I ended up making them two days in a row, with day two being a double batch.

"Oh, They're so cute! Are they twins?"

I just have to laugh. For 7 years I've been asked this funny question. Why do people ask this? My girls are identical twins. When they were tiny infants in a double stroller with matching outfits, I was asked if they were twins. When they were 3 and wanted their hair cut the same I heard, "Are they twins?" Last week, we were shopping and the cashier asked this. Now really, they are the same height, have the same color hair, and their FRIENDS have a hard time telling them apart. "Are they twins?" I just nod and smile. Yes, they are twins.

Full Hands, Full Schedule!

This week, I experienced one of the craziest days, yet, with getting everyone to their appointments and activities on time. On the agenda was homeschooling, an orthodontist appointment, band practice, Girl Scouts for the little girls, Girl Scouts for the Junior Scout, and a clarinet lesson. With the help of a lot of deep breaths and self reassurance, ("Everything will work out.") the day did go well. A friend of mine said, "Well, before you know it, they will be driving themselves to their activities." This made me really embrace the experience and enjoy being with them and taking them to places. I refuse to wish away their childhoods when things seem tricky. So, it turned out to be a great day!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ticket Shop

I've found the perfect way to entice the children to do chores, use kind soft words, and get ready for school in the mornings and bed in the nights - Ticket Shop.
We've actually been using this reward system for a couple of years now, and it still has not lost it's appeal to the girls.
Together, we sat down at the computer and made the "tickets" - basically currency for me to pay them for their good deeds. I used business cards and printed, laminated, and cut them out. I keep tickets in the kitchen, in the bathroom, in my purse, and grab several to put in my pocket in the morning. When I catch them being good, voila!, a ticket! Whenever I am at a store, I keep my eye out for little toys, books, stickers, arts and craft supplies, etc. and add them to my little store. Ticket Shop happens once a week, and I set the price for the various items. If they've had a great week behavior-wise, then they really reap the benefits by getting to buy more at the shop.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Because New Year's Resolutions are a wonderful tool to inspire and yes, sometimes guilt one into action, I am reviving the blog. I'm promising myself to write as much and as often as I can without any bad feelings if I miss a day or two. I'm opening myself up creatively, have embarked on the journey of The Artist's Way, and this is going to be an extension of that. Raising children is a tough occupation and hopefully, by documenting certain events and how I handled hard times and mini-crisis, I will grow and help others.
Currently, my four children, husband and I are living 1200 miles away from our family. This is presenting a new facet of challenges in addition to the usual parenting issues. I home school my eldest daughter, and the other three are thriving in school. In my new home state, I have the final say on whether the twins are placed in the same classroom or not, and have chosen to keep them together. They are very happy with that, as they really are uncomfortable with being separated. Their teacher, whom had reservations about that, is now saying that it is not at all a negative, and that she enjoys their tag team rap-style story delivery.
I'm excited to be back, and hope the words that flow from my mind to fingers to screen will inspire us both.