Monday, August 30, 2010

21 Month Old Interpretation of the Interrupting Cow Knock Knock Joke

Knock knock. . . . cow . . . . . moo. . . . .(much laughter) . . . . funny

I Want This!

This is what I need to go to the Flint Farmer's Market with the boys!

Find out more about the Cornucopia Bag here

I wonder if I could put E. in the top and my food in the bottom?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

1. Avoid Discouragement Revisited

Just a day or so after I posted about my work on avoiding discouragement we were going to go on a family walk after dinner.  The twins wanted to pull their sleds (yes, snow sleds) to the local hill and ride down it.  Plastic sleds on sidewalks and asphalt are loud and dragging them along scraping the bottom wears them out fairly quickly.  So, I at first said no, we should leave the sleds home.  I said they wouldn't go down the grassy hill very well.  But I didn't resist fervently.  Then I backed off a bit more because I really didn't care that much, I thought it was more of an annoyance.  I told Twin M that he should ask his mother, who has more sensitive ears than I do.

She initially said no and offered to take the boys and the sleds to the hill in the morning after breakfast.  That was the beginning of a meltdown.  I thought a bit more about it and realized it really didn't matter much.  Sure, it would be a bit noisy, but that's about it.  As long as the twins were willing to take the sleds the whole way, there and back, why not?  So, my significant other with sensitive ears and I agreed.  The twins were happy and off we went.

Despite the small annoyance of sleds occasionally hitting our legs, the walk was fine.  We got some curious looks from neighbors, but given the other oddities of our family, I suspect they weren't surprised.  When we got to the hill, the twins sat on their sleds and asked for a push.  I did what I could and was surprised at how well the sleds slid down the grass.  It wasn't great.  They stopped about 3/4 of the way down the hill, but the twins loved it.  They loved it.  Fun and hilarity ensued.  They tried lying on their sleds as well as standing on them.  They even let little E. ride with them.

The outing was an amazing success.

And all of this goes back to my original discouragement and the changing of my mind.  I discouraged them because I didn't want to be inconvenienced with the noise and potential pulling of the sleds.  I didn't want to have to argue about pulling them down the sidewalk in the sled or who-knows-what.  As a member of the family and a participant in the walk, my opinion does matter.  If it was going to be too big of an inconvenience, then no still would have been an acceptable answer.  But it wasn't going to be too big of an inconvenience and all three boys had a great time.  Avoiding discouragement is a learning process and I think we (I) do it all the time every day. I hope to do less of it so my boys will be able to explore and learn for themselves and so they can have more times like last night.

p.s. Even at the hill I had a small moment of discouragement.  Twin J was standing on his sled trying to get it to start down the hill.  He was on the flat part of the hill, so his sled was sliding nowhere.  I told him he should move to the hill so he could slide down, which he did.  Twin J is pretty bright, and I'm sure if I had said nothing, he would have learned that for himself and he would have moved his sled.  Sure, this wasn't much discouragement, but I need to give my boys time to figure things out for themselves.

p.p.s. Why didn't I bring the camera?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Encouraging Our Children

I recently read Alyson Schafer's Honey, I Wrecked the Kids, and found it very thought provoking.  I generally have a couple of reactions to these books.  First, I am both disheartened and inspired.  Despite what the books say about not worrying about the past and becoming a better parent, I always feel guilty for the mistakes I've made as a parent.  I'm also inspired, because the books tend to be so heartening and hopeful.  They make me hopeful that I can become a better parent. 

Another one of my primary reactions is this: Oh, yea, you don't have twins.  I have yet to read a book that adequately addresses twins.  I've met people who try to liken their children, who may only be a year apart, to having twins.  No way.  Sure, there are challenges to raising kids close in age, but they aren't twins.  If you've been around small children, the difference between a 2 and 3 year old is significant.  Add the fact that twins have always been together -- even in utero.  The connections I see in my twins are profound. 

Back to Schafer's book.  Near the end of the book, Schafer offers 19 ways we can encourage our children.  I thought I would try and go through all 19 and see what I do or can do as I strive to become a better parent.  So here we go. 

1. Avoid discouragement
Schafer argues that one must put away praise (which she defines as different from encouragement) and punishment and be more encouraging.  As she describes, this seems easy, but her examples point to something more insidious.  One simple kind of discouragement parents do all the time is to discourage exploration or experimentation because we know it will result in failure.  But failure is a valuable learning tool.  If, as a parent, you've found yourself saying something, like, "Don't do that, it won't work.  Do it this way." That is a form of discouragement.  Of course there are times a parent must intervene, but correction before a child gets to experiment and learn discourages the child from experimenting. 

So I find myself doing this, mostly for expediency.  I want something done sooner than my sons can do it or I don't want to wait for the child to fail and then need my help.  But if I want my sons to become more independent and able and willing to solve their own problems.  I need to let them explore and learn for themselves, even through failure and frustration.  And I can't get frustrated with their failure or frustration. 

I have been working on this and improving.  I still have a ways to go.  I also think just less discouragement in the world is a good thing.  And I'll start with my own family.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fairy Sparkles

Twin J: Mama you look like fairy sparkles.

Mama: Awe.  That is so sweet. 

Twin J: I love fairy sparkles.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

It's Been Quiet Around Here

I know I haven't been keeping up here as I had intended.  Life has gotten a bit busy and I was away on a couple of trips.  The one most affecting my work here has been my trip to the Yukon for a week with my dad.

Digression Alert!: I think it's important to have a strong relationship with one's parents, and for the case I writing about here, it's because I want my sons to know how important my relationship is with my father and how important my father is in my life.  Because nearly all of my family lives in California, I don't get to see them often.  So my wife has been generous and understanding enough to let me go and have a father-son vacation for a week.  The trip to the Yukon was our trip this year.

So while I was gone, my wife had to manage getting all three sons to bed, which is no easy feat when both of us are in the house.  The result was long evening walks until she nearly had to fireman carry the kids up the street, up the stairs and flop them into bed. The pattern was established and now the twins stay up much later than they had.  It may have been coming for a while since we've been having trouble getting them to sleep for a while, but I still wish they went to sleep earlier.  They definitely need it.

I bet you can can guess what this has to do with this blog.  When I finally get back downstairs around 10 pm, I have lots to do with little energy to do it.  Writing has suffered.  I also haven't been as inspired as I usually am.  Writing beget writing, and I haven't been doing it.  This is my attempt to jump start this blog.  Our family has been doing some more interesting things lately, so I hope to write about some of them.  And despite some real frustrations (particularly as we near bedtime), I've really come to appreciate my family in a new way.  It has reaffirmed yet again what is important in my life. 

Stay tuned, there will be more here soon.