Raising My Twins

It's what's on my mind.

My Kid is Special Too!

Beautiful young spirit.

Beautiful young spirit.

We started a new preschool, which is really just a Parks & Recreation day-camp-type thing, where they entertain the kids and do activities that might teach them something—for 5 hours, twice a week. Rachel’s starting her second day today (Audrey stayed home sick both days). At the end of her first day, one serious-faced worker told me she “has trouble listening. We’ll need to work on that.”

I’ve heard this before. At Rachel’s schools, at the YMCA child watch. What they really mean is “Parent: YOU need to work on that. We think your kid is lacking in the one skill she needs in school: compliance with adult instructions.” (Notably I’ve never experienced this attitude from the two excellent speech therapists she’s worked with at her Special Education school.)

Rachel is stubborn by nature (PC way to say it: strong-willed) and she’s also somewhat introverted and she gets scared in new environments. And because she has speech delay—she has difficulty with both comprehension and expression—she doesn’t understand as much as other 4-year-olds, and when she doesn’t understand, she never indicates that, she just appears to be ignoring you. Without her twin, she is a lot less outgoing, and she’ll retreat into this recalcitrant place more often. She wants to participate in things. She just doesn’t know how to get herself there, because of this confluence of factors. And even when her sister is present, Rachel can be more focused on Audrey than on following instructions.

Her old school had a psychologist visit the classrooms periodically, and this woman appreciated Rachel’s nature and helped her teachers understand more about Rachel. She also helped me with ideas on how to approach and reassure Rachel. She’s not a “difficult child”. Well…actually she is, but she’s not flawed. She’s just made in such a way as to be challenging to adults’ sense of control, and that’s a big deal.

Thing is, beyond comprehension, beyond introversion, she is also very independent-minded, and she will not be pushed around for no reason. This will serve her well when she’s older, but for now, I’m struggling with the best way to guide her, to nurture that independent spirit while instilling some sense of the importance of participation.

If a person takes an interest in Rachel, touching her gently on the shoulder and speaking gently and directly to her, that person gets a response from Rachel (a lesson learned the hard way by this mommy). I told one of the new school’s workers this today, in the hopes that she will care enough to try, but the response I got was not encouraging.

I was there for a little bit while everyone dropped their kids off, and it looks like most of the kids are enthusiastic, talkative and engaging. Lucky for them. Because those are the kids who will get special attention…here and elsewhere in the world.

In her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking, author Susan Cain explains the American cultural bias towards extroversion, and in reading it, I recognized my child as belonging to the titular group. It was helpful to me to know, and I even realized that I’m at least 50% introverted myself. (That’s right: I’m neither 100% one way or the other—putting me in a probably large group that the book doesn’t necessarily acknowledge.) I relate strongly to much of the introverted folks, needing plenty of solo-time and quietude myself. People I know would not likely realize that I spend much of my rare solo time in total silence by choice, or that I’m stressed by many common situations, such as crowds. And I most definitely have always preferred one-on-one interactions. Which makes having twins with simultaneous needs extra challenging for me. But that’s a subject for another day.

I can see the potential heartbreak of introversion with my 4-year-old as we begin the school years. It’s not JUST introversion in her case. It’s a little bundle of traits that aren’t well-appreciated…at least in children. Because the only thing everyone (including me at times) wants is compliance from children. It’s not really a great goal, and I’m going to have to do some serious pondering on how to best nurture and advocate for this lovely, sensitive child of mine…who doesn’t appear sensitive, by the way, just as I may not appear to have introverted tendencies to outsiders…she just looks stubborn. I’ll have to help people see past the “negative” traits to reveal the sweetness in her. If only I could find that one special teacher that she needs…every year for the next 13 years. See? Heartbreaking.

I’m still learning exactly the right recipe for encouraging, motivating and teaching her myself, so it’s going to take time and mistakes, but I’m determined to do right by this special person.


In Case You Were Wondering

IMG_8005Having twins is a treat, for the most part. It’s just as charming as can be to watch them play together and care for each other on a daily basis, and it’s fun to ponder how it would be to have a regular partner from birth through childhood—the good and the bad of it. Also, many people in the world love to see twins together, and that’s really fun. It’s overwhelmingly a positive experience.

And of course there are difficulties. I’ve been asked what the most difficult part of having twins is, and…I know what you think I’m going to say: potty training! But no. While that continues to be truly difficult for me with one of my twins, I now know that every kid and every twin set is different.

What’s the hardest thing? It’s the lack of little moments of everyday bonding. This is how that looks:

1. The second girl to get up from her nap bypasses me (waiting for her with open arms and a big smile) because her sister is already up and playing, and that looks more fun.

2. I NEED to talk to Twin A about a safety or learning issue, and Twin B will come and disrupt by physically messing with a) Twin A, b) me, or c) the half-prepared dinner I was working on, which is now all over the living room.

3. I start to ask Twin B about her day or mood, as it seems she needs some individual attention, and Twin A starts a) answering for Twin B, b) talking loudly and disruptively, or c) climbing on my head.

4. I am as much a toy as anything else when there are two of them. Here’s a game: Touch spoon with intent to drop it on the floor, watch mom move quickly to stop you, then make a funny “Eeeeaaah!” noise and laugh with sister at mom. Repeat—alternating twin perps—until mom stiffly removes spoons.

5. One girl climbs on my lap for snuggles, and the other girl MUST join her on my lap. Pushing and crying ensues all around (not excluding me).

Piles of “ruined moments.” I know: it’s all about expectations. The moment is only ruined if I was expecting it to go differently. So do I have a lot of expectations? YES!  I can’t help myself. Over and over, I have lovely nano-moments implode into frustration and disappointment (me) or explode into chaos and crying (them). Most of the time it feels as if I never get to “settle into” the present and really enjoy it. So much for pursuing a state of zen, huh?

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Finding Time For a Hobby

I believe in the importance of having some personal pursuits amidst my stay-at-home-momming. The reasons: a) making time for my own interests is part of leading a balanced life, b) I wanted to take up something (that costs less than golf) at which I can practice, practice, practice and become expert, and c) it’s very important to me to model both of these concepts for my girls.

both pockets

How I can keep my project handy but stashable. Can’t ignore the toddlers!

Wanting to try something new, I recently I took up crochet. Turns out it’s really fun and rewarding. I can make things pretty quickly, and even design things myself—and I only started at Easter! I’m thrilled to be able to “put one in the win column” right away. I can already count crochet as a bona fide skill, and I can get better and try many more advanced techniques from here.

There are great possibilities with crochet, including charity—another concept I want the girls to see in action. Many people crochet lap blankets for the infirm or beanies for preemie babies. I plan to donate some things in the future.

Now, how do I crochet with two needy toddlers around? I put the yarn in my left pocket, the project in my right, and that way I can stash it to help the toddlers a dozen times an hour. Crafty!

Below are some pictures of my projects—some are more primitive than others. I’m learning quickly!

One unexpected consequence: When crocheting at the park the other day, a woman asked me if the girls were my grandchildren! That’s a first. I blame the yarn and not my actual age. (Oh, shut up.)


Potty Training Twins, Part 3 of ?

Tandem lock in. Not the easiest thing for Mama to manage.

We are finally getting it (she said, cautiously).

Today, there has been one (gruesome) accident by Rachel, but after a lecture and putting Panda Man on a high shelf “until she made it to the potty successfully,” she had two minor “hits” on the potty. The thing is, she’s got the runs today. Ahem. Fun stuff. But no way was I putting on a diaper after yesterday!

Yesterday I made sure both girls were full up with milk and ready to go before I started a lock-in with them. Audrey, who napped for two hours bare-bottomed and stayed dry (that’s my girl!) before drinking a cup of milk was sure to be bursting at the seams, and Rachel had had roughly 14 oz of milk in the last hour before her sister got up. Ready Freddy! Right?

Lock in commenced. Lots of playing, which I allowed for a few minutes but then got more serious. “Girls, we just have to go potty before we can go outside and play, ok?” Playing, stalling, more playing, reading volumes and not going…

After 45 minutes (didn’t expect that much delay), Audrey got the job done and got to go out and watch Sesame Street until Rachel was done. Rachel resented the departure of her sister but would not let it sway her to cooperation. She dug in her heels and would not go. Keep in mind she did it earlier in the day and also the day before. I sensed it was stubbornness and after a little bit I had an inkling that this one would be a record breaking holdout. Previous record: 1.5 hours.

I remained the very picture of a calm, supportive mama. I mean I was channeling some zen master…nothing but smiles and encouragement and empathy. For three hours. That’s right. Three hours. (Do they make trophies with a potty on them? Maybe a crying toddler on the floor next to it?)

Actually, I was starting to really doubt myself. Especially because she looked like she was really trying to go a couple of times and then couldn’t, bursting into tears. The thing was, she had done it under the same circumstances earlier and the day before. So I didn’t totally believe it was a new performance anxiety, but she had me second guessing myself. (“I read their sphincter can refuse to open if they aren’t feeling safe…but I know I am providing absolute emotional warmth and safety…”)

I really could not give in, especially the longer it took! If I had, the lesson she’d get would be “If i wait long enough, mama will give in. And she’s waited as long as 2.5 hours, so I now know I must wait longer than that. I will do it because I really want/need to get my way and turn this whole ridiculous potty idea she’s got around.” (Yes, I know toddlers do not think this clearly, but they are very, very determined and expert at testing limits, so sans-words, this is what I think would be happening in her head, more or less.)

So my hands were tied unless I wanted a power struggle from hell on my hands every day. Eventually, she caved. It was dinner time when we emerged from the bathroom. We had gone in there after naps. Luckily, Dad came home before Sesame Street ended and watched over Audrey. Even though I couldn’t give in, Rachel had shaken my conviction in my lock-in method, and I decided during this time that the next day I’d have to change something.

This morning I told them both that I expected them to take themselves to the potty and that I didn’t think we’d have to do any lock-ins because I knew they knew what to do. (Ehh…heh.)

It worked! And guess what? Rachel is not afraid of the bathroom in the slightest, nor treating me any differently than before. She’s her lovely self. And she’s complying (mostly) with my requests to sit on the potty and try to go, even with the trots…and that’s a tough thing to have while learning!

Today I’ve had two potty successes with Rachel and two with Audrey. Audrey’s moving right along…taking herself in there now. She’s very happy to be in charge of this. This mama’s bursting with pride, even knowing the rug could be ripped out from under me any second.

Two more days until traveling. Seems soon. But I remain cautiously optimistic.


And Now It Gets Much Harder…Or Does It?

The toddler years were the most daunting to contemplate when I was told I was having twins. They still are! These are the months and years I worried about the most. The ones my mom worried about on my behalf. And they are here.

The girls have just passed their second birthday and we had some extremely difficult days leading up to it. The thing is…I know it’s only the beginning. I’ve actually said it—if only to myself—many times recently, “This is the real beginning of the toddler times.” Way long ago last summer, when one of the girls had her first public tantrum at Sea World because we wouldn’t walk in her chosen direction, I thought that was the beginning. And it was. Sort of. See, it keeps escalating…the toddlerness I mean. And I’m scared that I can’t even guess how much further we have to go on this journey of willfulness and contrariness. Hoo boy. I mean…they are just barely TWO now!

Time to be honest. Most of the time, I handle the day-to-day craziness very well. I’m happy to give myself this credit because I actually work really hard at it. But occasionally—always when I have to get something done—I can’t handle it, and I freak out a little…throw my own tantrum.

After the birthday, I spent 9 days toddler proofing the kitchen so that I could finally take the gates (mostly) down in the house. I knew that most of the acting up was because they are getting too old to be cooped up in two rooms. I looked forward to getting the project done so I could let them help me with little tasks in the kitchen, which should help them feel some more power and control, and, in theory, act up less.

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Well, that whole week was terrible because I was trying to get projects done and they were acting up like crazy due to my being less attentive. But I pushed through anyway, knowing that at the end was the best prize they could hope for: freedom!

I opened up the kitchen Sunday night (or was it Monday?) and they have been having a blast. They can now run a circuit around the kitchen/living room wall if they like (I wish they would run some laps), draw on the chalkboard wall in the kitchen, help me with little kitchen tasks, and get into new sorts of mischief.

So the kitchen is organized and looks rather good for a mid-remodel kitchen, and I was right…the girls are acting up a little less now, because they are being allowed to exercise more control over their environment. And I have been having success with the gentle parenting method of firmly but respectfully reminding them of boundaries and giving them the choice to comply before I pluck them (Audrey) off the garbage cans…again…and again. Now that I’ve had a few good nights’ sleep.


Don’t You Just Want To Play With Them All Day?

Five-month-old girls.

When my babies were about 7 or 8 months old I guess, my mother-in-law came by for a visit, and while she was here enjoying playing with the babies on their little play mat, she said, “How do you get anything done? If I were you, I’d just want to play with babies all day!” It was an affectionate comment…with an unintended consequence. I immediately had lots of doubts: “I don’t want to play with them all day. Does that mean I am too detached? Selfish? Would a normal parent want to play with their babies all day?

Well, the answer is no. Turns out, most parents struggle with wanting to want to play with their baby (or babies) more. In other words, most of us will think some version of these thoughts, especially in the early months, “Why don’t I actually want to play with them more often?” or “Why does my mind wander so quickly when I sit down to give them some “quality” time?” or “Why does spending time with the babies feel a lot like watching paint dry?” And we don’t readily share those thoughts because we feel ashamed, like we are coming up short in the “job” of parenting. But actually ask around and you’ll find relieved-to-hear-it consensus all around you.

“One new mom admitted to feeling bored at home all day, since she was used to being surrounded by activity and other adults at her former job. Another described rushing out to the grocery store as soon as her husband got home, just to have an outing and some time to herself. Do not feel ashamed or guilty if you’ve had the same feelings.” — excerpt from Positive Discipline: The First Three Years, by Jane Nelson, Ed.D., Cheryl Erwin, M.A., and Roslyn Duffy.

I found this hardest at the pre-walking phase. I mean, they were adorable, of course, and full of fun smiles and giggles, but spending hours on the floor, just watching them or showing them how to do things was at times more difficult than I could have imagined.

In the early days, I thought it so important that I try to have more presence with them that I actually set a timer for 30 minutes at a time and did not let myself go look at my email, or refill my coffee cup. I treated it like meditation: when my mind would start to wander, I’d just gently bring my attention back to the girls. Over and over again.

I know it sounds forced and unromantic, but it worked. Now that the girls are older, they actually play together very well, and spending time with them is easier to enjoy because they are starting to talk, they love books read to them, and they are very, very affectionate! But I still don’t spend all day watching them! I want them to know that mom’s tasks can be important too. It’s part of my desire to teach them that in our family, everyone’s pursuits are to be honored.

I still make sure to spend a little more time just hanging out with them than I’m naturally inclined to, because I know these days will be gone so soon, and I always see something amazing or charming when I just sit and watch. And act as their vaulting board.


My Kids Won’t Have Boxes of Letters…Unless I Write Some

Old letters and cards from my family and friends.

In my endless quest to clean out the garage, I occasionally stop by the big box of letters and pictures and purge a few. This is a hard job, because of course they are sentimental things, and each one needs to be examined individually and decided on.

I’ve found that lately, it’s even harder to approach this box, because as I go through it—through all the letters written to me when I was away at school—I realize that my kids will likely not have a box of letters and cards at all. My niece who is going to college this year might not even receive very many letters.

What’s worse, people routinely wish others “Happy Birthday” on Facebook, rather than mail a card. I did receive 8 birthday cards this year, which is still pretty good these days, but the “art” of actual letter writing has all but died.

Every once in a great while, I’ll send a letter to a good friend, and I will certainly write to my niece when she goes to school, just so she can receive some fun mail (and care packages). But more and more, the norm has become, from least to most personal: Facebook communication, text message, email, phone call (rare too), and Skype. Don’t get me wrong—Skype is amazing and cool, and I make happy use of it so my far-away family can visit with the babies, but there is no permanent keepsake from a Skype communication. I hear one can use a third-party software to record a Skype call (more info here) but then you could have an over-storage problem: most of us would be unwilling to purge even not-so-exciting calls, and then there will be too many in our archives to make it anything less than painful for our family members to wade through when we are gone.

The babies cutely run to the computer and look expectantly at the screen when I dial out on Skype (and then cry if nobody picks up), and it’s so obvious how technology-driven their lives will be. But even though we try to save some emails, because they are particularly special (and we can search and find them quickly), there probably isn’t going to be a lot of people archiving their personal emails digitally for their progeny. And even if some people did, the likelihood that their kids or grandkids would sit down and browse said emails is pretty low. For one thing, there would probably be too many to go through (where do you start?) because it’s just too easy to save digital stuff, making the potential “reward” for browsing through them low, but additionally, it’s just not as snuggly to curl up with one’s computer (even an iPad…sorry) and “click” to open file after file, rather than riffling through colorful papers with people’s personal handwriting on them.

And I think we all have this dilemma with our digital pictures now. It’s so wonderful to be able to take a lot of shots, as we don’t have to pay for printing, but somehow even the bad shots are still just a little too precious to simply delete much of the time, so mass purging and cataloging simply does not happen. Which will make our future archives completely unwieldy. Mine already is. And it’s not properly cataloged and tagged. I keep telling myself I’ll do it someday, but will I? I have over 16,400 photos in my iPhoto library, and those only date back to January 2010!

I mentioned the letters thing to my good friend and she said that we should make sure we teach the etiquette and custom of letter-writing to our kids, so that it stays in tact, at least in their lives, but I actually even wonder if the post office will stay functioning as it is now—cheaply, daily except Sundays, and efficiently—for very long. I think there is a slow death of paper communication happening, and while that’s great for the trees, it seems bad for our personal histories, and maybe even for the long-term health of polite society. Electronic communications are notoriously unfussy (read: spelling and punctuation are rarely given much attention) which means that the standards of communication have already gone down. Think of the Facebook birthday wish. We settle for a less personal experience because that’s just the way things are now. But these changes will likely keep degrading toward the less personal and let’s face it, less courteous.

Will my kids live and work in electronically-wired pods, with little personal interaction? Maybe not. But they probably won’t have a box of sentimental letters to wade through someday either. Unless I furnish one.

I keep a journal to record really great, everyday moments with the babies, partly because the regimentation of the baby books is off-putting—feels like a chore—but also because my personal observations on a given day are so much more intimate than checking off the lists, so to speak, in the books. (Could it be that I’m making myself feel better right now because their books are 95% empty?)

Anyway, I got the idea to write letters to my girls—for them to read in the future. I haven’t finalized the structure of this yet, but I thought it might be fun to “muse ahead,” so that now, while we near their second birthday, I could write a letter to each of them 10 years ahead—intended for them to read when they are 12. I could wax theoretical about what interests I think they’ll have based on how they stack blocks now, and what concerns I have about the future they will inhabit. So it’s me, dreaming, but from my current parenting and cultural vantage. I think it would be fun for them to read these, and fun for me too, as my outlook and style, as well as my concerns and hopes, are likely to morph quite a bit over time. And not to be a downer, but if something were to happen to me sometime along the way, they’d still have letters from me to look forward to for a little while.

I think doing this would be the easiest, most fun way to impress upon them the unique value of letters and letter-writing. They are likely to want to do the same thing for their kids…and the post office won’t even factor in.


More on Television and Toddlers

Girls watching Elmo.

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine told me about a fascinating “Ted Talk” that she found on one of my favorite blogs of all time, Aha! Parenting. She was happy to hear that slow-paced, educational television, such as Mr. Rogers, doesn’t seem to have the adverse effects on children’s health as other, “entertainment” television aimed at children. This is good news for those who have felt that small doses of Sesame Street, for instance, while maybe not exactly beneficial, are not harmful either. In other words, it’s good news for me.

This research also illustrates exactly why I am against my children seeing anything but Sesame Street, although I’d definitely allow Mr. Rogers if it was still on. I used to love that show too.

The summary is that frenetic TV, (think cartoons targeted to slightly older kids, like SpongeBob) causes attention problems, whereas “educational programs like Mr. Rogers posed no increased risk of attentional problems.” Here is a direct link to the 16-minute talk by Dr. Dimitri Christakis, Director of Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development. I highly recommend it.

“Media is very much a part of our lives.  The real research agenda is to find out how to use it in healthy ways.” ~ Dr. Dimitri Christakis


Why Working at Home Rocks

I like being a stay-at-home-mom, it turns out. I was formerly a self-employed graphic artist, and I still mostly worked at home, but my new job has a lot of facets: childcare (of course) and play time, but also cooking, gardening, home improvement (we live in what you’d call a “major fixer”), financial planning, etc. And then there are my hobbies, including this blog.

What I like most about my new “job” is that it’s a lot like working for myself. I must prioritize some jobs but I often get to pick what I want to do on a given day. Believe me, there’s so much that needs doing, I can throw a stuffed bear to hit a project around here that needs attention.

"Mom's White Bread" is actually "Dad's White Bread" to me: my Dad perfected the recipe to emulate his mom's yummy bread.

Also, I love to cook and plan meals. I’ve been on a bread-baking bender lately. I borrowed a stand mixer from my mother-in-law and have been working it to death making white bread, wheat bread, and my favorite, French bread (so easy!) I’m going to need to return that mixer soon, so this week I’m going to make about 10 loaves of each of my favorites and freeze them. Still working on perfecting the rising of the wheat bread, but the recipe in The Joy of Cooking for “All Whole Grain Bread Cockaigne” made with molasses, is the best! 

Lastly, babies make you creative! I’ve found myself wanting to brush up on my very-amateur sewing skills, to make them toys and clothes. I’ve knitted tiny scarves for the girls and their friends. Best of all: I’m planning a “messy day” soon, in which I make some slime, and some homemade play dough, and we’re going to invite all the babies over to make a killer mess of the yard.

I’m looking forward to the messy day so much, because of course the girls want to experiment with their food and drinks constantly, which is normal, but naturally I’m not (often) allowing them to throw and mix and stir their edibles with their hands. They deserve their messy day. What else can I add? Ooh! Washable paints? Anyone know a recipe?


Sweet Thoughts on Positive Discipline

“The inevitable result of consistently employing power to control your kids when they’re young is that you never learn how to influence.” —Thomas Gordon

“I know that when my child rejects me, I’m tempted to withdraw from her emotionally.  But giving her the cold shoulder doesn’t teach her anything positive about how to build a relationship.  Worse, it undermines the supportive relationship that is her best protection throughout childhood.  Remind yourself that when kids are at their least lovable, that’s when they need your love the most.” — Dr. Laura Markham

“Here’s a bumper sticker I’d like to see: “We are the proud parents of a child who’s self-esteem is sufficient that he doesn’t need us promoting his minor scholastic achievements on the back of our car.” — George Carlin

The girls happily playing together. They cooperate very well most of the time.

I’m learning a lot about “Positive Discipline” and trying to employ its tenets here in our household. It matches so well with what I want to accomplish and what I want to convey to my kids, I’m very glad I’ve found it and that there are such great resources to support my efforts.

Here are three examples of what it looks like in our house:

The easiest one: I don’t punish the girls for undesirable behaviors. I keep in mind their curious, learning stage and realize they have to test everything, multiple times. It makes me infinitely more patient, but this does require I take care of myself well, so that I have this capacity to stop and think before reacting. If it’s something we really don’t do, such as bang on the wall heater, I remove them promptly and redirect, telling them it’s “not safe”. This was always my most consistent reaction, but the difference now is that I remember their stage and don’t let my frustration escalate as much. If they can’t be deterred, then I change the situation to keep them safe, and I’ll tell them why as briefly and respectfully as possible. (“I have to block the hallway off until you can be safe around the heater. I understand you’re not there yet, and it’s okay.”)

The sweetest one: When a girl has a tantrum, I get close to her and tell her I understand her feelings, naming them as best I can. I offer hugs if she wants, and if she doesn’t I tell her I’m here when she wants one, and then stay close by, shooting loving glances and smiles until she feels like getting that hug. This one is fun and warm, making it pretty easy to implement. The only problem is when I’ve got dinner on the stove or something. But then I just stay in communication with the girl while I go and turn the stove off or whatever.

The most difficult one: I’m weaning myself off of “Good job!” and instead trying to say, “Look what you can do!” and “You did it!” For some reason it’s very hard to stop myself from the old standby. The thought behind this, in its short form, is that it helps the child to develop an inner sense of accomplishment, not to live for your praise alone. I used to think this was mumbo jumbo, but I don’t anymore. However, it’s going to take some time to retrain me. I do try to think in terms of how I can get them to be proud of themselves, rather than how they can make me proud. In fact, this is one thing I’ve done from early on—I say, “You must be proud of yourself!” a little more often than I say, “I’m proud of you!” But the latter phrase definitely pops out from time to time.

I like the warmth and trust inherent in these techniques, but I have a little further to go to get practiced at them. Another thing I really want to do is separate the girls when Dad is home and we each spend 10 uninterrupted minutes with each toddler, doing whatever they choose to do. Dad is excited about this too, but we haven’t done it yet. We have to get organized. I think first thing in the morning would be a great time for this, but they do love to play together at that time. Maybe before dinner would be better.

For more information on Positive Parenting, try Dr. Laura Markham’s website, which has an absolute wealth of information: http://www.ahaparenting.com/