Friday, August 27, 2010

Meet Julia, Part II

Julia is definitely Miss Personality. It's evident in her pictures, too. James will try to please with his smiles, but Julia gives all sorts of interesting expressions from exuberant smiles to "are you done yet?" stares, and all are photogenic. Julia is a charmer and entertains us with her cute shrieks, happy noises, and squeals. While James talks softly, Julia speaks in squeals and has a larger repertoire of gaa gaa goo goo sounds. She loves loves LOVES her stuffed bunny rabbit. Her eyes light up and she makes happy sounds when she sees it and she'll pull it close to go to sleep. When she was only a few months old she learned to (sort of) kiss it. ("Kiss kiss kiss Mommy . Kiss kiss kiss Julia ." Then I say, "Julia kiss bunny?" And Julia will attempt to kiss it. James on the other hand tries to eat the bunny.)

Some of Miss Photogenic's interesting expressions:

Shrouded (4 1/2 months)

"Are you done yet?" (5 months)

Zombie (5 1/2 months)

Even before they were born, Mark would talk about taking the twins to see the sheep near our then-apartment. (Yes, there's a large flock of sheep grazing there for much of the year.) He declared that James would chase the sheep but Julia would be afraid of them and he'd have to hold her. Several months ago when he started dive bombing Julia with sofa cushions he changed his mind about that. See, Mark will drop big sofa cushions on Julia repeatedly, and she'll laugh and laugh. (The first time I said, "Those cushions are too big!" but then Julia thought it was great fun.) James enjoys it too but not as much as Julia, and because he's shy around people, Mark now thinks that Julia will be the one chasing the sheep. Mark also likes to tell Julia and James, "You're just babies. You don't know anything," though sometimes he concedes, "They know something about milk."

If I were to make predictions for the future about Julia I'd say she will talk before James (but he will walk first - even though right now she's steadier on her feet in a standing position). Grandma thinks she will skip crawling altogether, and start walking. Given her hatred of tummy time I have to agree. Once in the middle of the night I heard the word "okay" so plain as day I thought someone was behind me, but it was just Julia in her bassinet! I'm curious what the future will hold for Julia with her fun loving and outgoing personality. Grandma thinks she will be an actress, and Grandpa hopes for a plumber (more because he needs a good plumber).

"Are you seriously making me wear this hat?" (3 months)

Wait, is she giving the... Why, yes... Yes she is... (4 1/2 months)

Julia's finished with pop-up books and has moved on to reading about how to raise herself. (4 1/2 months)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Meet Julia, Part I

If you had to describe Julia in just one word, that word would be "exuberant." When she smiles not only does her whole face light up but her whole body gets into it too, kicking out her feet and swinging her arms. If you walk by her crib after she's woken up from a long sleep, she'll put on a performance to try to get your attention and coax you into picking her up. Julia looks like Mark, but acts like me since we're both outgoing and love to be around people. When we drive to a restaurant, after the twins wake up from their car-induced nap, James is always a bit cranky but Julia is all ready to catch other patrons' eyes. My mom says I was also a flirt when I was a baby.

Notice how Julia's whole body is happy. (4 1/2 months)

Julia dances a spritely little jig. (4 1/2 months)

Julia holds court with her grandmothers. Being the center of attention is how she likes it. (3 1/2 months)

The rule of thumb for most babies is to let them drink until they're done because inately they're good at self-regulating their intake. Julia, on the other hand, in her first months, would guzzle and guzzle milk from the bottle, and burst out crying when we'd stop her to burp. In the beginning she was very prone to spitting up, even after we learned not to overfeed her, and we were concerned she wasn't getting (or keeping) enough food. We also think she had frequent gas pains and for her first few months she cried a lot; her sad cry broke my heart and Mark used to call her "Sad Face." Fortunately she grew out of this within a few months and into the wildly happy baby that she is now.

She was born a pound lighter than James (4 lbs. 9 oz. to his 5 lbs. 9oz.) and for the first several months acted more newborn-y, often crying for no discernible reason (to us, anyway) and wanting only to be held. She was a nice holding size (and still is - she just melts into your chest). Despite being around the 50th percentile for her age in height and weight, she still pales in comparison next to James. He's only a couple pounds heavier now but looks more so, perhaps because of his massive cranium.

Little Julia, only a few days old

James and Julia go head to head. Note James's longer body and um... sizable head. (3 1/2 months)

Julia still loves to be held and would rather interact with us - either being held or sitting in a Boppy pillow next to us - than play by herself. Up until a few months ago when she got fussy the only thing that would calm her was being walked around the apartment with frequent stops to look in the mirror, her favorite thing. (I don't mean to imply that she's going to be narcissistic. I'm sure it's just an innocent interest in the mirror.) We referred to her as our prima donna and our temperamental diva since she always wanted attention. And when you'd try to put her down for a nap, even though her eyes were closed, she'd know as soon as you put her down. (Sometimes both babies will clutch your shirt while falling asleep so you can't put them down without waking them.) While James was initially our easygoing baby, Julia lately has been even easier than James, mostly because she's easier to put down for a nap, and has been a general delight.

Let sleeping Julias lie. (3 1/2 months)

Julia's my pretty girl. There's no question that Julia resembles her Daddy. Bubby says she even recognizes Julia's expressions as "looking like a Pilloff," particularly Mark's dad. Julia looks like a little pixie and has had a cute little mohawk for several months now. The first several months she had wild eyes because the whites of her eyes were visible above the pupil, but now she looks less feral. It's funny that James looks like me but has very masculine features, and similarly, Julia, who most resembles Mark, has feminine features. Of course she's cute now, but I think her features will make her a stunner when she's older. She has almond shaped eyes, very long eyelashes, a delicate mouth, and is generally dainty with long legs. And she has big feet so we predict that she will be tall. (Big paws predict a puppy will one day be big so I assume it's the same for humans!). The soft spot on top of her head moves in and out when she breathes. She and James both have widow's peaks which were very visible when they were born. Because of that they looked alike for their first weeks but never again after (except for the pale skin and blue eyes).

Daddy and his Mini Me. (3 months)

Julia, crazy eyed killa. (1 1/2 months)

Where did Julia's mouth go? (2 months)

Julia chillaxin' with her cord stump. Note her blond widow's peak. (A little over one week old)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Video Break: James and Julia Have a Conversation. Sort of.

The twins have definitely started interacting with each other more in the past month. They sit next to each other to eat solid food, so meals sometimes takes a backseat to conversations like this one.

Mark says, "This is the first time I've seen them really interact with one another and maybe try to communicate. But if you just heard the audio you might think it was a cat fight. Also, YouTube video compression was not kind-- the original looks a lot nicer."

This was taken yesterday, 8/13/10.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Baby Gear I Couldn't Live Without: The Top 10

1) Boppy Pillows
We used these briefly for nursing, but they took on a life of their own as a place for other activities. We lay babies in them for feeding, which is especially important if you're feeding two at once! Before the babies got more mobile we also used them as a place for the babies to sleep. (There's a tag right on the Boppy that says "Not for sleeping" and my friend Leslie always wanted to take a picture of them sleeping next to the tag.) Boppy pillows are also useful as a place to put babies after they're rocked to sleep. You can lightly put them down and continue petting them until they fall deeper into sleep. Even though their eyes are closed, babies always seem to know when you're dropping them off in a crib. Grandma also liked to put the babies in Boppys with a toy and have them sit next to her in the early morning. Some nursing pillows that aren't Boppys (I'm looking at you, Breast Friend) don't have this added functionality.


Julia falls asleep during a wardrobe malfunction.

Hanging Out

James hides amongst the stuffed animals, E.T. style.

James is ready to get his Saturday Night Fever groove on.

2) Sports Brella
I just started using my Sports Brella this week, and I don't know how anyone can go to the park with their babies without one. My first visits to a park I put out a blanket in the shade, but when I laid down on the blanket I saw what they saw - namely the sun in their eyes through the trees the whole time. I was very uncomfortable and I thought the idea of them staring at the sun was a bad one. Kashi at my twins club suggested I get a Sports Brella from Costco for $38. It provides up to 8 feet of shade, and I can continue to use it after the babies are grown.

Go go gadget Sports Brella!

3) Picnic Blanket
Like the Sports Brella it's not just for the babies and you can keep using it. You'll need a picnic blanket if you're going on playdates to the park. A picnic blanket can never be too small, and waterproof is a plus. You'll need a big blanket on the floor of your home for your little one to practice tummy time and flipping over and all that, and we use this for home and outside. Also, if you're doing any photo shoots with your baby (I wouldn't know anything about this...) you want a blanket big enough that you won't see the edges of it in the photograph. Most picnic blankets are patterned (not as good), but you might want to think about getting a big blanket just for photos.

As a picnic blanket

Note how the boppy pillows are in use here so I can feed both at once.

As a play area

Julia, about to practice flying and probably about to spit up in my mouth

James practicing sitting and probably about to spit up into my mouth

As a photo backdrop

Julia doesn't know where her hat ends and her blanket begins.

4) Socks That Look Like Shoes
Socks that look like shoes complete an outfit when babies aren't yet in the walking stage and don't require shoes. Unfortunately the socks run small and the twins outgrew them quickly. We have Mary Janes for Julia and high top sneakers for James. The recent assortment we bought for Julia even includes ballet shoes.

The babies shill for the man

5) Exersaucer
I've read that too much time in these can negatively impact babies' ability to stand and walk since their leg positioning in the Exersaucer is abnormal. Well, we stick to a strict 15 minute policy. Both babies can usually play there longer than anywhere else before needing to be rescued so this is a godsend when I need to do something like pump or eat. This is ours - everyone I know has the same one.

Julia exersaucing it up

6) Crinkly Animals
They're a triple threat - crinkly, soft and plushy, with soft plastic feet to chew on. The twins love these. (They can be found at Target.)

7) Books
James has two clear favorites right now. One is Five Silly Monkeys. They both weren't a fan of this at first - there's a button that makes the sound of monkeys chattering and I think it scared them. But now James laughs every time he hears it. Julia hasn't decided if she likes it. James - and I think Julia too - have figured out that the button makes the sound. The other book is Where Is Baby's Belly Button? They both try to flip up the pop-up on the page to find the answer. James will get so excited he hits the pages.

We have the version of the right. Also, I just learned what an ombliguito is.

James has figured out that the button makes the sound but all he can do is pound his palm on it which won't activate it-- poor little guy.

8) Hair Bows
I love putting my girl in hair bows before going out. The larger and more ridiculous the better. Grandma found most of the ones that Julia wears on Etsy.

Yet another photo of Julia and our favorite bow

Here's another favorite bow

9) Black and White Drawings
My friend Rachel R. sent us a link to print out black and white drawings. Young babies love black and white designs so I hung these over their cribs and changing table.
Black and White Drawings from BrillBaby (click to download Infant Stimulation Cards)

The ones we used were free but you can also get something similar on Amazon like this:

There are other animal ones to choose from, too.

10) Car Seat Toy Arch
Grandma bought this car seat attachment arch because, surprisingly, it was one of the few that are actually safe to use while driving. It also had the added bonus of having lots of interesting things to play with. We put a baby in the car seat in the apartment, attach the toy arch, and it becomes another play station. (And if you're a parent you know you want as many play stations - activity mat, exersaucer, etc. - as possible.)

James and the toy arch at work. (You can see the pinwheel spinning.) He usually grabs and then tries to eat the three dangling doodads at once. Here he's a chomp away.

Mark attached the arch to James's feet. James didn't seem to mind.

Honorable Mentions:
  • Pacifier Clip - I recommend the kind that holds the pacifier with velcro. This one is like ours but can be found at Babies R Us, I believe, for less.
  • Activity Mat - This is a must have but there are many different ones to choose from on the market (an activity mat would have made my top 10 but there are many different good ones to choose from - as opposed to other items that made my top 10 where that isn't the case - so I didn't include it). We really like ours. James is partial to eating the giraffe.
  • Activity Chair - Again, a must have but there are many on the market to choose from. Here's ours.
  • Lovies - Definitely have some lovies for your baby that they can hold when it's time to go to sleep. A blankie square and a stuffed animal are great. I give them the blankie square as I rock them to sleep, and when I roll them into their cribs they grab tightly to their stuffed animals and go into a sleep coma.

James and his blankie square. He also has a stuffed puppy dog.

There has been no greater love between a baby and toy than Julia and her bunny rabbit. She tries to eat kiss it.
  • Mobile - This was especially good to have the first four months. I loved ours but we took the mobile part down too early and replaced it with the mobile's image projector (there was a choice of one or the other). Unfortunately they never really took to the image projector. Also, amusingly our TV remote would often turn on the mobile from across the room.
  • Whale tub - This works great for baths and can be adjusted for when they get older. Plus it's a whale tub! A whale tub!

I bathe three week old James for the first time in the whale tub.

No one told Julia there would be cameras at bath time!