Friday, April 29, 2011

Meet Julia at 6-12 Months, Part I

Julia was a hard newborn - probably because she was smaller and had an immature system with some gastric issues that made her upset much of the time. However, between 6 and 12 months, she was the more easygoing baby. She was my Sweet Girl and my Sweetie. She had a lovely temperament and wasn't too bothered if her toy was taken away (usually by James).

While James was very focused on becoming mobile between six and twelve months, Julia seemed pretty uninterested. She flipped from her back to her tummy a couple times and then didn't do it again. Meanwhile James was like a turtle and hated being on his back - he'd immediately roll over, and thought that was the most fun game in the world. I imagine for them it was like Julia saw an overhyped movie and didn't see what the commotion was all about and James was like "NO, it's awesome!" And Julia's like "I didn't get the part with Hand Solo and that bear." And James is like, "you mean HAN Solo and CHEWIE?! ARGH!"

Julia about to flip over or striking a ballet pose. (7 months)

We decided that James wanted his independence so badly he wanted to be emancipated at 15 but Julia wanted to be carried around forever and live at home until she's 30. By 12 months she could sit and she could cruise, but she was lacking the transitions like being able to go from laying down to sitting or from sitting to standing. She also wasn't crawling, unless you count the few times she struggled to crawl and ended up crawling backwards a few feet. (Bubby said, "If Julia were going to crawl, that sounds about like Julia.") I mentioned these concerns to the pediatrician at their 12 month appointment and he said not to worry - that with twins they tend to compete with each other. And as if to confirm this, one of the twins started clapping and the other followed suit! As it turns out, within days of the doctor visit, Julia started crawling, sitting up from a laying position, and pulling herself up.

Julia crawled here... (10 months)

...she crawled backwards until her feet started going up the corner of the wall...

...all the way from the activity mat. Julia, she's an um... precocious girl.

Although Julia wasn't focused on mobility during these months, she had other talents. She was exceptionally good at thumb/finger coordination and fine motor skills. Bubby noticed that sometimes she'd pick up a toy and was able to push the buttons on it to make it work or play a song, and then James would come over and take the toy (as he is wont to do) but then he couldn't make it work like Julia so he'd leave it with her, and she'd get it to play again, and then he'd come over again, etc. etc.

Julia is our social butterfly. When held, she always looks around to see who else is there; she's nosy and wants to know everyone's business and where everyone is. If you fed her a bottle on the sofa facing the corner, she'd keep arching her back to see James and whomever was feeding him.

Julia loved exploring our faces, especially our teeth. You knew she was particularly interested when you'd hear her make her long drawn out noise, "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa..." Unlike James she was not very gentle at all, and she actually drew blood a few times. Even when you'd stop her and say "Julia, gentle," she'd let out a devilish shriek and continue. We called her Julia the Dentist. She reminded me of Lawrence Olivier in The Marathon Man.

"No blinding your brother, Julia!" (6 1/2 months)

Mark, it could have been worse. It could have been Julia playing with your face. (8 1/2 months)

Julia on a good day.

Monday, April 25, 2011

First Haircuts

My 15 ½ month-olds were super shaggy. They were long overdue for haircuts but I had waited for my parents to be in town and then my kids got sick! My parents left and came back two weeks later and the babies got sick again! So on the last day of that visit, when the babies were finally over their sickness, we headed out to get my ragamuffins looking spiffy again.

I expected that James and Julia would end up on my lap for their first haircuts but I had a little bit of hope (or self-delusion) that they might be happy to sit in a race car or on a carousel horse for the big event. Or at least long enough to take a few pictures. I also wanted a place that would be patient and gentle with my potentially crying and thrashing munchkins, so on the big day, March 23rd, we went to Just Kids in Los Altos.

Mark was late meeting us and then I insisted that he take some before photos. Thankfully no one else was there and the stylist (and maybe proprietor?) was very patient with us. (Us go overboard on the pictures? That’s unpossible!)

First was Julia. She endured the tugboat for about 20 seconds before being moved to Mommy’s lap. She definitely wasn’t thrilled, but once she was given a new toy to play with she was happy-- or at least tolerant of whatever this was going on. Her bangs were cut so she could see again and her hair was trimmed in the back, sort of like a bob.

Mommy sits with Julia before her haircut.

Despite getting to sit in a tugboat, Julia is NOT happy.

"You know I will never forgive you, right?"

Julia likes her new haircut, but she likes her toy even more.

Next was James. We expected a struggle and we were right. He loved sitting in the tractor but as soon as the stylist touched his hair he was bawling. He continued bawling in Mommy’s lap, and of course his cut took much longer because it needed to be shortened all over. James was seriously thrashing - it was like cutting the hair (or fur) of the Tasmanian Devil - but the stylist was understanding and made it through. James no longer looked scruffy but was a cute little boy. Looking at the pictures he was also a pretty defeated looking little boy. Poor little guy.

Papa holds James before his haircut.

James likes his tractor.

James moves to Mommy's lap but he's still not happy.

"Oh. What's this toy?"

"Oh yeah, I mean STOP!"

James looks like a vet who saw some of his best friends killed in action - Puppy Dog, Blue Car, and Kitty Cat Puzzle Piece.

James has seen pain no other toddler knows...

Each cut was $20 and included a certificate for the occasion and a mini Ziploc baggie of their hair. The stylist earned her $20 with James’ thrashing but Julia’s was so quick it made me think there should be a different rate for girls. Generally I thought each cut was good, though later I noticed that Julia’s bangs were slightly uneven, and James’ hair had some longer pieces in the back.

After we left, when I was putting Julia into her car seat, I noticed she had tried to make off with one of the salon’s toys which I then made my dad return. Julia: portrait of a year-old klepto.

At home showing off the new haircuts.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Meet James at 6-12 Months, Part III

Seeing us yawn (the height of hilarity)
Slapping things (especially the floor and changing table shelf, and possibly ants)
Touching and toppling the diaper pail
Yogurt, peas, apples
Feet (other people's and eating his own)
Crawling outside (preferably on concrete)
Tummy time
Looking at the dinosaur poster with Papa

"James, are you putting your foot in your mouth?" (7 months)

"What? No! Gross! I don't put my feet in my mouth or anything like that!"

"Nom nom nom"

James shows off his hat and his clapping. (8 months)

Puppy Dog
Papa's travel mug (he likes blowing into it for the sound)
Wipes box
Red and yellow ball with small yellow ball inside
Blond girl toy
Bee/flower toy
Giraffe toy (to eat)

"That morning cup of joe really takes the edge off before a busy day of putting toys in my mouth." (10 months)

5 Silly Monkeys
You're My Little Love Bug

Grandma reads James one of his favorite books while he holds his Corduroy-like teddy bear. (7 months)

"Where is James going?"
"That's my _____!" (often I'd get something away from James by taking the item, playing tug of war with him for it, and getting him to laugh as I said "That's my ____!")

In the Tiki Room (main song for sleepytime)
"Close to James" to the tune of Close to You (alternate song for sleepytime)
The Rainbow Connection (alternate song for sleepytime)
If I Only Had a Brain (alternate song for sleepytime)
You Raise Me Up (when I sing he gives me the sweetest swooning look)
"Oh Mommy Loves Little James" to the tune of Running Bear
Happy Talk (sung by Grandma with hand motions)
This Old Man (sung by Grandma, Papa, and Bubby)
You Are My Sunshine (sung by Papa and Bubby)
Do Your Ears Hang Low (sung by Bubby)

Food not coming fast enough
Being on his back
Bubbles hitting him in the face
Having to sit (instead of stand) when put into his high chair

For some reason all the bubbles hit James. (10 months)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Meet James at 6-12 Months, Part II

As Grandma says, James is "all boy." He likes to hit things, explore, and figure out how things work. He also hates the soft texture in books, and if I brought his hand to it he'd pull it away as though I were making him touch a hot stove. He loved crawling down the hallway and playing the game "Where's James going?" I'd leave the door to the nursery open and he would crawl down the hall and when I'd say "Where's James going?" he'd laugh and try to crawl faster but his legs would slip out from under him. Hint: Where James was going was always Mark's bathroom.

James's other favorite pastimes were playing in the closet, looking at his reflection in the mirrored closet doors (though he hated the mirror when he was younger), and moving the closet doors back and forth. (We finally had to take the doors off for fear of pinched fingers.) James loved to slap and bang things. When James picked up a toy he usually would hit it and then put it in his mouth. He likes to figure out how things work, and I think he's an engineer in the making. When he was able to get to the entrance to the nursery where the hallway is hardwood floor, he loved slapping the floor with his hands. We also had an ant problem these months, and sometimes Papa said that James would slap the floor if he saw an ant.

He and Julia also enjoyed emptying the changing table shelf. After that, diapers and washcloths were constantly on the floor and we'd put them back occasionally to give the babies the thrill of emptying shelves again. James also enjoyed pulling out the entire extra crib plank (which is the length of his crib) out from under his crib. For about a month James liked to crawl and rotate so that he was completely under the crib except for his head. We'd call it his Man Cave.

"That other baby can high five too!" (8 1/2 months)

James loves playing in the closet. (9 months)

When James discovered what a great sound hitting the floor made, he hung out here all the time. Then Papa taught him to slap ants here too. (8 1/2 months)

James chillin' in his Man Cave. (8 1/2 months)

James was also the hermit crab of pacifiers. If he came across another pacifier on the floor he'd spit his out and take the new one. Obviously new ones taste better. A few times we'd line up all the pacifiers a few feet a part and watch him crawl to each one, spit his out, and put the new one in.

James gained a lot more hair during these months, and it became more of a sandy color and less strawberry. James' brow would turn red right before he started to cry or when he needed a nap. I'd see it and declare he'd need a nap within the next 15 minutes. He also continued to have the faintest blue vein (it looks like a tiny bruise to an outside observer) between his eyes that he's had since a few days after he was born. James was a cute chubby baby for the beginning of the 6-12 month period, but around 9 months his face started to look more like a boy. And after he started crawling (at 8 1/2 months) he started to look leaner. Basically with his 93rd percentile head (calculated at his 12 month well check) his body began to resemble a lollipop or bobble head doll.

James is a boy of interesting noises. He often likes to move his lips together fast to make a "buppubbuppubba" sound. I will do the same really fast back to him and kiss his face and he'll laugh. He also likes to make a clicking sound with his tongue against the roof of his mouth and was delighted whenever anyone made the sound back. In the middle of the night he liked to make loud and long i-yi-yi-yi noises. Our favorite sound is a guttural "arrrawrrawrrawrrawr" sound that we referred to alternately as his possessed frog voice, his beached whale sound, and his lion roar.

We also discovered James's budding foot fetish. He likes grabbing my feet and especially my socks - on or off my feet - as well as eating his sister's shoes. He left chomp marks in Julia's ruby slippers at Halloween, and at the pumpkin patch was obsessed with Julia's new shoes and kept putting them in his mouth... while her feet were still in them. Once we shot a video of him putting her bare foot in his mouth.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Meet James at 6-12 Months, Part I

James was my mellow easy baby the first six months, but he became the more difficult one between six and twelve months as he got more mobile. As he learned more skills like flipping over, clapping, crawling, and pulling himself up, he would not easily go down for naps because all he wanted to do was practice his new skills. It was cute - you could sometimes hear James awake in the middle of the night, clapping - but it also made things challenging. When the twins would be put down for naps, James would pull up and stand in his crib on the side next to Julia's and jump up and down excitedly like an ape, and then neither would sleep. Between that and the first one waking up in the morning waking up the other with their crying, we ended up moving Julia to a separate room.

James pulling himself up for the first time. You can see Mommy in the mirror taking a photo of this momentous occasion. (9 1/2 months)

Rrrrrrrrrrrrip! (9 1/2 months)

James became very willful and hated being thwarted from something he was doing. Basically he entered the terrible twos at 11 months. He was just a boy with a busy schedule of changing table shelves to bang on, hardwood floors to bang on, mirrored doors to bang on, and toys to bang together, and he didn't like being interrupted from those activities.

James was harder these months but he was still my Sweet Boy and my Sweetie who loved affection and being held. He also had the softest, happiest voice when he babbled. Like Julia he liked playing with our faces but he was much more gentle. His stranger anxiety was at its peak these months and when a new person would smile at him and we'd see his lower lip start protruding, we knew we were in trouble. To strangers James was our serious shy boy, but at home he was my Giggles.

Our gentle face explorer. (8 1/2 months)

We had to hide books and bottles from James or he'd cry upon seeing them if he couldn't get to them. He also was very vocal during solid feedings and always wanted the food faster or wanted to skip the food entirely to get to the bottle. Even though he was crying he'd continue to eat so it was hard to know when he was actually done. There were few foods that James didn't like; we called him The Garbage Disposal.

I fed the babies milk in Boppy pillows until about 10 months. When James would finish his bottle, he'd just flip over and crawl off. He was a boy that loved flipping over. As soon as he mastered that, taking monthly growth photos of him lying down next to Patrick Pup became a two person activity - one to photograph, the other to wrangle. James would flip over (or try to) on the changing table and in the crib. He was the potato bug of babies. And then for a week or two in the middle of the night he'd wake up and, confused as to why he was flipped over and unable to right himself, he'd cry out and we'd have to right him like a turtle. I would put the babies in Bumbo seats for reading time and James figured out how to hurl himself backwards out of his seat. He also liked to upend the Bumbo seat like the Hulk.

This is the last time I took monthly growth photos on my own. Notice that James is already in mid-flip. (9 months)

James likes to wrestle his Bumbo seat. (9 months)

"Hmmm... Me not sure how I feel about Bumbo seat staying on ground. Hulk have to think about this." (33 years?)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Kathy's Unsolicited Advice for Parents-to-Be, Part IV

16. Don't wash your hands.

I developed a terrible case of eczema that the dermatologist says won't go away for about 3 years ("until they're out of diapers") because of all the bottle and hand washing. I'll spare you the details (#14 on this page), but I recommend washing your hands as little as possible, not using hot water, wearing vinyl gloves to wash bottles (or making someone else do it), using Dove Sensitive Skin soap, and putting vaseline on your hands before bed (and then putting cotton gloves on your hands) to de-stress them.

17. Buy tubes - not tubs - of Desitin for diaper rash.

It's only an "e" but it makes all the difference. Yes tubs are more economical, but with tubs you end up with Desitin everywhere - it's especially hard to avoid as you probe deeper into the Desitin tub. It's like that maple syrup container at your local diner that's always covered with maple syrup.

Your hand and wrist will look like this...

...But you'll feel like this.
(for the record these are not our children)

18. Sing.

I was amazed at how my singing was enough to silence crying babies, especially when they were little. (Related tip: Whistling works ever BETTER than singing. I try to reserve it for "special" occasions - like complete meltdowns - so they don't get desensitized to it. I have a certain song when we go out ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight") and just my singing it excites them because they know a trip outside is in store. Plus I have certain songs reserved for taking naps (such as "Let's All Sing Like the Birdies Sing" from The Tiki Room at Disneyland), a song I made up for diapering ("Here We Go a Diaperin'"), and more songs I made up for meal times ("Yogurt Starts with a Y" and "Apricots: They're Small and They're Orange".)

Worst Advice (a.k.a. Non-Advice)

1) Get your sleep now!

Thanks. I think I'll go hibernate for three months.

2) Your body will never be the same!

Thanks, Mom, for telling me this repeatedly. You're not bitter about something I did, are you?