Tuesday, November 13, 2012

James and Julia at 21-24 Months: MNO Playgroup, Taking Walks, and a Bath Boycott


Bubby visits in late October, and the twins like to hold her hands while they all walk down the hall together. Someone usually ends up having to walk backwards. For days after she leaves, they clearly still remember the backwards walking as indicated when James runs to the nursery at top speed and then suddenly gets to the final hallway and turns around and walks backwards. While Bubby’s here the babies watch her get dressed, and then she says “Now you get dressed,” and they run to the changing table. This despite them on normal occasions never wanting to put on clothes.

The babies insist on holding Bubby's hands when walking to the nursery.

Bubby returns at Thanksgiving with Grandpa who hasn’t seen the twins since the previous Thanksgiving. Despite being able to identify him in their photo book before he arrives, they are a little afraid of him at first, especially James. The twins begin their turkey comas early and both nap 2 to 2 ½ hours every day they’re here - a new record. Of course when everyone leaves and I’m on my own again they go back to sleeping their usual 1 ½.

Grandpa gives James a ball he brought.

One day there’s excitement in the house when Mark catches a 5-inch long lizard in the house armed only with a cup and his wiles. The babies ooh and aah over it and then Mark releases it outside. And then a few days later we find an identical lizard. We don’t know if it’s the same lizard since we didn’t tag the first lizard’s ear, goat-style. New lizard appears to be pretty stupid, even for a lizard, and lounges inside a Tupperware container so Mark simply gets the lid for said container and traps it. This time Mark releases it a block away so it won’t find its way back. Hopefully it didn’t leave a little lizard bread crumb trail.

Mark proudly displays the lizard he caught inside the house.

On Thanksgiving Day Julia doesn’t nap and has a total meltdown after dinner. Mark and I end up wrestling her into pajamas and putting her to bed. Meanwhile, James discovers he loves pie. When I take pictures of the twins in their Thanksgiving and Halloween outfits I have a great time because they keep running up to me for unsolicited hugs.

Julia helps make Thanksgiving pie.

Thanksgiving dinner

On Thanksgiving, just before going into full tantrum mode, Julia wants us to know she's upset so she knocks over her milk cup.

And James helps eat it. (His first pie!)

Thanksgiving photo shoot hug attack!

Once when my parents arrive after four weeks away (a long stretch for them), my mom enters the house first and James and Julia hug her, and then run away excitedly and then back to her over and over (see video). Julia begins calling my mom “Gaga” in early October, and even though James had been saying “Grandma” for a couple weeks he goes along with calling her “Gaga” as well.

Papa teaches them to show where their beards grow. Yes, James and Julia. Papa sits on his chair on the porch and they like playing out there with him. One day when Papa leaves, James looks like he’s about to cry. He really loves his Papa.

Papa loves hanging out on the porch with his grandbabies.

James and Julia attend the second birthday of twins, Josh and Sam, who live just up the street, and I discover that Julia (a.k.a. “Miss Picky”) is the only toddler alive who doesn’t eat pizza. We plan to attend their friend David’s second birthday but it gets cancelled on account of crazed gunman on the loose! (Before this, the only mayhem striking Cupertino was the serial flasher by Donut Wheel.)

Josh blows out his candles as Sam and his parents Bryan and Debbie look on.

Back in April I started organizing a Mom’s Night Out wherein I invited a bunch of moms I knew (that for the most part didn’t know each other) to a local restaurant, one evening a month. And a few months later I asked those moms if they wanted to have a playdate together. So in September we start our first Mom’s Night Out playdates. Our Monday morning playgroup includes Debbie (mom to Josh and Sam), Rachel P. (Oliver), Stacy (Ronan), and Sharon (Zoe and Zachary), and our first playdate has 5 moms, 1 nanny, 3 sets of twins, and 2 singletons in my living room! I’m glad to have survived. The five moms get along like gangbusters and it becomes our weekly moment of sanity.

First Mom's Night Out Monday morning playdate in my living room. (Moms Debbie, Rachel and Sharon in picture; Stacy, Sharon's nanny, and me not pictured), and 8 kids (Ronan, Sam, James, Julia, Oliver, Zoe, Zachary, and Josh).

We also have a Thursday afternoon playgroup which includes Mona (mom to Rohan and Kapil) and Kathy C. (Bella and Ava), but that one ends up dissolving after a few weeks because the timing and distance are difficult.

First Mom’s Night Out Thursday afternoon playdate with Kathy C. and Mona and our three sets of twins. (From left: Julia, Kapil, Ava, Bella, Rohan, James.)

We go to Google twice in September, and the babies have their first real Google lunch. The twins visit Mark’s co-worker Emily and run up to her sofa and excitedly yell, “Blue!” They also let her know her trash can is blue something in her purse is blue. Emily gives them stickers. It’s the babies’ first time holding stickers and they are super excited.

The babies discover stickers for the first time. Whenever Mark's co-worker Emily gives them one, Julia meticulously applies hers to the ground and then asks for another.

James adds a sticker to the collection on his arm.

We make our yearly trek to the pumpkin patch with Papa and Gaga. James carries pumpkins. Julia likes walking in her own direction.

At a playdate at Kashi’s house, she turns on the sprinklers for our kids will play in them. Julia just stands in the line of fire and watches the sprinklers and then gets upset when she gets soaked. James prefers to play in the dirt. On day I put a plastic file container in the backyard and fill it with water and toys, and they love it.

The backyard splash fun ended right after I took this picture. Something about taking a cup full of cold water to the face.

My friend “Todd Splash” hosts a Las Madres playdate where he fills an inflatable pool with cooled cooked spaghetti, no sauce. None of the kids are that keen going in. I put Julia in and she wants no part of it and immediately crawls out. James may have lasted the longest but he just stands there with a look of confusion. Nonetheless, Todd is undeterred in his enthusiasm and sits inside the pool, trying to lure neighborhood kids inside by piling pasta on top of his body. (Note to self: No sleep-overs for the babies at Todd’s.)

Todd tries his best to show James how fun the pasta is.

This is exactly how long Julia lasted.

Also, the twins are fascinated by rain - it’s the first time they’ve seen any in 5 or so months.


I assume Julia’s second year molars have arrived when she points and says “mouth” and acts like she’s in pain. I give her Ibuprofin that day and thankfully it seems to be the worst (and only day) of it.

One day Julia makes a frowny face and points inside her mouth as though she has a tooth coming in that hurts. She lets me put my finger in to touch it. Then James starts making a sound like he is in pain and opens his mouth for me. But then when I put my finger inside he giggles and chomps down on it. Little faker! And the next day James fusses like his mouth hurts and I look over and his gigantic grin gives him away like he wants to do it again!

Julia gets a cold one day and doesn’t nap. And Hell hath no fury like a Julia with a cold and without a nap. She even gets mad when I slow down the stroller during a walk.

Another day James cries for nearly an hour straight and acts strangely, so I try to take his temperature under his arm but he fights me. Then I try to take it rectally (which I haven’t done since he was an infant) and he’s clearly not expecting that and he rears up and looks at me like “WHAT THE F?!”


New Words
In early September, James wears a shirt with a baseball player that we point out. After hearing it once, James starts saying “baseball.” This is the quickest he’s ever picked up a word. In mid-September the babies say “Bubby” for the first time during a call to Mark’s mom. A week and a half later James says “Guh” for Grandma and then “Guh-ma.” Two months later while on a Skype call with my parents, Julia says “hug” and “kiss” and then “happy.” In September they say “Daddy” instead of “Dada” for the first time.

One day I figure out that James has awoken from his nap because I hear him saying, “uh oh,” the new word he’s been practicing. In early October Julia starts saying “no” and it’s the cutest “no” ever and we keep asking her to repeat it, joking that we’re going to regret it in a few months (an example of the cutest “no” ever is here). Only a week later her “no” is lower pitched and not as cute. The twins don’t say “yes” but they do say “heh” to indicate affirmation.

Julia says “penis” for the first time. I’m not really surprised because she continually asks for me to pick her up while James is getting his diaper changed to have me identify that part of James’s anatomy. Julia starts saying “bobo” for booger and points to her nose when she wants me to wipe it.

I’m not sure who is stronger with regards to language, but James is better at enunciating which is a little surprising because I thought being tongue-tied might present some difficulty. His enunciation improves quickly too - his “mo” becomes “milk” and his “bee-bo” becomes “baseball.” The first time he says “water” it is perfectly enunciated and not “wawa.” It’s very cute the way he says Julia: “Dewey” or “Jewy” (see video).

The twins learn the word “avocado” but pronounce it “caca” which pretty much also sums up their feelings on avocado. One day they learn two new words: blueberry and shirt (see video). They’re no longer G-rated the way James says them (“boobie” and “shirt” without the “r”).

James keeps parroting Mark saying “I don’t know” and Mark finally asks James if he knows what it means and James says “I don’t know.” One day while talking on the phone and pushing the babies on the swings I say “bye” on the phone and James and Julia repeat it for three minutes straight. My myna bird James says “Hi sweetie” after I say it to him. The next time we’re at Gymboree, Papa tells the instructor that James has something to say to tell her and he says “Hi sweetie.”

Julia still loves pointing to pictures in books and having me identify them, even if it’s the same item multiple times in a row. One day while I try to talk to Grandma on the phone, Julia points to 20 tomatoes in a row in the Baby Colors book and I have to name each. And I better name them as soon as she wants. (“Mama!!!” “Tomato.” “Mama!!!” “Tomato.”) Another day for 20 minutes she takes bracelets off one hand to put on another and then back and again, and as she removes them she asks the name of each color. If two seconds go by and I haven’t answered she whines. Meanwhile I’m trying to clean up after their breakfast.

The Phone
I teach the twins to answer the phone by saying “hi.” Later at naptime I let James lie down with his toy phone and for 15 minutes I hear him happily screaming “Hi!” into the phone. Another day I hear Julia saying “Hi Mommy!” and I turn around to see she’s on the plush phone. I pick up another toy phone and have a conversation with her. Then James picks up the slice of pizza he’s eating, puts it against his ear, and says “Hi.” I ask who’s on the phone and he says “Bubby” (see video).

"Hello? Hello?! You have to speak up! I have pepperoni in my ear."

Julia studies the colors on the rainbow in the book Peek-a-Zoo and without my asking, picks up items in each color in the room. In September they are obsessed with colors, but when it comes to naming colors, at first their default is blue and backup default is purple (meaning that they always identify those correctly but when they guess other colors they’re always blue or purple, too). The next ones they say and identify correctly are green, pink and black (see video). I think they’re identifying colors early for their age so it’s nice to see them finally ahead of the curve on something! By October they can speak the names of each color to identify them, but Julia can’t quite say “orange.” She consistently uses another word altogether that I’m sure sounds like “orange” to her.

By early October the twins can definitely count to two and they can name all ten numbers upon seeing them. They understand the concept of two but after that it’s abstract - Mark will ask how many cucumbers they want and they always say “two,” not a larger number which is what I’m sure they’d want. Papa works with Julia on the number puzzle and James loves when Gaga shows him the Slide and Count: Ten Playful Pups (“abacus pups”) book (see video of Julia with her abacus pups).

In mid-October I tell Bubby in the car after picking her up at the airport that they try to count. To show her, they count 1-2-3 together and then Julia guesses the next number: 2 (see video). They try again and together they get to 10. At least one of them gets the next number right each time.

By the beginning of November the twins, particularly James, can identify shapes, especially circles. When we’re outside he points to the manhole cover and says “circle.”

In mid-October the twins put together their first two-word phrase: “Mommy pee pee.” I am so proud. It is immediately followed by “Daddy pee pee,” “Bubby pee pee,” “Papa pee pee,” and “Gaga pee pee” (see video). They also start adding “pizza” to the roster of our names (“Mommy pizza,” “Daddy pizza,” etc.), which by that I assume they mean we eat pizza (see video). They also add our names to the front of the word “Google.” One day Julia says “Papa poo. Gaga pee pee.” Gaga is pleased that she only got “pee pee.”

The next earliest phrases put together by both are “Mommy shoes” and then by James, “Blue shirt.” He also starts using verbs like “close” meant to be interpreted as “close the door.”

By the end of November Julia’s so eager to learn letters she constantly has me name the letters on things she sees, particularly the words on her toothbrushes and spoons. She loves to ask for each letter of a word... and then when it’s time for me to say the name of the word she says “Google” as though every word is “Google.” I blame Mark.

One day with the sunlight streaming in through the window, the babies see lots of suspended dust particles. They get excited and point to them. “Bubbles! Bubbles! Bubbles!” they exclaim. They make dust sort of poetic.

When I tell Julia she has a butt she’s fascinated and asks about everyone she can think of whether they have butts. One day my parents ask Julia via Skype, “Where is Bunny’s belly button?” and Julia looks between its legs. Another day I ask Julia who she’s looking at in the mirror and she says “me.” Pronouns are tricky and it’s the first time I know of that she got the one for herself right.

The twins, but particularly Julia, will stand in the doorway of a room they’re not supposed to go into, and say, “No no...” without going in. I’ll hear the “no no...” and know to check it out (see video). It’s like their Tourette’s is giving them away.

James develops a fixation with a picture of Bert in one of his Sesame Street books. He points to it repeatedly and says “Dada” (see video). He does the same when pointing to a picture of a dinosaur or Sinead O’Connor (see video). Meanwhile the babies point to picture of models and say “Mama.”



When I read to them now it’s so different than just a few months before - they name objects and often I hear them say new words for the first time. Julia has me tell her who’s a boy and who’s a girl on the cover of Here Are My Hands over and over again. She knows her personal library so well she “baa”s before opening a flap in Noisy Peekaboo. Apparently she remembers a sheep there and I don’t. Similarly they both make a snake sound before opening the flap in Where’s Spot? (see video). James keeps pointing to the bear in his Heads book and saying “Papa.”

"It's the same sun!"

They Read Aloud
Julia loves being read to and is always giving me books. James on the other hand is more likely to read to himself. He reads Yummy Yucky aloud and it’s very interesting. He recites parts he remembers me saying, but then also makes associations. For the drawing of soup he says, “Soup... Papa, Gaga...” (the people who have fed him soup). Every page has associations like that. Listening to them read books to themselves is like listening to their stream of consciousness. While reading one book I hear Julia say, “Ice cream... Gaga... coooold.” (Translation: Gaga fed Julia ice cream and the ice cream was cold.)

Sharing My Lap
James hands me books, sits down in my lap and tells me, “Read it.” This is probably because I often say to them, “Do you want me to read it?” Julia hates sharing my lap with James. She must be in the middle when I’m sitting cross-legged, relegating James to the far right part of my lap. But even then she still doesn’t like it if his leg touches hers. Since it causes so many problems I end up changing my posture for sitting while reading and then both like to straddle my legs (and look like a two car toddler train) but only one can be in front. Julia usually sits there (because she has a stronger opinion on where she is seated) and she melts down when James is closest to me. One day I end up reading Caillou Potty Time twice - once with each toddler in the front.


Getting into the Car
Transporting two kids to and from the car by myself when not using a stroller has always been a problem. Either we’re going to a playdate and I have to drop off one kid inside in an unfamiliar environment (shockingly, they’re not very thrilled about that) while I get the other, or I’m bringing them inside our house and the first one doesn’t want to be left alone. In September I try having them walk with me together to the car for the first time while going to a playdate at Karie’s. I walk to the car in our driveway and tell James to hold my leg while I get Julia in her carseat. (I choose James because he likes to please and he’s usually the more trustworthy toddler since Julia is liable to give a devilish grin and do the opposite of what I ask.) It works great. Soon after I let Julia hold my leg while I put James in and she does great, too.

In November we are able to trust them more outside and start taking them on walks around the neighborhood, sans stroller. Their first walk is to the apple tree around the corner, which becomes one of their favorite spots.

Time to walk to the apple tree around the corner

Julia gives James a gift at the apple tree.

I couldn’t take the twins to parks by myself before because I worried they wouldn’t heed me and run off in different directions. Now we are able to start taking them to the park more. Julia particularly loves the slides and James loves the play structure steering wheels.

In November Mark takes them to the play structure for 5 to 12-year-olds at Cooper Park for the first time by himself, and later I see a video of Julia going down the steep slide by herself, next to a high unguarded cut-out. I wouldn’t have let them but they survived. A week later James climbs to the top of our backyard play structure, and I then have to start guarding him whenever he’s up there.

I worry about them stumbling and falling through high cut-outs since they’re still stumble-prone. My concerns aren’t unfounded. On just a simple wheelchair ramp at Cuesta Park Julia falls through the ramp railing and hits her head. Speaking of Cuesta Park, onceI take a different route home and the twins get upset like they know the correct way and it goes by their beloved apple tree.

One day the twins climb on the couch. It’s Julia’s first time. James had done it a few times before but since had trouble repeating his triumph until today. They get really excited and stand, jump, and run around on it while Gaga and I are beside ourselves trying to get them to stop, and then we have to teach them how to get down. A few days later they stand on their chairs in the nursery and when Grandma says “1-2-3-Go!” they say the numbers with her and then shriek and jump down. Julia particularly makes funny ungraceful jumps.

Once James climbed up, Julia desperately wanted to climb onto the sofa, too.

Jumping on the chairs during their 21 month photo

At Gymboree Julia mimics the instructors and starts doing the “Hip hip hooray!” movements herself, hitting the floor and excitedly throwing her arms into the air, while the instructors point at her with amusement. She also happily runs in circles in the middle of the bumpy mats. It’s the Julia happy dance.

Fine Motor Skills
In September the twins paint for the first time at a Las Madres playdate at Deadra’s house. Julia watercolors the table instead of the paper and Deadra tells her, “Julia, I like your style.” James is able to solve the difficult 2-sided Arctic animal puzzle by himself. They begin to really like using a fork, and they start requesting one at each meal, even one day when they are snacking on Cheerios.

Julia prefers painting on the table (with the brush side down).


Physical Play and Making the Other Laugh
When Julia’s mad at James and pushes him, he laughs. He also chuckles if I scold Julia. There’s a reason I call him Giggles. James likes to kick Julia and of course, giggle. But she’s not totally above the law. She often purposely gets right in his path after I stop him, and in the high chairs she tries to hold his hand but gets made when he holds her hand!

I wonder if Julia’s “the funny one” since she often makes James laugh. (Then again, it’s not hard to make James laugh!) The twins like to chase each other and one day this goes on for 20 minutes as they shriek and laugh.

Working Together
In September I give the twins their own cabinet in the kitchen. They LOVE it and work together to put everything nearby inside: Tupperware, their stuffed animals, their sippy cups in a nice row, their dirty socks, and Mommy’s boots.

"There must be room in here somewhere for my dirty sock..."

I give the babies a drawer in the kitchen in addition to their cabinet. They go nuts filling it. Of course as when they filled the cabinet, Mommy's boot is again involved.

Sharing Toys
James will fixate on a toy or project and Julia even being nearby will ruin everything for him and he’ll howl and leave and go away angry or run away with the toy and hide behind me for protection, because he knows Julia is liable to chase him and grab it. Meanwhile, Julia is generally pretty easygoing with regards to toys in that she doesn’t get as bent out of shape if she doesn’t have a certain one. With twins it seems like two of something would solve everything but nope - when a second toy is introduced they both want that, too.

Julia perpetually has a look of "I don't know why James is crying. I didn't do anything except take the thing he wanted..."

Games and Activities

The twins love when I say “I’m going to get you,” and chase them around the house, repeatedly letting them get away (usually under my legs - I should really block that exit), until I eventually grab/hug/tickle them and say, “I got you!” (see video). Both, but especially Julia, also love playing hide and seek in which Daddy or I hide. It’s usually hard to get them to the nursery but they flock there if told one of us is hiding there (see video). They love playing behind the mirrored closet doors in our room, running in one side and out the other. Julia will pop her head out and exclaim, “Hi!” They continue to love playing 1-2-3-Hug (see video). I usually sit on the kitchen floor and they take turns running down the hallway from the office door to hug and wrestle with me. They continue to love doing somersaults with Gaga and me, and playing 1-2-3-Hug and Kerplunk with Papa. They also love being tickled and when we stop often say, “more.”

Julia loves running under our legs to get away. (So does James but his tallness makes it harder.)

Julia plays in Daddy’s closet.

"What's a guy gotta do to have some alone time in a Mommy's shoe closet around here?"

We let the babies run around on our bed while we guard the sides. They squeal with delight and we have fun making them fall into the pillows. They live for playing in the curtains in our room.

Julia pulls away the curtain to reveal her hiding place.

They love putting on our shoes, especially Daddy’s flip flops, and plodding around the house (see video). Getting the mail is a big thrill, especially for James, so later for Christmas I get them their own toy mailbox. One day by request I put 7 bibs on James and 9 on Julia. The next day Julia wears 14.

Julia and James are ready to jog in Mommy’s running shoes.

James is wearing 13 bibs, while just having 2 bibs more than James gives Julia neck strain.


The twins start singing. At least I’m pretty sure that’s what they’re doing. They sound like Frankenstein. One day Mark and I sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and they sing along. We’re the Pilloff Family Singers (see video).


James is my adventurous eater. Julia, on the other hand, is so fickle about eating pizza, I convince her to eat some by showing them the book Grandpa and Me wherein the grandpa makes a pizza. They end up so amped to eat it that they excitedly point to the door as if to say, “Bring the pizza here now!” so when I give them pizza for dinner they can’t get enough of it. However, she’s still super picky about her pizza. If a slice looks at her funny she won’t eat it, and on those occasions I return the slice to the kitchen, wait 10 seconds, and bring the same one back to her as her “new” slice.

If the twins get food on their hands while eating they are fixated on it until I wipe it off. Julia will put her finger in her yogurt, put a drop of it on her tray, ask me to clean it, and when I do she repeats it all again immediately. One day the babies eat pizza and James gets it in his hair. When Gaga mentions it he touches his hair. I tell her not to name any more body parts because he’ll get food on them, and then she makes the mistake of mentioning his nose, eyes, and face! James is definitely my messy eater and will collect tofu and deposit it in the high chair next to his leg. He’ll even eat yogurt with his hands (see video). Julia, on the other hand, has gotten quite adept at using her fork and spoon (see video).

Julia eats her yogurt with her spoon.

Meanwhile here’s James "Yogurt Fingers" Pilloff.

And this.

We start taking the babies to restaurants for the first time since they were babies, beginning with lunch at Taiwan Restaurant. The following month my parents have their first meal out with toddlers at Taiwan (after we all go to Gymboree), and Bubby’s first time dining with the babies is at The Old Siam. After their first meal at Chevys, James and Julia see the moon for the first time when we leave and all they can say is “moon!” for a long time. Even at home they point up as though they know it’s on the other side of the ceiling. When Mark is feeling sick, I take the babies by myself (a first) to Chevys to meet up with the Core 8 (Lila, Brendan, Rachel, Matthew, Kelsi, and Drew) and their offspring.

Gaga and Papa’s first meal out with the twins at Taiwan Restaurant.


In September I finally start giving them baths by myself for the first time. I try to give them baths in the full bathtub. Julia loves it but will only stand (I only do this once since it seems unsafe). Every few seconds she bends down to splash the water and squeals in delight. James, on the other hand, refuses to get in, and pees. In the following week, having been traumatized ever since I tried to put him in the regular tub, he also refuses baths in their usual whale tub (which they’ve used since infancy). I end up giving James stand-up sponge baths instead. He also hates this option and often cries, but he hates getting in the tub more. Even my mentioning a bath makes him upset and afraid to go in the bathroom.

To get James used to a bath we try a few other options, but none are successful: I attempt to take a shower with him, and Papa tries to take a bath with him (James is not interested but Julia has a good time). While Bubby’s visiting we get James to sit in the empty whale tub in the backyard and then add warm water. He’s happy until he sees me pick up the shampoo bottle, since he particularly hates when water’s anywhere near his eyes. But I would actually call this attempt a success. Unfortunately, it’s the last time it’s warm in the backyard before autumn begins so I can’t repeat it.

Papa takes a bath with Julia.

One day I use a bigger bathtub for Julia’s bath and then she gets scared and doesn’t want in, and after that she’s afraid to take a bath, too - even in the whale tub. (This surprises me since she loved taking a bath in the full bathtub!) She still takes baths in the whale tub though, but she’s very unhappy about it. Just not to the extreme that James is.

Teeth and Hair Brushing

They both like to comb and brush their hair and ours. Julia has been brushing her own teeth for three months, and James finally starts brushing his, too (both are of course followed by Mommy brushing them). Julia loves brushing her teeth so much that one day I lure her to the nursery with the promise of brushing her teeth. She will brush for 8 minutes before finally handing the toothbrush over to me to finish the job. The process takes so long I have to start singing “ABCD” so they know to hand it over at the end of the song.

Julia combs her hair on Papa’s lap.


I make a noise with my lips where I hit them together and then kiss the twins on their necks and tickle them. James imitates the noise and really loves our playtime. Julia will say “hug” and then hug us or “kiss” and then kiss us. One day James runs back and forth between Mark and me for hugs for 10 minutes. He tries to give my parents a hug on Skype and looks sad that he doesn’t have the real thing. One day James falls so I tell him to come over so I can give him a kiss. I mean on the boo-boo but he kisses my lips instead. Then he pretend falls four more times in the same place so he can run over for another kiss.


When I sing the medley of songs for sitting on the floor before sleeping, Julia will often pile all five stuffed animals on my lap (Bunny, Doggy, Lammie, Spot, and Dolly). Once, Julia adds the tractor and the stacking cups. I start putting a couple books in their cribs when they sleep and they start waking up without a fuss and read them awhile. Instead of calling for us at 7:30 a.m. it becomes 8:10 a.m. (a major parent victory!).

In early October James skips his third nap in five days. As a result one day he falls asleep at dinner (video) and another he falls asleep on our walk. Mark says, “What’s the big deal? Let him play and you get stuff done.” He’s clearly not a stay-at-home-parent because all my mom friends laugh at his cluelessness. What’s the big deal? First of all, it’s not the same kind of break for Mommy. And second, James is clingy and won’t play independently without Julia around and cries if I leave the gated area where he’s playing.

Julia moves to a crib in her room (it had to be disassembled to move it from James’s room), and while Mark puts it together the twins love playing on the mattress on the floor. Julia is difficult at sleeping time, wanting to bring everything she can with her, and she keeps asking for things and I can’t understand her and she gets upset.

Playing on Julia’s crib mattress

Um, Julia? There's no back to the crib yet. You can go around.

Diapering Poo Talk

I discover I must say “Oh my” a lot when I open the twins’ diapers because now when I’m about to open them I hear a little high-pitched “Oh my.”

James sees himself pee on the floor during a bath-time mishap and it makes a lasting impression. If I mention pee he’ll point to his diaper and then in the direction of the bathroom (a.k.a. the scene of the crime). For weeks our sides of conversations go like this: “I know! You went pee pee! I was there! It went on the floor! I know! Pee pee!”

Pre-Potty Training
I lose all my privacy. Sometimes when Mark gets home I try to slip away to use the computer or to go the bathroom and close the doors behind me. Either way, the twins immediately break in and say “Mama mama mama!” When I pee they say, “Flush!” and get mad when I put a tissue in without peeing) and don’t flush. The twins see Mark naked for the first time and point at his him and say “Pee pee!”

One day Julia squats and says, “Poo poo” and I check and indeed she pooped. Gaga thinks I should begin toilet training. (My comment as I write this now that they’re 2 1/2: HA HA HA.) In a fit of misplaced optimism we buy the babies potties which play music and say “Hooray!” when they use them. They have fun standing inside them and filling them with their toys, all while receiving positive “Hooray!” reinforcement (see video).

"You are standing in the potty. Hooray!"

James, ever the gentleman, lifts the potty lid up for Julia.

Obviously, Mega Bloks belong in the potty.



Many days when Mark arrives home from work I tell him that the twins were just a delight. Writing this now as they are almost 3, I think this age was the easiest yet. They took naps, they weren’t opinionated or as prone to meltdowns, and were generally pretty low key, agreeable babies.

The babies are suddenly very clingy around new people and at playdates. Now they often grab my legs when we arrive at a playdate and stay by me for quite awhile. I notice that even though James appears happy, when other people are around he stays close and climbs me more. James goes from being my shy boy to making googly eyes with moms he likes. Julia, my flirt, is actually more clingy these months. One day Julia cries for an hour after waking from her nap. Mark tells me she kept saying “Mommy” after I left which breaks my heart.

James and Julia stay near me on our first Mom’s Night Out playdate. (Thanks to Stacy for the photo.)

Parent Preference
The twins start showing a strong preference for one parent to put them to bed, and for other things like putting them in car seats and high chairs, brushing their teeth, and changing diapers, and they get upset if the other parent does it. James wants me and Julia wants Daddy or anyone who’s not Mommy. This is true except for bedtime tuck-ins and putting on shoes when both want me. However, James is fine with Daddy tucking him in for awhile because he’s not as particular as Queen Julia. The twins often want Papa to put them in their car seats but he can’t get their straps on correctly and they get mad when I do it. When panicked or hurt they still want their Mommy though.

James and Julia love looking at pictures on the computer when they wake from their naps. James is usually my earlier riser (and naps one hour versus her two), and when I take him out of the crib he’ll point toward the door in the direction of the computer, as if to say, “Take me there.” He typically will sit contently with me for an hour looking at pictures, and will cry when I take him away. He often asks for pictures of Papa. One day James looks on his own at the photos of his friends in the photo book I made them and he says their names over and over.

Shoe Helpers
When it’s time to put on shoes, Julia will grab James’s shoes while James sits on my lap, and I have to ask Julia to bring his shoes. She stands in the corner holding the shoes awaiting my call and happily runs up, hands me one, and runs back to her corner until it’s time to bring the other. James also does the same for Julia.

Julia hurries over to bring James his shoe during a playdate at Ronan’s house. (Thanks to Stacy for the photo.)


The words that best describe Julia during this time are spirited, headstrong, flirtatious, daredevil, and inspiring infectious laughter (yes, a three word combo).

Julia continues to be our little flirt, especially at restaurants, and likes to say “bye” to all the patrons. The last time she was this flirtatious was at 5 months, and has been flirtatious off and on since then. James will smile at people too but not as much as our Julia.

Gymboree’s Miss Personality
Julia loves to hug Gymbo (Gymboree’s puppet mascot) and is super excited to be under the parachute for parachute time. It continually knocks her over but she is undeterred. One day Mark declares that he wishes there was a Gymboree award for best baby of the day: Julia is super personable - squealing with delight under the parachute, hugging Gymbo, doing a twirling dance I’ve never even seen before, and follows directions. Meanwhile the same day at Gymboree, odd duck James wants to carry my belt around with him all class.

Julia loves dancing with Gymbo.

James uses my belt to intimidate toddlers that get out of line at Gymboree.

Must Have Undivided Attention
Julia demands our attention and doesn’t like it if I don’t notice that she’s covered her eyes to start a game of peekaboo or if I’ve turned away from playing. In my defense she often covers her face and doesn’t uncover it for as much as three minutes at a time! (see video). Eventually she yells, “Mama!... MAMA!” which is pretty much all I hear from Julia anyway. Sometimes she’ll mix it up and yell, “MOMMY!” instead. She gets excited when I uncover her eyes when playing peekaboo and while her eyes are covered I enjoy asking if she’s in the room. Julia: “No.”

Playing peek-a-boo... I think there's a little bit of cheating going on...

Wants Privacy
But despite her attention seeking ways, Julia often craves a little privacy. She likes to close the door of the nursery while she’s alone inside, and sit in a chair and read a book. Of course, other days they love closing doors and often Julia shuts herself in rooms over and over again and can’t get out (like the dark bathroom) and cries to me to get her.

One day I try to convince the twins to follow me into the nursery and instead Julia closes the nursery door in my face and says, “Bye.” Often Julia stays behind when it’s time to leave the nursery and James will call out for her: “Dewey! Dewey! Dewwwwwey!”

Julia wants to carry as many objects as she can around the house and gets upset if they fall. One day she carries ten items of clothing, plus her blanket and Bunny. I decide that her future career is crazy cat lady. Sometimes she takes a ton of stuff with her to sleep, too. James joins in the insanity and they both want to carry everything with them to bed and meals. I end up helping them carry stuff to meals but of course a minute later when they’re seated I take it all away so they can eat. Pre-sleeping time for Julia is no longer pleasant for us. Now she fusses during the song medley and tries to gather a horde of toys for her crib like she’s a pharaoh. Once at nap time I try to carry her, Bunny, books, puzzle pieces, sealed candy, and, inexplicably, my running shoes. I keep dropping stuff so I end up putting her down in her room and dumping it all in her crib in two trips. Even then she fusses that there’s something else she wants but I can’t understand her so I go back to the nursery and grab the jack o’lantern and some coathangers and dump them in there too and hope for the best. Luckily, Queen Julia is appeased.

Julia “Future Cat Hoarder" Pilloff insisted on carrying everything she could find to breakfast.

Opinionated Drama Queen
Julia has always been our drama queen but now she’s an opinionated drama queen (see blog post about one of Julia’s mornings). She often refuses to go to the nursery when it’s time to get ready to sleep. One day she has tantrums before bed because 1) I refuse to carry more than two books for her (she’s carrying none), and 2) she doesn’t like her choice of pajamas. Julia is very opinionated on what pajamas she wears and only wants to wear one pair that never seems to be clean, and her stubbornness sometimes extends to her regular clothing -  occasionally she gets mad when I put a dress on her. Not mad at me. The dress.

Despite being difficult at times, Julia is obsessed with being a good helper. I bring home several bags of groceries and Julia gets to work emptying the bags and piling their contents onto Daddy, who’s lying on the sofa. All the while she repeats, “Helper, helper,” and we say, “Yes, Julia is a great helper,” and she beams. Then the babies bring everything back (translation: they throw it all into a pile on the kitchen floor).

Mommy suggested they put frozen items on Daddy's tummy.

The twins, but especially Julia, love the dishwasher. While James tends to be a troublemaker and grabs for silverware and dishes and shakes the top tray, Julia watches me unload with fascination. I start giving her tupperware and plastic cups to carry and hand back to me to put away. James begins helping too, and they LOVE it. (Me not so much because unloading takes forever now, but at least they enjoy it.) She says “Help! Help!” when she wants to help.

"Here's one more fork put in upside down and in the knife slot. Now the silverware drawer is perfect!"

Since she loves hearing that she’s a good helper, Julia will pick up crumbs on the floor to put in my dustpan. However, if those crumbs are cereal sometimes she’ll sneak a few bites.

Julia Favorites

Favorite Foods
1) freeze-dried blueberries (see video)
2) waffles
3) rice
4) brown rice cereal
5) cheese tortellini with pesto sauce
6) spaghetti with mizithra cheese
7) pumpkin granola (a.k.a. “Mommy’s cereal”)
8) Cheerios
9) zucchini latkes
10) veggie burgers

Honorable Mentions:
  • pizza (despite not liking it in September and being averse to particular slices)
  • cookies, graham crackers
  • cheddar bunnies, cheese or peanut butter sandwich crackers

Favorite Books
Nursery Rhymes (Englebreit)
Little People Welcome to Our Town
Five Little Monkeys Bake a Birthday Cake
Gossie & Gertie
Trick or Treat Vampire
Where’s Spot?
Goodnight, Baby
Spot Goes to School
Humpty Dumpty


The adjectives that best describe James these months are sensitive, bashful, cautious, giggler, focused, and cuddle monkey. He also has a new crazy laugh. Overall I don’t have as much to say about James as I do Julia only because she exhibited new personality traits these months, and for the most part everything I said about James’s personality at 18-21 months still holds true.

Man of Accessories
James likes to wear sunglasses and LOVES wearing hats. The hat part is because his beloved Papa wears one, and Gaga has bought James a ton of them, and everyone makes over how cute they are on him. James puts his beloved red hat on himself and wears it cutely askew - like Dennis the Menace - and wants to wear it everywhere. He wears it to Su Hong and then it promptly disappears, I assume somewhere between the restaurant and home. But then a few days later James walks up to Mark holding it, saying “red hat.” James “Man of Mystery” Pilloff won’t say where he found it but I suspect it was in the undercarriage of the stroller when something else missing turns up there. James sometimes even goes to bed with his favorite red hat and also his baseball shirt. I notice that these new comfort objects not
coincidentally both have a connection to Papa.

“Don’t Like”
We hear the words “don’t like” from James a lot. James is not a happy-go-lucky child like Julia. He is a boy who intensely dislikes or gets scared by a lot of things. (But he also can get the giggle bug so he swings both ways when it comes to mood.)

Scared of:
  • Elevators (Julia doesn’t like either but not as much as James)
  • Baths
  • Vacuums (and the Dustbuster)
  • Sand (this fear doesn’t last long but one day when he has both feet in the sand at the park he freaks out like it’s quicksand)
  • Haircuts, especially the buzzer (James doesn’t like even being near the salon when Julia gets her hair cut so I take him for a walk outside.)
  • Hair dryers
  • Getting his nails cut

  • Men
  • Julia touching his toys
  • The squeaking of his Halloween costume Bam Bam bat
  • Diaper rash
  • Being stopped from playing for diapering or eating

James Favorites

Favorite Foods
1) freeze-dried blueberries
2) waffles
3) mango (fresh or freeze-dried)
4) pumpkin granola (a.k.a. “Mommy’s cereal”)
5) cheese tortellini with pesto sauce
6) pizza
7) spaghetti with mizithra cheese
8) rice
9) baby corn
10) pears

Honorable Mention: strawberries

Favorite Books
ABC, A Sliding, Pushing, Turning Book! (particularly the x-ray page)
Amazing Baby: Yum-Yum, Baby! (“messy baby book”)
A High Chair Book: Time to Eat! (with suction cups)
Let’s Nosh! (“cookie book”)
David Gets in Trouble (“trouble book”)
Caillou Potty Time
Besitos Y Abrazos (“pink book”)
My Favorite Pets
You Can Name 100 Trucks! (likes to have Papa read it)

Favorites for Both

Favorite Books
Barnyard Dance (they love sitting on my legs and I move to the beat of the prose)
All the World’s Asleep: World Lullabies (and dance to it)
Sesame Street: Move to the Music (Elmo drum book) (Julia especially likes playing the attached drum)
Good Night, Gorilla
Noisy Farm (they like when I make funny animal noises to startle them)
Flush the Potty
Pat the Bunny
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Wheels on the Bus
Clap Your Hands! (with Elmo puppet)
Shake a Leg!
Tails (particular the peacock page)
Hanukkah: A Counting Book (see video)
The mail (magazines; in fact James likes a particular issue of Discover magazine)

Little known fact: Discover magazine is best enjoyed upside down.

Favorite Toys
Melissa & Doug Numbers Puzzle
Pottery Barn Kids Anywhere chairs (they love jumping on them)
Edushape Rollipop Advanced Ball Drop Set and Tomy Ball Party Bounce
Bounce & Spin Zebra
Stride-to-Ride Dino
Melissa & Doug Alphabet Nesting and Stacking Boxes
Elmo toy with sound (particularly James)
Coat hangers
Mommy’s boots (which is also where I find the zero puzzle piece which was missing for over a month)
Rolls of wrapping paper

There’s nothing like playing in a crib full of coat hangers.

I only let them play with the sealed rolls for good reason.

Favorite Songs
Come on Under My Umbrella (from Gymboree)
The Farmer in the Dell
Baby Beluga
(After the above three songs are sung, the babies tell us “more, more.”)
In the Tiki Tiki Tiki Room (bedtime)
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star/ABC Song/Baa Baa Black Sheep (new bedtime medley; same tune)
Cumbaba (They like dancing with me to this song on the Putumayo Jazz Playground CD.)
The Noble Duke of York (from Gymboree; they like the fun movement not the song)
Wheels on the Bus
If You’re Happy and You Know it
Row Row Row Your Boat (with Gaga and Papa, while they sit in a laundry basket)

Playmates (seen most frequently)

  • MNO (Mom’s Night Out Playgroup) on Monday mornings - Ronan (mom: Stacy), Oliver (mom: Rachel P.), Josh & Sam (mom: Debbie), and Zachary & Zoe (mom: Sharon)
  • MNO (Mom’s Night Out Playgroup) on Thursday afternoons - Rohan & Kapil (mom: Mona), Ava & Bella (mom: Kathy C.)
  • Las Madres Cupertino 2009 - David (mom: Jadwiga), Isaac (dad: Todd), Kaian (mom: Karie), Kayleigh (mom: Vicky W.)

Stacy holds Ronan and Rachel P. holds cutely scowling Oliver.

Zoe and Zachary

Bella and Ava

Rohan and Kapil

Jadwiga holds David.

Todd helps Isaac up the climbing wall.


  • Tracy (Mark’s high school friend wants to see the babies after seeing many pictures of them on Facebook.)
  • Leslie M.
  • April (with son Brady)

James and Julia are all the coffee April needs.

Notable new words

  • Elmo
  • Jerry Jordan
  • Bunny and Doggy
  • Penis (Julia)
  • Big Bug
  • Oh my
  • Poop (James)
  • I don’t know (James parroting me)
  • Grandma (James)
  • Avocado (“caca”)
  • Julia (“Dewey” or “Jewey” - James)
  • Dosa (James)
  • Baseball (“be-bo”)
  • Melon
  • Sky
  • Shoes
  • Yum (“Yummmmm”)
  • Wow
  • Bagel
  • Naan
  • Elmo
  • Green (“guh” - James)
  • Tea (James hears it once at first restaurant meal out)
  • Car

Words They Say the Most
  • Mama
  • Dada
  • Papa
  • Milk
  • More
  • Shoes
  • Cookie
  • Apple
  • Purple
  • Blue
  • Bowl
  • Beans
  • Bye
  • Car (when Julia says it, it sounds like a pirate)
  • Pink
  • Green (“guh”)
  • Dirt
  • Moon
  • Pee pee
  • Oh my (when diapering)
  • Julia (“Dewey” or “Jewey”)
  • Poo poo
  • Elbow

New Animal Sounds
  • Horse (“neigh”)
  • Chicken (“bock”)
  • Fish (“glug”)
  • Frog (“errrr” growled for “ribbit”)
  • Lizard (flick tongue in and out of mouth)
  • Elephant (move arm to simulate trunk and make motorboat sound)
  • Mouse (“squeak”)
  • Turtle (“snap snap”)

Most Excited to Say
  • Blue! (“boo’)
  • Pee pee!
  • Moon! (“moo”/”moon”)
  • Two!

Favorite Conversation Topics
1) numbers, 2) colors, 3) pee pee

Funny, Unexpected, or Interestingly Pronounced Words
  • “Bayayaya” (James saying “banana”)
  • “Bobo” (Julia saying “booger”)
  • “Hi sweetie” (James)
  • “Love you” (James)
  • “Gaga” (Julia saying “Grandma;” James can say “Grandma” but starts saying “Gaga” several weeks after Julia starts)
  • “Make-up” (James)
  • “Symbol” (James)
  • “Tater tots” (James)
  • “Trick or treat” (James)
  • “Punka” (both saying “pumpkin”)
  • “Mommy pizza, Daddy pizza,” etc. “Mommy Google, Daddy Google,” etc. “Mommy pee pee, Daddy pee pee,” etc. (first phrases)
  • “Bye bye pee pee” (I teach them)
  • “Restaurant” (James)
  • “Mark” (they mimic me and say “Maahhk”; James also says “Mark” when he sees a question mark)
  • “Mommy stinks” (James repeats it when Mark teaches them. Thanks.)
  • “Apple, elbow, Elmo” (Papa taught them to see these in succession and they sound nearly the same)
  • “Yight” (James saying “light”)
  • “Yeh-wee” (James saying “yellow”)
  • “Buggy” (Julia saying “blanket”)
  • “Pider” (James saying “spider”)
  • “Jay” or “Ames” (both saying “James”)
  • “Goggy” (both saying “Doggy”)
  • “Happykah” (James saying “Happy Hannukah”)
  • “Dewey” or “Jewey” and then “Dew-ya” (James saying “Julia”)
  • “Rachel” (James)
  • “Sho” (Julia saying “orange”)

New Foods (all eaten by James, only some by Julia)
  • Watermelon (reintroduce and it’s a big hit)
  • Potato gnocchi (Julia’s new favorite food)
  • Figs
  • Pureed parsnips (Julia keeps signing for more while at Google; tastes like mashed potatoes)
  • Bacon (“Sorry, James, you’re not getting into heaven now...” - Mark; Julia won’t try)
  • Egg drop soup (“More!” - Julia)
  • Thai food: chicken satay with peanut sauce, bamboo in green curry, tom kha gai soup, mango, brown rice (Julia only eats the brown rice; James eats it all - especially the soup - and chants “mango” for more at The Old Siam)
  • Masala dosa (James loves eating and saying “dosa”)
  • Cheese enchiladas, chicken tamales
  • Snow peas
  • Vietnamese vermicelli (big fans)
  • Snap peas
  • Baby corn (James has had it before but today he eats a whole can)
  • Breaded eggplant (they didn’t want to eat it before but today Papa succeeds by calling it “almost pizza”)

Weights and Lengths

6/09/11 (18 months)
James - weight: 26 lbs., 1.6 oz. ~53rd percentile; length: 33" ~70th percentile; head: 19 1/2" ~90th percentile; weight for length: ~58th percentile
Julia - weight: 22 lbs., 6.4 oz. ~22nd percentile; length: 31" ~31st percentile; head: 18 1/2" ~66th percentile; weight for length: ~46th percentile

12/08/11 (24 months)
James - weight: 28 lbs., 3.2 oz., ~51st percentile; length: 36.5" ~96th percentile; head: 20" BMI for age: ~9th percentile
Julia - weight: 24 lbs., 14.4 oz. ~23rd percentile; length: 34" ~59th percentile; head: 19"; BMI for age: 15.14 kg/m2 ~18th percentile

Mommy’s 53 pound dead lift