Monday, May 7, 2012

Meet James and Julia at 15-18 Months: We've Got Two Walkers! And They Get the Worst Colds Ever!

Visits by People and Visits to Places
My parents begin renting an apartment in Cupertino with the goal of spending half their time here and half in San Diego. When the babies see grandparents after a few weeks apart they immediately smile and come to them, and Julia likes to play a game where she approaches them and then laughs and runs away, and then comes back and then runs away. Bubby visits at the end of April and it's the first time she sees them walk in person. She's very thoughtful and offers to watch the babies while Mark and I spend the day in San Francisco. While we're gone Bubby reigns in the babies by shaking a box of Cheerios, Julia's favorite food. Candice and her daughter Nora visit a year after their memorable "scaredate" but sadly nothing of real note happens and our babies are not terrified of Nora.

James is excited to play with Mommy's keys during his first visit to Grandma and Papa's nearby apartment.

Papa and Julia

Grandma and James

Bubby and her nudie cutie

Nora attacks a diaper box but not the twins.

Mark and I take the twins to the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo in April. We had planned to take the babies there for their one year birthday but discover even at 16 months the babies are still too young to appreciate it. The babies couldn't care less about the zoo and instead prefer to hold tennis balls and explore. James is obsessed with the outdoor light and keeps holding his hand in the air toward it like a Jedi turning it on. Their favorite part is going to Rinconada Park next door. (Julia loves the swing - it's her second time on one. James thinks it's okay but wants off.)

James is pointing to something he became obsessed with at the Palo Alto Children's Museum & Zoo. What could it be?...
Ah yes... Lights.

Julia on the go


When the Downtown San Jose library has a "Music and Movement" class that's "perfect for all ages" we learn never again to take our toddlers. The craft is making your own chokeable maracas and then there are parachute games involving lots of stampeding 7-year-olds. The twins end up ignoring the class anyway in favor or exploring the library, staring at the aquarium, and hitting metal poles.

James visits the Children's Room at the Downtown San Jose library, but is more interested in the pole outside. Slapping sure beats class time.

A Google VP has a big 50s themed party at her house and the babies are big hits. Julia wears a poodle dress (courtesy of Bubby's trip to Quebec) and James wears a newsboy cap (not exactly decade-appropriate but adorable nonetheless).

Julia shows off her poodle dress at a 50s party.

Meanwhile James thinks it's the 30s.

The babies attend their friend Dante's first birthday at the same Google VP's house. James and Julia are transfixed by two professional drummers and enjoy the bounce house (there are two). Julia sits by the drummers while James stands and occasionally bobs. James has just started walking so he practices by traveling all over the immense yard.

Julia didn't seem to get the hang of drumming...

Father and son are very serious when it comes to sitting in bouncy castles.

Julia stole a red ball identical to this one from the ball pit and took it home, unnoticed by us.

James and Julia visit Google on two occasions. On one visit we try to pose them in sculptures at Google. Julia enjoys sitting in her honeycomb roost, but James is scared of the giant doughnut. In May the babies attend Bring Your Kid to Work Day. They're a bit young to appreciate the festivities and instead take pleasure in hitting balloons.

Julia in the honeycomb about to be eaten by a giant bee.

The scary doughnut on the far left along with some other Google Android food sculptures including a cupcake and an eclair.

The babies get their first and second haircuts. Julia sits on Mark's lap for her second one and doesn't cry. You know your son doesn't like haircuts when you ask the stylist if she's ever had a baby thrash this much and she says "no." Afterwards James occasionally glimpses the stylist and starts crying again as though having Vietnam War style flashbacks.

Daddy with James after his second haircut. (James's shirt was covered in hair because he didn't want to wear a smock.)

James ponders the awful events that just took place.

Braving haircuts calls for frozen yogurt from Pinkberry.

In April I join Las Madres, a mom's organization, so that the twins can join a playgroup. Our first playdate with a group is at Washington Park, and the babies wear shoes for the first time. Julia is scared to walk in hers and just stands frozen like she's not sure how they work. (Beforehand, I put them on her at home and put a toy near her to encourage her to walk in them but she wouldn't move and instead got sad that she didn't have the toy.) While at the park the babies play in sand for the first time. They're surprised it sticks to them. (This wouldn't normally be the case but they had just eaten their snacks and had drool on their hands.) James falls face first onto sand but is unphased. Papa comes with me to another playdate (with holes in his socks of course), and says "James, go play with the tractor" and he does.

James took a face plant and now there's sand rimming his eyes.

I find a group at Las Madres I like (Cupertino 2009), and during our first playdate Julia pushes a shopping cart in the kitchen. Way to disprove gender stereotypes, Julia. Meanwhile James bangs together any toys he finds. When I feed the twins Cheerios I get surrounded by other babies like I'm feeding goats in a petting zoo. A few days later we attend the Spring Party, complete with a visit from the Easter Bunny.

I take the twins to the Cuesta Park playground for the first time and let them explore one at a time by keeping the other baby occupied in the stroller with a book. They also play at Cooper Park for the first time, and James loves hitting the bleachers.

One day I put James and Julia in the shirts my friend Sara designed so that I could send her some pictures of the babies modeling her work. That day Julia eats some petals in the backyard while Mark watches and then claims he was powerless to stop her.

We have our first playdate with Sharon and her twins Zachary and Zoe ("the Z's"). Zoe likes to tackle Julia but Julia doesn't really mind. Tesin and her twins Kimai and Caitlin come to a playdate at my house, and she reports that when I was out of the room Caitlin blew a kiss at James. (Apparently she has never done this before or since.) I notice that James seemed to smile at her a lot.

Julia's friend Zoe pauses briefly from tackling Julia to push her on the roller coaster.

Caitlin blew a kiss at James once and then James ate her brush. That's the closest James has come to having a girlfriend.

When I think of March all I remember are the babies getting sick with fevers twice. It was pretty brutal for them and us. Plus James vomits for the first time. One night I only get 20 minutes of sleep before 5 a.m. And that's only because my parents took over for me then. In the middle of the the night James wants to be held to fall asleep. And each time he almost falls asleep and then can't get comfy in my lap and cries out and wakes up upset all over again. Meanwhile nothing will appease a sick Julia. One night she screams for two hours and most of a third hour nonstop and we end up calming her by feeding her Cheerios one by one. I've been up with babies four hours straight before but this was the hardest ever. At one point I actually break down and cry anticipating how tough the next night will be.

One day when they're sick Julia screams all morning and refuses a nap so Mark puts her in her stroller and she literally falls asleep by the time he gets to the end of the driveway! Then it starts to rain so Mark stands out on the porch with her in the stroller asleep for an hour. Mark says, "I don't know how people ever tolerated waiting for anything before smartphones."

The babies get sick again at the end of May but it's not nearly as hard as it was in March. This might be because of some basic sleep training they did in the meantime, which results in Julia trying to put herself back to sleep instead of terrorizing us. Also, they are sick one after the other which isn't the same as both sick at the same time (though it's debatable which is worse).

James gets a terrible diaper rash complete with blisters and blood and Julia has a minor diaper rash. I take the babies alone to the doctor for the first time, and thankfully everything goes smoothly. Doc Rossin says they both have yeast infections from not drying out enough before getting new diapers. (We saw another doctor a few months ago when our pediatrician was unavailable and unfortunately she didn't diagnose the problem correctly then.)

After eating eggs on a couple occasions James gets tiny hives on his face afterwards that go away after 30 minutes, but might indicate a slight allergy. I call to explain to an advice nurse that my son has a slight rash and she asks if his eyes have swollen shut. I think to myself, "Don't you think if they had I would have led with that?" Both babies have thankfully only had a few minor issues with teething but Julia has a few days these months where she's teething and sad.

Love those little tooth nubs!

James continues to have a rash around his mouth, and because the doctor thought it was due to a drool-pacifier reaction, I wean James off the pacifier in April. As of January the babies only use pacifiers when they sleep so it's a little easier than going completely cold turkey. As suggested in my book, before his nap I put the pacifier in a box and explain to him that he's a big boy and doesn't need it anymore and that we're going to say "bye bye." (I suspect he doesn't understand but I do it just the same.) The weaning goes much easier than expected with only one 5-10 minute episode of crying but the rash doesn't go away.

Because of our success with James we decide to wean Julia as well. Months ago James was a big pacifier fan while Julia wasn't that into her pacifier; I wish I'd weaned her then instead of continuing to give it to her. Without her pacifier, she cries for a long spell at naptime and we go in and console her and she cries again and falls asleep. That night she doesn't cry at all.

The big news is that the babies start walking! Julia took her first steps on 2/20 at 14 1/2 months. James takes lots of steps on 3/9 at 15 months. Before this he took one step once and two steps another time (see video). This day he takes 4-5 steps several times and once takes 6 steps (see video). Julia starts walking a lot more the next day and takes 25 steps! (see video) At this point we stop counting.

Julia learns how to take steps.

Papa walks around the house holding James's hand. And although James doesn't need it, it is the cutest thing. With James's height and increased mobility he's now able to open the nursery door so out come the doorknob locks! The babies love to explore the off-limit areas of the house like the entry, dining, and family rooms. In mid-April Mark installs a gate between the kitchen and family room so now they have free reign in the family room, and the Zoo is reconfigured to guard the TV and hold excess toys. Their first day in the expanded family room they are obsessed with pushing around the high chairs, and they get frustrated and melt down when the other baby's chair gets in the way.

When we put the gate up, Julia acted like she was stuck in prison. Too bad I didn't get a picture of the time she banged a tin cup against the bars.

By May when the babies are free to roam around the house, they immediately pick up their shoes (located in a place they usually can't access) and carry them around excitedly and want to wear them.

Motor Skills
A few weeks after James, Julia starts putting shapes into the Learning Home but has trouble rotating the pieces. She can now also stack all the cups like her brother. Julia can impressively carry six gears at once (across the span of her hands). She can also carry two balls in one hand or any three objects, as long as one goes in her mouth. I teach Julia to shake her arms but instead she shakes her head and eventually remembers her arms. Mark washes his hair in the sink (a.k.a. takes a hobo shower) and Julia tries to imitate him and runs her hands through her hair (see video).

"I can hold six gears at the same time. Yay!"

In May James successfully adds a block on top of the three Papa stacked. Meanwhile Julia stacks five blocks - just not on top of each other. Some are on their sides and some are sort of on top of each other. The next day she stacks her first block on top of another.

James is strong in spatial reasoning with regards to shapes and puzzles pieces. At a playdate in June another mom is impressed at how well he's manipulating pieces into a shape sorter he's never seen before.

In March I give the babies paper and crayons for the first time in their high chairs. James skips the scribbling part while Julia mostly tries to eat hers (and has the green marks next to her mouth to prove it). Two months later James scribbles for the first time while Julia continues to pursue her interest in eating crayons.

The babies scribble for the first time. Some feel more victorious than others.

James begins dancing in March (see video). Julia continues to work on her dance moves and sometimes boogies by moving each shoulder up and down. If we say "Play Itsy Bitsy Spider," they'll push the button on their Learning Home until the correct song comes on, at which point they bob up and down to it. When James gets the song to play he looks to me for approval. Halfway through the song he'll push the button again to make the song start over and the two of them do this ad infinitum. James likes to dance to Old MacDonald on the Exersaucer, and Julia stomps her feet to dance to the sea shanty played by the stuffed fish toy (which she makes me play again and again since she can't get it to play herself).

The babies aren't much for talking but they clearly understand more and more of what we're saying. When asked they can identify lots of different objects by pointing. When we say "milk" the babies hustle over to the fridge. Bubby says she saw a commercial with dogs and said to the babies, "Look, puppy dogs!" That spurred James to bring her his Puppy Dog and a puppy dog puzzle piece. Julia enjoys taking sips of water and making a refreshing "aah!" sound.

One day in April I read a book to the twins that has the word "Mama" in it. I turn to Julia and ask, "Can you say `Mama'?" And she says "Mama" perfectly! Then I turn to James. "Can you say `Mama'?" And he says something like "basjdfoiwjejssssst."

In May James tries to sign "book" and also successfully signs "light" for the first time. In late April while dyeing my hair in the bathroom, the babies stop to look at the light coming out under the door from the hallway. Bubby says that James tries to say "light" and thinks he said it. One day Julia starts to say "milk" and gets the first few letters out. Papa reports that one day James got close to him and said "Papa" in a soft voice." (We already knew they could say "Papa" but it still is sweet.)

In early May James starts asking "dis?" and "dat?" while pointing at objects, asking us to name them (see video). For the next several months he does this a lot, I think more so than other babies. One day James sees four dogs together and points to each one, one at a time. "Dat?" (points to first dog) We respond: "Puppy dog." "Dat?" (points to second dog) "Puppy dog." (And repeat for all four.)  He particularly is interested in having me identify everyone in the baby photo album I made for them. Once when my parents arrive after some weeks away, James keeps saying "Dit? Dit?" as though he wants us to identify Papa. With Papa and many other things it's as though he wants to hear how they're said, not that he doesn't know what they are.

Both babies, but especially James, love to point to pictures in their "First Words" book and ask what they are. ("Dit? Dit?") The babies know many of their books really well. The last page of Hoppity Hop Peekaboo! says to wave bye bye to the animals. Julia often waves before I even say to. James sometimes does it as I'm turning to get to that page! Once when I am reading a new book (My Favorite Pets) to them, James suddenly becomes obsessed with a page showing shiny fish, and carries the book off so he can study it more closely. He is pretty obsessed with that page for several days, and gets mad if Julia takes the book. When grandparents call on Skype, I ask James to show them the fish and he opens the book to the page and holds it up to show them, the book sometimes facing them, sometimes not.

James is looking at his favorite page from among all books...

...and it's about fish!

James, it might help to turn the book *towards* the computer...

Baby eating time is very stressful. I go to a nutrition talk in March and actually cry on the way home because it's been so hard and I know the changes I learn there that I need to make will be hard. To keep the babies happy in the past we let them play with toys and listen to music during meals. (We often had to keep adding more and more toys because they would keep crying. The crying was mostly because they wanted their milk - not food - and Doc Rossin had instructed us to not give them milk until the end of their meals.)  Changes with the new "feeding training" include 1) no distractions at meals, 2) milk a half hour before meals, 3) two snacks per snack time (I actually gave them seven the day before the talk). And the last change is implemented the next month when they go to only eating table foods: only four foods are offered. (There is no "short order cooking" to supplement what they won't eat, like I had been doing.) I plan meals every night to always include a protein, a vegetable, a fruit, and a whole grain. (They won't eat eggs so getting them to get protein during breakfast results in some non-traditional breakfast foods like Asian chicken dumplings.) This is all in the hopes of establishing healthy dining habits and good little (not picky) eaters. On day one I let them cry when they don't like that the toys are away, but it's not as terrible as I expected. I do offer yogurt when they don't eat anything and I still sing a little (some example songs are below).

Food Songs I Wrote for the Babies:

Beef and spinach they're really yummy 
Beef and spinach, it fills my tummy 
Oh, beef and spinach they're real yumtastic 
Beef and spinach are pretty fantastic

Hello Julia, hello James
Do you like apples? I feel the same. 
I didn't let you answer that question well but
How you like them apples?

The aftermath of a single feeding. Now granted, some of the contents of those jars were partially eaten at previous feedings, but this is the reason meals last typically last one hour.

Bubby says Julia will hand her a bib and when she puts it on her Julia will walk to the gate toward the high chair - her way of saying she's ready to eat. Bubby also says Julia stood under the cabinet to indicate she wanted a snack.

In May, James goes through a phase where he likes to jam food into his mouth at the end of a meal and just let it sit in there. Each time after about 5-10 minutes he suddenly spits out a bread hairball of moist food. Once I cancel a playdate because James has crammed a giant wad of food into his mouth and keeps it there for 25 minutes, refusing to chew it, swallow it, or spit it out. Finally he spits it into my hand like bullets. Soggy cucumber, apple and bread bullets. Meanwhile dainty eater Julia likes to hand me miniscule crumbs she finds on her tray while she eats.

Our Garbage Disposal seems to be blocked up.

Mark gives the babies naan while they're in the Zoo, and they become naan zombies and want more and more. (Not coincidentally, the snack that's a big hit that day? Tandoori chicken.)

When the high chairs are moved to the dining room, I let whomever is done eating first play in the family room while the other finishes eating. Neither likes this arrangement very much and they're very clingy and instead hold up their arms to be held. Eventually I keep the first one done eating in their high chair and give them books until the other is done.

I offer the twins jarred baby foods purchased from Whole Foods that incorporate world flavors. These include Sweetie Tahiti (coconut/banana/apple), Tokyo Tum Tum (soy/ginger/dashi/brown rice), Borscht, and Dal. Borscht and Dal are wildly unpopular. In fact, when they see the jar of Borscht coming after the first day they clamp their mouths closed.

All the cool multi-cultural babies are doing it... but mine violently disliked all of these. (Except for the Tokyo Tum Tum. James liked that.)

Diapering Poo Talk
Mark is a good daddy and changes James's diaper in the middle of the night for awhile, because otherwise James would be soaked come morning. James is super giggly on the changing table when he pretends to try to flip over because he knows he shouldn't. When James has diaper rash I use wet washcloths to wipe him and hang them on the changing table before using them. Julia acts like she's being helpful and pulls them all down and either puts them on the floor for me or scurries off to the corner waiting for my go to hand them to me.

I change James when he's poopy because he thrashes too much with Mark. So one day Mark calls to me from the nursery to tell me James pooped. When I get to the door Mark says, "Uh oh! It's the turd police!" Afterwards I mentally send James a letter. "Dear James: You don't have to have a tantrum every time we change your diapers. It is no great privilege for us either. In fact we've seen what you leave in your diapers - we should be the one throwing the tantrums. Signed, Mommy."

I also discover the number one sign my babies are eating too many freeze-dried blueberries: blue poop.

In March the babies successfully transition to one nap a day. For a month or two Julia seems to need an earlier nap and James a later one so I try to balance it in between so they sleep at the same time. And Mark takes over the morning shift.

Julia typically cries once a night and James once every two nights, and I'd come in and get them back to sleep. At the end of March we have them cry it out for a night or two so they get used to getting themselves back to sleep. (I come in at 5 minute intervals - later I go longer - which some would say is too little, but I wanted them to know I wasn't ignoring them either.) By April they are good at waking and playing for 30 minutes in the morning in their cribs before waking us up.

James falls asleep at the meal. The day this happened I discovered after he'd fallen asleep that the bottoms of his feet were covered in the avocado he - unbeknownst to me - had been dropping onto his footrest.

In April, Mark decides he really wants the babies to share a room (despite having separated them in November because they were keeping each other awake) because he thinks it would be fun for them to wake up in the morning and play together. Against my better judgment I go along with it since I get my way on most things baby-related. The first day during naptime they decide to forgo their naps in favor of standing, hitting the wall, and giggling. It sounds like two monkeys in there. Eventually they are placed in separate rooms again because (not surprise) they wake each other up.

Nap time in the same room with matching cribs and matching clothes

In May the babies try to touch each other's faces, especially their eyes and mouths. Julia puts her fingers in James's mouth and both just giggle while I say "gentle, gentle." I have good reason to be concerned though - once when James puts his fingers in Julia's mouth he immediately starts crying. And a few days before he had a welt that was suspiciously shaped like a bite mark on his hand. One day I offer Julia a hug, signing "hug" to her and reaching out my arms, and she smiles and walks over and lies in my lap. She then puts her head next to my leg and chomps on it! I say "No! No biting!" Meanwhile, James giggles as he often does at Julia's antics, especially if I discipline her. For an encore she looks over my leg as though to find a yummy fleshy part and tries again. She also bites Mark on the leg. Thankfully her biting phase only lasts about a week. Mark takes a video of the babies sharing a laundry basket where James keeps waggling his butt in Julia's space. One guess how Julia "Dracula" Pilloff settles things.

Julia prepares to deflate a ball.

I show Julia photos on the computer and she perks up and smiles when I say "Here's Bubby" (or Papa or Grandma). She smiles biggest at the ones of James smiling, which I think makes sense since that's the person she most often sees smiling at her.

At the end of May I put out a chair for them and they like to use it at the same time. Usually Julia will sit while James climbs and stands on the arm while holding the crib. The babies like to hide from each other and play peek-a-boo on opposite ends of the crib or couch (see video).

The first day with the new chair and everyone wants it.

Now they've worked out a compromise: Julia gets to sit in the pink chair and James plots a way to climb into the crib.

At the beginning of June, Julia begins bringing Puppy Dog and blankie to cheer up James on the changing table. I always say "Nice sharing! How sweet of Julia!" and she walks away beaming. James occasionally does the same for her. They will take each other's toys but very rarely Puppy Dog or Bunny. They know those are sacred.

In March the babies begin crawling to me and burying their heads in my lap when they want to be cuddled. They especially do it before bedtime, which I love. Often they both want hugs from me while in my lap which is hard to manage with two but so sweet. Julia loves crawling into my lap over and over. Sometimes James climbs on top of Julia (who's already in my lap) to get to me. Julia does NOT like to share my lap. One day when Julia is monopolizing my whole lap while I'm sitting cross-legged, James just puts his head on a corner of my knee and Julia screeches and kicks him away.

Another day when I'm lying on the ground, Julia sort of mouths my nose and cheek and James does the same. I think they're trying to kiss me!

Proto-kiss for Daddy from Julia?

Games, Activities & Interests
James and Julia's favorite game is to ride our backs, and they like to pull up the backs of our shirts to slap our bare backs. Ride 'em cowboy! I play a game with them on the changing table where I make a prolonged kiss sound and they know I'm going to kiss them somewhere and they giggle in anticipation. When I touch James's tongue with my finger, they both laugh and laugh. They love to be carried upside down to the changing table. If I'm holding him right-side up, James will even arch his back to encourage me to hold him upside down.

Mark throws soft toys at the babies and they think it's hilarious. They also enjoy resting their heads on pillows on the floor with him, particularly Julia who wants the pillows all to herself. He likes to ask Julia, "Where's James?" and when he asks "Where's Julia?" Julia will hit her own arm. James picks up the toy cell phone and holds it next to his head. We're not sure if Mark showed him this or if he learned it from watching us.

Julia loves having the pillow all to herself...or does she?

They crack up at dinner when I hum the Superman theme and Julia shakes her head and whole body while James laughs and laughs. The babies think it's great fun to shake their heads. Mark asks them questions like "Is Mommy better than Daddy?" and they'll shake their heads "no."
James and Julia love to look outside when Papa stands them up on the changing table. My parents also take them on walks in the front yard, one time commencing with Papa seating James on top of my stoner neighbor's motorcycle without stoner neighbor's knowledge. James puts his milk bottle inside Papa's coffee travel container and drinks it (just like Papa). Grandma gives them their first doll ("Dolly") and James hugs it.
While sitting in his high chair, James LOVES to point at the chandelier ("lights") and the big vase of flowers in the corner ("flowers"), and then move his hand back and forth quickly pointing back and forth to each item so I'll say "light flowers light flowers" as fast as I can. Julia starts playing the game too. Eventually I move the vase of flowers to the living room, which causes them to drag me to the living room gate and point to the flowers as though to let me know they're in the wrong place. They continue the game by pointing to the living room (the new position of the flowers) from the dining room. (To this day - they're 2 1/4 years now - after many months I'll ask them where the flowers used to be and they point to the right spot and then play a game of "light flowers."

James & Julia

The two of them are so different in many ways. Let's compare:

-James is gentle with our faces. Meanwhile we call Julia "Julia the Dentist" because she attacks our mouths, and "Dracula" because she bites.


-James holds food over the edge of his tray until I notice and react. He doesn't drop it - I think he's trying to please - and laughs because he just wants a reaction from me. And if I catch him doing anything else he shouldn't he often stops and smiles and pretends he wasn't. However, when Julia is caught doing something she shouldn't, she continues. She likes to look at me and drop her food over the side of her tray while James laughs and lives vicariously at her antics (see video). (Similarly, if I tell Julia not to touch an area I'm cleaning when I diaper her, she laughs and will try.) 


-James uses both hands to put food in his mouth as quickly as possible, with an 80% rate of accuracy, and then fills his mouth full of food and doesn't swallow. Julia takes little dainty bites and even pulls apart her bread into tiny pieces to eat it.-James is more reserved in new situations and can be afraid and clingy (like at My Gym or getting a haircut). Julia is a flirt and a daredevil and loves to wrestle and knock over blocks, and likes trying out new things (like the equipment and activities at My Gym or the outdoor cars at Sharon's house).


-James's poopy diapers are a disaster, often with corn and peas mixed in. Julia's poop is often cute, like little rabbit pellets. I kid you not.

Notice all the quesadilla pieces under the chair of Throwy McThrowerson.

I wonder how James is able to get food in his hair...

...Well there's that.

James's Personality

Sensitive Boy
James still loves cuddling with his Puppy Dog and now he occasionally cuddles with the puppy in his Playtime Puppy puppet book as well. One day when he sees my parents on Skype he gets very upset. My mom thinks it's because he misses his Papa. James can be a bit rough with Julia, not realizing his own strength. Once when he puts his hand on Julia's face and pushes her down and I say (slightly sharply) "James, don't hurt Julia." He looks at me with a big lower lip and starts crying. He is my sensitive boy.

James HATES elevators and he screams with the elevator door closes. He is scared of the bath and acts like a cat about to be put in water and climbs up me. When that happens I relax him and he's fine once in his whale tub.

Once he saw his bath, James's legs wrapped around Mommy like a monkey on a tree...

Mechanical Boy
James loves upturning the music table. One day he upturns the Zany Zoo and starts playing with it from the inside. Right then Papa - James's favorite person - arrives and James smiles at him but continues to busy himself within the Zany Zoo inner workings for the next two hours. James loves to stand at the baby gate and drop a drumstick over the side and watch it roll. He then fusses until I give it back to him, and then repeats. He also likes to swing the dining room door from the other side of the gate and fusses if the door gets out of reach. At the end of May James starts putting other toys and his water cup on the central gear of the gear toy to watch them spin. He's creative and likes to experiment, and this is when I realize he's going to be an engineer like his Daddy.

Giggly Boy
There are many things that James thinks are HILARIOUS. These include: just barely touching my teeth, having me put a star toy on his head (he laughs and hands it to me again and again), and my saying "Peekaboo I'm a horse" in horse voice when reading Guess Who Farm Friends.

A Tad Obsessive Boy
Whenever the babies are on the loose James makes a beeline for the dinosaur bibs (see video), overturning high chair trays or anything in his path to get to them (crash!), and then parades around with them proudly. He likes to carry one in each hand, and does the same thing when he finds my socks. One day he clutches one of the dinosaur bibs when we leave for Pinkberry and he holds it throughout our trip and to Safeway. I should mention that we never get grocery carts at the store - we just pile what we need on top of the stroller and at the babies' feet (and sometimes in their hands). As a result one day when I go to Target, James gets very attached to a curtain blackout liner that I'm buying and clutches it. I take it away really quickly to scan and hand it back to them but by then he's bawling. He cuddles it the whole ride home.

James with his favorite things in the world... dinosaur bib 1 and dinosaur bib 2.

Favorite Toys
Dinosaur bibs
Learning Home (especially loves to play "Itsy Bitsy Spider")
Stacking cups
Papa's travel mug
Steering wheel toys (we have two, including one by John Deere)

Puppy Dog makes a good pillow.

James is deadly serious about his new project of piling gears on himself.

Favorite Books
Goodnight, Baby
My Favorite Pets

Favorite Foods
Cheddar crackers
Snap pea crisps
Teriyaki tofu
Whole wheat bread (sometimes with peanut butter)
Chicken/Turkey meatballs


Julia's Personality

Drama Queen

If I were to assess who is the more difficult baby these months, it's really close but I'd say Julia. She definitely has an easier temperament overall, but if she's really upset or it's the middle of the night it's HARD to make her happy. She only stops crying during a middle-of-the-night wake-up when she's sick if you stand while holding her. Even if she's half-asleep she immediately knows if you sit down and will start crying again. (And there's a limit to how long you can stand holding a 22 pound bag of potatoes... I did it once for an hour straight.) James on the other hand is an easy read. He simply wants to be held to go back to sleep when he's sick (and if desperate you can watch TV during this process). While he is difficult on the changing table and at meals, Julia's harder to get to nap and doesn't nap as long. She also gets upset if she's in a stroller or the car and they're not moving. ("I can't believe this car has the GALL to stop at stoplights!")

Julia is often cranky when she wakes up from sleeping (just like Daddy) - sometimes all morning, and she very much needs a routine and hates when something changes. For a few days in early June she throws a couple tantrums a day where we don't know what causes them but she screams and does a stiff starfish in our arms. Nothing we do makes her happy. And if we offer her toys or books to cheer her up, she likes to indicate to us that she's upset by pushing the toys away or by closing books and then looking at us defiantly.

Pouty Julia

For a month Julia hates bibs and keeps pulling them off. She keeps removing her socks as well. One day she even gets mad at her sleeves. She really fights me on wearing bibs and she refuses to let me put them on - she just unvelcroes them. Eventually I buy bibs that snap but sometimes they provoke an even stronger reaction in her so I don't press it too much since she's not that messy. She also figures out how to make the tray on her high chair fall to the ground so for awhile I have to have her trade chairs with James.

One day Papa puts a busy purple print dress over Julia's already loud elephant pajamas, and she models for us like she knows she looks pretty, and goes to look at herself in the mirror (see video). Papa adds a hat, consisting of a pair of black and white polka dot pants.

As Tim Gunn would say, "That's a lot of look."

Julia rides on a slide for the first time in May and wants to go again and again. James tries it once and that's enough for him. She loves the swingset and wants to hold the swings on either side of her while she swings. While at my friend Sharon's house she can't get enough of riding around in her Cozy Coupe and she cries when I eventually have to stop letting her ride down her roller coaster.

Julia likes to control all the swings.

Julia's first time in or on a Cozy Coupe.

Adorable Ball of Energy
In May she becomes obsessed with blocks, but doesn't stack them herself. She wants us to stack them so she can knock them down in spunky Julia style. She is so excited to knock over blocks she pushes over ones that are just standing by themselves on the ground! Papa and I repeatedly build her big towers of soft blocks, and when Julia sees them from across the room she makes a beeline to destroy them. She actually propels her body - not just her hands - like a wrecking ball towards her target (see video).

Lives for Peekaboo
Julia cocks her head to one side while playing peekaboo as though it makes her hidden. She likes to hide behind her crib bars and pretend that I don't see her. I act like I'm looking for her and then say, "Oh, there's Julia" and she beams and giggles. One day I go into the nursery and don't see Julia right away and when I do she laughs like she gets the joke that I couldn't find her. She likes to hang out in the corners of rooms, especially in the closet (the doors were removed long ago), as though always ready for a game of peekaboo.

Where did Julia go? There she is!

Favorite Toys
Learning Home
Soft blocks (only for knocking over)
Good Night Scout
Busy Gears
Steering wheel toys (we have two, including one by John Deere)
Stacking cups
Spin and Sing Alphabet Zoo ("spin spin-a-letter")

Julia loves her Good Night Scout book toy.

Favorite Books
Goodnight, Baby (she freaks out when I take it out)
Noisy Peekaboo: Choo! Choo!
Noisy Peekaboo: Vroom! Vroom!
Horns to Toes and in Between

Favorite Foods
Cheerios and puffs
Pinkberry frozen yogurt
Whole wheat bread (sometimes with peanut butter)
Cheddar crackers
Chicken meatballs
Snap pea crisps
Teriyaki tofu


A Cheerio found its way into Julia's belly button! (I swear - we didn't do it!)


Las Madres Cupertino 2009 playgroup: David (mom: Jadwiga), Isaac (dad: Todd), Kaian (mom: Karie), Jason (mom: Cindy), Maya (mom: Arnita)
Zachary and Zoe (mom: Sharon)

James and Julia with Isaac at their first Las Madres Cupertino 2009 playgroup

David and Kaian

Sharon with Zachary at our first playdate

Words They Can Say
hi (3/1 Julia)
baby (3/29; James says "beeba")
bwee (3/10?; Julia likes to say this non-word and Mark encourages her)
dis/this and dat/that (5/7 James; Julia sort of says but not as often or clearly)

Words They Can Sign
light (James tries to sign 5/24; both can sign 7/7)
book (6/4 - 6/5 for both)

Words They Understand
"I''ll be right back" (I always say when leaving room)
"Who wants to come with Mommy?" (Both get a little excited and want me to pick them up - usually means snack, walk or meal)
"Go for a walk" (They get excited)
"I have an idea" (Usually ends in me signing "book" - but they know what's coming by me saying "I have an idea.")
Can identify lots of pictures in books

Schedule 3/13/11
7:30am wake up
9:15am snack (I eat breakfast too)
11:00am nap (2 hours)
1:30pm lunch (at 2:00pm I eat lunch while they play in zoo)
Afternoon - walk or playdate; snack
6:30pm dinner
Play in nursery
8:05pm sleep

Schedule 5/26/11
6:50am wake up
7:30am milk
9:00am breakfast (if I wake up first it's sooner after milk)
10:30am snack
11:15am books
12:00pm nap
1:15 - 1:40pm wake up (usually the first is at 1:15)
2:00pm milk
2:05pm lunch
4:00pm snack
5:00pm run (snack and run can vary based on afternoon activies; snack at playdate)
6:15pm milk
6:20pm dinner
8:15pm sleep

"Julia poops more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day." - Mark
"Babies are great for getting rid of leftovers. Day-old pizza? Restaurant bread? Just give them to my 16 month old garbage disposals." - Kathy
"As a parent you live for these moments like baby smiles that give your life meaning. The rest of the time you're wishing they'd sleep so you could go back on the Internet." - Kathy
"Julia has decided to go on strike against being spoon-fed. I wonder if she resents James for being a scab." - Kathy
"I think everyone has a story their mom used to tell them about the time when they were a baby and kept her up five nights straight with their crying. When I was growing up I was like, "Of course you took care of me. What else were you going to do?" But now that I've had kids I understand the incredible amount of restraint involved to not leave your baby in a sewer by the side of the road." - Kathy

Some Highlights of New Foods They Tried (that weren't in jars)
Blueberries and raspberries (Later when he tries freeze-dried blueberries, James keeps licking them and offering them to me. Eventually he puts them in his mouth and likes them.)
Pizza (they like)
French fries
Chicken apple sausage
Rice Krispies
Chicken meatballs
Peanut butter crackers (first time having peanut butter)
Red bell pepper
Macaroni and tomato sauce
Chicken ravioli
Potato latkes (and sweet potato latkes and zucchini latkes)
Frozen yogurt (I think they think it's too cold. Julia wants more licks; James is done after a bite.)Pancakes
Tofu noodles
Spinach cake (Dr. Praeger's Spinach Littles)
Chicken and leek dumplings
Seaweed (Papa tells them it's called "crap.")

Weights and Lengths:

12/07/09 (birth)
James - weight: 5 lbs., 9 oz.; length: 17.8" <5th percentile; weight for length: ~75th percentile
Julia - weight: 4 lbs., 9 oz.; length: 18.1" <5th percentile; weight for length: ~10th percentile

1/07/10 (1 month)
James - weight: 7 lbs., 2.9 oz.; length: ~21"
Julia - weight: 6 lbs., 4.4 oz.; length: ~18 1/2"

2/08/10 (2 months)
James - weight: 9 lbs., 0.0 oz <5th percentile; length: 21 1/4" <5th percentile; head: 14 3/4" ~8th percentile; weight for length: ~25th percentile
Julia - weight: 7 lbs., 11.5 oz. <5th percentile; length: 20 1/2" <5th percentile; head: 14 1/4" <5th percentile; weight for length: ~17th percentile

3/06/10 (3 months)
James - weight: 11 lbs., 2.6 oz. ~10th percentile
Julia - weight: 9 lbs., 8 oz. ~5th percentile

4/08/10 (4 months)
James - weight: 13 lbs., 14.5 oz. ~30th percentile; length: 24" ~18th percentile; head: 16 1/2" ~44th percentile; weight for length: ~60th percentile
Julia - weight: 12 lbs., 4 oz. ~21st percentile; length: 23" ~10th percentile; head: 16" ~42nd percentile; weight for length: ~58th percentile

6/07/10 (6 months)
James - weight: 18 lbs., 2 oz. ~62nd percentile; length: 26 1/4" ~48th percentile; head: 17 1/2" ~73rd percentile; weight for length: ~80th percentile
Julia - weight: 15 lbs., 6.5 oz. ~45th percentile; length: 25 3/4" ~50th percentile; head: 16 3/4" ~51st percentile; weight for length: ~44th percentile

9/17/10 (9 months)
James - weight: 21 lbs., 3.5 oz ~55th percentile; length: 29" ~62nd percentile; head: 18 1/2" ~87th percentile; weight for length: ~65th percentile
Julia - weight: 18 lbs., 7 oz. ~50th percentile; length: 27 3/8" ~50th percentile; head: 17 1/2" ~61st percentile; weight for length: ~50th percentile

12/6/10 (12 months)
James - weight: 22 lbs., 15 oz. ~53rd percentile; length: 30 1/2" ~75th percentile; head: 19" ~93rd percentile; weight for length: ~59th percentile
Julia - weight: 20 lbs., 12 oz ~48th percentile; length: 29" ~50th percentile; head: 18" ~70th percentile; weight for length: ~62nd percentile

3/22/11 (15 months)
James - weight: 25 lbs., 2 oz. ~59th percentile; length: 32 1/2" ~84th percentile; head: 19 1/2" ~97th percentile; weight for length: ~55th percentile
Julia - weight: 21 lbs., 12 oz. ~29th percentile; length: 31" ~68th percentile; head: 18 1/2" ~78th percentile; weight for length: ~25th percentile

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

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