Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Meet James and Julia at 18-21 Months: The Twins Start Talking... and Talking and Talking...

Visits and Events
Mark is away from the babies for a week - his longest time away ever - to go to his Cornell 15th reunion and visit New York City. Needless to say when he returns the babies are very excited to see him and want lots of hugs. Then Julia immediately engages Mark in her favorite activity - standing on Daddy while he lies down.

Bubby visits in July and the twins happily recognize her from their car seats as I pick her up at the airport. My parents visit off and on these months. Once when Papa - away for a month - arrives after driving all the way from San Diego, the twins immediately hand him the You Can Name 100 Trucks! book and settle in for a good read. A few days later Grandma arrives and the babies go nuts greeting her at the door. James wants hugs over and over and Julia excitedly runs back and forth, almost giving hugs and then laughing and running away when Grandma reaches for her. However, whenever Papa and Grandma come over together for their daily visit, the twins go crazy for Papa and often ignore Grandma, possibly because she doesn't roughhouse with them as much as Papa. As a result she starts visiting at different times of day than Papa.

James slides down Papa while upside down.

“Thanks Grandma, I needed that.”

One of my dad's closest friends, John Bregante, visits with his sons J.J. and Austin, and a few days later one of my mom's closest friends, Pam Wetterer, visits with her husband Keith and daughter Sandra. My high school friend Natascha stops by twice with her twins Celeste and Emilie (born one month after my twins) while she's in town. Julia bounces up and down in James's crib and then the other three babies want in, too (see video). They all jump up and down and then Natascha and I help them do somersaults (which becomes my twins' new favorite thing).

Julia with John and Papa

Which baby is NOT one of Natascha’s twins?

"I'll be at this end with the ladies... I mean, the ones who aren't my sister."

One of the babies' fun playdates involves going over to Sharon's house and playing with a water table and in a shallow kiddie pool for the first time with her twins, Zoe and Zachary. Julia laughs while she stomps in the pool like she's stomping grapes. At a playdate at Rachel P.'s house, her son Oliver runs with James and Julia up and down their hall. Oliver decides to run under my legs like the twins but Oliver is a good head taller so it's a little scary having him run full speed towards me because, unlike my kids, he can't fit under my legs.

James and Julia enjoy Sharon’s kiddie pool.

Julia and James play with Zachary and Zoe and their water table. James does not look thrilled.

The babies swim for the first time at a party for Rachel R. and Matthew's daughter Rivven's third birthday. Julia is excited to be in the pool. James is fussy and worries when I first put him in, but then Mark takes over and James gets comfortable in the water (though for the record Mark really doesn't do anything different from me). Julia loves floating in the inflatable turtle. James loves splashing.

Julia’s first time in the water. She’s a natural like Daddy.

Meanwhile, James seems to be water-challenged like Mommy.

Family in the water!

We visit Happy Hollow Park and Zoo for the first time, but make the mistake of going when it's 88 degrees out. The babies are scared of the carousel and are ambivalent towards the sheep and donkey in the stables.

At Happy Hollow the babies encounter their first donkey. It’s creepy for everyone.

At the 18th month check-up their pediatrician is concerned that the twins say less than five words, even though speech delays are common among twins. (Later I realize that I forgot to mention two words which would have brought their total to five. Plus I didn’t know signs counted too.) Because their word count is under five, I - not James and Julia - attend speech therapy, which basically consists of tricks to encourage them to speak more. One is that I shouldn't anticipate what they want and instead guess incorrectly three times what they might be asking for. We're not sure this really helps but begrudgingly do it anyway.

The twins add more signs to their repertoire, especially James who's more accurate with his signing and signs more often. One of their favorites is "noise" and Julia constantly touches her ear to make the sign for "noise" while reading Noisy Peekaboo. They also like to watch me pee (lucky me), and when they hear me peeing they sign "noise." While on a Skype call with Bubby, Julia blows a kiss for the first time.

James signs for more food.... and then gets excited... REALLY excited!

James continues to ask me "this" and “that" constantly so I'll identify things for him (see video). He even does it on the walk from the nursery to his high chair for milk - he'd rather know the names of objects than drink milk!

Even though they're slow to start talking, they definitely comprehend words. My book says that by the end of 19 months, 25% of babies can identify two pictures in a book. Mine can do twenty. Julia is better and faster than James at identifying pictures in books. James is better with regards to shapes and colors and is more interested in learning the names of things by asking "this" or "that." Julia goes through a phase where she likes to indicate things she wants by pointing at a picture in a book and then pointing outside of the room for you to retrieve it. Usually she asks for food, especially blueberries and bananas, but sometimes she asks for tomatoes (me: "You don't like tomatoes!"), limes ("You don't know what those are!"), horses ("Um, what?").

Go! Get! More! Food! Now!

On 7/1 while reading a book on colors, James sees the page about the color blue and shows me a blue cup in the room without being asked. He then picks up four other blue objects. To test him I show him three objects and he correctly picks the blue one. He also did this three weeks ago with me but because on one attempt he picked up an object that wasn't blue I figured it was just luck. As it turns out, Papa had been working with him on identifying the color blue over the last several weeks. By mid-July the babies are able to find something that's blue or red, and sometimes they can find things that are yellow as well. In addition to identifying colors, by the beginning of July they can identify pictures of people they know and locate over 20 parts of the body. 

Julia shows off the first body part she learned.

In June they start making lots of animal sounds, beginning with "bzzz" for bee. Julia's pre-talking is sing-songy Japanese-sounding. Mark thinks she sounds like Borat. James has slightly better enunciation (which is true for the next year). Instead of Julia's "dis" he says "this;" instead of "mmm" for a cow noise he says "moo."

On 6/11 Julia waves and says “bye bye” (see video). Other than “Dada,” “Mama,” “Papa,” and the use of "duck" for two days, it's her first word. "Bye" also becomes James's first new word on 7/1 (see video) and he waves and says it on Skype to Bubby. Julia waves and says "bye bye" to a truck driving away, to birds, and also when I close the doors to rooms of the house. (My parents laugh that she got this from me because of my penchant for saying goodbye to rooms of the house when I'd leave home to go back to college.) I don't count Mark training them to say "Google" as their second word since they don't really know what it means (see video). They say it awfully cutely though ("Where does Daddy work?" "GOOO-gol!").

Their real second word comes about a month later. Hug is one of their favorite books and they say the name of the baby monkey in it - "Bobo.” By mid-August they're trying to repeat words we say, and I hear them utter the sound of the first letter of words that I say. By the end of August they have been learning to say a new word or animal sound nearly every day for a few weeks. On 9/1 they add five words in one day (one is a food so I know they're my kids), and later they have an 8-word day. One day I talk to Bubby on the phone while pushing the twins in the swings. When I tell her a new word they can say they start chattering it like little parrots.

Daddy taught the babies to say and recognize a certain word...

One day James says "meat" and the next, "ball" and then "meatball." But even though he says "me" for meat, he says "bee-ba" (the cutest word ever) for "meatball" (see video). When I sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star , the twins - but especially James - like to sing along in pre-talking gibberish (see video).

In July the babies start handing me books and then plop down on my lap for me to read to them. James prefers to nearly tackle me as he stumbles into my lap. Meanwhile Julia hands me books, turns around, waddles backwards, and sits down. It's particularly funny when she underestimates the distance and has to shuffle back several steps and then nearly misses my lap as she plops down. Both will sit on my lap at the same time and read 10 books in one sitting. Most people I talk to have trouble with their toddlers staying for one book! Julia in particular loves being read to, and goes through a phase where she likes to sit in my lap and hand me a book while she gets busy reading another. It's like she's giving me one to read to myself - because there’s nothing I’d rather do than silently read Caillou Potty Time.

Naked story time! (Actually Julia’s wearing a diaper.)

James isn't nearly as interested as identifying objects in books as Julia. A few times he identifies lots of objects which leads me to believe that he usually just ignores my questions ("Where's the fire truck?") and prefers to point to things and ask "this?" instead. Some of their books, particularly the Sandra Boynton ones, have back covers that show other books by the the author, and the twins are obsessed with having me name all the books. They also love having us identify all the Mr. Men and Little Miss characters on a magnet we have, even though the whole time I'm thinking, "It's really not important that you can differentiate between Mr. Tickle and Little Miss Stubborn.")

Some random book-related tidbits:
  • Julia likes to lay her head down on animals in books that she wants to cuddle. So far she wants to cuddle bunnies, kittens, sheep, and snakes. James wants to cuddle tractors.
  • The babies start making the hand motions to the Wheels on the Bus book on their own.
  • I hear Papa say to Julia, "What's this you want to read? The Potty Book for Boys?”
  • Julia loves the bunny puppet in the Snuggle Bunny book. She even hugs it as much as Pink Bunny. They also love the similar Playtime Puppy book, and while reading and tickling them with the puppy puppet I've never seen Julia laugh so hard.
  • Julia starts hitting the pages of books while counting objects like I do when I read to them.
  • James points to each duck in Five Little Ducks and makes a hand motion to say them fast so I say "duckduckduckduckduck mother duck" which makes them giggle.
  • One day Julia has me read You're My Little Love Bug FIVE times within 15 days. And then again a few times later. Needless to say, said book soon disappears for awhile.

The twins love climbing on us (see video). They also love standing and balancing on the sofa, but we have to make them take turns on the sofa because otherwise we can't supervise two crazy monkeys. One day James is motivated enough when it's not his turn to successfully scale the sofa himself. Julia goes through a phase where she loves perching on top of things - including the Zany Zoo and the Music Table - and sitting on things, including small blocks. Julia also loves flinging herself over and over again from her toddler chair and landing on her knees.

Julia climbs on Daddy.

Papa’s one big jungle gym.

Julia can make a chair out of any toy.

One morning the twins discover the family room rug is completely devoid of toys (as a result of vacuuming the night before) and they go nuts running around in circles on it. Julia likes to stand on top of the crocodiles on her crocodile walker, and she often gets her foot stuck between the crocodiles. She will fuss until I get her unstuck and then she'll immediately get on again and get stuck. With no help from us, the twins start putting on Mark's flip flops and walking around, and James even tries to walk in one of my boots. The babies love to try to shake their heads “no.” Mark takes advantage of this by asking questions like “Is Mommy your favorite?” James can also nod; Julia tries but can't.

Julia doesn’t believe in using walkers the traditional way. She likes to ride chariot style.

James tries to walk in Mommy’s boot.

James is way more excited than he should be to hold Mommy’s running shoe.

James and Julia go nuts if we tell them they’re going outside, moreso even than if we say "milk." We get a second toddler swing and they never seem to want off - even when I stop pushing and they're perfectly still. James hits our tire swing and it hits him back which he doesn't like. He asks what it is ("tire swing") and he whimpers as he walks away. This happens twice.

Mommy pushes the twins on the new swings.

Fine Motor Skills
The babies scribble for the second time in early June. James does a whole drawing without help. This is Julia's first time scribbling. Last time she was busy trying to eat the crayons. A few months later they love to hold each crayon up or point at lines they've drawn to have me name the colors.

Stop. Scribble time!

In July I start letting the twins brush their teeth followed by my more thorough brushing. James refuses to give it a go until September (and fights me in the meantime when I insist on brushing them), but Julia loves it so much that she melts down each time I finally take the toothbrush away. She loves sitting on my lap and facing the mirror to watch.

James and Julia love to put their sippy cups on their heads (a trick Papa taught them) and hold their cups with their teeth ("Look, Ma, no hands!"). James starts screwing the lids on sippy cups himself. James also tries for the first time to open the bathroom cabinet door that came with a child-proof lock and is successful! Twice! (Note to self: don't buy that brand of lock.)

My talented babies

We attempt to transition the twins from bottles to straw cups for milk. We give them the new straw cups and Julia cries for about four minutes until we finally give her a bottle. Then James sees her bottle and wants one, too. Finally after over a month of trying to turn them to the straw side my friend Kashi suggests not giving in at all and reminds me they're not going to starve if they miss a serving of milk. It works. Julia misses a feeding and leaves half of her milk in her cup at times but after three days I'm able to successfully put their milk in straw cups for the whole day. But the fourth day I make the mistake of announcing, "It's time to go to the other room and drink milk!" when usually I just hand them their cups and don't make a fuss over it. As a result when they arrive and see cups instead of bottles they are totally inconsolable. And unwilling to eat breakfast. Finally I solve the problem by offering their favorite food of all, freeze-dried blueberries. It’s a little known fact that the chief weapon in Henry Kissinger’s diplomatic arsenal was freeze-dried blueberries.

James shows off his new straw cup.

Blueberry Fuhrer

In June Julia starts dropping food, which cracks James up, and I make her face the wall. She and James laugh whenever I turn her around for punishment. At first James laughs and holds food over the floor without dropping it - just wanting to see my reaction - but then he starts dropping food even more than Julia. Since I can’t see him with his chair turned around, I check on him to make sure he's not choking by poking my head over the top of his chair. Often he grins up at me.

Guess who just dropped a pile of peas on the floor.

Other amusing things that happen while James faces the wall:
  • Papa asks Julia where the flowers are and James points.
  • James practices his new words "Yabba Dabba."
  • After my parents teach the twins how to make a kiss sound (see video), James likes to while away his time facing the wall practicing.

Thankfully by the beginning of July there is much less food dropping.

Julia uses a spoon for the first time and it's the first time either of the babies have really used utensils. She starts growling when a food comes out that she likes. Also, the twins don't mind when I was their faces with a washcloth as much since I play with their bottom lip and twang it so it makes a fun sound when they talk. James especially likes this (see video).

James and Julia like to pull at our clothing and laugh. (We of course tell them to stop.) One day while on Skype with Bubby James bites my shoulder (I think he's trying to bite my shirt), and then Julia "Dracula" Pilloff tries to bite me and laughs.

In late June the babies start walking (as opposed to being carried) from the nursery to the family room whenever I need to change rooms. When we tried this months before, they'd wander off. They get so good at walking between rooms it's like escorting little ducklings. Julia's sweetly holds my finger while walking. And then in the weeks that follow they stop going in a straight line. In early July whenever they're on the loose they head straight for the shoe pile to put on Mark's flip flops and walk around. Next, instead of following me to the other room, they decide to hide instead. Julia particularly loves hiding, always in the same places  - next to James's high chair, in a corner of the kitchen, and later any room she can get inside - all the while laughing. Then a few weeks later James, smiling mischievously, wants to be chased each time we change rooms, and throws a fit whenever I finally put him in his high chair. Because I know they love to run around and explore I usually let the meandering go on for 10 minutes or more every time we need to change rooms for a meal, snack, or diaper change, but I really start to run out of time in the morning to do anything!

The twins like to touch or open the trash can and seem to find my stern voice amusing. James likes to touch it with just his finger and smile devilishly at me. Eventually when they don't respond to my saying "no" they get put in the gated family room (a.k.a. "The Tank").

I thought James had tantrums when he was 11 months but that was just a 1-2 minute reaction when a toy was taken away. They start having a few more tantrums that last longer. When James gets upset, he makes an amusing "rruh rruh rruh" noise.

James used to be so gentle with Julia. Now he likes to pat her hard on the head. And sometimes he kicks her and even when we move him away he giggles as he goes right back to doing it. (And if she kicks him, he giggles.) I really think he's just clueless and doesn't realize he's hurting her because he’s bigger and likes it when she's rough with him.

Julia goes from loving James pushing her head to not being so sure about it very quickly.

They like to hide from the other and then shriek and play chase for 15 minutes at a time (see video). One time Mark tells Julia to "get James" and she chases him around the room, but when she gets to him she doesn't know what to do.

Julia occasionally hands James My Favorite Pets unprompted, knowing how much he likes the page about fish. However, she often takes James's toys, and since he gets very fixated on what he's working on he gets very upset. (Sometimes he monopolizes something for the day so I'm sure she sees that as the only way she can get it. Also, he will use the toys in a new and interesting way which entices her.) When James sees Julia coming over, potentially to take something he's playing with, he'll run away, often clinging to me when he's afraid Julia "The Toy Stealer" has plans. Eventually he'll hold it out like he's giving it to her (whether it's his intention or not) and she takes it and he bawls. Sometimes James and Julia work together on projects. One memorable one involved them dropping all our shoes over the makeshift gate into the living room.

The twins survey their handiwork after dumping all the shoes over the diaper/toilet paper wall.

My friend Natascha gives me advice for when they both want the same toy: Sing the ABC song changing the last line to "Next time won't you take turns with me" and have whomever has the toy has to give it to the other. And then sing the song again and repeat. After a few attempts it works great! The twins actually smile and hand toys to the other when times is up and sometimes do it up to eight times in a row!

When I sit on the ground and give the twins piggy back rides, they often love it so much they sign "more." Once Mark and I give Julia rides and after each ride she goes to the other parent for another, and we compete to give her the more fun ride. Mark often thrusts his head into the babies' tummies and says, "Cannonball boom!" which they enjoy. He also drops pillows and throws soft toys at them which makes them giggle. If I scratch my leg around James he likes to smile and scratch my leg. We teach the babies how to do "high fives," but Julia is more interested in giving fist bumps.

When I change them or brush their teeth I often chase them and say "I'm gonna get me a Julia/James and when I do I'm gonna change their diaper/brush their teeth." They love it until I catch them. To get away they will try to run between my legs even though they're too tall. Papa starts saying to the babies "1-2-3-Hug" and they love running to him to wrestle and hug from the farthest corner of the room. When he does it on Skype they charge the laptop (see video). Julia likes when I hold up Bunny and say “1-2-3-Hug” and she hugs Bunny and me.

Sometimes James’s 1-2-3-Hug runs can be a little too powerful. This time it knocked his and Papa’s hats off!

Another game Papa plays with them that they, especially Julia, like is "kerplunk." Basically he lifts them up and plops them down on a pillow while saying "kerplunk." They also love to ride Papa's knee. When he stops moving his knee James will keep bucking to encourage him to continue. Papa puts his chair on the porch and they love sitting outside with him. One day Grandma pretends to sleep and when Julia touches her foot, Grandma yelps and cutely startles Julia.

Julia still loves peek-a-boo and will initiate a game anywhere - the changing table, the high chair, or even on Skype where she'll duck below where the laptop sits on the counter so the person on the computer can't see her. Often she barely covers both eyes so you can see her watching you. I love when she plays peek-a-boo when she's hungry and covers one eye so she can use her free hand to eat.

Where did Julia go? There she is!

They both start holding open the necks of their shirts so you can drop toys down them, particularly their play coins (see video). Mark teaches them to hold open their shirts when asked, "Where does the money go?" They will also do it to adults (see video), and not all guests - like Leslie M. - expect it!

While Leslie M. looks on, Julia engages in one of her favorite activities - stuffing as many toys into her shirt as possible.

James surprises Leslie M. by putting money down her shirt.

The twins still play their game of pointing quickly back and forth to the empty area where the flowers used to be and then to the light fixture so we'll say, "Lights flowers lights flowers." When they get us to say certain things in a funny way they think it's hilarious, particularly James who I call "Giggles." Examples include saying "pita" in two different voice (see video), singing songs in a whisper and then loudly, and lion roars (see video).

Julia rarely cuddles now and James becomes the cuddler, but he also doesn't seem to know how to cuddle with me. He's torn between wanting affection and wanting to climb me at the same time and neither seems to satisfy him. He starts giving stand-up hugs and when I get home he sweetly comes up for me for a hug.

In July Grandma gets Julia to kiss her on the lips twice. She reports that Julia sort of licked her. Julia also likes licking (or is it kissing?) the screen door. In August upon our request, Julia gives Mark and me kisses on the mouth. She smiles and runs away afterwards. We ask James for kisses and he approaches with an open mouth. I end up kissing his teeth.

They both want to be on my lap at the same time but unfortunately don't want to share. In August I hold them both in my lap to read books just before bed and then sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star while swaying back and forth and putting their faces next to mine. It's a really nice moment and they keep signing for more when I finish and I sing it four times. I make this part of the sleep ritual and it's my favorite moment of the day.

Before June, James would wake us around 6:45 a.m. after playing for a half hour in his crib. Then, in June Julia gets black-out curtains which cause her to sleep longer and James happens to start sleeping in longer too. They start waking around 8:00 a.m. and take longer naps (usually 2 ½ hours)!

Mark pushes for them to sleep in the same room again "so they can have fun," and against my better judgment I allow it. Again. We have to end the sleep experiment after five days because Julia starts waking at least an hour earlier every day and she screams when she goes to sleep. Poor girl. Unfortunately when we move her back to her own room she continues to cry when she's put down for the night and continues to wake about 45 minutes earlier than before she moved to James's room.

Fun fact: Google gives its employees free massages. One day, I tell Mark, “Feel free to come home early” because Julia “no naps at all costs” Pilloff is super cranky after refusing her nap. Mark says, “I can’t. I’m scheduled for a massage.”

Julia’s not so sure about this “waking up” stuff. Or “going to sleep” stuff.

Poo Talk Diapering
At a playdate I say "Julia, let's do a smell check" and she lifts up her dress for me! One day we know Julia pooped and we ask her "Julia did you poop? and she shakes her head as Mark chases her around the room (see video).

In a funny misunderstanding, Bubby hangs the poopy washcloths (used instead of wipes when the babies have diaper rash) over the shower where I usually put the used ones from washing their faces. With toddlers the laundry never ends and it takes me up to 30 minutes to pre-treat one load of baby laundry with Oxyclean spray. In fact one pair of James's pajamas has the trifecta: blueberries, tomato sauce, and of course poop.

One day James shows me a spoon with poop on it and then Julia takes it from him. I wash their hands and then rush James to the changing table. I think he had a blow out and then the poop got on a spoon he was playing with. I'm certain he didn't eat it. Unfortunately before I could get to him I watched as he smeared some across his face with his hand. It's not good when the first thing I have to do during a diaper change is wipe poop from a child's mouth and cheek.

James & Julia

They both have some similar personality traits and interests:

  • They both are very clingy - grabbing my legs and staying close to me - around new people and at playdates, even Julia who used to be our flirt. In public when a stranger tries to get them to smile they both usually just stare, though Julia is a bit more likely to be the one that smiles back.
  • They love wearing hats and often give them to you to put on them.
  • They are obsessed with shoes, both playing with them and having us put theirs on them, even when they're inside. (Julia refuses to wear her new shoes - like Uncle Michael as a toddler - and Mark finally convinces her to put them on after having Pink Bunny wear them first.)

James dressed for work (in a drum) and wearing a hat.

Speaking of work... Mark takes orders from his new manager:

"I want milk in my cup by 7:30 a.m. every morning. NO EXCUSES!"
"Sir, I had a question about my accrued time off. You see..." "WHY ARE THERE BLUEBERRIES IN THE SINK? I WOULD HAVE EATEN THOSE!"

But the two of them are also different in many ways, often along stereotypical gender lines. Let's compare:

  • James hates getting his teeth brushed, face washed, and hair combed. Julia loves brushing her teeth and even "brushes" them herself.
  • James has terrible diapers. Julia's poops are more frequent but cute. I swear one time it looked just like little pebbles.
  • James is a messier eater. By far.
  • Julia is our social animal.
  • James is more rambunctious and give us hard pats on the head.
  • While Julia gently sits on our laps, James charges.
  • James keeps asking "this?" about his penis during diaper changes, wanting me to name it. Sometimes he'll even point to it and then with his free hand indicate for me to say it fast ("penis penis penis") and he giggles. Just like a boy.

Portrait of a messy (but happy) baby

And then there's the differences that some would say go the opposite of gender lines.:

  • At playdates Julia gobbles food from her snack trap and tries to take James's. James on the other hand doesn't care and just wants to play with toys.
  • Grandma teaches the babies to feed their Dolly a bottle and burp her. James is a natural at it. Meanwhile Julia's idea of burping a baby involves pummeling it with a bottle. One day she drinks from her bottle and feeds Dolly a bottle at the same time. Of course when I tell her not to forget to burp Dolly she gently turns Dolly over and then brutalizes her back with the bottle. We ask Julia to burp Dolly, Pink Bunny, Mark, and me, and she wields her bottle as a weapon and pistol-whips all of us on the head.

A rare moment of Dolly not getting pummelled by Julia

James's Personality

Scared and Clingy
I notice that James appears to be afraid of men, except of course for Daddy and Papa. When the male appraiser comes to the house, James goes to me for comfort even though the appraiser is pretty much the opposite of a big scary guy. The same day, twin mom Mona comes by for a playdate and despite not knowing her James gives her big smiles.

James is very literal. If I read him a book with a dog, he'll bring over Doggy. Bubby showed him the color pink in a book and he set off in search of their pink balloon. If I say that we should sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star he'll rush over to The House and play the song. (The House plays an instrumental version and even though I never said it was Twinkle Twinkle Little Star he figured it out on his own.) One day I give James some subscription cards that came in the mail. Later I notice that they've all been jammed into the The House’s mailbox.

James put his subscription cards in his mailbox.

Spatial Reasoner
James is very good at putting together puzzles and putting shapes into shape sorters. (Meanwhile when Julia wants help on a puzzle I'll put the piece almost in the correct spot and think she can't possibly NOT get it in and then she picks it up and moves it so it doesn’t go in. Although with puzzles Julia at least knows what spot it goes in - she just doesn’t have the coordination, with shape sorters I'll point at the correct spot for a piece, but it doesn't matter because she's determined that it will go in the wrong hole.)

James appears to be a budding engineer. While Julia likes to push the baby stroller, he often knocks it over so he can spin the wheels. 

James likes to experiment with putting other toys on the middle rotating gear to see what will happen.

Obsessed with Projects
James tends to get very fixated each day on a few toys and hates when they are taken away.

Some objects of James's obsession:

  • Tuppperware (He sees the tupperware cabinet as his personal toy box like he’s entitled to it all. I give him some to play with but it's never enough.)
  • Mail (especially when it arrives)
  • A cereal box from the grocery store (I give it to him in the store to hold before I purchase it and he holds it ALL day. It's not easy to put a stroller harness around James AND that!)
  • Toys from Sharon's and Kashi's houses and a water bottle from Vicky W.'s house (Thankfully they offer to let him take them home.)
  • The light in the bathroom (If the light is on and the door is closed he'll sit vigil until someone comes out.)
“I see it’s addressed to you. I took the privilege of pre-nibbling on it.”
(Just before I took this picture I removed James’s suspenders and after that his pants fell down.)

Not only does he get fixated on a few toys, James incorporates them into projects. Some of his projects have included:

  • Dropping toys between the screen and sliding doors (and suspending them between the two)
  • Putting all the number puzzle pieces in the mailbox
  • Laying out rings on the Puffins cereal box (Julia knocks over the box and I expect bawling but instead James thinks it's great. Maybe he'll be an interactive artist instead of an engineer.)

James likes to make objects float between the glass and screen doors.

I put the towel that's usually by the door to the garage (to prevent drafts) in the dining room and James sees it and puts it back by the door. While at the park, a bigger kid takes a toy from James and he doesn't complain as though he knows his place. James likes to tug at my leg lately so that I'll pick him up. This usually occurs in the kitchen, and one day he has me pick him up 10 times there. I think he wants to see the stuff on the counter.

Favorite Toys
Puppy Dog
Cardboard tubes
Bounce & Spin Zebra
Push & Ride Doll Walker (backyard scooter)
Mail (as in actual mail that comes in our mailbox)
Kitchen tools
Stacking cups

James’s favorite toys are often the non-toys, like this cereal box.

Favorite Books
Bright Baby Touch & Feel Numbers
You Can Name 100 Trucks!
Five Shiny Stars
Colorful World
My Favorite Pets

Julia chasing him for toys
Diaper rash (this might be a "duh" but he really hates it)

Julia's Personality

Julia has her OCD moments like James. Hers involves always wanting the gate shut behind her and locked. She also has projects, too - like dropping all the gears over the gate or dropping stacking bowls into the crib.

Loves Looking at People
When I show Julia and James pictures on the computer they light up most when they see their sibling or their beloved Papa. This is especially true of Julia who is more excited to see a picture of James than herself. It occurs to me that he IS the person she sees smiling at her the most. She smiles most when they're both smiling in a picture.

For a short period of time in July Julia averages two tantrums a day. Before that it was only one per week. Her tantrums involve pushing away toys, knocking down food, flinging her head and body back so she can't be held, and adopting a general "I don't want it" attitude. If you read to her while she's upset she'll close the book and look at you defiantly like "See? I'm mad!" Often during her tantrums she essentially does trust falls where she falls backwards to the ground, assuming someone will catch her. One day she does it when I'm not holding her and she falls straight back (tim-ber!)... thankfully onto carpet.

We find that we can't have toy bins because Julia likes to climb inside any container. One day she even gets both feet into the tiny shape sorter box. She likes to stand in the colander. Speaking of the colander, despite never suggesting this sort of pretend play, she will put a spoon into it and pretend to eat or offer it to us.

Julia does Sterilite container ballet.

One of Julia’s favorite hang-outs.

Favorite Toys
Pink Bunny (and likes to put Bunny in the drum and close the lid)
Cozy Coupe backyard car (wants to be pushed and pushed; can't power herself except to go backwards)
Swing in backyard
Chomp & Clack Alligator Push Toy

Julia sits in the Cozy Coupe.

“Wait, wait, wait. Don’t leave the lot. I have the perfect 1-seater for you right here. It’s got a couple years on it and there’s some pine needles on the seat Mommy hasn’t cleaned up, but it runs great.”

Favorite Books
Humpty Dumpty
Put Me in the Zoo
Where's My Nose?
Here Are My Hands (Julia gets very bothered by the girl who's upside down so she turns the book over so she’s right side up)
Christmas Peekaboo
My Jack in the Box
Fire Truck (Read and Roll)
Dr. Seuss's ABC (Julia loves the same part as Mark - Jerry Jordan's jelly jar)
You're My Little Love Bug



Favorite Toys
Learning Home
Rings/Links (they make into bracelets)
Tupperware Shape O Ball shape sorter
Spoons (plastic ones from when we fed them baby food)
Numbers puzzle

Julia shows off her bracelets.

Favorite Books
Tails (particularly the peacock page)
Playtime Puppy (Snuggle Puppet)
photo album (I made)
All the World’s Asleep: World Lullabies (They both dance to them, especially Julia.)

Favorite Songs
The Wheels on the Bus (with hand motions)
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Playmates (seen most frequently)
Las Madres Cupertino 2009 playgroup: David (mom: Jadwiga), Kaian (mom: Karie), Isaac (mom and dad: Gabi and Todd), Kayleigh (mom: Vicky W.)
Maya and Brandon (mom: Kashi)
Dylan and Audrey (mom: Leslie B.)

I think Julia wants to sit on her boyfriend Brandon’s lap.

Julia and her friend Maya are twins.
“Bitch stole my dress.”

Leslie B. with her twins Audrey and Dylan, along with Julia and James.

Josh and Sam (mom: Debbie); had our first playdate of many to come
Zachary and Zoe (mom: Sharon); two playdates with backyard water fun

And visits from:
Leslie M.
Tim and Helene (with infants Sarah and Aaron)

Helene holds Sarah and Aaron rides on Tim’s head.

New Signs
  • Noise
  • Bye
  • Bunny (Julia)
  • Bath
  • Milk
  • More

James and Julia's First Real Words
  • Bye
  • Bobo (character in Hugs book)
  • Bath
  • Baby
  • Outside (only Julia - she points to the window and babbles; eventually I realize I've heard her babble this before and that she's saying "outside")
  • Bee
  • Bean
  • Boom

Words They Can Say (Not Sure What “Counts”)

Before 1 Year
  • Dada
  • Mama
  • Papa

After 1 Year (Hard to know what "counts" and what doesn't)
  • Duck (for 2 days around 13 months but then stopped)
  • This/That - 5/1 (James says "dis” or “this” and “dat” or “that,” and Julia sort of says them too but not as often or clearly.)
  • Bye Bye ("bah-bee" and sign) - 6/11 Julia, 7/1 James
  • Yabba Dabba (they were already babbling this on their own)
  • Boo (how James tries to say "book") - 7/5
  • Google - 7/22 (in response to "Where does Daddy work?")
  • Bobo - 8/4-8/5
  • Bath (and sign) - 8/7
  • Baby - 8/10
  • Outside - before 8/12 (Julia)
  • Bee
  • Bean
  • Boom (from Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?; Julia does lightning crackle sound too)
  • Hi (James says "hi" to Leslie M. the first time)
  • Happy (They don't know what it means and think it involves me putting sunglasses on them since  when I put them on the twins I say, "Do these make you happy?")
  • Hop
  • Bubble
  • Apple
  • Blue
  • Pea
  • Meat
  • Ball
  • Meatball ("bee ba" said fast- James)
  • Heads
  • Boot
  • Mouth
  • Hat
  • Bowl
  • Pita
  • Moon
  • Bead
  • Balloon ("ba-oo" - James; "boon" - Julia)
  • Purple
  • Milk
  • Heart
  • Dot

Animal Sounds
  • Bee (bzzz) (6/10)
  • Sheep (baaa)
  • Cow (James says "moo;" Julia says a gutteral "mmmm " like she's trying to say “moo”)
  • Duck (quack) (theirs sounds like an actual duck sound)
  • Monkey (eee! eee!)
  • Rooster (James says "ooooo oo ooo," imitating cock a doodle doo)
  • Cat (meow)
  • Goat (maa)
  • Turkey (gobble)
  • Lion (rrrr)
  • Pig (James snorts - best pig noise ever by a baby; Julia says "Oo")
  • Snake (sssss)
  • Bunny (they say "hop," and make hand motion)
  • Owl (hoo; can’t say "hoot")
  • Dog (woof)
  • Bird (peep)
  • Donkey (hee haw)
  • Wolf (aroo) (Julia's is hilarious with a quavering chin - see video)

June Schedule
7:20 Babies wake up (Mark's shift with diapers and milk)
8:00 My shift begins
8:30 Breakfast
10:00 Run (babies in jogging stroller; later when it’s hot I run with them for a short while between milk and breakfast)
11:30 Lunch (with straw cup of milk; at other meals they get bottles)
1:00 Nap
2:30 Wake up
3:15 Snack
4:45 Snack
6:15 Dinner
8:15 Sleep

"So much of parenting is not walking by a sleeping baby's room lest you make eye contact." - Kathy

New Foods
  • Freeze-dried pineapple
  • Asparagus (both threw most of theirs to the floor)
  • Veggie burger
  • Strawberries again (this time they like)
  • Peaches
  • Pickles (no takers)
  • Plum (this time James likes a lot)
  • Pierogi (potato and onion)
  • Broccoli cake (a big hit)
  • Honeydew (Mark gives to them on a fork and they really like)
  • Meatloaf (from Papa)
  • Mashed potatoes (from Papa)
  • Fish (second try; James really likes)
  • Butternut squash soup (first soup; Julia really likes)
  • Baby corn (big hit)

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