Wednesday, May 28, 2014

James and Julia 24-28 Months, Part V: High Chair Bookworms, Okapi, and Eating Cold Things

Here is Part IV: Sliding Down the Wood Chip Pile, Julia Fall Butt, and One-Teen


When one finishes a meal before the other I clean them up and keep them in their high chair with books. (See video.) After the twins eat their snacks and meals in their high chairs they (but especially James) prefer to stay there and read for another 20 minutes. (Me: “Okay, I guess I’ll look at my laptop…”) They they chuck the books over the sides and request more books. They’re my little bookworms. James also cutely reads books aloud to himself, which is to say he names objects he sees and recites what he can remember from me reading to him.

My bookworm babies want to stay in their high chairs with books after their snack instead of coming down to play.
 I read a book with puppies wagging their tails so I ask the twins what it means when dogs wag their tails and James exclaims, “music!” (This is amusing because Puppy Dog makes music if you pull its tail.) While reading Silly Faces - See Me on the Farm! where a child can put their head in the hold of the middle of the book to look like different animals, James is so excited when I mention that he can put Puppy Dog’s face in the hole that he squirms so I’ll let him down from my lap and he gets Puppy Dog to make him a cow, a cat, and of course a dog.

James thinks Puppy Dog as a cow in the book is pretty funny.
Mark reads the Africa page of Julia’s Find and Seek book. He points to the answer key and asks her to find the giraffe, the lion, and the zebra. Then he points at an animal he doesn’t recognize and, taking a guess, asks her to find the goat. Julia says, “No. Okapi.” Another day Papa reads to Julia and tells her, “I don’t know the name of that dinosaur,” and she exclaims, “Ceratops!” I like that they’re starting to school grown-ups.

James reads Hooray for Fish and on the page with lots of fish he happily cries out, “Holy Mackerel!” I ask him who taught him that and to no one’s surprise he says Papa.

The twins, but especially Julia, still love to point to the other books pictured on the back of Sandra Boynton books, and they inform me which we own and which are at Josh and Sam’s house. (I don’t have a clue which ones Josh and Sam have, but James and Julia DEFINITELY know even though they haven’t been there in months.)

I read Owl Babies for the first time and both listen intently, especially James who looks like he’s frowning as though worried about the owl mama being gone. (I emphasize that the owl mama comes back and put that book away for awhile.) I’ve been asking them questions about faces in books and who’s happy and who’s sad. One day I show them a new book and without prompting Julia says the boy is sad. I ask why and James says, “hat off” (which is correct - his hat flew off). Some people are proud of their kids knowing their colors or numbers, but I am so proud of my empathetic 2-year-olds!

I read a “find the picture” book to the twins that has a picture bank of items to find in a larger picture. James is quicker at finding photos the first time through but subsequent times Julia is faster. She’s a good memorizer. And I notice when I read her Gossie and Gertie that she knows the text that accompanies some of the pages. On one with a picture of both goslings she says “best friends.”

James and Julia are so interesting translating things to their world since they don’t have the vocabulary yet. On a menu where the chicken has a grid of square-shaped grill marks they declare that it’s a waffle. I ask Julia what a boy is dribbling in one book and instead of basketball she responds with something else round and orange: “pumpkin.”


If a song on a CD ends, the twins chant “More! More!” James likes to sing his special song with Papa, You Are My Sunshine. Papa sings Row Your Boat to the twins in the car and stops to let them fill in the words. James gets them right but Julia is sometimes wrong: “Row row row your… stream!” They love riding Papa and Gaga’s knees while their grandparents hum the theme to Bonanza or while riding their horsey and zebra. They also love singing along with Papa and Gaga to Take Me Out to the Ballgame (a song they sang to Mommy as a baby) and particularly like shouting out the “1, 2, 3!” part at the end.

In December Mark plays music for James and Julia on his iPad and James is transfixed, particularly with the song Roll Out. When the song ends James says “Roll Out” and Mark has to play it again and again. Referencing one of the lines from the song, Mark asks James “Who’s his weed man?” and James says, “weed man” which is surreal coming from a 2-year-old. In April Mark beatboxes for the twins and when he finishes they plead, “more beatbox” and Julia spontaneously waves her hands in the air.

Around the beginning of February, James and Julia can sing all of the alphabet song by themselves. James will bang utensils or other toys together and declare, “music!” (See video.) Julia’s funny singing Down by the Bay and loves blurting out “kissing a goose.”


James and Julia play with their new kitchen (a birthday present), and later in the oven I find a pot, food, a plate, and Elmo. They also like their new Little People Zoo which has a tiny slide and swing for the animal figurines. I have to keep explaining to them though that James and Julia can’t go on the slide and swing, too, since they keep trying to sit on them. One day while taking a picture of Julia she asks me to take a picture of her Elmo and Big Bird figurines. She even poses them for me on top of her Little People Zoo.

Julia asked me to take a photo of her Sesame Street figurines and directs James to implement her vision for placing them on the Zoo.
After playing a matching card game, Julia becomes obsessed with finding matches in other things, including two yellow bristle blocks, 2 letter “g”s in a book, and most randomly two identical small border pictures on different pages in our Entertainment Book.
James perches a car upside on top of a new racetrack toy and announces, “Change car’s diaper.” And this is what happens when James plays with cars for the first time.


In mid-December Julia informs us she’s a pink girl so Mark asks, “What kind of girl is Mommy?” and she answers “Kathy." That’s when we discover that Julia knows Mark’s  and my first names when we ask questions like “Who’s Daddy?” despite no one ever teaching her. She also says “Mom” for Gaga’s name and either “Dad” or “Charlie” for Papa.

The twins see a big cloud next to two smaller clouds and say “Mommy cloud” and then identify the other clouds as “Julia cloud” and “James cloud.” James says “Maya” on the way home from a playdate and I inform them that they know two Maya’s (Kashi’s and Arnita’s daughters) and then Julia says “two Maya” all night.

James puts two bristle blocks together - a square and a triangle - and declares “house.” I’m impressed because it’s so stylized, how would he recognize it as a house? Papa tells James to put the letters (as in mail) in the new toy mailbox. James puts the letter (as in alphabet) puzzle pieces inside instead. James walks with the long and narrow waterwheel, hitting it against the ground, and calls it his cane (just like his Papa uses!).

One day when we return from dinner, James and I stand on the front porch and I inform him that we need Daddy to unlock the front door. He says “up up up” like he has an idea, and tries to use the toy keys he happens to be holding to open the door! (Also, afterwards for months James won’t go in the house until he has a chance to use his toy keys in the lock.)

James and Julia love to pick up my blue ice packs. James, eyes full of wonder, declares, “Ice. Cold!” Julia touches my bare leg and I ask her if it’s smooth. She responds, “bumpy.” James sees our empty Christmas tree stand and says “Christmas tree pot!” (We’re unclear how he figured out its use.) When Julia sees plain white plates with a blue dotted line down the middle in a catalog, she states, “Frosty the Snowman.”


Meals take 45 minutes (an informal survey seems to indicate other kids take 20 minutes at most). Partly as a result I feel like I have no time with them. Other parents can go places (like the Children’s Discovery Museum which I considered for their second birthday) but I can’t. I would have to leave late because of their long breakfast and return early because of their long lunch, and that adds up. James is particularly slow. He will take a bite and then get distracted and play with his utensils. Then I will try to take his tray away, and he’ll get mad, and take another bite. And repeat. One day breakfast lasts 1 ½ hours. James eats one veggie sausage patty and Julia eats four (a box contains six) before I cut her off. Also, together they eat four packets of instant oatmeal and almost a whole can of baby corn. I begin to wonder if they’re having growth spurts!

They begin climbing into their high chairs themselves. However, we have to keep an eye on them while they do it especially after James climbs up and stands on the seat. The twins also love climbing up and sitting on the dining room chairs.

Climbing into their high chairs
One day James and Julia eat yogurt and James has yogurt on his face per usual. Mark asks Julia, “Who’s messy?” and she points to James and announces, “messy baby.” Another day they try carrot sticks in hummus. James licks off the hummus and when I suggest eating the carrots, too, he eats the non-hummused end.

You can always tell what today's meal is by looking at James's face.
James inhales a grilled cheese sandwich one day in January and says, “Bye bye grilled cheese.” I ask where it went and he says “my mouth.” Later when he eats beans I ask where they went, thinking he’ll say his mouth, but instead he responds “Tupperware,” which is where I put them after they are done eating.

In April James says “eat Julia” and Julia says “no eat Julia.” James then says “eat Julia” again and she responds, “yucky.”


In December Julia stands on a high chair at Cook’s Seafood and announces “bye bye” to everyone. She also walks around the restaurant to stop and say “hi” and “bye” to the other tables. (It should be noted that Mark encourages her to do these sort of meet and greets at restaurants.) On New Year’s Eve at Cook’s James eats without a high chair (or booster) for the first time ever and sits in the booth next to me. Two-thirds into the meal he discovers he can hop down to the floor so he says “bye bye” and slides down repeatedly, driving me nuts. Also on this day Julia decides to enter the restaurant by holding my legs from behind as I walk, walking under them. She decides (even two years later) that this is always the correct way to enter Cook’s.

In January we wonder if the Golden Age of Taking Babies to Restaurants (a.k.a. 21-24 months) is ending. Suddenly they seem to be generally louder and challenge us more often, but really they continue to be model children in restaurants. At Olarn Thai we have to take one of them outside for the first time ever (Julia decided she wanted James’s cup). Still, we’re doing pretty good if it’s only the first time taking one outside. By March when Julia’s loud in a restaurant and we threaten to take her for a walk they both want to go. The taking-them-outside-threat doesn’t seem to be the best solution.

One day at Su Hong James pushes me slightly from his chair and I pretend that he’s moved me way back and he giggles and we do it again and again, and Julia does the same with Mark. On another visit, the table next to us likes the twins and Julia greets them the only way she knows how: by telling them anything that comes to mind. “Cupcake bib! Jacket! Fortune!”

James cracks us up when he eats ice cream himself at The Old Spaghetti Factory. When he takes a big bite that’s too cold for him, his arms go straight out, his eyes get really big, and he smiles and does a little shiver.

Friday, May 23, 2014

James and Julia 24-28 months, Part IV: Sliding Down the Wood Chip Pile, Julia Fall Butt, and One-Teen

Here is Part III: Whole Foods Mini Shopping Carts, a Tunnel, and a Giant Box


Several mornings a week I run 15 minutes to a nearby park with the twins in the jogging stroller. They play for 30 minutes in the playground and then I run home. We rotate between five parks. For a few minutes each visit I try to have them walk or run around and also show them the natural world. Julia especially loves to collect pinecones at Marymeade Park, and she displays her finds there on a park table and then counts them.

We’re ready for a visit to the park. James is somewhere in there.
Julia with a big pinecone at McKenzie Park
In January they play in sand for the first time. (They previously touched it at Washington Park in Sunnyvale but didn’t really play in it.) James doesn’t like stepping in the sand and prefers to stand on the sidewalk to dig in it. Whenever it’s time to leave I have to let one kid fill the bag with sand toys, empty it, and then let the other fill it. Otherwise they get mad that they don’t get to do all of it.

James and Julia love climbing up the wood chip pile at Cooper Park, and then one day (and every day after) they get the idea to sit at the top and slide down it. One day James slides down the wood chip pile and throws wood chips (away from us), while Julia collects things she finds and makes me take a picture with her arms full of them (“Camera! Camera!”). You can tell who’s a boy and who’s a girl.

Ready to slide down the wood chip pile
Often when sitting atop the slide Julia will say “James push” or “Mommy push.” One day James puts his hands behind himself and says “James push” and goes down the slide.

At Memorial Park in Cupertino with Papa, Julia goes down the covered slide on her belly by mistake, so afterwards - even though it’s 3 inches off the ground - she tries to load herself into it but putting her feet in and walking backwards on her hands. Another highlight from our visit is the twins watching the honking geese. James hears them and declares, “music!”

Julia liked when she inadvertently went down the slide on her belly so much so she attempted to launch herself down that way again.
James’s haircuts are often followed by the reward of a park visit, and when he’s in town Papa comes with us. One such day at McKenzie Park the twins walk atop the stump wall and James carefully walks holding Papa’s hand. Meanwhile, Julia charges forward holding no one’s hand.

One day at Heritage Oaks Park, James wants to use the sand scooping seat but someone’s on it. He sings The Alphabet Song because at home when one of the twins wants something the other has they’ll sing, ABCD and when they finish the other has to fork it over. I tell him that the other kid doesn’t know how ABCD works, and then she unhelpfully perks up, “I know the ABCD song.” After five minutes she finally gets off and I tell James and as he walks toward it another big kid runs in front of him and gets on causing him to cry. Next when she gets off he walks to it again and gets one hand on the seat and another girls jumps on it. I explain that James has been waiting and she says she got there first (not exactly). Ah, the frustrations dealing with other kids playing at the park whose parents aren’t watching them. One day Julia patiently waits 8 minutes at one park while a 9-year-old uses a steering wheel and when she finally gets it she turns it for a whole 10 seconds.

Verbal Skills

At the beginning of March, Julia falls and James observes, “Julia fall butt.” Any day now that linguistic gem be added to Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. Around this time they are both saying 4-word sentences. By mid-March they move up to 6-word sentences, and one day James forms a 7-word one: “Daddy wears a helmet and rides bicycle.” Both shout words constantly until you acknowledge what they’re saying and repeat it back to them.

Julia has her own style of enunciation. In early April Julia says “right here” (“right he-ah!”) all the time like a New Englander. Occasionally I can’t understand what she’s saying and I ask James and he knows! In January she says “nie-ya” for “yellow” and even though James can say “yeh-wee” one day he says “nie-ya.” It reminds me of when he relapsed from saying “G-ma” to “Gaga” because that’s what Julia said. This is the closest they’ve come to having a twin language.

They (but Julia especially) develop a predilection for saying “huh” at the end of her sentences, and I realize that they get it from me. In March after I accidentally give something to the wrong kid they parrot what I say back to me (and continue this joke for over a year later): “Oops wrong baby.” They also like repeating “bye bye babies” after Mark says it to them in the morning as he leaves.

In February Julia names all the letters on my keyboard except for six of them. Sometimes she refers to the letter “I” as “I” and other times as “I bone” because of it’s resemblance to her bone barrette from Halloween. At the playground she is obsessed with standing in front of the safety warning sign and points and says the name of each letter. She gets them all right and says them fast, too. Because of their alphabet puzzle and Leaptop (both of which give examples of words that start with each letter) Julia can name a word that starts with most letters of the alphabet.

Bubby’s friend Margie whose background is in education tells her when the babies are at 22 months they are very advanced in knowing their colors and most letters.

For months Julia’s been entertaining to watch count items. She’ll miss counting a few things and will then be pretty off by the end or she’ll start over again to 1 when she reaches 10 so she’ll determine there’s 3 of something when there are really 8. Occasionally she surprises us by counting the exact number. In February Mark teaches them to count to 20. Afterwards they can count to 20 but they skip 13-16. After 10 it often comes out “one-teen, two-teen,” etc. (See video.)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

James and Julia 24-28 months, Part III: Whole Foods Mini Shopping Carts, a Tunnel, and a Giant Box

Here is Part I: Singing "Genko Ball" and Wearing Santa Diapers


The twins attend their wellcheck appointment on their birthday and scream the whole time. The doctor acts like this is unusual. (Um, they’re somewhere new and being poked and prodded by a stranger.) James has had a rash next to his mouth off and on since he was 13 months old. I had been told it was a pacifier drool reaction (and took away pacifiers but he still had it), and a dermatologist even prescribed a hard core steroid ointment which James hated having me apply. One day it occurs to my mom and me that James tends to get this rash after he eats certain foods with citric acid (something I was allergic to as a baby), particularly tomato sauce, because they’re more likely to come in contact with his face. We see a new dermatologist and he agrees with me and has me simply apply Aquaphor to his face as a barrier before he eats. And voila! it finally goes away.

In February Julia gets laryngitis and it’s sad hearing her rasp, “Mommy!” Mark is funny trying to get her to say “Jack, a boat!” like at the end of Titanic.

Motor Skills

In December the kids jump (or try to) for the first time. Julia is really excited. While chatting on Skype, Bubby gets the twins to jump with her Tigger puppet. It’s the first time James has jumped on anything other than the crib mattress (jumping on the crib mattress is also something he loves). While at a Las Madres playdate at Todd’s, the kids take turns standing on a baby stool and jumping off. The other kids actually jump. Julia on the other hand simply steps off, looks jubilant, and excitedly runs to me for a hug, and then does it again and again. (I melt from the cuteness.) James gets on the stool and springs his body straight up... without ever actually leaving the ground.

Bubby keeps James safe while he engages in one of his favorite pastimes - bed jumping.
Julia and James now climb into the stroller and car seats themselves and get mad if we try to help. Both occasionally like to stand and spin around in a circle which is pretty hilarious to watch as they get dizzy. Mark shows the twins that he can run and then slide when wearing socks. James tries and ends up just running nonstop around the house. He just can’t get the sliding part down but does like crashing into me for hugs.

James and Julia really like the book, Shake a Leg!, which instructs them to do different physical actions. For knock your knees, James knocks each one like it’s a door.


The kids continue to attend Gymboree classes. The instructors tell the parents to let the kids dance with Gymbo instead of having us move them, and our kids do great, especially James, at moving to the music. Julia loves hugging Gymbo (the puppet mascot) and she hugs him, grins, runs back to me, and runs back to Gymbo for more.

Julia kisses Gymbo.
In January the twins use mini shopping carts for the first time at Whole Foods, and they are so much fun to watch. They add anything they find to their carts including Punjabi lentils and protein energy boost, and we end up returning most of their finds. James spies cherry tomatoes, exclaims, “apples!” and grabs a container (and a few roll out). On future trips to Whole Foods they get super excited when they hear where they’re going. In fact, when I take James ouf of his car seat he tries to run inside to get his shopping cart while holding my hand. Meanwhile Julia talks non-stop: “Grocery store! Shopping cart! Buy food! Julia grocery store! James grocery store! Mommy grocery store! Daddy grocery store!”

James kept picking random food off the shelf at Whole Foods, and Bubby ended up buying some of it because it looked tasty.
James and Julia develop a habit of raiding grocery bags as soon as they’re set upon the kitchen floor. James pulls two cucumbers out of a bag, holds them up triumphantly, and declares, “Green beans!” He also excitedly picks up the box of mac ‘n cheese and exclaims, “Macaroni and cheese!” (The box has no picture of its contents and I’ve never mentioned it before that I can remember, but he KNOWS.)

The kids play with Play-Doh for the first time while sitting in their high chairs. After I make a big deal about how they shouldn’t eat it, of course they then joke that they’re going to eat it. James thinks Play-Doh is HILARIOUS to roll around and then drop on his tray. (See this  video and another.) The new tunnel is so exciting that they immediately go through both ends at once. Later Mark puts it over the twins and they love it. 

James and Julia share the tunnel.
"I am Daddy-O-Tron. Beep. Bloop. I require Pretzel Crisps for fuel. If I cannot have Pretzel Crisps, I will eat this humanoid girl."
I put dried beans in containers for them to fill and spill and Julia uses the scoop to fling them everywhere. (See video.) They also conduct physics experiments by taking lemons from our tree off the ground and dropping them down the slide. We put a big box in the family room and James and Julia love playing in it. Mark closes them in it and they LOVE hiding inside and popping out. And they’re totally happy just lying inside it, too.

Gaga sings Row Your Boat in the box with James and Julia.
The twins play hide and seek for the first time with Gaga. They’re good at finding but when they hide they run away for 10 seconds and then happily shriek while they run back to us. Papa has James walk up his chest and face. James loves it. When I play 1-2-3 Hug with them, half the time Julia likes to do a fake-out hug where she almost runs all the way to me and then laughs and turns around and runs back. She also does that when she’s excited when my parents arrive after time away. The twins also like running between my legs and James likes to pull my legs apart and then push them together, saying “open,” “close.”

Papa takes a foot to the face playing "Up, Up, Up" with Julia.

James and Julia enjoy taking walks around the neighborhood. They like saying “bye bye” to things they see. One day while addressing some purple flowers, Julia calls out, “Bye bye purple!” Mark likes to take them on a ⅔ mile walk he calls “The Circuit” which is the big circle of Preston-Grant-Levin-Preston. Papa points out house numbers on their walks and Julia often remembers them several weeks later. The twins have many landmarks in the neighborhood and they know the way to get to most of them: the apple tree around the corner on Preston, their friends Josh and Sam’s house, the big blue mailbox on Levin, and the ivy in front of neighbor Ernie’s house (that they insist on touching when in the stroller) where Preston meets Grant.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

James and Julia 24-28 months, Part II: Rediscovering the Mall, Gymnastics Party, and Pizza at Papa and Gaga’s Apartment

Last year the babies only got to lie down in the piles of leaves in our front yard. This year they get to play in them for the first time. Our plumber comes by while we are taking pictures, and Julia lights up with a big smile for many of the pictures because she’s telling him “hi” and keeps trying to catch his eye to make sure he’s watching her. Julia loves an audience. 
Julia trying to get our plumber to smile at her
At the end of December the twins ride in shopping carts for the first time - one per cart - at the Mountain View Target. They love it. (Previously I kept them in the stroller while shopping and piled my purchases on top of them.)

On New Year’s Day the twins go to the mall for the first time in 1 ½ years (since I went there with Bubby in search of an outfit for Jeopardy). They love eating a big pretzel with Daddy and running around the fountain in Santana Row.

Julia playing by the fountain in Santana Row
A few weeks later we return to Valley Fair Mall and Daddy takes the babies in the stroller on the escalator for the first and last time. (He doesn’t recommend it because the stroller was very heavy and hard to hold level, especially with two kids. He also doesn’t realize this was against the posted rules before doing it.) The kids love it though, and they still tell me about visiting the mall three months later. (Afterwards I ask James what he likes more - escalators or pretzels - and like a baby politician he responds “Escalators AND pretzels.”) Mark takes them to Banana Republic and puts sunglasses on them. James sits back in the stroller with his first pair on and is chill. Meanwhile, Julia immediately takes off each pair and demands another. This seems pretty true to their personalities.

James tries on sunglasses on Banana Republic.
The twins visit San Francisco since the first time when they were a few weeks old. Since James is afraid of elevators, I carry both down the Macy’s escalator at the same time. And since it’s easier to keep going once I’ve already got two kids in my arms, I actually descend one escalator, walk around to the next escalator on the other side, and continue down that one - all while lugging 55+ pounds. On the way back up I let them step on the escalator themselves for the first time. This doesn’t seem to be a momentous occasion at the time but a few months later they become obsessed with escalators.

The twins attend a Hanukkah-themed playdate at Debbie’s house and eat latkes and sufganiyot, attempt to spin driedels, and search for the items on the Seder plate. A few months later Stacy hosts a Valentine’s Day playdate, and Mark teaches James to say “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mommy!” I host not one but TWO St. Patrick’s Day parties because I am insane. We take the kids to Google dressed in their St. Patrick’s Day finery. James is afraid to go inside the building until Mark offers him cookies. On a later visit to Google, they are thrilled when Mark’s co-worker Emily gives them stickers and they request that the stickers be placed on their tummies.

James and Julia are quite the social butterflies and make appearances at several birthday parties. They attend the birthday of Hudson (from Las Madres Sunnvyale) at Airborne Gymnastics. James cries the first few minutes upon arriving but then loves it. Their favorite activity is jumping in the foam pit. Julia squeals with delight before jumping in. She also loves the rings, too.

Julia loves jumping in the foam pit.
Their playgroup friend Ronan has a Curious George themed birthday party and the books that are party favors inspire a love of Curious George books in the twins. At Zachary and Zoe’s birthday party at Swaray, James builds a stack of Mega Bloks taller than himself and Julia goes into the bounce house, jumps once, slides out and repeats. They also enjoy holding the basketball to make baskets with Daddy.

Stacy cleans Ronan in the sink after he enjoys his chocolate birthday cake a little too much.
Julia slides out of the bounce house. Again.
Mark helps Julia dunk.
James and Julia attend the open house at Mountain View Parent Observation Preschool, which will be their preschool in the fall. They enjoy all the activities. Julia paints for the first time (James skips it), and despite washing up immediately afterwards, does not like getting paint on her hands. This ends up being so memorable she refuses to paint at school when she starts attending six months later, until halfway through the school year.

We surprise the twins with a last minute pizza lunch at Gaga and Papa’s apartment in Cupertino. The kids love it - especially rocking in their grandparents’ recliners. After living there a year (in addition to their house in San Diego), Gaga and Papa move out a month after our visit because keeping the apartment didn’t end up making financial sense.

James eats pizza at Papa and Gaga’s apartment.

James and Julia enjoy rocking with Gaga.