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.
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.)