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.|
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.