Getting Dressed and Cleaning Up
In January Julia really likes taking her own clothes on and off, and just starts being able to put on her pants. She gets good at putting on shoes, too, and one day even does tights, albeit with some help. Meanwhile James is not at all interested in dressing himself until March when he goes through a spell where he wants to put his pants on himself. James gets very attached to his solid blue shirt, and sometimes gets upset when he can’t wear it. One day James watches me get dressed and announces that I’m putting on a pink bra. He then lists the other color bras I have: “blue bra, red bra…” Apparently he’s been paying attention.
|Julia decides to put her tights on herself. Note the tongue of concentration.|
In January both kids - but especially Julia - really like helping with the dustpan and broom. (See video.) They also want to climb into their car seats themselves. I like that they’re trying to be independent but when it’s raining they get distracted and take forever, and then the other child (not to mention me!) is standing next to me getting wet.
|Julia sweeps up after a meal.|
While at a playdate James suddenly is really upset about something he finds on his fingers. When I discover the cause I draft the following letter in my mind:
Dear James, reaching into your diaper during a playdate and showing everyone your poopy fingers isn't the best way to make friends. Signed, Mommy.
And a month later James’s diaper apparently became undone during our St. Patrick’s Day playdate party resulting in a puddle on the floor. Two things come to mind: 1) why does this only happen at playdates? and 2) at least every time anything like this has happened it’s luckily always been on the hardwood floor and not the carpet.
One night I say aloud to myself, “Wait, is James in an overnight?..." And to my surprise Julia exclaims, "Oops! Wrong diaper!"
In February I notice one day that James smells like poop so I go to change him but there’s no poop there. I say aloud, “But where did that smell come from?” and James answers, “fart.” A few days later Julia farts five times while I change her and each time she laughs and says “fart.” All class those two.
The next month Julia says “boo boo” or “poo poo” to me - I’m not sure. I check her diaper and announce, “I think I know what letter you were saying.” Another time I smell that she has a poopy diaper and coincidentally she’s pushing the letters “b” and “m” in front of her.
The twins are fascinated by anyone using the bathroom. One day James stands vigil outside the bathroom when Papa is inside. I hear James chant “flush flush.”
Julia has me hold her up one day while James is getting changed. “Dis?” she says pointing to a certain part of James’s anatomy. “Penis,” I answer. She responds, “Julia penis.” A few months later James wants to see Julia get changed. He points and says, “penis,” and I tell him, “Girls don’t have a penis.” I assumed this would sink in but the next day he points and announces, “penis,” again, but this time adds, “Girls have penis.”
And then there was this incident that warranted an entire blog post.
Baths don’t go so well. Julia now refuses baths in the tub so she now gets sponge baths too. Unlike James who stands and cries during his sponge bath, she sometimes acts like a trapped wild animal and keeps trying to crawl or run by me to escape which is dangerous because she’s soapy and slippery. It’s like grabbing a greased Julia.
James’s baths go somewhat better. One day he wants to continue his sponge bath because he wants to keep pouring cups of water into the waterwheel. (This toy has been a life saver in getting him to tolerate baths.) After his bath, James giggles when I rub the dead skin off his feet (which I call “dirt”). Once I see him give Doggy a pretend bath and then rub his feet afterwards, calling it dirt. James also uses a pretend comb and a pretend hippo towel (James’s post-bath hooded towel) on Doggy.
In early January James climbs and falls out of his crib for the first time. Thankfully I am prepared having purchased a used crib tent a few months before in case this happened, and Mark even installs it a few hours after the incident so it is ready before naps. (For the record, Mark was against me buying it but then later recommended it to someone in an online forum.) I worry that James won’t want the crib tent so I read him a passage in a book about tents to him (Curious George Goes Camping) and generally try to psych him up about tents, and then both kids end up LOVING the crib tent and keep wanting to be put inside. James loves hanging out in his crib tent with his puppy as a pillow (“sleep Doggy”) like it’s his Fortress of Solitude. In fact I have to start making James come out of his crib if we need to go somewhere because otherwise he’d stay there all day. Once near the end of January I hear him talk to himself in his tent for an hour after his nap and when I come in he still doesn’t want to leave.
|Julia’s loving her first time in the crib tent. Meanwhile, those feet are James's and he just wants to break in his new crib tent for sleeping purposes.|
|James, loving his crib tent|
|James woke up with a booger mustache and booger eyebrows.|
|James and Julia watch the new house being built next door.|
However, the sleeping schedule is short-lived and things change by late March. They begin waking an hour and a half earlier and - if I’m lucky - taking two hours naps. Often I have to read for thirty minutes to James (previously my best napper) to get him relaxed enough to sleep.
In March the twins like to cuddle with me when I sing to them before it’s time to sleep. I try to sit cross-legged so both can cuddle me but Julia gets upset. She prefers to sit on my lap by straddling both of my legs out straight (since that’s how I read to them), and she always claims the spot closest to me. James never complains but he always ends up with the feet. One night Julia gets mad when Mark sits on my lap when they don’t (usually it makes them want my lap). He asks if she wants him to leave and she responds “heh,” which means “yes.” Next he asks where he should go and she says “under table” so he follows her instruction.
James and Julia now have me trained to sing four songs to each of them while I stand holding them before putting them in their cribs. This isn’t even counting the three I do on the ground together before escorting them to their rooms. They try to weasel in more requests, too, so I have to be firm and count the number of songs sung until I get to four. I often try to distract them by asking what they did at the park that day, and I have to start talking during the last line of the song before they can shout out another song request.
Happy Birthday is part of the four song pre-sleep medley. After attending Ronan’s birthday party in January, James wants to hear it sung “Happy birthday, Ronan” until autumn. One night I sing to Julia, “Happy birthday dear… Julia and Ronan” and she says, “No Ronan,” so for months I sing “Happy birthday dear Julia. Not Ronan, just Julia.” Once I overhear James telling Papa to sing “Happy birthday, Ronan” and Papa barks, “who?”
Tucking in James involves me standing and singing while holding him while Julia “helps” by pushing buttons to play the same songs (Twinkle Twinkle, et al.) on the Learning Home toy (a.k.a. The House). (See video.) Often I’m three quarters finished singing before the song on The House begins so I have to start over. Sometimes D.J. Julia doesn’t want to help and James insists on The House accompaniment so I have to bend down to play each song while holding a heavy James.
Julia still fights bedtime, and in December after she tries unsuccessfully to fall asleep I often have to read to her some more. Julia’s bedtime ritual once in her room consists of her tossing Bunny into her crib, attempting unsuccessfully to climb the wall of her crib (she has never been able to climb in day or night) and then eventually letting me pick her up and hold her, at which point I have to sing her four songs. Then while lying in bed she gets two blankets and two books.
I notice that when Julia and James jump on the kid-sized chairs in their rooms they get riled up so I have to outlaw it before sleeping. After my proclamation, for months the twins love to announce “No jumping on chairs before take naps.”
Interaction with Each Other
Soon after their birthday, I open the door to the nursery and they’re both sitting at their play table with plates perfectly set in front of them “eating” fake food. Mark asks if I was involved but I totally didn’t set it up! Playtime isn’t always so amicable though. One day the twins drive me nuts fighting over a white kids’ chair even though there’s an identical one next to it. When Julia chases James for a toy he often runs to me and says “up up up” with it in mind that I’ll lift him up and thereby protect him.
|The babies take out their play food and plates and utensils and sit down for a nice meal of plastic.|
|James wants to cuddle Doggy and Julia wants to brush her teeth, both in the same chair. Never mind that there's an identical chair right next to them. James isn't so keen on this arrangement.|
Julia goes through a stage where she won’t accept anything from James unless he gives it to me and then I hand it to her. It’s almost as though they’re not speaking to one another. One day while Julia plays with the gear toy, James comes over and annoys her by trying to play with it, too. Mark asks her if she wants him to get rid of James and she says “no.” Mark pushes forward, “Do you want me to put James in a box?” She again responds, “no.” But then later James returns and she says, “James box,” like she’s had it.
I learned from my friend Natascha to sing The Alphabet Song to indicate when someone’s turn is over. Generally it works pretty well but then after awhile all I hear from Julia is “ABCD!” when she wants something James has and “No ABCD!” when she doesn’t want to give something up. Unlike her brother she’s not so good at relinquishing toys at the end of the song.
James and Julia are obsessed with their old baby feeding spoons and one day they both sing The Alphabet Song and bob up and down to it, and at the end of the song one gives a spoon to the other. (See video where they do the same thing with cups.) They clearly enjoy themselves as singing the song and exchanging is part of the fun. (James sings slowly to include all the words. Julia sings, “Now ABCs. Next time won’t sing with me?”) This goes on for 20 minutes and ends only because I stop it so we can go on a walk.