Two and a Half!

Our sweet boys are 2.5! I’m not sure if much has ‘changed’ since they turned two, but they’ve definitely grown–physically, socially, developmentally. They’re still a lot of fun (and a total handful sometimes, too, of course).

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Right now, if I had to guess their future occupations based on their current favorites, I think Malcolm would be an architect or musician. He really loves building tall and complex towers (‘cities’ and ‘houses’) with their wooden Haba blocks. He focuses really well on that. He also really likes music–he likes strumming their baby guitar (and occasionally wanders around with it like a toddler troubadour), and he likes playing the ‘drum’, and also singing.

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Emmett would be an athlete or some kind of professional eater. He really loves any and all sports and seems to have really good hand-eye coordination. And his love language is food. That child will sense anything edible (even a dish whose contents he can’t see) and immediately say, “I want dat! Please have some!” A snack will always make him happy.

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Now, to be clear–they both enjoy all these activities! But each of them seem more drawn to and ‘passionate’ about certain hobbies. Also, interestingly, based on drawing and eating utensils, Malcolm seems to be right-handed and Emmett seems to be left-handed.

They both sing a lot–mostly B-I-N-G-O, and Old MacDonald (which are often the same song in my head). And Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes, which is a song that’s always part of their dance class. (They also love this random song from a kid songs CD, called Carrot Stew. It’s fun and catchy, but beware, it is ear-wormy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BauToXBEZd4)

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On Saturday mornings, they’ve been going to a dance class at a local community center. There is a bit of singing and lots of different types of movement. They have only just recently started participating in all of it. Often they just stare, stoically, or they’ll walk but not do the airplane arms like they’re ‘supposed’ to. Part of it is that they’re really young 2s still, and part of it is that they need time to warm up and get used to new situations. Of course, now it’s been more than five months, so it’s definitely not new!

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The hilarious thing is that they now totally re-enact their dance class at home constantly. The first thing they did was toss the large hardback picture books around on the floor. It took me awhile to figure out that they were emulating their teacher, who tosses those rubbery plastic stars and circles around on the floor for the kids to stand on or walk on. So our dudes spread out books and then stand on them, and sing Head Shoulders Knees and Toes.

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Then it evolved, and they started including marching and airplane arms to this home routine. Just very recently, they started adding in commentary: Malcolm acts as the leader and says, “Everybody on your stars, sing Head Shoulders Knees & Toes.” At the end, he claps and says, “Good job, everyone!” And then he started including ‘music’. He says, “When the music starts,” and then walks over to a certain block in a bin and pretends to push it like a boombox button. (Emmett then started doing that too, with a different block in a neighboring bin.)

Meanwhile, back in class, they’ll just stare, or want to be held! Silly babies!!

Their other favorite activity recently is playing with groceries. We’ve been taking them shopping with us forever, basically, and at Trader Joe’s they get to push baby carts and put the items into the carts themselves. (Of course, they also love to start grabbing piles and piles of random things, like the entire hummus selection, or half a shelf worth of vitamins.) And they also love handing the items to the cashier at the end, which happily, the cashiers totally go along with and are great about.

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So in the last month or two, some toddler flip must have switched, and they became obsessed with groceries! They used to help put things away by taking things out of the bags and handing them to us, but now they started just wanting to take things out and put them back in again. They have to play this game together–one takes it out of his bag and hands it to the other, and one of them usually names the item, and the second one puts it into his own bag.

It’s really cute, though it’s a little annoying, clutter-wise. There are groceries–actual items meant for our consumption–and paper bags strewn around the living room and kitchen like toys.

The other huge development is repetition. “Talk about it!” “Talk about it again!” Things like waterfalls, and wind chimes, or choo-choo trains, or just ‘the day’. They’ll ask several times a day and will correct us if we don’t say the spiel correctly. The repeating-reading requests have really stepped up, too.

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And it’s clear that they’re really paying attention, because now they’re starting to actually ‘read’ to themselves! I love it so much!

They still like watching Elmo, and they ADORE watching Daniel Tiger. Awhile ago we got a few of the little paperback Daniel Tiger books, and they love them. They’re also into the Mo Willems Pigeon books (we have Don’t Let Pigeon Drive the Bus and Don’t Let Pigeon Stay Up Late). Julia’s House for Lost Creatures, Corduroy, Zoozical, Time for a Hug, This Book Ate My Dog, are some of their other current favorites. It makes me so happy that they love reading! (Though reading to them is starting to be dangerous; holding sixty-plus pounds of toddler on your lap becomes painful after about three readings! My lower legs go numb and I have to take a break.)

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One day when I picked them up from daycare, there was a HUGE rainbow arcing completely across the sky. They stared in wonder and then I played the Rainbow Connection in the car a few times, *and* when we got home I showed them the Kermit video on my iPad. That was their first time watching something on it (as opposed to FaceTime), so that plus the Kermit/the song meant that they LOVED it and wanted to watch it a lot. “More Kermie Froggy? More Kermie Froggy?”

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Other hobbies include drawing/coloring with crayons, building tall towers (“buildings”, “cities”), dragging their learning towers around the kitchen so they can stand at the counter, pretending to ‘vacuum’ (they adopted an old headset that has a long USB cord attached–they ‘plug in’ the end of it to a toy boat and toss the wire around like it’s a vacuum cleaner. That’s some imagination!), pretending to be sad/mad and asking other people to be sad/mad so they can comfort them. (They use these extra-sweet voices, and extra-gentle touches and pats, and sort of tilt their heads toward you in a very grown-up imitation. It’s pretty much the cutest thing ever.), and if they see us sweeping, then they will grab the baby broom and sweep around for a long time (which often prompts a fight over it–only the broom will do, not the mop!).

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They started playing with the camera again, loving ‘taking pictures.’ Somehow they also learned the phrase “Say Cheese” and the requisite ridiculous fake smile. Sigh.

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They still play with the toy kitchen all the time, and tell us that they’re making us ‘cupcakes’ or ‘chocolate ice cream’. They like to play basketball, and soccer, and ‘tennis’ (they can actually hit a ball with their baby racquets sometimes!). They’re a lot more social, finally, and will wave and say hi to strangers.

One of their worst recent activities is running away. When we’re walking out of daycare, or when our nanny is trying to leave the park, one or both of them will bolt away giggling madly. It’s really frustrating, and I always feel ridiculous running after whoever it is…I often have to stifle a giggle for some reason, but I’m also mad. It would be way too easy for them to veer into the parking lot or right into a car!

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They do generally love running, racing, chasing, jumping, hopping. We do a few active games around the house/yard to encourage that energy (such a difference between toddlers who have had enough physical activity and who haven’t!). I love seeing their big grins and hearing their laughs when we ‘catch’ them, or when they say, “On your marks! Get set! GO!”.

I have a toothbrushing update! My little game only worked for a few days, of course, and then they got angry and squirmy again for awhile. However! For at least the past month or two, the battle is mostly gone! We “talk about” a topic of their choosing, or read a book, or sing a song, and thankfully, they will let us brush their teeth mostly normally. Who knows how long it will last, but I’ll take it! DSC_6879_WEB

They went through a real Daddy phase at bedtime/nighttime. They only wanted Daddy hugs, and they would call him back for more and more hugs and time to “talk about” things. When there was an overnight wakeup (they must have night terrors or something, because occasionally one will just start screaming/crying out of nowhere) they would scream at me to Go Away! and squirm like crazy if I tried to pick them up, only wanting Daddy. Thankfully this has gotten less intense, and they will sometimes want a Mama hug at bedtime (but they still always want a Daddy hugs, if not multiple Daddy hugs).

They’re getting more affectionate with each other! They’ll hold hands occasionally, they’ll comfort one another, they’ll bring brother his lovey if he’s upset, and they like to give each other goodnight kisses at tuck in. :) Our parent hearts just burst and melt.

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Just very recently they’re showing off their growing smarts and silliness: they’ll say, “what’s your name?” over and over, and they like to be asked their name too. But sometimes they’ll say or we’ll say a different random name, and they think that is so funny! “My name is George!” They have also starting replacing words in songs–I think this is hilarious and I can’t believe they can do that at this age. (“There was a farmer had an…Emmett!”)

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As the boys get older, there are certainly more tantrums and battles of will, but there is also so much fun, laughter, singing, hugs, learning, adventure. Toddlers are so great, and twin toddlers are seriously the craziest awesome thing.

We love you, babies!!!!!!

Mother’s Day Giveaway!

Hi friends, I try not to ‘cross the streams’ here, but I am really excited about the giveaway I’m running through my photography website. It’s a message that I feel strongly about, as you know.

(Plus I collaborated with someone who is also a former NYC teacher/blogger who moved to Portland the same time we did!)

Check out this short video here and then go enter (via Rafflecopter, on my photo blog)!

Learn more & Enter here: http://travelingjulie.com/?p=3805

(Ends Sunday, May 10, 2015 at 11.59pm PDT)

No matter what, I wish you a beautiful and happy Mother’s Day. Remember that you are loved and worthy!

Spring 2015: Easter and Tulips

Early April was a busy time! First Andy went on a short work trip, and my mom came down to visit and help out.

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That weekend was Easter, and we took a trip to see the Easter bunny on Saturday. (Since it was the day before, there was no line! We also hit up the mall carousel, plus had a food court snack, and played with the trains at the bookstore, so it was a nice, full outing.) E was really excited to see the Easter bunny and waved and smiled and was cool sitting on his lap. M refused, so we did a family shot, and of course they looked their normal stoic.

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On Easter Sunday, we met my dad at Edgefield for the Easter brunch buffet. (I heart buffets for dining out with toddlers!) They enjoyed the food–mainly eating bread, bacon, some fruit, and orange juice, and wanted some of the chocolate dessert too (only one bite). Then we had some time to run around:

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They got some Easter presents from Grandpa! DSC_9720-1_WEB DSC_9723-5_WEB

After their nap, I ‘made’ their ‘Easter baskets’. They each got a random Easter-y book I found in a bin, a thing of bubbles, and a homemade snack baggie (almonds, a few chocolate cats, and cheesy crackers). They were very excited about the snacks, of course! I guess next year they’ll understand the whole Easter basket of goodies concept and I’ll have to do something not lame. DSC_9728_WEB

We also hid some eggs for them to find…but they were totally not into it! We did some practice egg hunting the previous weekend, and I guess they got over the idea. Emmett pointed at a few eggs but didn’t pick any up, and Malcolm didn’t even come all the way outside. Silly toddlers!

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The following week we made it to see the tulips at Wooden Shoe! I of course wanted to wander and take pictures…but twin toddlers don’t equal peaceful meandering. They investigated the various tractors and the tiny windmill and ran around, and I grabbed a few photos as I ran after them. Mainly I wanted a family photo and we did manage to get that. Third one in a row!

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Phew! Thankfully May is looking a little quieter.

The nightly torture

Toothbrushing. It is the bane of my existence. Or at least the bane of our evenings with toddlers. I *hate* it.

We only started brushing their teeth regularly a little over a year ago. They screamed and writhed and had to be held down by a second person. I found a toothbrushing song to sing, in hopes that they would start to recognize it and be a little happier, or at least less terrified. It hasn’t worked.

This went on for probably five or six months, and then suddenly they would just sit there and open up. Without crying! Without squirming away! What a miracle! I was all, woohoo, we just had to wait a little while and they finally got used to it!

Hahaha.

The protests began again in the fall or winter. They were older now and more verbal, so they just say No and run away. They once again squirm away from the toothbrush. They also figured out that they can clamp those little chompers down on the toothbrush and lock it in place (and suck out the toothpaste). It’s a less violent event now, but it’s still a huge, giant pain in the ass. Many nights one of them will be mostly okay with it but one will not. I hate it hate it hate it.

Tonight, after M chomping down on the toothbrush every.single.damn.time I put it in his mouth, he said something about pizza. And randomly I decided to give the toothbrush a Cookie Monster voice and say, “I want pizza! Mmmm, pizza snacks! Give me pizza! Yummy, I see baby cookies! Gimme gimme! More baby cookies!” while brushing his teeth. He giggled and laughed and let me brush his teeth.

Then I did the same for Emmett. (He likes to do it ‘by self’ which of course is terribly ineffective, so I’ve been trying to negotiate that I do it first then he gets a turn.) He laughed and giggled, and then when I was done, he handed me the toothbrush again and said, “More?” {cue angels singing}

Oh my god. I have no idea if this tactic will ever work again, but it will live on as a bright spot that maybe, someday, there may be hope?!

Also, we’re taking them to the dentist for the first time this week (they’re almost 2.5). I’m crossing my fingers that it won’t be a complete and utter disaster, and that we won’t get ‘in trouble’ for having waited so long. Wish all of us much luck and patience.

Things I Love Thursday: Voice Memos

On some Thursdays, I’ll share something random that I’m really liking, enjoying, or appreciating. Just a little post to share a little snippet of life right now. I’d love to know if you also like these things, and what you’re randomly into these days!

Not long ago, we were in the car, on the way home from Friday night indoor gym, and the boys were singing EIEIO. It was super cute, but it was dark, and I was facing the wrong way. For some reason, I thought about the voice memo function. So I opened that, pressed record, and pointed it in the backseat toward Emmett.

He just kept singing those two lines over and over. That and his emphatic pronunciation just kill me ded with cuteness.

Ever since then, I’ve been working on capturing cute things they say, or their accent/inflections, or their little singing voices.

Voice memos take up hardly any space on my phone, unlike videos. Videos get the whole picture, but for some things it’s worth it to only have the sound.

Here are just a few of my favorite clips:

It’s crazy how much their language and physical talking skills have changed in such a short time–only a few weeks later and they now sing a lot more of EIEIO, for example. :)

So in conclusion, I’m finding voice memos to be a great complement to saving some sweet moments that are happening all the time! I will probably do more of these posts in the future because I love sharing the cuteness. :) (I did record one morning at breakfast when they took turns screaming, just for fun…I’m sparing you that one.)

Now I’d love to hear from you in the comments–Do you use voice memos? Do you record your kiddos in any particular way?

Things I Love Thursday: Toddler Tricycle

 On some Thursdays, I’ll share something random that I’m really liking, enjoying, or appreciating. Just a little post to share a little snippet of life right now. I’d love to know if you also like these things, and what you’re randomly into these days!

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Last summer, when they were about 20 months old, the babies always were super intrigued when the neighbors’ bike and tricycle were in their yard…and would try to climb on whenever they saw one (and have a super tantrum when we removed them).

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So we figured they were ready to start trying to use their own tricycles. At the fall resale, we got two random trikes. They were super psyched and demanded to ride them immediately (though they needed help, because their feet didn’t quite reach properly).

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However, they both only liked one of them: the Radio Flyer Fold 2 Go Trike (the one above with streamers). They fought over it, and would refuse to ride the other one. We realized that the other trike’s pedals were farther away from the seat and therefore harder to push. The Radio Flyer pedals sit closer, so their knees are at more of a right angle.

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(Here’s the day that they both actually started riding by themselves–this was early December, so they had just turned two. They both screamed and cried whenever brother had the ‘good’ trike. And rode happily when it was their turn.)

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This went on and on and we just kept trying to convince them to try the other bike too! Occasionally they would, sort of, but it never lasted. Andy kept saying, Oh let’s just buy a new one so they don’t fight so much. And finally, one afternoon in late February, I had had enough of the tantrums, and looked at craigslist on my phone while we were at the playground. I found that trike for sale nearby and I picked it up that night. And ever since–happiness and peace reign! They love riding their ‘bikes’ and there is no more fighting, screaming, or crying over them. Hallelujah!

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Here’s the trike all by itself. It seems to be specifically designed for younger toddlers (the description says 1-3 years). The main ‘feature’ of this trike is that it folds up. It doesn’t get exactly small, but it does make it easier to put into the back of the car, or even in the wagon. It’s easy to carry, too–the seat has a little ‘handle’ space.

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So, if you have a young toddler who seems ready for a tricycle, this one might be a great option!

I’d love to hear what your toddlers and preschoolers are riding — please share links and/or your experiences in the comments!

Why I don’t have any good pictures of both twins at the same time

 

2015-03 (Mar)_WEBI wasn’t actively trying to get them to look at me or anything, I just wanted to get them both sitting in their baby adirondacks. These are all the photos I took, just so you can get a feel for what I deal with any time I bring out the camera. :) And/or to explain why I never get any good shots of them together! (PS: here’s a big secret–a lot of the cute holiday photos from their first year were head swaps!)