That Hair

This is me at three months old. I was born with a full head of hair and it never fell out. I’ve had lots of dark hair ever since.

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My hair has been medium or long since I was a kid, and it has always been thick and prone to tangling.

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It was long all through high school and into college, when I tried a layered cut that was chin-length. Ever since then, I’ve gotten my hair cut once a year (like a responsible adult) and done a cycle of grow-it-out, chop-it-off.    DSC_2328_WEB DSC_2363_WEB

(One time I cut my own hair, just because!)DSC_2981_WEB

I got it cut fairly short a couple times while I was in New York. Sometimes I liked it and sometimes I didn’t. Mostly because I didn’t/couldn’t style it, so it didn’t look nice enough or something.

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So early last summer, I went in for my yearly haircut. It was getting long-ish, and I had decided that instead of chopping it off and tossing it, why not let it do some good? I didn’t want it anymore, but it could still go to someone who would want it. It was decided: I was officially going to donate my hair! After that I’ve actually gotten trims every three months, like you’re supposed to. (It really helps my hair feel healthy great, who knew!)

My original plan was to do the Big Chop in the spring. But then that didn’t happen…and I told myself I would do it after I got home from NYC in June. But I kept putting it off.

In the past week or so, my one hair clip that held my hair…wasn’t holding my hair anymore. There was too much hair. I couldn’t do anything with it and it was always in my way. Then, on Monday, my hair clip broke.

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I decided that was my sign to finally do it! Get this hair gone!

One thing that I’d planned to do before the  big haircut was one last photo shoot featuring my hair. I wanted to have a couple nice shots to look back on. You may have seen one of those on Facebook. :)

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Later that day, I did it. I got ALL MY HAIR CUT OFF.

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The donation was thirteen inches of hair! The initial cut was about at my chin but the final cut is mid-jaw-length. I didn’t want more flatness or weird roundness with this length, so I asked for more layers to give it more body. And…there is plenty of body. Sort of mushroom-shaped. DSC_9739_WEBThe day after the haircut I had to go get some hairstyling products (because I don’t want to look like a mushroom), so I’ve been sort of experimenting. I’m not very good at styling, and I’m also lazy…so the spray-in/leave-in stuff is right up my alley. I’m sure I could blow dry it and make it look at sleek and pretty…but I don’t know how to do that.

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I’m still not sure about the whole thing–the style/length, I mean. I’m glad that all the hair is gone and I hope it will go to good use!

TL; DR: BIG HAIRCUT AAAHH!

2015 4th of July

Once again we had an epic family Fourth of July! We started off with our traditional holiday photo:

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So last year, we picked cherries and then went to Timberline. The year before, we went to Timberline and then on a little hike to waterfall.

This year, we did all three! We started out by picking cherries at Draper Girls Farm in Hood River Valley (we drove during the boys’ naptime…the drive was only about an hour and they didn’t even sleep the whole time). They really had a good time finding and picking the cherries. We lifted them up so they could pick some, and then each of us went up on a ladder to get more too. We handed the cherries to them so they could put them in their buckets. They were very excited about the whole thing.

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We got them to smile for this photo because we had them say, “Happy fruit-picking day!” Thanks, Daniel Tiger. :)

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Our next stop was Mt Hood! We didn’t go into the lodge this time; we weren’t there very long at all. The boys kept saying, The mountain! The mountain! And they wanted to walk on the mountain…of course not understanding that we were already on it. Plus the big uphill walk was not easy or fun for them. It was a hot day and the snow was at the lowest level we’ve seen it. I made us take a couple pictures and then we left, and had dinner in Government Camp.

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Since they’re older now, and their bedtime is later, we still had time to go on our little hike! We did the Little Zigzag Falls trail again–it’s really short and there’s this nice waterfalls at the end. It was so cool and refreshing to walk through the forest (and that they could walk by themselves!)…and then of course they wanted to play with throwing pebbles in the water. :)

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It was a long day, for sure, but it was a great family adventure! I love that we’re doing little traditions like this, and it’s really neat to do the same things as they get older and can do and say so much more.

Toddler Talk!

I think one of the best things about having toddlers is hearing their little voices, the cute ways they have of speaking, their quirks as they learn to talk. And having twin toddlers means that we get to hear them actually talk to each other–our boys totally have conversations! It’s adorable and awesome and we’re already pre-nostalgic, knowing that soon enough they’ll be talking like normal big kids.

We’ve been keeping a little list of the things they say:

“You okay, mama?” “Feel better, mama?” They’ll put their little hand on my shoulder and lean in, saying it sort of with a whisper. This then became a game, where they tell me to “Be sad” with a grin, and then I make a sad face, and they say, “You need a hug?” and then I get a really sweet toddler hug. :)

“I sad/I happy” They say this both genuinely, out of the blue (often related to food!). And at bedtime, if Daddy doesn’t come back for a third round of hugs, M will call out, “I sad! I very sad!”

They say “thank you” / “you’re welcome” all the time. They’re okay at saying “please,” too (and they often include the sign!). We occasionally remind them about it but they just include it most of the time. This makes me pretty happy, because it means that we’re speaking nicely to them and each other and they’re picking up on that. Hurray, we’re not failing as parents!

Of course, this is a big one: “I do it by self!” (now “myself”) Many times we will do something innocuous (like close a door) and they go all toddler cliche 101: jump up and down in frustration, face getting red, crying, “I do it! I do it!”

At the end of naptime, and sometimes in the mornings, we hear a little voice call out, “I awake! {pause} I awake!”

When having a chip or a cracker:  “Emmett choose!” “Okay, you can choose one.” “Choose two,” he says with a cheeky grin.

“Let’s do dat!”

“I want it (blank)” Like the “it” is part of the “I want” phrase. Often followed by, “I neeeed it.” (We like to entertain ourselves by asking them, “Do you want it, or do you need it?” To which they *always* reply, “I need it!”)

Funny adjectives: “Big-one cracker/small-one cracker”

They’ll walk or pedal away, saying, “I’ll be right back” or “I’ll be back in 35 minutes.” Then a moment later, “I back!”

Awhile back, we started “Talk about day” during bedtime tuck-in, where we recount the fun happenings of the day. This morphed into “Talk about it,” for things that they encountered or read about, like waterfalls, oceans, harpoons, all kinds of random things. So we give a little explanation, and then immediately they say, “Talk about it again.” Etc etc. To the point where if our explanation is ‘wrong’ they will correct us!

When they’re mad at me, or if I want them to do something they don’t like, they’ll angrily say, “No dank you, mama! Go away! Dat not nice!/Dat’s not okay! I don’t like dat!”

“Ummm no” and “Ummmm yeah” and “Okay!” are just little cute things they say all the time.

“Are you little or are you big? “I big!” (For awhile they would say, “I little.” Once or twice I’ve heard one say, “I grown up!” Ooh boy.)

Obviously learned from us: “One more minute”  and “In a minute” but it’s when we’re trying to do things like brush their teeth. They also say to us and to each other, “Walk away!” when they’re mad. We’ve never said this, so it must be something they hear at daycare.

Again, repeating from us, if they’re really upset or not feeling good, they say, “I having a hard time” with a pitiful little pout. Hugs and cuddles ensue.

They went through a phase about names. They would ask us, “What’s your name?” and we would have them name everyone. They also started saying their full complete name, including middle names. And sometimes they pretend and say other things like, “My name is…Seattle! My name is…George!”

Sometimes E doesn’t want me to kiss him, and so he gives me a face and says, “Take it back!” And I do a little pinching motion wherever I’d kissed him to ‘remove’ the kiss, and he giggles. :)

E also likes to say, “I puppy I kitty”. He’ll sometimes do a little mewl/whine too.

They are counting pretty well!

They love listening to the kid songs/CDs, and they’re very opinionated. Sometimes they say, “I don’t want that song” and if one of us starts singing along, they say, “No, don’t sing!” Or they’ll say, “People sing!” People means the ‘real’ song.

They’re in a bit of a clingy phase and if one of us leaves (mostly it’s only for Daddy though), they get really upset and cry, “Don’t go!” The other day I left on a walk and Emmett said, “No, don’t go. I miss you.” Aww! And then whenever we return, their little voices go, “You back now?”

If they see anything food-related, even a dish that they can’t see into, they say, “Pees have some? I want one bite.”

“Want to play blocks/read books/etc wif me?”

“You ouched me!”

Some words they say cutely: Carouself, beena (banana), water mountain, mee-yulk (milk), pack-pack, where it is?, and there are lots of words where they replace a sound with F (like “trash trucks” and “quick”).

One morning when I got Emmett out of his crib, he announced, “I snugging all my fwiends. My fwiends is cute.”

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***

And just for posterity, here are the conversations and quotes that we’ve shared on social media:

Scene in the car:

[E is holding a little bag of Legos.]
M: It’s my turn now. Pwease?
E: No. I’m sowwy. You can’t have it right now.
M: But I asked bery nicely!
E: I sorry.
M: I so sad now!
E: I sorry you sad.

***

A: (gets E dressed) You’re so stylish!
E: No, I Emmett.
*
M: Can you make me feel better give me a kiss?
Me: Sure! *kiss*
M: Thanks!
*
Me: (sneezes)
E: Bless you.
Me: Oh thank you.
E: You’re welcome.

***

A: I think if we want to find more berries we’ll need to walk over to the next row of vines.
E: Oh! Daddy, you so wise

***

I did some rosebush pruning while they were playing outside and they of course came over to watch:
Me: (grunting while snipping a bigger stem)
E: Mama, you very strong!

***
The BuddingSTEM tshirt arrived today. I told them I had a present for them.
Them: I want a present!
(They unwrap what’s in the package, I show them the choo-choo train shirt excitedly. They love trains! )
E, after a pause: I want a present!

***
M: (pointing at my arm) So many ouchies!
Me: Oh, those aren’t ouchies, those are freckles.
M: Yeah, pockles.
***
Getting in the car after the park:
E: (climbing into the front seat and sitting in it, protesting when I try to take him out) I old! I old!
***
Playing in the car (off, in the garage):
E: Love you so much! Go away!

***

M said, “Bye, see you later, I going get pizza!”

***

Totally unprompted, Malcolm walked by me and said, “Your hair look nice,” and a moment later, hugged my leg and said, “Nice dress.”

***

E: “Feed me!”
M: “No kisses!”
E: “Quiet, Mama– I talking.”

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.