Scenes from Tonight

So the other day Emmett was playing with the empty laundry basket, and I randomly decided to lay him down in the basket and carry him as if he were laundry. And then I gave Malcolm a turn. They thought it was hilarious, I thought it was both hilarious and adorable.

Tonight we did more ‘laundry baby’. Except the cuteness factor went up by about a million. I died of cuteness overload about six times in the space of ten minutes.

Consider this as a hopeful future for everyone in the little-baby trenches, and a reminder of the good times of the toddler years (it’s not all tantrums all the time!). Most of all–for my fellow twin mamas, there is hope!

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The helping each other up thing was completely started by them! They actually refused our help–only wanting brother.

What a random, fun time. I love these guys. 🙂 🙂

My Productivity Essentials

Kabbage.com wrote a great list about ways to be more productive.  It made me think about the ways I try to focus my attention and be more productive. These are all things I will need to use intelligently this year to be successful at home and at work.

I’m a lifelong procrastinator, and the Internet is a constant distraction. However, overall I’d say I do a fairly good job of accomplishing tasks, though naturally some take longer than they might need to. Here are a few things that I do to help keep me on track. Technically they’re sort of related to the same concept: Writing stuff down.

1. PAPER LIST

I make lists. Lists everywhere. I have the worst memory in the world, so if I don’t write it down, it disappears into the mist of my fogged-up brain. Over the last couple years, one of my mottos has become, “If it’s not on a list, it doesn’t exist.”

The main ‘tool’ I use lately is just a legal pad. I tend to make lists in two columns: a column on the left for personal to do items, and a column on the right for business tasks. Often these lists get very long and out of hand, for two reasons. One is that once I start writing things down, I think of other things that need to be done. Two is that I keep using the same list until I’ve crossed most of the things off. I love seeing the sea of cross-outs: a visual reminder of some good task-doing! Then I re-write the list on a fresh, clean page (and inevitably add to it. Lists never ever stop growing!).

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A subset of this is the whiteboard in our kitchen. It’s the household to-do list, sort of. There’s a spot for grocery lists (with columns for different stores), and there’s an area with that week’s happenings. Each day has a little space for any household events (recurring or unique), so that we always know what’s coming. Again, if things aren’t on those two lists/spaces, they don’t exist in my brain.

And check out this new book I just read about: Listful Thinking: Using Lists to Be More Productive, Successful and Less StressedRight up my alley! Hurray for lists! She has a blog that looks great too.

2. PAPER PLANNER

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For my day job, I use this Staples planner. A colleague of mine introduced me to this planner years ago; it was her favorite and she swore by it. We actually went together to a local Staples so I could pick one up myself, and I now swear by it too. It’s a Staples brand planner that has a monthly calendar page, and then for every one-week spread, the page on the left has a space for each day to jot down tasks and things, and then the page on the right is just empty lines for notes. This is AWESOME. I love it because all the notes for each week get taken right there. I don’t need to put notes other places, and I don’t need to worry about running out of space on a daily square. For example, during a team call, if there is a new project starting and I have some tasks, I take notes about all of that on that right-side page. Then later I can distill smaller tasks and write those on the daily spaces to the left.

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The only bad news is that I haven’t seen any other planner that does this, and it’s getting harder to find. This past year I could only find it in hardback, but this fall I found an academic-year version that was in softcover. I like the softcover because you can fold it and sit with it on your lap comfortably. You can order it online but you may need to hunt in your local Staples stores to see if it’s there.

3. NICE PENS

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I also have certain pens I like to use. I love these purple gel ballpoints (Pentel EnerGel 0.7mm) and I use them (and sometimes a blue version) exclusively for my to-do lists. They write smoothly and the lines are thick and pretty. Plus writing with pens like this feels a little more fancy and intentional than with a regular blue Bic, you know?

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I am also a little obsessed with pens from MUJI. They come in lots of happy colors, and in different tip sizes. I use these pens for writing in my paper calendar.

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There’s a store in the Jetblue Terminal at JFK, and I’ve totally had my husband buy me some pens when he’s traveling through there. When I went to NYC last summer, I made a point of going to the Sixth Avenue MUJI to buy a few more pens for myself. And next time I go I’m going to buy a whole bunch more. 🙂

4. CALENDAR

Of course I do use Google Calendar to keep track of everything electronically, but again, if it’s not right in front of my face, I won’t remember it. So I print out a paper calendar
to keep on my desk. (I don’t have the space for one of those huge desk calendars; otherwise I’d use one of those. I also don’t want to lug around a regular dayplanner, since I’ve got enough binders and crap on my desk as it is.) It’s actually a page from photographer planner that I have, but it’s just a general set of empty boxes. [A few years ago I made one like this myself in Word; it would be super easy to make one yourself.]

In this calendar, I write down all my photography-related events (meetings & sessions), days when my husband or I will be out of town, and any other scheduled event that either I will go to, like my book club, or that the whole family will attend, like a twins club party. I keep them in a plastic page protector so they stay clean, and then I can move it around with me if I need to. I have a month on each side of the protector, because there’s always things scheduled in the future! I also keep the previous months in there too, behind the current ones, just in case I want to go back and check something.

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PS, did you notice the title of that calendar page? HELLO WHAT? Two thousand twelve?!! Sigh.

5. TIMER

The Pomodoro Technique is something I’ve heard about around the internets and kept meaning to check out…but only did recently. It’s basically a time management tool to focus on specific tasks and improve disciple to get shit done. There’s an online Tomato Timer that you can use if you don’t have a kitchen timer or don’t want to involve your smart phone.

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I always have a zillion things on my to-do lists…sometimes I power through them all Bam! Bam! Bam! Check! Check! Check! and other times those items languish. Even if it’s not a tough thing to do, sometimes I just drag my feet for whatever reason. So last week I decided to finally tackle a couple of those tasks already. I started the Tomato Timer and got one item COMPLETED! I also intentionally focused on that one task instead of getting distracted by the two dozen open tabs in my browser, or checking on Facebook, or refreshing my email. I set the “short break” timer, and then when it buzzed, I started the task timer again and completed ANOTHER task! That one I finished with about 40 seconds to spare, and since I felt like I was on a roll, I went and did at least one other thing I’d been meaning to do. And I was still focused on each task as I worked on it. It really helped me see that things *don’t* take that long, and buckling down to just freaking DO THEM already feels a million times better than seeing them on my list, waiting and waiting for me. So I hope to take advantage of this concept a lot more this year, to help me be more efficient and disciplined with my time.

6. PRIORITIES

The last thing I try to keep in mind is that it’s important to use judgment about priorities. Of all the things on my list, some of them are related to hobbies or fun stuff, and when I get into a time crunch, I know that I can ignore that stuff. When work gets busy, I know that it’s perfectly fine to let personal/hobby stuff fall by the wayside. I *want* to do All the Things, and I’m usually more excited about the Want-To-Do’s, but I know that the Need-To-Do’s come first. (I got behind on this blog and Project Life and some other stuff because I was working on actual work stuff most of the time. And I don’t like having those other tasks sitting on the list, but I know that it’s also not a big deal.)  Sometimes I go through my list and put a star or circle around the priority tasks for that day, as an additional prompt and visual reminder that it’s GO TIME.

What are your best productivity tips and tools? Have you used one of the timers or other time-management apps?

Our Favorite Toys for Babies, 12-18 month edition

When I went to the big twins club re-sale in 2013, I had a very specific list of items that I knew our 5 month old babies would need in the short term. When I saw the huge area of big toys, I froze. I tried to think about the next 5-6 months and what the babies would do or learn or want or play with. And I had utterly no idea what, say, a 9 month old could use.

So I figure that as I go along, I’ll keep track of the toys we use in age-ranges of our babies, in hope that someday, another parent will find it useful! This isn’t an official review or sponsored post, it’s just what our babies have liked and used a lot. Amazon links are affiliate.

(Previous gear lists: Pregnancy, New Babies part 1, New Babies part 2, New Babies part 3 Toys for 3-6 months, Toys for 6-12 months)

Also, FYI: Baby Cheapskate does an annual roundup of “Toys that get played with” for all age ranges, based on reader polls/surveys. Here’s the 2013 list for 13-24 months. You should follow them on Facebook--they find and post tons of deals on baby gear every day!

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Activity Table (until 15 months or so) and Exersaucer: Yes, they just kept playing with these! I was really surprised. I suppose because they make noise, and have things that can be moved/pressed/manipulated.

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Books: Obviously. Lift-the-flap books have been especially fun.

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Broom and Mop: It was only after they started playing with the full-size broom and swiffer in the kitchen that we realized we should get them some kid-sized ones. They still prefer the big ones, but will happily play with the little ones most of the time. Of course they fight over who gets the broom.

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Balls: They love watching people play soccer and basketball, and they love trying to throw and catch. Or just holding them.

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Mega Bloks: Our twins received a set for Christmas, when they were 13 months old. I figured they wouldn’t be able to use them or interested in using them until they were at least 18 months old. But I was totally wrong–they started playing with them right away and quickly seemed to understand what to do! And they’ve only gotten better since, so it’s great they started kind of early. It’s got to be great for motor skills and spatial reasoning!

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Toy Shopping Cart, wagon, horsey, stroller: These are HUGE hits in our house. Our twins would probably be psyched if they could push the shopping cart around for most of a whole day. When we go outside for a walk they fight over which ones they get, and they always want something to push.

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Charley Harper Flash Cards, Clif Bars, anything with smaller parts inside a box: Take them out of the box, put them back in the box, throw them around. Good times!

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Water Table: Apparently we got this for them in April and they loved it immediately. They played all spring and summer.

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Train table (at the bookstore): I think we discovered this by accident, but what an amazing accident. They are OBSESSED. Sometimes I wish we had a big basement play area so we could have one of our own, but then I think it’s nice that it’s out of the house, so that it’s a rarer experience and therefore more special.

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Learning Towers/Kitchen Helpers: I would see people posting about these on Facebook, that they were super awesome for little kids. I also noticed that they are WAY EXPENSIVE. Especially the idea of two of them.Then someone in a group posted that her husband was making DIY versions. I waffled for a bit and then decided we should go for it, and get two. It was totally worth it and I’m so glad we did. There are posts all over the internet about how to make the DIY versions (here’s one), so ask around for someone who might be handy. Even paying them to do it will be worth it. (And PS, since I’m finishing this so late, I can tell you that we’re still using these after they turned two!)

IKEA Table and Chairs

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Not exactly a toy, but they do really like their little table and chairs, just the right size for them!

What do your littles this age love to play with? Share in the comments!

Looking back at 2014

Early last year I made another set of goals for 2014…And I didn’t really think much about them after that. Have I mentioned that 2014 got really busy? Looking at the list, I’m a little disheartened, but I have to remind myself that the point of my goals was/is to help me focus on the good stuff in life, and in that regard, it was a successful year. I think at this point in my life, goals like this may not be the best for me and my scatterbrain. Hopefully in future years I’ll get back to it. I have a slightly different idea/plan for next year, but I’m going to put that in a separate post.

So here’s the analysis of 2014:

  • I continued to work my butt off in my business and the year was pretty amazing. Woohoo!
  • Due to the aforementioned busyness, my blogging here often fell by the wayside. I now have almost 40 incomplete blog post drafts! I think at the beginning of 2014 it was closer to two dozen.
  • Not only did I not complete MuTu, I did not a single day or week of it. However, I was pretty good at taking walks regularly, and I even actually lost a couple pounds! (One of the post drafts is all about that kind of thing.)
  • I completed my reading goal and read 63 books. A few of my favorites were: The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp, Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald, At Home by Bill Bryson, Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane, Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin, and of course Yes Please by Amy Poehler.
  • Due to reading at night before bed, I would therefore stay up too late. I had days/weeks here and there where I got to bed by 1230 (which is early for me), but just as many days/weeks when it was 1am or later. 😦
  • We did take family photos and couch photos of the twins each month this year (though I’m stopping the monthly couch ones, and will do every six months from here on). I continued Project Life as well as the 365 project (a photo a day, on flickr).
  • We did go on a two-night overnight trip to the coast, and to OMSI, though we did not go to the Zoo (other than for Zoo Lights, which was ridiculous) or the Children’s Museum. We did go on all the now-yearly-I-hope local adventures, like Mt Hood, apple picking, a pumpkin patch, that kind of thing, plus did two daytrips to the coast. So overall I’d say the local adventuring goal was a success!
  • We did not Get Our Shit Together, but we did go away for an overnight without the babies!

And once again, from January 2013:

I feel such pressure to have some perfect beginnings for things like plans and photos ready on the first day of the year. Honestly, I’m always so scatterbrained that it just never happens. I’m a mess and I never know what day it is, so often I have to scramble to think of anything. A lifelong procrastinator, that’s me. This year is no exception–as you can tell by getting this up on January 3rd. (I wanted an extra day or two to come up with any more goal ideas.)

I was just reading through the January issue of O Magazine and there’s a section in there about goals and resolutions, and a couple things really stood out to me.

Rule #1 is “You Must Stay True to You.” Don’t make goals that don’t make actual real sense for your actual real life. For example, I could make a goal that I will train for a marathon this year! Except that I hate running, I have zero interest in doing it, and while running a marathon is an impressive feat, I have absolutely no desire to do it. (Also, I am lazy.) So even though it might be good for my health and my bragging rights, I’m never going to do it. And I’m perfectly okay with that!

So in the past, when I’ve thought about making goals, I tend to think about the things I’ve been wanting to do, and things that I’ve gotten close to doing already, and things that are just enough outside my comfort zone that it’s not crazy to imagine doing them. A few years ago, I’d been dabbling in knitting and crocheting, and so I made a goal to knit or crochet a garment (something bigger than a scarf or hat). A logical goal that I already had the skills for, if not necessarily the confidence for. (I think I ended up crocheting a vest, which sort of felt like cheating because it was too simple. A different year I did knit a baby sweater, and that felt like a bigger deal!) I do wish I was better and more creative at coming up with interesting lists of things to try and do, though. I love reading other people’s goals and resolutions, as motivation and inspiration for my own. 🙂

Rule #2 is “There’s nothing magical about January 1.” This article in Smithsonian about how time is just an illusion made me feel a little better about being so unprepared for the new year. 🙂 The start of a new calendar year seems so fresh and clean and full of potential! And what better way to make yourself fresh and clean and ready to fulfill your potential than carefully crafting thoughtful resolutions, along with beautiful images representing them, well ahead of time? The fact that I’m never ready for anything on January 1 makes me feel sloppy and a little pathetic and a little panic-flail-y (thanks Elizabeth for that excellent and apt term!). So I try to console myself that it’s okay not to have some amazing plan already written out or in the works. And that I can’t magically change myself either, no matter how many goals I keep or track. I’ll still be the same old me at the end of the year, regardless of how much I weigh or how much sleep I’ve gotten or how many vegetables I’ve eaten.

Rule #4 says, “Your slip-ups are only detours.” Have you heard that Jerry Seinfeld motivational advice about don’t break the chain? This is where Rule #1 comes back: I know myself and I know that I will always break the chain. Like most days I’ll break it. Just in the last few days (er, weeks, months), I tell myself I’m going to bed early! And then I just don’t. For whatever reason (ok, it’s usually the internet and/or a book), I stay up too late. I’m a night owl, I like reading before bed, and it’s hard to put down a book, even when I know I’m going to be tired later. So if I were to make a specific, actionable, responsible goal for 2015 like go to bed by 1230 every night, I would have failed three or four times already! No chain at all to even break! So much failure in just the first week of the year, and that would be a terrible way to begin that fresh new 2015. So I don’t make goals like that for myself. I make goals like “be better about XYZ” to try to keep it in mind, without that fear of failure, in fact, sort of building some failure into the process. Goals in that vein aren’t SMART goals, but for the way I am, they’re more realistic and achievable. I want to push myself to do and try to do more and be better, while also accepting who I am (and who I am not).

Anyway, more to come very soon on ideas for 2015…

Christmas 2014

We have had a wonderful two weeks of vacation for Christmas! I’d love for this to be one of those beautifully written and thoughtful essays on the meaning of Christmas, and the joy of the season with our small children that leaves you with a tear in your eye and a smile on your face, but…this isn’t really that kind of blog. So you’ll get a recap instead. 🙂

DSC_0125_WEBMostly our vacation was great because our daycare was still open for the non-holiday days. (So grateful!) And since we both took the time off work, we still sent them to daycare when we could so that we actually had some free time at home! It. Was. AWESOME. Oh my god, it was amazing.

The last six or seven months got really busy for me, and I was able to keep everything juggled, sometimes just barely. Most weekends as well as evenings after kid bedtime have been dedicated to at least some work (which is why things like this blog got pushed to the back burner). Don’t get me wrong, I was really happy about the work, but I kept wishing for an extra day of the week so I could get more stuff done. So, starting in late November, I had been clinging to the idea of TIME, finally, to just sit around and relax…and work on all the other things on my list. 🙂

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My first major accomplishment was catching up on Project Life. I’d been caught up to Week 49 with photos, but was something like 13 weeks behind on the journaling part. It took more than a few days, and it was hard to focus, but finally, that got done and checked off the list!! Hurray! (The other day I just got the last three weeks of pictures for the year, so I’ll have to get those done hopefully soon.)

IMG_9181_WEBMy next big task was getting some rest. CHECK! I took naps most of the first week, and slept in when I could. I literally hadn’t felt that good and rested since before the babies were born. The second week I’ve gotten less sleep again, but I’m hoping to get back on track. In addition, we worked on getting caught up on the big DVR backlog. I’ve also been watching some stuff on Netflix. I EVEN started a small knitting project. Look at me, such a lady of leisure! I love it!

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We also did some big household projects. With some amazing help from family, we now have shelves in our kitchen, which means a ton more storage for all the crap that has been accumulating on/in/around the cabinets. We also did major cleanup and organization in the basement! It only took an afternoon, but the results are INCREDIBLE. (No before picture, because it was pretty icky and messy). There are some other storage things I’m working on in the garage too. A couple smaller tasks got done too: Andy finally anchored a couple big pieces of furniture, which we’ve been meaning to do for over a year, and he also put together the new storage/dresser thing for the living room, which we’d left sitting in the garage for over a month. Generally, because we’ve actually had some time, we’ve gotten on a roll of getting shit done around the house! Woohoo!

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I’ve also been working on other personal photos, and trying to catch up on this blog, and also starting on my massive list of business-related tasks. I’ve made great progress for such a short amount of time, and I’m really happy and excited. The crossing off of items on my endless to-do list is so damn satisfying and has me all psyched up to keep up the good work!

DSC_0170_WEBThe Christmas part itself has also been really fun. Everyone says that the holidays are amazing through your kids’ eyes, and it’s so true! This year, the holiday decorations are so happy-making for the boys, and for me too. They know and talk about Christmas trees (which they adorably pronounce “mih-miss ree”), lights, stockings, ornaments, presents. I was really excited about the gifts that we piled up under the tree, though I had to consciously resist buying lots of stuff for the dudes, since they got lots of wonderful gifts from family. I got some cheap plastic ball ornaments for them to ‘decorate’ with. They loved it, and kept putting them on and then ripping them off again. Sigh.

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We did go see Santa again, to the downtown Macy’s Santaland. I would like that to be the place we go every year, it’s a fun outing downtown to see the big tree and see the Santaland display. They cared more about pushing their strollers around than looking at the moving reindeer this year, of course! The train stuff later on they thought was super cool. And the Santa there was great again this year too. The boys were not at all sure about sitting on a stranger’s lap. They didn’t cry, but they did do their classic wary/stoic thing. I wonder how old they’ll be before they’ll smile for Santa pictures. 🙂

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This year is an interesting one, because though they’re just starting to notice and learn things, they aren’t old enough for ideas like Santa Claus, or that there’s a special day, or that they can expect presents. Next year is going to be completely different, but this year they’ve been beautifully innocent and fun. I’ve really enjoyed it all, and I’ve been surprised at how happy and how emotional it’s all made me. Turns out I really am a big old softie. 🙂

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Christmas morning was so much fun–I started them off with stockings (because that was always my favorite). I gave them each a matchbox car and a packet of crackers. They were psyched and wanted to eat them right away, and I let them, because it was Christmas! 🙂 They got into the unwrapping thing, but they weren’t that good at it, or understanding that things have to be unwrapped or unpackaged before they can play. They got a fun new lawnmower push toy and a toy guitar, which were the two big toys they played with a lot right away. They also got the Goodnight Moon board game, a doll, some great new board books, some adorable clothes from their very fashionable auntie, a hammering toy, and some bookstore gift cards. Quite a haul for two year olds! They’ve been loving all the new stuff!

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Mid morning, though, we had a scare. I wasn’t paying attention while Malcolm was over by the tree, and suddenly there was something in his mouth. Little red shards. He had eaten or bitten something off the tree! Andy realized it was a tree light bulb. I found the end third caught in his bib and got some biggish shards off his tongue, but I had no idea how much else there was and how much, if any, he had swallowed. Oh god. I was really scared, and so worried, and so guilty. I took him to the ER – the children’s hospital where they were born has a pediatric emergency room, which meant that the decor was really friendly and nice, there was a toy right on the wall of the exam room, and the staff were extra gentle and wonderful and kind. That made things so much easier for both Malcolm and me. Happily, he seemed fine; the doctor told me that if he had swallowed anything, it would most likely pass right through with no damage at all. He was showing no signs of anything amiss, so they were not worried. Which meant that I didn’t have to worry anymore either. And indeed, he’s been totally and completely fine. I was so relieved!

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Later on, we continued our Christmas Day tradition of watching a movie and making/decorating a gingerbread house. Last year we watched Pitch Perfect and this year I sort of wanted to watch that again, but we ended up with 21 Jump Street, which was totally dumb in just the right kind of way.

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We also got in plenty of fun quality time with the four of us together. We went out for a walks a couple times; went to the indoor park; took the Max together for the first time; went to the bookstore; and went out for pizza. Not to mention the jumping and tickling and dancing and playing at home.

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Overall, like I said, it’s been a beautiful, productive, restful, and fun two weeks with our family this Christmas. I hope that you and your family also had a wonderful holiday and new year!

25ish months old

I promised myself (and mentally promised any readers) that I wouldn’t keep doing these monthly updates. And I don’t plan to! But this past month-ish after their birthday has still been really interesting and I didn’t want to forget anything. I’m not going to take monthly photos anymore either, but will try to do the official couch pictures twice yearly.

Dear Sweet Toddlers,

It’s the end of 2014! You’re just over two years old and wow, what a ride it’s been this year. Here’s what you’ve been up to for the last six weeks.

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One thing that’s really neat is that you’re developing empathy: you give kisses or hugs to characters in books who are upset! Your Auntie got you Don’t Let Pigeon Drive the Bus recently, and on the page where Pigeon goes into a rage, you lean down and go “MWAH!”, trying to comfort him. You also try to do that for each other, except the upset brother usually pushes the hugger away.

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You both say things like, “No, mine!” “No–Emmett” when you want to do something yourself. (Which is pretty much all the time now.) The other phrase we hear a lot is, “I dod it!” which is either “I got it” or “I do it” or “I did it.”

You can both say the final “m” of Malcolm: instead of it sounding like “ma-ma”, now it’s “ma-mam”.

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You both identify each other by name but also point to each other in turn to say that you both have something: “Emmett bib, Malcolm bib.” You also volunteer your brother for odious tasks like diaper changes. “Malcolm, do you want to get your jammies on?” “No, Emmett.” “Emmett, do you want to get your jammies on?” “No, Malcolm.”  {VIDEO}

You both are getting better at taking turns and say your own name to indicate that: “Emmett turn now,” or say brother’s name after you’ve shared the toy. You also know to say “please” (which you do along with your sign for it, which is kind of rubbing your tummy) so that brother will feel like sharing. Often he won’t and someone gets upset.

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There has been a lot of upset lately about bibs and sippy cups. Malcolm, you’ve become very particular about the color of these objects. You really love having the “yey-ow one.” Sometimes it’s the blue sippy cup that you want (“boo one!”) and if brother already has it…meltdown city. Sometimes, Emmett, you’ll share your sippy cup after you’ve drunk some of the milk–you give it to brother and then pick up the other cup and continue drinking. Sneaky! 🙂 We take turns alternating the green and yellow bibs, and awhile back you started to comfort each other that the green bib has “yeyow on it”, which cracks me up.

Our night time routine has changed a bit; it’s gotten a lot longer. Now you insist on “Walk!” (but we insist on carrying you up the stairs lest you slip in your sleepsack), and when we get upstairs, first you go into our room and say, “Night night Christmas tree” and close the door. Then you close the bathroom door and the office door, and one of you usually tries to close your bedroom door (but the other one is behind you doing the same things, so we have to wait for that). We jump you into your cribs, we sing a song, we watch and then say goodnight to the animals (the projector part of your white noise machine). We give you hugs and cuddles and sing another song or two, and then put you down. Then come the “hug. hug.” demands. Sometimes it’s “mama hug” but lately it’s been all “daddy hug” meaning you only want hugs from Daddy. I try to help but you won’t take hugs from me! Poor Daddy ends up spending an extra 15-20 minutes in your room giving you both extra hugs.

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Our nanny (and probably daycare too) has been helping you start learning to put clothes on and off. Malcolm, you can put on socks, and you try to put on shoes, and you can take off your hoodie. Emmett, you still need some help.

Malcolm, you get attached to a lot of objects. Whenever we go to the grocery store (which is several times a week), you grab on to one item that you don’t want to let go of. Sometimes it’s a box of pasta, sometimes it’s a pepper. At home, you particularly love the little basketball that came with the toddler basketball hoop. You carry it around and you bring it in the car with you, and even to your crib at night! Malcolm, you say, “Daddy daddy daddy!” when you want him to pay attention to you.

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This month, we took you to Zoo Lights for the first time. It was crowded and you were cranky. (So were we.) We’ll probably wait a couple years to go again. It was also your third Christmas! You’ve really enjoyed all the Christmas lights and trees and decoration–pointing them out and talking about them.

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Emmett, you in particular have been dancing a little more, and breaking into song. Sometimes the song is recognizable and sometimes it sounds like you’re just shouting gibberish. You generally accompany the singing with swaying and/or bouncing. You’re getting really good at singing the full ABCs and also counting to ten. (Often letters and numbers will be skipped and/or repeated. You are two, after all.)

You’re putting together multiple words and phrases. Last night, Malcolm said, “Malcolm Daddy hug right now.” It’s really neat to see your communication increase and improve so much! Every month there’s so much more to what you can do and say; it’s pretty amazing. 🙂

Big physical development recently–you started actually riding your tricycles by yourself! (Of course, you guys fight over which trike to ride. Sigh.)

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You also have really gotten into jumping, on the ground. You get all hyped up and you just can’t contain your energy! I want to get one of those mini trampolines so you can jump your heart out all the time. 🙂

This month has also seen a dramatic rise in boundary-pushing. Climbing on things you’re not supposed to, touching things you’re not supposed to, standing on things you’re not supposed to…ARGH. You very obviously know you’re not supposed to be doing these things, because you always look at me with that impish grin of “LOOK WHAT I’M DOING EVEN THOUGH I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO! WHEEE!” It can be really frustrating and difficult to stay calm!

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Relatedly, you have sort of learned about ‘sorry’. Sometimes you’ll say, “I sorry” if prompted, and sometimes without prompting.

However, of course we still love you ever so much, and overall we’re still having a great time with you. We love you!