Four! Fall & Winter 2016

We have four year olds!

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Big, giant, articulate four year olds. Who give spontaneous hugs and kisses, who fall to the floor yelling about not enough cheerios in their snacky cup, who scale couches and counters, who can entertain themselves and each other, who sometimes share nicely and who sometimes fight like dogs over jammies or toys, who can recite entire books, and so much more.

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Physical changes: they are definitely taller, and they’re wearing size 9 shoes right now. Their enunciation has improved dramatically–they don’t sound like toddlers anymore; they’re articulate like little kids now. Fully in the “actually” stage.

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No more naps, not even car naps. We found that bedtime was easier without them, and though they definitely get noticeably cranky sometimes in the afternoon, it’s usually fairly smooth to just make it through.

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This summer we did nighttime potty training, which involved us waking them up overnight to go potty while they were still half asleep. We started this process in June, I think, and we gradually changed the times, and in October we stopped waking them up, and they made it through the night! There have been just a few accidents since. Overall a massive improvement in all our lives to have that taken care of!

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Also, the whining. So much whining. Can you hear the whining that was happening in this picture? I’m probably a terrible person for taking a photo, but this child whined nonstop for at least twenty minutes the first day we went up to Salmon Days (a local festival near Seattle). There is also near-daily whining about food, either because someone wants food or wants more food or wants different food. I think one of the theme phrases for right now is “I’m hungry still” in a whine.

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Related to the whining, they get mad at us for things like making them eat their dinner, or telling them not to stand on their chair, or other unreasonable things. They constantly say things like, “You’re being mean! That’s rude! You can’t come to my birthday party!”

However, they also run up and give me spontaneous hugs and kisses. They love playing chase games and tickling games. They say, “You’re my best friend!” M tells me that he’ll always be my baby even when he’s a grownup, because that’s what I tell him, which is too adorable. They are really sweet and wonderful boys like 85% of the time. It’s just that that 15% is SO very annoying.

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Since the last post, we had some good summer adventures, like a million fruit-picking days (fresh raspberries are the best!!!), and two trips to the coast. Our annual 4th of July trip to the Hood River Valley to pick cherries and visit Mt Hood was a success. The boys were a little confused with the snow.Ā  dsc_1091-3_web dsc_1129-9_web

We all went bowling together! They wanted to roll their bowling balls just like us, and they actually did really well. E won the first game! With the bumpers, obviously.

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After admiring the roller coasters at the Clark County Fair and at Oaks Park last year, this year they actually went on those kid roller coasters! M especially loved the Oaks Park one; he went like five times on the last trip there this fall. Here he is with A on the Clark County one. At first, E didn’t want to do the roller coaster, but after he saw M do it, then E wanted to. And he was so excited about it!

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We got in a few trips to Oaks Park too, and they were tall enough for just about all the kiddie rides. The Froghopper was a favorite for all of us.

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Birthday party time!! This year they asked to have their party at JJ Jump.We had a few friends come, and everyone had a good time bouncing and jumping all over the place.

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Thanksgiving headbands required some serious persuading this year. We had our now traditional dinner at the Edgefield buffet, and like always, the boys mainly ate bread and fruit and dessert. M did have some turkey, and I helped E have a couple bites too.

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So much energy these two have!! I’m glad we got that trampoline last Christmas; it’s a great way to bounce out some energy on the dark evenings after daycare.

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I had them help me make Christmas cookies in December. It was super adorable how excited they were to help cut out the shapes, and then decorate them. img_8205_web

This fall we *finally* moved up bedtime to 730, and that’s made a huge difference. (We’dĀ  been getting them up to their room between 815/830, and it was always a giant headache, and it would take them for-e-ver to fall asleep.) Now we are usually done with the bedtime stuff around 8/815. So nice to have more quiet evening time! The boys often stay up a little longer reading in their beds with little LED lights, which is really sweet.

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We paint sometimes, and sometimes they get paint not on the paper. šŸ™‚ dsc_3361_web dsc_3371_web

They love drawing and coloring. They still mainly do scribbles and coloring in patches, not really trying to draw people or objects. They can sort of color within lines. Just recently they started drawing shapes, like all kinds of circles or triangles. Sometimes they include letters, but usually not on their own. M wrote his whole name last month, sort of!

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They love cutting “tickets” with their scissors. Just very recently M got a little obsessed with paper snowflakes, so I’ve helped him make at least a dozen or more. There are tiny pieces of paper littering their table area more days than not.

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Both boys still come into our bed for snuggles in the morning. The catch is that M now comes in overnight too, and burrows into A and falls asleep. Half the time A doesn’t even realize it, but wakes up and finds M there, and then takes M back to his bed. Then M comes back between 6 and 7am, and goes back to sleep. E comes in around 7, and gets mad because he wants to be next to Daddy. M doesn’t want to move even though he’s been there for an hour or more. So there’s an argument, nearly every day. (And it’s always an argument about who gets to be next to Daddy because no one cares about snuggling with Mama.)

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M is totally and completely in love with potty talk. Poo and pee are now some of his favorite vocabulary words. One memorable example was his version of Jingle Bells where he replaced ALL the words with either ‘poo’ or ‘pee.’ Oh, four-year-olds.

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This fall we signed them up for a gymnastics class at the community center. I was worried that they’d just stare the whole time, since that’s what they did in their dance class a couple years ago, but they LOVED gymnastics! They fully participated, did a great job following directions, and really did well on the skills. (I got to visit one class; their nanny was with them for the others and had wonderful reports.)

Speaking of our nanny, she decided to pursue her other job full-time, so we switched to full-time daycare in November. It’s been a transition, for sure, but overall the boys have done pretty well. There’s been whining and crying when we drop them off, but they’re always playing happily when we pick them up. And for the first time, I started hearing them say, “I love school!” and “I want to stay here forever!”

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They’re into books, as always–especially Curious George (that’s them listening to the audio versions!) and Berenstain Bears. Daniel Tiger has waned a bit. For TV, they love Little Einsteins, and sometimes still Super Why and Curious George.

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Seriously. Look at these sweet faces! We love them so much!

Life at 3.5: Spring 2016

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The boys are 3 1/2! And man, we are definitely living with three-year-olds. (Though M says, “I’m thirty-five,” because that’s how much he weighs.) There are a lot of tantrums–most of them are about food, and most of them are when the boys are tired and/or hungry. Sometimes they’re both having a tantrum at the same time. Fun!

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Some very common phrases in our house right now include, a whining “I don’t have that much!” which can refer to anything from a pile of magnatiles or a bowl of blueberries. And “You won’t be my best friend anymore!” which is so hilariously threenager that I can’t even take it. Emmett’s also in a phase of responding to any question with “no” and a cheeky grin. Like, “You guys went to the park today?” “No.” “Did you have fun at the play cafe?” “No.” Silly goose. Oh, and if one of them is mad at us, they yell, “Don’t Talk To Me!” Drama galore!

Potty training is going great. They’re both in undies all day with no problem (they FINALLY are doing well with potty at daycare) and are in pullups overnight. We’re dreading the ordeal of night training, so we’re still procrastinating on that.

We made progress on another big-kid update: On Easter Sunday, we randomly changed the cribs to toddler ‘beds.’ It was a rough transition. The first night was actually full of screaming. (Our fault for not preparing them and doing this so randomly.) In the first week, there was some accidental rolling out of bed, there was some purposeful getting out of bed, there were screams, and giggles, and taking forever to get to sleep. Oy, it was so frustrating! However, now that it’s been a couple months, the misbehavior has subsided. There was a fun few days when they were running out of their room giggling after we’d put them to bed. After we shooed them back, we could hear them plotting: M: “Let’s wait till they go away, then we’ll out of bed!” E: “Okay!” (ARGH, twins!) Thankfully, it was only a few nights.

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Relatedly, the boys are no longer napping at home. (They are still napping at daycare, though.) This shouldn’t be a surprise, with the bed change and their age, but it is not a welcome update. We really needed that daytime break on weekends–for work, for our own naps, for trips to the gym or grocery store. And, you know, for sanity and some freaking silence.

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There is good news though: we’ve started doing a 30-40 minute car nap, which makes the evenings much less cranky. Plus they go to bed a little earlier, and sleep more soundly, and sleep in a bit later.Ā  Fewer bedtime shenanigans too. And of course not having to be home for several early afternoon hours really opens up our schedule for events and outings! I really like not having to live according to a nap schedule.

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Mornings have changed a bit too. Once they could get up easily by themselves, they’d just start playing magnatiles together, or reading. But often they’d start arguing, and pitter patter into our room, saying, “He won’t share!” or “I don’t have that much!” For the last couple months now, the routine is that they get out of bed and come in to our room, crawling up on our bed to snuggle. It’s pretty stinking adorable to open my eyes to Emmett’s or Malcolm’s sweet face with a big huge grin. Plus it means we can be lazy and stay in bed longer.

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I’ve been taking the boys to the local library branch every couple weeks. They love picking up piles of random books and piling onto my lap to read them, and then checking them out. And of course they like returning them into the book drop! I’ve been taking snapshots of the haul each time to keep a record. It’s funny how they’ve gotten really attached to some of the books. And some of the books are really odd, like one they loved was Pat-a-Cake Baby…which I swear was written on some kind of drug trip.

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We have a growing (alternately very hip and very unhip) playlist of mostly ‘grown-up’ music that the boys are into right now. Which is great, because it’s all from our own music libraries, so I like the songs. (As opposed to, say, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Spider, or god forbid, There’s a Hole in My Bucket. WORST SONG EVER.) However, when I inevitably find myself singing along to Chandelier or Blank Space, the boys say, No singing, Mama!

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After their mind was blown by Under Pressure (this was a few months ago now), they made “microphones” out of chalk holders and they like to “sing” into them. Emmett is always “Fred Mercury” and Malcolm is “David Bowie” or just “David.” Nowadays they sing whatever–sometimes gibberish, sometimes one of these songs (this past week it’s been Shake It Off), sometimes a Red Yarn song (he’s a local kid’s musician). Oh, and now they get to play with the real-looking Rock Band microphone too, which they think is amazing. They plug it in to the heating vent in the living room and carry it around the room to sing.

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For a few months, they forgot about their magnatiles, but they are firmly obsessed again. (Which means lots of issues about who has more/not enough.) And they’re really into puzzles right now. We have a few sets (thanks Grandparents!), and they’re able to do them all by themselves now. It’s really cute to hear them parroting things we’ve said about helping them match pieces.

I want to be sure to acknowledge that the annoying stuff is not the whole picture. Yes, the typical 3-year-old behavior sometimes makes me want to scream with frustration and impatience (like getting ready for bedtime, UGH the worst)…but there are a lot of wonderful things about this age too.

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We’ve been doing some baking together occasionally. On Valentine’s Day we all made pink chocolate chip cookies. They did such a great job at pouring and stirring and scooping…and eating the batter. šŸ™‚ They ADORE ‘smoolies’ [smoothies] and helping me make them–putting things in the blender, pushing the button. The other day we made apple carrot muffins, and they poured all the ingredients in for me and helped stir. DSC_7410_WEB

It surprises me how much they can do. I keep thinking they’re so little and not yet ready for fine-motor manual tasks…but they’re quite agile and capable. We need to remember to allow them to push and explore their physical boundaries.

They still love helping and want to help with everything. (This was true a year ago too–but now they can actually do stuff!). About half the time, of course, that helping comes in the form of a tantrum, like the time I got a spoon out of the drawer to make the oatmeal, and then Emmett started hopping and whiny crying, “I wanted to do it!” Being psychic would be helpful for living with three-year-olds.

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Other cute mis-pronounciations include decker-bocker bus (double-decker bus), hot tog (hot dog), wallermelon (watermelon), and Burger Bill (Burgerville). Oh, and the other day I was talking to them about what they can be when they grow up. Emmett wants to be a cooker (a cook) and Malcolm wants to be a fireman.

We started a sticker chart this spring! Originally it was to help with naptime and bedtime, to convince them to stay in their beds. That basically didn’t happen at all. Oh well. We also gave stickers for things like going potty on their own, bussing their table, brushing their teeth on their own. When they filled a whole row of stickers, they got a reward–an extra episode of tv, or time to play iPad games. It’s pretty much the cutest thing watching them get a sticker and put it on their chart. Sadly, the novelty has since worn off…which I don’t mind too much, actually. If they don’t really care about the stickers but they’re still somewhat motivated or working on those items, then that’s still a win.

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The best part of three-year-olds is that there is lots of laughter and silliness. They still play together all the time, and it’s happy and peaceful at least 85% of the time. (They do fight over toys or how much each of them have.) (And sometimes the silliness isn’t appropriate, like when it’s bedtime.) But they LOVE playing chase with us, just running in circles in the house or in the garage. They love being tickled, and pretending that I’m a monster trying to get them, or any other random silly game I make up. They like directing things too: “I’m the teacher, you’re the kid.” “Say, ‘I’m going to get you!'” “You chase me!”

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And there is so much love and affection. I already mentioned the morning cuddles. When I pick them up from daycare, they literally run over to me ready to tackle me with hugs. It is the best. AND when someone comes back from being gone or away, they will say, “I missed you!” with big happy grins and hugs. Again, the best. They also are still fairly polite, and ask each other to do things, or one will go get/give something to his brother as a favor. They still like to hold hands with us, and they still want to be carried or get a shoulder ride (which is easier than carrying with arms…but hauling a 35-pound preschooler is rough on the shoulders). They still want plenty of hugs and snuggles at bedtime. They’re really so very sweet.

So yeah, overall, this is a really neat age. They understand so much, they can really communicate, they can do lots of things by themselves, and they get excited about so many things. Like seeing an airplane or a MAX train, or eating fresh berries in their morning oatmeal, or coloring pictures for family members. We’re really enjoying these sweet boys right now! ā¤ ā¤

Three!!

Dear sweet babies who are now most definitely not babies,

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You are THREE!! Three years old! I can’t believe it. You are self-described “big kids” now.

The six months between 2.5 and 3 were the most fun yet, I think. You love learning and doing things, and it’s making life a lot more interesting and fun. (There have definitely been frustrating and difficult things, too, don’t worry.) {Since this post is so late, I’m including the rest of 2015, so a month or so after you actually turned three.}

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You basically talk like big kids now. You know tons of words and you put together very long and fairly complex sentences, but you thankfully still have your toddler dialect. It’s so cute listening to you talk. Like, lately when going potty, sometimes you say you want some privacy, but you pronounce it “probacy.” You are still good about saying Excuse Me and Thank You. When you’re mad at us, you shout and stomp, “No Thank You!!” and, “Dat’s not nice!” and sometimes, “You need to go to timeout!” and often, “Don’t talk to me!” (I swear we don’t say that to them.)

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You have grown so much! Each of you grew an inch and a half between June and December, and are both right around 36 inches tall (Malcolm, you’re still between 1/2 and 1 inch taller). Malcolm, you also feel a lot heavier, but according to our scale, you weigh 32 pounds and Emmett, you’ve been 30-31 pounds.

Your manual dexterity has dramatically increased and improved. You want to do pretty much everything we do. I love seeing you concentrate doing these kind of fine-motor skills activities. You practice writing, you use stamps and paints.

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Potty training!! This is a big one. We’d been dreading dealing with this, and we knew at least that we wanted to wait after our big trip in September. So we both read a potty training book and scheduled our first no-diapers weekend for the long Columbus Day weekend in October. It definitely took more three days for things to ‘click’, and we felt like we would never be able to leave our kitchen, let alone our house, ever again. Thankfully that wasn’t the case–by the following week you were making clear progress. And a month later you were doing well enough to get you in big-boy undies. One of you can make it through nap with no pullup, and one of you can sometimes. We haven’t tackled night-time potty training at all yet, partly because it sounds like a ton of work and energy, and partly because you’re still sleeping in your cribs.

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Speaking of cribs, you finally learned to climb out of them. Gulp! However, because you are awesome and we are so lucky, you don’t climb out very often. So we haven’t pulled the trigger about going to big-kid beds yet. We’re crossing our fingers that the transition will go smoothly whenever we do that this year. You’re also still using pacifiers for nap and bedtime. We will definitely transition away from those soon!

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You’ll not only willingly hold hands when we ask, but you also sometimes want all of us to hold hands, and ask for it. ā¤ ā¤ You’re getting even better at hugs too (when you deign to give them, that is; sometimes you say, “I already gave you one before” or “Not right now, I’m too busy.”)–Malcolm, you like to actually put your arms around us, and you do a little hand pat. It feels magical and I swear it cures all ills. šŸ™‚ You will also say things like, “I missed you,” and “I’m so happy to see you.” (That’s what I always say when I pick you up at daycare or come back after being gone for awhile.)

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Your third birthday party was fantastic! We rented the toddler gym at a community center, and a bunch of friends enjoyed playing, doing crafts, and eating snacks and cake!

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Now that you aren’t babies, we gave ourselves the gift of de-babying the house (or starting to, at least). We gave away the changing table!!! Here’s what our living room (which is also the playroom and your ‘dressing room’) now looks like. IMG_6587_WEB

We also stopped using sippy cups and baby dishes. Instead, we use baby utensils and Corelle bowls and small plates (they are shatterproof). The dishwasher has to run every day now, but it’s such a relief to not deal with the soak bin that had lived in the sink for three whole years. You still drink a bit of milk in the evenings, and we use either plastic cups or mugs. šŸ™‚

Things you eat: as many snacks as we will allow you. You would probably eat crackers all day every day if we let you. And you’d probably want ‘cheesy pasta’ (mac & cheese) every night for dinner. But we rotate things and limit the snacks…which of course you protest. You love frozen peas and corn and blueberries, you adore “smoolies” (smoothies). Malcolm, you’re still more open-minded to trying new things, and Emmett, you’re still a bit picky about new things or certain elements (like if you see “green things” or tomato bits in something, you want us to take it out or you won’t eat it). IMG_6599_WEB

Your creativity has blossomed even more. You create toys and ideas and play situations. You pretend to be teachers and if we try to do something or say something, they say, “No! We the teachers!”Ā  Awhile ago, you watched an episode of Daniel Tiger that featured ballet, ice skating, and the Nutcracker, and once it was over, you both popped up and created ‘ice skates’ out of empty oatmeal canisters.

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You still love music, and playing your baby guitar and ukelele, and now sometimes you make up your own songs to the tunes of existing ones. Here’s a moment captured from October:

“There was only time to watch half an episode of Daniel Tiger before bedtime. Not surprisingly, M and E got pretty upset when we turned off the TV in the middle of the show. M eventually picked up the ukulele, took it over to baby couch, sat down and improvised the following song (roughly to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”):

I was trying to play with Mama and Daddy /
But they wasn’t listening /
I wanted to watch the whole thing /
With Katerina and O the Owl and Daniel Tiger on the playground /
I wanted to watch it all day”

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You are learning letters and spelling! Some must be from school, and some is from playing with the foam letters during bathtime, and some is definitely from SuperWhy (which is your newest favorite show). You know the upper-case letters, and you can spell out words! Malcolm, you pronounce the letter “L” as “ello”, which is freaking adorable.

“Why?” About two weeks before you turned three, your “why” buttons got switched on. Everything is “why? why? why?”

“Mama, are we at the gas station?” “Yes.” “Why?” “Well, because we need gas.” “Mama, are we going home now?” “Yes.” “Why?”

“Mama, what’s dat?” “That’s a {insert random object.}” “Why?” “Um….because that’s what it’s called.”

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You still do the, “Talk about it.. still talk about it.” You love learning about things and then hearing about them over and over again. And over and over again. Then you remember things from previous conversations and command us to talk about that too. (Fire engines were a big one recently. Any time we see or hear one, you say, “Talk about fire engines.” and I go through the spiel.)

Putting those two together–the reading-aloud process now often takes twice (or thrice!) as long, because there are endless questions and statements and retellings and requests for repetitions as we proceed through the book.

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You’ve finally gotten into artwork! You are interested in using stamps and inkpads, and finally paint. You were psyched to paint pumpkins for Halloween, and recently you asked to paint on paper…which morphed into painting hands. šŸ™‚ You’re getting better at coloring and seem to really enjoy that too.

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You have a sense of the past, but it’s all “yesterday”. “Yesterday we got our Christmas tree!” as in several weeks ago. “Yesterday we went swimming,” as in several months ago. You have really good memories, and we are often surprised at the connections you make between happenings of the past and the present. There was one random evening this summer that we were walking outside and there was a skywriter. We sat on the side of the road and watched it write for awhile (it said Cool Moon? šŸ™‚ ) and then like a week later, on another walk, one of you said something about the writing in the sky. Because we passed the same spot that we had watched it.

The holidays this year have been SO much fun, and filled with wonder and cuteness. Halloween was fantastic and so was Christmas.

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You’ve gotten even sweeter about helping each other. If one of you is upset, sometimes your brother will offer a special toy, or a hug. Often, you don’t want it, but it’s still so amazing to see the empathy that you have for one another. Both of you do the same if one of us gets an ouchie–you’ll say, Are you okay, Mama? or you’ll come over and give us a hug.

You are now officially travelers!! Your first plane ride and longest trip to date went really well in September. We are really excited for another family plane trip in 2016.

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Oh–this summer toothbrushing finally stopped being such a battle. Hallelujah. Sometimes we still have to chase you down, but you willingly open up and let us brush. Occasionally you’ll try to brush, but generally you’re playing with something and we’re contorting to reach the toothbrush to all those little teeth.

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Like all toddlers, you are obsessed with construction equipment. In Washington DC, your favorite part was probably finding and watching any and all tractors, diggers, cranes, excavators, bulldozers, etc.

Overall, you’re way more independent. You can bike or scooter the whole way without help, and at the playground you can climb on things without us worrying or fretting. You can open doors and cabinets, and fetch clothes, and even open one of the baby gates (ack!).

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As always, you go in waves of book obsessions. Here are some that you’ve liked a lot this year: Little Blue Truck, AlphaBlock/CountaBlock, Good Night New York/Oregon, This Book Just Ate My Dog, Chick N’ Pug/Chick N Pug Meet the Dude, What a Wonderful World, Daniel Tiger books, Don’t Let Pigeon Drive the Bus/Stay Up Late, Little Red Truck, The Little Dump Truck.

I’ve heard lots of tough things about three-year-olds…and we’re certainly seeing plenty of tantrums and power struggles and enhanced whining. But the increased personality and physical abilities and sense of humor that we’re already seeing is definitely worth the hard times. We love you so much!

love, mama

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. šŸ™‚

“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:Ā  “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”Ā  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. šŸ™‚

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. šŸ™‚ 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!!!!!!

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.”Ā  {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! šŸ™‚ 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. šŸ™‚

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. šŸ™‚

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!

Two Years Old!!

Dear sweet babies,

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Ok ok, you are now officially, definitely, not babies anymore. You are TWO! I am trying not to refer to you as babies as much, at least not in public. I guess I have to just call you ‘boys’ or ‘kids’ now. Sniff.

Emmett, you are 34.5 inches tall and you weight 28 pounds. Malcolm, you are 35.5 inches tall and weight 29 1/2 pounds!

There isn’t much physical development or change this month; it’s all mental/verbal. You are picking up SO MANY WORDS! Almost every time we say something new, you repeat it back. Wow! (This means mama better start watching her potty mouth.)

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So there are too many new words to count/keep track, but some of the memorable ones are: “laundry”, “sink”, “shoe bin”, “there it goes”, “almost”, “where did it go?” (complete with hand gestures) and “hug” (cue melting mama heart) and “underwater” (there’s a single page in a random magazine that you both became a little obsessed with).Ā  Malcolm, you like to shriek and scream out loud for fun sometimes, and Emmett, you shake your finger and say, “Shh, no scream.” Malcolm, you also like to call after your brother by name (“No, Emmett!”), which is pretty cute. We’ve had pumpkin soup a few times and you guys love it, and the way you say it cracks us up too. šŸ™‚

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Your singing has increased and improved; you also hum too (especially Emmett, and you generally do some swaying back and forth while you hum and/or sing).

With all the new words you’re picking up, you’re really into repeating–meaning that when you say something, we repeat it back to you. Sometimes we can’t figure it out, and you shake your head and say, “no” and then say it again until we figure it out. [One that gave us a lot of trouble is Malcolm’s rendition of “dark outside.” It sounds like “daaahhk…..ah-lash.” Always with the pause in the middle.] Basically any time you say something, you want us to repeat it/confirm it for you.

Another fun example is when Malcolm tripped and Emmett, like, re-enacted it and told us about it. You pointed to the spot on the couch and then to your own head, and said something like, “ouch.” You did that whole little routine like three thimes.

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A huge thing this month has been helping. You bring things to the sink, put clothes in the hamper, hand us things. (One day you were coloring with the window crayons, and then Malcolm, you started cleaning it up!) You also love to say, “Help me” but what you actually mean is, that we let you help us. šŸ™‚ So you want to ‘assist’ with tasks like opening or closing the microwave, or retrieving snacks from the kitchen.

Your daycare teachers LOVE you–they always rave at how helpful you are, and that you always help tidy up and put toys away. They’re also noticing that you’re talking a lot more…I imagine that you may not talk as much there as at home, but it sounds like you’re getting more and more comfortable at daycare to keep opening up.

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You’re also getting better at asking to share things between you, and actually sharing them! There is definitely still drama and tears and mini tantrums, but sometimes one of you asks and the other hands it over!

Speaking of sharing and/or tantrums, a lot of them have been stemming from us making you stop doing something, or handing something to us that you shouldn’t be playing with. And this month, we’ve figured out that if we come at it a different way, the result is totally different. (Well, a lot of times. Ok, sometimes. ) Like one time, Malcolm, you picked up a few coins that were on my desk. And I started to try to get it out of your hands and of course you got upset. So then I said, “Malcolm, put it on the desk please. Can you put it down?” And a moment later, you did. Totally calm and cool with it. Sometimes it’s hard for me to really think and not just react, but seeing what a huge difference it makes is a good reminder to do it the right way. I need to be a good example to you in patience and politeness. And it makes life so much nicer for all of us!

Something that does *not* make life so nice is the increased frequency of “no” and “mine” being said in various situations. Deep breath.

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One thing that’s blown my mind a bit this month is that you’re demonstrating your memory–that you actually have and use it. (It’s like you’re actual people or something!) You can go pick out a book that we ask for by name! And awhile back, you dropped/threw a couple crayons into a living room floor vent, and every once in awhile you will suddenly go over there and drop down on your tummies to look into the vent, and start shouting, “UH OH! UH OH! UH OH!” over and over again.

In the ultimate twist of modern times, you sometimes have to tell us “NO PHONE” when we’re hanging out with you. :/ (But you do still try to grab at our phones when you see them, and you know how to ‘open’ the phone screen…)

Poor Emmett, you must be having some nightmares or bad dreams this month. Some nights you suddenly wake up crying loudly and inconsolably. None of the normal things help you feel better–you slap away your pacifier, you don’t even want hugs (but of course if we try to put you back into your crib you get more upset again). It’s so sad and pitiful! Usually Daddy is the only one who can finally help you calm down. You point at me to go away. Poor baby!

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This month you’ve been playing pretend a lot, and it is fascinating! We didn’t really know that you knew how to do that. (You’ve probably done plenty at daycare, I guess.) We finally set up the play kitchen that your grandparents got you late last year, and you played with it ALL DAY the first day. Right away you started pouring water (from what I think is probably supposed to be a coffeepot) and refilling it from the little sink. You hand one of us a cup and pretend to refill it over and over again.

You like to “stir stir stir” the pan on the stove. You’ve heard us play pretend with our phones enough that you can play with the pretend phone too–you started saying, “Ring ring! Hello? Uh huh okay bye.” Super cute!

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You’ve loved playing with the broom and mop for awhile, but now you’ve combined that with your love of helping, so now you try to sweep into the dustpan and then take it over to the trash can to throw away the trash! And sometimes you even work together, one of you manning the broom, the other with the dustpan. Again–super cute! (This kind of play can be very convenient–one day I let you help with scooping your breakfast oatmeal and some got spilled, so you spent the next fifteen minutes sweeping it up!)

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A couple months ago we started bringing books in the car with us, in hopes that it would be some good entertainment for you. This month you finally started paying attention to that and now you frequently read while in the car (not to mention that you make specific requests for which books we should bring for you!). You love it so much that you demand the domelight to be on if we’re driving while it’s dark out. I don’t love keeping that light on, but I do love seeing you excited about reading no matter where you are!

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And how could I forget Halloween?! We found some very cute costumes at the resale and then Emmett suddenly came down with a fever on Halloween afternoon. (It later turned out to be hand foot mouth…and Malcolm got it a few days later…that was not my favorite week.) But I took you out, Malcolm. We went to a little neighborhood event and then I took you to a few houses to trick or treat. You were very timid and also confused (not surprising–it’s a pretty odd tradition!), but you seemed to like reaching into the bowls of candy, and you even sort of started saying Trick or Treat. It was really fun! Next year’s Halloween is going to be so crazy, I bet, but this one turned out to be nicely mellow and sweet.

Oh and awesomely, I’ve trained you to know that the pile of half-price candy in your Halloween bucket is a ‘mama snack.’ šŸ™‚ (I can’t imagine that will be the case next year….)

I’ve been a little (a lot) nervous about what two will bring…but the last few months have truly been so fun and interesting. I imagine that we will have some tough times ahead with two 2 year olds, but now I’m feeling better about it–I think we’ll have plenty of good times too. I’m excited to watch you keep learning! You’re really entertaining little dudes!

Just as long as I can still give you big hugs and call you my babies. šŸ™‚

We love you!!

love, mama