Thursday, June 04, 2009


I can't believe how much Sam has been talking lately (at 2 yrs + 2.5 mos). His language skills are just exploding. Gus is also a little talker but Sam is our chatterbox at the moment. We drove over to the art museum in Sonoma today to see the Rembrandt etching exhibition there (although it was their first trip to an art museum, the boys were not impressed, but then the etchings averaged 3"x4" so who could even see them?), and on the way over D amused himself with teaching Sam the phrase, "Sam little parrot!" Which he is. But still. It's undignified, don't you think?

The latest utterance to crack me up came from Sam this morning. I was fixing their breakfast (instant waffles with peanut butter and bananas smeared on top) and heard Sam muttering something a few feet away. I looked over and saw him energetically attempting to scale the stove, while simultaneously shaking his head and saying, "No climb up! No climb up!"

When I finished snorting my coffee, I agreed, "No, Sam, no climb up!" and he obligingly quit trying to actually climb up. But I couldn't not laugh, though I tried. I was picturing the classic angel and devil on each shoulder -- "Climb up, Sam!" "No, no, no climb up!"

Sam cries and hurls himself on the floor at the drop of a hat these days, too. Gus still has a trace more equanimity, though I fear it's just a matter of time until Gus enters the crying fit Olympics as well. However, Sam seems to be getting in his two-year molars at the moment, so maybe it's just teething pains.

It's hell being two, isn't it? But oh, they're funny little ducks!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Holy Jumping Linguists, Batman!

So Sam is wearing his glasses more or less all the time, now. (I want to point out that at the beginning of his wearing glasses, I thought this day would NEVER arrive. I swear, it was like training a cat to wear glasses. Sam had about as much interest in and comprehension of the reasons for his wearing glasses as one of our felines would have. Or possibly not as much.)

I read somewhere that when infants and toddlers who have wretched vision and desperately need glasses actually start wearing them, their language skills and coordination improve as if by magic. Well, I'm here to testify. Sam is Mister Linguist now, and Gus is only a hair behind him. I frequently call both of them "Mr. Parrot" and "Mr. Echo," since their favorite trick is to echo the last three syllables or so of whatever I've just said. A couple of weeks ago, Gus was puttering around my feet and whining "Joots! Joots!" while I was trying to juggle three or four tasks -- one of them being pouring some juice for him and Sam. So of course D chose that moment to show up and want me to do something or other for him and I snapped out, "Just let me give Gus his juice before he has a coronary," and Gus dutifully echoed, "Coh-woh-na-way!" Which cracked me up and put an end to my snappishness for the moment.

But Sam has the Mister Linguist title for now. Earlier this week, D decided to finally cover our fireplace opening completely so that the boys could no longer throw their toys -- and clothes, and juice cups, and Sam's glasses, and anything else that would fit -- in there, necessitating Mom and Dad to drag it out. He got it covered and locked down while the boys were napping. The first thing Sam said when he got up from his nap and saw it was, "Daddy do! Daddy do! Fireplace!" Both of the boys puttered around it for a bit, trying in vain to stick some of their little toys in there. Finally Sam burst out with a heartfelt, "Why?! Daddy, why do dat?!" His very first question, and his first relatively sophisticated sentence! Wow... but I do wish it hadn't been so sad-sounding. He still brings it up occasionally, making it clear that he hasn't given up on the issue: "Daddy, why do dat? Fireplace! Why?" Poor kiddo.

Not to be outdone, tonight Gus spontaneously started singing, "Goodnight ladies... goodnight ladies..." echoing the song from "The Music Man" (which they are currently enamoured of -- the Robert Preston version, of course). But then, last night Sam started trying to sing the "Ice cream!" barbershop quartet from that show, with Gus chiming in.

As for the jumping... Gott in Himmel, the jumping. I think Gus has Olympic aspirations. Both of them have been jumping for some time now, most recently from the 6" thick couch cushions, which they drag from the couch and strew across the floor like water lilies. (Note to self: Self, NEVER EVER do anything in front of the boys that you don't want them to do right back at you, and forever! It was more than a little silly to pull the couch cushions off the couch where they could see you, wasn't it, eh? Remember that the next time you want to sit on the couch and have to round up all the cushions before you can do it.)

Ahem. As I was saying. This evening Gus climbed up on the couch (with couch cushion still on -- maybe 22" off the floor) and leapt off it like a gazelle. Distance achieved: about three feet. He landed with a thump but on his feet, no worries (except my ensuing heart attack). Gus also has taught himself to do a somersault (his term: "sowersaw") from the fireplace hearth (about 2" tall) onto the rug. (Sam is still working on his somersault, but I'm sure he'll achieve it eventually, egged on by his more daring brother.)

As for me, I'm constantly torn whether or not to let them do things that I fear will necessitate a trip to ER. I do not want them to have needless fears or be hesitant about trying new things. And as a shining example of what not to do, I have my own mother, who was constantly forbidding me to do relatively safe things that most other kids got to do, and who did her earnest best to make a fearful emotional cripple out of me -- all with the best of intentions. (Sigh. Thanks, Mom.) As a result of my own upbringing, my interior monologue when the boys are jumping around is something like, "Eeeeeek! Ohmygod, he's going to fall! And crush his skull on the hearth! And die! Oh, wait, it's okay, he landed, he's all right ... oh noooo mister bill he's doing it agaaaaaaiiin! Aaiieeeee!" I try to let as little of this out as possible ... but it does pop out here and there. Yikes.

And yet, nervous as the jumping makes me, I'm also proud that they're so intrinsically daring and happy that they're having fun. I think I'm learning that a large part of Momhood is learning when to keep your mouth shut.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

First sentence

Well, some decade I am going to complete The Blog Post That Ate Manhattan (otherwise known as chronicling the boyos' second birthday party and otherwise just generally Catchng Up) but I cannot seem to dig myself out from under the giant stack of undone things around here, so I am going to content myself at the moment with one little anecdote:

Tonight, D and I were tag-team diapering Sam on the changing table, while Gus lounged around in his crib, waiting for us to get to more important things (i.e., Gus). (D and I usually diaper the boys together if we are both home, since they are INCREDIBLY "roll-y" and fairly uncooperative about holding still for such things. And if they are poopy and rolly at the same time ... well, 'nuff said.) D was clapping Sam's hands together and I was chatting up Sam in an effort to keep him from howling (about what, I don't remember -- Sam's version of the Terrible Twos is to cry at the drop of a hat, usually about something that Gus wouldn't even notice), and I said, "Sam-sam! Can you say, 'Mama loves me?'"

And from the crib behind us came a gravelly little toddler voice: "Mama ... uuuuhhhves .... me."

I thought my heart would burst right out of my chest, but of course D hadn't even heard Gus, so I coaxed him into saying it again. Gus turned his head sideways at first and was coy about repeating it, but at last he grinned, and then said again:

"Mama. Uuuhhhhhves. Me!"

Oh, my lord yes, baby. Yes, I do. I do, I do.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Boys with mustard

I'm working on a post (in response to my Internet friend V's gentle nagging -- hi, V! I'll write you in the next day or so) to celebrate the boyos' SECOND BIRTHDAY! Woo hoo! In the meantime, here's a recent pic, taken in the farmers' field beside our house -- of Sam and Gus with mustard and daffodils.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The best boyos in the world

Gus, after falling asleep in the pac n' play and then being carried to bed:
Sam, with his new and dearly beloved zebra toy:

Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Have I mentioned that D is something of a baseball addict? For Christmas, he asked for a certain collection of old baseball game footage, and he has been happily plowing through watching the various games since then. The boyos, of course, are fascinated by TV, and specifically by anything on TV that Daddy will actually sit down and watch, since Daddy isn't much of a TV watcher in general.

Tonight, as D was attempting to load the baseball DVD into the player and then get the electronics cabinet door shut without trapping any of 20 questing little fingers (an aerobic activity all by itself!), Sam suddenly started saying, "Beezball! Beeeeezbawww! Beez! Baaww! Beezball!" (Sometimes the "ll" in "baseball" makes an appearance, sometimes not.)

I thought D was going to bust something, he swelled up with so much pride! His boy! Saying "baseball!" At 21 months!

Of course, when Sam saw what a reaction he got from Daddy, he said it all night after that. It was pretty funny, and just got funnier every time he said it. You know, we wouldn't want to forget we were watching a baseball game or anything .... Baseball? The devil you say! Why, I thought that was curling! Thanks for the update, Sam!

I thought Gus might also pick up "beezball" right away, since they often do that with each other, but although we coaxed him, he wasn't quite ready to commit himself. However, when I had Gus on the changing table this evening, I asked him, "Who likes baseball?" And without any prompting at all, he shot back, "Dada!"

Seems like our boys know the score! (All right, I hear those groans out there. Sorry, couldn't resist!)

To make up for it, I'll include this shot of our boys being rambunctious little pills ... and on the strength of that, wish everyone a Happy 2009!

Pee! Pee!

This will be a short one since I MUST get to bed, but I have to record what Sam showed me this morning. I got them an adorable little book called "GALLOP" for Christmas (well, two copies, one of which resides in the closet until the other one gets torn up), which shows "moving" horses and dogs and such when you turn the pages. This morning Sam pointed at the "p" in "gallop" and crowed, "Pee! Pee!" I was floored. They're only 21 months old -- are they supposed to notice things like that? I checked him two or three times with other p's in the book, and yes, he knows what a p looks like. Well, ya know (scratching my head in wonderment since this forty-six-year-old mum didn't learn the alphabet until the freakin' first week of first grade) -- who knew?

Of course, Gus had to get in on the action, since Sam was getting attention, and he showed me the "A" in "gallop" and said, "Eh! Eh!" With a little coaxing then, both of them pointed at the "o" and informed me that it was indeed an "o."

Oh yes, and last night Sam showed me on their little toy piano that the opening note of "Baa Baa Black Sheep" (as played in this household, anyway) is a "C." I asked him to play the song, and he couldn't play the whole thing, but he hit first the middle C, then the C below that, then the C above. No fiddling around with notes in between, just the octaves. Which really, I found rather astounding all by itself. Gus is the one who wants to sing along with their "Trebellina" DVD, but I think Sam is the one who is paying attention to the music lessons! (It's funny -- although there are exceptions, singers are notoriously poor musicians as such. Perhaps we have one singer here and one good musician. Or, maybe just two kids who like to fool around with music a little.)

Oh, and their vocabularies are progressing by leaps and bounds. We were practicing drinking water tonight after dinner (if they get soaked, I will change their clothes for bed anyway), and with a little prompting, Sam actually lisped, "Mooooorrre ... preeeee...." (aka "more please"). I would not have expected any of this six weeks ago. And they pick words up at the drop of a hat. It's a good thing I have mostly quit cussin' now!

On the downside, Gus is quite determined never, ever to fall asleep in his own crib again. This causes difficulties, as one might imagine. I can't do the "cry it out" thing (even if I could stomach it) since the boys share a room. If I remove Gus from their room, well, then it's no longer "cryng it out" since what he wants is to leave the room! But it seems unfair to subject Sam to up to an hour of brother's wailing (not to mention it eventually makes Sam cry too, and then I have TWO crying toddlers with healthy lungs and a determination to be heard in Philadelphia, which makes ME want to cry!). I've thought about moving Gus's crib into our office and letting him cry it out there, but (a) it's not his room, which is the whole point, and (b) I think they will shortly learn how to climb out of their cribs, and our office is decidedly NOT babyproofed. And I don't have time to babyproof it at the moment.

So what is happening now is that Sam goes straight to bed, but Gus goes into the pac n' play in the living room, there to "read" his books and listen to soft music until he eventually gives it up oh, maybe half an hour later -- or more -- during which time the living room is Off Limits and Adult Time has gone out the window. And then when he does fall asleep, I have to transfer him to bed, and he has to be 28 pounds now.

So this is doable, but hardly ideal. Any suggestions on how to deal with this that do not involve "cryng it out"? I'd love to hear them!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Good day, Moon!

We are up to our ears around here in board-type baby books. Oh, and up to our hip-waders in partial baby books -- that used to be part of whole baby books -- and bits and pieces of various women's clothing catalogs and crystal catalogs and flower seed catalogs that have been "loved to death" by our eager first readers. If it has a picture of any sort on it, Gus and Sam are all over it. Frequently, a silence will descend and I'll go tearing from the kitchen into the living room to see if the kiddos have escaped down the hall or even (who knows!) out the front door or something -- only to find the boys sitting down quietly with books or catalogs in hand. The fact that they can't actually read yet certainly hasn't deterred them. They observe that big people read, so therefore, so do they!

We also read to them quite a bit -- several books a day. (Since each book typically takes five or ten minutes to read, it's not that big a deal.) I've noticed lately that many of these children's books feature the moon, and we have ended up talking a little bit about the moon to them. But neither D nor I had done anything like take them out into the back yard and point it out to them.

As it turns out, it's not necessary to point out the moon to Sam and Gus -- because they pointed it out to us! Yesterday I saddled up the boys with their adorable little T*rget teddy bear backpack/harnesses and took them for a walk over the acre in back of our house. We were making slow progress (listen, with one of them tugging in each direction at all times, you can bet it's slow progress!), when suddenly Sam pointed up at the sky and shouted, "Moo! Moo!"

Yup. Sam was pointing straight at the half-moon, visible in the blue afternoon sky. Gus looked up and then also pointed at the moon, chanting along with Sam, "Mmmmmmmoooooo! Mmmmmooooo!" (Gus needs a bit of a run-up to get the "m" sound out of his mouth. I need not tell you how adorable that is, though it does elongate our conversations a bit.) Then just for variety, Gus pointed at a crow winging its way past and gave a very passable, and loud, imitation of a crow's caw.

I was really kind of astounded. How on earth did they make the leap of cognition that the little stick drawing in their children's books meant that white thing up in the sky? I told D about it when he got home yesterday and he flat-out didn't believe me until he took the boys out separately and tested them. Yes, at nearly 21 months, they can indeed identify the moon on command. Kind of cool!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Uh, doo, three, dubeejin

Sam first learned to "count" back in late June while my dad was here, and of course Gus followed right behind. At that time the boyos had a little toy elephant that once had "talked," but they pulled the string a little too enthusiastically and all conversation with the elephant ceased. However, the string still hung out enticingly, and Sam in particular loved to grab this thing by the string and swing it around his head like a medieval morningstar, or else whack things on the ground with it (are there polo-playing genes in our background?).

But then Grandpa showed Sam a better trick. My dad would lean forward and hold it out in a confidential manner. He'd swing it by the string and count, "One, two, three!" At "three," he would throw it up about a foot in the air so that it spun two or three times, and then catch it again. Sam and Gus would cackle in amazed wonderment like a gaggle of little guinea hens, and rush forward trying to be first to grab the amazing flying, counting elephant! Sam usually won the scramble, since he was more aggressive than Gus at that time, and he was first to pick up on the tossing and counting: "Doo, doo, dee!"

I was all excited at the time, thinking he was really learning to count. But I should have known better. "Doo, doo, dee!" was about as far as they got with the elephant (which since has disappeared -- I think perhaps it fell into the litterbox and met with an untimely displacement into the garbage). Both Gus and Sam have since learned to "count" on their fingers, or they will "count" birds eating on our porch, or really any damned thing that comes in multiples. But I don't think there's any real concept of counting -- only that you are supposed to point at things and make certain prescribed sounds. (Gus's preferred sounds at the moment resemble Japanese a little: "Doe, doe, doe, doe, dojo!")

But today, Sam made a breakthrough -- well, maybe. At least it sounded better. I have noticed before that often right after their naps, they are quite chatty. Today I had Sam up on the changing table after his nap, and he was fooling around with a string of four plastic pop beads while I changed his diaper. Suddenly I heard, "Uh, doo, three, ssnrgle!"

Okay, I don't know what the last sound was. Something vague. But "three" was clear as a bell! My head popped up and I said, "Sam, what did you say?" He said calmly, "Doe, three! Three!"

Of course, then everything was "three!" for the rest of the afternoon, which put paid to the idea that he thought it had any meaning. But still ... you know, really, at this point I'll accept anything that sounds like a real word! I'm not particular any more! And Sam can now say "three!"

In the boys' defense, they've had a bit of a word breakthrough in the last few days. Suddenly, they are rushing up to me with their (five million) board books, jamming them into my leg or my tush, and pointing emphantically at something in the book: "Cat! Dog! Baby! Dada!" they tell me. "Mama! Ba ba! Dog, dog! Woof woof!" Sam startled me a few days ago by stabbing his finger at one porcine cartoon by Sandra Boynton and announcing, "Pig! Pig!" Yup, it was a pig, though I had never heard him say it before that, and he has taken every opportunity since to point out pigs. He can even identify Dr. Seuss's pigs, which look more like a mangy pink camel. I never knew there were so many pigs around. They show up in children's lit right and left. I hope this adoration for pigs wanes a bit as time goes on, or there will be precious little bacon eaten here as they grow older!

Perhaps the cutest thing they do, though, is word substitution. There are some words they just can't or won't say, so sign language (all their own) comes into play. A flower (or plant of any kind) is a "sniff sniff" -- finger held up to the nose as if holding a flower, and a quick sniff. I even find myself answering them, "Yes, that's a sniff sniff," instead of sayng flower. They've also developed a cute thing for "elephant," where they lift their little arms to their faces and flip their hands at the wrist, and do a tiny little elephant trumpet. Gus does a fair imitation of the sound, but it's Sam who really kills me. Gus has kind of a raucous voice, but Sam has a soft little voice that is so gentle and sweet that it cracks me up every time when he attempts to trumpet like an elephant. It would have to be a very, very tiny elephant.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In which I discover that I myself am the shallowest person of my acquaintance

I have been in negotiations lately with a county agency to get Gus and Sam (well, actually, mostly Sam) evaluated for developmental delays. Sam has worried me a little for some time now. His gross motor skills are excellent, but he really doesn't use the pincer grasp unless forced to it, and he falls over his own feet like he's wearing clown shoes. Also, he can ignore you like nobody's business. His actual hearing seems to be fine, but if he is busy with something while you are calling him by name, well, good luck getting his attention because hey, dude, he's busy. Of course, his dad also does the ignoring thing. If D is reading something interesting, or engrossed in some problem, you'll have to walk right up to him and touch him on the shoulder to get his attention. He's busy, dude.

But the Easter Seals guy made it here at last this morning, and he and Sam had a little assessing playdate. Well, actually, he and Sam and Gus had the playdate, except that I finally had to cart Gus off into the next room so that the Easter Seals guy could actually assess Sam. To tell the truth, I think that's one of the reasons the boys seem a little behind. Tell me, could you work out your block-stacking skills very well if every time you got a couple of them together, some annoying person came along and knocked them winding? Or else started doing something fascinating on the other side of the room, just begging for investigation? Hm? How much actual work would you get done?

In any case, the nice Easter Seals guy (ESG) will be returning next week to assess Gus, and he only gave me a rough outline of his assessment today. The boys are 20 months and 2 days at the moment. ESG said that Sam's gross motor skills are excellent and he tested at 21 months. (Yay Sam!) But it was downhill from there. He said Sam's pincer grasp was actually pretty decent and his fine motor skills were okay-ish. But he doesn't pay attention when you call his name (he said Sam actually looked at him only one out of five times when he called his name), and his speech is definitely lacking. ESG said the boys would be eligible for free speech therapy when they turn 24 months (implying strongly that boy, howdy, do they need it!). He finished up by saying that both Sam and Gus seem like a "young" 20 months to him.

This is all what I had expected, more or less. And yet somehow, his calling them "young" for 20 months really rankled. But what that mostly pointed out to me is how damned shallow I am. Why on earth does it bother me that they are a little immature for their age? ESG said that he sees kids all the time with REAL problems, and our boys are in no way in that category. He basically said that our kids' problems, such as they are, should more or less straighten out on their own. I should just be grateful for that.

And yet I confessed to D the other day that I have been seized with "baby envy" -- not to have a baby, mind you (since we have the two best boys I could ever even think of!) but to have toddlers that are slightly more intellectually accomplished. My mother had a bazillion stories about how brilliant I was at an early age, and I guess I expected the same of Sam and Gus. Well, A, I am/was a girl, and B, I was a singleton. Boys tend to lag behind speech-wise, and so do twins. (And C, my mother might have been guilty of a slight case of mis-remembering!) So I need to remember that, instead of stewing over my Internet friend V's brilliant kid H, who not only can say at least a version of all three of his names, but can also more-or-less count to ten. Gus and Sam are very interested in counting, but what we get from them is (with appropriate pointing), "Doh, doh, doh, doh, doh, dojo!" Clear enough to this doting mom, though possibly not to anyone else.

And I'm kind of dreading Thanksgiving. Well, not Thanksgiving itself, but the Saturday after, when we are scheduled to meet D's sis, her husband and their toddler Leo ( one week older than our boys, as longtime readers of this blog may recall), who apparently is ready to ship off the MIT for the spring semester. I just know that our day together is going to be filled with little anecdotes about baby Leo's brilliance and perspicacity. And, darn it, probably some on-the-spot demonstrations of same.


Well, my kid can sing the first five notes of the pentatonic scale! In tune! Put that in your pipe and smoke it.