June 4, 2012
Speaking of sibling dynamics. We're extremely grateful for the degree to which the three of them all get along (a consequence, we think, of the fact that they never had the luxury of being an only child), but there does seem to be this strange triangle of hierarchy. Sam ADORES JJ, while Alexis fawns over Sam, and JJ is typically oblivious but gets strangely sad (not mad) when Sam and Alexis are off playing together without him. All in all though they get along much better with each other than they do with me.
Samantha loves to run around in her "birthday suit" and loves to change clothes throughout the day... she also like to take off her diaper while in her crib. More than once, I've walked in to a sleeping Sam, curled up and mooning me.
JJ and Alexis STILL call each other "guls"... it started out almost two years ago when their older cousin referred to them collectively as "girls" (JJ had long hair if you remember). It's now a word that is definitely not "girls" and JJ will explain that Alexis doesn't call him a girl... but it morphed into something that sounds like "hey guls" when they're calling for each other. In fact, I never hear JJ or Alexis call out to each other by their formal names. When they talk about each other to me or someone else, they'll use the proper nouns, but when they're playing and trying to get each others attention, it's always "Hey Guls, come upstairs!!" "Guls, let's go play outside" "Come-on Guls, let's go!"
Now, for some anecdotes/stories from the last year (I'll try to keep this entertaining since there is no way I can keep it short--even if it's non-inclusive)....
For the longest time, Alexis was very focused on a specific set of bedtime dynamics. She had a tummyache one night (one which I summarily dismissed only to be woken up by a vomiting 3 year old), and every night post-trauma she would panic and say "but my tummy hurts" to which we would reply, "go to sleep and you'll feel better" ... then she would start adding ailments onto the list "my tummy hurts and my head hurts"... and we'd reply "go to sleep and you'll feel better" "Ok, mommy"... after a while it became a 5 minute event and a list that challenged our understanding of anatomy. We'd say "good night" and Alexis would sit up and exclaim "But my tummy hurts, and my head hurts, and my shoulders hurt, and my legs hurt, and my feet hurt... and my hair hurts, and my eyeballs hurt, and my [undecipherable body part] hurts!" But we'd just lay her back down and say "go to sleep and you'll feel better" which always calmed her down. At least we knew she was learning her basic (if not always accurate) anatomy.
JJ has continued to impress us with his seemingly innate sense of politeness and empathy. At Christmastime, we discussed giving away presents to those in need and at first JJ balked at the idea, but once he thought about it, and asked a series of difficult-to-answer questions about why some kids don't get presents, he actually shed real tears and told me that we could give away some of his toys (but not his superheros--sympathy only goes so far at 3 apparently).
When we were at the airport at Christmas waiting for a flight, I saw him go over to a man who was holding an infant and a few times heard him say things like, "what's your baby's name?" and "I have a baby too... her name is Sam" and "Do you have a mommy? Where is she?" When he was done interrogating him, he stauntered back over to me and exclaimed, "Mommy! I just met the nicest Gentleman! He has a baby like Samantha... Look!" And when I'm sitting on the couch with my legs up, or standing in the kitchen or elsewhere blocking his path, he always says "excuse me please mommy, I need to get passed." And he is so quick to say thank you for even the littlest things like helping him put his shoes on, or buckling his seatbelt for him. He may just be incredibly manipulative (because what 4 year old still needs help with shoes?), but we let it slide because the random "I love you mommy's" as he's being served a seriously bland lunch or dinner is just too cute.
Speaking of empathy, in January just after we returned from our Utah Christmas, my mom was admitted to the hospital and after a few days, it became evident that it was extremely serious and I should go back. So I made reservations at 11 am to fly out at 9 pm. I got home from work at 5:30 pm and had no more than 1.5 hours to pack, feed the kids dinner and go on my way. I had promised the twins earlier to put together a present they received from their aunt and after cries of protest when I told them I had to go on a trip for a week and it would have to wait, I caved and opened the package, hoping for a rapid turn-around. I was wrong. It was a puppet theater that initially appeared to be a tri-fold set-up. Once I had all the pieces laid out of the floor I realized too late that this was a one hour minimum job. But when I looked up, the kids had strewn the Styrofoam everywhere--the carpet was covered with the white misery and Samantha was eating it. I yelled at Sam as she started to play with the screws, and smacked her hand away from the small pieces. Alexis stomped up to me, wagged her finger in my face and said, "you don't hurt Samantha!" oh... the echos of myself. At some point, I lost it. I still hadn't packed, or fed the kids, and Mike was late, still at work. I had, in all honesty, my first anxiety attack. I don't recommend them. I started simultaneously sobbing and yelling at the twins to help pick up all the Styrofoam. I asked them to get a bag to put all the pieces in, and after a few minutes, JJ and Alexis came back wtih sandwich baggies. They were whimpering as they tried shoving the white crap in the too-small receptacles. And isntead of thinking how at least they were trying to help, I just got more upset with them. Then JJ came over to me, put his hands on my legs and said, "Mommy? Mommy? Just focus, OK? Just focus." And he sat there until I could collect myself. Unfortunately, that display of JJ's was not a parent echo.
Last September (only 9 months ago), we started JJ and Alexis in a 2.5 hour 2-day-a-week preschool which JJ immediately despised and Alexis immediately loved. Alexis is not as extroverted or gregarious as JJ, but she's much more in love with the idea of school and she relishes in the positive attention she gets. Whereas JJ seems to respond to being punished, Alexis responds much more effectively to acknowledgment of good behaviour. They've learned a lot in the last year--mostly just how to color in between the lines, but we trust that eventually they'll read and write. Hopefully without too much effort on our part.
June 8, 2011
Some snippets from the last six months (hold on.. this might be a long one!):
-Although Sam is no longer nursing.. JJ and Alexis still remember the phenomenon and I'll catch them talking about how milk can come out of various body parts... of course they're nipples, but also their chins or their elbows. They have quite the imaginations.
-Earlier in the year when we were completing the potty training and focusing on pooping in the potty (instead of waiting until they got a pull-up on for nap time or night time).. So I got a sticker chart, put it up and gave them a sticker each time they produced a deuce. We told them after ten stickers, they could go to Chuck-E-Cheeses, which just opened up by our house. Within a couple of weeks, they had each achieved the required number of stickers so we set off one Saturday to what we've come to refer to as "Chaos in a Box"... At the entrance, a CeC employee was there to stamp their hands and ask if we were there celebrating anything. Alexis quickly piped up (or rather screamed): "We went poop ten times.. I got ten stickers cuz I pooped in the potty ten times so I get to come to Chuck-E-CHEESES!!" But that place as a reward sure does work.. the very next sticker chart was to stay dry during nap and night time... and every morning they would get so excited if they're pull ups were dry.
-Along those lines, however, we've learned that 3 is an age where manipulation is starting to rear it's ugly head. One morning (actually this has happened multiple mornings) I heard a lot of banging up in the twins room.. when I went to check on them, Alexis was scurrying back into bed. She then popped back up and announced, "mommy I'm dry.. I get to get a sticker so I can go to Chuck-E-Cheeses!!!" Sure enough, she was wearing a dry pull-up but I realized she had on different pajamas than she put on the night before. I checked their garbage can in the bathroom and sure enough, she had placed a wet pull-up in the garbage can, climbed up to the shelf in her closet where the pull-ups are kept, and put a fresh one on. Both she and JJ will also tell me (or Mike) when I say no to something, "But Daddy [Mommy] said we can!" Although oddly if I give something to them that Mike generally doesn't like them to have (such as a stick of gum) and tell them not to tell Daddy because he doesn't like them to have gum, the first thing out of their mouths when they see him next is "Daddy.. Mommy gave me gum! But I'm not going to tell you"
-When they were pretty consistantly got dry in the mornings (though we like JJ to still wear the pull-ups as he's only batting 0.500 right now), we went once again to CeC's... This time, I took them solo. Once they were through their coins, however, they were completely devastated. We're trying to teach them about limits, and spending (at least the concept) so I explained that we only bought 20 coins and I didn't have any more money to get more. JJ heard this explanation as he burned through his stash first, to which he got very sad for a while, then thought a bit and brightly said, "But mommy, just go ask the man for more coins. I bet he has more.. just go ask!" The man, of course, was the cashier. Ironically, not 2 minutes later Alexis ran out of coins and came up to me with the exact same, simple-but-brilliant idea to just go "ask the man."-The other day JJ was getting dressed in the morning (a chore they thankfully can do by themselves now!), and kept playing with his nether-regions. Eventually he looked up from his exploring and said, "Mommy, what is this?" to which I replied, "JJ that's your penis." "No, mommy, what's this part?" "Oh, those are your balls JJ". "Mommy, I have BALLS??"
-We have learned that Alexis is a very very linear thinker. Starting earlier this year, she's become very focused and aware regarding cause and effects. If I tell her to stop doing something, or warn her against doing something, she will almost always state what the resulting chain of events would be "If I hit Samantha you will get mad?" "Yes, Alexis" "And Samantha will get hurt?" "Yes, Alexis" "And you will put me in time out?" "Yes, Alexis" ... and then she hits Samantha.
-A couple of months ago I was trying to get Sam to say "mommy" by repeating it over and over to her. Finally, JJ stomped up to me, put his hands on his hips and declared, "Sam doesn't say mommy! She can only say 'Ahh Duh, Ahh Duh' " and then marched away.
-Sam is now walking up a storm and it's amazing to watch her watch her siblings... she is so focused on what they do and trying to mimic them. JJ is much more tolerant of Sam shadowing him, though he gets frustrated when she ruins his train or car set-ups. She does really love her crib and will often fuss until she's put down for a nap or for the night. We think it's not just that she is ready to sleep--she's ready for some alone time.
-It's only been a couple of months, but JJ and Alexis are now acutely aware of what is socially appropriate for "boys" and for "girls" ... JJ has a friend DP that is a year older and is showing JJ they ways of the world. Recently, we heard him playing with his cars and saying, "I'm going to kill you!" Mike tried to explain that we don't want to say that because killing someone is bad. He declared that DP says that to which Mike explained that it didn't matter, we didn't want JJ to say it. JJ was incredibly torn.. you could see his confusion about two people in his life that didn't agree... But it's an ongoing battle I guess. The other day, JJ pushed Alexis over and declared he was playing "bad guys" and that's what he and DP play. I explained that we don't play that, that we only play good guys or happy guys. At first, he wasn't convinced but I saw him later declare, "I'm JJ and I'm a ba... I'm a happy guy"
-Alexis and JJ were in the wedding of Mike's brother over memorial day weekend. A beautiful location, couple and day! And the twins were super cute (of course) in their outfits. Once they successfully walked down the isle, there were gifts on their chairs from the wedding planner (a thoughtful move to keep them quite during the ceremony). JJ got a firetruck and Alexis got her first barbie. She sleeps with the thing. I knew the day would come, but I still let out a deep sigh.
-Alexis is quite the hoarder. She's also very focused on always having a "purse" with her and having that purse filled with random things not limited to the following: hair clips, small toys, random receipts and/or clothing tags, snack foods, barbies, random toy parts (not even the whole toy), balls, jewelry... basically anything that fits. And she freaks out if you take anything away. But she switches up her loot every few days and she's getting better about accepting the fact that her toys need to be organized in a logical way. She also spends quite a bit of time in the morning grooming herself and insists on changing clothes if she gets a speck of dirt or even water on herself. Big sigh.
-We got a swimming pool! We started construction the week after memorial day and am almost complete.. we just have landscaping left to do. The kids absolutely love it, and are freakishly amazing swimmers. The ISR courses get all the credit. Sam was ISR trained in April/May and is a great floater, though we want to continue to swim train her as having a pool is can be scary with 3 kids 3 and under. We'll post the latest videos and photos to dropshots soon (meaning in the next six months)...
May 22, 2011
January 28, 2011
December 16, 2010
Samantha is getting bigger seemingly by the minute. We don't take nearly enough pictures or videos of her, but we try to visually memorize how amazing she is every day. She's now sitting up well, though only rolls from her tummy to her back--a problem since she sleeps on her tummy and if she rolls over during the night there are some intense screams until we flip her back over. She is such a social baby--which fits in well with our family, as JJ and Alexis now love to entertain her. It's amazing how much more they interact with her now vs just a few months ago. We're not sure if it's because Sam is more interactive herself, or if JJ and Alexis are just more mature. Samantha is a great baby--we can't get enough of her (except at 3 am.. then we could take less of her).
We don't know when it happened, but JJ and Alexis have turned into these cute little people. It's hard to remember when they weren't able to communicate--they talk so much now. And it's so much fun to listen to them after we put them to bed (safely confined in their crib tents). They now tell stories and ask each other questions constantly. A favorite discussion at bedtime goes something like this:
JJ: DD, you got your pillow?
A: Yes, you got your blanket?
JJ: Yes. And my pacifier. You got your pacifier?
A: Yes. You ready for sleep?
A: Wanna play?
JJ: Yes! [commence jumping in cribs and giggling uncontrollably]
They'll often play games where they mimic each other while in their cribs. Their favorite thing to do (outside of their beds) is ride their "bikes"... really, they're mini-kick scooters. They're amazing on them and ride them all over the house. Whenever someone comes to the door, they have to ride their scooters to greet them, and do a few laps around the kitchen to show off. Now they like to ride their bikes to go with us to get the mail. We still make them ride in the stroller when we go outside our neighborhood though. The "triple" we bought definitely gets a lot of use!
We have officially potty trained the twins. It was really a non-event since we delayed it for so long (if we go by the "cues" they were exhibiting more than 6 months or so ago). The day after we got back from our September trip to Utah, we went to target with the twins and let them pick out underwear. The next day, we put it on and the first couple of days JJ had a few accidents but quickly learned that he would be all wet if he didn't make it to the potty. One piece of advice we got which I think was very useful was not to use any potty training paraphernalia (like toddler pottys or potty seats or pull-ups). The twins can use our adult toilet with just the aid of a stool. They're pretty good at being able to do it all independently (pulling down their pants, going, wiping, pulling them back up and washing their hands). We just have to remind them if it's been more than a few hours since they last went. We also still have them in diapers at naptime and nighttime and they soil those almost every night--so they won't be ready to be diaper-free for a while. And they are still completely obsessed with poop. Alexis goes #2 on the potty just about every day, but JJ only goes on the potty a couple times a week--the other days he reserves his goods for naptime or nighttime and the security of his diaper. Either way, both JJ and Alexis have to "see it". If Alexis flushes the toilet before JJ can get there to examine the poop, a tantrum usually ensues. And Alexis has to examine every poopy diaper before we wrap it up. And if I have to tell Alexis one more time to get her head out of my butt while I'm trying to go, I think I'll go ballistic.
Having the twins potty-trained has some advantages, but being out and about with three young kids, and two of them freshly potty trained in underwear can be somewhat nerve-wracking. For example, one day I took the twins and Samantha to the store where we had to visit the public restroom (an adventure by itself). After, we got lunch and went to the park, where I started to feed Samantha while the twins ran around. Soon, Alexis ran up to me and declared she had to go potty, so I had to stop feeding Samantha, pile everyone in the minivan and drive home. JJ and Alexis ran inside to go potty (which thankfully they can do independently) while I finished feeding Sam. Back to the park and not 10 minutes had elapsed when JJ announced he had to potty. At this point, I decided to let him go on the grass. When I pulled down his pants, however, he started to squat. Turned out he needed to go #2... so I quickly stopped him and piled everyone back in the minivan. Thankfully, it was now almost naptime so after JJ had finished his business, I threw everyone in their cribs and we all promptly took a 3 hour nap.
We hope everyone has a very merry christmas and a happy new year. Hopefully, we'll post again before Valentines Day!
October 17, 2010
Mike and I took a trip to Canada late July with Samantha (see earlier post for details on the degree of difficulty preparation for the trip entailed). Mike's parents and our nanny watched JJ and Alexis so we could enjoy some semi-alone time. The flight over to Calgary was awesome as we had an extra seat next to us, and Samantha slept for the majority of the time. We stayed in a hotel by the airport that Wed night, and drove over to Jasper the next morning. The drive from Calgary to Jasper is about 6 hours, and we discovered that not only is it breathtakingly gorgeous, but satiating a 6 week old infant's snacking tendencies is possible while driving. While both of us were buckled in--my gymnastics training as a kid came in handy.
We spent Thursday night in Jasper and were very fortunate to meet up with Mike's brother David and his newly anointed fiance Tarissa. The scenery was spectacular, and the chance to get to know Tarissa better was equally enjoyable. The next day, we drove back down to Lake Louise where many of Mike's extended family were gathering to celebrate his cousin Cristina's 10 year anniversary. Mike and I were able to enjoy a canoe ride and lunch sans Samantha as David and Tarissa unwittingly agreed to babysit for us. They survived, and David learned that babies are pretty physically resiliant--but do need their heads supported most of the time. The celebration dinner was delicious and enterntaining. Samantha was still pretty fussy--and we learned that nearly everyone has a remedy for discontent babies and are certainly eager to share their insight, take the baby and work their wonder. One fellow guest actually took Samantha and immediatly stuck her finger right in her mouth. She was pretty busty as well, and I wondered if she would try nursing her next since the finger trick failed to work. Luckily, Mike's aunt Mayi and Cristina's FIL Ernie both had a special touch which allowed Mike and I (ok, mostly me) to enjoy a few hours on the dance floor. The trip was awesome, the location was amazing and we got to enjoy having "only one" baby for a few days.
As part of my materinity/virtual work arrangment, I decided to try to spend a few weeks in the Utah mountains during the month of September. I found a 3 bedroom Cabin just above the Sundance Resort via VRBO. So, right before Labor Day, my parents flew out to Houston, and we (me, my parents, Alexis, JJ and Samantha) embarked on the 1600 mile drive to Salt Lake City via our Honday Odyssey. In preparation for such a long drive, I did a lot of research on ways to occupy toddler's confined to car seats. The big winners were the aquadoodle travel sets and the thomas the train take-a-long sets. But mostly, having small "gifts" they could open every few hours that were new went a long way. And of course DVDs. The twins did really well on the drive out to Utah, probably more to do with my parents providing entertainment than any gadgets we brought along. The first day we drove from Houston to Albequreque (leaving at 8 am and getting to our hotel around 11 pm). The twins were exicted to sleep on a pull-out couch instead of their cribs--though my dad had to lay next to them until they fell asleep.
August 27, 2010
It was a Friday Morning and after nursing Samantha, I ran up to the twins room to jump start the day which I already knew would be long and fast-paced. I open their room and hear JJ saying, "Mommy! Mommy! Bug! Aya, Bug! Aya [over-there in spanish]!" And pointing to the top of his crib tent. There, staring me strait in the eye was a cockroach the size of my hand. Immediately, I start screaming and hyperventillating. JJ and Alexis don't know yet how gross and horrible cockroaches are (though I guess their innocence is lost now). I spend the next ten minutes switching between shuddering, screaming and trying to knock the thing off the crib and onto an area I could stomp on it. I also grabbed some bug killer to spray the thing for at least a full minute. I ended up throwing a towel over the still-squirming bug and jumping up and down on top of it for antoher good minute or two. I yanked the twins out of their cribs and threw them in the car with snack-cups full of cereal and some milk (that's important because that's the only remotely healthy thing they ate the entire day). We headed over to CVS in order to get passport photos taken. JJ and Alexis did really well, not touching anything and watching me try to balance Samantha's floppy head to get a "proper" passport photo that doesn't show my fingers. It apparently doesn't matter that the baby girl's face and features change almost daily at this stage--her photo will be good for 5 years! We got our photos taken (mine too as my passport had expired just a few months earlier), and headed down to Freeport. Freeport is about a 45 minute drive. Why were we heading there? Because I needed to get some forms notorized for the process, but needed to do it on the sly (Mike's signature needed to be notarized but he couldn't be there)... so I called my former office professional (who is amazing!) and asked her if she could meet me down at the Dow Site for a little paper-signing and stamping. Kids aren't allowed into the site, so we met just outside a pedestrian gate. Of course, midway down to Freeport, I had to stop and nurse for a few minutes in a random parking lot. Once we were there, Monica (my OP) met us and watched the kids in the car while I ran into my office (I'm currently on maternity leave so no one expected me to be there--which is a good thing as I forgot to dress appropriately and was wearing a nursing tank and jean shorts) to try to find my expired passport. I couldn't find it, so ran back out (going the back way so no one would alert EH&S about my attire). While Monica noterized the forms, I nursed again(not covered up, BTW, because I needed to call the passport agency to find out what to do since my passport was lost and expired). After breeching at least 5 Dow safety rules, we got the information I needed and headed up to Houston (a 70 minute drive). I had a 2 pm passport agency appointment, but had just enough time to stop off at home midway there to let the twins run around for 30 minutes while I filled out the updated forms we needed. After throwing the kids back in the car with a bag of fruit snacks and a juice box (their nutricious lunch), we headed up to the Passport office. Once there, I had to find parking, load the twins up in the double stroller and strap Samantha on in the bjorn. But the passport office is in a Federal building, so that meant taking the twins out of the stroller (not easy when a 6 week old is squirming in her carrier) and back in again once we got through security. We made it to the appointment, but was told I needed Samantha's birth certificate. I was also told not to worry, that I could go down the street and get it from the Civil Courthouse if I hurried. Since the passport agency closed at 3:30, I had one hour to book it accross town and back. I literally jogged back to the car (it was over 100 degrees that day too), threw everyone in their carseats, loaded the stroller, drove the 10 blocks, found parking, got out the stroller and made it to the courthouse. Of course, it too has security screening and required me to take the kids out of the stroller. Once through, we got in line to get the birth certificate and I nursed while waiting. Poor Samantha, she only got to eat that day in 5 minute increments whenever I could latch her on. but we got the certificate and made it back over to the passport agency (where again, we had to do the whole stroller disembarkement debacle through security) just before 3:30. By the time they finished our paperwork and we were done it was after 4:30 and the twins were melting down. At 5 pm we were all loaded up in the car, hot, sweaty but done and heading home. And then Mike called. "Hey, do you want to meet up at Memorial Park?" Apparently, he told a colleague that he'd go over to his new digs for a drink but didn't want to stay long, so thought meeting up with us was a convienient exiting strategy. Ever the sucker, I agreed and we headed over to the park. Mike didn't show up until almost 7 and by that time, we were all red, even more sweaty and crying. All 4 of us. Worst. Day. Ever.
But, that day did allow us (at least Mike, Sam, and me) to go to Canada for a few days at the end of July. It was an amazing trip and we so enjoyed the party that Mike's extended family threw! We also got to congratulate his brother and new fiancee Terissa in person. I'll post more on that trip and other developments later...