Sunday, August 31, 2008
It's becoming hard to deny that Jackson can speak. We both just clearly heard him say "tomato" and point at the tomato pasta dish he's eating for dinner.
Not all of his words are as large, of course. His favorite word is me. As in "hold meeeeeeeee"!!! or just "ME!" - meaning: "forget about Genevieve, pay attention to me!".
He can also say bye bye, and has a very clear "mommy" and "daaaaaaaaa".
Plane, tummy, doggy, yummy, ...
Last night we heard "No I don't want you to hold me".
"My milk". "What's that". "Hold me now". "My turn".
Genevieve talks, on occasion, but normally she just growls. Seriously. She has quite the little growl.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Jackson not so sure about some of those animals:
Viva & Bentley enjoying the music:
Jackson, again, not too sure about some of the music:
Snack time! And don't worry, we understand it's not *right* to go to the fair and just eat golfdish. Corn fritters, chocolate dipped icecream, a chili bread bowl and fries were also on the menu. :-)
The tractor exhibit.
We met our fellow BOB (and the twins Patrick & Cassidy that belong in that BOB!) on our way out to flee the rain. Brave Amrita was just getting started on a 3 day fair time extravaganza. You're in our thoughts, Amrita!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
The first night I took Bentley home. (I wasn't ready to chase Jake or Viva around the house. I thought I'd rest up first.) Bentley was a charming overnight guest. He was eager to come--that's always nice!--and he's a great, low-key companion. We came home from Kara's fairly late, so he didn't get to play very long before it was bed time. He grabbed five books and we headed down to the bedroom.
After reading those five, we came back up and he picked another five. We had a delightful time. He even read one of the books back to me. Five times. It was very cute--although he won't believe me that on the last page the book reads "That's my robot!". He insists it follows the rest of the book and reads "That's NOT my robot!".
In the morning when he got up, he requested that we go to the park. I decided to try out the newly remodeled Cuddy Family Park near the library because I had some books on hold at the library. We were disappointed to not find any playground equipment at the park. Before the remodel there was some! However, we still enjoyed our visit. Bentley had a good time climbing the bleachers in the small outdoor theater. Then we visited the library and he did three puzzles and we collected my books.
Tuesday night it was Viva's turn. I was a little anxious about having her stay because she's such a wanderer and you have to keep your eye on her every minute. We ended up coming home late again, so there wasn't much time for her to play before it was bed time. I rocked her to sleep because I'm sure she misses her twin at night time when she's put in a room by herself to go to sleep. That is not her usual routine. She was quite content to be rocked to sleep by Grandma. (I don't see nightly rocking become a routine at her home, but that's okay because at home she has Jake to croon/cry her to sleep while she returns the favor.)
In the morning I decided to take her to meet my brother who is visiting from out of state and then we went to Costco for a diaper run. She was very good-natured during our adventures. She usually is, if you aren't tampering with her freedom.
Last night it was Jake's turn to spend the night. Rather than come straight home from his house to mine, I detoured by my parents' home to introduce Jake to his great uncle. Jake was not friendly. No big surprise there. We ended up staying out two hours past Jake's bed time. Jake fell asleep on the way home. I did not get to rock him. :-(
This morning I attempted to exercise while keeping my eye on Jake. It's possible to do this with Bentley. He will do puzzles or other activities in the front of the family room while I use my elliptical machine in the back of the room. I hoped that if I brought out the right combination of toys I could keep Jake happy while I exercised. Well, it was not as easy as I thought it would be. He would not stay on his half of the room! Gee...why did I think that a fourteen month old would stay away from a moving exercise machine?
GRRRRRRRRRR! Jake just deleted the rest of this post. His fingers are way too fast and he likes the escape button in the upper left corner. Now I have to rewrite what he sent to the great blue yonder. Fortunately I hit save regularly or I would have lost the entire post and I might not have bothered to recreate it.
Back to my rewrite...After Jake's failure to stay on his half of the room, I tried two ways to confine him there. I rearranged the two couches (they are heavy!) so that they created a barrier across the room. I had to stuff a long body pillow behind one of the couches to keep Jake from squeezing through.
Jake hated my barrier. He screamed and cried for ten minutes. I thought he'd give up after a while and play. He did. For a minute. At this point I was only half done with my 45 minute work out.
I took a break. I vacuumed under the couches because when I moved them I found snack food underneath them. Next I put slide buttons on the feet of the second couch. Last year I had done that on the other couch, but I didn't complete the job because I wasn't sure if they helped or not.
Then I had the brainstorm to place Jake in his play pen close to my exercise machine. He'd be happy near me and I'd be able to finish my exercising. That's what I did. It worked great. Now it's time to shower and take Jake home so he can have a nap with his twin. I have to be quick before Mr. Fast Hands returns and demolishes this post again.
P.S. I'll add a cute photo when I get Mark to download the photos I took on his camera while he was gone. I did not take any photos of the children at our house because I left Mark's camera at their house.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
I do know, however, that he's paying at least some attention to the books. We were heading home last night from a birthday celebration for Matt up at Grandpa Tim and Grandma Karen's home and Bentley (as he is prone to, I have to admit) reached over from his carseat and hit his poor sister in the head (refer to "The Trouble with Brothers"... !).
We gave him a chance to confess because, for whatever reason, we like to do that! Matt said to Bentley: "Bentley, did you hit your sister?". Bentley, normally an honest little guy, replied "No Daddy, the brownies did it".
The brownies... the mischevious trouble making imps that he has recently been hearing about in the Spiderwick Chronicles. I'm pleased the kid has a good imagination. In fact, I had a hard time not laughing. I understand I'm the parent and shouldn't be encouraging him - but - still, it's hard sometimes. That boy is a hoot!
His Father, of course, gave him a stern lecture and let him know he hadn't tricked us. Should I be offended that my child thinks his parents are an easy con job?!
* In Bentley's defense (for hitting his sister, not for the misdirection of the truth), Genevieve can be a hard little girl to sit next to. She has strong fingers and an unfortunate tendency to pinch. It's how she tries to retaliate for the constant abuse she suffers, I venture to guess. In the rear view mirror I can often see a little hand reach over from her carseat to grab Bentley's upper arm. Bentley has taken to riding in his carseat with his arms held up high over his head so she can't reach him. Poor kid!
Why don't I stop all this sibling on sibling abuse, you may be wondering? I try, I really do! But they're quicker than I am, smarter than I am, more passionate about their cause, and oh yeah - they outnumber me. But I'll keep at it. But until I win? I guess I should get used to having lots of little brownies around.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Sometimes she's the victim of too much boyish energy. Other times her actions annoy him--she gets too close to his pile of books or puzzles or toys--and so he rather overzealously pushes her away. Once in a while she's the random target of his...frustration? love? joy de'vivre?
Now that Jake is ambulatory, Viva is his victim, too. If she has something he wants, he comes over and takes it. He's stronger than she is (a bonus side effect of testosterone), so five out of six times he's the victor. At least until a sympathetic adult rights the wrong. He usually goes back for what he wants, so it's short-lived justice.
Here's an example of the type of aggressive behavior I'm referring to. Viva goes into the kitchen and digs out a bag of gold fish from the cupboard.
Jake sees Viva has something interesting. He tackles her.
He gets the prize.
I took the bag from him three times and returned it to Viva. The result? She was tackled three times more. Justice isn't always pleasant.
Friday, August 22, 2008
On Monday Viva was posed to climb inside the fireplace, so I asked Mark to get a photo of her in the fireplace. Kara said I had to stop Viva before she crawled in because she was wearing a cute white shirt and it'd be ruined by the soot in the fireplace. The girl has so many clothes, she can afford to sacrifice an outfit now and then.
On Wednesday Viva was wearing a solid black onesie and black pants. Unfortunately she didn't attempt to climb in the fireplace that day. You have to grab the photo op when you find it because it might not happen again or you might not have a camera close at hand.
I used to keep a candelabra in the fireplace for decorative purposes. Kara was sure that Viva was going to impale her little palm on the spikes meant for impaling candles. To make Kara happy I removed the candelabra from the fireplace and stuck it out in the garage. Surely Viva will lose interest in the fireplace soon; it's just not that interesting of a place.
At home the fireplace is sealed up because it's a gas fireplace. So instead Viva plays in a corner cupboard. It's a favorite play spot when she's hanging out in the kitchen with mom. Mark took these photos two weeks ago.
Jake has discovered the thrill of scaling the dining room chairs and then ascending to the next level, the table. On Tuesday Kara complained to me that no matter how many times she removed him, he kept returning to the dining room and pushing the chairs up to the table and leveraging himself back onto the table.
She tried pushing the chairs back away while he was on them, but that only forced him to take a diving leap--sometimes crashing to the floor--but he was still quite willing to come back for another try. No hard lessons learned.
On Wednesday Jake was still very much enjoying the game. He and Kara had some rare one-on-one time while Matt took Bentley and Viva to the zoo in the evening. Jake chose to use his mommy time climbing on the table. She phoned us so we could listen to him giggling in delight as he again and again used the chairs to reach the table. Such cheap entertainment!
Bentley climbed on the table once or twice when he was younger, but not determinedly like this. Viva has shown no interest in this particular activity. Yet.
Finally on Thursday I was treated to the Jake on the Table show. Kara brought the little ones over and it wasn't five minutes before Jake was on my dining room table and stood up and bumped his head on the hanging lamp. He didn't stand up again after that. I ran and grabbed the camera so I could get some shots for this blog post. Here they are:
Jake on the table.
Jake trying to get off the table.
Jake misjudging where the chairs are. (He didn't fall off.)
Jake struggling with the table cloth.
It was quite interesting watching him. He easily climbed on the table, but he wasn't able to climb back off. He went around and around the table trying to climb down on different chairs, but never feeling comfortable enough to complete the process. Eventually I took pity on him and lifted him down. He climbed back up once more and then lost interest in the game. He was off to steal gold fish from his sister. (More on that in a future post.)
Despite the joy it brings him, it's not really safe for him to climb on the table, so Kara wants to stop him from doing it. We gave her our sage advice. When she was little she loved this game, too, so we stored our kitchen chairs on the kitchen table. I'm not sure how long we had to do this (2 months? 6 months?), but it was long enough for us to remember this phase of life. Kara thinks our solution extreme. Well, for her sake I hope Jake isn't as stubborn as our child was.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Bentley has done puzzles for quite some time now. Maybe even a year. I could look back through our daily photo journal and see when we first started capturing him working on puzzles, but I would get distracted by all the cute photos and never finish this blog post, so I'm going to just guess that it was around a year ago.
At first he required lots of help. Sometimes he would direct us to do the puzzle for him. It entertained him. Anything that entertains him also entertains us. He's that fun to be with.
Now he spends lengthy periods of time playing with puzzles on his own. Occasionally he asks for our help or assurance that he has a piece in the right place. His mom has collected quite a few nice wooden puzzles at garage sales. She's even purchased one or two at local toy stores. His cousins from Germany gave him a couple of nice puzzles when they visited last summer. Hmmm...if he was doing puzzles last summer, then it's been more than a year.
Is it time to start doing puzzles with Jake and Viva? The only interest they've shown so far is in eating the puzzle pieces. It's not going to be easy to get Bentley to share his puzzle collection with them. To date the puzzles have all been his only and we've encouraged him to keep them away from twins. Who wants chewed on or missing puzzle pieces?
I saved five puzzles from Kara's childhood. Three are more difficult ones and we've stored them away again because Mark and I got tired of doing them over and over for Bentley. Once is never enough for a two year old. Repetition is their favorite mode of learning--even if it's you doing the repetition. Maybe I should bring them back out and see if he can do them now without so much help.
On Sundays I have two Old Testament puzzle books that I take to sacrament meeting. Bentley spends twenty minutes or so doing those puzzles. One book is kind of tricky because it contains two sided puzzles. I have to make sure he has the puzzle pieces right side up.
I ordered two new Melissa and Doug puzzles from amazon this week. Melissa & Doug have an awesome line of puzzles. Most, but not all, of their puzzles are wooden. They sell peg puzzles--the kind that have little red pegs for little hands to hold onto and turn the puzzle piece to get it to fit. They sell puzzles in many different sizes, including floor puzzles. They sell 12 piece, 24 piece (I just ordered the African plains), 30 piece (an odd size), 48 piece (I want the rain forest one--my next amazon order!) and larger puzzles. They have many different themes--farm animals, pirate ships, sea life, dinosaurs, construction sites, horses, vehicles, the rain forest, etc. Most of their puzzles are around $10.
One of their better deals is $10 for a four pack of smaller (4.5" by 6.5") puzzles that come in a little wooden box with a divider to keep the pieces from the four different puzzles separated. Bentley has the vehicle set. There is a fire truck (his favorite puzzle in the set), a train (perhaps this is his favorite?), a school bus (a distant third), and a race car (not that popular with him). I've ordered him another set of puzzles like these, but this set has a dolphin, a shark, a sea horse, and fish. I chose this set because of an argument I had with him earlier this week. I showed him a photo of a dolphin and he insisted (repeatedly) that it was a shark. I'm hoping this puzzle set will help him refine his animal identification skills.
He's usually quite adept at identifying animals, although the other day I had to chuckle when he called a sea lion a tiger. He uses the words lion and tiger interchangeably, and so the sea lion became a tiger. The name sea lion is so...stupid. A sea lion looks nothing like a big cat. Who gave it that name? The first time Bentley saw that particular illustration of a sea lion, he thought it was a bird. It's in the "Panda Bear, Panda Bear What do I See?" book illustrated by Eric Carle. I have to agree with him. Carle's illustration looks like a large bird more than it looks like a sea lion--or sea tiger. I think I'll buy Bentley a book on identifying large cats. It's not easy sorting out the tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, and panthers.
I believe I have digressed significantly from puzzles. Oops! I'd start an entirely new post on animal identification, but my segue from puzzles to animals is so good, I'm leaving it in.
Here's a final photo of Puzzle Meister Bentley.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Why? She does have big eyes, yes. So does Jackson, though, in my opinion! My mother says it's perhaps because she's always busy using those big eyes to stare at strangers with her solemn looks and so they can't help but notice the eyes. :-)
That must be it, Ms. Big Eyes!
Monday, August 18, 2008
The Future Olympian Bentley
You may think he's a little young to be setting such a lofty goal as the Olympics, but the Chinese start training their gymnasts at three, so we're really not jumping the gun here. By January we have to get him enrolled in a good gymnastics program. (Kara has actually joked about enrolling him in gymnastics this coming year. She's afraid he's going to damage his neck with his wild tumbling stunts off the couch.)
Viva and Jake are still a little too young to be able to tell what their athletic strengths are.
I'm hoping for some kind of brother-sister act.
Unfortunately, I don't recall too many male-female teams at the Olympics. The Beach Volleyball was single sex as was the synchronized diving. Ah well, I'm sure the training schedule for any Olympic sport would severely curtail one's childhood.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
This is Bentley's latest food quirk: he likes to measure out--using his little hands--the uncooked pasta into his bowl. The BLUE bowl. Sometimes green will do, but never pink or purple or orange.
After he measures out the pasta, we cook it and he eats it--or not. He usually measures out three or four times what he will eat. We cook it all and save it for next time he's visiting and wants pasta. The problem is that next time he comes over he insists on getting the pasta from the jar. Already cooked pasta from the fridge is not acceptable.
So we let him measure the pasta out and then we do a switch-a-roo and heat the pasta from the fridge up in the microwave. His meal is ready in 45 seconds instead of the 12-15 minutes that is required for uncooked pasta. So far he hasn't figure out our strategy. You'd think the shortened cooking time would clue him in, but young children aren't yet a slave to time like us adults.
Here's a shot of Bentley digging out his pasta:
Needless to say, whenever he gets out the jar his siblings come to help.
This photo is deceptive. It looks like the children are happily playing together. Not really. It's just seconds until Viva finds herself sprawling flat on her back and Jake is shoved out of range of the jar. Last night I put Bentley on the counter to sort out his pasta so that we could avoid another mini-war.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Kara tries to read with the children every day. She gets help from all of us in meeting this goal. Matt enjoys reading chapter books to Bentley. Kara favors board books especially those by Sandra Boynton. In the past month I've added two dragon books, a castle book, and two animal books to my collection of board books for the grandchildren. Bentley really likes the touch and feel dragon book and he has already learned all the names of the animals in "Panda Bear, Panda Bear What Do You See?". Grandma Vicki recently sent the little ones some really cool books she found for them on her vacation in Maine.
Reading to Bentley has always been easy. Even when he was just an infant, he loved to read books with us. He likes short books, long books, little books, big books, picture books, chapter books--any and all books! If you ask him if he wants to read, he will bring you six or ten or twenty or more books. And, if you've the stamina, he will sit next to you or on your lap while you read every last one of them with him. I shudder when he brings me Dr. Seuss's "The Cat In the Hat". That book is way too long. I cheat and skip pages when reading it to him.
The twins are not easy to read to. It's hard to keep them interested for more than a few minutes. They try to wrestle the book away from you or they turn the pages before you've finished reading the words on that page. Fortunately most board books are short on words. They chew on the books. They wander off to a new activity mid-page. Reading an entire book with them is unusual. When Bentley was their age, he didn't always finish books either, but it was a lot easier to out smart one pair of little hands than it is to out smart two pairs.
Here is Kara's latest solution to reading with the twins.
Strap them into the high chair and give them a snack during reading time. Hey, it works. They are paying attention. Kara can even finish three books in one sitting. That's amazing.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Years back my Mom made a fun beaded crown modeled after a crown she saw at a craft fair, and this past week I remembered its existence and asked her to drag out all the craft supplies - since Viva has a princess dress I thought maybe she might be ready for a crown to go with it. I'm lucky enough to have a Mom who has tons and tons of craft supplies hidden away - thanks Mom!
I invited a friend over and we got to work on our beautiful creations. I'm not entirely certain that the children were an asset during the creation phase (they wanted to eat the beads and throw them around), but they are certainly good models.
Who wears it best? You decide! Viva posed like a good beauty queen while the crown was being placed:
But for whatever reason she refused to wear her lovely crown (thanks a lot, kid!!!) - she preferred it in her hands and not on her head. Taking it off...
And saying "Thank goodness, I got that THING off!!!":
Bentley seemed quite taken with the sparkly masterpiece (yes, I may be a bit proud of my creation), but he seems to have some insider fashion advice that I don't on how crowns are to be worn - upside down is the way to be apparently.
Jackson decided to use B's style advice:
And lastly, we even convinced the Dad to get in on the who wears it best competition!
(Jake is attempting some type of Jedi or Vulcan mind control thing with Matt there - I'll have to tell him it's the forehead you put your hand over, not the nose. Silly kid.)
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Toddlers can go to nursery once they turn 18 months old. Typically the parents (or grandparents) stay with the child for the first week or two or maybe the first month and then the kid is happy to stay on his own with the other children and the adults who oversee the nursery.
Bentley is a year past 18 months old and I or Mark still stay with him in the nursery every week. Over the months we've tried to leave him there alone, but he doesn't like it. If we sneak off when he's not paying attention to us, then he doesn't trust us the next week and won't leave our side for even a minute.
So I'm trying a new approach. I'm trying to talk to him during the week and before church about going to nursery on his own. So far he's not budging on his stand--he wants us there with him.
Last Sunday I once again attempted to bring the topic up to him before we went to church. He and I were in the living room and I asked him, "Bentley, would you like to go to nursery by yourself today?"
His reply was "No, grandma, I can't drive the car."
Monday, August 11, 2008
Whenever anyone says that Jake and Viva look identical, I find myself wondering, do they think that Jake looks like a girl or that Viva looks like a boy? What parent (or grandparent) wants to hear that their little girl could pass for a boy? Or that their little boy could pass for a girl?
Is Jake a girl-pretty boy?
Is Viva a boy-pretty girl?
I just don't see the identical thing. Viva has her quirky eyebrows and Jake has his big grin. Their main similarities are size and skin color. Although you cannot tell from photos, their hair and eye colors are distinctly different, but not dramatically so.
I have to admit that they are identically cute.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Oddly enough the two words have even more in common than their pronunciation. They both are apt descriptors of the twins. Twins are adorable. Twins are horrible.
Most of the time the twins are adorable.
What's cuter than a pair of identical--and yet fraternal--twin babies?! (Yet again today the twins were complimented on just how identical they look. !?! We've decided to just agree with everyone who thinks the twins are identical. How many pairs of identical boy-girl twins have you met?! Same sex identical twins are so common.)
Here's a more recent adorable shot.
Now for an example of horrible.
It's a horrible experience dealing with two screaming infants. Unfortunately, screaming twin toddlers are not easier to deal with than screaming twin infants. At least the infants couldn't chase me around the house clinging to my legs.
This past Saturday I was alone with the three little ones. Something happened and one of them started crying and soon the domino effect had all three in tears. They came rushing to me trying to get me to hold them. I sat down on the floor so I was more accessible, but I still couldn't accommodate all three at once. One crying little one was pushing another one out of the way to claim prime lap space. Who do I comfort? Who do I neglect? Do I discipline the pusher? There just weren't enough arms for everyone. It's not fun dealing with multiple, unhappy, impatient, little ones.
So, smiles are adorable; tears are horrible. What other horrible acts do the adorable twins perpetrate? Well, Bentley has lots of examples of the twins acting horribly. Remember Kara's recent post on the VivaJake Monster?
Well, I've met the VivaJake Monster, too. Two toddlers really are more than double the trouble of one toddler. If you have one trouble making toddler you can keep your eye on him/her. You can track him/her from here to there. You can drag him/her away from the problem toy or area. You can physically control him/her.
You cannot control two toddlers simultaneously. You cannot control two toddlers in sequence. While you're removing one from a forbidden area or object (the toilet, the staircase, the cat, the bookcase, the plant, etc.), the other toddler has free reign.
It's not easy to herd two toddlers out of a room or to get into the bathroom alone. On Friday I pinched Jake's little finger in the bathroom door when I shut it quickly to keep Viva out. It was HORRIBLE. He was screaming and bleeding. Kara called the doctor. I comforted Jake. He quit crying. Viva kept crying. She wanted attention which she did not get because her mom was on the phone and I was freaking out over what I had done to my little grandson. Jake was lucky (I was lucky!) and his finger was not seriously hurt.
Yes, our twins are adorable!