Sunday, December 30, 2007

Brownie Powered

Here's Bentley last evening running wildly upstairs and equally wildly downstairs. He was Happy! Happy! Happy! I heard his mother comment that he had eaten more than his fair share of the pan of brownies. Chocolate is an amazing mood enhancer isn't it?

Christmas Day (belated!)

A few more pictures from the Christmas revelry (although the last picture is more the definition of relaxation instead of revelry!).

Friday, December 28, 2007

Party Update

Bentley was fully recharged and ready to start the day loooong before we were. Sometime around 5AM he loudly announced he was awake and NOT happy to have been transferred to the play yard. (He started his night in our bed.) I got up and brought him back to bed with us. He asked for a bottle, but I told him no because I know his mother doesn't want him to get into the habit of night time bottles. (Wise mommy! He is almost two years old.)

I drifted off back to sleep until around 6AM when my grandma radar notified my tired brain that something was off-kilter. Why was that happy little voice coming from so far away? He'd left our warm bed and gone upstairs to play with the train set in the dark living room. I went up and bribed him with a bottle (I know! I know!) and brought him back to bed. This time I made sure the bedroom doors were tightly shut.

Once again I returned to the Land of Nod, only to be awakened at 7AM by a gentle tug from my grandson who was standing next to the bed (not in it!) trying to let me know that he needed his diaper changed. Okay, no one wants to wear a nasty diaper, so I changed his diaper and once more deposited him in the bed. We had a short discussion on whether he'd rather be in my bed or his bed. No, there are no other choices. He found one.

He clambered over the lump that was his grandfather in bed and located grandpa's hand so he could try and pull him off to play. Grandpa said no. Bentley finally went back to sleep and he slept in until quite late which meant I had a chance to catch up on my sleep, too. :-)

Bentley played with his train set (again!) this afternoon. I've learned that you don't need to buy your grandchildren expensive wooden track for their trains. They are just as happy carrying the trains around the house, dangling the trains in a vertical string, or using an ironing board as an incline surface.

Babies on Mirrors

If you look closely, you will see that there are three baby models used in this shoot. Some of the photos were taken long ago (18 months earlier!) and added to the new photos taken yesterday.

Thank you Bentley, Jackson, and Genevieve for your fine work. You babies are pros!

Nonstop Holiday Partying

We have been enjoying the company of our lovely grandchildren for the past two days. First the twins came to spend the night last night. They stayed through this evening. To extend the party beyond early afternoon we had to convince their mom that we were all still having fun together. She, for some reason, was a little skeptical that we weren't all partied out. Or perhaps it was the twins that she thought might need a break?!

We know how to show the twins a good time. We hauled out the big mirror from storage and some black fabric and we had the best ever photo shoot! What could be more fun than that? Mark will be posting the results in a slideshow in the next day or two. Here's a sample of the twins on black fabric, but without the mirror. The first shot was an attempt to get the twins to lean against the wall in a standing position next to each other, but without two photographic assistants that arrangement was impossible.

Because Kara had so much free time and energy with the babies gone, she made dinner and brought it over here. After dinner we took Bentley out to the hot tub with us while Kara read with the twins and Matt was off doing church service. Then we and Kara watched a couple of tv shows while holding the twins. They quite like tv time because it means lots of cuddle time. Bentley threw art cards and pegs and trains around the tv room. (Since you don't get to be an expert thrower without lots of practice, we indulge him in his throwing as long as he doesn't aim at people.) Kara and Matt allowed us to keep Bentley for the night. He's downstairs snoozing away while we play on our computers. We'd best be getting to bed or we won't be fun companions for him tomorrow.

We are lucky, lucky, lucky grandparents to have the little ones live nearby us.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Manger Trekking

This past week Bentley has greatly enjoyed the wooden manger that his mom put out for Christmas. (Kara's Aunt Diane made it for her a few years ago.) Bentley likes to take the pieces and move them from the end table to various other locations. Sometimes it's the dining room table, sometimes the twins' sleeper chair, other times it's his dump truck or Little People Train. This afternoon he detoured by me to give me a close-up view of each piece as he moved it. After he moves them from the manger, he then reverses the process and returns them, lining them up nicely--everyone facing forward. It's unfortunate that Mary and Joseph didn't have such able help on their trek.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy 6 months, twinks!

It's hard to believe that Genevieve and Jackson are already half a year old - in some ways, at least! The harried lifestyle we currently live makes it seem like they've been with us much longer than a few short months, and their amazing growth also seems like it should have taken more than 178 (give or take a few!) days to achieve.

What's new with these awesome little tykes?

Both of the twins have great big belly laughs now, although it's rare that I can coax those laughs out of them - I get little chuckles for my efforts but their father gets the big laughs. Not fair!

Genevieve and Jackson are EXCELLENT drool machines. We hope they're working on some teeth because we can't think of any other good excuses for the amount of salivia they produce. :-)

Genevieve is thinking of crawling. If only she could hold up her head AND tuck her legs under at the same time... right now she drags her head along the ground as she tries to push. The pace is closer to snail than cheetah, but I'm always happy to sit and cheer her on ! Jackson, on the other hand, is normally content to relax and enjoy the world around him. At this point in his young life he sees no merit in excessive physical exertion. Maybe that will change if Genevieve takes off soon? We'll see!

Once in a while (finally!) the twins hold hands. Normally it's Jackson grabbing for Genevieve. It doesn't last long because he'll start to chew on her hand, she'll get a very disturbed expression, and the interlude will be over. Oh well - it's cute while it lasts.

They still haven't quite learned the trick of swallowing food. To be fair to the babes, they haven't been given an excessive number of opportunities to try. I figure feeding them solids will be time consuming enough at some near point in the future - so why rush it?

Lastly, the twinks are turning into gab machines! Genevieve is more vocal (and much louder!) than Jackson and will even hold long conversations on the phone. If you catch Jackson in the right reflective mood, however, he is willing to share a number of insightful thoughts.

It is very rewarding to have the twins be so interactive and social lately, it certainly makes taking care of them more fun. We can't wait to see what happens in the next six months as they become mobile with crawling and walking! Or can we wait... ??? Perhaps we should encourage sedentary play for a while longer!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My Little Marzi-plum

I love Marzipan, and some years I am lucky enough to receive a few bars of it from my Mother for Christmas - it's a special treat, for this time of year! My father is also a big fan of marzipan. Last night he made the mistake of offering Bentley a bite. Bentley took a little bite from his bar, and then came back with a huge open mouth for a hunk of the bar. My father wisely put the rest of his marzipan away, and I unwisely and impulsively offered to share one of my bars with Bentley. I think he ate 2/3rds of it and left me with 1/3rd. Love at first taste!

When asked what his favorite candy bar is, I'm guessing this is not a kid who will say Snickers. He's going to go with "Marzipan, please!".

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve Parties

Christmas Eve is the day that our family traditionally opens gifts. It is also the day that the extended family has their holiday party. At the family party the twins were duly admired by everyone and consequently were in a good mood for the entire event.

They chatted with their soon-to-arrive second cousin Tiernen.
Bentley meanwhile was running wild with second cousin Felicity.

He checked out the sweets.

After the party wound down, we moved the festivities to our home. Bentley fell asleep on the car ride over and so we let him snooze for a short time. Then we woke him up and started the gift opening again.

Here's a final two photos of the twins in their Christmas finery.

Kara will have to pick the story up from here and let everyone know what happened when they got home and how Christmas Day went.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

HURRAY for us!

It's been weeks since we've convinced all three little ones to cooperate enough to get a nice group photo. (I.e. a photo wherein no one looks abjectly unhappy and the photo grouping is pleasing to the eye.) Typically Bentley is unwilling to sit with the twins long enough to take even one shot. On the rare occasions that he will cooperate, then one of the twins is out-of-sorts.

Yesterday at Costco I found a cute little kiddy couch (which doubles as a sleepover couch) and I purchased it for my TV room. We adults have our couches and now the wee little ones have theirs. The children liked it enough to sit on it for an extended photo shoot. In fact, there were so many good shots we were hard put to pick our favorite. We chose our favorite two shots for single photos and then we chose a four pack of slightly goofy (but very cute) shots.

I think these photos are nice, but we have yet to obtain the perfect group photo of our grandchildren--one in which 1) all three children are looking at the camera and 2) smiling and 3) their hands are not obscuring their or their sibling's face and 4) their body posture isn't distracting and 5) the background of the photo is nice. (The Diego print on the new couch will be covered in future serious photo shoots.) With three little ones, it's always been a trade-off with some child looking less than their best. We shall persevere on our quest and perhaps we shall obtain The Perfect Photo in 2008.

12 Hours of Sleep

Not for all of us, of course - that would be too much of a dream come true! Who was the clever baby who slept away half of the day without waking?

Genevieve!! She received lavish compliments from both of her parents this morning. We hope that she enjoyed the praise so much that she'll give us another 12 hours tonight, but perhaps that's being greedy - 10 would be just as great.

The secret to our random success? A balmy temperature of 78 degrees in our bedroom. The space heater was left on a little longer than normal (to counter the normal downstairs temperature that's in the very low 60s at night) and it became hot, hot, hot in the room. I don't think we'll let it get quite as hot tonight, as the adults in the room were way TOO hot, but maybe we can find a happy compromise that lets Genevieve and her parents sleep (of course, that would assume that Jackson is also willing to sleep - an iffy assumption lately).

Friday, December 21, 2007

Alike? Different?

I was out shopping with Kara and the children last weekend. We got the usual "Are they identical?" Which made me think (but I did not voice my thoughts), "Are you blind?" That was followed by "I'm a twin" by one woman and the next woman said "My daughter (pointing to a teenager with her), is a twin." I responded with "So am I." It was quite the little twinfest there at Burlington Coat Factory. It's not that often that we twins outnumber the singletons.

Back to the point of my blog entry--how alike are the twins? Why do strangers taking a quick glance at them think they might be identical? They share the same parents and ethnicity. (But then so does Bentley.) They are remarkably similar in size. Kara weighed them this week at home and they weighed in at exactly the same weight. They are about the same height, too--near as we can tell. (It's very difficult to measure the height of a baby.) When they are both sleeping bundled up in their car seats wearing their knitted winter hats, they look very much alike. (They were not so attired at Burlington.)

They are the same age--down to the minute. They are equally, adorably cute. They are both quite demanding (very loud) when hungry or wet or cranky. And, they are both very good at being five and half months old! (Whatever that means. It's supposed to be a great all purpose baby compliment.)

How are they different? Well, Genevieve has been wowing the adults lately with her new baby tricks--she can move around (not crawl, but roll and scuttle); she's an awesome jumper in the jumperoo; she entertains herself for significant periods of time; she's a good sleeper at night; and she's won over her older brother Bentley.

Jackson is very charming. Strangers often remark on his beautiful smile. His cry is incredibly compelling (unless you've been overexposed to it). He is not a good sleeper at night. He prefers to eat at night. He hasn't mastered any new baby tricks lately, but that's only because he's been side-tracked by his stomach problems. Once he's past the colicky stage, I'm sure he, too, will be wowing us in that department.

Jackson quickly captivates people's attention with his huge eyes; his cute, little, pointy chin; and his ready smile. Genevieve has to be observed for a while before the full impact of her charm is felt. She's reserved, especially with strangers, but often with family, too. She makes me work for that first smile of the day from her whereas Jackson gives you one immediately. In this regard Jackson is like his daddy and Genevieve is like her mommy.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Me, Monkeys, & Tarzan

An update, from the life and times of Bentley the Great!

- A new word has emerged this past week: me! It's all about me, me, me. I love it. He points to himself, and says "me!". As in - help ME! Feed ME! Pick ME up! Give ME my bottle! We're still working on please, the p sound isn't quite with him yet.

- Monkeys say "no more". Apparently we've read "Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" a number of times. Whenever Bentley sees a picture of a monkey he says "no more!". :-) Roosters say doo (his interpretation of cockadoodledoo), cows say mooo, dogs say woof, but monkeys say no more.

- Fun playdates! Bentley has been developing a new friendship with Haley who is about 6 months older than him. We were over at Haley's house and she demonstrated her Tarzan roar (she's been watching the movie Tarzan, and likes the part where Tarzan learns to roar). She has an impressive roar with a huge open mouth, good volume, and good growl. She showed Bentley, who stared at her and burst into tears. It wasn't funny for him (but he did get over it!) but it was funny to the rest of us!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Zombie Duty

Jackson continues to torment his loved ones at night, so late yesterday evening I snuck him home with me. Well, perhaps snuck is the wrong term as Bentley clearly understood what was going on and demanded to come along, too. (I think Bentley might have misunderstood and thought he was invited instead of Jackson. He started putting on his coat to leave with us and we could not deny him, so we took both boys home with us.)

Bentley doesn't require much care from us at night. We give him a warm bottle, a stack of books, and prime real estate in our bed and he's content to drift off to sleep without too much fuss.

Jackson is a different story. The closer to your bedtime it is the fussier he gets.

Even though he had recently eaten, to calm him down I handed his opa a 4 ounce bottle. Jackson guzzled it and was content for a brief time. When he became cranky again, I fed him 2 ounces more. He was happy for another short interval, but then demanded that I sit upright with him--absolutely no lounging on the job.

I had the perfect solution for that. His opa stays up until at least 1AM every night, so I figured they'd make the perfect buddy team. Well, opa decided (for the first time in over a week--I wonder what prompted the decision?) that he ought to go to bed before midnight (it was 11:56PM), so I ended up with the cranky baby. I made him another 2 ounce bottle. He sucked it down and finally fell asleep after a few grousing comments. He slept until 4:30AM.

Getting up at 4:30AM (Zombie Duty) when I've only had a portion of a good night's rest gives me an instant headache. That's before I even pick up the crying infant who needs a diaper changed and wants a bottle NOW. Fortunately, that's all he demanded. He was content to go back to sleep once he had those two items. He didn't demand (like earlier) to be held in an upright position by a caregiver with a smile on their face. I'm pretty sure I could not have provided both of those services at the same time.

He slept until 8:30AM at which time I propped a bottle in his mouth and he ate most of it before falling back asleep. (I didn't want to risk waking him up fully by removing him from his bed, so I didn't change his diaper.) I was able to exercise before the two boys got up for the day. Isn't that a miracle?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Genevieve Eats!

Today I set up one of the two new high chairs for the babies, and in honor of the big event I tried out some food on them.

The rice cereal didn't go over well, and the sweet potatoes were only a slightly bigger hit. We'll keep trying though!

She shuddered and made "uck uck uck" sounds under her breath while trying the new food.

Jackson, on the other hand, was a great sport. He swallowed down his sweet potatoes with good haste and screamed when I said no more for today. I'm hoping that's a sign of pleasant eating experiences to come!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Rarest of Photos

It is very odd, but we have very few photos of Kara with both twins. Considering that she is the primary care giver and seldom away from them, you'd think that she'd be featured in lots and lots of photos. Not so. Tonight I demanded that she pose for a photo. (Ten years from now she'll be glad I insisted on this photo.)

Who's the Lucky One?

Genevieve has lots of pretty, pretty dresses and matching hairbows, tights, frilly socks, and shoes. Jackson has one vest and one tie. Consequently, Genevieve is often dressed much finer than her brother. Here's how they were attired for church today.

A few weeks ago their Sunday outfits were even more disparate.

Is Jackson missing out? Or is he the lucky one?

Looking Good

Bentley took some photos of himself today. He's really starting to understand how the camera on the cell phone works. (Maybe he can teach me?)

Here's one of his self-portraits.

Don't you think it compares favorably with a lot of the photos one sees on Facebook and MySpace?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Another attempt at Christmas pictures

Today we decided to try getting two out of three children for a Christmas picture... alas, only Jackson (the one who is still sick, mind you!) was in an extremely cooperative mood. That's the way it goes I guess!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Deceptive Advertising

This baby looks angelic, but according to his housemates he is not. They all claim that he has become a horrible bedmate. He cries and shrieks and only sleeps in short spurts. Since everyone in the Altman household is currently sleeping in the same bed (an after effect of the flu last week), everyone is suffering from his disruptive behavior. (Well, to be perfectly truthful his mom says that Genevieve sleeps through his crying fits. She's had lots of practice enduring his antics. This is nothing compared to what he put her through in the womb.) Bentley has been sleeping in until noon to make up for sleep lost during the night--though I must say he still looks pretty wiped out. Jackson's mom and dad would love to sleep until noon, too, but there's that job that dad has to go to and mom has to get up to entertain Genevieve. We decided to bring Jackson home with us tonight to see just how bad it is. He sure looks cute...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunbathing in Alaska

Normally you don't see any sunworshippers stripped down to their skivvies in Alaska in winter. It's not just the lack of sunshine--it's the snow and cold temperatures outside that prevent the practice. Bentley found a way around these two problems. He's put the new dining room chandelier to good use. (In case you've forgotten what it looks like--weeks ago Kara blogged about it--I'll repost that photo first.)

Now here's Bentley enjoying the bright light it emits.

Just another fine example of thinking outside the box.


Being a twin has distinct advantages. My memories of growing up as a twin are almost all good ones. When I was young it was great to have a playmate my age 24-7. I was never alone when it came to new adventures--be it going to the dentist, attending a friend's birthday party, joining Girl Scouts, starting grade school, or moving cross-country. I liked having a twin sister.

However, after spending time with my infant-aged twin grandchildren I am forced to admit that there are also some distinct disadvantages to being a twin that I had forgotten. The down side to being a twin is that there often aren't enough adults available to keep two babies happy.

When your dad leaves to go to work (to keep the mortgage, formula, diaper, and doctor bills paid) and your mom is the only adult on call, you can scream as loud as you like, but sometimes you have to wait quite a while for assistance. Even when the grandparents come to visit, the standard of care still isn't up to par with that given an only child. If your twin is showing off new baby tricks (smiling, kicking, rolling over, grabbing, cooing, grunting, etc), every adult eye in the room will be on them. Even asleep your twin can be a distraction for the adults in the room. You always have to compete with the OTHER baby. Would you want to compete with this baby?

Or this baby?

I would not.

All those annoying things like waiting for a bottle to be prepared, getting a diaper changed, or being strapped into a car seat or stroller take twice as long when there are two babies. Sometimes when you're hungry or wet or just wanting to be held, you have to out scream your twin for adult attention. Misery does NOT love company.

And if having a twin weren't enough of a handi-cap as an infant, try having an older sibling like Bentley. He's a hard act to follow. (Fortunately being a twin is its own brand of fame so that evens the playing field somewhat.)

Yes, life is not easy for an infant twin. However, once they are a little older, they will forget the early trials of twinship (I have!) and only remember the wonderful benefits of having a built-in best friend. It's going to be so much fun! They will quit competing with each other and start collaborating.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Custody of Snowmen Bobb

It's that time of year when you drag out all your Christmas decorations. I have a couple of lighted snowmen snow globes (named Snowmen Bobb) that I purchased in Frankenmuth, Michigan at Bronner's (the largest Christmas store in the world). Last year Bentley showed a marked preference for them. I told him that when he turned five, if he asked for them, he could have them. I figured he'd lose interest in them by then. (I quite like these snowmen!)

This Christmas season he has again favored them with marked attention. He insisted on taking them home one evening. I looked up Bronner's online to see about purchasing another pair, but they no longer carry them. Then this past week when Kara and I were at Fred Meyer's she spotted a similar item. I purchased two different ones. They looked similar in the package but once removed it became evident that they were not nearly as fine. The new snowmen had scarves that stuck out in back (very odd looking) and they only glowed in two colors--red and blue. !?! Bobb glows in four colors--including, of course, green. Bentley was not fooled by these snowmen. I returned them to Fred's later in the week. I shall just have to resign myself to handing my Bronner's pair over to Bentley in four more years. (Thankfully his birthday is in January, so I will get an extra year of custody!)

Here's another Christmas fun photo--Bentley rearranging my Christmas CDs. Evidently my arrangement was too...neat?

He doesn't seem to like Christmas music. He insists on playing his Fisher Price "Dance Baby Dance" CD that his great-grandmother gave him.