Monday, February 27, 2012

23 months old (yesterday)

Tricycle accident in progress
So, I didn't write an entry last night- I was too busy watching the Oscars.  Which I was not especially impressed with, and went to bed at 10 so I missed the big awards.

But, the boys turned 23 months old yesterday, which means that in 1 month they will be TWO YEARS OLD.  This 2nd year is flying by much more quickly than the first.  I'm working on the party planning, and picked out material to make their invitations over the weekend.

Here is what the boys are up to now:
Talking- not so much, still.  We have our early intervention check-up soon and I think I will request more intense speech services.  It is clear that they understand everything that we say to them, but are still saying very little.  They have about the same number of words and same words themselves, so part of me wonders whether, if one of them started to talk, the other would follow.  Within the past week they have started to vocalize more, and I hope that means they will talk soon.  I hate that I'm so worried about it, but I am.

Physical activity- they are very strong and agile.  Everything they see is a jungle gym to them!  Yesterday we went to a birthday party at the Little Gym and both loved swinging from the rings and bars.  Asher also loved the balance beam.  Our Gymboree membership ends in about 3 weeks, and I think we're going to stop for the summer and take a weekly gymnastics class instead.

Eating- Benjamin is interested in trying all foods, especially if they are on a grown-up's plate and eaten with adult silverware.  Tonight he had curried butternut squash soup, fennel and apple salad, and chicken.  Asher is more picky.  He likes to reject most foods without even trying them.  Asher's favorite foods right now are crackers, broccoli, asparagus, oranges, and cookies.

Personality- Asher is getting kind of bossy.  He will yell at the cats "Down! Down!" if they jump onto the table or counter,  or tell Benjamin "No!" if Benjamin starts to misbehave.  Asher also likes to have me all to himself.  He will sprawl himself across my lap and then try to push Benjamin if Benjamin wants to cuddle. Then, Benjamin will do the same to him.  Asher is very attached to me, especially nursing.

Benjamin can be a little more independent than Asher, but even that isn't always true.  He loves all vehicles, and we watch the school buses drive by twice a day.  He has been throwing some tantrums lately, especially if he doesn't have a good nap.  He basically goes limp and lies on the floor, and then he will scream, cry, and kick.  He likes to say "No." in this very condescending tone of voice when you ask him a question to which the question is obviously "yes."
Both boys like books, but Benjamin has more patience for them right now.  Asher will try to flip pages to get to the end in a hurry.  They both like picking out things in the pictures, like birds and cats, or anything that they either know the name of or the sound it makes.

Tonight Eric is out of town and my parents brought dinner to the boys and me, and then help me put the boys to bed.  My dad was in the glider and leaned over to try to take a picture of the boys reading with me, and fell out of the chair!  There was a big boom when the chair hit the floor, and then a moment of silence as we made sure Grandpa Nick was ok.  When we saw Grandpa was ok, Asher burst into tears!  It was clear he was concerned for his Grandpa, and very sweet.

Benjamin has started making little kiss noises when he kisses, and kissing more often.  Today when I got Asher out of the car seat, Benjamin leaned in and gave Asher lots of little kisses on his face.  And later, when I was holding Asher and we went to get Benjamin out of the car seat, Asher gave Benjamin kisses and a huge hug.  I love how much they love each other.

They are both silly and goofy, and love to make themselves, each other, and us, laugh.  They never stop moving, unless they are asleep.
Bear on a trike

Sleeping- Benjamin is a pretty solid nighttime sleeper.  Asher likes to wake up somewhere between 5 and 6 and keep getting up every 20-30 minutes after that.  Eric and I are seriously tired!  Asher then likes to take a good nap, and Benjamin's are hit or miss.  I usually get about 1.5 hours of peace and quiet during the day when I'm home- better than nothing!

And now it is time for me to go to bed.  Eric is in Orlando for the night for a meeting.  We miss him, but the boys kept me busy enough to barely notice his absence until after they went to bed.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Benjamin in the kitchen

The past two days, Benjamin has woken up from nap before Asher, and I've been in the kitchen, baking.  Yesterday I made Nigella Lawson's chocolate Guinness cake, but with Diesel beer from Sixpoint (my friend works there and gave us some to sample) instead.  Benjamin came just in time to help lick the spatula.
He approved!  We had planned to have dinner with Meema and Grandpa, but Grandpa Nick was a little late getting Meema from the airport, so the boys had to go to bed, and missed out on cake.  At least Benjamin got some batter!

Today I wanted to make homemade fig newtons and Benjamin woke up.  He gets upset when I'm in the kitchen, which is understandable, because I should be paying attention to him anyway.  I decided it was time for him to learn to cook!  He came in and helped dump ingredients in the bowl, and then helped me stir it with the whisk.  It was all wonderful until I took the whisk away, which led to major hysterics on the dining room floor.
Measuring ingredients
He was an excellent helper.  I really look forward to when the boys can help me in the kitchen and we can cook and bake together.  For the most part, the boys seem to enjoy the products of my baking.  They're a little picky about food sometimes- something they love one week they won't eat the next.  I guess that's normal for toddlers, though.  But, one thing they consistently like-- cookies!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day trip to Brooklyn and Manhattan

Today the boys took their first trip to Brooklyn.  Grandpa Nick and I went for the day because Aunt Elana wanted to see them, but not come all the way to Philadelphia where it is boring and she doesn't know anyone (other than us).  So we compromised on New York City, which is an easy drive for us and a place where we both have a lot of friends.  Daddy stayed home to work in peace and undisturbed quiet.

We met Elana at a little restaurant in Brooklyn called Bocca Lupo, which was the perfect choice (thank you to our friend Jamie for the recommendation!).  It had a lot of other children in it, and they were clearly accustomed to feeding families- they took our order for the boys as we sat down so that the boys could have food right away, gave the boys little cocktail glasses with straws for their water, and gave us a bench by the window to sit on, which the boys loved.
at the bar, waiting for our table
my attempt at more artistic photography
The food was good, the service was very friendly and prompt, and boys were excellent company.  The place had big windows, and was at a corner. The boys loved watching all the cars and trucks drive by as we sat.  Then, as we were leaving, a delivery truck pulled up and Benjamin ran up to the door of it and yelled, "Hi! Hi! Hi!"  The driver came out of the back of the truck and when I told him how much the boys love trucks, he let them come on the truck to check it out.

Benjamin trying out his new job
Asher driving the truck
They were elated!  They loved it, and they giggled hysterically.  Their happiness wore off on the driver, too, and as we were getting off the truck they both shouted "Bye! Buh-Bye!" and waved, and he said that they made his day.

We were going to head straight to the transit museum, but Elana wanted to take them down to the water to see if there were any ships.  We never made it to the water, but had to stop at a playground.  If we ever try to walk past a playground without stopping, the boys go totally crazy in the stroller.  They kick and try to bust out of their seats.  Since we'd been in the car for a couple of hours and then they had sat quietly at lunch, I figured they need to get some exercise.

They ran around like wildmen, with huge grins.  They enjoyed the attention they were getting from Grandpa Nick and Aunt Elana, too.
"Are you talking to me?"
Bear loves slides
Happy family
In love with that snaggle-tooth grin
good climber
Excited running
Then we walked to the transit museum.  The boys loved the busy city streets and all the buses and taxis.  We also passed a pet adoption van with windows where you could look at all the pets.  There were adorable kitties inside so we oohed and ahhed.  And softy Aunt Elana made a generous donation.  I saw a couple leaving with a cat in a box, and the woman jumped up and down a little and gave her boyfriend a big kiss as they were leaving- it was sweet to see them so happy to have a pet, and I am sure their kitty will have a good home.

We were really pushing our luck by the time we got to the museum.  We almost left and just rode the subway around town but decided it would be safter to go to the museum.  We waited on line for a while, then explored the old trains they have.
Asher and Grandpa Nick on the train
Grandpa Nick and Benjamin
Nearing the end of his rope- lying on the floor in protest
Driving the bus
Our other bus driver
After that last picture, we left.  When I tried to get Asher out of the bus so that other boys could play, he threw a fit.  He held on to the steering wheel with both hands and cried, and then threw a tantrum in the doorway of the bus, with everyone watching.  I just picked him up and carried him out, and that was it, we left.  Well, it wasn't that easy... we put the boys in their stroller in order to get them out quickly, but there was no elevator.  So Elana and I carried the stroller up the stairs- my dad was getting the car to pick us up- that was about 30 lbs of baby plus stroller that we took up from subway-level.  Oy.  The boys loved that part and giggled all the way up.

I bought them M&Ms as a treat, and we got in the car and I fed them M&Ms as we drove over the Brooklyn Bridge and into Manhattan.

The final stop on our trip was at my friend Amanda's new apartment.  She and her boyfriend just moved into a big, lovely building in Chelsea.  She was out picking up snacks for us when we got there, so the boys just ran around the lobby and hallways.  They were definitely tired, but they were still in good moods.

At Amanda's we saw Amanda, her sister Abby, Amanda's boyfriend Brad, and our family friend Ellen.
Drinks and snacks
Monkeys on the bed
more monkeys
Monkeys having fun
We left around 5 o'clock, and we were all exhausted.  Asher fell asleep before we even got to the Holland Tunnel.  Here they are on the way home, shortly after leaving.
It really was a wonderful day, and it made me so happy to see my boys having such a great time, and bringing smiles to so many people.  I think we'll be going back again before long, now that we know how much fun they have.  And I hope they sleep well tonight, because I need the rest!

Monday, February 13, 2012

a little out of control

We have all been sick for the past week.  In general, Asher improved, but I got a horrible cold that I worked through on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  I figured it was easier to go to work and sit around than it would be to stay home and take care of two active toddlers, so I worked and blew my nose through all my sessions.  And washed my hands a lot, and didn't touch anyone.  Benjamin began to improve, but then got worse again.  My cold turned into a sinus infection- my face hurts, my teeth hurt and I am generally fatigued (wait, is that part of being sick or just part of being me?).  I can't sleep well because of congestion, and sometimes I hear myself breathe and wake myself up.

Today I took Benjamin (and Asher, although Asher was not sick) to the pediatrician.  The doctor thinks that Benjamin needs antibiotics.  That is a first for us- we have made it 22.5 months with 2 children without a single round of antibiotics.  Not a single ear infection for either one of them!  Not to sound all La Leche League or anything, but I think breast feeding, and extended breast feeding through this winter, made a difference.

But here is what really feels out of control- my children!  All of a sudden I went from feeling like I kind of had a handle on life with almost-two-year-old twins to feeling like they are the bosses and I have no control whatsoever.  I'm not talking about complete nightmare behavior or that we qualify for "America's Super Nanny" just yet, but there has been a definite increase in tantrums over the past couple of weeks.

Here are some things that have been deemed worthy of tantrums:
wearing pants
not getting to use the remote control as a toy
being asked to sit in your chair (rather than mommy or daddy's)
being asked to eat real food (rather than only cookies)
hearing "no more crackers, we're eating dinner soon."
watching mommy go upstairs to use the bathroom by herself
not being allowed to go in the kitchen when the oven is on
wearing a coat when it is 25 degrees outside

Those are just a few of the things that I can remember off the top of my head.  Benjamin gets the sympathy vote- he cries these big, juicy tears that are heartbreaking.  Asher gets the "oh my god, just make it stop!" vote because he can scream and kick his legs in a way that irritates me like nails on a chalkboard.

Eric and I are working at discipline.  At this point we are just trying to be consistent, like only feeding them in their boosters or at their little table, and making sure that everyone has pants on- at least to start the day.  We are also ignoring tantrums, which has made them shorter.  And the boys have made progress on eating in their chairs, which makes Eric and me feel like our attempts to discipline are working.

We still have trouble with Asher's sleeping.  He wakes up a lot at night, and he was then able to open his door and come into our room.  Eric got childproof doorknob covers, which took Asher all of 5 minutes to snap off and then open the door and come into our room.  Now the knob cover has packing tape on it, but I found a strip of that on the floor, so I am guessing it won't be long before he gets that off, then the childproof cover, and then into our room.  The best was a few nights ago when they were both running around our bed at 12:45.  I was so frightened, and I think Benjamin was too!

It must be my bedtime soon, I have to get some rest and get better!

Monday, February 6, 2012

long weekend

And I don't mean "long weekend getaway for fun in the sun" or something.

Both boys got sick.  First it was Benjamin, with a cough, then a little bit of runny nose, but nothing too terrible.  Then it was Asher, who started coughing too, and then, by Thursday night, had a fever.  On Friday he was sick and dragging all day.  He wouldn't get out of his pajamas, and he didn't want to eat.  His fever went up to 103 on Friday night.  The fever came down with Advil, but then we ran out of Advil. And lazy, dumb parents that we are, we decided that we wouldn't go to the pharmacy at night and would just give him Tylenol instead.  Haha.  Tylenol did nothing for him, so by the middle of the night, he was burning up and miserable.  Which made mommy and daddy miserable, too- Asher wanted to sleep in bed with us, on top of me, and would wake up and cry intermittently.  Oh my goodness, it was the worst night of sleep we've had since they were maybe 3 weeks old.

The rest of the weekend kind of went on like that, with Asher not napping and not sleeping well.  Benjamin was much better, but I still felt like we were a bunch of lepers and I canceled all of our social plans, and we stayed inside like hermits.

Sunday afternoon we did go out for a little.  I think we were all going stir-crazy and I thought some fresh air might be good for the guys.  I could tell Asher was feeling a little better, but he didn't have his usual vim and vigor.

Here we are Sunday evening ready for the Superbowl:
notice Benjamin has his favorite book
Eric went to watch the game with some neighbors while I stayed home.  It was a very depressing end to the game for Patriots' fans, and that's all I'll say.

I don't think that Asher's 100% yet.  His appetite is low, he is very whiny and has been having a lot of tantrums.  Here he is this morning:
You can see he does not have his normal happy face.  Tonight was kind of trying- partly because I am tired, and partly because they are not at their best.  I thought, "tomorrow will be a good day to go to work!" It's days like that that I am glad to work part-time-- I have had more than enough time with my little angels this weekend.  And after 3 days of work, I know I will be happy to have another long weekend with them!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Guest post: On Being Grandpa Nick

The cutest grandchildren Grandpa Nick has

Some things I figured out during January with Asher and Benjamin.

1. All grandparents are correct - their grandchildren are the most beautiful, energetic, smart and charming creatures on earth. The parents will back them up on that.

2. I can help parents, family and friends maintain the foundation of love and reliability supporting the two boys. That becomes the bedrock of their security and self-confidence as they face a sometimes-harsh world. Last week Rebecca and Benjamin slept at our house. Rebecca and Eric left Asher with a sitter, came here with Benjamin, put him to bed, calmed him and then went out for dinner. Rebecca later returned to our house to sleep. Of course Benjamin woke up crying shortly after his parents left.

I went upstairs, picked him up, held him and sang the family good night song until he calmed down. Then said, "It's time to go back to sleep in the Pack-and-Play." He understood me and loosened his grip. As soon as he was down he started to cry again. I leaned over and patted him on the back until he calmed and started to sleep. Then I stood up. Within seconds he started to wake. I patted him more softly. As I stood watch, ready to calm him again, memories returned of the times when I was about four and would wake up in terror. I would run to my parents in the living room, they would calm me and then return me back to bed. I was helping Benjamin feel safe at our house while passing along the love and security my parents gave me.

I realized I was trapped when Benjamin finally fell asleep. The hall light was on and would likely wake him if I opened the bedroom door while leaving. I took out my phone and texted Alison for help. No response. Friends had come for dinner with us, I texted the husband. A bit later the voices downstairs changed, then my wife appeared at the door. Once she turned off the hall light I made my escape. I then learned that Alison hadn't heard the text arrive on her phone, my friend was being polite and assiduously ignoring his phone, and my wife only came upstairs to verify whether I had fallen asleep in the room with Benjamin.

3. Being there is its own reward. Benjamin & Asher are comfortable with me. I can exercise my grade-school humor with them - funny faces, physical jokes... They grow and change from week to week. 

Now they practice their own humor on me. Last week Asher started unbuttoning my shirt while I was undressing him for the bath. They read books differently - Benjamin spots his favorite letters, they can make many of the animal sounds... They play differently - much more direct imitation of their parents. They both use their tools to "fix" the toy vacuum - Benjamin started, Asher soon imitated. 

Daddy Eric reading to his sons
There's nothing sweeter than snuggling a just-washed boy in a towel before putting lotion on him, then his diaper and pajamas. Even that changes. Last year, we had to help their hands through the sleeve. Now they can push their hands through and know which foot goes on which side of the pajamas. Last year they were wriggling to escape the changing table. This year the thrill is switching the table lamp on & off. Asher's even tall enough to do it while standing on the floor.

4. Grandparents have license to indulge the grandchildren. I often wear my "Grandpa Nick" sweater/jacket when I'm with the boys. It features a big zipper down the front plus a zip-up pocket on each side. Last Fall their big thrill was operating the big zipper. Now Asher's learned that, if he unzips the pocket and checks he'll find a roll of Life Savers, and get one as a treat. Benjamin comes by to claim his Life Saver after his brother's done the heavy zipping.

The Life Savers have special meaning in our family. When Rebecca and her sister were young we once had to spend several hours waiting for a wedding to begin. walking around the block, with each daughter receiving a new Life Saver for each circuit, while waiting for a wedding to begin. My wife remembered how her Father always had root beer drops in his pocket, ensuring she would run to him as soon as he came home.

February just started, but I've already learned that sometimes the best thing a grandparent can do is free up the parents by spending quality time with the grandchildren in the next room. I don't know what I'll learn next, but class will be in session soon with Asher, Benjamin and their parents so close.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Benjamin's favorite thing:

His book!
Benjamin loves all trucks, buses, cars, etc.  I found this book in our bookshelf- I have no memory of who gave it to them and when, but Benjamin has not put it down since Sunday.  This picture is him at the playground with Meema while I was at work, and he is currently sleeping with it in his bed.  At the playground he apparently climbed everywhere with it in his hand, and even went down the slides on his tummy while holding the book above his head.  Too cute!

Today Eric and I got a new nephew- our sister-in-law Kerisa gave birth to a baby boy this afternoon!  We won't get to see him for a while, but are excited to welcome the newest member of our family to the world.