Share Your Passion

While you wait on the edge of your seat for my Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon (and mini vacation with lots of pictures) recap, head on over to read my guest post for her theme Share Your Passion (mine is running, perhaps not shockingly) at This Crazy Cass Life.

While you’re at it, wish her luck on her upcoming PhD dissertation defense!

Life With Twins – 17 months

We’ve reached a point now where I am not exactly sure how to answer when people ask me how old they are. After some trial and error, I say “almost a year and a half.”

Already.

Gross Motor

Even though Abby didn’t even start walking until a month ago, she is already running like a champ. Miles plays around with walking backwards, which is pretty funny. Abby contemplates it, but that’s about as far as she goes. She walks on her tip toes sometimes, and watches herself.

When I thought about them walking, I thought the part that made me the most nervous was the running. I was wrong. It is the climbing. While neither has figured out quite how to climb on the couch yet, Abby is getting there, and they have both figured out how to climb onto the side table from the couch to reach half full glasses of water, iPhones, remotes, and my pop tarts (which they subsequently run off with, giggling).

Fine Motor

Not much new here. We get tons of I’ll hold the spoon in this hand and eat my applesauce with my other hand, because you know, that seems logical. Miles started pushing the toy cars around and Abby isn’t happy unless the book in front of her is a flip book of some kind that she can use two fingers to, well, flip. Bryan said he’s almost reaching the doorknobs, so we can’t be far from those super annoying child AND adult proof doorknob safety covers.

Speech and Language

Lots more imitating lately. As an example, Abby has said hug, hot, dun dun (imitating Bryan singing the Jaws theme). Miles has said ball and we go back and forth with this “ma!” “what?” “ma!” “what?” routine that cracks him up. Abby can pick out the dog, cat and heart puzzle pieces and will sometimes touch her nose after me. Miles runs away. Maybe he’s scared of my nose. They’ve started learning how to “comfort”. Sometimes I will pick Abby up and she will rub or pat my arm. Both will lean in for a kiss periodically, and come running for hugs often, which I certainly can’t complain about.

Other

We’ve finally moved out of (most) 12 month clothes. Miles is now wearing 18-24 months. Abby wears mostly 18, but can still fit in some 12. Miles has a couple canine teeth breaking through, along with 2.5 molars. Abby has all 4 molars and (finally) both lower lateral incisors. They sleep through the night more often than not, going to bed between 7:30-8 and waking up between 6-7.

Likes

  • Shoes – getting shoes out makes them both giggle
  • “Throw the boy/girl” (onto the bed)
  • The ball pit
  • iPhone charging cords
  • Walks in the wagon or stroller
  • Brushing teeth
  • Pocoyo (always)
  • Throwing milk cups off of trays (sigh)
  • Tantrums (at least it seems that way sometimes!)

Dislikes

  • Diaper/clothes changes (Miles)
  • Getting faces wiped
  • When the TV is transitioning between the Baby Einstein intro and the actual show
  • The vacuum (Miles)

Picture overload time!

  • I finally finish my tattoo
A pink and blue foot for each of my little ones :)

A pink and blue foot for each of my little ones :)

  • Miles enjoys some cereal
I eat all the cocoa puffs

I eat all the cocoa puffs

  • He takes a nap on grandpa
IMG_4976

Zzzzzz on my grandpa pillow

  • Abby hoards remotes
IMG_0089

*I* control the TV

  • We run our first stroller mile after a long, hot winter
IMG_0092

One and done.

  • Miles sports some cool pajamas
The many faces of skele-boy

The many faces of skele-boy

  • Abby finally has enough hair for a clip
I feel pretty

I feel pretty

  • Miles is so thirsty his throat is bone dry
Skeletons get thirsty too

Skeletons get thirsty too

  • We cruise the mall
Cruisin the mall

Cruisin the mall

Stroller footsie

Stroller footsie

  • We enjoy a nice day at the pool….in October
Welcome to Charleston in October

Welcome to Charleston in October

  • Miles lets me know how he really feels about my dinner selection
This is bullshit

This is bullshit

And some videos

  • Abby discovers her shadow (quality isn’t great – but listen for giggle near the end)
  • Miles walks in style
  • Abby giggles

Talk to Me Baby: The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Ball Pit

If I thought three months was bad before, now its been FOUR.

For those who are new to following this and simply because it has been so long, I’m creating a series of posts on popular baby/toddler toys and how you can use them to facilitate Speech and Language Development. My original post can be seen here

As with the last toys, an intro:

Receptive Language (what we understand) – this is the ability to listen and understand what is communicated by another person. In the Early Intervention age range (birth to 3) some examples would include: following simple directions, the ability to identify objects from a group, the ability to point to objects in pictures etc. In infants an example can be as simple as turning to the source of sound or responding to his/her name.

Expressive Language (the use of language) – this is the ability to communicate wants and needs. Usually we mean verbally but depending on the circumstances it can mean sign language or the use of a communication device. Some examples of this include: the ability to request objects using words, the ability to name objects (real objects or in pictures). In infants this includes grunting, cooing and babbling – all which sounds meaningless at first but are important stepping stones to using words in more functional ways.

Social Skills/Pragmatic Language – these are the more subtle aspects of language and in young children some examples include eye contact, joint attention (the ability to look at a toy, then to you, then back to the toy etc) and turn taking.

Of course these lists are nowhere near all inclusive and are simply meant to help clarify the definitions.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Ball Pit

We received this toy as a belated birthday gift.

Age Range: 2 years plus. Let me just say right now that is baloney (bologna?). The twins were about 16 months old when we got it and they LOVE IT. I cannot stress how much they love this thing!

What it does: This one is pretty self explanatory. I mean, it’s a ball pit. It is a little different in that it has a big hole in the top, two big entryways on two sides and then an area where you can push balls in or out.

Likes: Um, everything. They love to climb in it, kick their feet, throw balls out the sides and through the holes (much to my dismay). Once, Miles watched an entire episode of Pocoyo in it.

I see better this way

I see better this way

Dislikes:  Two words: balls.everywhere. And it only comes with 20 balls.  Definitely invest in an extra bag of balls. For inflatable plastic, its a bit on the pricey side, depending on where you look.

Since I really think this toy could be enjoyable earlier than stated…..

12-18 months

Receptive Language

  • Appropriate play: does your baby pick up the balls and throw them? Will he push them through the holes? Put them in his mouth? (hey, that’s appropriate too)
  • Simple one step directions: There aren’t too many choices here as far as a “give me a ___” command, but you can ask her to give you a ball, push the ball through the hole, throw the ball etc, all with a gesture to help.
  • While baby plays say “stop” and “wait” and see if baby responds (not necessarily listens, but at least responds)
  • Begin identification of body parts using the balls. It sounds like a stretch but you can always take one and say “got your nose/ear/leg!” with it.
  • Object identification: have some simple objects lying around? (ball, shoe, spoon, etc). Throw them in the ball pit and ask your child to find one.

Expressive Language

  • Encourage imitation: If you’re like me and already feel like you say ball a bajilion times a day, be prepared to do it some more. Try to get your child to imitate ball, push, throw, go, anything that would be appropriate (or you could make appropriate). Play peek a boo or work on hi and bye.
  • Encourage independent word use: pick up a ball and ask “what is this?”. Again, choices are more limited here since it is a big pit of nothing but balls, but you can also encourage words like the ones listed above.

Social Skills

  • Poke your head through and say “hi!” and see if your child says hi back.
  • Talk to her about the balls or colors. Pause like you would in a conversation and see if she responds. Responses don’t have to be real words and don’t have to make sense – you are just looking for the social aspect or the start of back and forth conversation

18-24 months

Receptive Language

  • Picture identification: throw some puzzle pieces with basic pictures in and ask your child to find them.
  • Simple verbs: you may have to be a little more creative here but you can still do it. Roll, throw, kick, push would all be easy ones to use.
  • Simple direction following with and without help – you can try without first, and if he doesn’t seem to understand you can provide help (see 12-18 months).
  • Continue with identification of body parts – ask him to point to Mickey’s eyes or Pluto’s nose.

Expressive Language

  • Put two words together. You can pair things like “ ball in” or “throw/kick/roll ball”. You can also begin to label colors, like “red ball”.
  • Encourage independent word use: see above.
  • Begin practicing verb use (and 2 word combinations). See above.

Social Skills

  • While your baby is playing, comment on what he/she is doing or play along to encourage some joint attention, or the ability to look between you and the toy with eye contact.
  • Begin to encourage turn taking. Push a ball out of a hole and say “your turn!”
  • Talk to her about the ball. Pause like you would in a conversation and see if she responds. It doesn’t have to be sentences. Even if you say “Look at this pretty red ball” and he looks at you and responds “ball”, you are still practicing  social skills.

24 to 36 months

Receptive Language

  • Following directions without help. (see above)
  • Simple verbs like the ones described in 18-24 months. You can use these with your direction following
  • Begin color identification. With the multicolored balls this one is easy!
  • Pronouns me, my, you, your. Get a couple of cups/bowls and ask your child to put a ball in “my” or “your” bowl. Take the ball and touch “your” or “my” nose.
  • Begin spatial concepts such as in/out. You’ll probably get more out than in, though :)
  • You can use some simple adjectives such as smooth, squishy, shiny, soft.

Expressive Language

  • Encourage further expansion of sentences from 1-2 words to 2-3 or more words. Some examples include “ball go in”, “want ball please”. You can use these when requesting as well: “want house please” “more puzzle please” “want frog in” etc. Or try to throw some colors in: “want blue ball”.
  • Yes/no questions. Ask “do you want a ball?”
  • Continue with verb use – “roll ball” “kick ball” etc.

Social Skills

  • While your baby is playing, throw some balls out and exclaim “uh oh!” to encourage some joint attention, or the ability to look between you and the toy with eye contact.
  • Continue to practice turn taking.
  • Talk to her about the balls/colors. Pause like you would in a conversation and see if she responds. It doesn’t have to be sentences. Even if you say “Look at this pretty red ball” and he looks at you and responds “red ball”, you are still practicing  social skills. At this age though we like to see responses of at least 2-3 words.

Keep in mind that many of the ideas for older toddlers can be introduced earlier. For example, it never hurts to introduce spatial concepts (in/out), adjectives (rough, smooth) or verbs earlier. You aren’t likely to come across a 12 month old who will say or even point to something smooth, but he is always learning and more exposure is never a bad thing. You can also engage a preschooler by making a game of hide and seek, for example. Have him/her find objects mixed in the balls and ask him/her what you do with it. Or work on identifying colors, using adjectives, etc.

You can purchase this toy on Amazon. (this is about the best price I’ve found). Disney Mickey Having a Ball with 20 Balls.*

As always, requests are welcomed (and encouraged!) if you have a toy your child loves and you’d like some ideas on how to make it more functional for speech development. And please remember this is not meant to be an all encompassing list, just something you can use to help.

In case you missed the first three posts of this series:

Talk to Me Baby: The Cruise and Groove Ballapalooza

Talk to me Baby: Puppy and Friends Learning Table

Talk to Me Baby: Fisher Price Brilliant Basics Activity Puzzle.

*This post does contain an affiliate link. Typically though, Amazon has the best prices and I do a lot of shopping on there anyway. If you buy one through my link I’ll earn a few cents. Nothing big.

Mishmash

Well, I certainly never intended to go over a week without a blog. After the twins got over their fevers over the weekend, I got sick. I’d had congestion on and off that I attributed to allergies or a cold, but it turned into a sinus infection. I called in sick to work last Wednesday when I woke up with a fever. I had planned to blog since I was home but felt too cruddy. I spent the day on the couch watching Gilmore Girls, which, other than being sick was really enjoyable.

Instead of my usual half day Thursday I worked a full day. My parents were down for a visit from Thursday night to Monday night, so it was a very busy weekend. I do have some cute pictures, though.

cruising the mall

cruising the mall

naps on grandpa

naps on grandpa

stroller footsie

stroller footsie

Running wise, I’m still scheduled for my first half marathon this year a week from Sunday. Frustratingly, I’ve been having issues with my SI joint/pyriformis the last week or so. During my 11 mile run I had to stop and stretch and my chiropractor said during my last visit that my pelvis is beginning to turn again. This is particularly aggravating not only because of my two halves I have scheduled, but the full marathon I’d hoped to complete next spring, and because I honestly started to believe that periodic chiropractic visits and stretching would be enough. I doubt its a coincidence that its been acting up as I’ve increased my mileage, though all my muscles ended up REALLY tight from being sick. Forward bends and downward dogs actually hurt when I did my yoga last Sunday.

Still, I’ve been considering either an orthopedic specialist or sports medicine doc visit – if anyone has any experience in my particular injury or an idea as to which doc would be more worth my time, please let me know. I’d appreciate any advice!

We also did our first stroller run over the weekend as it was finally cool enough to run with the twins. Um, they are a little heavier this year. Pushing almost 50lbs of toddler is no joke!

one and done

one and done

I officially failed at my 30 day challenge attempt. After the twins got sick and I got sick it fell off the calendar. I do have plans to complete it still, but nowhere near within 30 days at this point :)

I still plan to finish my invisalign “review”, have a guest post to write this weekend, and of course, the monthly twin update is coming up soon. (woo!)

This also fell by the wayside lately, but don’t forget I am always looking for guest posts! The only requirement is honesty. Brutal honesty, if necessary.

You know you want to write a guest post!

Ten Reasons My Teething Toddler Threw a Tantrum

Oh my goodness. Remember how I mentioned both twins had a fever? Well, in addition to that, mother nature decided this would be a great time for Miles to start cutting THREE teeth (both top canines and a molar) at.the.same.time.

Needless to say, there were a few tantrums. A list of my favorites.

Ten Teething Toddler Tantrums (yes, this is similar to reasons why my son is crying, sans pictures)

1. I picked him up.

2. I put him down.

3. I tried to hand him a ball.

4. I offered him some frozen yogurt.

5. He finished the frozen yogurt.

6. I made him stop playing in the dog food.

7. I tried to dry him off after I took him out of the bathtub.

8. The TV screen turned black for 5 seconds while a new Baby Einstein started (actually, that may have been Abby).

9. I wouldn’t let him eat nail clippers.

10. I tried to offer him a teether.

Don’t be jealous :)

 

When it Rains

Its been a drizzly rainy week around here lately. I love this weather as a runner, but otherwise rain rain go away.

The title to this post really serves two purposes here.

Remember when I wrote about how a bacteria stole my birthday? And this post about a cruddy day?

Well I think I’ve topped it.

Let’s start with Monday. Bryan and I get into the car to take the twins to day care. It won’t start, so we jump it, assuming it needs a new battery. Wrong. The alternator is bad. After some hemming and hawing we take it to a local mechanic.

Tuesday Bryan texts me that the mechanic called. Supposedly, he’s spent 8 hours trying to replace the alternator (and CV joint), broke two tools and is so pissed he told Bryan to come get the car and never bring it back. He finds a kind neighbor to drive him to get the car, jumps it again, and then drives home and fixes it himself. How the mechanic couldn’t manage but he could remains a mystery to me.

Wednesday I wake up with faucet nose. Hello cold.

I've done it before, and I'll do it again

I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again

Thursday I meet a neighbor to take the twins for a walk. When we start, its misting outside. I have my (brand new) iPhone in the Bob Stroller pocket covered by the flap. After some walking we get caught in fairly heavy rain, and somehow the water has leaked through the flap into the pocket where it has collected a puddle WHERE MY IPHONE IS. Needless to say, it is no longer working.

Today, after 24 hours of drying it out, it still doesn’t work. I try to reactivate my old phone online, and Verizon keeps telling me to switch out my SIM card. HELLO VERIZON! iPhones don’t have a removable back! Abby wakes up with a fever. At 230 the daycare calls because guess what? Miles has one too! I Finally get my insurance claim in for my phone and its on backorder with absolutely no timeline as to how long it will take. (I finally got it reactivated with a phone call later)

Glass? Thanks, but I'll take the whole bottle

Glass? Thanks, but I’ll take the whole bottle

Bring on the weekend.

Thinking Back

About a year after the move to South Carolina, my ex husband and I bought a house in a city about 45 minutes from Charleston. It was in that neighborhood that I met my first friends that weren’t automatically associated with the military. These women eventually formed a Bunco group who met once a month with a built in excuse to drink wine, chit chat and scream like kids on a roller coaster after a good roll.

Naturally, I was no longer in the group once we moved, but not too long after I moved back, this time by myself, I was welcomed back in. Many of the members have changed since then, but the atmosphere has never really shifted.

Friday night, after I left my wet flip flops in the foyer and grabbed a plate of food, I joined 3 others sitting at one of the tables. One of the women is a fellow mother of twin toddlers (hers are nearly 2). Unless you count the handful of outings I’ve taken with only one baby, I have zero experience as a mother to a singleton. Still, I know that motherhood to twins is a different experience entirely and enjoy having someone to share stories with from time to time. The most common (and unknowingly loaded) question I find that I get (from singleton and twin moms alike) is “do twins run in your family?”

I was very open about our road to parenthood as we traveled it and now is certainly no exception. The majority of the time, and in this case, I say “no, we went through fertility treatments.” Typically, I get a few questions or a short side story about a friend of a friend who had an IUI. On more rare occasions, the person has experienced infertility herself. There is always an instant bond with these people, because you know that they too have walked a lonely road that is very difficult for someone who has not walked it to understand.

In this case, the fellow twin mom not only had zero experience with infertility, she conceived with an ease that makes every fellow past and present infertile drool. What made her different, though, was her interest. Many are interested in the science behind the procedures. Fewer ask about the emotional impact. Even fewer REALLY ask.

Part of our groups conversation involved the experiences of pregnancy: morning sickness, bed rest, stretch marks, discomfort. When I first joined this Bunco group I was not yet ready to have children, so I didn’t have much to contribute. While trying initially, these conversations interested me. As we sunk further and further without any luck, they became painful. Even now, with 2000 pictures of my beautiful twins in my phone, when someone asks if twins runs in my family, it stings a little. It stings because I’ll never forget how painful those conversations sometimes were and how alone I felt. I’ll never forget feeling like I saw pregnant.women.everywhere. I’ll never forget how bitter the experience made me feel for a long time. How annoyed I felt when someone would complain about a pregnancy I would give my left arm to have and sometimes forced me into another room to shed a few tears before I could compose myself.

Fellow twin mom, taking interest, began asking questions not only about the IVF procedure itself but about how it felt to go through it. She said she had a friend who has had difficulty conceiving and, incidentally, been acting differently lately. She asked me if I thought being around her might be difficult for her friend, if she maybe felt bitter about the fact that her ability to conceive had been so easy. I was honest when I told her that was possible.

She was shocked. She told me she had no idea. That she meant absolutely no harm. This time, I understood.

I think I speak for many when I say that one of my biggest complaints was what felt like the lack of understanding from others. In hindsight I suspect it was more a lack of information than understanding. Through no fault of their own, people just have no idea. Truth be told, before I was ready to have a family, I didn’t either. In fact, I recall responding to the news of an acquaintances miscarriage with “at least she knows she can get pregnant” (not to her, thankfully). To this day, knowing what I know now, I am ashamed by that comment. I didn’t even want to type it out.

This post has sat unfinished in my drafts for two days because I am not sure how to finish it. I guess the experience brought some new understanding into the minds of others. When you’re in the throes, it’s so difficult to see the good natured side of some of the things people say. It seems, though, that many are really good intentioned. I was. Little did I know (at the time), though, the impact those words could have had. I, like fellow twin mom, meant no harm.

From inexperienced, well intentioned but likely insensitive, to the person on the receiving end of well intentioned but possibly insensitive comments, to someone who has now been on both sides being asked about someone else’s experience, it seems like, in a way, I’ve come full circle.

And I feel just as confused as ever.

*If this offends anyone still struggling, please accept my apologies. This was really just may way of trying to sort out my own thoughts and feelings about this particular issue.