Dear Kalinda and Sullivan,
Happy EIGHTEEN MONTHS, you two! You celebrated your half birthday this past Saturday, and this mama cannot believe how quickly you are growing up. I thought life sped by with your big brother; with two of you, time seems to be moving two times as fast!
It has been six months since I last wrote to you in one of these public letters, and in those six months, nearly all traces of your babyhood have disappeared as you have grown into full-fledged toddlers with a whole new pair of personalities and skillsets and adorable habits and quirks.
Of course, your increased mobility has been the biggest game-changer of the past half year: Kali has been “officially” walking since November (but transitioned to walking full-time right around Christmas) and now runs around the house faster than I can keep up. Sully took his first unassisted steps last month and is still reluctant to walk on his own, preferring instead to crawl (he’s fast!) or use a chair or push-toy as a walker. Even with just one twin fully walking, you two are all over the place and get into absolutely everything (no drawer or cupboard is left unopened, no piece of furniture left unclimbed, no mom left unfrazzled!).
Your speech has been another huge area of growth for you two in the past six months. You both babble quite a bit, seeming to rotate positions as the chattier twin, and you are both great at mimicking words. Sully is further along in his verbal development: I have lost track of how many words he has now (it’s well over twenty), and he uses his words to ask for things or engage in conversation, while Kali tends to use words when identifying objects she sees. I haven’t picked up on any true “twin speak” yet, but you are sounding more alike as you get older.
The dynamic between you two continues to fascinate me. While you don’t usually interact too much with each other during play time, you are always aware of one another’s presence and get very upset when I move you into separate rooms or try to put just one of you down in the crib. You do engage with each other quite a bit in your crib and out on walks, and catching the two of you giggling together or playing peek-a-boo is just about my favorite thing in the world. It’s always fun to see you copying each other doing something cute, like clapping or dancing; it’s less fun when one of you copies the other’s poor behavior, which doesn’t happen too often. I’m thankful you don’t fight over toys very often (yet) or get too jealous of something the other one has (Sully is much more easy going about this).
It sometimes seems as though daily life with you now is exactly as it has always been or always will be, but I know that is far from the case, so let’s walk through what a day in the life of Kali and Sully looks like at 18 months old. . . .
Your days usually begin around 6:30 (sometimes later), when I hear Sully crying from the crib you still share. Kali is our earlier riser and wakes up happy, but immediately tries to play with Sully, who is not a happy waker-upper. Most mornings Sully calms down by the time I come into your room, and as soon as you see me you both grin up at me from the crib rail, standing and waving and saying “hi!” as I walk over to you. Those sweet morning greetings never get old. I open your curtains and you rush to the side of the crib that is near the window, grinning and exclaiming “wow!”, even on mornings when it’s still pitch black outside with nothing to see. Sully always points at the window and says “Arlo” (his word for every animal and also for outside, because Arlo spends a lot of time in the yard).
I scoop you both up from the crib and take you to the glider, where you tandem nurse, Sully’s hand latched onto Kali’s ear. Although you can go several hours without breastfeeding, you both are still very into your milkies (Kali more than Sully), especially first thing in the morning. When you’ve had your fill, we sit in the chair and chat for a while. You like pointing to the animals on the quilt that hangs over the back of the glider and I say each animal’s name while you tell me the animal sounds (you’re still learning most of the farm animals, but have mastered “baa” for sheep).
After easing into the morning together, I set you down on your nursery floor and Kali immediately rushes to the book shelf and begins pulling out books so she can crawl into the emptied shelf. Sully always reaches first for the box that holds your container of Duplos and asks for the “box of blocks.” Once I get out the box, Sully dumps the Legos and climbs into the box, where he sits for a while before crawling out to get a book that Kali has discarded.
I move to the floor and Sully brings me the book, thrusting it into my hands and saying “read.” Kali runs over to sit in my lap while I attempt to get through the book. Unfortunately, Sully really likes to turn the pages, so we don’t get through much more than one word per page before Sully replaces the book in my hands with a new one.
I turn some Wee Sing music on your Sonos speaker, and Kali immediately begins to spin and dance while Sully claps his hands and bobs his head. I ask if your diapers are dirty and you both place hands on your bottoms, then pinch your noses as I say “smelly.” With the music playing in the background, I change and dress each of you while the other twin plays. Diaper changes continue to be a battle for both of you, with much screaming and kicking and struggling despite my best efforts at making changes fun. While I’m changing you, we can hear your brother knocking on the adjoining wall, and you knock back—Kali saying “Charlie” and Sully calling out “big brother.”
Once I’m finished changing you, Charleston comes into the room to say good morning. You are always just as ecstatic to see him as he is to see you, and the three of you play with blocks and Legos in your room while I make breakfast and finish getting myself ready for the day.
At 8:00, Daddy and I come back into your room to get you. You run into Daddy’s arms and he helps me carry you to your high chairs for breakfast before he heads to his office to begin his work day. We continue to see him periodically throughout the day when he comes out to use the bathroom or let Arlo out, and you rush to him every time you see him.
Breakfast with you is a breeze. You are both great eaters and almost always eat everything I put on your tray, then sign and say “more.” It’s convenient that you tend to like different foods—Kali is my carb girl, while Sully loves fruit and meat—and you pass food back and forth from one tray to the other until most of the food is gone (whatever is left, Sully tosses to the floor). Sully always asks for a fork and has amazing fine motor skills, easily using his fork to pick up even the tiniest foods like raisins and small sausage crumbles. (I give Kali a fork, too, but she hasn’t quite mastered fork usage and prefers to eat with her hands.) You drink water from sippy cups with every meal, and take turns passing your cups off to each other so you can play with stacking them.
Unlike your big brother, you are both ravenous eaters and incredibly fast at getting through a meal. Once you are done eating, you watch Charleston with his food, point and chatter about the things you see in the kitchen (you bounce up and down with excitement every time the microwave or oven flashes or makes a sound), and listen in while I read my Bible aloud, followed by a read-aloud of some picture books.
At 8:30, I clean you up and heat up a compress for Sully’s sty. (We’ve been fighting this same sty for months now, and though it’s improving, we still need to keep on top of treatments.) Then I move you both back into your room to play while Charleston and I get started with schoolwork. We leave your room door closed and keep an eye on you through the Nest camera, and you play remarkably well on your own. I do have to pull the bottom drawers out of your dresser before leaving you (because they can’t be babyproofed, and emptying drawers is your favorite pastime), and every once in a while I need to come in to break up a squabble over a toy, but for the most part you play happily and peacefully, pulling toys out of boxes and looking through books (or sliding them under the door). Your favorite book is Brown Bear, Brown Bear: Kali always finds the picture of the sheep and says “baaa” while Sully points to the brown bear saying “Arlo”.
At 10:00, I come into your room and change your diapers, clean up a few messes, and put you into your crib for a nap. Before I close the blinds and say goodbye, we spend a few minutes playing “cookie”: I dance your Cookie Monster stuffed animal in front of you and you both squeal “cookie, nom nom nom nom nom!” (Kali now calls all stuffed animals “Cookie” and makes the same “nom nom nom” movements and sounds with them.) Before leaving you, I always scoop a few stuffed animals into your crib because you have so much fun tossing them after me as I leave the room.
Some mornings, you fall asleep right away. Other days you play for a while first, then turn fussy before crying yourselves to sleep. Kali almost always falls asleep first, and Sully—who has to be cuddling Kali and holding her ear to fall asleep—often wakes/upsets her by trying to snuggle up once she’s already started to doze. Eventually you end up entwined and asleep, and nap until around 11:30 or noon.
Just like your morning wake-ups, Kali always wakes happily from a nap while Sully cries until I come into the room to get you. Charleston is finishing up his school work, so I nurse you and we play in your room for a while before we head back to the kitchen for lunch. Kali runs in on her own while I help Sully walk by holding his hands. You eat lunch in the kitchen across from Charleston, who sits at the kitchen counter.
When you are done eating, I clean up the kitchen and you wander into the playroom to begin pulling out toys. Your ride-along plane and car are your favorites and you take turns climbing on them and pushing each other. You also like pulling out walkie-talkies and pretending to talk into them while holding them to your ear. Lately you are both in a climbing phase: I often come into the playroom to find you standing on the train table or kid chairs, or if I’m not keeping an eye on you, you’ll head to the living room to climb up on the coffee table or couch.
I spend the early afternoon cleaning or folding laundry, and you usually follow me and find something to play with in the room I am in. I call Kali our little magpie because wherever we are in the house, she always finds one toy or item to make “hers” and runs around the house clutching it (then throws herself on the ground and tantrums if it’s something we have to take away). Once Kali has run out, Sully has a penchant for closing doors behind him before Kali can re-enter the room, and you both bang on either side of the door (Sully saying “door! door!”) and play with each other’s hands in the crack beneath it.
Around 2:30, we head to the backyard to swing on the swings, or into the stroller for a walk around the neighborhood (Charleston scootering alongside). You both LOVE being outside and are angels on our walks. Whichever twin is riding in the front of the stroller will frequently turn around, and you two giggle while poking at each other’s noses and clapping your hands together. You wave and say hi to people we pass, and point to every animal (Sully saying “Arlo! Arlo!” every time he sees or hears a dog, or even when we walk by a house where he knows a dog lives). Sully also points out and names every door we see.
We get back home in time for me to change and nurse you before putting you down for a second nap at 3:30. Sully is usually wide awake now, but Kali is usually very tired at this time and often nurses to sleep (but always wakes up when I move you to the crib).
A full afternoon nap is hit-or-miss, especially for Sully: sometimes you both sleep, other times you just play or Kali naps while Sully stares up at the ceiling, but I always leave you both in your crib until at least 4:30, and you rarely fuss. Unfortunately, the after-naptime window is a different story: whether you’ve slept or not, the stretch between 5:00 and bedtime is rough. You both get very cranky, not wanting to play or be held. When Daddy gets off of work, he and Charleston play with you while I shower and make dinner. A few nights a week, Daddy gives you a bath: you have gotten better with baths in the big-kid tub, especially if Charleston is bathing with you. You like playtime, but hate being scrubbed down.
Dinner is at 6:00, and we all sit at the dining room table together. We do a mix of finger foods and spoon feeding at this meal: you are probably ready to start eating from your own bowls/plates, but I haven’t been able to gear myself up for the mess, so I still do the feeding with casseroles, stews, and other messier dinner foods. You’ll try (and usually finish) almost everything I make. Sully is more receptive to spicy foods, but Kali will at least taste them—often making a face or shuddering before opening her mouth for more. We never put anything but water in your sippy cups (you’ve tasted cow’s milk and didn’t care for it, so I haven’t pushed it), but Daddy thinks it’s hilarious to give you sips of his Topo Chico—Sully can’t get enough, and Kali doesn’t like the taste but enjoys drinking from the bottle and always wants more.
We wrap up dinner by 6:30 and Daddy and I take turns cleaning up and doing Sully’s compress, then the four of us move into your room to get you changed and into your pajamas. You both get very slap happy right before bed, and roll around the floor with Daddy, giggling and dancing to the rock music he puts on your speaker. Sully likes to stand and intentionally drop back on his booty, then move to a crawling position and scooch backwards around the room. Meanwhile, Kali runs and drops to the floor and rolls in a circle, then stands and runs to the other side of the room to do it again.
At 7:00, Charleston comes in and we all gather around the glider, you two in my lap and Daddy and Charlie standing next to us, for a bedtime blessing and prayer. Then the other two kiss you goodnight and turn off the lights while I nurse you and sing you lullabies. When you’ve finished nursing, we whisper to each other in the dark (your little whisper voices are adorable) and you both give me lots of snuggles and open-mouth kisses.
I put you into your crib by 7:30 and rarely hear a peep from you after that. You don’t always fall asleep right away, but never fuss. You still wake up once or twice each night (usually around 11:30 and again at 3:30), but you (mostly Sully) cry for a bit and then go back to sleep until morning. About once per week, I will have to come in to nurse you to get you to settle back down, but for the most part you sleep through the night without any help. It still makes me so sad that we weren’t able to make cosleeping work with you two, as that was one of my favorite parts of your big brother’s baby and toddler years, but I will say that I am VERY thankful for babies that sleep through the night!
Our days are fairly consistent and we don’t stray too far from our schedules and routines. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we pick Charleston up from school programs and you both do fantastic in the car, chatting away in your car seats and pointing out the window. On Sundays we go to church: you both do great in the church nursery, and your teachers say you are always happy and easy going the whole hour. For the first several months of our dropping you off, Kali always fussed at drop-off, but now walks into your classroom without much trouble.
Whether at church or while out running errands, and even when people come to our house (including family), you are both fairly reserved (especially Kali); it makes me sad that others don’t get to experience your full personalities and I am hoping you open up more now that you are older, quarantine is coming to a close, and we are getting more time with other people.
Kali Joy, you are a delight. You are maturing into such a sweet and affectionate little lady: even though you no longer need to hold our hands to walk, you are always reaching up for my hand to hold it, and the minute I sit down you plop into my lap and are happy to remain there as long as I will let you. You aren’t needy, though, and unless you are tired or hungry, are pretty content to do your own thing. You only get really upset when we take a toy from you, and then you enter full-blown-tantrum mode, screaming and thrashing on the floor for a while and refusing to be consoled. After a few minutes, you calm down and come to me for a hug before going off to find a new treasure.
You have such a sense of curiosity and wonder. You get excited easily and smile and say “cheese!” every time I pull out my camera, and you love to clap and wave your hands. You have excellent body awareness and like to spin in circles, sway and dance to music, and bounce on your toes. You are also very strong and frequently can be found running around the house carrying a small stack of books, or two or three full water bottles. And then there’s my favorite Kali moments: after diaper changes, you stand up and wrap your arms around my neck, sway back and forth and hum as we slow dance—it is the BEST!
At least once or twice very day, I still look at you in your twirly dresses and pretty bows and can’t believe that I have a daughter! The bond I have with you feels so different than what I share with your brothers: you like to take my face in your hands and stare into my eyes and smile and grin, and when you do that, all I can think is “you are my girl! MY GIRL!” I have so much to teach you about being a woman in this world—so much I’m still figuring out myself—and I love that we get to experience this femininity together. Whether you turn out to be a rough and tumble tomboy or the frilliest girl on the block, you will always be my little princess.
KALI’S HEIGHT: 29.75 inches (4th percentile)
KALI’S WEIGHT: 21 pounds 12.8 ounces (40th percentile)
KALI’S CLOTHING SIZE: 12 months, Size 3 diapers
KALI’S TOOTH COUNT: Four (2 upper front teeth, 2 lower front teeth)
KALI’S NICKNAMES: Kali (pronounced “kay-lee” by Charleston and “kallie” [rhymes with alley] by everyone else), Kali Joy, Lindie Loo, Princess, Sister
KALI’S FAVORITES: carbs, green beans, scrambled eggs, snack bars, Brown Bear Brown Bear, being outside, music, Cookie Monster stuffed animal
KALI’S DISLIKES: having toys taken away
KALI’S QUIRKS AND CUTE MOMENTS: dancing, sitting on my lap, “collecting” objects to carry around the house, saying “wow!” to new things, saying “cheese” for pictures, slow dancing with me from the changing table
My Sweet Sully Sulls, even though you are a minute older than your sister, in my mind you are my baby—and what a sweet baby you are. You are less independent than your sister (likely because you aren’t walking yet), more sensitive to noises or other people being upset, and lately you’ve been much less content than Kali; but when you are in a good mood, you are just about the happiest kid I have ever seen. You giggle and laugh, lift our shirts and teasingly stick your fingers in our “belly ba’s”, and are just SO eager to please. You love it when I make faces at you, tickle you, or sit in the glider as you spin me around, saying “wee!” You are very playful, especially when there is something available to throw—and you have a really good arm!—but can also be quite methodical and conscientious, carefully stacking blocks or sorting toys into boxes.
You have become the de facto spokesman for you and Kali, and often speak up when either one of you needs a water cup refilled or has dropped a toy, or when Kali loses a bow (you point and say “bow! bow!” until it has been replaced). I love how you look out for her and how affectionate you are with her, even when she is resistant. You are my nature lover and spend a lot of time standing at the window sill, watching Arlo run around in the yard, and petting him (or trying to feed him) when he’s inside with us. As for my favorite Sullyism these days: it has to be when I am holding you and say “Sully, snuggle” and you grin and put your little face up against my chest and chuckle, waiting for me to hug you close. It really doesn’t get much better than that.
Sometimes I worry that as a twin, and as a second son, you will fall through the cracks when it comes to receiving my attention, but that has not been the case at all because you are simply so much fun to be around. Already you are a great conversationalist and an amazing balance of fun and snuggly, and I just love your unique blend of silly and sentimental. You are the best little Baby Bear a mama could ask for.
SULLY’S HEIGHT: 30.5 inches (4th percentile)
SULLY’S WEIGHT: 20 pounds 1.6 ounces (5th percentile)
SULLY’S CLOTHING SIZE: 12 months, Size 3 diapers
SULLY’S TOOTH COUNT: 8 (3 upper front teeth, 3 lower front teeth, 2 lower molars)
SULLY’S NICKNAMES: Sully Bear, Bear, Sulls, Sully Wully
SULLY’S FAVORITES: fruit (especially blueberries, cuties, and grapes), meat (especially sausage), snack bars, throwing things, being outside, Lego box, belly buttons, eating with a fork
SULLY’S DISLIKES: loud noises, seeing someone crying or upset
SULLY’S QUIRKS AND CUTE MOMENTS: holding onto Kali’s ear, laughing at everything, wearing the giant egg halves as a hat
Kali and Sully, I won’t pretend that being a mom to twin toddlers is easy. It is a hard and exhausting job, and most days I feel like I am failing every one of us. But I would not give up this experience of being your mom for ANYTHING in the world. I love you both, so much more than I could ever put into words. Watching you two grow these past eighteen months has been an honor and a privilege—thank you for being your wonderful, adorable selves. Now, let’s make the second half of your second year a great one!