My Sweet Babies,
Happy Eleven Months, you guys! It doesn’t seem possible that you are a month away from your first birthday. In trying to remain present within each stage, I had “forbidden” myself from dwelling on your upcoming birthday until you hit eleven months. And now, here we are, and your birthday looms ahead of me. It’s a milestone I’m anticipating with both excitement and sadness. But I’m getting ahead of myself. . . today, let’s focus in on the here and now of you two at eleven months old!
It was another month that didn’t seem too significant because we didn’t check off any huge milestones or make any changes to your schedules or routines. You’re still eating three meals per day with nursing (on the floor or in the glider) between. You still nap at 9:30 and 1:30, and for varying lengths of time. (For those days when you insist on shorter naps, we still move you from your crib to your swings to stretch the nap out a little longer.) You still go to bed at 7:30, and we have about a 50% chance of you sleeping through the night (until 6:00ish in the morning, and later on the days when you’ve woken up during the night). None of those things have changed in the past four weeks.
That semblance of life-as-usual is deceptive, though, because when I look back at what you were like this time last month, I can see the changes. You’ve both grown much more mobile this month, and more verbal as well. You are each developing at different rates, taking turns in your developmental leaps. I’ve enjoyed watching you pick up new skills from each other; it’s possible you would be learning these new skills independently, but the consistency with which one of you will adopt a habit or acquire a new skill immediately after the other leads me to conclude that, at least some of the time, you are learning from each other, and it’s one of the most incredible things I’ve ever witnessed.
You both tend to do your own thing when it comes to play time, acting oblivious or at the very least indifferent to one another. That changes the minute one of you gets attention, though: you both hate seeing the other twin get held or fed or nursed when you aren’t getting the same treatment. Your awareness of one another is also apparent when you are “forced” together, such as when you are both in your high chairs or crib or nursing. In those moments, you sometimes make each other laugh and often touch each others’ faces or take toys away from one another. (This does not go over well when Sully take a toy from Kali, but Sully rarely makes a scene when Kali is the toy thief.) My favorite is watching you (via baby monitor) while you sleep: you tend to end up at opposite ends of the crib, but sometimes you snuggle together, and on more than one occasion you have napped with Kali sprawled on top of Sully (who doesn’t seem to mind one bit). On the days when you wake up from naps in good moods, you are so cute tossing toys around together and standing next to each other at the edge of the crib, babbling and laughing. While I’m sure the future will hold many rivalrous moments for you both, thus far your interactions are mostly friendly and often incredibly endearing.
While you may not pay much attention to each other, you are highly attuned to the presence of your big brother. He adores you both and the feelings are mutual. I love that you are all able to play together more now that you are more interactive and also a lot sturdier (Charleston likes to pick you up and “rough house.”) Together the three of you play with your train and blocks, roll the ball around, crawl over blanket forts, and engage in your favorite hobby of pulling picture books off of your book shelf. When Arlo is around, he is quick to get in on the fun; you love playing with his ears and fur, and he is happy as can be to have your attention.
My life feels a lot busier these days with you both becoming much more mobile and not easily contained. It’s hard to carry you both at once, so I often have to move you from room to room one at a time; as soon as I get one of you where you’re supposed to be, you escape before I can retrieve the other twin—you are both SO FAST! We are no longer able to contain you in your playpen, but we do have a play yard we set up in the office, and you do well playing inside it as long as Daddy is standing in it (working at his standing desk) with you. We usually give you freedom to roam around the main rooms of the house, and even though we are mostly baby proofed, you always manage to find yourselves getting into mischief. Still, it’s fun to watch you make daily discoveries as you explore our home. I’ve found that as long as I don’t sit down and I “ignore” you as I go about my cleaning, cooking, or other chores, you are content to entertain yourselves in this way. . . but the second I make eye contact with either of you, you immediately are at my feet, standing while holding onto my legs and demanding my complete attention. Thankfully, my attention is (usually) freely given because you are both so much fun! Your mannerisms and antics keep me laughing all day long.
Another challenge these days is diaper changes: you both HATE them and wiggle and writhe the entire time. I often have to change you on the floor to keep you from rolling/crawling/leaping off the changing table, and there are many times when the changes become a two-man job (one parent to entertain while the other changes). The only thing I find more frustrating these days is trying to get pictures of you—it’s almost impossible! (Getting the few decent pictures we captured for this monthly post took several photo sessions across a whole day, and required many bribes—hence the food in quite a few shots, haha!). It seems your adorableness refuses to be fully captured by the camera, which breaks my heart because I am so desperate to encapsulate these precious first months of your lives.
As you get older, the differences between you become much more distinct, but you have a few more commonalities to note. You are both obsessed with our refrigerator: we call you our refrigerator magnets because the minute we open its door, regardless of where you are in the house, you make your way towards the fridge with the goal of exploring what’s inside. You both do remarkably well in the car, stroller, and swings, and both of you put everything in your mouths and drool constantly, but still have no teeth. You each respond to your names, and you understand “no” (but don’t always listen . . . .) Both twins prefer exploring to playing and everyday objects to toys, and I think you would both agree that Arlo’s cot and crate are your favorite entertainment spots. And you both are still big into milkies, but our nursing sessions are a workout for me as you constantly switch sides throughout a feeding and bounce all over my lap!
And now, on to who you are as individuals:
Kalinda Joy, of my three babies, I think that you are the most difficult to get to know: as soon as I think I have your personality figured out, it changes. Much to my delight, the changes this month were almost all positive ones. You have mellowed out a lot, fussing less and demanding a lot less attention (including at nap time and bedtime, though you still don’t like going down). You have been acting much less aggressively towards Sully, and although crawling on him and banging him with toys is still a common occurrence, you are generally pretty nice to him. You frequently tap him gently on the back, and even crawl over to him to give him hugs. You hug the rest of us as well, and have become much more snuggly in the past couple of weeks. You are especially a cuddle bug during nursing, nuzzling into me and frequently falling asleep at the breast.
Despite this general mellowing, you are still courageous and fiercely independent. You almost always lead the way when you and Sully go exploring. You know what you want and go after it, and when we take something from you or you don’t get your way, you fling yourself onto the floor and roll around in circles in a tantrum that is too outlandish to be anything but funny. When you are truly upset (like when you are refusing to go down for a nap), it isn’t as humorous: you escalate quickly, and a minute of crying can leave you drenched in sweat and difficult to soothe. You have a strange habit of pressing your forehead to the ground when you are working up to a fit—our warning sign that the tears are about to flow.
This month you were the chattier twin; in fact, you are almost always making noise of some sort. To my great relief you have abandoned your dinosaur grunting, replacing it with what I call “alien talk”—a kind of babbling made by moving your tongue in and out of your mouth. When you aren’t babbling you are sighing, grunting, shrieking, or engaging in your new favorite mouth activity: making the motorboat sound with lips. Most of your noises don’t sound like actual words, but you do say “mama” and seem to know that the word refers to me. Last week, I walked across the room and when you saw me you squealed “Mom” with a joy and intentionality that had my mama heart bursting at the seams.
When Oma was visiting this month, she called you nosy, and it’s true that you are very curious and like to get your hands on everything in sight. You are always reaching for something new, or picking up an object for inspection. You are particularly obsessed with faces and love moving your hands all over my eyes, mouth, and nose before leaning in for kisses and snuggles. You are also fascinated by cause and effect; lately you’ve taken to banging your head against walls and furniture to hear how they rattle!
I’ve been amazed at how quickly your gross motor skills are developing. You have mostly given up your army crawl in favor of crawling “the baby way” (though you still revert to army crawling when you are excited and want to get somewhere quickly). You pull yourself to standing at every opportunity, stand on your tiptoes to reach things beyond your grasp, and cruise while holding onto the furniture or walls. You can even stand without support for extended amounts of time, but haven’t tried walking without assistance yet. You are so petite that it doesn’t look quite right to see you moving with such agility and confidence!
You have been a great eater this month (and those yummy rolls on your arms and legs are proof!)! You love carbs of any kind, but fruit is your favorite, and we’ve yet to find a variety of fruit that you won’t devour. You aren’t a fan of meat or foods with strong flavors, and make faces when I try to give them to you. When you don’t like a food, you leave it on your tray (unlike your brother—but we’ll get to him next). While you love your food, breast milk is still your favorite. I think you would remain at my breast all day long if I would let you, despite the fact that you spit up every time you nurse.
You learned how to clap this month and it is your very favorite trick. You begin clapping whenever we say “yay” or “good job” (even if we just say the words in passing), and you beam with pride as you clap. (We can even get you to calm down from a tantrum by saying “yay”: you stop your crying to focus on giving yourself a round of applause.) Another hilarious habit you’ve picked up recently is mimicking sneezes and coughs, then laughing at your own response. It has been so much fun to see this sweet, silly, confident little girl emerging!
KALI’S LENGTH: 25 inches based on home measurements
KALI’S WEIGHT: 17 pounds on our home scale
KALI’S CLOTHING SIZE: 6 months
KALI’S DIAPER SIZE: 3
KALI’S TOOTH COUNT: Zero
KALI’S EYE COLOR: brown
KALI’S NICKNAMES: We almost always call her Kalinda, Kali Joy, or Sister Bear.
KALI’S FAVORITES: toy hammers, milkies, books, playing with baby wipes, climbing on Arlo’s cot, maraca rattle
KALI’S FAVORITE FOODS: fruit (especially blueberries and watermelon), pancakes, graham crackers
KALI’S DISLIKES: diaper changes, seeing Sully get attention, having toys taken away, going down for naps
KALI’S NEW MOVES: standing without support, cruising along furniture, consistently crawling like a big kid
KALI’S NEW WORDS and SOUNDS: Mama, “motorboat” sound, tongue clicking, “alien talk” babbling
KALI’S OTHER MILESTONES: clapping, responds to “no”, gives hugs
KALI’S CUTEST HABITS: clapping whenever we say “yay” or “good job”, climbing/sleeping on Sully, hugging Sully, rolling-on-the-floor tantrums, mimicking coughs and sneezes
Sully Bear, your personality over the past year has been more consistent and predictable than that of your sister, but also unexpected in that you—the boy—are the calmer and more sensitive twin. Your sensitivity has its drawbacks: you cry easily when you are upset, and you can’t stand loud or unexpected noises (and your meltdown reactions to Arlo’s bark, Charleston’s squeals, or an adult’s loud sneeze usually set your sister off too). You are less independent than Kali, looking to us for help more often, and though your meltdowns are less dramatic than your sister’s, they are more drawn out and you get much more sad.
But there are many perks to your sensitive spirit. You love to snuggle and are often content to observe what’s going on around you without having to be in on the action. It is SO EASY to make you smile and laugh, and you are eager to make everyone else laugh too. Your laid back nature also allows you to take your sister’s more aggressive gestures like a champ; she’s so fortunate to have such an easygoing twin.
You are less vocal than Kali, but you language is more intentional and sophisticated. In contrast to her alien babbling, your sounds mimic real language. You learned how to say “Daddy” this month and for the first few days with that word you used it for everyone and everything you loved, though you now have settled into using it just for Dad. You also have started to say “Kali” which is incredibly sweet. You are able to mimic sounds and movements we make with our mouths and tongues (I chuckle every time I see you stick out your tongue to copy me); the one sound you can’t do is the motorboat sound, and it’s hilarious to watch you stick your lower lip out in your attempts.
You’ve come a long ways in your physical movements this month! Just as I was starting to worry about your lopsided army crawl, you began army crawling using both sides of your body, and this past week you started crawling the “real” way (but still revert to army crawl pretty frequently). You easily move in and out of sitting now, and often stop mid-sit to stick your booty in the air for an extended head stand. You have no problems pulling to standing, but still get stuck there fairly often, and you haven’t attempted cruising just yet.
You are absolutely obsessed with ears! You grab my ears all the time, often have a hand on one of your own ears, and always reach out for Kali’s ear while you guys are nursing and at nighttime. It’s such an innocent little gesture, and just might be your most endearing trait. Toy balls are another favorite of yours: you like chasing around a beach ball, and are pretty good at playing ball with a small ball (catching the rolling ball and throwing it back).
You are slightly behind Kali when it comes to skills like peek-a-boo and clapping, and it’s hilarious to see your adaptations of these tricks. Your peek-a-boo involves lifting a cloth over your head (instead of in front of your face), and you laugh and laugh when we tell you to peek. You have started copying Kali’s trademark face-scrunch with rapid sniffing, and it’s fun to see you do that at each other. You haven’t quite grasped the concept of clapping, instead waving one hand in the air to clap your thigh or a table whenever we tell Kali “yay”. One cute habit that is all yours is your head bobbing, which you do whenever you hear music or even just when you are happy. You absolutely love to wiggle and dance, and that playful spirit especially comes out during nursing: while Kali settles in, you are a more distractible nurser, bouncing and giggling and chatting.
After months of being our resident garage disposal, you grew pickier this month. You still eat your weight in fruit and cheese, but will no longer touch bread, tortillas, bagels or even your once-beloved pancakes, and you frequently pass on meat, yogurt, or cereal. If you don’t like what I’m feeding you, you playfully grab at the spoon. And when you don’t care for the food on your tray, you throw it to the floor, then laugh when I tell you no. Lately you’ve gotten sneaky, smirking to yourself as I watch you slide food from your tray to Kali’s tray or the seat of your high chair in an attempt to hide it. It’s so out of character for you, and I’ll admit that it is nice to see a spunkier Sully emerge in those moments!
SULLY’S LENGTH: 26.5 inches based on home measurements
SULLY’S WEIGHT: 17 pounds on our home scale
SULLY’S CLOTHING SIZE: 6 months
SULLY’S DIAPER SIZE: 3
SULLY’S TOOTH COUNT: Zero
SULLY’S EYE COLOR: hazel
SULLY’S NICKNAMES: Luke and Charleston almost always call him Sullivan, I usually call him Sully Bear or Sulls.
SULLY’S FAVORITES: music, balls, screens, ears, playing with baby wipes, climbing on Arlo’s cot, maraca rattle
FAVORITE FOODS: cheese, fruit (especially blueberries and watermelon)
SULLY’S DISLIKES: diaper changes, waking up from naps, loud or startling noises
SULLY’S NEW MOVES: consistently pulling to standing, crawling like a big kid (sometimes)
SULLY’S MILESTONES: plays peek-a-boo, mimics mouth movements (like sticking out tongue), plays ball
SULLY’S NEW WORDS and SOUNDS: Daddy, Kali
SULLY’S CUTEST HABITS: holding Kali’s ear while nursing, head bobbing/dancing to music, hiding food on the high chair seat, booty-in-the-air “head stands”
Kali and Sully, as I write this I can hear you waking up from a nap. Through the video monitor, I see you sitting up in your crib, laughing as you reach out for each others’ faces in a hybrid game tag and peek-a-boo. When I go into your room to get you, you’ll both stand at the rail of your crib, beaming up at me and extending arms for me to lift you and envelope you both in a three-way hug. I live for these slivers of joy and connection, of bonds formed between mother and children through ordinary moments that permeate our days.
I say it every month, and each month it becomes more true: I love you with everything I have in me, and parenting the two of you is truly such an honor, privilege, and joy. Thank you for being such wonderful teachers, snugglers, comedians, and sources of light and joy.
With All My Love, Forever and Always,