June 2012

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Since it has been two months since I last wrote an update, a lot has changed. My, oh my, how things have changed!

Zoe has finally caught up to Leo, essentially. They don’t do everything new at the same time, but she does some things first and it is not obvious that she is behind, like it used to be. That makes me so happy. Her personality has changed, too. She is less unflappable and more demanding and fussy than she ever was before. I still hope she will have a more calm personality and that this is just a phase, but it’s really hard to tell where she is headed right now.

Zoe learned to sit herself up before Leo did. In fact, I have never actually witnessed Leo get himself up into a sitting position, but I know he can do it because I’ve found him sitting up in his crib. Even more exciting was finding him standing up in his crib, just a few days ago! I haven’t had such a moment since the day Sammy first started to walk. It was just magical to see this formerly permanently-prone baby go so suddenly to the upright position. The human position. I’ve written before about how meaningful it was when Sammy began to walk and part of that is that she did it so suddenly and it transformed my perception of her in an instant. It was like that when I found Leo standing. I wonder what it would be like to have one of those babies that doesn’t speak until very late and then starts speaking in sentences. That would blow my mind.

I just re-read what I had written about all the feeding issues we were going through just two months ago. Unbelievable! Both Leo and Zoe will eat just about anything now, and we’re transitioning away from the baby-food mush into a lot of the same foods we eat, just cut up very small. They love their solid food so much that they resent their bottles and hardly eat much formula anymore, and they will not allow anyone to eat in front of them unless they get to eat, too. It doesn’t matter if they just ate and should be full – if someone has food, they want it too. Leo, especially, loves to eat. You can’t shovel food into his mouth fast enough, but of course, he prefers to feed himself anyway.

Zoe got her first tooth on Mother’s Day! Leo followed about a week or two later. I believe, at the moment, Zoe has three teeth and Leo has two, but I haven’t stuck my finger in there lately so there could be more. They don’t seem too bothered by teething, but of course that doesn’t stop us from blaming their fussiness on it. And they have been fussier – both of them. They whine and get frustrated and generally vocalize their displeasure much more often than they used to. We’re doing more sign language with them in hopes of facilitating their obvious need to communicate and both of them seem to have attempted a sign or two, but it’s so hard to tell. Maybe that will be the big achievement in the next update!

A few days ago, I threw away the Gymini. The Gymini was the playmat with dangling toys that the twins spent most of their infant days on. I think 80% of our early photos of them are on the Gymini. It was Sammy’s before it was theirs and it was old and faded enough that I knew it wouldn’t sell at the consignment shop, so I put it in the trash. I cried a little.

Leo still likes the jumper, but Zoe can’t stand the jumper or the exersaucer anymore. I keep trying, thinking it is just a phase, but it’s been a while. I think those things are headed for new homes soon, too. And the bouncy seats I got for free from another mother of twins – well, we still use them on rare occasions to give both babies a bottle at the same time, but they take up a lot of floor space so I might let them go at the same time. We don’t use the baby-bucket car seats much as carriers anymore either. We carry Leo and Zoe out and strap them in in the car, and we use the regular seats in the stroller now. What a relief not to have those huge car seats in the living room! We are freeing up a ton of space, which is really important when you only have 800 square feet on the main level of your house.

With all of that, I still haven’t mentioned the biggest change: both Leo and Zoe are “crawling.” I put it in scare quotes because it’s not really hand-and-knees crawling, but elbows and hips scooting, but the point is, they move. And they move fast! And now I’m realizing that it is going to be really difficult to provide enough space for them to crawl and walk and climb in this house. Besides being split up into three levels, the main level alone is all broken up with steps. There are three steps down from our living room to our foyer which is hard tile, and there is no way that I can figure out to block them off. Then there is the one step between the living and dining rooms. The only large area without steps is the kitchen/playroom/dining room, but we have the playroom blocked off with gates so that is not very useful either. Where will they use ride-on toys? Where will they even use push toys? I’m sure we’ll figure it out, but I don’t have any good ideas yet. I’ve already re-organized the whole house about three times since they were born. Constant change is here to stay.

For now, though, the playroom that I envisioned before they were born is working out very well. Adam installed a pull-up bar and mirror which is proving to be a lot of fun, and with the baby gates installed, it is a safe place for Zoe and Leo to explore.

I’ve been horrible about taking photos, but I’ve taken some video of the “crawling,” so if you have the patience, you can watch my two little humans here and here.

I hope I’ll be able to get back in the habit of blogging. One thing that should give me plenty of material is our homeschooling adventure. Sam graduated from Montessori last week, so we can start homeschooling any time. Unfortunately, I’m not quite ready yet. But more on that in a minute…

First, a quick catch-up. Leo and Zoe will be ten months old in two days. Hopefully I’ll have time for a full Update then.

Our au pair, Ale, arrived ten days ago. I can’t believe how fast those days have gone! It was a lot of work preparing for her arrival, and it’s been a lot of work helping her to get settled and training her. The good news is that she is awesome, the kids love her, and we’re starting to get into a routine. The bad news is that I didn’t think to prepare Sammy for all the changes that were about to fall upon her. It is proving difficult for me to be in the house while Ale is in charge. Sam threw a lot of tantrums last week, and it was clearly attention-seeking behavior. Once I figured out what was going on, we talked about it, and now I try to set her expectations every day, so it is getting better. It’s also hard for me to be so close to Zoe and Leo without taking care of them.

Otherwise, planning for school is all-consuming. I have most of my curriculum determined, and most of the materials and supplies I will need. I still have some areas where I’m not sure what to do (grammar!), but I’ve decided that I have enough work for Sam to get started. I have a bunch of “printables” for the Montessori math we’ll be doing that I still need to print out and laminate, a few minor supplies to buy, and then I have to set up the room. This is no small task: we are going to have a Montessori-like environment, so the setup is important.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll try to write a post for each subject that we will be doing. Today, I’ll just list what subjects we will be covering:

  • Reading (phonics/skills/comprehension)
  • Literature
  • Penmanship (as a prerequisite to all other language arts subjects)
  • Math
  • Science
  • Time and Maps (as a prerequisite to history)
  • Drawing (maybe)

Just coming up with what subjects we should start with was daunting. Sam’s teacher helped me to assess where she is at, developmentally, socially, and academically. Based on this, I’m going to focus on math, time and maps,and penmanship. Sam is heavily involved in math right now and I don’t want to let her interest wane. She also seems to finally be getting her concepts of time and place more clear, and she is very interested in calendars and maps. We can’t do much with history while she still doesn’t understand yesterday-today-tomorrow, so I’m going to capitalize on her interest. And her penmanship is still much below average. She can write all her letters and form words, but she still writes the words anyplace on the page and her letters are inconsistent and often illegible. This might sound pretty normal for a five-year-old, but it’s not for a Montessori five-year-old. Her mind is ready to put ideas on paper, and a lot of work that she is capable of otherwise, can’t be done until she can write. Or, I should say, it can be done, but only by dictation, which is not the same. I’ll be asking her to dictate some sentences to me to summarize stories that we read in literature, and observations that she makes for science. I want her to get to the point where she can write these things herself as soon as possible.

I am thoroughly loving all of this planning and preparation. I still don’t know how I’ll feel about actually sitting in a room with Sam, “teaching.” But I’m excited. And I’m glad to report that Sam is, too! I’d better get back to work on it now – my goal is to start on July 2.

Sammy and I were doing a piano lesson. When we were done, as usual, we just fooled around on the keyboard. Sammy made up her own version of Twinkle Twinkle which ranged over two octaves instead of one. MiddleC, C-octave-down, MiddleG, G-octave-down, etc. I was impressed! I asked if I could play the song she wrote and she said yes. It was fun to play that way and I told her so. I told her that I love to take songs I know on the piano and make them fancier. I said, “I love to take a simple song and embellish it.” Sammy started giggling uncontrollably. “You almost said bullshit!”

She is creative in many different ways.