Monday, December 20, 2010

One year adjusted milestones

** MUSIC **

We've been singing songs like "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," "Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes" and "Itsy Bitsy Spider" to death in our house. The "wash the spider out" part is Julia's favorite. I pause just before and she giggles and then waves her arms back and forth. Cracks us both up. Julia and Emma are starting to put their index fingers together to show me they want me to sing the song. When I'm done singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider," they touch their heads to ask for the "Head, Shoulders..." song.


Ada loves being ticked. She'll giggle and gasp, then giggle and shriek and then giggles some more. She has the cutest squirm! And when I ask "More?" she gives me the baby sign for more: index finger of one hand against the palm of her other hand.


Emma started walking on Dec. 5th. By Dec. 20th, she was stll crawling a fair amount, but she could walk halfway across the kitchen, do a controlled turn, and walk back to where she started. As of Dec. 31, Emma is truly walking. Everywhere. Non-stop. She rarely crawls now, and is so much steadier on her feet. She can step over toys and the raised foam mats without falling down.

Julia started walking on Dec. 23. She gives about 10 or so steps before she plops down or falls into my arms. It'll probably be another few weeks before she's as steady as Emma.

Ada used to scoot on her behind, but is crawling all the time now. She is saying "Uh-Oh" when she drops toys. Sometimes she says that even before dropping the toy. It's funny to see her learning about cause and effect. She also watches for our reaction!

** PLAY **

She figured out the stacking cups on Dec. 20. I've seen her fit things inside of other things before, but today was the first time she adjusted the cups - taking them out and trying another one - until they fit. She placed about six of them from big to small, with a few gaps, but "got it" for the most part.

She'll find similar objects and group them. 3 bibs on top of one another. 3 ducks lined up in a neat little row. When she's done playing with the Megablocks they received for Christmas, she'll drop the blocks into the bag one by one. What a great little helper. Ada said, "oupa" on New Year's Eve and that same day she truly started calling me.

** SPEECH **

As of Christmas Day, when Ada wakes up from a nap, she'll say, "Mamma?" like she wants to know my whereabouts. She's been very vocal lately, but not saying a ton of words.

All 3 can point to their heads and noses and belly buttons. Those are the 3 body parts we started with.

We're working on toes and ears, but they don't "get" those yet. They're pointing to everything in sight, and we find ourselves labeling it all. It's exhausting, but wonderful that they're expressing an interest in what they see! Emma does a double point when she's excited. The Christmas Tree lights are two index fingers on the excitement scale, for example. LOL.

Their receptive language is increasing by the minute, but not much is happening on the expressive language front. They understand questions about animal sounds, can point to and identify their grandparents, the dog, lights, the Christmas Tree. We can predict when they're hungry/thirsty, but they don't really indicate or distinguish those yet. They can mimic the monkey movements and shrug their shoulders when I ask about the buffalo.


Ada threw her first true tantrum today (Jan. 1) complete with leg kicking. Her sister had a musical toy she wanted (the blue maraka - see below). When they're tired, hungry, or thirsty, there's a lot of flailing going on. We usually move to the foam mat and start solving the problem - quickly! - because otherwise it spirals into a complete meltdown. The tantrumming can be timed to how tired they are. If one sister takes a toy from another shortly before nap time, the consequences are epic. Crying, moaning, grabbing the toy back, even hair pulling, and if they don't get what they were after, they'll lay down - face down - and bump their foreheads into the foam mat out of frustration. This is sometimes accompanied by kicking, sometimes wailing. It just depends how tired they are.

We don't let that go on too long before redirecting or distracting, but it's pretty hysterical to see how they're "dealing" with frustration. Poor babies. If it's shortly after waking, toy snatching is no biggie, they just move onto the next toy.

We observed Julia trying to express her displeasure by throwing a mini tantrum today. Only problem was she was standing by our coffee table. She leaned forward and gently placed her forehead on the table. No headbanging. She finally figured out that it hurts.

On a related note, when something goes awry and we say, "Oh my goodness!" Julia and Emma will bring their hands to their cheeks or to the top of their heads. Think "Home Alone." I could just eat them up when they do that.


They are starting to bond with objects like teddy bears. It's too cute - they squeeze them tight into their necks, and even rock them. So sweet. Emma is pretty attached to her blanket too, but only gets to hold it - and suck on the tag - at bedtime.

Whenever the door to the nursery is left open, she'll walk in, go straight for one of the cribs, and pull a blanket out. She is our stealth blankie snatcher.

Ada has a gray teddy bear she seems to favor, and Julia loves the Dr. Seuss character stuffies. They are so gentle with the stuffed toys.


On New Year's Day, Emma truly discovered music. Amazing friends came to visit - one who is a musician - and she played a variety of instruments for them: guitar, differently-sized harmonicas (even a peewee one!), a "Woody" toy, spoons, and shakers of every kind. Emma wiggled and bounced and rocked and clapped and danced her way through their visit. She couldn't get enough of the rhythms, rhymes and music.

Towards the end of the visit, Emma stood with both her hands on the guitar, feeling the vibration as our friend played Joh.nny C.ash's " the" Emma was mesmerized by the sounds. It was just lovely to watch. After our friends left, we continued playing music, and it was the first time - ever! - that all 3 "hummed" along. Not quite singing or true humming, but they were vocalizing with the music. They all went down for their afternoon nap, and when they woke up, Emma found the maraca again - the blue shiny one - and walked around with it until bedtime. That's 4 hours of walking around with a maraca! Quite the party animal.

Happy New Year to all!

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

We finally got our act together and bought a tree. Miraculously, we managed to decorate it the same day. Not our usual classic and tasteful clear-glass-ornaments-only tree. Oh no no no. This year, it's gawdy and pimped out, triplet toddler style.

The kids love it, it's hokey, and that's what it's all about.

We even bought new colored LED lights and they are like voodoo magic. Our kids have never watched any television so anything that lights up is pretty novel to them. Ada said, "Whoa whoa whoa whoa!" when she first saw the tree all lit up. Too funny. Julia and Emma stare at it, smile excitedly, and keep pointing to it all day long. They're mesmerized.

We have some unbreakable ornaments on the tree, but mostly just the lights. When they first saw the undecorated tree, they were stunned. If I could interpret their facial expressions, it was something akin to being freaked out that a tree had the audacity to "walk" into their home and "park" itself in the corner while they were napping.

We held the girls in our arms as they woke up, a few feet from the tree at first, because they seemed really startled by the whole thing. As in:
"What the heck? Why is there a huge tree in the house?"
"Look, mommy, a T-R-E-E! A TREE!"
"Mommy, Daddy, A TREEEEEEE. WTH?"

Of course they can't speak in sentences yet, but that's definitely along the lines of what they were thinking.

It was amusing, but being the fabulous parents we aspire to be, we didn't want to traumatize our children or foster negative associations with living things. So we eased them into seeing the tree, talking about the tree, touching the tree, touching the ornaments on the tree, and eventually, switching on the lights. Then all was finally right with the world.

Now seeing the tree is their favorite part of waking up. Ah, Christmas is finally here and it is good.

Monday, December 13, 2010

One year adjusted

Today is the girls' one year adjusted birthday. Dec. 13 was their due date.

For the past 4 days, all of the girls are on whole milk. We switched Emma back to formula for a week or so (upset tummy), but it turns out it had more to do with the teething than the switch to milk. We weaned them very slowly by adding an ounce of cow's milk per week.

The girls are completely off of Pre.vacid and their reflux is under control. After all the struggles, this is an amazing milestone.

I was nervous about decreasing the Pre.vacid, adding whole milk, and switching to sippy cups all in one go. Staggering it made more sense to me. Just a few weeks ago, the girls weren't strong enough to hold their sippy cups. They couldn't lift their arms above their heads, let alone tilt their heads backwards. We played the following games to death to get them to lift their arms and build their strength: "so big," peekaboo, high five, pat a cake, wearing funny hats, played with sweaters with hoodies, even put small toys on their heads! We made them reach above their heads for anything they wanted. And it worked.

I was becoming very discouraged, because we tried every sippy on the market, including several different straw cups. It was stressing me out, and as badly as I wanted them to move on, they just weren't ready.

In the end, we had to work with transitional cups (with handles and bottle nipples) first, and then we moved to straw cups, and then to sippies. The only way they're able to drink out of the sippy cups is if we take the no-spill valves out (eek! messy!) Now it's finally going very well.

You know, I never thought I'd take their struggles as personally as I do. It's almost impossible not to. Whenever something doesn't just come naturally to them, I feel like I'm failing them. Like there's something I should be doing to make it easier for them. Motherhood is beautiful, but crazy hard sometimes...


They're still taking their glass bottles first thing in the morning and just before bed (we help them hold those), but the rest of the day they're using sippies for water. With their lunch, they drink milk from the tiny little bottles we got from the NICU. Their glass bottles are just way too heavy, and I can't deal with the mess of milk in a sippy cup without a no-spill valve. One step at a time, as I said.

This progress is good enough for me, considering where we were just three weeks ago. We'll be cutting out the morning bottle next, and then take on the last one before bed. Chelle, if you're reading this, I'm right there with you. When kids have feeding issues and were premature, taking it slow seems to work. One battle at a time maxes out my sanity.

With the teething (eye teeth, and first molars simultaneously - oh, the pain!) they are still waking at least once per night. Julia and Emma have started banging their heads as they rock themselves to sleep. We've tried everything to discourage that, but nothing is working. As other moms are removing crib bumpers, we had no choice but to add them. *sob* If you have advice, or can commisserate, please leave a comment. We'll be forever grateful.

Nobody has tried to climb out of their cribs, but we're in the market for crib tents, because, you know, we like to be ahead of the curve. (Yeah, right.)

Emma is walking about a dozen steps at a time. Very controlled, with turns. Yesterday, she stood up without her hands touching the floor. It was mindblowing.

Julia wants to walk so badly. She's taking about 6 steps at time, and runs rather than walks, and then leaps when she gets close to us. She is fearless.

Ada has made tremendous progress. In just 2 weeks, she has gone from pulling up, to starting to cruise. She manages to stand without holding on for a few seconds at a time, and often holds on with just one hand barely touching the object she's holding onto. She has been moving much more freely. Whenever we switch the music on, she looks like she's conducting an orchestra. She sways from side to side, moving her head with the music, while waving her arms, and turning her hands back and forth. She has also started to crawl just a few steps at a time. It's pretty cool.

Ada has the best belly laugh. Her sisters are much more subdued. They crack up, and smile, but don't laugh out loud as often. Emma has been much more pensive from the get-go, and definitely more sensitive in general. Julia seems to need more cuddling. She'll often be the first to walk/stumble to me, her dad or her grandparents and "claim" a hug.

Happy "real" one year birthday, kiddos!