Believe it or not, I’ve had a draft of the “Month 12” post for six months now. The April-May months were especially busy times so I never got around to finishing it. Then, every time I would think about how I needed to finish the post, it felt very overwhelming because things were continuing to change at such a rapid pace. Now, 6.5 months later, the kids are 18 months old and I’m finally taking a moment to post an update.
A friend of mine told me that the most growth and development comes between 12 and 18 months so, of course, I’m kicking myself that I didn’t do monthly posts during that time. Now I can only write about where they are now and jog my memory as best as I can to remember how we got here.
Communication: We recently hired a new nanny so I was making a list for her of the signs they know (ie. if you see them do (this sign), this is what they mean). They started spontaneously and consistently signing back to us right around 12 months old and it just blossomed from there. The list is now over 50 signs! For one of the girls, if you show her a new sign once, she picks it up right away, then proceeds to use it to show you every occurrence of that new object in her environment. It’s come to a place where I’ve realized that their limitation for using ASL as a means of communication is a direct reflection of my limitations. I want so badly to learn how to use ASL as a language, not just use the internet to look up vocabulary words. Ideally, I’d like to take some classes, but I’ve had a difficult time finding any in my area. Hopefully a friend of mine is going to come over and show me the basics of using ASL as an actual language so I can at least facilitate that in my kids as much as possible. As far as spoken words go, one of them has maybe 8 or 10 words, and the other has about 15 words, though for both of them they have only a few consonants. So they use a unique “word” for whatever they are trying to say, but it’s not exactly using the same or similar consonants as the actual word. For example, one says “ba” meaning “up,” and she doesn’t say “ba” to mean anything else (unless it’s an elongated “baaaa,” which she says when she sees a sheep, animal sounds are very popular). Receptive language is out of control. It is rare that I say something that they don’t appear to understand. A lot of times I try to use words that I don’t think they know, anticipating that it will be a chance for them to learn them…only for it to seem like they know exactly what I’m talking about, and I’m all well, I guess you already know that word, OK then. What other words, that I don’t want them to know, have I said without realizing it?
Feeding: Mealtime has been, by far, the most challenging aspect of having kids, especially twins, and if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time since the kids were born, you probably already know that. Right around 12 months we moved from the bottle to sippy cups, formula to cow’s milk, warm milk to cold milk, and slowly reducing the volume offered so they would be encouraged to eat more actual food instead of filling up on liquids (moving from formula/milk being their primary source of nutrition to milk being simply a nutritious beverage to go with their food). All four of these changes were each heinous, and I have no idea why. They really shouldn’t have been a big deal, yet they were. We tried tackling one at a time and slowly, we tried cold turky-ing on all four accounts, and it just seemed like either four small battles that combined synergistically or one big battle all together. The feeding aspect is where I especially regret not continuing my monthly posts as it would have been nice to have it written down exactly what ended up working and how long it look, because that is the information I was looking for at that time. But alas, I guess I was too busy with the battles to write it down. Anyway, six months later, we’ve just switched from the soft-spouted sippy cups (which were getting destroyed by their teeth) and onto the hard-rimmed cups with tops (still “spill-proof” – note the quotes – but require sipping from the rim like a regular cup). I’m not looking forward to tackling actual open cup use. Utensils are an emerging skill; sometimes they’ll use them, sometimes they won’t. Sometimes they’re successful, sometimes they just want us to do it for them (though I insist on having them “help” me…or perhaps the other way around).
Teeth: One has all of her teeth (except her 2-year molars), and the other has all except her four canine teeth (and 2-year molars). We’re almost there! Oh thank goodness.
Sleeping: How nice it is to have toddlers who sleep through the night! It’s like we are actual adults after 7:30pm. I am not ashamed to admit that feels glorious. Besides a couple of random flukes, which I think had a lot to do with some changes we had going on regarding our nanny situation and maybe some related to teething, we have been very fortunate in our babies’ sleeping habits. More often than not, they wake up in the morning happy, usually “talking” to themselves or each other. Nap is a different story – for some reason, one or both usually wakes up upset from nap, but we’re working on it. Although they both say “mama” and “dada,” they haven’t yet learned that saying “mama” or “dada” would be easier on the ears (not to mention way cuter) than crying in the crib. We’ll get there.
Traveling: Going places around town with both of them alone has gotten tons and tons easier, especially in the past two months or so. They are just much more directable, and even if they don’t necessarily obey what you say or ask, they most certainly understand (meaning sometimes they actually do what you say/ask, which makes it easier than when they didn’t even understand…or at least appear like they did). We also recently bought a minivan so getting both kids into the car when we’re taking them out alone is about 1000 times easier now.
Challenges: We went through a biting and pushing stage, and both of those things rear their ugly heads occasionally, but I would classify those as very uncommon, if not rare, now. Jealously, especially over Mommy’s attention is a big problem and tends to be a direct contributor to basically all of their undesirable behaviors, which mostly revolve around not listening (or caring to listen) to instructions. I realize this is only the beginning, but I’m hoping we are doing what we need to do to nip that stuff in the bud before it’s an actual problem. We’re big fans of natural consequences and have recently discovered the use of a playyard (which is in our livingroom/play area with small, manipulative toys inside of it) for “time and space alone,” often to “think about how you need to listen to Daddy/Mommy.” Wow, you can’t tell me an 18 month old can’t understand that, because my two are living proof they can. And sometimes they ask to go in there if the other is constantly all up in their stuff or if they just want to look at a certain book or toy alone. I think the biggest challenge (at least for me) right now is the whining. The peak of whining was a couple months ago, maybe around 13-14 months, but it is still quite prominent, especially when they (feel like they) are competing for Molly’s attention. For whatever reason, they don’t do that to me nearly as much. I try to do everything I can to encourage them to use their words or signs to tell me what they need or want, and if it’s something I know that they know how to communicate to me, they don’t get it until they communicate it properly to me. As their spoken language continues to develop, I’m hoping the whining will in turn decrease as well.
I’m sure there is a ton I’m missing. I will do my best to not let another six months go by without another update. My intention was to update every 2-3 months during the second year so I’ll included anything I missed in the next update. Now that things have settled a bit with school and work, that should definitely be achievable!