The kids have been fighting over toys a whole lot, which is tiring for the adults to defuse. Despite all the fights, they have also started to show some love for each other. Once in a while, they are willing to give what they are holding to the other person. They ask for each other when they haven’t seen each other in a while (such as after nap). Most recently, they seem to get into this phase of holding each other’s hands while we are out and about. Bunny tells Okra to hold hands, and Okra would extend his hand to her. When we were at the zoo the other day, instead of running to the opposite directions, the two of them were holding hands to visit different animals. It was the most heartwarming and sweetest thing to witness.
On many days, raising twins is very hard, but it is moments like this that remind me how blessed we are to have these two growing up together. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Okra’s language has grown a lot recently. He has gone from using single words to putting two to three words together. You’d think that this progress in communication would reduce his tantrums. However, it is not the case. Despite being able to tell us more verbally, he started to throw toys on the floor out of frustration. His tantrums or meltdowns come quickly and are often times unpredictable. He could be playing nicely and happy one second, and becomes upset the next. He has been throwing his wooden trains on the floor to show his frustrations. In the beginning, I was at a loss as to how to respond to him throwing his toys. I would tell him “No throwing” and make him say sorry. When this happens in my mom’s care, she stands there helplessly and says to herself how naughty he is. But I know that he is not being naughty. This is his way of communicating to us he is unhappy/upset/frustrated. The more we tell him no or ignore him, the more he throws. I want him to know that our hands are not for throwing toys. Most recently when he gets upset and throws things, I pick him up and hold him from behind to hold both of his arms tight. I pick up the toys from the floor with him in my arms. I tell him that I can tell he is frustrated, but toys are for playing and holding, not for throwing. Holding him seems to calm him down more quickly. I hold him until he doesn’t struggle out of my arms anymore. If I know why he is frustrated (such as having a difficult time putting a toy together), I show him how to fix whatever it is that needs to be fixed. I don’t make him say sorry anymore because I don’t think it is meaningful as he doesn’t really know what it means. His toy throwing happens quite a few times a day. I handle the situation the same way every tine. I really don’t know if this is the most appropriate way to handle his frustration/meltdown/tantrum, but I am really trying my best to learn how to handle it. I hope that as his ability to communicate continues to grow, his meltdown will lessen and the habit of throwing things will disappear.
Going on a road trip with two kids of the same age (AKA twins) is so tiring. We lucked out that Okra and Bunny had minimal tantrums on our last road trip. We got brave and planned another one last weekend. It was only about a two-hour drive to the California State Railroad Museum, one of Bob’s favorite places on earth. He had wanted to show the kids all the huge locomotives in this train museum for quite some time. Our original trip last November got canceled because of bad air quality. We finally made the trip this time, which to me is better timing in terms of the kids’ understanding of things around them. Plus Okra is a confirmed train enthusiast like his dad so it was even more exciting for me to plan the trip in order to wow him. The goal to impress the kids was a mission accomplished. Okra and Bunny’s faces lit up when they approached the huge locomotives. Okra was especially excited; he kept on pointing at all the trains and making choo-choo sounds. He ran around non-stop touching different trains. The kids had so much fun up at the Thomas play area that meltdowns were almost guaranteed every single time. We also rode first class on the excursion train ride. The kids really loved standing at the window looking outside.
In terms of building memories, this was a fantastic trip. However, other moments were not as enjoyable as the previous road trip because the kids have grown older and somehow have become whinier and more demanding. Maybe because they are approaching two? So many demands but not enough language. Tantrums came more easily and longer for each toddler. And when there are two of them, it just felt like it was never-ending. It was like the end of a battle after we put the kids down for the night. The only thing one would want was a good night sleep. Both kids had had no problems sleeping through the night for months even during our last road trip only a couple of months ago. This time Okra woke up in the middle of the night wailing two nights in a row. The first night we had to get him so that he didn’t wake up Bunny. The second night he did it again and both of them woke up crying. So we had two kids in bed with us. Needless to say, both Bob and I were extra tired and cranky the next day. And when the kids didn’t sleep well the night before, they threw tantrums more easily the next day. It is just a vicious cycle. Bunny had an unusually huge meltdown when we were about to depart that we had to change plans and skip out on my dear friend Jane Allen’s little girl’s birthday. I was so bummed to have to miss it but the kids wouldn’t be pleasant to be around anyways. I truly do not mind the extra work that is required with all the logistics that comes with a trip, but the tantrums and meltdowns with twin toddlers are emotionally and physically (holding them down while they arch their back fighting being held) exhausting. We have bought plane tickets for a four-week trip to Asia this coming Fall. I shudder to think about being away from home for so long not having our routines and the tantrums these then-two-year-olds will have. I know the key is to set no/low expectations but still. I really have to mentally and emotionally prepare myself for such a long trip so far away with the effects of time zone changes and other changes on the kids. BUT, this train museum trip was worth it despite the difficulties, and hopefully I will feel the same way about the international trip.
My kids are now 21 months old. I started reading to them pretty much since they were born. Bunny in particular has developed a love for books. We currently have about 45 library books in our house, with 44 of them being children’s books. Bunny reads some of the books over and over again herself and also asks me to read them to her. Okra also likes to read and does flip the books on his own, but his level of interest is not nearly as intense as Bunny’s. In the morning when we change Okra’s diaper first, Bunny is satisfied with waiting for her turn as long as we hand her a book. She memorizes words from some of these library books and fills in the blank whenever she remembers. Since the summer began, we have joined our library’s Summer Learning Challenge. We are to log every 20 minutes of reading or listening by coloring one of the 36 wheels on a piece of paper. When we are done with that, plus trying 6 activities that are new to us, then each kid gets a new book and a raffle ticket to have a chance to win $1000 scholarship. Some days we get to color 3 wheels. That is an hour of reading. Bunny can sit there and read to herself for 30 minutes sometimes. Here is a picture of them hiding in the corner reading before church yesterday:
Isn’t this adorable? I just love that the kids are so into reading. I hope that their love for books will never end.
Today is the second day of our second road trip with our twins. Yesterday we drove 275 miles down south from home. This is the farthest that the kids have gone from home. They did relatively well. Other than whimpering once in a while, Bunny did not cry at all. Okra napped twice and finally had a full meltdown 30 minutes before arrival. I’d consider that a win. We have rented a hotel suite with a living room and kitchen. The hotel provided two pack n’ plays. The kids were probably confused about what was going on despite me trying to explain to them that we were going on a road trip. They explored all the rooms and tried to open doors, drawers, and cabinets. We tried to contain Bunny by putting her in her pack n play. At the end of the night, she figured out how to climb out of it. Three times. You could see her brain work. Haha. But once the sleep sack went on, it was a lot harder for her to try. Plus that acted as a cue for sleep time. Okra had a much harder time settling down. Poor guy was confused. He finally went down for bed. And despite my best effort with a packing list, we forgot one of the most important things: sound machine. Fortunately the iPad has white noise on it. Those who say that with little kids you take trips, not vacations are absolutely right. I was exhausted last night from the driving, chasing kids, taking care of their needs, and outwitting them. Hopefully we will have some fun today.
Here is our packed car. Doesn’t look too bad!
I hate getting my hands and clothes dirty. Hence I am not quite a beach person, and never really wanted to have water play or other sensory kind of activities for the kids I worked with. Now that I have my own kids, I am still kind of averse to dirt. My mom and I constantly wipe the kids’ hands during meal time and wipe the floor whenever food drops. When I take the kids to a playground, I often steer them away from the sand area. I would hate to have to clean up their clothes, their hair, and their socks and shoes from sand. The thought of it just made me shudder. My effort is proven to be futile because the kids are naturally drawn to dirt and sand. They see other kids there and just walk over, sit down, and start playing. They take other kids’ shovels and pails and start digging. They pick up sand and put some in their mouth. They pick up twigs and barks and taste them. At first I was quite grossed out by sand going into my shoes and kids having dirt and sand in their mouths. I have to say now that I am quite proud of myself because I have evolved to a point where I sit in the sand area with the kids and let them do whatever they want with the sand including tasting some. I do tell them that it is not for eating and it probably doesn’t taste good, but I have let go a lot more than I thought I would when it comes to dirt and sand. I clean out all the sand from their clothes and shoes/socks before loading them back in the car. When I told my mom that the kids played in the sand and tasted some, the horrified look on her face was priceless. Haha. I know that playing in the sand is good for their play skills and their sensory development, so I am going to continue to let go. I even bought them a whole set of sand toys and vehicles for our beach vacation in a few weeks!
My maid-of-honor, about whom I have written a couple of times before (here and here), just moved into her newly purchased condo as a first-time homeowner. I carved out a couple of hours on her moving day to hang out at her new home. Another girlfriend of ours who has moved to a nearby city recently was also there to support her. We had a great time celebrating and rejoicing with her for the fulfillment of one of her dreams: owning a home. We enjoyed some desserts, champagne, strawberries, and discussed the most optimal placement of her furniture. It was fun. One thing that I did notice though, was that, my life and my kids didn’t come up as a topic of conversation. We talked about my friend’s move, the other girlfriend’s life, work, and church life in the new city, and some other topics. In those 1.5 hours, they did not ask me about me or my kids. Except for when my mom called me to let me know about the kids’ tantrums, it was time for me to go, and at that time, my girlfriends did say something about my kids being big and fun at this age. On my drive home, I pondered about this. Was the lack of interest due to my girlfriends being single? Was it because they truly did not care about how I was and how the kids were? Or was it because it reminds them of what they don’t have and they don’t want to bring it up? This reminds me of the previous week’s Sunday service. We went to church a little earlier so the kids could walk on the sidewalks to church instead of being carried in a rush to service like usual. I was holding Bunny’s hand walking towards church when my maid-of-honor walked behind us. She did not interact with the kids much. I asked her questions about her move, and we chatted a little about it. That was it. I guess… as someone who was so supportive of us emotionally and prayerfully during those five years of infertility trials, I did expect her to show a little bit more interest in my life as a mom and my kids’ life. To give her credit, when she and I get together once every few months, we do talk about my life and the kids. So it is not like we don’t ever talk about me. I guess I just expect a little bit more interest in interacting with the kids and getting to know them. She did mention on her moving day that she had been feeling lonely in the last couple of years living in San Francisco. She is approaching 40, not meeting anyone, and doesn’t want to start a family until she gets married. I know it has been hard for her, so a while ago I have decided to be understanding of her situation and her emotional wellbeing and not to take things personally. But still, I do want to be cared for, and when my single girlfriends don’t show much interest in my kids, I do notice and feel a little sad about it at the moment.