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.
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.
I was listening to a podcast the other day about DNA testing and how people are excited about connecting to their relatives through a DNA database. I paid particular attention at one point when egg and sperm donors were mentioned. With this technology, egg and sperm donors who wish to keep themselves anonymous will not be able to keep their identity under wraps. That means people like my children who have been conceived with the help of donor eggs have the means to find the people to whom they are genetically linked. They will be able to see who contributed to 50% of their DNA and those that share their DNA. I have never wanted to keep my children’s conception story a secret. I want them to have a complete picture of who they are and not to have to find out about the donor conception part of their life through a test or anyone other than me. I recently purchased a book called “You Were Meant To Be” and started to read it to the kids. Bunny is a book worm and frequently requests to read this book. She calls this book “Be”. She fills in the blank for certain words of the story. Okra likes the book too but he is more into trucks and trains. I explain to them that a piece of me didn’t work so I needed help from our donor. The book itself is simple enough to explain a very complex situation to toddlers who are not even two years old. This is my first step to make this part of their life a normal part so it will not be a surprise in the future. I do not want them to be like those who are tremendously hurt because they find out about their biological origin well into their teenage years or adulthood. If my kids want to find out who the donor is through a DNA database, I will have no problem with that. They have the right and the freedom to explore who they are. When we first pursued egg donation, our donor did say she was open to meeting with us. So maybe this will come true and the kids can have a even more complete picture of who they are. Then we will connect with our donor so they don’t even have to find her through a database. We will see how this all will unfold.
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 dad has been in town for over a week now, and it’s been wonderful.
Ever since the kids have switched to one nap a day, I always try to take them somewhere in the morning because we run out of things to do at home. Even though my mom lives with us and helps take care of the kids, she usually stays home to rest when the kids and I have an outing. So when my dad told me that he was going to come visit for two months, I was super excited and couldn’t wait for him to show up so he could help with the kids when we go out.
Grandpa has proven to be the best play partner. He has only been in town for a little bit, and he has gone out with us every single day. We have been to the zoo, on hikes, Golden Gate Park, lunch, and dinner. I’ve got to say that we have struck gold with grandpa. He’s over 70 years old but he is healthy and has energy. When we go to the zoo or on hikes, grandpa has the energy to chase the kids and the patience to wait when the kids don’t want to go where we ask them to go. It is soooooo much easier when another grownup is there to take care of one of the twins so I don’t have to run in two directions all the time. When the kids want to stop somewhere, grandpa patiently stands there to wait instead of rushing them to places. He tells them about the trees and birds and flowers and cars and bikes and airplanes. He gently reminds them not to pick up stuff to eat from the ground over and over again. Being out and about with them has become so much more leisurely instead of being stressful because of grandpa’s help. The best part? The kids really enjoy their time with grandpa. My dad really enjoys them as well. I think the best part for him is that the kids understand his language unlike my niece and nephew who never learned to understand or speak Cantonese. He finally has grandchildren who know what he is talking about when he speaks his native language.
Here is a photo of them visiting a tiger together:
I am tremendously blessed with a dad so helpful and loving toward my children. It is such a bummer that he doesn’t live in the same country with us. It makes his time in the States even more precious.