The girls are talking!!!  (I think that deserves multiple exclamation points, don’t you?)  It seems that as they’ve started to talk, their mother has stopped writing (blog entries, that is).  My apologies for another long post, but I’m hoping the craziness of work this summer will subside a little this fall.  Back to the exciting news… in addition to “nyum, nyum,” Zoe can now say:  hi, moooooore, nana (banana), and Dada, and Mama, (John is thrilled that she is now distinguishing us, but I don’t know that he thinks its so great that she says “Dada” to the men on her CD covers, too (Raffi, The Wiggles)).  Sophia’s first real word was “help,” which sounds like “bewpp.”  She signs “help” at the same time.  At first I thought she was just repeating me when I was saying it, but later that same day she initiated it; I was so excited!   She also says “baby,” which seems to have a broader meaning than “Baby Zoe,” but we are not so clear yet what.  She has a word for “book,” which I can’t begin to repeat or spell phoenetically, and says “bye bye” and “up” understandably.  She seems to like to repeat several “b” words.  I’m sure there are other words in there that we just have to catch.  Zoe’s been saying something like “yaba dubba doo” all weekend, and has another word like “fweebie” which seems to mean “get me that great thing I want.”  It’s going to be a hoot trying to understand these two.  I told John the other day that I couldn’t wait for them to be telling us what they were really thinking, and as you can imagine, he very sarcastically said “Great, just what I need, constant chatter about what’s on their minds!”

Their sign vocabulary is also increasing significantly.  I’m realizing I’m going to have to send a key with them to ECFE so the teachers know what they are saying when we aren’t there.  Sophia’s mastered “music please,” baby, hat, thank-you, cry, and most importantly our name sign for Siobhàn.  She will also imitate many of the signs we use with her.  Our summer teacher really wants us to sign every word we know so that she understands that that is an alternative way to communicate.  I had thought it would be overwhelming, so I hadn’t stayed very far ahead of them in learning it myself.  Guess I’ve got some practicing to do!

Zoe now signs “Grandma” (which came in useful for her to tell me that she hurt her knee at Grandma’s house today); she made up her own sign for “squirrel” which is the same fish kiss she had been using for fish (who knows, maybe she got nervous after she signed “fish” to the guy working at the fish market, and he told her he’d have to put her behind the counter); she knows our name sign for “Sophia” (and was able to tell Auntie Nicole this afternoon very emphatically that Sophia should be sitting next to her in the other high chair); she also knows “sad” (and could tell us she was sad that it was our nanny Margaret’s last day last week); she’s adapted “ice cream” for “whipped cream,” too, and marched into the coffee shop this morning, letting them know she was there for her Papa’s whipped cream;  she also knows water, hat, book, swimming (and asks to go most days), moon (and can identify the daytime moon), airplane, hot (although she doesn’t quite understand the concept yet and blows on her cantaloupe), frog, play, milk, giraffe (which apparently looks so much like Grandma, that Siobhàn kept telling her that her Grandma wasn’t a giraffe), and of course outside (which, other than “eat,” is her most frequently used sign, although it hasn’t quite replaced her bringing us coats and shoes to let us know that she would really like to play outside now.

It’s been such a great summer with them both loving to do so many of the same things.  They are having lots of fun together and actually seem to play together at times.  They’ve pretty well mastered “my turn” and love to give each other kisses and hugs.  They both have been initiating sitting on our laps, backing up with their books and plopping right down.  They also love to sit on their little bench or anything other chair they can find.  Zoe spent most of her first ECFE class going from little chair to little chair (I think she thinks there is food involved when she sits in a chair; she insisted on sitting at the patio table at Grandma’s today to eat her cantaloupe and in the high chair at Tuggs to eat Auntie Karen’s french fries and Auntie Nicole’s hamburger bun).  They love to walk outside.  Sophia basically runs, so poor Zoe ends up being carried a lot to catch up with Sophia if she gets too far ahead.  They are working on uneven terrains, but are pretty good w/ sidewalks and steps.  Sophia is really cautious about door jams and small steps.  I think she remembers tripping at her Great Uncle Jim and Great Aunt Peggy’s house and hasn’t really walked over a door jam again.  She sits down and scoots over them.  She also has this thing about walking the opposite way you want her to, so if you tell her we’re going to the coffee shop, she walks toward the park, and vice versa.  It ends up working out okay now that we can still lift her, but I imagine it will get more difficult if she continues with this determination. Zoe has a funny little strut that John describes as looking like her feet are sticky on the bottom.  It’s hard to even remember them not being upright.  Their teachers are going to be so surprised this week when they return!

One of Zoe’s biggest adventures was flying to Denver w/ me and Auntie Jen to see Jack, Anne, Annaleise, and Amelia for a day.  She was a really good girl, riding on the 5AM train watching her reflection in the dark window, sucking her thumb and eating during take off and landing, taking a couple of little naps, and eating lots of watermelon at the party.  She fussed a little when we landed at 11PM, but I’m sure by that time she was ready to be in her bed sleeping.

Sophia stayed home because unlike her sister, she couldn’t fly for free on my lap.  She got to have a special day with her Papa.  They rode the train to Mall of America and Underwater World. She got to see a costumed Blue Clues and practice her walking all through the mall.  She also got to spend a really long time at the park with no distractions from her sister.

They’ve had several other adventures that I won’t highlight given the length of this post:  ice cream/sailboats/beach at Lake Harriet to visit Margaret; trying the Indian buffet (free for those 2 & under); another trip to the Minnesota Zoo (with Amy’s Elizabeth and Lukas); climbing on a real fire truck at the block party; visiting the big Downtown library’s wonderful kid section (it’s so fun to have “new” books every few weeks!); Lily’s first birthday party; practicing walking up hills at a law clerk reunion;  exploring the kitchen, stacking juice bottles and eating yummy food at Cousin Doug & Jane’s C.McGee’s Deli; “stealing” post-it notes from the hardware store while in the stroller; returning the “stolen” post-it notes from the hardware store after they were located at the park; almost daily stroller rides to the parks and walks on the mall out in front of our house; a real “mall walk” at Rosedale, complete with some TV viewing at Gymboree (and pizza eating in the food court); a swimming lessons visit from Aisling and Siobhàn; a weight check for Sophia (28.5 pounds–superb!);  birthday dinner for Grandma with Great Great Aunt Jean & Uncle Joe (with moooore yummy fish and lemon supreme pie for Zoe); a Labor Day visit w/ friends Jan, Tim, and Maia (who gave some great jumping lessons) and the Great Minnesota Get Together with lots of time in the animal barns and dancing to music (and trying new foods, but avoiding the deep fried banana split that surely would have been a hit).

They started ECFE last week and are enrolled in the same class this year.  They both seemed fine to have us leave during separation time.  Zoe was predictably the first kid ready for snack and when she wasn’t sitting in a little chair was busy setting the table in the play kitchen or pushing the grocery cart around (I think we’ve created an eating machine!).  It’s so nice for them to have access to bigger toys like that since we don’t have the space for that stuff.  Sophia’s favorite seemed to be pushing the baby stroller around, climbing in the tunnel and watching her teacher read the big “Wheels on the Bus” book.  They start OT and PT up again this week, so it will be great to get back into our schedule.  Our new nanny, Kelly, starts tomorrow, too, so the girls will have lots of attention.  And, I hope to get back into the weekly posting schedule again, and I think John will be posting some new pictures soon, too.