Walkie Talkies

Well, I have a lot of catching up to do (warning:  this is a long one!), but in summary…it’s all about walking and talking these days.  The biggest news is that Zoe is now walking!  She started about 10 days ago, just before her 16th month birthday.  One day she was still walking 4 or 5 steps to get to us, then the next day she’d go to something else on her own, then she was crossing the kitchen floor (hard tile, yikes!), and then suddenly she was walking across the whole house (which of course isn’t huge, but is far for a little one).  It is so strange to seem them both upright so much (usually with both arms straight up trying to keep their balance); it is like they are totally different kids.  The trick now is to convince them that they want to go in the same direction and that they want to go at relatively the same speed (as you can imagine, we aren’t so successful with this yet; one often gets picked up).  It is sort of freeing though; I could bring them both out to the car on my own, with Sophia holding my hand and carrying Zoe.  Neighborhood walks are a little trickier, but neither one gets too far away.

Jane (PT) agreed with Papa that Sophia wasn’t walking too well in her little Robeez (feel like a barefoot) shoes.  Her Achilles tendon in her left foot is starting to turn in, so she may need a little brace.  For now, we got her shoes with more support.  We brought a bunch of choices home from the shoe store, and Jane helped decide which ones would work.  I guess the girls both got all excited, squeals and everything, when Papa brought out the shoes.  I don’t know if they were that excited about new shoes or if they thought they were going to get to go outside with Jane.  Shoes have become a big symbol of outside these days.  Sophia did not like the ones with the most support (which of course were the ugliest ones), and her favorite were the cutest ones.  We are going to try to gradually get her used to wearing regular shoes and maybe we can work up to bigger, clompier, more supportive shoes.  We were lucky to find any that were wide enough for her feet.  She seems to be walking well in the new ones, but she looks so much more grown up with “real” shoes on!

On the talking front, they are both communicating more and more.  They both learned to sign “ice cream” the same day.  It happens to be in one of our books, and isn’t a sign I would really choose to teach them, but they are very cute pretending to lick the “cone.”  They also both learned “duck” on the same day.  Zoe now uses “Papa” on her own–pointing her pointer finger at her forehead.  She tries to imitate “Mama” but her finger usually ends up in her nose (but just today she started speaking “Mama” intentionally–when I got her out of bed, when she saw my picture and when I came down stairs–yeah!).  She has learned several new signs:  “cheese,” “flower,” “play,” and “horse” (and continues with “more,” ” all done,” “bird,” “cat,” “dog,” “mine,” “please,” and “sorry”).  They both almost have “help” down, and Sophia is really working on “music.”

Zoe’s first spoken word appears to be “Nyum, nyum,” which she most often uses when pretending to feed her Little People and when singing about chicken and dumplings in “She’ll be Coming ‘Round the Mountain.”  She said “no” once, and now just shakes her head with a little scowl on her face.  She also said “nana” for banana once, but now seems to be working on the sign more.  She can also say “baa baa” for the sheep, but the other animal sounds are harder for her.  She can move the air in her mouth for “Woof Woof,” but no sound comes out.  She will occasionally say “DaDa” when it seems she is looking at John’s picture.  She uses the sign for “more” any time she wants something; one of the teachers said that she’s learned the power of it, so wants to use it all the time now.  (I wrote last time that she was just magically being so polite by signing and not grunting, but it turns out that John had trained her during supper the night before that she only got food if she asked politely.  I’d tried and it hadn’t worked, so am very glad that she learned this!)  She has also learned the power of the smile and will give you all teeth if there is something she wants; she’ll also sign “please” without being reminded.  Sophia’s speech teacher said that Zoe is doing really well finishing the communication circle, making sure that you are following what she is trying to tell you.  I think Zoe was trying to butter her up to get services, but it doesn’t look like she’ll qualify :-).  Zoe was hugging her and kissing her and giving her all kinds of attention; it was pretty cute.

We are supposed to be working with Sophia to help her try to make the right mouth formations to get words out.  We can hear the vowel sounds for “I can” or “thank you” and many other phrases, so it seems that rather than just being odd coincidence, she really is mimicking the pitch, but doesn’t know how to actually form the sounds with her mouth and tongue.    She is signing “eat” when we give her her syringe and imitates several others.

We have a summer substitute teacher for the girls who works on the cognitive things, as opposed to OT, PT, and speech.  She has us really working on Sophia’s attention span.  I really never thought about it being unusually short, but apparently it is.  So, we are trying to really limit the amount of distractions when we are playing; just focusing on one toy or book at a time.  When she moves on, we are supposed to bring her back to have her sign that she is “all done” and then put it away before we move to the next thing.  The teachers have always told us that we need to limit the amount of stimulation so she can focus, and we really do try, but it gets hard to keep them both entertained while everything is neatly tucked away.  Obviously, she can have “free play” time too, but we at least want to try harder to give her every chance to focus.

Another thing we are to work on is Sophia’s boundaries.  She is quite the friendly child (I don’t think Grandma was quite prepared for her to head for the middle of the circle in music class and start making the rounds of parents and kids), but obviously we have to teach her to be careful of strangers.  Since it will take her longer to learn this, we have been advised to start now by having her wave to people she doesn’t know yet, instead of tickling them as she does.  Of course the tickling seems cute at this age, but really not a good practice as she gets older.  Our first real chance to think about this was when we took them to a make-up music class with kids and parents they hadn’t met before.  Of course, we hadn’t been there long when Sophia started tickling one of the mom’s who then responded with “Hi, Sophia, How are you?  I haven’t seen you since art class.”  Turns out, she actually did know her (and I didn’t because she hadn’t been there the one day I went).  It was a weird feeling to think that she knows people I don’t know she knows (and who obviously remember her).  So, in any case, she responded appropriately by only tickling the two moms she knew.  Zoe was in rare form when we went to our regular class the next day; she was hugging other kids (who really didn’t want to be hugged) and other moms, too.  One of the little girls finally initiated a hug and then all was well.

This music class has been really fun for them.  I wasn’t sure how it would work since it is at 9:15, and Zoe isn’t always up from her nap by then.  Once she had to wait until we got home to nap and once we had to wake her, but all in all, she’s done fine.   It is the toddler explorations class at MacPhail, so they are getting exposed to lots of different instruments, new “catchy” songs to get stuck in our heads, and new games.  For Sophia, it combines her two favorite things:  music and people.  We have their CD with many of the songs we use in class, and she knows all the actions when she is alone at home, but when she gets to class she is so focused on watching the faces of everyone else that she rarely gets the actions in.  You can really see how music helps her learn.  In one class period the teacher let them lay on a big ball for one song if they wanted to, and the next class, she knew right away that she wanted to lay on the ball instead of rolling it like the other kids.  When we listen to her CD, she starts covering her mouth (not her eyes) for “Peekaboo” when she hears the first note of the song, before there are any words.  She was doing actions when she heard the words in the songs (like “jelly in my belly”), without us showing them to her.  I think she might stand at her oven door/dancing stage for most of the day if we let her.  It is just the right height for her to hang onto the handle, and she can see her reflection in the stainless.  Poor Zoe is not allowed to share the stage.   For the most part, Sophia has stopped purposely hurting Zoe, but when it comes to the “stage,” it is clear, there is no room for two budding stars.  Sophia’s latest dance move includes a little Elvis leg shake; I can’t imagine where she picked that up?  She has also started pointing at the CD player when she wants to skip a song that is too slow for her dancing.  I’m trying to teach her how to use the remote to do it herself, but it is hard to push little buttons when you have such chubby little fingers.

Swimming class continues to be lots of fun for them; they both are fine getting dunked and love to kick.  Like most kids (apparently), they don’t really like the back float, but the rest is lots of fun.  Sophia has been practicing her bubble blowing in the tub, but isn’t quite ready to transfer it to the pool.  They got “report cards” after this last class from the substitute instructor who didn’t even know their names…hmm.  Sophia was reluctant to let go of my neck, but when John took her, she did much better.  She did have a little episode of spitting up, which alarmed the life guards, but she was fine and got right back in.  We are signed up for the next session of lessons, too, so will have another month of Saturday adventures in the pool.  (We can’t move them to another level until they are 3, which I was thinking was so far off, but Sophia only has 9 months to go!

Our latest eating practice involves letting Sophia either lick food from the high chair tray or put her fingers in it and lick them off.  She’s been pretty good at exploring, so far, so we hope to continue to build on this.

Zoe’s eating choices have really expanded; she’s able to eat a lot more than I thought she would with one bottom tooth.  She eats pizza, grilled cheese/avacado sandwiches, pancakes, waffles, cooked, sliced carrots, mini pasta shells, soup, quesadillas, etc.  She is also loving Grandma’s garden deliveries; she has good fresh, steamed vegetables for every meal now.  (And I’m starting to figure out why I seem to have a little trouble doing too much for the girls at times when my Mom brings me shelled peas and washed spinach and cut up broccoli.  It’s so nice to be spoiled rotten!)  Zoe is finally getting a couple more teeth on the bottom right now, so I’m sure she’ll soon be ready for the chips and cookies she really wants.  She still loves food, but finally found a vegetable she won’t touch:  beets.  She turns her nose up and shakes her head just looking at them.  We’ll keep trying, but we may need to disguise them somehow.  We took her into a Super Target recently and didn’t really anticipate how excited she would be to see all that food.  It’s one thing to stroll through the neighborhood coop, but a whole different matter to be in a big superstore.  I similarly didn’t anticipate her excitement in purchasing 99 cent economic stimulus package bread on our bakery/library walk.   We had to reach into a loaf to give her a slice (and she’s been asking for bread again ever since).

Grandma and Uncle Todd helped us fill their sandbox, so they can now have lots of fun throwing sand out of the box and putting the little rubber pellets from the edges into the box.  (I think their little picnic table might turn into a time out table…)  They like scooping, exploring, and getting really dirty, so it is always a pre-bed time bath activity.

Not only are they big enough for a sandbox, but they also get to face forward in the car now!  Their legs were just getting too long to have them squished into the back seat.  (They just changed the recommendation from 1 year to 15-18 months, but we were supposed to keep Sophia backwards for longer if possible with her floppy muscles).  It is so much nicer for us as we can see them much better.  They took their first ride with Siobhàn between them, and had a blast.  (Siobhàn had her own car milestone recently and now that she is 12, she can sit in the front seat!  No more squishing between the girls (unless we are all going somewhere)).  They rode to Annaleise’s birthday party/pool party and spent almost 2 hours in the pool.  They had a really fun time playing with the other kids and practicing all of their swimming moves.

They also got to go on an adventure to see our friend Amy’s family who was here from RI staying with family near Brainerd.  They played with Elizabeth (1)  and Lukas (3) and their Aunties, too.  I think Sophia’s favorite part was swinging with a little guy who kept pretending she was running into him.  I think they were eyeing Auntie Karen’s Carolina Blue Convertible bug, too…  They were really good sports about missing their naps.  I thought I had it planned perfectly that Zoe would take her morning nap on the drive up; well, she miraculously slept in, so nap time was just as we arrived.  She hung in there and didn’t crash until we’d been in the car for a whole minute!  John just watched her head bob and bob and crash.  Sophia couldn’t be bothered to sleep in the car, but went to bed early and seemed to be fine.  I know I’m rigid about this nap business, but everyone really seems to pay if we don’t at least take it into account.

Zoe also had her 15-month check up.  I actually had to call and ask if we were supposed to bring her in.  We made such regular visits with Sophia, that I couldn’t remember what was “normal.”  Everything was great; she is still in the 75% for height and weight (basically she is now tall enough to reach the door handle on her tippy toes and heavy enough that our backs are starting to hurt from carrying her around), and 95% for head size.  We visited with her doc, and John took Sophia to get a blood draw and then we just left when they got back (totally forgetting about her shots!)  So, we had to go back the next week to get her shots, poor thing.

And as long as we are in the confessions section of the blog, I do have to share that I did what I never thought I would do–complained about their teacher!  We have such fabulous teachers during the school year, but ended up with one for the summer that seemed to have no interest in our girls at all.  It was really stressful because we ended up trying to lead the session by bringing out things to do, etc. without really getting any feed back other than “does she always have this much trouble paying attention?”  (with no recognition that her already short attention span is exacerbated by lack of engagement).   I knew it wasn’t a good fit, but was convinced to call when I found that she didn’t even have an early childhood/special ed license.  She might be great in social studies, but not w/ our little peanuts.  They were very understanding when I called, and we now have another fabulous member of “Team SoZo.”  We only have a couple more weeks of the summer session, so will be on our own in August.  They will really miss their friends, but will work hard to have lots of  new things to show them come September.


  1. Christine says:

    You were near Brainerd and didn’t call me?? 🙁
    Sorry I didn’t make the visit in the cities. Our conference schedule was much busier than I was anticipating, not to mention having to drive in the cities. I got lost, then couldn’t stay in the parking ramp when I wanted too, then couldn’t get out when I needed too!!

    Hope all is well, miss you!!