A Dictionary of Babble (Toddler Edition)

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To the uninitiated, the twins’ babble might sounds like…babble. But I tell you, something essential has changed. Slowly, from out of the chatter, language is emerging. The words so far are mostly one-syllable interpretations of the world around them, but the list grows rapidly. For those of you venturing to toddler-land, or at least to our house, I’ve compiled here a Spacemonkey/Common English dictionary. Following are the words M and E, now 18 months, have down pat:

Ah!” (Hat): Especially fun to say while pointing at head in a questioning way, as in, “Why am I not wearing a hat? Please bring a hat,” then said more and more insistently until said hat appears. We’ve been having many meals wearing hats.

Awa” (Flower): When I walk in with an orchid bought on sale from Home Depot, E points and says excitedly, “Awa!” “Awa!”

Ba!” (Ball): Imagine E, holding a red ball, then yelling “BA!” and throwing it down forcefully. Balls are their favorite toy, and “ba!” is definitely their favorite word to say. They point out balls everywhere we go. Ba! Ba!

Mih” (Milk): I love the way M says this, with her four little beaver-teeth showing in the front when she enunciates the “ee.” E’s interpretation is closer to “mah.”

Wa” (Water): Thank goodness they can tell me when they’re thirsty. Major life improvement.

Chzz” (Cheese): Very important to be able to ask for cheese. M is particularly good at this one.

Bee” (Bird): Said while gesticulating wildly at sparrows chattering in a bush, or recently, M pointing out a hawk overhead, “Bee! Bee!”

Bee” (Bear): Distinguishable from ‘bee,’ bird, because pointing at a bear.

Na” (1) (Nose): I love the way E says this, curling up her nose into a very nasal ‘n’ while putting one finger on a nostril, “nnna.”

Na” (2) (Snow): Said while pointing out the window at snow. Or M, being carried out to the car in a light snow, her face lit up with joy, “Na! Na!”  and pointing all around.

Na” (3) (Snack): Said while making the universal hand sign for ‘more.’ Most often while sitting in stroller, occasionally while staring intently at whatever food you walk into the room eating.

Ma” and “Da,” (Mom, Dad): M has these down. In addition, E may also be saying “Ma” to refer to M (which is correct). E is also occasionally calling Daddy Ma, though, which makes me wonder if she thinks “Ma” means, “person I love” or “Person in the family”?

Da” (Duck): I remember when E was pointing to everything and calling it Duck… Now we’re in a different era where we know what a duck is, but there’s no more ‘k.’

Shz” (Shoes. Not to be confused with “Chzz”).

Ba-Ba” (Bye -bye): Said while waving goodbye, most often after person has already left the room and can no longer see.

Though maybe not proper words, sounds are definitely a forte. Following a list of sounds:

VROOM!” (Car): E does this with particular gusto.

BA BA,” (Sheep): Often E will point at a picture of a sheep, say “ba ba” and then start dancing–she’s waiting for you to start singing “Ba Ba Black Sheep.”

BA BA” (Chicken, ie “bock bock”)

WOOF” (Dog): This one was probably both of their first words. They would say “Woo Woo” whenever we’d pass a dog.

UH OH!“: This one is a new favorite.

BZZZ” (Bee)

AAA!” (Lion’s roar)

There are also the occasional moments where we think they are saying multiple words together. Yesterday, E crying and pointing to M who was playing with a ball, saying “Ma ba”…D and I look at each other. Did she just say “My ball?” Or M putting her hands in the air and saying “Pi Uh” (Pick up). Lately M likes putting both her hands in the air palm up, as if to say, “Who knows?” or “How funny is that?” and at the same time she chuckles to herself and babbles as if she’s telling a really funny story. This goes on for a long time sometimes at dinner.

We’ve been told by other parents that when kids learn to speak they can remember things from when they were a year old, before they knew how to talk. What will they say? How will they remember this time?

Stop the Press, We Have a Milestone

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M took her first steps yesterday. I sat on the floor and put her a few feet away from me, encouraging her to take the steps toward my lap. Maybe she was reassured by the soft landing pad of my belly, because she did. I’m not sure she knew why I was making such a huge to-do about it (after all she’s been walking with help for months), but I think she appreciated the attention.

This morning we went to story time at the library and she walked again, a few feet from the train table to the bookshelf. Then again from the stroller to a shelf. She stands carefully, getting her balance, catching herself with her hands, pushing herself up again, wobbling, catching herself, standing again until she is stable, then looking forward with determination and taking one step, two steps, a quick three four and grabbing the bookshelf. I got out my phone to try to catch it on video, I’m sure I was grinning ear to ear, and I wanted to call over the other parents, “Look! Look what she’s doing!” (but of course it isn’t so amazing when someone else’s baby walks).

Today I noticed E is getting two more teeth on the top, which will give her a grand total of six, four on top and two on the bottom. I’m going to miss her toothy, baby grin with the two teeth on top. I remember how I loved her gummy, toothless infant grin, too. I wish I could pause time for a second, just to breathe and look around a bit and appreciate these beautiful babies as they are now, 15 months old, at this moment sleeping peacefully in their cribs, dreaming about walking.

And I’m Freeeee, Free Standing

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These babies know what they have to do. They want to be upright, walking. If you set them down on the ground they immediately pull themselves up to standing.

This morning, after a session of holding both E’s hands while she walked around the house, I tried to set her down. I kept trying to lean her backward so she’d sit, but she protested loudly, gripping my hands and refusing to bend at all. I kept leaning her backward while she continued straight as a board until I finally just had to lay her down on the floor, crying. Similarly, when you try to lay M down on the changing table she seems to see it as a sort of challenge: can I keep my legs under me and remain standing while you try to lay me down? She’s good.

I can understand: standing is fun. If you sit on the ground, E and M both come over and use your outstretched legs as launch pads to push themselves up to standing and let go. Then they free stand, looking very pleased, for two seconds, four, five before launching back into your lap, laughing. Or they balance upright for a little while, clap once, and then lower themselves carefully to their knees. You can see the thrill on their faces.

Today I spent time placing M a few feet away from me and then encouraging her to take a few steps into my lap. Almost, but she’s still hesitant unless you offer a hand. One friend postulated that they are the kind of babies that don’t take shaky pre-walking steps, but wait until they know they can do it alone. They know what they have to do, and they’re enjoying the journey.

First Birthday Party for the Twins, A Summary

 

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This weekend was the babies’ first birthday party. I thought I’d take a moment to record what happened. 

Earlier in the day we had given the babies some presents. They were all over each new object instantly, turning knobs, putting things in their mouth, banging, exploring. E stood over a new walker, gesticulating wildly and making such happy sounds as if to say, “Look at this! What?! HOLY COW!” They loved unwrapping the presents, too. E tore tissue out of a bag and ruffed it in the air like it was wings to take off. They were both so completely thrilled by the novelty it made me want to buy them new things every day. 

We had invited a few new friends for the party. There were a lot of kids, who ran around happily in the back yard. We made carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, blueberry muffins, tea sandwiches, both egg salad and cucumber and cream cheese. There was Orangina to drink, and other tasty snacks. We had a red checked tablecloth, Happy Birthday banners on the walls, party hats, and a pretty clean house. 

The babies wore their new matching party dresses, E in blue stripes and M in orange. M ate a blueberry muffin and an egg salad sandwich and they both ate a lot of fruit salad. We put them in the highchairs and everyone gathered around to sing happy birthday, which I think was mystifying to them. Then we placed a cupcake, each with a candle in the shape of “1” on each of their trays. It took them a while to warm up to the cupcakes, but when they did they each grabbed the whole thing, frosting and all, and mashed it into their mouths, devouring every last crumb. 

By the end they were completely giddy and full of smiles. Even though it was really past their bedtime, they were perfectly happy until we put them in their cribs, at which point they fell fast asleep. 

And that was it, nothing complicated, but we celebrated M and E and this milestone. I think we started this birthday thing off right. 

The Twins Reach the Most Important Milestone

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This weekend we took another outing with the babies. Part of our new “we can get out of the house,” and, “let’s try to explore a bit of this new city we’re living in” Saturday routine. We went to Oakland with the plan to go to the library, but ended up visiting D’s office so I could see where he worked, and wandering around the green outside the library watching the carousel and enjoying the sun.

Most importantly, though, we visited Dave and Andy’s Homemade Ice Cream shop. This store had been recommended to us recently, and it was a spring-ish day, so I thought we better check it out. Which is how the twins ended up at this momentous milestone, this marker of adulthood: first ice cream.

They were appropriately serious about the whole thing. At first we weren’t sure if they liked it, they were so intently focused. Then we found it difficult to get the cones away from them because they kept craning forward to keep eating, and we were each holding a baby and an ice cream cone. Suddenly difficult to eat the ice cream out of their reach. Needless to say I think ice cream was a hit. Though I will have to explore other Pittsburgh ice cream options, since this one wasn’t quite up to my very high ice cream standards. I’m something of an ice cream connoisseur, you see, or a snob, or something. I’m very serious about ice cream.

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First Baby Steps

First Baby Steps

M is taking little steps. Not by herself, but now when you hold her up by both hands and coax her she takes jerky little steps forward. She is working on walking. Above is a sketch of her and D.