This is Maddy at a recent trip to Bonfante Gardens.
Daddy just got a new camera lens and was having fun playing with it. It's a portrait lens that lets you zoom in on your subject and gives you a nicely focused image with a "fuzzy" background. You can't see this effect very well in these photos because I cropped the pictures but you'll see plenty of this later since this lens is pretty cool and we plan to use it a lot!
Maddy picked two flowers and looked around until she spotted us then peered over the top of her pretty prizes to show them off. Then she offered one to me. How could I resist that! What a little sweetie she is.
This one is all about our sweet Gwenny who, as of late, has decided that she's a Princess and should be treated as such.
And, finally, here's a really pretty picture from this weekend when we visited Almaden Lake.
Bedtime continues to be pretty smooth and happy here. While Daddy reads the girls their bed-time stories, I'm always sitting next to him and looking at my beautiful little girls and wishing I had a camera with me. So tonight I brought one along.
Aren't they adorable? The pictures of the two smiling girls were taken right after we tucked them into their cribs.
Gwen was taking naps in her "big girl" bed but she had some trouble falling asleep and I had to go into her room lots of times to remind her that she needed to stay in bed and try to sleep. Finally, she climbed back into her crib and zipped up her crib tent herself and fell fast asleep. That was the last time she ever wanted to sleep in her big girl bed and she's shown no interest at all in doing it since then.
Both girls have been having a bit of trouble getting to sleep at 1:00 when I've put them down for their nap. Two days in a row, we skipped naps because neither would go to sleep after more than an hour of singing and hollering and kicking the walls. They're not ready to stop taking naps but they might be ready to have a nap a bit later so we're shifting nap time to 2:00 PM. They should be good and ready by then!
Maddy wanted to move to the "Blue Room" several months ago and she still seems to prefer not sleeping in the nursery with Gwen. Gwen doesn't seem to mind sleeping alone either. I hope they'll want to share a room eventually. I never had a sister and always thought it would be fun to have someone to talk to at night. Maybe when they're a bit older, they'll want to do that. For now, they're doing great in their cribs so we're in no hurry to mess that up and put them into beds that they can get out of. Like the old saying goes: "If it's not broken, don't fix it!"
In the last few days, I've seen some really remarkable changes in the way the girls relate to one another. Usually, big changes happen gradually so you can't really put your finger on the exact date they happened but it's been different this time. Here are some "firsts" from this week:
Cooperative play and pretend play: (At the toddler pool, Gwen is playing with some toys) Gwen motions to Maddy to "come here". She says, "Hurry, Maddy!" Why is this significant? Really, it's because I don't remember either of my girls ever inviting the other to play.
Maddy hurries to Gwen (she's always the compliant one) and Gwen gives her a glass of pool water and tells her that it's apple juice. They both laugh hysterically and proceed to dump "apple juice" all over themselves. This is significant because I don't remember ever seeing them play pretend. We've had a few signs that this was about to happen. I'll blog more about that in another post.
Taking turns/sharing: I bought the girls some toys yesterday and felt confident that I could get just one of each type since they seem to finally understand the concept of "share" and "take turns". This is VERY recent. Just two weeks ago, at their 3rd birthday party, they didn't seem to be ready to do this. There are still rocky moments when they fight over a toy but they seem to understand that they'll eventually get their turn to play with it. Today, Gwen wanted to play with Buzz Light-year but Maddy had it. So she searched the room for Maddy's toy car and negotiated a swap! That was a first! Perhaps even more remarkable is that it worked!
Physical (sibling) affection: This month will be our one year anniversary with Maddy and all physical contact between the "twins" (until today) has been pretty negative. What starts as a hug quickly morphs into a strangle! It's not uncommon for me to chant "Don't touch your sister!" 25 to 50 times per day! If you've seen evidence of physical affection on this blog, I guarantee it was something we photographed only after offering up lots of bribes! Today, FOR THE FIRST TIME, and of their own accord, the girls were walking around and holding hands! One of them would sit down and pretend to be sad and the other would come over and help them up and they'd both walk off holding hands. They did this a dozen times at Bonfante Gardens this morning. I swear, it was so darn precious that I nearly wept every time I witnessed it!
This afternoon, we all went into the backyard to play and they were skipping around holding hands and playing in the grass and searching for ants (a favorite activity).
Language: Another notable development this week is language. Gwen didn't have much to say until she was nearly three. Then, you only understood about 1/5 of what she said. Maddy was quite chatty (in Cantonese) when we got her but it took a very long time for her to speak English even though she almost immediately understood everything she heard. So, for the last year, we've had two 2 year olds who really weren't talking much at all. Finally, In the last week or so, both girls have really made huge advancements in language! Yesterday, Gwen went to the garage with her sippy cup but didn't have it when she climbed into the van. I asked her where it was, not expecting any answer, much less a good one or one I could understand but she clearly said "In Mommy's yellow purse" Sure enough, her sippy cup was nearby in the yellow bag I carry to the pool! Today, Maddy came to the kitchen while I was making breakfast and told me quite clearly that "Gwenny hit Maddy on head!" I hollered (from the kitchen) "Gwen, don't hit your sister in the head" and Gwen hollered back "Okay, Mommy!"
Oh well. The more things change, the more they remain the same!
I liked both styles. The bottom style fits Maddy a little bit better but I love the skirt style in the top ones.
We were a little bit limited in style choices because Maddy is sooooo petite. We had to find styles that were cut slightly smaller because the smallest size was a 2 and Maddy is thin enough to be in an INFANT size. Of course, we needed the toddler sized dresses because we wanted to match with Gwen and she's a size 3 or 4.
The girls liked trying on the dresses. They've never shown much interest in being "pretty" so I wasn't sure I could motivate them to be flower girls for that reason. But it looks like I can! It's a relief because you really do need to find some motivation for anything you want a 3 year old to do! I just hope they'll actually walk down the aisle!
I have a friend who just got married last weekend and had twin flower girls who are nearly 3 years old. One of them cried through the whole ceremony and one of her Bridesmaids had to hold her. All the guests though it was precious and many said it "made" the whole ceremony (I'm not so sure of that!). This is good to know since one (or both) of the girls might not follow instructions perfectly and might decide to stop, mid aisle, and get really shy (or pick their nose) for a few seconds before sprinting to the altar to hug Daddy's leg. Hopefully that'll be okay with the bride and groom!
We visited Bonfante (Gilroy) Gardens again this weekend and took our big camera so we could get better action shots. But the kids really weren't interested in posing, smiling (or even looking!) at the camera so we played hide and seek with them so we could get pictures of them smiling as they ran towards us.
Even though they know the rules, what 3 year old wants to follow them? While Mommy was trying to hide behind big rock and they were supposed to be turned around and counting, Daddy caught them peeking! That sure makes it easier to find Mommy, huh! Silly sweet girls!
We got so many precious pictures on Saturday! I'll try to feature them in some new collages and work some stories around them.
I don't think I've ever been to an amusement park that is more beautiful than Gilroy Gardens. Since we're season pass holders, we visit several times per week and have noticed that it's not ever very busy -- even on weekends. We hope the park is making a profit and will continue to operate since it's our favorite fun place!
I thought I should probably be writing this stuff down since the girls are changing so fast and they're so stinkin' cute!
Manners matter. They both have good manners. They say please and thank you and excuse me. Not because I make them say it but because I always say it to them so it's just natural for them to say it to me. Gosh, could it really be true that our children mirror what we say and do?
Go away! When they show up at the door of the bathroom while I'm using the potty, I've been known to bark "Go away!" while gesturing madly in the direction of the playroom (where they should be). Now, when Maddy is mad at me, she'll yell "Go away!" and punctuate her demand by vigorously pointing. Is it too soon to implement the "Do as I say, not as I do" rule?
Memories. They're three years old and significant events in their life will, potentially, be things they'll remember from now on. They won't remember China or orphanages or foster care or Gotcha. But the Tuesday night beatings will probably have to cease or we'll have one heck of a therapy bill later.
They're proud of me. After pooping in the potty or finishing all of her spaghetti or picking up all of her blocks, or waking up from her nap and not screaming bloody murder, Maddy will flash me a gorgeous smile - her eyes will twinkle - and she'll enthusiastically exclaim "I'm proud of you, Mama!" Gwen has started doing it after golden moments too. I'm not sure what they think it means but I've said it to them many times and they must think it's another way to say "We have an abundance of happiness because Mommy is smiling!"
Hiding. Anything that is not in view is "hiding". Drop the spoon and can't find it? (It's hiding) Only one shoe on a child's foot? (The other one is hiding) Nothing is missing or lost or misplaced or gone. It's just "hiding".
Role play. Gwen has decided to role play for the first time. She'll tell me "I be Daddy." Then she'll say "Hi Mommy" and I'm supposed to say "Hi Daddy!" Then she'll say something about going to work and head for the garage then turn around and come back "home". I'll ask her how her day was and she'll rattle off a bunch of totally incomprehensible stuff. Gee, just like Daddy!
Maddy recently decided that she's going to be the Kitty. She'll answer all of your questions with "Meow" and she even scratches her own neck (our Kitty loves that).
Sympathy empathy schmpathy. When Gwen hurts Maddy, I try to force her to cough up some sympathy by asking her if she'd like to experience the same painful thing she inflicted on her sister. "Do you want Mommy to hit you on the head with a block?" "Do you want Mommy to smash your hand in the door?" "Do you want Mommy to pull your hair?" Gwen is always silent at these moments but Maddy is vigorously answering for her: YES! YES! YES!
Poor me. When Maddy is chastised about even the most minor thing, she'll run screaming from the room (for dramatic effect). This is because I've started asking her to take her pity party to the laundry room. She never actually gets as far as the laundry room because, apparently, it's not much fun to throw a pity party unless you have a live audience.
Maddy used to smack herself in the face when we chastised her. We initially responded with snuggles and hugs and requests that she not "hurt our precious sweet girl". She's not stupid so she immediately figured out how to manipulate that situation to her advantage so I switched gears and started saying "Do it again" when she'd smack herself. Now she looks at us like we were crazy. Then we all laugh and she forgets that she's supposed to be self-mutilating or sulking.
That's all I can think of for now. I'll try to post these "Personality updates" more often. The girls (or their therapists) will get a kick out of reading them later, I'm sure.
We joined the local Country Club a few weeks ago. It feels kinda weird since we're not exactly what you'd call "Country Club" people. We don't golf or play tennis and we don't wear fake tans and designer athletic attire.
We joined The Club because it's only 1.5 miles from our house and it has a pool. It also has a nice restaurant and on-site child care. And the cost was comparable to what you'd expect to pay (monthly) for a membership to a gym. So, we gulped down our apprehension and took the tour and signed up as dues paying members. We still have to provide two letters of reference though. Oddly, we're dreading that task much more than we were the task of finding people to vouch for us as parents (by providing letters of recommendation for the adoption of our two children). We are so NOT Country Club people!
But that didn't stop us from getting our money's worth out of the pool! Here are some pictures of our most recent visit to the Toddler pool. There's also a "Family" pool and the "Adult" pool. I'm pretty sure the Adult pool is the only one you might expect NOT to contain some unreasonable quantity of pee-pee. But that's what chlorine is for, right?
On the way to the pool, Gwen kept opening the door to the car. I tried to explain to her (in terms she'd understand) that there could be a really unpleasant consequence to that action. So I told her:
Mommy: "If you open the door to the car, you might fall out and a truck could bump into you and you'd have a really bad owwie and need to go to the Doctor's office and get lots of shots."
Gwen: "... and a bandaide!"
Maddy: "...and a sticker!"
Both kids: "Yay! Fun!"
So I pulled over and engaged the child-safety locks on the doors of the car.