Cassie Shepherd

November 28, 2014

Growth Update: 15 Months

Thanksgiving Day
I've started and stopped this post nearly ten times since last SUMMER. It was supposed to be published in August when the girls turned one. I was writing an elaborate reflection of my first year as a mother. All about the ups and downs; perfect and imperfect moments. Obviously, it so didn't happen and here I am nearly three months later with my OCD brain thinking I need to go back and document every thing that's happened since my last post. Yeah, that's not going to happen either, is it? Half of the original post is outdated and the other half just doesn't flow right. So, here we go. We'll just start with today.

This is how I feel about...all of the time. I'm behind on something and too prepared for something else. It's the story of my life, but I am not complaining. I count my blessings and know we're being watched over. We're at a great and exciting time of our life right now and I am grateful for that.

The girls turned 15 months today. Yay! I really want to do a growth update every 3 or 6 months. That would be my goal so lets see if I can keep up with it. As many of you know I have my degree in family studies and early childhood development so these stages are just so exciting and interesting to me. I love my job, don't get me wrong, but if I could figure out a way to be as successful in this field, this is my passion. So many of the things I notice with the girls remind me of my college days. This is SO much better than writing long papers on child development though!!!

I've been thinking about how I wanted to document their progress. There are lots of different methods, but I finally decided to just go back to the basics and use what I was trained on when I was studying ECE and Utah Valley University. I had this teacher who was that type of teacher that you either loved or despised. She scared me at first, but I ended up loving her and working with her for a few years in various classes. Anyway, she taught us to do pre-school evaluations with the Utah Pre-Kindergarten Guidelines which aligned closely to the National Association of Education for Young Children (NAEYC). I taught pre-school with both sets of guidelines for years and planning curriculum and evaluating children were always things I enjoyed doing. I've even considered starting to follow curriculum plans with the girls, but it is just so much work and totally overwhelms me when I think about it. So, I live in the moment and embrace teaching opportunities wherever I can. So, here I am, going off similar guidelines for my own kids. It's just so much fun! I used the Utah Pre-K guidelines to help me come up with topics, but obviously their objectives are totally different than where my kids are. After all, they're only 15 months, not four years old. Ha!

I'm sure I miss a lot of milestones in my reflections, but I couldn't find a good resource with developmentally appropriate practices for 15 month olds. I know NAEYC has them somewhere, but I didn't want to spend hours researching. If anyone finds them by age, please inform me. Or, if you have another good resource, link it. But, the bottom line is that I really just want a record of whats going on in their life right now. I want to be able to look back and be happy I have this documentation and blogging about it is just about the closest thing I am going to implement right now. And, these guidelines are just a helpful way for me to organize my thoughts.

Growth Update: 15 months

Their first word was 'mama' when they were about 8.5 months. At first I thought they were just baby signs, but I finally realized they really understood it was me when they would army crawl down the hall after me saying "ma, ma, ma, ma, ma." I couldn't tell you if one or the other said it first. It was just about the same time period. I can tell you that Emily's second word was "da, da, da" when we were in the car and asking them to say it. And, Emily promptly repeated it. Her third word(s) were "What's that?" when she was only about 10 months. She would always whisper them and still does a lot of the time. Addie's second word was "uh-oh" and it started when she was in the high chair and would push or drop food off her tray. She started saying "da, da, da" shortly after Emily for her third word.

To date their same vocabulary is: mom or mama, dad or dada, this, that, banana (nana), eyes, uh-oh, baby, wow, woah, what's that, moo, and no (which Emily always quickly says "na, na, na, na, no" because that's how Mitch and I say it.
The additional words that Addie says are look and ball (actually the first time she said ball was today). I think she might also say 'boo' when playing peek-a-boo, but I am not entirely sure.
And, Emily says, ruff-ruff and night-night.

They absolutely love books and we can read for a good 30-40 minutes somedays. Others they are less interested, but they'll curl up and let you read to them on a regular basis. They are going through a phase where I read one book, but they have to be holding their own books while I read. They like to turn the pages and are familiar with certain predictable books like "Peek-a-boo....moo, zoo, boo, ect" They can point to some animals and basic first word pictures and can find "eyes" on every single appropriate picture.

We have an app that allows them to hear the sounds of letters and drag the letter to the appropriate matching letter. Both girls love to drag the letters, but haven't grasped the matching portion yet.

I've done a little sign-language. Like very little. I always wanted to do more, but just haven't been diligent enough. They understand all done/all finished but rarely sign it back. Though, I have seen Addie do it few times. Emily signs more. And, that's it. I wasn't lying when I said very little, huh?

We have a lot of shape toys and have a few apps that deal with shapes too, but we haven't spent a lot of time on them. The most basic is that we have one of these tubs and the girls can match the shapes about half of the time with assistance. We keep numbers in the bath tup and we also count down using the microwave when we're warming up milk or lunch and they've caught on at about 4 or 5 that the food is almost ready and they'll start waving their arms. I also encourage them to play with measuring cups and various different sizes of cups, bowls, and spoons.

Approaches to Learning/Science:
I encourage most learning through play, but I know they're constantly learning and discovering new things everyday. Like, this afternoon, I put up a little barricade between my desk and the bed so they couldn't come back and get into the cords (while I was working on the computer). They banged up against the barricade for a few minutes and while Addie is still there banging on it, Emily figures out she can go around it and crawl through a little tunnel that leads to the side of the desk.

Or, a few days ago, I had a bunch of pillows in my bedroom and I was on a work call so I turned on a movie for the girls in our living room. I was on the phone in the bedroom when Addie came meandering in and went directly to one of the pillows. She dragged it out to the living room and then came back for another pillow. When I went out there she had her two pillows out there and she was laying on one watching the movie. I like to think the other pillow was for Emily, but that may be looking a little too much into it.

They know where their eyes, belly button, and toes are for sure. I think they understand their fingers and we're working on nose, but they haven't quite got it yet. We have a 3 piece animal puzzle that both girls can do about 60% of the time. They understand basic cause and effect in toys and other daily life skills like when I pull out their bowls they'll walk over to their high chairs because they know it's time to eat. We do floating/sinking toys in the bathtub and I know the girls are constantly trying to figure out gravity by pouring their bottles and sippy cups out. They also like watching their food/drinks fall off their highchairs or throw toys down the stairs.

It amazes me!

I can leave the girls for nearly two hours to play with themselves and its never been longer than that because thats usually the longest time length between meals and naps. I often will join them, but they have always played with one another. I love hearing their giggles and watching them try to sort out sharing. We have regular playdates and they get along as well as can be expected with children of their same age/younger/older. They'll let their older cousins 'oooo' and 'awww' over them without much of a fuss. They are typically more happy as long as they're together. I've also seen them break up and explore separate parts of our house or toys, but it doesn't happen a lot. It isn't long before one girl will find the other.

Both girls hug and give kisses (including blowing kisses). They hug lots of different objects but are most fond over their bears and babies. (One of their favorite pastimes is to feed their babies.) And, of course, the best hugs are always the ones they give us. There is something so special about them returning the hugs we give them. It melts my heart and I stop to enjoy it as much as possible. They also give each other hugs and loves and its just about the cutest thing ever. Sometimes they'll purposely hold hands and they also like to pass food back and forth to one another in their high chairs. (Addie (and only Addie) is also known to steal Emily's food).

They're both beginning to having mini fits when they don't get their way. Emily had a period of biting out of frustration, but much to my surprise after a few consistent consequences she has completely gained control of her instinct to bite. I thought we couldn't enforce it, but she caught on after about 3-4 weeks that it wasn't the best choice. Now, Addie has started to hit and seems less aware of the consequence. I've been enforcing similar consequences, but she hasn't responded and that might partially be because I haven't been as strict. It's easier for me to let a hit go versus a bite because a bite is so much worse.

In case you're wondering I just try to intervene and say in a calm, but stern voice, "Uh-oh, Emily we don't bite." Or, "Uh-oh, Addie we don't hit." "We use soft kisses" or "soft hands" and show them what that means. If we're in a position at home, I'll also say "time for a little crib time." And they'll go sit in the crib for a minute or two as their consequence. Sometimes they cry and sometimes they just happily sit there. I have no idea if they "get" that its a consequence to their action, but it must've worked somewhat with Emily.

Addie is also recently showing greater signs of possession over me. Often times if I am holding her and Emily wants to be held, she'll push Emily away or hit her. I've seen Emily do it as well, but its mostly Addie. Neither seem to do it with anyone else. I'm working on having "mommy time" with them at separate times of the day, but also learning how to "share mommy."

-On an unrelated note, sometimes this is very hard for me. I want to just love and cuddle up to one, but the other needs attention (most often at the exact same time since they see me with the other child) and it becomes a frustrating time for both of them and for me. It's always been a difficult part about having twins. I've never really felt like I could just cuddle with one baby for an extended period of time. My mind has always moved from one child to the next and making sure both of their needs are met. I would love to have another set of twins, but a selfish side of me is envious of the thought to just be able to bond and spend time with one baby. On the flip side, being able to hold two babies (especially newborns) is just such an incredible feeling. And even now I love to scoop them both up into my arms and hear them giggle on either side of me.

Creative Arts:
The girls can scribble with pens, pencils, and crayons. We'd do it everyday if pens and pencils were safe and if they didn't try to eat the crayons every few seconds. I wish there was a better solution, but I guess I just have to wait until they grow out of eating it. They move well to music and love to dance. They respond to whistling and singing and love to bang our pots and pans. They rip paper into tiny pieces and love to play in their food. I guess thats part of creativity? How about pulling the toliet paper from our master bath into the living room?

Not to brag, but my girls eat really well. There are very few things they won't eat. In fact, off the top of my head I can't think of anything. I'm sure this will change and some day I'll rant about how they won't eat anything, but I'll enjoy it while it lasts. They love vegetables and I feel like I do a good job at giving them a well balanced diet.* Of course, they don't always eat everything I offer and one day they'll love an item and the next they'll throw it on the floor (which drives me insane - we're still really working on being "all done" via sign language). There are meals where they'll eat everything we give them and then there are meals where they're just not at all interested. At the age, varied eating patterns are normal and something I have to tell my paranoid maternal instincts to settle down about.

The girls can both use spoons with semi-liquidy food with about a 95% success rate of making it into their mouths. We mostly practice with yogurt, oatmeal, and applesauce. They're great at dipping their spoons and making sure it gets in their mouth. Though, 100% of the time they end up plummeting their other hand (the one without the spoon) into the bowl and alternate eating between their spoon and licking their fingers/palm. [insert face-palm]

They aren't as good with their forks, but they're coming along. They understand the concept, but just have a hard time putting enough pressure down to get the food. It's a work in progress.

We offer all finger foods and the girls are completely off of purees and have been since about 12 months. They eat what we eat. I've tried to follow a baby-led weaning approach (combined with some purees) and I've been very happy with it.

The only thing I have mixed feelings about admitting is that the girls are still on bottles. I've sort-of tried to wean them to sippy cups twice, but haven't been very diligent about it. The first time was when they were 12 months, but Mitch said to back off and let them learn to walk first, so we did. Then I tried again last week and gave in about six days into it. I basically just started with taking the morning bottle away and offering the milk in their cups, but they never drank more than about 2 ounces. They'd throw it on the floor and want to just play. I've tried multiple times giving them their bottles/cups in their high chairs, but they have absolutely no interest. The only time I can get them to take a full 8 oz bottle is if their in the crib, so we do all three of their bottles in cribs. If not, they just get distracted and wonder off and never finish it. And, they won't take 8 oz in their sippy cups even if they're in the bed. I know they can do it, don't hate on me, but one time I covered the bottom of one of their cups with egg nog and filled the rest with cow's milk and they both drank the whole darn thing. But, obviously I don't want to do that every time! I am not sure what my plan is going forward.

*I've had a lot of people ask me about what I feed the girls. I have this on-going e-mail I just keep forwarding to everyone, but one of my goals in the near future is to put a detailed blog post together and when I do I'll link it here.

Gross motor: 
The girl's have always been in the slower end to develop their gross motor skills. Addie took her first steps about a week before their first birthday and Emily took her first steps the day after her first birthday. However, they weren't walking well on their own until about 13.5 months. Once they really figured it out they were walking everywhere all the time within about a week. Its such a fun time. It is difficult to get out of the house and take them places because they don't want to sit in a stroller but it's really hard for me to watch them both in most stores - they're into everything and go opposite directions. So, we stay home or I try to venture out shopping with a friend or go when I'm alone. I've noticed Addie experimenting with walking backwards a few steps, but I haven't seen Emily attempt it yet.

They can climb stairs and go down on their tummies. They haven't mastered walking up or down holding onto hands, but we're working on it. Emily can climb on the couch if she puts her mind to it and I've also seen her pull pillows off and climb on one to help her reach up a little higher. She can climb off the couch and our tall bed. Addie can do it, but she prefers to just hang backwards until I do it for her. So, we're working on that.

They can both throw, but Emily still prefers to come hand you something. Neither are playing catch and don't seem to have much interest in it. They love to fetch balls and toys that we throw...they waddle and giggle, pick up the item, and then bring it back to us. Both understand the concept to 'kick' but it comes out more like a run into the ball and fall over maneuver. As I mentioned they also love to dance and move their little hands up and down and back and forth. They also bend their knees to the beat (or about as close to the beat as possible).

They thoroughly enjoy pulling clothes out the hampers or drawers and putting them on their heads or their arms. They understand "getting dressed" but they just giggle and giggle when they try to do it themselves. They like to brush their teeth and their hair and put bows in (even though they don't stay). They're big helpers in the kitchen and I just bought them their own brooms because they loooooove to help to sweep. They use paper towels to help me 'clean, clean, clean.' I am going to venture into teaching how to help clean up here in the next few weeks. I'm planning on using the Barney song to help facilitate a stimulus.

Fine motor:
While they're slower at developing their gross motor, they're probably above average on their fine motor skills. As I mentioned they self-feed well and were using their pincer grasp easily by 8 months. They like to take things in and out of cupboards, boxes, and containers. The love love love wooden blocks. The can stack them up about 3-4 blocks and then knock them all down. They laugh and laugh and laugh. They also love taking them out of the box and lining them up on our piano bench. They can take off their shirts and pants with assistance. They can also take off their shoes unassisted.

Again don't hate on me but the girls can also maneuver our iPhones and iPads. They can unlock, chose the app they want and navigate around if they are in a familiar app. They know where our digital copy of Frozen is on the iPad and they can watch the entire movie without leaving the couch. I am not sure that is something to brag about, but they do love movies. Baby Einstein is another favorite that they can watch over and over without leaving.

The girls sleep about 14-15 hours a day. They go down at 7 and usually are up by 7 or 7:30. They take two naps, but are transitioning to one. It's not a predictable transition, which is hard on me because I like to know what to expect. I have to follow their cues, but for the most part they take a two hour morning nap around 9:30 and another 45-60 minute nap around 2:30.

The girls have followed nearly identical growth patterns since they day they were born. They both cut all their first six teeth on the exact same day (over a few months period). Which just blows my mind. I'd look in one mouth and see a tooth poking through - go check the other - and, sure enough, there was a tooth coming through in the same spot! They have their top four and bottom two in the middle. But, about two months ago, Emily started cutting her molars and since then she's cut all four. About a month after Emily, Addie started cutting two molars at the same time. So, Emily has ten teeth and Addie has eight. (Addie has her two left molars).

On their one year well-check the girls weighed and measured exactly the same. This isn't uncommon for them, but even the doctor said he was surprised that they're still following identical weight patterns at one year. I think there was one well-check were they were about 9 ounces off, but one of them had been sick and throwing up so we figured she had lost a little weight. By the next time we had them weighed - they were the same again. They were almost 13 months by the time I got them into the pediatrician. On September 16, 2014 (6 days from their original expected due date) they weighed 18.11 lbs and were 28.25 inches. We weighed them a few weeks ago, just on a home scale and they were both 20.8 lbs. We were really hoping they'd gained 20 lbs by their first birthday, but the pediatrician wasn't concerned. They were in the 25th percentile. It'll be interesting to see how their growth patterns continue to evolve.

7:00-8:30 Wake, 8 oz milk in bottle, diapers, get ready for the day, breakfast
8:30-9:30 Play with mom/free play
9:30-11:30 Nap
12:00: Lunch
12:30-2:30 Free play/activities/run errands
2:30-3:30 8 oz milk in bottle, nap
3:30-4:00 Snack
4:00-5:00 Free play/activities/run errands
5:00 Dinner
5:30-7:00 Free play/activities
7:00 Bed time routine with diapers, 8 oz milk in bottle, and brush teeth

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading this, Cassie! They are obviously growing beautifully and doing everything they should. Even more, it's wonderful that you have recorded all of the little details that make up their lives. Parents everywhere know how fast it all goes, but this way you've captured some of that magic that those same parents never want to lose. --ML