I took the girls to Mike’s mom’s house Friday morning to spend their first night away from us. Pretty exciting! I had previously spent the night there with the girls once when Mike was out of town, but Friday night was their/our first night away from one another.
It was pretty crazy how much stuff I had to pack up for two tiny people. Clothes, portable crib (Mike’s mom already has one at her house, so I only had to bring one), blankies, blankets, food, bottles, stroller, diapers, baby gate, emergency info…
Mike’s mom had originally wanted them for both Friday and Saturday nights, and then on Wednesday tried to even get them on Thursday night, too. We told her we’d try Friday, and see how that went. When we checked in on Saturday morning, everything was going fine, but the grandparents were exhausted and ready for us to come get the girls. Ha! In her defense, Mike’s mom had hurt her back a few days prior, so she wasn’t in top form.
But overall it was a good experience for all. The girls ate and slept well, and had no major freak outs or anything. Mike and I had a quiet night at home, but we were able to take down the baby gates, turn off the baby monitor, sleep until we woke up, go to breakfast by ourselves, and generally did stuff just for us.
I’ve been writing about this topic on an email list with some college friends, and just realized I haven’t put anything here about it yet.
Mike and I live near the Strand bike path in South Bay region of Los Angeles, and before we got the babies we frequently rode our bikes on the Strand. It wasn’t safe to take them biking until they were at least one year old, so we held off until recently. But I’d spent some timing researching the alternatives.
First, there is the bike trailer. We see those all over the place, and they hold two kids, so it seemed like the natural choice. But after talking to some people, it turns out they have some drawbacks, like limited visibility for the kids, and limited visibility of the kids by the adult rider. The rear tire of the bike also kicks up dirt on the kids, so you have to have them covered with a plexiglass window thing which takes away from the whole open air experience of biking. So I kept looking.
There are a variety of seats that can be attached to most adult bikes so a kid can ride along. This is how my parents biked with me when I was little, and I see a fair number of them around, too. There are seats that attach behind the adult rider, which means limited visibility both ways again, and ones that attach in front, which solves the visibility problem, but seems kind of unsafe, because it looks like the kid sitting essentially on the handlebars would likely go face first into the ground in a lot of accidents. So the search continued.
The girls’ biological sister’s adoptive father uncle that we see frequently is a collector of weird bikes and we ended up talking about various options for biking with kids. He and his wife have 3 little kids (under 4 years old) and he actually had a pedicab that he biked with them in. It was pretty impractical for regular use, so he was looking for something else. He pointed me to the Nihola cargo tricycle, which is really nice, but super-expensive. I then found a relatively local dealer of cargo bicycles, icargobike; I took the girls for a road trip down there to test ride a few bikes. I thought I was going to end up loving the Madsen Bucket Bike, but ended up really liking the Joe Box Bike a lot more. I came home to think it over and talked to the uncle some more, and somehow right before I pulled the trigger on the Joe Box Bike, I found a guy on ebay who was selling a very similar bike, new, and for a lot less money than the Joe Box Bike was selling for. I told the uncle about it, and he thought it was a great idea, and so we both ended up ordering one; mine is a 2-seater and his is a 3-seater, but otherwise the same.
The buying experience was a little harrowing, since I had to PayPal $2000 (for both bikes combined) to some guy in Germany and then wait patiently for the bikes to come. He also ended up going on vacation the day after I sent the cash, and so was incommunicado for a few days while I panicked that I’d somehow gotten scammed. But when he got back he responded to my emails and we got back on track. The bike shipped via air freight to LAX, and the uncle and I went to pick it up. (No home delivery on this deal.) That was another adventure, since neither of us knew what we were doing, and we had to get the bikes through customs, and at first they wouldn’t do it, but after a little frantic driving around we got the bikes out of customs and took them home. They were advertised as being 75% assembled, which was probably a bit of an exaggeration, so I took mine to a bike shop to have to put together by an expert.
Anyhow, after a bit of a delay, we got the bike and have been biking with the girls ever since. The first few rides I took with them were really short ones, and then we took one bike ride that was too long and ended up with some unhappy babies on the ride home. This weekend the girls’ aunt and uncle and their kids came for a joint bike ride that was lots of fun. We get a lot of smiles and looks as we go by normally with just me and the girls on the bike, but with the uncle and his 3 kids on another bike we really attract attention.
The girls really like biking, although V is not a big fan of wearing her helmet. We got Giro helmets for the girls (in pink and yellow), which I think are really great. I tried on some other brands when we were test riding bikes at iCargoBike, and none of them were even close to small enough to fit the girls, and the Giro helmets actually fit them.
The girls are just waking up from their afternoon nap; I think I’ll take them for a bike ride before dinner!
Today I took the girls on our usual trip to the park near our house. They usually ride the swings for a while, then crawl around in the sand until I’ve decided they’ve eaten nearly too much sand, then move to a grassy spot so they can crawl in the grass/pick up sticks and chew on them. Last time we went they were a little interested in one of the jungle gyms and did a little bit of crawling around, which is a little tricky for me to be close enough to both of them when they get close to a precipice. I get weird looks from some of the moms there, like they want to say, “You are a crazy person for letting your babies crawl around on a jungle gym at their age.” Or maybe it is just: “I admire your aura of calm in the face two babies on the jungle gym.”
Anyhow, today they were playing around at the bottom of the baby slides, so I lifted one of them up and slowly let her slide down. That went over fairly well, so I repeated with the other. Still doing fine. So then they crawled around some more, and eventually V crawled up the jungle gym and looked down the slide from the top. I was a little worried she would slip over and scare herself, but she carefully turned around and put her legs over the slide and then slid down feet-first on her belly by herself. She was so proud! She needed a little help figuring out how to get from the bottom of the slide back around up the jungle gym to the top of the slide, but she ended up doing it many times, more or less by herself! S didn’t quite have the technique down like V, but she wanted to do it, so I lifted her up and she held on at the top with her hands, and then let herself go, feet-first on her belly, too. The best part is that when I asked her if she wanted to do it again, she SIGNED “more more” to me! She had previously only used the “more more” sign for food, so I was totally amazed to see her transfer that communication to an activity like sliding. And, not only that, V, who has not really been too interested in signing “more more” for food, picked up on how it was working for S to get more sliding, did it too!
When we first got the girls, Mike and I frequently got questions about where “mom” was, or when we were out with a woman of vaguely appropriate age, people would assume she was the “mom” and ask her questions about the girls instead of us. Nothing rude, but it wasn’t exactly pleasant, either.
But that seems to have changed. Maybe I’m just less sensitive to it now. I still find that when I’m out with the girls without Mike, like at the grocery store, people say things about what a good dad I am for taking the girls out myself, implying that it wouldn’t be such a big deal for a mom to do it, but for a DAD??!!!! But it seems like when we are out together, people seem to get it more intuitively now. Maybe it is that we are more comfortable being parents now, and people see us both acting like dads with them, and put two and two together. Maybe it is less weird for people to see two guys out with 1 year olds instead of newborns?
It probably also has something to do with us settling into a routine. The girls are at a stage of development that makes going to restaurants a lot trickier than it used to be. They are less content to sit still for a whole meal, they make a big mess when they eat because they want to feed themselves frequently, they are more prone to cry and shout, etc. So we are starting to be less adventuresome with restaurants. We still go a couple times a week to Wahoo’s, because it is very kid-friendly, has super quick service, the staff love the girls, and we love the food. We go about once a week to Islands, a Hawaiian-themed hamburger joint that is also very kid friendly, and loud enough to cover some baby outbursts. Anyhow, the point is that we now tend to go to places that we already know, and some people there already know us, so that tends to reduce the questions we get.
Other changes: Did I mention here already that V is walking? She took her first independent steps a few weeks ago, and now can pretty much walk across a room if she feels like it. She is still wobbly and slow, so she often crawls if she’s in a hurry, but she’s making good progress. S is working on it, too. She is standing up and balancing for short periods of time, and she is “cruising” (holding on to furniture and walking around it) quite a bit. She also likes to push a toy or small table around on the hardwood floors while she walks behind. She’ll be walking shortly, I’m sure.
S is still ahead of V on teeth. S has 4 molars in various stages of breaking through, and V only has 2. They are suffering a fair bit with the pain of teething, mostly in the hours from 9 pm to 1 am. I often end up being up with a girl for a few hours after they go to bed before the pain subsides enough for a night of sleep.
S has figured out her shape sorter toy. It is a toy that has 5 “cookies” of various shapes that you push through shape-matched holes on the outside of the “cookie jar”. Some are fairly easy to get in, like the circle cookie, while others have more complex shapes that have to be positioned right to get them through the hole.
They are also talking more and more and generally becoming more communicative. Just yesterday, V started saying “Thank You,” at her grandmother’s prompting. Both say “Uh Oh,” especially after intentionally dropping something off their highchairs. S nods and shakes her head to indicate that she wants or doesn’t want something. S makes a sign for “more” to ask for more food. Lots of pointing at stuff, often with a sound requesting us say what it is. V has moved through a series of these, starting with “dis” and “das” and now she has been saying “doos”. Crazy. Lots of waving, both say “Hi.” They also now respond to what we say a lot better. We can ask them to come to us, which is a really nice change. They are starting to respond to “No”, but they also get a little stubborn when they really want to do something, like play in the fireplace.