One Year!

Malcolm (bad) and Vaughn (worse)

On January 24, 2009, the twins celebrated their first birthday. We made it through that first, very difficult year (notice the lack of updates), and it's onwards and upwards!.Malcolm and Vaughn can walk, bring me the dustpan, and unplug cords. They're quite a bit of fun, and exhausting all the while. Even though they're raised the same way, they have very different personalities already. Malcolm is bad, and Vaughn is worse.

Vaughn pushing Malcolm on their little car, and the kids double checking our recycling

Malcolm is "bad" in a normal baby sort of way. He pulls my hair, he pulls all of the toilet paper off of the roll, he steals toys from Vaughn and poops on the patio.Just normal naughty stuff that can be stopped with a firm word. He has an overly guilty conscience, and when approached will throw whatever he's playing with away from himself as if scared of being caught.

Vaughn is a completely different animal. He is definitely worse than Malcolm. He is always on the move, busy hands knocking over cans of paint, pulling plants out of my garden, slamming doors against walls over and over again, chewing up the edges of books and DVD cases, compulsively eating dirt, running around like a maniac in stores, racing into the street, dipping clothes into the toilet and then "washing" the walls with them, dumping the contents of bowls onto the floor, constantly turning the bathtub faucet to its hottest setting, fighting diaper changes with all his strength, pouring his sippy cup onto the floor, dialing 911, turning the volume all the way up on the tv whenever it's on, stuffing crayons into his mouth, etc. And unlike Malcolm, he doesn't seem to care about pleasing us with his good behavior. When firmly reprimanded, he laughs with a low growl that doesn't sound childlike at all. Malcolm, however, is so sensitive that he will cry just from hearing Vaughn get yelled at. But Vaughn thinks discipline is a big joke and repeats his misdeeds just for the joy of seeing us frustrated.

Vaughn and Malcolm helping with the dishes, and Vaughn chewing on trash

Does Vaughn have some good qualities? Yes he does! He's very easygoing and cheerful. He'll putter around, bobbing his head, making little sounds, and when you catch his eye he'll give a big smile and laugh. Gisele thinks he's much more tough than Malcolm, and she has lots of fun chasing Vaughn around and wrestling with him. He laughs all the while, but I have to remind her that he's not a toy. Malcolm is much more of a whiner and very intense and moody (like Gisele was). He is very loud with his vocalizations, and shrieks a lot. But when he's having fun he's much more exuberant about it than Vaughn. Malcolm also likes to have things put on him like hats, bicycle helmets, shoes and band aids, whereas Vaughn fights such frippery. Someone once characterized Vaughn as a fun guy and Malcolm as a fat crybaby.

Leaving Gisele off at school, and Malcolm helping me to assemble a garden box

Malcolm and Vaughn have made some developmental strides. For a while we've suspected that they could say "mama", but recently (at 13 months) we realized that Malcolm could say "bye" while waving. It sounds like "baaa" and is said in a piercing falsetto. Vaughn can say "Hi". They understand much of what we say these days.

Physically they are smaller than Gisele was. Their heights are around the 75-80th percentile and their weights are average to low. Vaughn's weight is always around the 25th percentile because he's pretty picky about his food and because he's always moving.His favorite food is probably spinach quiche. Malcolm is always interested in food. If he notices you eating something, he'll point to you until you give him some of it. He has a fondness for chocolate and sweets and blueberries. He is a joy to feed in this family of picky eaters.

Malcom making a "table" with his body, and Vaughn killing seedlings

But can we talk about me for a moment? It's not all fun and games taking care of twins. It's constant vigilance and inconvenience; postponement of needs and pleasures. It's starting the morning at 5:30 and enjoying a half hour of good moods from Malcolm and Vaughn. Soon the whining starts in as they walk around making fake crying sounds, probably because I'm not carrying one or maybe because I won't give him the phone to play with. As I try to sweep or tidy up I usually have a baby on my left hip (it would be no problem for me to lose my left arm as I'm used to doing everything with just the right) and one dragging on my legs. So I go sit down and the floor to get them interested in their toys. Once that happens, I escape to unload dishes until someone notices that I'm missing. Cue the whining. I pick him up, the other starts blocking my way as he hangs onto my legs crying. The process repeats all day long. Out in the yard they do quite well with entertaining themselves, though. And Gisele can be a big help when she plays with Vaughn or provides visual stimulation for them as she throws tantrums.

When Nels is around on the weekend it is much easier, too. Sure, I still wake at 5:30 while he sleeps in until 8am, and I still change all diapers and do all yardwork and house renovations. And you'd think that after hardly seeing their Daddy all week Malcolm and Vaughn would shadow him instead of haunting me as I try to eat a meal or take a shower, but no such luck for me. Still, things are better with another adult around and I do live for weekends and the two days a week that my mommy drives up to help out. She has been a of great assistance ever since the babies were born and Malcolm, especially, has bonded with her. When she arrives, the first thing my mom does is complain about how messy the house is. I can't argue with that, and I can't really complain because she then cleans much of it up.

Once the evening approaches the babies are very cranky from about 4-7:30pm when they go to sleep (I have to wait until Nels gets home because I can usually only get one baby to sleep at a time). It's almost impossible to prepare and eat my dinner while they're in this state, so I wait until they're both asleep and eat around 9pm. I do manage to make something for Gisele to eat, but she has to watch tv while eating it because I can't read to her with 2 crying babies draped across me. Her show of choice is either "Jon and Kate Plus Eight" or "What Not to Wear". And if you want to keep playing your violin for me, I'll tell you about how I haven't been away from the babies for more than a couple of hours since they were born, and about how at night I sleep on a queen sized mattress on the floor between the two of them. I could, but I'm boring even myself.

Vaughn and Malcolm looking sweet and innocent

Now it's time for some cute twin interactions. The best is when one baby is sleeping and the other is out in the living room with me. As soon as we hear the sleeper rouse, Malcolm or Vaughn and I race off to the bedroom. Either one will walk quickly with an urgent exression on their face, making "uh uh uh" sounds. We open the door and he'll race to the bed and greet the other one with, "Ya ya ya?" They both greet each other the same way.At mealtimes they'll sometimes feed each other bits of food, and they play peekaboo with each other. I don't think they have their own language, but they do chatter to each other nonetheless.

Some interactions are not so cute. They both steal toys from each other and try to make off with them. The victim will protest loudly and sometimes retaliate by biting the thief or hitting his head. If one sees me nursing the other, he'll get jealous and I'll have to recline like a sow so that they both can nurse.

But through this long first year they've been so cute and endearing that I don't blame them for my frustrations. I just keep reminding myself that it will all pay off when I'm 93 and they're giving me spit baths.

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