It seems that sometime, while I was sleeping or something, my little baby boys became little boys. What's with this seemingly sudden change that toddlers go through around the 2.5 year old mark? The dad noticed it too, so it's not just me. The boys just seem so different and it seems to have happened so quickly. They remember people, places and events so much better and they talk about them or reenact them more now. After our trip to the park at the end of last week (our first since last fall), they cannot get enough of the park and they talk about it all day long. So we have been to the park three times in four days. They want to be outside all the time, which is great. I love for them to be outside, playing and getting good exercise. They are talking more and more in sentences (toddler sentences - no prepositions and there are some other things missing but still sentences) and can better carry one half of a conversation, although there is still a lot of deciphering required to understand it all clearly....though I am improving in that regard. They are very into climbing these days. They now sit on the tall chairs at the kitchen island without booster seats and they climb up and down all on their own (and pity the one who unknowingly tries to help!). They still sit in their booster seat at the table though. They can open the car door without help, from the inside or the outside and they climb in and out of the car and into and out of their car seats without help. We are working on dressing/undressing skills. They are pretty good on the bottom half but still have trouble getting out of a pull over shirt. They can take their own shoes and socks off. I just bought them a new pair of sandals on Monday, so they are now practicing with their sandals. Nick can put his on by himself, although he needs help with velcro-ing the straps for the correct fit. They can sometimes take them off without help but are still getting the hang of it.
I am finding it very interesting how quickly they become independent on so many things. It is truly amazing how God made people, isn't it? That He instilled them with this desire to learn to do things for themselves and they protect that and practice it so diligently and with such eagerness and joy just amazes me. I have relocated all of their dishes and some of ours (the nonbreakable ones) to shelves within their reach so they now help me by getting plates, bowls and cups and also putting them away when we empty the dishwasher. They can also reach the silverware drawer well enough (on tiptoes) to get their own forks and spoons and they pull up a stool to help put away the clean silverware. They can also help empty the trash, load the washing machine (they sit on the dryer and I hand them the clothes), load the dryer and empty the dryer. And they love to help pour and stir when I am preparing food in the kitchen. They are quite the little helpers these days and it makes them so happy to be able to help. They really are such pleasant little boys and I just love them so very much.
We are enjoying the beautiful spring weather we have been having lately and spending a lot of time outdoors. Yesterday we spent all morning at the zoo and we had a great time. Unfortunately, since it is towards the end of the school year, there were lots of bus loads of kids there and the place was packed. This wasn't so bad, since it is a pretty good size zoo, except for when we were playing at the park that is inside the zoo. Trying to keep track of two when there are that many children is quite a challenge, although the boys were pretty good (sometimes reluctantly:) at staying together and nearby to where I was. They spent a good deal of time playing on this truck-like climbing toy. It was quite large. When they were sitting in 'the cab' of the truck, they were at eye level with me. It had a steering wheel and they both really enjoyed driving and they were pretending they were going to see Papa and Mimi, Mama and Aunt Kathy, and Uncle Kenny (Uncle Kenny has been taking showers and eating dinner here off and on lately, as he has been staying with a friend who is in the hospital nearby).
At one point, Ben was driving the truck and Nick was playing in the back part of the truck. This group of boys, probably around 8 years old, descended upon the truck...they were everywhere. I was helping Nick with something, while keeping my eye on Ben. These boys started moving in on Ben and were basically in the process of intimidating him and taking over the steering wheel, when I moved back by the window near Ben. I let them know, very nicely but firmly, that he was playing with it, he was only two years old and what they were doing was not very nice. They looked a bit ashamed of themselves as they moved away from him. I find it very interesting how bold kids become when acting in a group, whereas it is likely that, had only one of those boys been there, he would not have considered doing what the group was trying to do.
There was another situation where Ben wanted to ride one of those animals on the springy thing. He was standing near it, waiting for me to put him on it, so he kind of had his back to it. Two boys got on it and Ben started whining about it and pointing to it. I told him he had to wait his turn and he still stood nearby, whining/crying. One of the boys told the other one, "that little boy wants to ride this" (they were a little old for it) and he got off so the other boy did too. Ben and I told them "thank you". So, in that case, it was nice to see those two boys do the right thing.
Anyway, the boys especially enjoyed riding the carousel and the train and playing in the park and petting the goats and sheep and, of course, seeing all of the animals. Even though we had the stroller, they walked (and ran) a good amount of the time. At one point, they were running and Ben fell down and skinned both knees but he bounced back fairly quickly. We were late getting home for nap time so they were pretty exhausted by the time they finally were in bed.
Last evening after dinner, we all went for a walk and took some bread with us to feed the geese at the neighborhood pond. We live in a hilly neighborhood and we ended up walking a loop, which meant that we had to climb two large hills. The boys did great, although Ben did let us know that it was a "hard hill" both times we were climbing up. He did very well though and seemed to be commenting rather than complaining. We ended up feeding two geese, four ducks and a turtle so the boys really enjoyed that. They were, once again, exhausted when they went to bed...and so was mom:).