Jocelyn and Perry Olum at 16 months

Sixteen months . . . doesnít seem like such a long time, but oh, what progress. Weíve probably changed two thirds of their total number of diapers . . .if they potty train around 24 months.

This is an amazing time. The number of words they have is now getting so large we canít remember them all without looking at the website! They are learning new ones every day. Several times recently Perry added three words in one day. He uses a couple of words with two syllables. Jocelyn has said several two-word phrases. They can make the noises of cows, sheep, birds, ducks, horses, pigs and dogs. They can point to many body parts: nose, ears, hair, head, eyes, arms, fingers, toes, feet, legs, tummy. They can feed themselves with a spoon. They can run.

They like to scribble on the driveway with chalk. Jocelyn has drawn on paper with a pen. Both use a magnetic slate. They can stack and nest cardboard blocks and nesting cups. They can make towers of alphabet blocks. They have nearly mastered a wooden jigsaw toy with shapes that fit into holes. They can throw balls (and less suitable objects!) and sometimes even catch them. They can now be trusted (sort of) with "page books", not to crumple or tear out the pages. They will walk along with you, holding a finger. They are completely independent in climbing and descending stairs; going down they use either slithering on their tummies or bumping on their bums. They can give hugs, shake hands, hold up one finger when asked "how old are you?", make kissy sounds, plop on their bums, kick a ball. They can nod and shake their heads. They can bounce like a bunny, dance, wave. They can climb some playground equipment and go down slides all by themselves - and they are very smug about it. They are actively helpful when being dressed: they push their arms into sleeves and lift their feet for socks.

It has been weeks since either nursed at night. (Perry often has a couple of ounces of cowís milk in a bottle around 4:30 though.) On an average day, they may nurse four times: once right after Judy gets up and breakfasts, once in late morning to put them to sleep for their (single!) nap, once in late afternoon to see if they will take a second (infrequent) nap, and once to put them to sleep.

They are starting to look more like children and less like babies. They have opinions about what clothes they want to wear. They can understand that a series of steps must precede a desired outcome: to go out in the morning, FIRST they have to have shoes and socks and a jacket, THEN Daddy has to have HIS shoes and socks (which they will often fetch for him, spontaneously), THEN Daddy has to put on HIS jacket and THEN they can go out.

They use a lot of symbolic language: if Perry wants to go out he will fetch your shoes, or drag out a backpack, or fiddle with a stroller. If he wants to eat, he shakes his high chair. If he wants to be carried, he brings you a baby-carrier. If Jocelyn wants to nurse she drags out the nursing pillow. They understand an enormous amount of what is said. If one adult says to another, "Judy is in the computer room," Jocelyn will pelt off to find her Mommy. They understand a lot of questions like, "Do you want . . . to go out? For a ride in the car? Your breakfast/lunch/dinner? A sippy cup of milk? To read a book? To build towers? To play with the ball machine? To swing?" Perhaps the most remarkable thing is that, if they are fussy, they will nod when asked, "Do you need a nap?" or "Do you need to go to sleep?"

Perhaps the most amazing demonstration of reasoning ability was given by Jocelyn. We have a toy we call the "ball machine" which blows plastic balls out the top. I asked Jocelyn to bring me a different kind of ball which was on the other side of the room. For some reason she didnít see it. So she went to the ball machine, pushed its button, waited till a ball came out, grabbed it and brought it to me. The process was so clearly, "I am supposed to get a ball. I donít see one where she is pointing. Oh, I know where there is a ball and I know how to get it to come out. I will bring that ball instead."

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