Anna & Karen



"Every day is a play-date...
      Every night is a sleep-over."

Though This file is under construction,
Everything here is copyrighted to Richard Grotjahn.

Last update: 20 July 2007.

Welcome to my page devoted to the third year of our twins: Karen and Anna.

Related sites:

For an enormous (500 kb) studio portrait of the girls, click on its thumbnail below. (Don't say I didn't warn you about the size!)
-- from their 1st birthday

Each year I've prepared a custom calendar with a montage of the more interesting shots from the prior calendar year. I've placed the enormous files below. To learn who is who in each picture, click on the 'who is who' link to a black and white version of the picture with nametags.
From 1997: 342 kb who is who?
From 1998: 361 kb who is who?
From 1999: 388 kb who is who?
From 2000: 164 kb who is who?
From 2001: 691 kb who is who?
From 2002: 228 kb who is who?
From 2003: 391 kb who is who?
From 2004: 260 kb who is who?
From 2005: 195 kb who is who?
From 2006: 560 kb who is who?
From 2007: 1.7 Mb who is who?
From 2008: 1.3 Mb who is who?

Important numbers

Image fun:

A Slide show java script showing pictures from a day hike in the Desolation Wilderness in the Sierra Nevada mountains east of Davis. (Link prepared 4 December 2000.)

The following page was added 20 August 1998.

Image Magnifier is a page which magnifies a portion of the image that the mouse sits over. You do NOT hold down any mouse key. It takes a little while for the images to load and the magnifier to respond, so be patient and enjoy! Let me know if you want to see other images this way.

I'm placing the news in reverse chronological order to make it easier to spot, especially since I rarely have time to update this page. I put all the pictures prior to the birth on a separate page (see above) to give our readers faster loading.




****************** March 2004 update ********** 2003 'holiday picture'
Our family

****************** 7 May 2003 update ********** Karen rode a bike without training wheels today!

****************** 3 January 2003 update **********
Here are some pictures taken by professional photographers of the on the image for a larger picture. School Pictures: Fall 2002:
Anna Karen

Picture in the Davis Enterprise newspaper
Karen and I

2002 'holiday picture'
Karen & Anna in their 'princess' costumes

****************** 20 December 2002 update **********
I have not had time to post anything here in a long time. I've been a bit overwhelmed with the water damage disaster at our home. I have prepared a directory with a raw listing of files of pictures from the year 2002 The names are somewhat informative of what the picture is about.

****************** 2 October 2001 update **********
We are surviving the move to the temporary housing.
Some recent pictures from a trip to the beach can be found HERE Sorry, no time to write any words.

****************** 21 March 2001 updates **********

Calico died early Saturday morning (17 March).

Calico is one of the two cats we kept of a litter raised from birth. She was 11 months old. Even though Road 30 is 350' from the house and lightly travelled, she was hit by a vehicle and died instantly. What follows are some moments later that day.

Judith collected Calico and placed her in a large box. I dug a hole 1.5-2' deep at the edge of our citrus grove. I found a smaller clean white box and placed Calico inside with some blooming Rosemary (mainly to mask the growing smell). It was a hot day.

Once preparations were complete I asked Anna and Karen to sit together on my lap. Parts of the conversation are as follows:
R: "I have some very sad news to tell you. Have you noticed that Calico is not here this morning?"
A: "Where is she?"
R: "She had a very bad boo-boo. Much worse than the boo-boos you and I get. Calico is dead."
A: "Why?"
R: "She was walking where she was not supposed to be... You know how we always tell you to hold mommy or daddy's hand when we are in a parking lot or by a road? Well Calico was at the road last night and was hit by a car."
K: "Will she be all right?"
R: "No. Calico... is.. not going to get better... That is why this is so sad..."
At this point I had brought a tear to my eye, but noone else seemed so affected.
J: "Calico is dead."
A: "When will she be coming back?"
R: "She won't be coming back. That is why this is so sad. But we can always remember her in our hearts. ... We are going to go outside now and place Calico in a special hole in the ground.."
K: "A hole in the ground?"
R: "A place for Calico to stay. There will be a rock there for us to remember her.."
The girl's reactions now became quite different. Anna became silent. Karen interrupted my explanation of coming events to launch into a continuous dialog:
K: "At my Rainbow House I have a cat and a dog named Calico and ....."
I cannot remember what all she said, but it continued until mom and I gently interrupted Karen after a minute or two.

We then had a small ceremony to bury Calico. I asked A&K to each pick a flower. I opened the box so they could see that Calico really was in there. I pointed out that she was not moving. They each placed their flower in the box. I brought along a hand-wipe and suggested that they could touch Calico one last time if they wanted to. But if they did, I'd have to wipe their hand afterwards. They declined. I sealed up the box with tape.
I then wrote "Calico" on the outside and invited the girls to write something as well. Instead, they each asked me to write a message to Calico:
A: "Write Anna will miss Calico very much."
K: "Write I love you Calico and I will miss you too."
After that, we began to fill the grave. The girls helped toss in handfulls of soil. At this point, they began to loose interest. However, Anna started to become upset and wanted to walk away with mom.
Karen stayed until the grave was filled. I placed a standing stone on top. I told the girls that they could "talk to the stone" whenever they wanted to "visit" Calico as way to remember her.

Later that day, Karen came to see me working in the garden. She wanted me to go with her to talk to "Calico's stone." Anna also appeared and said she didn't know where Calico's stone was and could I show her. (Of course, she knew. It is just her way of asking you to go with her.)
Anna added some twigs sticking out of the ground.
With Karen on my lap, she and I sat next to Calico's grave. Karen began to tell a story something like this:
K: "At my Rainbow House I have a dog named Calico. She died. My Rainbow House mommy died too. But I have a special coin. I said some words and she got better. I should have brought my coin today... next time I'll bring it..."

Later that weekend I got the "predictable" questions and comments. Here are samples from various times:
K: "I miss Calico."
A: "When is Calico goin' to come out of her box?"
K (to J): "Mommy when you die can I die with you?"

I thought I'd indulge a bit on this significant event because it reveals a lot about the girls. It also provides some tools for our future.

****************** 28 February 2001 updates **********

Just some quick notes on language.

****************** 14 June 2000 updates **********
If you like Kittens and you like kids,
then you should check out this link:
Kittens! & Kids!

Some miscellaneous shots:

K with Amber, Grandpa with K & A, A ready to serve you!

****************** 25 May updates **********
I can't believe it has been more than 5 months since I have updated anything on this web site. Those who visit here don't want to know what has kept me so busy, so I shall start with a brief summary of some significant events:

****************** 15 December 1999 updates **********
Hey! In response to the many request that have poured in (OK, so it was one request...) I've finally gotten around to posting a few new pictures!

Why now you ask? (OK, so nobody asked... but if they did)
I have unposted christmas pictures FROM LAST YEAR!
We had a great vacation, their fans clamour for photos!
I finished my busy fall quarter (the real reason -- I'm burned out...)

Here goes!

Pictures from December 1998 - April 1999.
Pictures from May - July 1999. (under construction)
Pictures from our August 1999 family vacation.

******************* 9 November 1999 updates **********
Quite a bit has happened in the past 3 months.
The family tried a vacation to the "great Northwest". It was quite successful. The only problem was brief and resulted from trying to drive just a bit too far on the second day. The girls wanted "out-side" and Anna (naturally) taught herself how to wriggle out of the safety harnesses in her child seat.
To simplify matters we stayed with friends at 3 different locales: Redding, Portland, and Seattle. This helped a lot, not just because these people were such nice hosts, but because they helped watch the girls. (Read that: created a more favorable adult-to-child ratio that could "keep a lid" on the "wild animals".)
By the 10th day mom needed a rest, so dad took the girls to the Columbia gorge. This worked fine. We did a little hike. Ate some blackberries. Watched a train go by. Looked at waterfalls. And, Karen discovered a favorite activity: throwing rocks into the water. Big rocks. The bigger the better. (What have I created?!?)

The language development continues to explode:

Anna favors declarative sentences: "I eat dat" or "I want dat" Actually, she says "I want" as if it was one word. For example: "Iwant murr" (I want more!!!) Then there is the ever-popular "No! My doit" (Both girls substitute "my" for "I" frequently.)
Anna likes singing. It is just that the songs get a little bit mixed up. "A B C D..." was popular for awhile. They both like to "crazy count" as in: "one, two, five, six, eight, six, five, ONE!"
Anna also has her cute moments. Such as a saying "What's dat?" in a rising voice, becoming very high by the second syllable. Another popular activity is immitating animal sounds. It is getting a bit old now, but I still say "tyr-ANNA-saur" when referring to "T-rex" which always prompts a "Grrrrahh" from Anna. (What? You didn't know that T-rex sounds like that?) We will do other animals. Sometimes she mixes them up, as in: What sound does a turkey make? A: "cluck cluck cluck..." Sometimes they are interesting extrapolations: What sound does an Owl make? A: "ow! ow! ow!" Mind you, these are not one-time examples, but have been repeated several times. Despite correcting the responses, she says the same thing the next day...

Karen favors the word "No" at the moment. She likes to use it in sentences, as in: "I no like it". She actually doesn't mean it most of the time. "I no like mommy" "I no like sisser [sister]" etc. We know she doesn't mean it because she will alternate usage of the word "no" in successive sentences. "I no like... I like... I no like..." I think she picks this stuff up at the nursery school where she and Anna now attend (Applegate). Unlike the special school (Greengate) where she attended for therapy, Applegate has older kids and many more of them. She started 10 weeks ago. I've notice her using phrases that only kids use: "Go away!" and "I'm mad at you" a lot. I also heard her use the "4-letter" "s" word. :-(
We still have occasional competitions for attention: when Anna get's a "boo-boo" Karen will inject herself between you and Anna saying something like "I have a boo-boo too." They both volunteer information about each other. Such as: "Sisser crying." (as if we couldn't tell!). Karen particularly has liked ordering her sister. If we tell Anna not to touch the stove, say, Karen will start chanting: "No touch. No TOUCH! Sisser no touch stove!" Which may prompt Anna to say "Noooooooooo" and we are off and running with another screaming, or perhaps giggle, contest... (They don't make sense... they are toddlers!)
Karen still has plenty of cute things she does. Yesterday, she named her favorite stuffed animal (a dog); she calls it "Ruffy" -- an appropriate choice it seems. After breakfast, she sometimes announces that "My going to my office now" imitating mom's explanation of why dad is leaving. When pressed for details as to where her office is located: "at Applegate".

They both have a huge vocabulary and Karen continues to amaze me with her ability to repeat words accurately. Sometimes she repeats phrases several minutes after hearing them, particularly if the words are new words. She has created sentences as long as 11 words! Granted, they are 1 & 2 syllable words, but that seems quite advanced for 2 1/2.

I know I keep saying this, but I do plan to post some pictures from the big vacation eventually. (soon!)

******************* 4 August updates *****************
Some thoughts on talking:
The girls like to sing. We have frequent serenades of various hit tunes. See if you can guess these favorites:
"Ay bee see dee baby gee gee blah dah...(etc)"
"Hap-ee dirt day to me, hap-ee dirt day to ..."
"... roun-n-roun, ahhh-uhh tau!"
"Happy do-do, Happy do-do,.."
"Tinkle tinkle ittel tar..."

Then we have pronounciations. Karen often has spectacularly good elocution. However, she does refer to herself as "care-ah". Such as "kay care-ah, kay care-ah, kay care-ah" (when she sees the letter "K"). Anna tends to slur sounds. So she refers to herself as "nanna" sometimes.

Various other words:
"wah wah" -- water
"ay bee spider" -- small or "baby" spider
"uples" -- soap bubble maker
"nu book, nu book,..." -- let's look at one of the recently acquired books
"sit dad-dee" -- I want to sit on daddy's lap
"lear-rum" -- I want to go to the living room
"uuppp!" -- pick me up and carry me. (Sharp eyed readers will recall the 26 April update, below, and note that this is now shortened from "daddie up"!)
"out sighed! out sighed" -- I want to go out side
"noooo" -- the initial response to any question!
"hippo in water" -- a hippo at the Sacramento zoo who would surface only for air, making a noisy exhalation each time, made a big impression on Karen
"cur" -- corn

Karen is very good at imitating adult speech. She can remember words to string together into 4-5 word sentences. For example, "sisser, no pull hair!" She can imitate the sounds of many words when asked to repeat them. She has trouble with "r" sounds, though does better than Anna.

New pictures!
A trip to the photo studio (mid July, 1999)
First Steps (therapy) program (November 1998 - July, 1999)

******************* 7 May updates *****************
Some news:

We had a 2 hour meeting with the staff of the Alta program: 'first steps'. Basically, they felt that Karen had made great progress, now met the minimum norms for her age group, and should be dropped from any further services. Unfortunately, the physical therapists from CTC could not be there to support their contrary views. Our concerns are basically that Karen's progress has been dramatic in the past month (really a marked improvement) and that we don't want to loose that by dropping her too soon. Further, Karen's history: stopped breathing, low heart rate, clinical diagnosis of cerebral palsy, argue against accepting her as 'cured' just because everyone's hard work has brought her into the bottom of the range for kids currently her age. Why should we expect her to keep tracking within the norm without any expert guidance?

The girls had their 2 year checkup earlier this week. Basically, they both track in the 35-50% as far as weight goes. (Gee, I wonder where they got the 'skinny' genes? From dad??!) Karen was measured as just below the median height while Anna was above the median height (70%) for her age. (70 percent means that 70% of the children are shorter. Ditto for 50% weigh less, etc.)
Karen weighs a full pound more than Anna: 25 lbs 10oz vs 24 lbs 10oz. They are both about 33 1/2 inches tall. Their current height projects them to be about 5'7" tall when adults.

They did have nasal problems which would clog up at night causing them to wake up and cry for mommy. We tried several antibiotics, then switched to an allergy medicine. I am begining to think the problem is our dusty house. My own nasal passages clog each night except when I run a HEPA filtered portable air cleaner next to my bed. The dust builds up from our minimal cleaning efforts, to be sure. But the windows we have allow a lot of agricultural dust to enter the home, too. To the north are numerous large, tilled fields which generate a huge amount of dust....

******************* 26 April updates *****************
Some news:

A birthday party was held for the twins yesterday. About 2 dozen people attended. It went better than you might expect for such an event. No major disasters. The main casualty was a playball that went flat after a close encounter with some rose bushes... The group included 5 kids who were able to amuse themselves.
Anna and Karen opened a bunch of nice gifts. These included some very nice plush animals (bunny, 2 doggies, bear, 2 dragons). Her grandparents found some really neat drawing boards (with an erasable screen and 'rubber stamps') to make pictures. They got a pair of "teletubbies" videos which were put to immediate use to occupy them whilst we prepared for the party. They got several sets of clothes, along with special plates. Karen got another stacking/puzzle toy made out of a dense foam rubber product (which they love trying to bite off pieces!). Also, several books, which are always a big 'hit' with both girls. Speaking of 'hits' Anna got a pounding toy (oh great) which was ok until she decided to hammer on the plaster walls, and then on her sister; when scolded not to do that, Anna took up an olympic event: the 'hammer throw'. (sigh)
Anna was thrilled by: all the active (older) kids, the freedom to wander about the house and outside with little of the usual restrictions. Karen was a bit overwhelmed.
Anna is picking up lots of words, though her pronounciation still lags her sister. Try this test: what does "dah" mean and how does it differ from "duh"? (Answer: one means: set me 'down' while the other means: I am 'done'. Fortunately, we have a hand gesture to indicate 'done!' which avoids some confusion.) They both know many colors: blue, geen (green), white, black, oilow (yellow), pink, ret (red). They like to make sounds to imitate various animals (cow, dog, cat, sheep, pig...). Anna was overheard last night saying: "Anna, daddie, mommie, sisser" over and over. Karen has used multiword sentences; though many are 2 words: "daddie up" (pick me up), or "daddie shoe", some have been 4 words long. Karen will sing to herself as well: twinkle twinkle (with hand 'wheel' gestures) is her current favorite. At their twice-a-week nursery school she hears this and other songs at every 'circle time'.
On a more serious note, today we have a meeting with the people who decide if Karen can continue with her therapy. There is not doubt it has improved her tremendously. We still see items of concern; the social issues have become more obvious in recent months. The physcial therapists support continued therapy and recognize many of the same things we note. However, we have to convince another panel, and they seem less concerned.... so Karen (and therefore Anna) may be kicked out of the special nursery school they now attend.

******************* 25 April updates *****************
Some news:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Karen & Anna are 2!

Some early words (list compiled sometime in 1999):
sock, shoe, doll, ball
daddy, momma, sit
cack-a (cracker)
eye, hi, bye,
sheep, blankie, egg
duck, truck, up
milk, mine

***************** "old stuff" ********************

That's all for now! Thanks for stopping by....

--------------ignore below------------- test junk below here -------------

********************* end of 27 August update *************

Here are some pictures of the girls taken at a local photo studio in November 1998:

-- Anna! Smile! (please?... sigh)
-- Anna! look at the doggie (camera)....please? ...


Lest we forget our starting point...
<-- Anna <-- Karen

Rich's Twin Page

established 25 April 1997

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