Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Note to self

The Hokey Pokey; that's what it's all about. Focus on POKEY. Carmen's got a little tooth poking through, bottom right. Fiona discovered it when Carmen took a chomp at her finger at the Sony store in the Galleria. She felt something decidedly sharp, and so did I. When we got home we saw it, a sharp pearly white point just above the gumline. Note to self: Think before giving her a knuckle to gnaw on.

After being much-admired in the Dior store two weeks ago, the ladies in the Coach store coaxed us inside to see the babies today. We should have asked if Coach makes a baby carrier to add to our collection. Note to self: Next time you leave the house, make sure your clothes match, eh?

The babies have been changing their sleep patterns, lately. Enter, now, a streak of mischief. Last week when I was rocking Carmen to sleep, she started alternately sucking and blowing zerberts on my cheek. I couldn't help but laugh, of course, and then she started laughing, and we just had to give up being very serious about sleep that night. Note to self: Practice serious face. Hee hee, hee hee, hee hee.

They have also been learning new skills. They can turn around like a Twister spinner, and David scooches backward like an 80's-era remote-control car. Carmen likes to transition from sitting to lying down with a slow, silly plop that makes her laugh. David has learned not to cry when he forgets to keep his balance and flops over while sitting. Carmen took her first steps yesterday trying to get to the chime toy that Fiona and David were playing with. David learned last week in the pool that he can curl his legs forward and float on his back, but he doesn't particularly like to float on his back, so he prefers to try floating sideways, instead. They have both learned to snap my bra strap while they eat. Carmen thinks my hair is wonderful to grab, pull, and taste; David thinks everything is wonderful to grab, pull, and taste. Carmen thinks pureed pears are delicious; they bring tears to David's eyes from the tartness. Note to self: Stop working so hard and take more pictures.

Saturday C&D attended their first birthday party; Henry turned 50. Henry fished all day then got swooped up by his cousin Isaac in Isaac's new wood-bodied pickup truck (that he made himself) to go to the party. We followed soon after. While we were eating Carmen took a tour around the group with Uncle Manny, and everybody admired her chub. David stayed with me and stared at Jimmy while we walked college. Occasionally David would give Jimmy a pat on the arm to be sociable. Note to self: Didn't I tell you to take more pictures?

And David has learned to make manly noises. He clenches his fist and tenses his legs and arms and says "Argh! Grugh! Wugh!" He reminds me of Hulk Hogan. He started them in all earnestness yesterday. I took a video which I will post later, and maybe you can tell me what it means. Note to self: Learn boy-speak.

I hear somebody waking already and I haven't even had my snack. Note to self: Tell the babies that mommy can't write about babyness unless they start taking longer naps.

Checking the news of Katrina a few times each day. Tens of thousands of refugees are landing on Houston's front steps. Donating some outgrown maternity & baby things this weekend. Note to self: Give more.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A Good, Busy Weekend

Whew! What a good, busy weekend.

Just a few minutes ago I just sent in our first EllaRoo wholesale order. We're now officially an EllaRoo distributor. We're having so much fun with our carriers, and so many people ask us about them, that we are going to sell them. EllaRoo carriers are fairly-traded, handmade carriers that are especially lightweight for our warm Houston climate. They also have a great reputation for being well-made and long-wearing. We like our homemade carriers, of course, but not everybody has access to friends with a sewing machine, and the best fabric for a carrier is sometimes hard to find. (If you want an EllaRoo, let me know! My favorites are the Guatemalan woven wrap and the super-fun mei tai.)

This weekend's big event: Matt's parents came to visit their grandbabies. They haven't seen them since they were just weeks old.

But, wait, I'm getting out of order. Let me start with Friday morning.

We've been looking for a good drum for the babies. We needed something that they could pull close to their bodies, and with a good resonance. We tried various plastic containers and Friday morning decided that the monstrous Tupperware SuperBowl (now called Thatsa Bowl) filled with a handful of garbanzo beans made a very nice little instrument. David has figured out that striking it makes an interesting sound, but for now he really prefers to just admire its rotundness (is that a word? I declare it so) or grab it to catch his balance for a moment.

I love that bowl. What other drum can be used to make six dozen pecan Christmas cookies?

In the afternoon C&D's Grandma and Grandpa Reisdorf arrived from California. They brought presents, which the babies thought were very interesting . . .
. . . and tasty, too!
During the visit we read fun stories . . .
. . . played games . . .
. . . and went shopping. Friday evening we drove to Central Market to get provisions. While there I was able to show Carmen to my favorite barista (he made best-ever smoothies when I was pregnant and hungry-hungry-hungry). Saturday we took Grandma and Grandpa to the Galleria, C&D style.


Yes, that picture was taken at Shanghai Joe's. We are their most loyal customer. We didn't get to talk to the nice sushi chef this time; maybe next week. She's another of C&D's regular admirers.

Everybody had a really good time, especially the babies, and we are so glad for the grandparents' visit.

This morning, after we experienced yet another FAN (Failed Attempt at Napping), we motored over to Whole Foods to buy some goat milk. I had a hankering, and the goat farm didn't attend the farmer's market yesterday (we did make out with some squash, asian pears, a watermelon, and three kinds of peas). After the second FAN of the day, we put on our swimsuits and went to the Wellness Center to go swimming and say hi to Sherwin. Sherwin works at the front desk. He watched my belly grow bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and then watched me make handstands in the therapy pool to try to flip Carmen around from breech to vertex. (It didn't work, but I did provide a significant source of entertainment to pool users in those days.)

As soon as the babies entered the water, they wanted to move onto their bellies. With our hands beneath them, our little fishies kicked their legs and splashed their hands as if making a doggy paddle. We pulled them up and down the pool, splashing and kicking, splashing and kicking. While there we made some friends who were all curious to know if the babies would finally take a nap after all of that thrashing. Next week I'll need tell them that yes, the babies did nap!

Whew. Good thing. Matt and I were getting tired.

Maybe David was trying to tell me about the pool later in the afternoon. I don't know. It seems that babies are always developing strange little behaviors that their parents can do nothing but puzzle about. I have no idea what all that babbling and leg-lifting was supposed to mean. But I thought it was awfully funny. In the video David seems pretty amused, himself.



A good, busy weekend.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Trying Butternut Squash

Played with butternut squash and the spoons today, to give Matt and I a chance to talk and eat (seated! how rare!).

The aim wasn't always so good,



but Carmen did think it was interesting to mush around and taste. David used his spoon to catapult some squash onto the table. (No pictures . . . I must have been busy wiping it up.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Well, duh.

The swing in the closet.

Now that we have two swings, the babies want nothing to do with them lately.

Well, duh. I should have figured.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Out of the Woods

An article from the Washington Post: Out of the Woods.

I remember making dinosaur tracks in the front yard one day. An ice cream man (actually, he really sold paletas) drove up and asked, "Hey, do you want this [watermelon paleta]. I responded yes and he said, "Here, tell your parents to pay me $1."

I did.

My parents were shocked at his boldness but do you know what? It was delicious! I still think about it sometimes, two decades later.

Variations

Well, Carmen woke up while I was finishing that last post. She's asleep again. Sounds like David and Matt have been doing well, though--haven't heard a peep. David suddenly got very, very ticklish today. I was nursing Carmen earlier this evening and David kept plucking at my shirt, wanting a turn. Since Carmen was already situated I decided to distract him a little with a tickle to his tummy, and he laughed heartily. Exploring his feet, arms, and neck all brought on the same silly laughter. I guess the tickle synapses in his brain just came together in a big way today.

Speaking of synapses, I am browsing The Wonder Weeks. It was recommended by a mother on an AP multiples listserv as a good read about brain development. TWW is not as informative as What's Going On In There? (which is a little academically heavy), but it has contains some interesting games appropriate to each stage. The authors must have been fun parents: there is a whole section called "Variations on Peekaboo."

I also just read again the last chapter in The Geography of Childhood, too. One of the best essays ever.

A Splashing Success

The morning nap didn't quite happen like it was supposed to, but we went swimming, anyway.

At the front desk of the gym we met a friend who had only seen the babies when they were in my belly. He was so excited to see Carmen and David so big and strong. Of course, Carmen wore a blue shirt (okay), and David wore a shirt with pink flowers (maybe not okay). Fortunately, C&D sat cozily in their wraps tummy to tummy with us, so my friend couldn't notice.

We had the therapy pool (kept at 91 deg. F) to ourselves. Still wearing the babies, we slowly stepped into the water. David quietly smiled and looked around as we bobbed up and down and made small waves. Carmen quickly began to splash and pulled away from Matt to have more room to wiggle and kick. Once we were certain that C&D felt comfortable in this new environment we helped them float on their backs, and then turned them over to let them kick while we pulled them along. We even dunked them on cue. David did a great job of holding his breath, but Carmen didn't like the dunking so much, maybe because she was very tired, or maybe because she is already past the point where her dive reflex is a part of her motor ability. She did very much like splashing, though, and Matt had so much fun that we will plan on going again next Sunday. With two chubby babes and sopping-wet cotton wraps we did look the spectacle, but C&D sure enjoy all the attention!

After playing in the water for a bit, we drove our two tired babies home. As we pulled out of the parking lot Carmen began singing her sleepy song, "Aaaaaaa-aaaaaaaah-eeeeeehhhh-yaaaaaaaah." And once in the house they slept soundly for exactly two hours.

No, they didn't. Despite two pairs of sleepy little eyes in the house, C&D hardly napped at all, and as soon as they fell asleep they woke up again. Sleeping apparently was not on today's agenda.

Not even the new swing helped. This morning we realized that our first swing is probably nearing the end of its natural life cycle. We also realized that as the babies have become more independent, a second swing--in a second room--might help on those few occasions when one baby has fallen asleep in the swing, and the other needs a swing-mobile-fishy-BabyMuzak fix that regular rocking, walking, or bouncing won't satisfy. So we begrudgingly bought Aquarium Swing #2 and placed it in the back bedroom closet (where else would we put it?). I already can't wait to eBay it, but I do hope it helps. As much as I dislike using the swing to settle them down, I dislike two tired, sad babies more!

But now they are sleeping, and soundly. Thank goodness. It's a very busy week this week.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Stories

Carmen fell asleep in her swing a little bit ago. When she is really tired and needs settling, a special mix of waterfall white noise and the horrible Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders swing mobile music will often soothe her to sleep. We hate that music, but the babies love its blandness. It's like Baby-Muzak. She'll probably wake up in an hour, and I'll get her to fall back asleep in her bed. I'll eat a snack and wash up, and then finish this post.

Before the mobile broke, the sight of the fish swimming round and round would send the babies into pure bliss. Smiling, eyes upward, and hands clasped in delight under their chins, they would coo and laugh as the fish swam round and round and round.

But everybody knows that fish don't make the best pets. One morning you wake up and poof, somebody's belly up. Well, one morning this week--or maybe last--Carmen asked for the mobile, and, well, we discovered it's not a very mobile mobile anymore. It just burnt out, I guess. The Ocean Wonders swing was clearly designed for singletons.

So now C&D just watch the fish bob and jiggle to the rhythm of the swing.

The white noise of the waterfall comes from my MP3 player, which plays the same track twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Whenever somebody is asleep--or falling asleep--the waterfall comes on over the living room stereo. The sound of the dishwasher, the creaks in the floor, the complaints of a sibling--are all muffled under the sound of water gurgling. The track plays all night, and every naptime. When I hear it I sometimes remember different campsites I've used that were close to running water. There was the National Forest in Arizona, for instance, in March of 1998. The spot between the rocks in Yosemite in June of 2001. The mossy patch under the great trees in the Olympic Peninsula, 2003. The hidden canyon in New Mexico during the Memorial Day weekend 2004. I liked that campsite so much that we stayed there the entire trip.

So the waterfall track keeps the babies sleeping, and my dreams sweet. Once I dreamed that water was rushing down the hallway and into the bedroom (entirely possible, because this is Houston), but even then, that wasn't such a bad dream. After a while in Houston you learn to keep everything you love off the floor and the flood insurance paid for.

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There are no pictures lately. Blame C&D. They keep doing their cute baby things when I don't have my camera at the ready. Today I left them with Matt while I went out for a doctor's appointment. To keep them busy he heated two ounces of sweet potato, gave each babe a spoon, and told them to have at it. When I came home, they had all gotten a bath, but Carmen still had a little sweet potato in her nose, and David had a bit in his ear. They apparently enjoyed using the spoon to get the sweet potato in their mouth and other places, and I wished I had been there to see it and take a picture.

But that's what Matt feels like every day. He misses out on the board books with the finger puppets inside, and the Wocket in the Pocket, and Cowboy the Flying Crazy-Colored Pegasus (a Fiona trick), and The Wheels on the Bus (another Fiona trick), and the morning swim sessions in the front yard with all the neighborhood folks coming by to chat. So many little moments that we don't want to miss, that we wish we could capture to enjoy again, and again, and again.

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I also wished for the camera at Panera Bread today. At the restaurant we found a cozy leather loveseat and chairs clustered together. As we ate our dinner Matt sat in one chair while I lounged in the loveseat feeding Carmen. David sat on the loveseat to my right, quite comfy and happy. I wedged him into the corner to make sure he wouldn't tip over. Because he is a bit too small for a latte, I gave him a plastic cup to play with so he would stop making eyes at my food (Panera Bread is not on the list of solids we will be attempting anytime too soon!) . He tried to drink out of it, but it was empty, so he tried drinking out of it backwards, as if he was trying to cure a case of the hiccups. When no water came out that way, either, he just decided to smush and gnaw the cup any old way. In a month he will be crawling fast enough that plopping him on a couch in a restaurant and leaving him there will be impossible. But we are glad to have had the experience, however temporary.

While we were out I talked to Matt about a medical study published several weeks ago, and the reasons why we are approaching solids so slowly. In the study, wheat allergy-prone babies introduced to wheat before seven months or after nine months had a significantly higher rate of wheat allergy than those introduced during the seven-to-nine-month window. One theory for the phenomenon was that GI tracts of the babies introduced to wheat before seven months were not quite ready and still vulnerable to allergy. But if the babes were introduced to wheat too late, they ate perhaps too much at once, and the system overload on the tract triggered the allergy. So on the one hand, while a baby may need a significant amount of a food (say, once a day over a course of days) to reach a biochemical threshold before a parent may be able to see a reaction and know if the baby should continue to eat it, too much of that food can put the baby at risk, anyway. And this reinforces other findings that while it is best to refrain from feeding solid foods Baby early, waiting too long can cause a problem, too! Milk, nuts, and a few other foods are proven, notable exceptions to this finding--the allergenicity of those foods suggest an even longer wait.

Whew.

After I gave Matt the rundown from all that journal reading I've been doing for the past couple of months, I felt like . . . taking a Benadryl.

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If C&D give us a good window of opportunity at noon tomorrow, we will go swimming at the Wellness Center. Matt's been kind of dragging his feet about it, because he knows we'll be quite the spectacle, but he should be used to that by now. I wonder when the "Look, twins!" stuff will stop. Sometimes I'm a little embarrassed (in that aw, shucks kind of way), but babies bring such joy to so many people (and you know I'll talk to anybody) that I'll be sad when nobody notices the twinniness anymore.

Anyway, I bought a new swimsuit on clearance last week, and Matt found his swim trunks, so we are mostly out of excuses. We won't be taking any pictures, though, out of respect to the other guests who may not feel so svelte in their suits, and don't want to worry about their photos being published.

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I bought a Melissa and Doug ring stacker on eBay last week. Carmen was awake and playing in the high chair when I opened the package yesterday. She marveled at the colors, and enjoyed gumming the round red top. This morning David found the stacker, and took the top and first few rings right off. Then he proceeded to suck on the center post that held everything together. Well, I thought, that's one way of playing with it!

They'll figure out the stacking trick later.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Our first word.

We have our first word from C&D this week.

A few days ago Carmen figured out how to make "buh-buh-buh." David managed to make the same sound today.

He also hums quite a bit. Hungry? "Mmmmmmp." Tired? "Mmmmmrrrmmrmp." Want to play? "Errrrmmmm, mmmmp!"

Now, to the untrained ear, those sounds mean nothing. But the twin-mama-Jedi-superpower ear puts each baby's sounds together, and it's clear C&D are saying

BUMP!

Well, okay, I thought it was funny. Feel free to laugh, whenever.

(Carmen sounded close to working out "d" today. Then we'll have "Duh" and "Dump?")

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Extraordinary

The babies are getting so fun . . . and funny. Tonight Carmen looked up at me and laughed as we lay together in the bed. She kicked her legs and rocked side to side.

I was trying to put her to sleep. I always have Carmen duty at night; Matt takes David. This started a long time ago, when the babies were small and Carmen needed to be soothed, rocked and walked repeatedly before falling asleep. Because David fell asleep for the night more easily than she but woke up earlier, the boys started sleeping on their own in the back room.

Perhaps because of their natural temperments, or perhaps because of some subliminal reinforcement from their parents, the babies--like their parents--still have different internal clocks. Matt and David fall asleep easily while the summer sun still shines, and wake up before it rises. Carmen and I tend to resist sleep until the sun has gone down, and sleep in until six or six thirty.

And we still at least begin our nights in separate rooms. That way we don't disturb one another as we enter the land of our Dreams, because both C&D often sing to themselves as we rock them to sleep. As he relaxes on Matt's chest, David talks in long, open-mouthed vowels and hums, insisting he is not sleepy. Carmen sings a similar song, gargling and warbling bedtime arias to me and the cat and the mobile above the swing. Sometimes she wakens several times within the first couple of hours of the night, annoyed that she was tricked into falling asleep once again.

When David wakes up at night for a snack, usually sometime after Carmen and I have settled into bed, he and Matt join us. I sleep with a baby on either side until morning.

So tonight Carmen and I lay together, tummy to tummy, and she laughed and clapped her hands together, and I appreciated just how happy the babies always are. Even when they have played and jumped and laughed past the point of exhaustion, they are quick to smile and to laugh again. The routine becomes remarkable. At the changing table they marvel at each other, reach their hands out to touch. With eyes wide, they open and close their hands in anticipation every time the cat, always perched on the ledge above them, twitches his teasing tail. Walking through the grocery store today David smiled as I kissed his forehead, and then waited for another. By their happiness, they make an ordinary chore into an extraordinary event.






Later in the afternoon I steamed and pureed our sweet potato stash. I gave Matt a lick of the spoon. I told him liked the butternut squash more--it was sweeter. "Hey," Matt said, "let the babies have a taste." C&D looked like babes in sleep Purgatory--too late for a nap, too early for bed--and badly needed a diversion. I came back with a plate and a dollop of sweet potato puree. I placed it between the two babies and stood back. Immediately their gaze gravitated toward the blue-rimmed plate, but they ignored the orange goop in the middle of it. Matt gave Carmen a taste. She raised her eyebrows and grabbed Matt's hand, then she grabbed the spoon itself to lick it clean. I guess she liked it?



David was a little more cautious. He still prefers his fingers.



We'll be watching their cues to see when they would like some more.

Speaking of extraordinary, Carmen has been asleep an awfully long time without noticing I'm not next to her. I'm going to wash up before she notices and wakes up.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Trial and Error

This morning.

The babies are sleeping and I'm sitting in the dark, enjoying the relative quiet and hoping that the house stays this way for the next few hours. I need to write a bit, and snack a bit, wash up a bit, and then rest much more than a bit. I'm tired.

The babies' Uncle John came to visit today. They both enjoyed playing with him. . .
Carmen especially.
The mellow, serene newborn Carmen has become a silly, outgoing, exuberantly happy baby, while David, sensitive and sweet, has grown more relaxed and thoughtful. In other words, it is Carmen's turn to keep us busy.

Both babies' nighttime sleeping habits have been even stranger than usual, lately. When it began I suspected we were on the verge of a developmental leap, but after a couple of days of strange nightwakings and giddy, overtired babes, Matt and I were on the verge of temporary insanity, and desperate for a fix. Matt decided that maybe the babies were simply ready for something besides milk.

I was skeptical of this, but sweet potatoes are a happy, mostly harmless little vegetable, so last weekend we bought one and steamed it and mashed it. If they wouldn't eat it, at least they could squish it. Carmen felt indifferent to the whole affair,
while David looked only politely interested.
Neither ate any measurable amount of their sweet potato mash, thereby eliminating Matt's theory with a resounding "heck, no."

Later in the week I was busy preparing for my day and David noticed my bag of carrots. He studied it with interest. The carrots did not interest him as much as the crinkly sound of the plastic bag they came in. To buy myself a couple of minutes more to continue my chores, I handed him a carrot. He studied it, tasted it, felt its fresh-from-the-fridge coolness, and then compared carrot to finger.
The finger won, and the carrot rolled to the floor, where the cat swiped at it. Just as well; babies shouldn't be playing with carrots, anyway (little bits can break off and become a choking hazard). Carmen had a similar experience later in the week--after watching me eat one she held the carrot, looked at it, said, "You people eat this stuff?" and then proceeded to suck on her first two fingers. One more strike against Matt's theory. They'll let us know when they're ready to start nibbling off our plates soon enough.

I'm still voting for the developmental leap theory. In the past week, both babies have rapidly progressed in their abilities to sit, communicate, and grasp. In ways measurable and immeasurable, they are dramatically different little people from a week--or even a day--ago.

Yesterday, David sat unassisted for at least forty minutes while I folded some laundry and busied myself around the house. This morning both Carmen and David sat for quite a long while as Matt sorted diapers.

They amaze--and amuse--us. I hope they find us at least half as interesting.

Time for me to go to sleep. It's been a difficult couple of weeks, with work and babies and our issues with sleep (or, lack thereof). Tomorrow is a busy day, with more of the same, and hopefully time to replace the cheap rice cooker/steamer I bought at Target last week with one I actually like. Dad already returned the old one for me, so now I have the somewhat more interesting job of buying the new one. Then later in the week I'll steam, puree, and freeze some of this week's produce from Gundermann Farms. It's the last of the season. When the babies do start genuinely playing and experimenting with food, we'll have a stash of local organic butternut squash, yellow squash, and sweet potatoes to start us off. The butternut squash is already prepared and divided in the deep freeze, waiting for us. Mmmm!

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This is us at Shanghai Joe's (see previous post below). Carmen is hungry, can you tell? The drool/spitup spot on Matt's shoulder is a semi-permanent badge of parenthood. He wears it proudly.