Saturday, April 29, 2006

There, and back again

The computer is almost back to normal, no thanks to the computer repair store. When I brought it in I felt like I was dropping Toby off at the pound (no matter that I've been lately tempted, stubborn cat). Boxes everywhere, and the technician reminded me of Dwight Schrute. And I had the distinct impression that I knew more than he did.

Not good.

So the computer went there, and then back home again. Gradually, after dinner for a few minutes here, and before breakfast for a few minutes there, we've got the computer back to the way it's supposed to be (well, mostly).

More to say, but until then, the babies' stats from their well-baby checkup: Carmen weighed at 25 pounds, 11 ounces, and 31.5 inches tall. David weighed at 23 pounds, and 31 inches tall.

So Carmen doesn't just seem heavier anymore, now she really is heavier.

Next post will be about Steve. The Reisdorfs know Steve.

Monday, April 24, 2006

'puter broken again

and it's your loss, because I had video of David using the slide (suddenly, umprompted, and all by himself!) this weekend. He even slid sideways and on his belly, he thought it was so much fun.

Right now I'm on Matt's work laptop (I love you, Mr. Fluor).

Apparently there is a problem with our RAID controller. It keeps thinking that the RAID-ness is degraded and there hard drives are faulty. We thought we solved the problem, so uploaded our software, our data, and finally had the computer just right. This evening the controller failed again. In an effort to fix it, Matt did something that ultimately caused the computer to refuse to even boot.

Of course we're upset. And annoyed. And tomorrow I will try to get it fixed.

We could try to fix it ourselves, but after spending so much time on it already, we don't feel like we have anymore time (much less sanity) to invest. We'd rather do other, more important, things, like laundry and eating and sleeping. And playing with our babies, something we never feel like we've done enough, come the end of the day.

I'm going to try to go to bed. Maybe after I flush some money down the toilet, first.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Still Here

After lunch Carmen signed sleep. She was ready for a nap.

So how long until she says, "Hey, I'll see you guys later, I'm going to bed?" What? Never?

She signed socks today, but the sign isn't entirely right. Carmen's socks looks like a drunken version of shoes.

Today I watched Carmen play on the porch while I fed David. She spun around in circles until she got dizzy, wobbled around for a little bit, and then spun around again.

Meanwhile David is just being David. He can sign shoes, but still prefers to talk with his eyes. He spends his days moving his toys from one room to the other, emptying the pantry, tickling and otherwise bothering his sister, throwing the rubber mulch onto the concrete porch floor, dropping things in the bathtub, upsetting my laundry hampers and rubbing his face onto my legs until I pick him up and we hold each other eye to eye, heart to heart.

Carmen wants to be rocked all night to weather the rough seas of her anxieties. David craves that same type of physical contact all day. When he feels the chill of fear or uncertainty, he runs to me, looking for security and a respite. When he marches off to deposit a toy in the bathtub he stops and turns the corner. "Are you still there?" he seems to ask. He does his work three doors down and then runs back into the living room, burrowing into my shirt.

Yes, David, I'll be here. As long as you need me here, I'll be around.

Meanwhile, I'm going to bed. Tomorrow I need to look for a little peg man. We found the green one (I was having dreams about losing him, I was so upset!), now we're missing the blue.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Wiggly, Wriggly, Wrangly

She pantomimes peeling a banana, while looking at me with her eyebrows raised and head cocked. "Banana?" They're still green.

"Carmen, let's have bread."


Maybe at dinner.

She's figured out how to ask for other things, too. She walks to the television set and asks, "Baby?" She wants to watch Baby Signing Time. Who wants to bet Carmen will be the first one to ask to borrow the car?

Using the new computer, with a new AMD 64-bit whatever-whatever processor and a RAID controller for two Seagate hard drives. Thank goodness. I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

After a long, hard day, we drove to Whole Foods yesterday for dinner. The babies needed out of the house (again), and I wanted to eat at a place where food all over the floor didn't matter. The Whole Foods closest our house has a shaded patio swept clean by pigeons and grackles, so I never feel too guilty leaving a mess there. We were mostly alone on the patio, which was good, because C&D made more than their usual mess. After we ate (if you want to call sprinkling brown rice on the floor "eating"), we picked up a few groceries, like bananas, beans, bread. Towards the end of our shopping trip, a Jamba Juice worker suddenly blocked our way. "I saw that mess you made!" she told C&D. "Uh-huh! Good thing you ate OUTSIDE!" She must have been watching us eat through the store's fishbowl windows. "Mmm, mmm," she crossed her arms. "I know what you need!" A valium? A table to hide under? "Tell your mama that you babies want a Jamba Juice! How about banana and orange?"

Ten minutes later we left the store with our groceries and three cups of fresh juice: one for each baby, and the rest for me. Juice dribbled down our chins while C&D asked for more, more, more! Madison at Jamba Juice, thank you.

And now I'm especially excited, because yesterday I found out that Matt and his mom are getting me a juicer for my birthday. Carrots, celery, bananas, oranges, apples, mint, kale, wheeeee, I can make my own juice!

Although we still might have to visit Madison at Jamba Juice now and then, anyway.

And we'll have to visit Barry at Central Market. He made the smoothies that helped me survive my pregnancy: fresh banana, diced frozen mango, and diced frozen papaya in a coconut milk base. And he always made sure I would have a little extra because I was eating for three.

Texas watermelons were on sale last week. The babes liked eating theirs well enough, but liked playing with it more.

Easter Sunday we took the babies to church. We arrived early, in time for the congregational socializing and egg hunt. David walked in the grass with Matt while Carmen wove through the crowd, occassionally grabbing hold of a random pant leg for balance. Once church began we listened to the first part of the service from under the oak trees and then took our wiggly, wriggly, wrangly little people home for an egg hunt of our own.

It didn't occur to C&D that there might be anything unusual about the fact that somebody had scattered cascarones and plastic eggs in the front lawn. They did enjoy finding the contents, however, and for that they needed no encouragement.

That evening we decided to cut David's delicious curls. They were getting long and unruly, but Matt and I sniffled little tears, anyway. He looked so much less a baby when they were gone. David didn't seem to mind the haircut.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Guest Blogger

As our friendly computer (Clem the Data Dromedary) is in the process of being replaced (AMD 64x2 with a RAID system constantly backing up the hard drive), J. isn't able to blog. But news keeps happening, so we wanted to make sure that y'all knew about:

- Carmen and her new necklace (plastic, fit in an Easter egg, $0.25 at target). It's a tough routine. Put it on. Say "Hi" so everyone knows how cute you are. Take it off. Repeat.

- David can do the same thing, but without the "Hi."

- Tortilla soup. Well, not here yet, but breakfast was supposed to be tortillas, mango, and beans. David decided to tear up all of the tortillas, and Carmen signed "banana" and proceeded to eat one instead. So what else do you do with a bunch of torn up tortillas?

- Sneezing is apparently fun. If your brother sneezes, you need to too, even if it comes out more like a raspberry than a sneeze.

- Oh, and we're saying some words now, too. Carmen can kind of say "Banana", and even more kind of "Fish" (more like Shsth) (and of course "Hi", which gets repeated about 10 times an hour). David can do "Hi" and "Daddy", but "Daddy" doesn't really mean anything to him (blocks, fish, sister, food, etc are all apparently "Daddy".) We're doing much better on signs. Extra credit to anyone who can put together a sentance using all of the current vocabulary words: Fish, Shoe, Banana, More, All Done, Milk, Car. Yeah, OK. Time to learn some verbs!

And final news - we are nearing completion on the long process of turning our entire house over to the babies. This has taken many steps:
1) We gave them their own room, with cribs to sleep in. Yeah, right.
2) We gave them a corner of the living room to play in. Lasted as long as they couldn't figure out how to sit up.
3) We penned in a big playpen in the kitchen
4) We gated in the living room, got rid of any furniture except for a changing table and rocking chair #5 (numbers 1-4 are in the big nursery in the sky), and turned it over to them.

The final step was last weekend. We penned in our home office, and have finally turned basically everything else over to them. Well, we parents kept custody of the toilet (you have a gate the middle of your bathroom, too, don't you?) and the garage (um, Fischer-Price doesn't make a table saw for a reason), but that's it.

J. will be back in a few days...

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Vocabulary's Coming!

The Vocabulary's coming! The Vocabulary's coming!

Yesterday Carmen signed potty and banana. She and David signed orange earlier, but I haven't seen it again. "Just give me the dumb orange, Ma," they're probably thinking. "We're hungry, already!"

I should begin learning more ASL.

Last night I was eating the last of my dinner and watching Carmen run up and down the hall. She's not really running; really, she makes a too-fast trot. With her thick little legs and fat feet she looks a little like Barney Rubble when she runs, and when she turns the corner, her body leans in while her feet skitter on the hardwood floor.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Minimal or no blogging for a little bit.

For the second time in just over two years, the hard drive on my laptop has failed. As in, kaput, oops, kaplooey. Is it a case of bad luck, or is the laptop damaging the drive by running too hard or too hot? I don't know. If it's bad luck, then we just buy another hard drive (and maybe not the Fry's special, okay?). If it's a bad 'puter, then I have to decide laptop vs. desktop. And while I'm at it, I need to see if I can get a RAID controller as part of the deal, or some other way to help me deal with the next hard drive tragedy (because I'm sure it's inevitable). The machine needs to be small, as the size of my office has shrunk after making room for babies. Does the perfect solution exist? Any ideas?

We were able to recover our data (all the baby pictures were already backed up, of course!), but reloading the software and updates can take an eternity. I think I know what I'll be doing Easter morning between bites of chocolate bunny.


In other news, David called Matt "Da-dee" today. He also called the chair, the cat, and my knee by the same name. "Da-dee" might not yet mean Daddy.

If we leave the house at 6:18, David and I can be back home with breakfast tacos from Taco Cabana by 6:32. We need to do that more often.

But not tomorrow. Matt says that he will try to persuade the babies to let me take a shower before he leaves for work. I won't tell you how long it's been since I've had one!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Field Trip

Guess who signed hurt, shoe, sock, and fish today? She signed hurt when she tripped and fell. We're not sure how she figured that sign out, since "hurt" is more of a concept than an object, and the sign didn't seem to register with her until today. She knows that when she puts shoes and socks on she gets to go somewhere exciting . . . like the grocery store (what did you think I was going to say?). Then she runs to the baby gate by the front door and bounces up and down, ready for me to swoop her up and take her to the car.

Whole Foods has a glorious fish tank near the exit. C&D tried to sign fish at the tank last week, but Carmen finally made herself quite clear today when she pointed at a fish on the wall and carefully waved her hand like a swimming fish.

Guess who drank carrot juice today without spilling nary a drop? Well, no, that's not true. He used his little juice glass and drank his fill of juice (several refills), then used his last refill to experiment with gravity and fluid dynamics. I was impressed at the effort, anyway. He usually tips his glass (flow) or dunks his food in his drink (displacement) much sooner. Carmen also enjoyed the juice, but in her impatience to gulp it down spilled much more.

The carrot juice came from a trip to Central Market today. If Whole Foods is the babes' favorite grocery, Central Market is a close second. We shopped (70% dark chocolate chips, Fuji apples, guacamole, orange and carrot juice), socialized with mothers (shoes, consignment stores), grandparents (yes, they are a handful, good thing they're cute), and employees (yes, Carmen is more bossy than David). C&D pointed at other children, but only if the other children did not point first.

In the bulk section in the center of the store I found slices of pressed and dehydrated mango for C&D to busy themselves with, and presented them each with one large slice. In the bakery section of the store, they received another. By the time we arrived at the checkout line, my little babes wore orange, sticky smiles. Mango goop dripped from their fingers and coated the fronts of their shirts. I hoped no one would notice.

As I paid for our groceries, C&D sat quietly, the mango all eaten, until David started chewing on Carmen's shoulder. I'm sure they could hear her protest from the seafood department. Everyone around us laughed. What a relief that most everyone thinks babies--even when orange, sticky, and rowdy--are cute!

Grocery shopping at Central Market during the day is a friendly, leisurely, almost small-town experience. Between sipping samples of exotic coffees and freshly-baked breads, midmorning shoppers like to stop and talk, or at least take a moment to smile at the two toddlers who want to touch everything they can manage to reach. Trips to the grocery could take hours if C&D's wriggling didn't remind me that lunch was in an hour and my cold juice was growing lukewarm.

Back at the car with groceries loaded, I snapped together David's carseat buckles and saw his eyes blink slowly in the way that signals an impending nap.

Except that naptime wasn't for another two hours. I was doomed, doomed!

Good thing I had an emergency bag of rolls from Whole Foods in the car. The back seat now needs vacuuming, but I did arrive home with two wakey babes. And at least the rolls weren't sticky.

Yesterday, David gave us his first temper tantrum in public. We were in the Galleria, walking. David laughed while he was tantrumming, so it wasn't a very effective one. In fact, even without his laughing it wasn't even a particularly impressive tantrum, more like a drizzle than a thunderstorm. We were walking in the Galleria. He wanted to walk into a shoe store, and I, holding his hand, did not let him enter. He cried and let himself fall supine to the floor. Except he didn't fall to the floor completely. David doesn't like to hurt himself. So first he slackened his legs and fell on his seat, then slowly eased his back and head onto the tile. Once on the floor he screamed and rolled, trying to look angry. He must have felt a little silly, and started to laugh. I picked him up, pointed his body in another direction, and off we went.

We were at the Galleria experimenting our new harnesses.

I never thought I would own one. When I think of harnesses I imagine parents pulling their children through the mall like errant dogs, the children alternately struggling for freedom and the opportunity to catch up to their parents' long strides. But since she started walking, we've watched Carmen wrestle out of our arms and pull away our hand. What if one day we're tending to one babe, and the other runs into a crowd, under a clothing rack, up the escalator, or into the street? "Run, run, run!" their little legs say. We hope the harness will help keep the babes close by, especially when they refuse to hold our hand. And hopefully, they'll also get into the habit of staying by our sides.

At our branch library, we sometimes talk to a librarian who has twins. "Hello!" she said to David yesterday.

He stared at her and blew a slobbery raspberry.

Thanks for showing her what you're made of, kiddo.

Parenting brings many opportunities for love and all of those other Hallmark feelings (including Get Well Soon). But parenting also brings us closer to countless opportunities for embarrassing ourselves. For example:
  • Monday morning I was pushing a stroller full of groceries and sticky babies at Houston's most chi-chi supermarket. At least their clothes matched.
  • Sunday I giggled at my little boy's temper tantrum in the middle of Houston's most chi-chi mall. And this time, his clothes did not match.
  • Monday afternoon my son blew a raspberry at the nice library lady while Carmen didn't even bother waving or blowing her a kiss.
  • On the way back from the library, I stopped at the gas station. While I was filling my tank I was blowing kisses at the babes in their carseats. Then I played peak-a-boo, and stuck out my tongue. When I looked up, a girl with long hair and tall boots was laughing at me.
I'm sure I could think of more.

I have done a bad thing. Well, two.

First, after years of hearing me exalt the many pleasures of a good dark chocolate, Matt finally listened to me and tried a piece of 70% dark. And liked it. Darn. Now I have to share.

And then the other day I gave C&D chicken taquitos for breakfast. Now they want them for snack, lunch, and dinner, too. Good thing they don't know how to ask for them, yet. David calls his taquitos "hot." "Haaaaaaaah," he says, and waits for me to blow on them. I've almost always prepared them too hot for him to eat right away. "Hot" is a lot easier to say than "taquito," anyway.

David is mightily afraid of the trash truck. He screams and hides in a corner unless I am holding him as the truck passes. If the truck is on another street, he stops and looks at me, waiting. "It is coming?" he wants to know. Even the rumble of the trash can on the concrete is enough to freeze David in his tracks and produce instant tears. The trashmen wave and smile, but that seems to make no difference to the boy with my shirt in his fists. Trash day is a hard day around here.

Carmen is afraid of the pots and pans. She got into the pots and pans cabinet this evening and started to cry when she accidentally made them clang.

It's taken me two days of interruptions to write this post, and it keeps getting longer. Time to hit "publish" and get ready for bed. I think I hear Carmen awake, anyway.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Night sounds

[Water sounds coming from home stereo.]

[Rock, rock, rock. Continue rocking throughout dialogue.]

Baby - Hi.

Tired Mother - Hi, Carmen.

Baby - Hi . . . hi . . .hi.

Tired Mother - Shhhhhh. Make mimi.

Baby - Hi . . . hi . . . hi . . . hi . . . hi . . .

[Continue rocking.]

[Fade to black.]

(I know I'll miss all this when it's over.)

"Baby Wrangler"

These are the pets I love, these are the pets I love: horse, horse, horse, horse, neigh neigh neigh neigh neigh!

Yippi-yai-yo-kai-yay and howdy from Texas. A few weeks ago I was filling out a form that asked for my occupation. I wrote "baby wrangler." The entirety of my day involves feeding, leading, and herding two little babes who have learned to run far around and afield like a pair of happy little calves in spring.

Sunday morning we drove west to the George Ranch, our favorite backyard. After a detour to peer through a fence and visit Rooster the horse (above), C&D walked in circles

and chased chickens

for an hour and a half. After a year of walking and wearing our babes out and about, I enjoyed standing around and watching the babes do all the walking.

They will soon be doing all the talking, too. Carmen signs cracker, baby, book (and says "buh"), and tries to sign horse, cat, and mama (but they all look a little like milk). She still blinks all done - milk - all done - milk after she is nursing, but not as often as she did when she figured that little trick out. When she has finished eating something delicious she will often sign all done - more - all done - more. I thought at first she was just confused or babbling, but after weeks of watching her sign the same thing over and over it seems that she's trying to say that she's run out of that food and wants more of it. I apologized for being so dense. At least I understand her when she signs for milk.

David can sign baby, eat, orange, and all done now, and more very well, especially when he's eating something wonderful like gnocchi (a new favorite food). He doesn't seem to try signing too much else. He does sometimes try to say all done, and this morning said "ho(t)" when he was handling a too-hot chicken taquito.

I still haven't really heard either of them say "mama" or "daddy" in a way that makes me certain they were referring to me or to Matt. Labeling us with names is clearly not as important as making sure we know that we need to refill their plates.

Baby wranglers shop at Whole Foods. Can I just tell you how much I love my Whole Foods? Let me count the reasons why:
  1. I always get help carrying my groceries to the car. At Central Market I once had to manage four paper sacks and the double stroller; at Target I had to carry a 13-gallon trash can in one hand and push the stroller with the other. But at Whole Foods, someone always carries--and loads--my groceries for me. For that, I forgive Whole Foods for not carrying a good-tasting salsa or a decent package of corn tortillas.
  2. Whole Foods sells rotisserie chicken that C&D rejoice over. In fact, last week as we passed the hot shelf full of chickens, both C&D started extending their arms and jumping up and down in the stroller, their eyes wide. "Uh, uh, uh!" they said. I bought one, of course.
  3. I can find organic . . . everything. So I don't have to worry about pesticides when Carmen swipes our bag of oranges and begins gnawing on it.
  4. At Whole Foods works a beautiful group of checkout people who always remember us. And they don't seem to mind if some of the groceries have baby drool on them.
  5. Shoppers have access to a huge selection of fresh breads, sandwiches, salads, and a gigantic self-serve hot table for those times when we're eating dinner on the run. And guess what? Whole Foods lists the ingredients of every item. Afraid your baby gets sick on soy? Cool on canola? Done with dairy? No chances taken, here.
Hmm. Maybe we'll go shopping there tonight and eat on the patio. I need more produce, anyway.

Baby wranglers feel so proud to see their babes growing more clever every day. David can work a simple shape puzzle sometimes (like the circle, square, and triangle). Grandma Reisdorf should be proud of that, since she likes puzzles.

It's interesting to watch C&D's manual dexterity improve. After several attempts David can now slip a disc into a wooden box that resembles a simplified piggy bank. One side of the box is open so David can retrieve the disc and insert it into the slot again and again. He likes to hear the loud clack sound when the disc hits the bottom of the box. A week or two ago Carmen finally figured out how to stack rings on the ring stacker. She tried for several some frustrating, tearful days before she figured out exactly how to slide the rings over the dowel. I think the fact that David could stack the rings easily made her feel even more bothered.

Several of the rings have wound up scattered about the house, and I should get to finding them. Right now the rings only stack halfway to the top. We're missing one of David's little wooden peg men, too. I found one under the refrigerator a few weeks ago; maybeI should check there again.

David has lately been busy bending over and studying the world upside down. Carmen will do it, too, but David enjoys the view a little more. He also likes to make noises that Carmen isn't so fond of, like banging on a stock pot.

David is afraid of the trash truck's noises again, though, and will cry when the truck passes unless I'm holding him. And both C&D are afraid of the washing machine's buzzer (I haven't always used it because it really does sound awful, and so they aren't used to hearing it). A couple of weeks ago when the buzzer sounded both would cry, now they just look at me with big eyes and raised eyebrows. Dum-dum-DUM! Dum DUMMMMM! They don't like thunder, either, so I've been lucky it's been a dry spring thus far.

The day the dishwasher arrived, Carmen figured out how to climb up her slide, and then with our help was able to sit down and slide back down. We should do some more of that this weekend. She has fortunately (for the moment) given up on climbing the futon.

Baby wranglers love clean dishes. In case you were wondering, the new dishwasher is working well. It just barely fit under the kitchen countertop but did leave some awkward gaps all around, so now we're going to have to get creative with some moulding to cover them (I should look for the little peg man around the dishwasher, first). That's on the to-do list for this month.

Now I want a new washing machine. Our current one is small and wimpy and doesn't always wash well, maybe because it doesn't have as many buttons as the new Kenmore HE4t. More buttons means a better machine, doesn't it? Actually, for the $1500, I might need a washing machine to dry and hang my clothes, too. And sing lullabyes.

Duty will soon be calling; naptime is almost over.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A Day for Banana Bread

Today I took David back to Dr. Mazow for a look at his eyes. Matt had a meeting, so Carmen tagged along and I tried not to act outnumbered. Once again, David began crying soon after the doctor entered the room. Hopefully by the time the two meet again (when David turns three), the doctor will have a fresh start on making him smile.

I like Dr. Mazow, anyway.

An hour later we left the office, with a relieved David in the Mei Hip and Carmen in the stroller busy making her kitty dance. But David still felt a little annoyed at the visit, and despite the window tint in the car the morning light still bothered his freshly-dilated eyes. So as I buckled him in his carseat he cried, and cried, and cried.

That happened last time, too. He was so bothered that Dr. Mazow had poked him in the eyes (twice! in each eye!) that he screamed all the way to the car, and then he screamed in the car, all the way down Bellaire Blvd.

Fortunately, Dr. Mazow's office isn't far from Whole Foods. I really think Whole Foods is C&D's favorite place, even more so than the Galleria or the George Ranch. Two weeks ago a screaming post-op David suddenly blinked and stopped crying as soon as he noticed he was in the Whole Foods parking lot.

Today, he didn't just stop crying, he smiled. We bought some fresh rolls, some fruit, and a kolache for me. We said good morning to our favorite employees and said hello to the Big Boy. We sat in the dining area while C&D each decimated a roll and a banana. While she was eating, Carmen traded with me her piece of banana for the peel in my hand, and then took a big bite of the peel. "Oh, I see," I told her. "You don't need me to peel it for you, anymore!" So I handed her a new banana, with the skin peeled back only a little, and she ate it very happily.

I'd better be careful, I might become useless.

Once home the babes napped, played, and then began to annoy each other by fighting over a pair of rhythm sticks (apparently I need another set). I needed to get ready for lunch, so I brought David into the kitchen with me. While I was clearing the table he grabbed the biggest, fattest Fuji apple from the sack of groceries I had just brought in and took a little David-bite out of it. Then later (with still no chance to put away the groceries) I found two pears and two bananas each with one David-bite, and a bruised orange in the hall. My groceries looked as if The Very Hungry Caterpillar had just come to visit.

There is a Ramona Quimby story about Ramona finding a crate of apples in her basement, and taking a bite out of each one. Her exasperated mother makes a big batch of applesauce to rescue the abused fruit.

I had better learn how to make applesauce.

But right now I'm going to make banana bread. My bananas have suddenly turned black.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Black Bean Bonanza

What does David like best about black beans for lunch? The mess, of course. What I like best about this picture is the spoon AND fork in hand, as if holding both would help him eat all the faster. Fortunately dessert was much neater (except for the apple peels that he spit out).
Carmen is much neater (snicker, snicker). She only rubbed tomato sauce into her hair at supper today.