Saturday, May 27, 2006

Board Book Words

"Tat-ta." That is "tractor" according to a little girl who wouldn't go to sleep last night until after she sat on my lap in the dark and ate a significant number of Purely O's while the boys--Matt, David, the cat--slept.

"Sleepy." That is an adjective most frequently used to describe the little girl's mother.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I don't get it.

I don't get it.

What is this supposed to be? A Texas Two-Step? Practice walking like a peg-legged pirate? Imitating my hunched-over, stiff-legged limp in the morning? (You would limp, too, if after a long day of baby wrangling you had to sleep on the little sliver of mattress space Carmen allows me.) This video was taken yesterday.

Yesterday I also found out that Carmen doesn't like ketchup. What toddler doesn't like ketchup? I don't get it. But that's okay. She's not missing much.

David signed his first sentence-phrase the other day, "water more." He still doesn't say much, though day before yesterday he started saying "book" like Carmen: "buh" and then signing book. Sometimes he smacks his lips together for emphasis. Smack, smack, "buh," smack, smack, book. He doesn't call me Mama but has mastered stamping and saying "mamamamamamamamamamamamama" with his arms outstretched, so a name for me may finally be imminent. (Carmen just calls me "hi.")

I almost forgot that he did say a David-version of "orange" today, while he signed it. "Orn," he said, sounding at first a little surprised that what he said did, indeed, sound like a word. "Orn."

You know, oranges don't rock David to sleep, tickle him again when he asks for more, nurse him when he's hungry, buy him top-of-the-line wooden toys from Germany, or cuddle him when the scary trash truck passes by. What about saying Mommy, Mama, Ma, HEY, YOU?

I don't get it.

But that's okay. I'll wait.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Catch Up #1

Playing with my dad's F-150 the weekend after my birthday (a month ago):

Working on our aim, the same weekend. The hardest part about sitting in a chair, the babes find, is knowing exactly where to plant their butts. A month ago, Carmen wasn't especially good at it. Today their steering is better, but they still need to refine their aim.

This is the way we take a bath, take a bath, take a bath . . . We don't use the bathtub these days. The swimming pool is more comfortable for the babes, and gives Matt and I a chance to goof off and just watch.

Gotcha! David the day he figured out how to climb and stand up on the futon.

The day Carmen figured out how to rock the horse on her own.
The reviews on Amazon said it was virtually tip-proof. Good thing, because both C&D like to rock hard and fast. They can ride for nearly an hour without stopping (except to sign horse, or make clicking sounds with their tongue . . . giddy-up!).

Carmen still needs to practice taking her shirt off. She can pull up on the neck and the sleeves, but not both on the same try. So she gets stuck. She is a teensy bit frustrated here, but, bad mommy, I really wanted to catch it on camera.

Toby has become eternally patient. I think he has become so starved for attention that he will put up with the tugs, pats, and pulls (of fur, or by the tail).

David's top. He can make it spin, but hasn't yet understood that he needs to release it.

Do you think Carmen likes the juicer? This video was two weeks ago; she can sign juice very well, now.

(You can also see that we rearranged the kitchen and office again . . . sort of . . . maybe the babes will me finish by Christmas . . . or Easter?)

David with Rosie the pig at the George Ranch. Now Rosie is with the other pigs; she was just in this temporary pen to get accustomed to life on the stock farm. She's a cool pig.

On the way to Gundermann Farms today. Carmen dancing to her current favorite song and David right before settling in and taking a nap.

We bought new car seats last weekend; was closing out their stock of Britax Wizards. These seats are safer and more comfortable for the babes than their Evenflo seats, and easier for us to use, as well. Because of the headrests and the reinforced shoulder and sternum straps, we finally felt comfortable rotating the babes to the forward-facing position. "Finally!" they said.

Petting the bunnies at Gundermann Farms. Next year, will they ask to take one home?

Petting the patient Gundermann cat (and signing cat). Carmen is wearing her Preschoolians for the first time. She grew out of her Cute Baby Shoes, and that she is running well, it's time for a big-kid shoe. David is still wearing his Cute Baby Shoes. He seems to need the sensory information from his feet, still.

Singleton families have it easy. I watched them at the Water Wall a few weeks ago. While Matt and I waved at each other from opposite ends of the park, each of us chasing after a baby, young couples leisurely wandered with their one (count them, one!) toddler in tow. Or they walked easily alongside their children, at least one of whom was old enough to know how to hold hands and not try to run into the street despite a teddy-bear leash.

We laugh at the disparity, and then we wonder. If we had just one baby, would we be expecting too much out of him or her ("travels well, sleeps through the night, and tap dances, too!")? Would we be expecting too much out of ourselves at the same time ("SuperParent to the rescue, saving the world and wiping running noses in a single bound . . .")?

Maybe a set of silly twins is the perfect prescription for a pair of chronic overachievers who are compelled to do everything, all at once. These days we are impressed with ourselves just to eat dinner all together, or drive more than 30 miles without hearing a complaint. And, for now, that's probably how it should be.

The trip to the Water Wall was a study in opposites. Carmen looked up at the structure, while David looked down at the bubbling, boiling water below. Carmen ran with nowhere to go, while David walked slowly, studied, laughed at the feel of the Water Wall's spray on his face. They even ran in opposite directions, leaving Matt and I to just occasionally wave at each other from many yards away. When we left, Carmen tried to wriggle out of Matt's arms, her fat legs kicking the air.
That day, after an unusually long nap, David woke up a different baby. Tentative David became Brave David. He tumbled and rolled and jumped in the bed, letting himself fall on the pillow mattress. Later in the day, when we took him outside, he made a discovery: he could climb up the slide and go down--all by himself. David slid down,

then he slid down sideways and later face-first (on purpose or by accident, I'll never know). Some landings were smoother than others.

We were glad David had 4-5" of playground mulch to fall on (and we got that cart out of way, in case he tried that maneuver again!).

Since then, he's figured out how to enter the slide from the back (through the door, and a scramble onto the platform, no steps) and the top round hole on the side. And his high-altitude climbing conquests continue. Today he figured out how to climb on top of an overturned laundry basket, and was caught trying to climb from the Learning Tower onto the kitchen table. He just needs a bit of a nudge to scramble into the Learning Tower on his own. A couple of weeks ago I found him trying to climb into the bathtub (both he and Carmen have already fallen into an empty tub from leaning too far in). Of course, he can be up on the bed (and back down again) in a toddler-wink, and is a master of climbing up (and down, and up, and down) on the futon when he thinks I'm not paying attention. And then he jumps, of course . . . or runs . . . so Matt and I moved the rug under the futon, and put at least an inch of very thick carpet padding under the rug. At least someone's pride will be the only thing injured if C&D fall.

Carmen realized yesterday that she could jump and fall on the rug to no ill effect. Once on her back she rolls on the carpet, back and forth, hysterically giggling and twirling her hands while kicking her legs into the air.

We will be signing up for the July tumbling class at HGA. We can't wait.

In an effort to dissuade the babes from hopping like fleas all over our furniture, and in recognition that (like fleas) they needed to jump, hop, and otherwise bounce, we bought a moonwalk on the way back from the George Ranch a couple of weeks ago. No, not a Michael Jackson moonwalk. I mean a moonwalk, a bouncy-bounce, bounce-house, an oversized inflatable playpen.

We felt so extravagantly suburban buying such a big piece of inflatable PUL polyester. What next, a minivan? But, of course, for the babes --and an attempt to retrieve our sanity--anything.

The babes have mixed feelings about the bouncy. On the one hand, they love it.

On the other hand, they have watched it inflate and deflate. And they are certain the bouncy is possessed. The sight of the bouncy grotesquely moving and filling with air is enough to send C&D into fits. They run away, but then run back . . . they can't NOT take a look. The fits make using the bouncy difficult when Matt isn't home. The bouncy is good for at least an hour of play, so this is a very sad thing (for me, anyway).

Now we are almost all caught up.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Children ‘should sleep with parents until they’re five’

Fine, but only if Carmen stops hogging the king-size bed.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Oh, yeah.

I forgot.

Matt reminded me that we are on our third rice cooker. So add that to yesterday's list.

But Cuisinart paid for the replacements.

More women should have babies at home, not in hospital, says Health Secretary . . .

Sunday, May 14, 2006

We went to the George Ranch today. Of course. What better way to spend a sunny day? We visited the horses and Carmen was so happy to see them that she blew them kisses. Then she asked, in sign, where were the cat and sheep? The Big Red Barn has cats and sheep. After spending time with the horses and cattle (and no cats or sheep to be found), Carmen then asked for the dog and pig, so we walked to the 1830's stock farm, the place with Rosie the pig and Henry the dog and too many chickens.

Of course it's probably not a good idea to give a toddler everything she wants, but Matt and I are so happy to see her sign her little wishes and desires that we are more than happy to grant them.

After we acquainted ourselves with the local fauna, C&D climbed into and out of a small bowl dug into the earth, sometimes rolling in the thick grass. Topography of any kind is a wonder for a toddler native to Houston.

Some visitors came to see the farm (after all, it's a historical exhibit, not the babes' ranch house) and David wandered amongst them for a while, happy for the company. They spoke French, but David didn't seem to notice. He's become quite the sociable fellow.

And he doesn't mind pig-licks, dog-sniffs, and horse-snorts, unlike his sister.

Carmen's new ASL words recently include juice, farm, flower, bath, shirt, pants, chicken, and a host of others.

David signs horse, bath, shirt, water, more, banana, socks, shoes, book . . . he's working hard to catch up!

Other highlights of the weekend:
  • Fiona came to visit. She signed to Carmen and Carmen tried to sign back by twirling her hands and waving them around. It reminded me of the time when I, at maybe about four years old, tried to talk to the neighbor children in Spanish. "Ocho, ocho, ocho," I said, hanging on the chain link fence and giving them my best at polite Spanish-language conversation. They laughed, but not too hard.
  • David and Carmen have each made a habit of going shopping with Matt on the weekends. The trips are generally short, and Matt only takes one out at a time (usually while the other is napping). The highlight of the expedition is always that the babes get to hold Matt's hand and help shop.
  • David can now not only slide down the slide, but climb up onto it, too. All by himself. Smart, brave boy!
  • Carmen is trying to learn how to fall asleep without the rocking chair. We're on our sixth. I'm not sure which is worse, rocking all night or watching her squirm?

The washing machine repairman was at our house this week. Matt reminded me that since the babies have been born, we have replaced:
one dishwasher
four rocking chairs
one washing machine
one washing machine transmission
one computer
one car (I told Matt that Saturn wasn't going to work!)

and I'm sure I could think of something else. This is why having children is expensive. But those giggles? Priceless. Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Straight to the landfill

The computer is still not doing everything it's supposed do, but we're mostly just dealing with it. Uploading the pictures and whatnot is going to be harder for a while, but maybe I can try to post a few tomorrow.

In any case, it's not going straight to the landfill like a toy I came across tonight. What a waste of plastic and red fur.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

I want a Mac

A very expensive, very fast, guaranteed-to-work-all-the-time-especially-during-baby-bedtime kind of Mac.

But I won't.

It's just that I have a growing collection of photos and videos that I want to post (and not just for your benefit), but I can't. I think this is because when we upgraded the motherboard's BIOS to try to get the RAID controller to work (it never did work), we apparently broke the computer's ability to talk in USB-speak. Drives that worked when we first got the computer now don't.

And then . . . this afternoon I could see the photos on the card, but I wasn't able to label them correctly because my Camera and Scanner Wizard was missing (and labeling them individually is a pain). Thinking maybe Matt ran a registry cleaner on here (he's tried everything, lately, to get this thing to behave like it's supposed to), I just added the lines for the wizard back in.

And now my computer can't see my card at all. Maybe the problem wasn't the registry, but the USB-BIOS-whatever-thing? I don't know.

Back to the old registry. Tomorrow. I think I know enough to do that. I don't have the energy to do it tonight.

This is driving me crazy. Can you tell? I just want to eBay this machine or take it back or something and buy a PC-For-Dummies or something that is guaranteed to work (might never happen, as long as I use Microsoft products?) and not bother me during the very small window of time that I have to myself to peaceably sit in front of my computer.

I probably broke the laptop by running something that made it overheat, and now I brought home a computer that I apparently shouldn't have bought because I chose a motherboard and other vital components other by the advice of the sales geek (nice, but did he really know what he was talking about?) while rocking C&D in the stroller and watching them drop crumbs from their Sweet Seeduction rolls all over the geek-store floor. The computer doesn't work the way it was supposed to even though the sales guy said of course it would, it works even worse because I updated the BIOS just like their El Cheapo technical support told me to, and now I broke the registry.

Do you hear that? That's the sound of me hitting my head against the wall.

Oink, oink. I'm going to make like the animals of The Big Red Barn and go to sleep (". . . and there they were all night long sound asleep in the big red barn. Only the mice were left to play rustling and squeaking in the hay . . ."). Tomorrow is another day.

And while I try to sleep, I'll be thinking. Remember when a 20MB hard drive was a big deal, amazing, wow-wow-wow? I wonder what the babies will be using when they are 29 years old, and will it be any more easy to use?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Matt forgot . . .

Matt forgot to tell the story of Steve. So I'll make sure to get to it.

Matt also forgot to say that Carmen can also sign good/thank you (but sometimes she blows a kiss as an equivalent sign), cracker, pig, ball, dog, diaper, cat (and she says, "ta!"), water (looks like eat, sometimes), milk, and she even thinks she can sign pear. Except that she doesn't sign anything that looks like pear, she signs bear. Pear, bear. Sounds close. I guess it means she's listening (and we had better behave ourselves). Rooster, horse, and cow all look very alike, too, involving some wiggling about the ears. When she signs horse, though, she tends to also say "hess," which I guess to a Carmen sounds much like "horse." Although one time she did call a picture of a rooster "horse." (Of course, a red horse at the George Ranch is named Rooster . . . no wonder she's confused.) She's never made click sounds for the rooster picture, though (with her tongue, you know, like, click-click, giddyup.)

Tom Cruise bought an ultrasound machine to see his baby grow; I would pay a pretty penny to see my babies think.

A couple of weeks ago we received a hard rain the morning, with thunder. The babies stopped and watched me every time they heard the thunder rumble. "Rain," I said, signing rain. This morning it rained--and Carmen let us know she noticed. Rain, she signed, rain. How did she remember something that I had already almost forgotten?

She also asks for books. A lot. At any time. I brought out a frog puppet and said, "I'm the Wide-Mouthed frog!" Book, she signed back, over and over again until I put the puppet away (saying "A lot of good you are!") and read The Wide-Mouthed Frog. Three times. I don't want to tell you how often she has had me read the farm animals book while she sits on her potty. It has been too many. She sits and sits, without any consideration for how long she has been sitting there, doing nothing except making me stand around and read the book. I wonder what benefit she is extracting out of the process, exactly. I know she has the book memorized, because before I'm on to the next page she's already signing the animal that will appear there. Of course, if I set her down with the book on the zafu, she just gnaws on the pages. So much for that.

Another hallmark of the Carmen baby brain is that she likes to take shortcuts. David has a toy that is basically a box with a slot, and little wooden discs slip inside the slot. When David inserts the disk, the disc falls into the box with a clank. The box is open on one end, so David can fish out the disc to insert it through the top again. Carmen can't figure out how to insert the disc into the slot, so she just places it straight into the box via the open side. And then claps.

Carmen, Carmen, Carmen. What has David been doing? He has been very busy. It is hard work to empty my drawers, throw handfulls of rubber mulch here and there on the porch, practice stepping up and down the back stoop, throw toys over and through the baby gates installed throughout the house, crawl under tables and get stuck and unable to get out, spit water like a fountain, stack blocks (seven tall!), spin tops, chew on the windowsill while staring out the window (don't worry, we put a rubber strip there so he wouldn't eat any paint), jump on various pillows, take hearty tastes of his sister and I (ow! teeth!), grab my face with two tomato-saucey hands while he gives me a kiss, share his meals with me (even after he's chewed on it a bit), eat cookies while sister sleeps, dance wildly when he sees the Happy Feet trailer, clap and bob when he hears his favorite songs, even when he's sitting in the carseat, tackle his big Raggedy Ann dolls, bang on the storm door, and point at various things while babbling something that sounds very important. He can consistently sign wash hands, more, ball, fish, hat, and laughs and waves his hands around for all the rest.

Yeah. He's a little busy.

Okay, the story of Steve. I don't know the story, exactly, because I did not grow up hearing it (apparently, again and again and again). But the gist of the story is that one day Steve was jumping on the bed, and fell down and hit his head and there was blood EVERYWHERE and he had to get stitches. Matt's dad tells it, maybe he will be nice enough to write out it as a comment to the blog so I am sure to get it right.

That way I will be ready to say it again and again, because, you see, C&D have figured out how to climb onto the bed and couch. David learned first, and Carmen has just recently figured out how to get up there, too. They jump, and jump, and jump, and then when they are finished jumping they fling themselves onto the bed, falling every which way. Of course, jumping on the bed is no good, and I am certain that one day they are going to forget that the bed or couch has finite borders, and they are going to painfully fling themselves right off of it.

Of course, C&D aren't quite ready to care about or make sense of the story of Steve, so for now Matt and I will have to practice our best broken-record renditions of "Couch not for jumping. Couch is for sitting. Please sit down on the couch." or, "Bed not for jumping. Bed for sleeping (yeah, right, champion sleeper Carmen says). Lie down on the bed." But we will have the story of Steve ready.

The allure of the couch and the bed is that they are squishy and bouncy and it doesn't hurt when you fall like it does on the floor. The slide and rubber mulch outside has certainly helped with C&D's bouncy inclinations, but they will probably be attending a gymnastics class as soon to help get those ants out of their pants. The class mostly involves a lot of bouncing on various thicknesses of foam, which should be exactly what the babies are wanting to do these days. Until then, we'll keep those parental record players going.

I'm also looking for dance and music classes to start in the next several months. The babes love to move, and Carmen already seems to have a very good sense of rhythm (she can clap in time to Ojos Asi, her currently-favorite song, perfectly . . . no, she hasn't seen the video . . . and won't).

I don't just want a funny little toddler movement class, though, where we sing Itsy Bitsy Spider or bang tambourines in turn. I'm thinking of a ballet folklorico class. Why simply bob and wiggle to the Hokey Pokey when you can twirl, stomp, and forego your "inside voice" for a hearty grito? I haven't found a toddler folklorico class, however, despite living in such a big, busy city. I might have to find an instructor and start one. I think it would be a worthy project, and much more fun than any other movement class I could find.

A Suzuki music class will start in the fall. Goody.

The computer is better today. It actually wasn't sick, after all. The wireless mouse's signal-thing had drifted to far away, and it made the computer act like all of its 1GB of RAM had suddenly melted. But now, it's okay. Good thing. I have some important writing to do in the next couple of months; this is no time for computer problems. Several pictures were temporarily lost (some were on my mom's CF card, others just need to be re-downloaded) in our recent hard drive disasters, so pictures will come slowly, but surely. The babes are still here, though, never fear, and are doing just fine.

Coming up in the next edition of the Pitter Patter Periodical:
  • a post I never finished because the 'puter died and took my pictures with it.
  • David and the slide
  • retiring the cribs -- why not?
  • Elizabeth Pantley says hello

Guest Blogger Returns!

Ok, so you're a 2+ foot tall, 25+ pound little girl who's been watching our oh-so-interesting life for months on end, and you finally learn enough sign language to start expressing yourself. What would you say?

This is what Carmen says (all sign language, a few half-spoken words sometimes along with):

- Banana (usually, I want a ...)
- Fish (We have fish wallpaper, fish pictures, stuffed fish and plastic fish to play with in the water table. Not as many fish as camels, but then the sign for fish is easier to learn. And you can splash around the fish toys, which you can't do with camels). Whole Foods has a big fish tank, too.
- Doll
- Bear / Bunny (These signs look pretty similar. Sometimes the stuffed bunny gets called a Bear, but she doesn't seem to mind)
- Book. (We just went to the library's used book sale and bought something like 70 books. We're using this sign a lot)
- More (usually, more food...)
- Potty (sometimes, this is a news report of past activity. More often, and more exciting, it is becoming a forecast of things to come. About as reliable as the weather forecast, but allows better planning on the part of the parents)
- Bread
- Tired (usually in the context of yes I'm tired but no, no nap for me!)
- Rain
- Boat (One of our neighbors is an avid fisherman. Any baby who understands fish and boat is an OK baby by him)
- Car (usually, let's go for a ride in it and go somewhere and let me run around and make trouble)
- Shoe (usually a precursor to the above, so one of our favorite words)
- Sock
- Shirt
- Hat (Yep, we look darn cute in a hat)
- Bath (often an outside activity, with toy Boat and Fish involved)
- Wash Hands (usually used to mean water in general, but at least gets us in the right ballpark)
- Brush Hair
- Brush Teeth (don't know how clean they get, but a toothbrush is really fun to stick in your mouth)
- Horse (usually, I want to ride my rocking horse!)

We're even getting some sentances. Last weekend, she signed "Boat" and "Fish". Took me a while to figure out that she was talking about the toy boat and fish that live in the (normally dry) water table. When I took the cover off, she found the boat and fish, and then signed "water". Her water table was filled up soon after, and she had a great afternoon.

David's starting to sign some, too, but just enough to get his point across. "Banana" and "Hat" when he wants one, but otherwise he'll let the conversation thing go. He's more interested in figuring out how to get the toothpaste tube out of the box, and then back in (with the box closed and the little tab where it goes). Carmen is more excited about talking, and I feel like we have John Madden in our house doing commentary. "He's washing his hands! Now he's brushing teeth! And he just ate a banana! And put on a new shirt! Touchdown!"

Guest Blogger now has his own login for the blog (see just below). You may see more, time permitting

Friday, May 05, 2006

Computer Sick Again

Computer's sick again.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Memo from McPOP