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We usually reserve liquids for a cup, open top in small amounts, or if in large amounts, in a cup with a lid and straw. But we figured we had to show them how to eat cereal from a bowl at some point, so why not Sunday afternoon after-the-nap snack?

For six months after their birth, I referred to Mateo and Harper by names other than their own.

Though we knew their names within days of confirming that I would soon give birth to a boy and a girl, in late pregnancy, we called them Eagle and Birdie, upon their birth, Bruiser and Birdie, and later, Tato and Carpet. It wasn’t until their six month birthday that I revealed their actual names on this blog.

In her early days, Harper was also Itty Bitty, Baby Girl, and Squeaker. In addition to Harper, we also call her Cita, Harpercita, Charlie, and Idgy. Mateo was Mr. Big due to his 7lb 2 oz frame (and that was two weeks early!). He also still goes by Tato Bear, Tato, Tater Tot, Mater, BoBo, Bozie, Bozie Bear, Shizz, and BoShizzle. They both go by Huevitos (“little eggs” in Spanish).

In June 2009, I received an email from a man who was researching the history of his children’s names. Apparently he’d seen a tweet from George Stephanopoulos that he had a daughter named Harper and the former drummer of Nirvana had a daughter named Harper, too. Political pundit, musical genius, YOU SEE WHERE THIS IS GOING, DON’T YOU? Because next thing you know he ran into my blog.

Not only is his daughter’s name Harper, but his son’s name is Mateo, too. For them, he tells me, Mateo exploded as a boy’s name and he and his wife agreed on it right away. As for Harper, it was a name his wife pushed for and he only got on board towards the end of her pregnancy.

Over the course of a couple emails, he wrote that he had been searching for a post about how we chose the names we did and never found one. That would be because until today there wasn’t one.

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She Might Be Mine

I’m starting to admit that yes, she does look like me, even though she is way more cute. WAY.

We took the kids to their first dental appointment shortly after they turned fourteen months. Because there’s nothing as fun as holding your child’s arms down while a stranger pokes foreign objects into their mouths. While you take pictures with the other hand. Hello? BLOG!

Mateo @ Dentist

Teeth are such a hangup for me that I DREAM ABOUT THEM. Of my two recurring nightmares is that my teeth begin crumbling inside my mouth as I’m either trying to communicate or receive important information, and I lose the ability to enunciate. The other one is that I’m in a plane crash and I have to keep passengers calm and triage them by the severity of their injuries. I’m never injured. And at least once, I have dreamed I was in a plane crash and my teeth are falling out while I’m trying to care for the injured. I KNOW, RIGHT?

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Fireworks, by Mateo

Fireworks, By Harper

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Two weekends ago, in a flash of courage and insanity, I drove the kids to San Antonio for their cousin Sara’s first birthday party. Alone. This after a week of contemplating whether or not to it, and my sister saying “I would never drive with both kids alone, but I hope you will.” Jennifer had to work that weekend and was then off to another city for some solitude and vacation time to play in a golf tournament. So I figured I could venture out for a less-than-twenty-eight-hours-seven-of-those-spent-in-a-car trip, or stay at home. If it was great, then great, If it was horrible, well, blogging is cheaper than therapy.

My sister and her husband had Just. That. Week. finished putting in a beautiful flagstone patio, and leveling off the backyard playground, the location where one colorful butterfly piñata, caught in the web of fifteen or more children, would meet its fate.

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It was incredibly hot, but the only people who seemed to notice were the parents assigned to chase their kids around outside. Mateo and Harper’s gift to Sara was a big hit, though I’m not sure the other guests necessarily came prepared for wardrobe changes. Ooops. I’m putting that one down in the Cool Tia column.

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Other than driving alone with 14 month olds for up to four hours one way, I was concerned with how they might respond to more-people-per-square-foot than you’d find surrounding the ice cream truck in summer, but neither cried. Harper, the – of late – more shy of the two, stayed a little closer to me and grandma. But gosh darn it was she cute in her pink Converse All-Stars.

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And Mateo the ham basked in all the attention like a little pig rolling around in the mud. He was most intrigued by the big kids, seen here coming out of the room where they convened.

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The party was fun, except for the part where I had to chase down Mateo after he escaped from an opening in the gate leading to the woods behind my sister’s house. Were any other kids doing that? NO.

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And add to the milestones, I kept the kids out until after 6:00 p.m. – SHOCKER! – before heading back to my mom’s house. My sweet mom who got up at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday morning to make us homemade tortillas for egg and sausage tacos. Then again, she shut the garage door before I was out of the driveway, and was probably back in bed before I got to the end of the street.

Oh, the drive? Let’s just say DVDs are of no interest to the kids (though thanks two moms from my neighborhood group for letting us borrow the DVD player and Planet Earth DVDs). And that snack traps filled with baby trail mix attached to the carseats with toy links are no guarantee when you have a kid who can unlink those links. While mom is in the front seat driving seventy. The last hour of both legs of the trip were nothing short of horrible, but I am so glad we went.

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Fishing

Near sunset on Saturday, I snapped the above photo of Jennifer fishing off the dock trying to catch bass with no-MSG/no-nitrate hot dogs.

The kids didn’t care for them either.

What the photo doesn’t communicate is the sound of the portobello and yellow onions, and the lime and rosemary marinated ribs I had sizzling on the patio grill. Or the hum of tiny fans defeated and resigned to simply move hot air around from one space to the other on the deck.

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In the three hours leading up to this veil of relaxation, however, there was much tripping and falling and tears and redirecting attention. Babyhood is full of firsts, and this was our first overnight trip away from home or grandma’s with walking toddlers. And one does not appreciate the conveniences of a babyproofed home until one stays in a home that isn’t. Mateo was constantly drawn to the cabinets that had household cleaners and bug killers. At least he was kind enough to bring me the stainless steel spray bottle from who knows which room. Harper was fond of the cabinets with pyrex glassware, and of hanging on and rattling the wrought iron console table. The one with fifteen photo frames and two lamps on it.

It was quickly culminating into An Early Bedtime but from 7:15 to 10:00, Harper woke up screaming no less than six times, be it the unfamiliar shadows, or her brother’s rhythmically thumping his foot to fall asleep, or who knows what. Each time, we had to go in and hold her, and she’d fall asleep and then we’d put her down and then she’d wake up screaming shortly thereafter. The kids and I have colds, so I started to think Ear Infection, but no, I think it was being overtired combined with a new environment. She’s our more sensitive sleeper.

Somewhere between cleaning up the kitchen and showers, Jennifer and I had decided we were headed back home after breakfast the next morning. Our plans had been to stay at our friend’s lakehouse through Sunday afternoon, maybe take a dip in the lake, and generally relax with our children. BUT WHO WERE WE KIDDING?

We were home by 10:30 a.m., less than twenty hours after we had left.

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We went to San Antonio for Memorial Day weekend where you got to visit with all your cousins, even giving X a ride on your wagon. We went to Sea World and let’s just say that that went as well as can be expected on a too-hot-no-breeze-past-the-naptime-thunderstorm-approaching-overcrowded-holiday-weekend. We lasted the Shamu show and time enough to snack on some peas and polenta. It’s a good thing we have season passes, otherwise we would have forced you stay and have a good time. Because that’s what parents do.

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In and out and in and out and in and out of the sliding glass door at Aunt Stacie’s lakehouse, Lake Londa Lynn. June 14, 2009.

We inadvertently dropped the last remaining bottle that Saturday morning, the one you’d been getting before your morning nap For. Like. Ever. It was our intention to wait until after the trip to yank your chains with a change in routine, but, well…oops. So since we forgot it that day, we just kept forgetting it. And you hardly noticed but for the fact that you wake up hungry from the nap. Nothing some milk and a graham cracker can’t cure. And now we can mark 13 months and 6 days (May 23rd) as the last day you got a bottle.

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A well deserved respite, coupled with goldfish crackers, after successfully climbing onto the chair on Aunt Stacie’s deck. Lake Londa Lynn, June 14, 2009.

This was also the weekend, Mateo, you decided you were done with crawling. Your grandma Yoyi will tell you that it is because you were at her house. She believes eeeeeevery grandchild milestone happens at her house. And that’s when I remind her it was on her hearth that you got your first Ouch! above your left eye. Your manner of transportation has become all chest out, one foot in front of the other, and at least one thing in your hands, usually a plastic strawberry or a plastic golf club. You’ll say “HAR-puh”, the last syllable like the airy “p” in the word “pull”. It’s cute. And surreal.

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Not even a week after that, Harper, you started walking. Everywhere. Just. Like. That. It’s like you spent months and months observing, studying, and then boom, okay, you can do that. Combined with you calling out to your brother, “TAY-oh!”, it’s pretty clear who is calling the shots right now. Getting you up in the mornings is a hoot. You’ll usually play in your crib for fifteen or so minutes before we come get you. When we open the door, you’ll see us, then start to gather all your Woobies and your blanket into your arms and mouth and then stand up, ready to be picked up. We oblige. At which time you immediately point to the clock and say “wha da?” and we say “Clock”. On the wall is a charcoal picture of John Lennon, a piece of Matou’s artistic talents. You will point to it and we’ll say “that is John Lennon!” And you will scream and cheer and kick your feet against us and grab my neck tightly. For this, we know what it must be like to be stars.

Around the same time, I had to replace my camera lens after a little mishap.

And just this past weekend, we went to a friend’s lakehouse where you went on your first boat ride. That did not go over well. What with the constricting life vests and us refraining you from climbing over the boat wall and into the water. Yes, we are THAT MEAN.

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I found a green shoe, it’s one, not two, from me, to you. Lake Londa Lynn, June 14, 2009.

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If you enter the house from the garage, there is a tiny foyer and a coat closet. On the entry wall, there are hooks for our keys and for the toy rings that we use to hook your snack traps to your stroller. Immediately to the left is a door leading to the former guest room, now Harper’s room. If you instead continue forward, you walk down a long hallway with the washer/dryer closet housed underneath the stairway. At the end of the hall is a small landing for the stairs. To the left is a tiny foyer with the former nursery, now Mateo’s room to the right, and the bathroom to the left (across the hall from Mateo’s room). If you intead continue forward, you end up in the former office now play area. And then there’s a door leading to the back yard. In the bathroom, there is the room with the sinks and to the right is the door leading to the area with the tub and toilet. If you are standing at Mateo’s doorway and the bathroom doors are open, you can see into Harper’s room.

I give this layout because it is important in explaining your flight patterns.

Each evening after your baths, we’ll close the door to the tub area, but leave the bathroom door and the two bedroom doors open. Matou and I will sit in the play area and we’ll talk about our day while you go about your evening routine which goes like this:

One leading, one following, you will go through the bathroom, maybe try to open a couple drawers, move onto Harper’s room, play your version of peek-a-boo on the side of the crib, ending with one of you falling onto the mattress on the floor, giggling until the other of you does the same. Then we’ll hear a brief silence. And then bare feet clapping against the stained concrete. Within moments, you’ll appear at the far end of the hall and make visual contact with us. Which you think, of course, is hilarious. The invisible starting gun will fire and here you come, walking towards us, picking up speed as you go along. You’ll descend like crop dusters, arms out for balance, and take a sharp turn that teases us and just barely misses walls. When you do that, you might split, one heading to the bathroom again in a big rectangle, the other to Mateo’s room to toss yourself onto the mattress in his room, meeting back somewhere in the middle with more squeals. More often than not, you both go into Mateo’s room, do the giggle and laugh mattress bit, and then start the process over. Sometimes, instead of crop dusting, you’ll have picked up so much speed from walking down the hall that you’ll kamikaze into us from about two feet away. We have to be prepared for this because what usually ends in kisses and laughter can instead end in tears if your start your descent from too far away.

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This may go on for a couple rounds until during a pass of crop dusting, we’ll sign the sign for Milk. At which time you will put on the brakes – drop to your butts – and walk giddily towards us for your cup of milk. It’s during this time that we can read to you. But the vision of you sitting on our laps as we do so is not yet a reality. Too much to do. So basically Matou and I just read to each other.

When your milk is gone, we’ll let you go a few more rounds of playing and walking and sometimes we’ll make up songs for you. We can tell you are getting tired when out of your bedrooms you’ve now grabbed Raffy and Woobie. It’s then that we can call for “let’s brush your teeth” and you will both meet us, from wherever you might be, at the bathroom sink waiting to grab your respective toothbrushes. We’re long away from mastering the actual brushing part, but we sure do let you suck on them while we get you into your nighttime diapers. Keeping the peace and all that. After that, it’s kisses all around and we’ll each take one of you and put you down to bed.

This thirty minute or so ritual is surely a sacred part of my day.

It’s been a month now that we separated your sleeping quarters. The first night was much harder on me than it was on you, but since then, all has been well. One of the neat things about having you in different spaces is how you’ll look and listen for one another each morning. And when you see each other for the first time in the day, a smile will come across your faces so new and tender. Being witness to this is better than watching the sun rise.

Soaking up every moment we can,

Mommy & Matou

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A little boat ride.

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We went over to the godmammas house yesterday for some sun, swim, and grilling (and a very refreshing cranberry/lime/vodka mix…mmmmm). Thank you AJ & KF for such a splendid Sunday afternoon!

Everybody had a great time and we even stayed out until 7:00 p.m. That’s getting marked on a calendar somewhere, right up there with College Graduation, and Birth.

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I was just discussing with a friend the other day how people are prone to (over)-exaggerating the developmental milestones of their children. Like seriously, is there any baby that isn’t a genius? How about the ten month old who has fifteen words and can speak in three- or four- word sentences. Or the walker at seven months. Or the one whose parents insist they’ve seen early indications that there child will be a neurosurgeon based on the well-intentioned use of the pincer grasp. Or the future concert pianist because my god the kid did SCALES on the fisher-price xylaphone. Or the thirteen month old who knows all the shapes, colors, and numbers. Maybe even the 4 year old who would have made the final of the National Spelling Bee but for the fact of that pesky age requirement. Country of origin, please? Can you use that in a sentence? Part of speech?

Anyway.

Always keeping it real-time without any fluff, Harper has begun walking. Thirteen months and a week or so. She began taking a step or two and then two- to three- steps a couple weeks ago. But that’s about all we’d see. We thought she’d go from cruising, to bear crawling, to standing/take a couple steps, to stand/bear-crawl/stand/step/fall/bear-crawl/stand sequence similar to the progression her brother took. Nope.

If she falls, she stands back up and does it again. Period. As my sister said, “it looks like she really studied it before she started doing it” and for the life of me, neither of us can figure out where she’d get that kind of behavior from. (By the way, excuse the mess in the play area. It was a hurried evening and I was in the process of gathering a bag of the shoes that no longer fit them).

More Photos!

The Aforementioned

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