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The summer is winding down and you’ve managed to get through it despite more hundred degree days than ones in the nineties. And we dare not say “outside” unless there is a near immediate expectation that that is where we are heading because OH MY GOD! Sure, it means we’re out early in the morning, after breakfast, and you are usually in your pajamas. Or it might mean early evening dips in the tiny plastic pool while we water dehydrated plants outside. Or we spray the hose water onto the slide while you chase the streams down it into a puddle of mud. That’s some days. Other days are lots of reading and rearranging plasticware and Beyonce.

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Suddenly, here you are sixteen months old, more interest in doing things yourself, more steady on your feet, more frustration because we don’t understand you, and, gasp!, less morning naps.

You share more. More than before, which was a little more than Never. You will hand each other toys and books and pass out hugs like they are cheddar bunnies. You laugh at each other and play together and we only have to say “soft touches” about nine hundred times in a day instead of one thousand. Progress! And for every time that you do something in sync, there are a hundred ways that you express your uniqueness.

Mateo, you now know that you should never ever ever ever never grab Harper’s pink puppy unless it is for the express purpose of taking it to her directly and immediately. Because she will Hunt. You. Down. You are go go go and as soon as we say “let’s go to the car”, we can see your thinker tinking, and you’ll head off and grab some keys or a cell phone and head for the garage and then wait by the car door. You are constantly a mess of sweat and rosy cheeks. Even indoors.

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You play alone very well, sitting in your chair and working on whatever it is you are working on, sometimes a puzzle, sometimes stacking toys, sometimes blocks. Sometimes moving the chair itself. You’re such a big boy you want to sit in our regular dining chairs and will climb up one one all by yourself. But when you are hungry LORD HELP US because you want something and you want it now, usually approaching us, your head to between our knees, hands wrapped around the back of them, in Dire. Need. Of. Food. saying “mama, mama, MOOOOOORE!” You’ll sign “more” and “eat” or say “milk”, and recently sign “Plane”. And that’s when we stopped to listen…sure enough, they do fly over our house every once in a while.

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When you are tired, you grab a cloth diaper (how lucky/cheaply did we get on that one?!), Raffy, and a book and go to your room, waiting for one of us to follow. “You’ve been shaking your head “no” for a while now, and now sometimes you’ll nod your head “yes”. With intention. But it’s a bit like rubbing your belly and patting your head because sometimes your no means yes and your yes means no. And if you can figure out the difference, you’ll go a long way towards living with women.

Harper, you are a tempestuous princess, all needing every ounce of your sleep and then dancing away Hop, Hop, Hop, Little Harper! If we say “night night” you will grab your pink puppy and a penguin and lay them down on the floor and lay your head on them. And if we wait too long, you will say “nah nah” and do it anyway. At bedtime, we lay you down with two fleece woobies, one across your shoulder and one crowning your head and you’ll fall asleep stroking them. And when we check on you a few hours later, they’ve disappeared from sight, a mound of fleece and blankets beneath you, tush all up in the air. You are the cutest rolly polly sleeper ever. You love to look at flash cards, the sign language ones we bought for ourselves that fell on the floor one day. Because of them, you now say “happy” and “sun” and “star” and could sit in our laps going through cards and practicing signs just as much as you like reading I Love You This Much or The Big Red Barn.

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You are a keen observer and a hater of toothbrushes. And you like to eat your meals with one knee up. One of your favorite activities is putting rocks into a plastic container, moving and sorting things. If we bounce a ball to you just right, you can catch it and will throw it back. You love to leap off the soft blocks into our arms and everything is “whoooooooaaaaaaaaa!”

At night, we love how you both will crawl up or back yourself into our laps with a book, especially after bath time, all leaned up against our chest, warm and fuzzy headed. And before bed, goodnight kisses for everyone. EVEN EACH OTHER. And we’re just so excited that you’re doing something together that doesn’t result in a meltdown. You enjoy watching bigger kids do bigger kid things. With each passing day, you make us into kids again, soaking in the simplest bits of God’s creation.

We love you,

Mommy and Matou

Dear Mateo & Harper,

Last week, you turned 15 months old. WHAT? It’s hard to believe that a year ago today we were propping you up for a picture, all noodlee and unstable, and now you are practically running. Which, of course, results in bumps and bruises, tears and hugs.

Our weekends have been filled with trips away. Like the one we took to San Antonio – just me and you – for your cousin Sara’s birthday party. (Note to self: avoid solo trips when possible.) We bought her a water table just like yours, and in return, you came home with a party favor in the form of a ten day cold.

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On the tail end of that, we intended to spend a weekend at our friend’s lakehouse, but what with all the console table shaking and the taking-two-hours-to-fall-asleep business, we headed back home no sooner than we arrived.

When we haven’t been out of town, we’ve spent an afternoon of the weekend (okay, an hour each time) at the Children’s Museum. You love it because it has a slide to rocket down and tunnels to crawl through and cars to drive. We love it because it wears you out and assures us that you’ll nap well that afternoon. Which means we get to, too. And we got to visit your MawMaw Marketta and PawPaw Jimmy a few weeks ago. I’m not sure which part you liked best: playing with your cousins, eating homemade chicken n dumplin’s, or swimming.

What Makes You Think I Ate Any Of Your Haagen Dazs Belgian Chocolate Ice Cream?

You had your first dental visit in the past month. And while that wasn’t the most pleasant experience, you sure did enjoy your Olive Garden pizza afterwards. I think you forgave us. And, of course, we couldn’t reach your fifteen month milestone without a visit to the doctor for a well-baby checkup and more shots. Lest I forget, your 15 month stats are as follows: Mateo – 32 1/2 inches (85%tile) and 26 lb 12 oz (80%tile). Harper – 31 inches (70%tile) and 23 lb 5 oz (60%tile).

Your newest favorite together activity? Open-faced hand bops on the head of the other as a consequence of egregious theft of a toy. “Soft touches” and “wait” and “it’s ____’s turn” is having an impact just to the left of No Impact At All. And just when we wonder if you’ll ever get along, you go about playing chase and giving hugs that turn into tackles with so many giggles that Matou and I get lost in them ourselves.

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We have favorite songs, too. Mateo, your favorite is Wheels On The Bus, and Harper, yours is Row, Row, Row Your Boat. We all do Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. And you can both readily point to your Ears, Belly Button, Toes, Tongue, Eyes, and Nose. Unless the pediatrician asks you. And then you just stare.

Mateo, your fascination with gadgets continues, as evidenced by you managing to lock Matou’s cell phone and us having to replace the permanently disabled SIM card.

There are times where we’ll tell you not to stand on the table and we’ll be forced to pick you up and remove you and then you’ll go find your blackberry and text away. Matou and I are pretty sure you’re sending a message to the nanny, something along the lines of “B, is’t Mon yet? Pck me up their crzy, I’ll b by the door. ps bring goldfish n milk. lots of milk. ~M.”

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You sure have a sweet streak, though. Our favorite is when you bring us a book at the end of the day and cannonball directly onto a lap for reading time. And your hugs, OH MY GOSH your hugs! Getting you up in the morning is such a joy. You are so happy and laughing and talkative. Until the diaper change, that is.

You love to read books and we’ll often find you sitting quietly in front of the bookshelf, books strewn around you, flipping through them and having more to say about them than there are words on the page. Sometimes you’ll say a word we understand, like “Truck”.

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Harper, you are the family sleeper. Still. I suppose all that cuteness and energy requires large amounts of sleep because you’re determined to take two naps a day and if we mess with them, you mess with us. You are sweet and dangerous in one package.

If your brother has something you want, you will take it and walk away. If he takes something of yours, you whack him. Hard. You also like climbing up on the softplay blocks, balancing and then jump jump jump jump jump. Fascinating. Considering you didn’t even roll over until 9 1/2 months and didn’t start crawling until almost 10 months. We know who will be my roller coaster buddy.

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Your vocabulary is beginning to rumble under the surface and we expect an explosion any time. In just the last two weeks, you’ve added “Duck” and “Gur” (girl) and “Train” and “Truck” and “Godt” (your word for Dog, go figure).

Early stages of toddlerhood are not at all easy on me and Matou. Lots of times some situation is diverted and we’ll put you to bed at the end of the day and then we’re all “Whoa, what was THAT? How should we handle THAT in the future?” And we can tell you are watching, yearning for and pushing against consistency and independence. As many loops as we get thrown for, we can only imagine how overwhelmed you might feel at times, with Options, and New Surfaces To Climb, and No, and That Tastes Yummy, and Words coming at you in different directions every six to eight minutes of every day. Just know that we’re here for you, even if oftentimes that means not getting what you want. We promise to always, though, give you what you need.

Love,

Mommy & Matou

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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.

Dear Mateo and Harper,

There you go sneaking out on us already, you turning 13 months over the weekend, us catching you as you crawl back in the window before dawn. So much has gone on since you turned a year old. To celebrate the milestone, we had a spectacular crawfish boil birthday party for you. It was so spectacular even the skies clapped and the clouds wept in joy. And after the storms passed through, all the birds sang songs of welcomed you as you began your second year of life.

Two days after the party we had your one-year checkup and Mateo, you were 31 3/4 inches (95th percentile) and 24 lbs 12 oz (75th percentile), though it sure feels like it’s closer to forty pounds. Or eighty. Harper, you were 29 3/4 inches (75th percentile) and 21 lbs 7 oz (55th percentile), a two-inches-in-three-months stretch that didn’t go unnoticed since it doesn’t seem too long ago that you could barely pull up on the window sill and now you can peak over the top, albeit on your tip toes. One day you can tell us the jokes you share with the fence and windows next door because wow, you find them hilarious.

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A couple of weeks ago we went to your cousin Batton’s 5th birthday party. When we arrived, no less than 10 grownups met us at the door to greet you, and you showed your appreciation by dropping your bottom lips, going red-faced, crying, and holding on to us for your dear life. I’m just glad I had clipped your nails the day before. Judging from your response, being approached by people you don’t know or haven’t seen in a while , all wanting to touch you or hold you, hands outstretched, probably feels a lot like this. Undoubtedly, this is a reaction based on both a developmental milestone and the fact that you stay at home during the week with a nanny. But newsflash kids: THIS ISN’T HOW WE TREAT FAMILY. Plus, they give us money for diapers and such so unless you’re up for early potty training, get happy around grandma and grandpa.

Speaking of training, we’ve been at it with using forks and spoons and open-top cups for a while. Long gone are the days of pureed foods. You are both eating all solids all the time, almost all of it homemade, things like mini-pizzas on English muffins, sandwiches, Bolognese, pasta salad with chicken, pretty much anything.

Lunch

Your favorites include calabacitas (chicken with squash), ground turkey, muesli, pancakes, egg beaters, raisin bread, peas, and pears. I’ll go ahead and admit right here, though, that there are certainly days when we seriously consider raising you on Cheerios and water because fostering independence is a lot of work and MY GOD, YOU GUYS ARE MESSY!

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We’ve moved you back to the table, out of the high chairs which seem to encourage food sweeping and dumping. Plus, we can watch an entire DVR episode of The Office in the time it takes to clean all the nooks and crannies in the chairs. The ick-factor of self-feeding is up there with the Projectile Vomiting Months and no sooner does the floor get cleaned up that BAM! it’s time for the next meal. The wood floors will be cursing us for years to come. Nevertheless, when you can walk, we’ll get some of those step up chairs that scoot up to the table so we can teach you how to get on and off by yourself.

Ah, yes, the walking. Mateo, you are gaining tons of confidence in your walking. One day soon you’ll figure out that each step doesn’t have to be faster than the one before, which leads to imbalance, which leads to falling.

Monkey Toes

And then once you get the hang of it, you’ll take off running. Harper, as usual, you do things when you are gosh darn ready to do them: less than two weeks ago you started standing unassisted, now you are taking two and three steps, arms outstretched.

Let’s see, what else?

Mateo, you love making books disappear almost as much as you enjoy reading the books. You like to push the cart around, turning it, and pushing it again. You want to climb everything and this makes me uneasy. When you are happy, your eyes melt glaciers and your smile makes time stand still.

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Teeth

You are holding steady with eight teeth and THANK GOODNESS because drama follows your teething like a Denny’s is to LaQuinta. When you get mad, you fall slow motion to the ground and bang your forehead to the ground. Which invariable makes you cry because it hurt worse than the offense of having put you down on the ground when you weren’t ready. You love to clap, pulling your sister’s hair, and you enjoy waving hi and bye to people.

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Your words include “mamamamama”, “look”, and “go go go”. This Saturday, on the way to the doctor to rule out an ear infection, I sang you the Itsy Bitsy Spider. AND YOU SIGNED PARTS OF IT (“twinkle”, “wonder”, “world”, and “sky”. I cried. You also sign “finished” (like when we’ve barely taken off your diaper to change it) and “more” (usually for water or food).

Harper, like your brother, you sign “finished”. Your spoken words consist mainly of “mamama”, “LOOK!” and “this”. One time, though, your Matou and I looked at each other with wide eyes because we swear we both heard you say “Mateo” all three syllables clear as day as you were trying to get his attention.

You also have a litany of inaudible words because you speak them through closed teeth. The pressure probably feels good what with the SIXTEEN teeth filling up your mouth. That’s only four less than the total primary teeth you’ll have, and eight more than the average 13 month old. You are very vocal and squealy, particularly if suddenly, out of nowhere, you decide you MUST HAVE what your brother has at that exact moment in time and space.

Tussle

When you get mad, you scream at a volume and pitch that makes me very happy for Pella double paned windows. You are into pointing, clapping, hitting your brother’s head, giving high fives, and waving bye and hi. You are diva and mischief wrapped into one.

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As for the both of you, you love playing in the water. So much so that we paid retail for a water table because even the purgiest of purgers are holding on to theirs in preparation for the Texas summer. We went to a park downtown and I have never seen you both so happy getting soaking wet and chasing jets of jumping water.

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We’ve been to the zoo several times, and you especially like riding in your wagon at the zoo. We go through nearly a gallon of milk a week. Already. Which makes us very glad we didn’t sell the extra refrigerator currently in the garage housing your Matou’s Sprite Zero, garden burgers, and a multitude of frozen veggies. Your new play kitchen (a fabulous mom-to-mom purchase!) provides much entertainment. That is until you both feel you have to be standing in front of the same square millimeter tabletop space.

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You both love grabbing, tossing, and chasing a little blue ball around that we took from your grandma gave you. You enjoy discovering reflections and yourself in the newly installed plexi mirror in the play area.

Reflections

Saturday morning during naptime, I sneaked a peak of you on the monitor and it got me all nostalgic. Nostalgic for the times that a morning nap consisted of ACTUAL SLEEPING on your part. These days, though, the morning nap is less and less sleep and more in the range of an hour’s rest. And that works fine except when one of you wants to sleep and the other doesn’t. Which is why about the time this gets published, your Matou will have moved your cribs into separate rooms. Though we love the ten or so minutes you keep one another entertained as you wake up in the mornings or after naps, one of you is more often than not keeping the other from sleeping. So we’re taking a deep breath and seeing how a separation goes first.

We’re slowly acknowledging that the morning nap is going away. Another thing going away? The bottle. We’ve been down to one bottle for about six weeks – the morning pre-nap bottle. We’re on the last can of formula and then that’s it. Yep, you’re growing into toddlers. But you’ll always, always, always be our babies.

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Love,

Mommy and Matou

After three days of cold and rain, Mother Nature opened up the beginning of your 11th month this morning with a bright sun, full blooms, and crisp spring air. Not to be upstaged, in celebration of 47 weeks and 5 days, I made you a spinach and cheese frittata while Matou got your diapers changed and brought you up from the nursery. We sang you Happy Birthday, but we had to accelerate the tempo because all you wanted was BREAKFAST, DAMMIT!

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It has been a very busy month for all of us. Matou’s work is getting busier as the weather gets warmer, and I have been in the midst of my busiest time at work. None of this has gone unnoticed. Part of this is that developmentally, you’re asserting both your independence – through cruising and crawling and discovering – as well as your intentional dependence on us, your two mommies.

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And the combination results in having the two of you stop, drop, and crawl towards me or your Matou at the end of the day and pull up, one on each leg, when we walk in the door, accompanied by tons of whining because you both want to be held. With faces like these looking up to you, peeing will have to wait.

Boy, Boy, Boy
Bruise/cut above left eye, prunes on face, dirty sweatshirt. all before 7:30 a.m..

I Need My Diaper Changed

While it’s incredibly cute, it’s incredibly painful to only see you sometimes 30 minutes in a day. This month, there have been too many days where I have not seen you at all during waking hours and it has left me in tears on more than one occasion, feeling the angst and stress many working mom’s feel about being spread too thin and not Being There enough for each person. Thankfully, Matou has been able to spend more time with you in the mornings so we are grateful for that.

A Very Good Garage Sale Find (the giraffe, not the boy)

That’s not to say that there haven’t been some nice breaks, though. The day I had jury duty, I got out early and I scooped you both up and we went to the zoo for the first time. And you’ve been once since then, this time taking Matou. Look at you two all spiffy with your zoo memberships!

At The Zoo
Looking at the new baby giraffe.

This past month you’ve been to two birthday parties, too. Already seems your hang out with the older, cooler crowd because both parties were for two-year olds.

Mateo, you are an exercise of contradictions. You might be wildly crawling over and climbing up anything that you can find, or trying to open cabinets or, going down head-first on the slide,

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or moving quickly across the kitchen so you can shake the gate at the top of the stairs. Alternatively, you might be quietly putting the shapes into their respective holes, or reading a book to yourself, mumbling quietly, as if you are pondering the publisher’s color choices.

Tato Reading A Single Page

Or, you might be sending a text message to your homies. You’ll also spend a lot of time pushing cars accompanied by a “jjjjjjjjjjjshhhhhh” as you move around the living room. All in all, we’ve concluded this increased mobility has helped you find a little peace because you can get yourself to where you want to be.

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Harper, were it that we understood what you are saying! You speak with so much intention and inflection and facial expression.

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But you will not accessorize! We try to put a hat on to protect you from the sun or a bow in your hair and you will immediately rip it off.

No Accessories, Please

You enjoy swiping the playtable clear, waiting for someone to put toys back onto the table, so that you can send them flying once more. You find this absolutely hilarious. And like your brother, you take calls or send messages on your cell phone several times per day.

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In fact, one time you got a hold of my BlackBerry and somehow changed the language on the system. You are also exerting your independence with food and drink, meaning that you may not take it from us, but if we put it on the tray in front of you, you will grab it and eat it yourself. And as for drinking from your cup and straw, you seem to like spitting out the liquid as much as you like taking it in. And you do NOT want anything but water from your cup. We’re all working through this.

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Speaking of eating, we’re using traditional high chairs now. A good friend is allowing us to “store” them for her. All the wetness of your eating and drinking was starting to wear on our wood table, so we’ve had to move some furniture around to accommodate the high chairs.

Oh, and words. We parents have a tendency to hear what we want to hear and see what we want to see. And so on that note, I’ll say that, Harper, you say “kick” around the soccer ball and “this” and you’ve begun to say “mamamamama” when you are tired. Mateo, you say “google” when you read or send text messages and “jjjjjjjjsshhhh” (you’re version of vroooom! With the cars). But the reason I am more skeptical about these ‘first words’ is that would mean your first word, with no physical association in our household, was ‘dadadaa’. It’s all still very cute, though.

We had our first Daylight Savings earlier this month and we took advantage of this to make it seem like you were going to bed later and getting up later. We figured since the schedule would probably be jacked up, we might was well go full-throttle. So that Sunday night, my birthday, we changed the routine and eliminated the night bottle. We now do baths shortly after dinner and have book and play time for a little while afterwards, with some formula in a cup, until we see that you’re tired. That could be anywhere between 6:30 and 7:15, and Harper’s woobie usually buys us the 15 minutes that gets us to the average of 6:45.

Woobie Time!

A quick brushing of the quickly-sprouted-but-no-new-additions-in-several-weeks teeth and cuddle time in the dark settles you off for night sleep. Until we place you in the cribs – and then you’ll pop up like those little groundhogs at Chuck-E-Cheese. Matou and I quickly leave the room to clean up the bathroom and kitchen and once we’re upstairs, we’ll check on you on the monitor and sometimes we’ll watch you, mesmerized by the sight of you – both facing each other, just looking, and occasionally talking to one another for a few minutes until, you each lay down, and fall asleep like tiny little frogs.

Day Shy Of 11 Months

Our hearts all a’ribbit,

Mommy and Matou

Dear Finn & Iggy,

Every time we finally get used to saying you are so-and-so months old, you go off an get another month older. And now as of today, you’re ten months old, which is the same as 43 weeks and 5 days old, which is the same as WHERE DID OUR BABIES GO? Matou and I are just stood still by the thought of it but we can’t do that too long because by then you’ve crawled past us and we forgot to close the gate at the top of the steps.

Though we did baby-proof the house, you’ve employed yourselves, pro bono, of course, as quality control experts set on testing nearly every inch of furniture, cabinetry, and anything else you can find at 35 inches and below. On a scale of First through Third Place, we’ve been a bit humbled by our Thank You For Participating ribbons. All the big structures are secured, doors, cabinets, drawers, stairs, are accounted for. But we have missed things like that felt pad that came loose from the bottom foot of the end table, or that piece of dried mud that got dislodged from a shoe, or that ONE SINGLE LAMP CORD that’s visible – you WILL find it. There are times, Mateo, when we find you underneath the dining table, sitting up with an object in your pincer grasp pleading with us “You see this Cheerio? This could have been a gum wrapper or cardboard or a nail! But since it is a Cheerio, I will EAT this Cheerio.”

Dining protests are manageable, though we are experiencing some resistance on that front. Earlier, it was resistance from Mateo in transitioning from pureed food to cut up food. Now, Harper, you’ll start out strong, but when you don’t want any, you lock it down! We’re working on this. Mateo is happy to step in and eat the remainder of your meal, but we need you to get some nutritional value, too. In the meantime, your newest menu items have included yogurt and pot roast and chicken and ground beef and tofu and vegetarian “meat” and tiny bits of cheddar cheese. All this self-feeding is great for promoting independence but I’ll be really honest, it’s gross and slimy.

Profuse diarrhea and projectile vomit affected me less.

You’ve been pulling up to standing for a while now. We’re trying to find objects or areas of the house where you can practice this and your newfound desire to cruise.

Standing

No sooner than we were getting use to that, but you are now both crawling. I had hamsters as a kid and I used to LOVE watching them in their tanks and tunnels for long periods. Watching you two crawl around from item to item, or even better, towards us is SO MUCH BETTER than hamsters.

This month, you went on your first airplane ride. The trip to New Orleans was 55 minutes in the air, but I probably spent 10 times that amount of time over the course of a month getting ideas from other parents, planning out logistics, and making packing checklists. The planning paid off, but it was that much sweeter since you were great travelers.

GoGoBabyz

A couple weeks before we went, we purchased a jogging stroller. Not only would we need it for the Mardi Gras Half Marathon (Matou ran that one) and 5K (you two and I ran that one), but we knew we’d take it to the park here in town, too. I’m sure we’ll buy you lots of stuff over the years, but this one will go down as one of my all time favorite and practical purchases.

The race was at 7 a.m. on Sunday, February 1. Which is usually when you’re finishing up your breakfast and playing for a couple hours before taking your morning nap. But you were champs for the race, seemed to be warm and comfortable on the chilly morning, and you even came in first place in your age division.

At The Race Start

While we were there, your Aunt Susan hosted a party at her house and we got to see lots of family and friends. Many were meeting you for the first time. It was a quick three-day trip, but it will always be your first plane ride.

On January 19, we went in for your 9-month checkup. Mateo, you were 29 1/4 inches long (80th %ile) and 21 lbs 15 oz (75th%ile). Harper, you were 27 1/2 inches long (50th%ile) and 19 lb 13 oz (60th%ile). You are growing splendidly and we are proud.

Mateo, you are a couple weeks ahead of your sister in the crawling department. You have taken to crawling up and down the stairs that go into the living room. However, you also seem to think you can crawl down the stairs head first.

MISCHIEVOUS

This works fine with the simple two steps, but makes my blood pressure rise when I start thinking of the stairs that lead downstairs. We’re working on teaching you how to go down backwards now. And just when we’ve made progress on that, I find you climbing up the bookshelf.

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Changing your diaper has become a workout. But we are very desperate sneaky and figured out that you love your toothbrush so much, if we give it to you to hold, you will have entire conversations with the toothbrush and we can change your diaper without you even noticing.

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That’s the good part. The bad part is that you don’t want to let go of your toothbrush after we’re done.

Piercing Blues

Harper, only a couple weeks after finally rolling over, you have taken to crawling. You are very deliberate in your methodology – lift hand high, lift knee up and over, repeat. It’s adorable.

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Standing is one of your new favorite activities and you also find this hilarious. Equally adorable. You are clapping, still dancing, and giving high 5’s.

Really?!

At some point in the last couple weeks, the back of your first earrings came off. We have no idea where it is and that really sucks. But rather than let the earring fall out, we replaced it with some pearls one of your grandma’s gave you. The problem is, we can’t get you still enough to unscrew the other earring back to replace that earring with pearls. And we forgot this fact when we went to church on Sunday, you with one gold stud and one pearl.

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Storytime

We’ve made some changes to the landscape of the house in the last couple weeks. First, we sold the baby grand piano. Which we know you’ve noticed because you seem to be loving all your new crawl space. We also moved some soft play shapes to the play area downstairs. And, just yesterday, we purchased a used playhouse/climb-n-slide thingy from a family off of Craigslist. What with spring and summer approaching, it’s a little something to play on outside. In short, our home has become ALL ABOUT YOU. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Yes, all this change and it’s not even matching the rapidity of your growth and development. It’s such a blessing to watch your adventurous spirits, but we’re already missing our little babies.

With all our love,

Mommy & Matou

Dear RaJenBabies,

Yesterday was your 9 month well-checkup. This visit marked eight weeks since our last trip to the clinic, a welcomed hiatus considering at that time we had been to the clinic four consecutive Monday’s due to illness. Pulling you out of daycare played no small part in the reduction of colds and ear infections. It’s funny to look back a year ago and we were taking tours of childcare centers, and now you’re at home with a nanny. Number three. But so far, things are going well.

This time last year, you were only 13 weeks from being born and I wrote about your taste buds developing. And my are we working them now! To date, you’ve eaten apples, bananas, blueberries, mangos, pears, cantelope, peaches, prunes, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, cauliflower, butternut squash, green beans, zucchini, broccoli, eggplant, spinach, cucumber, lentils, brown rice, chickpeas, black eyed peas, gluten-free bread, and couscous. And almost overnight, just last week, you started picking up small pieces of food and feeding yourself bits of pears, bread, and barley biter biscuits. In the next couple days and weeks, we’ll introduce yogurt and maybe some cottage cheese. And it’s about now, when we look into your closet, that I feel that they shouldn’t even bother making clothes for 8-12 month olds because this teetering with independence in feeding is very very messy.

We love listening in on your as you awaken usually some time between 5:30am and 6:15am. We can hear you coo-ing and babbling and talking to each other. Mateo, you even pull down your crib bumper to see if anyone is coming in the door. And when no one does, your volume increases over the minutes. By 6:15, I am ready for work and Matou and I go downstairs to get you up, diaper changed, and ready for breakfast. Besides seeing you when I get home, it is probably my favorite time of the day.

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In the last couple weeks, both of you have started to pull up on things, getting to a knee and the other leg stretched outward, like you are stretching your hamstrings for a run. More recently, you’ll get to two knees. Sometimes, to a planted foot and one knee. And on at least one ocassion, all the way to two feet. This is an exciting development for both of you, but there are two consequences to this activity: the unsteadiness leads inevitably to a fall or head bonk; and, we’re learning that not a single “encourages pulling up” toy can withstand the sheer force of an eager and exploring baby. The only thing that can temporarily handle you pushing and pulling is the little zebra MaMa Janet brought over.

You are definitely into stranger danger, uneasy of too many faces at once, or unfamiliar faces. Dropping you at the church nursery while we go home and nap and have breakfast to the santuary is not as easy as it used to be. We stopped by the obstetrician’s office yesterday, on the way to your well checkup. You must have remembered her pulling you out of your comfortable cave because neither of you greeted her enthusiastically.

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The good thing is that within a few minutes – or twenty – and with the security of our hugs, you warm up to them. Very important when, say, it comes to grandparents since they’re the ones you’ll have to ask for that thing that we won’t get you.

You both seem to enjoy when we read to you and you help us by turning the pages. Texture books, mirror me books, and flap books are your current favorites. Mateo, you like to mostly snake around on your belly. And Harper, you like to mostly sit – and it gives you great joy to hold something that your brother wants up high, waving it over your head. I’m not sure that this is conscious or not, but it is hilarious.

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We try to mix up the toys available, and not put too many down at once. You have your favorites, too.

Mateo, you still love your snail – the one you loved at daycare and I found on the internet for you. And you also love the the window on the Laugh and Learn Home. You can be in whatever mood in whatever location of the room, and with one lift of the window, you’ll make your way to it so you can move it while it goes “UUUP!” “Dooooooooown!” over and over and over again. And again. And just to be sure, again.

As of yesterday, Mateo, you are weighing in at 21 lb 15 oz, and 29 1/4 inches long. In just 14 days, two more teeth have erupted and that now makes seven teeth. You have made it quite impossible for us to ignore this fact by maintaining a guiness record-worthy whining that sounds like a constipated hyena, broken up only by the necessity to breathe in more air to start all over again. Most of the time, I’m not even sure you are aware you are doing it because you’ll whine while playing with a toy, rolling around the living room, turning up the volume if you make eye contact with an adult. Clearly, there are no vision problems.

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Harper, you are now weighing in at 19 lb 12.5 oz and 27 1/4 inches long. Your favorite toy lately is the Busy Ball Choo Choo train. You love to pull the balls out, hold them, dance with them, and put them back in the train. And then watch intently as they rise again, only for you to pull them out. Again. And the music, ah, the music. You love to dance to it. Yes, you dance to almost all rhythmic sounds, but you get down to the Choo Choo.

Not sure what the deal is with fleece, but YOU LOVE IT. If one of us is wearing a fleece pullover, you will bite it, shake your head, and laugh. We bought you a cutsie, not inexpensive “lovie” for you to sleep with and it turns out all you want is the sleep sack with the broken zipper. So we cut it up, had a friend sew the edges, and you’ve taken to sleeping with a small fleece woobie across your face. This frightens me to no end, but it is how you like to sleep. So at night, we’ll move it to the side and sure enough, before we go to bed, it’s over your face again, hands over your head. So be it.

Just when I was about to be concerned, at 8 ½ months, you FINALLY rolled over on your own, with no external motivation nor assistance from us! It’s About Time! This has resulted in you, at some point in the night, sleeping on your belly. In fact, you have been sleeping on your belly for a couple of weeks now.

You also laugh. Often, and with no notice. We don’t know what you’re laughing at 90% of the time you are laughing, but we sure hope you keep that sense of joy.

Not surprisingly, Dr. McC said “they’re getting sooooooo BIIIIIGGGGG!” yesterday when we went to show you off. Because we get to see you both everyday, though not nearly as much as we’d like, it’s hard to make sure we absorb each new development in character and growth without it being diluted in the day-to-day bustle. It’s hard to put it all in perspective. I try to grasp onto how huge each moment is, but it’s like no matter how hard I swim with the river of amazement, I never quite reach the fullness of wonder and awe each of those moments deserves. You push us to be more. To be better.

Love,

Mommy & Matou

Dear Mateo & Harper,

The year 2008 has come to a close and here you are eight and a half months this side of Heaven. So, yeah, I’ve been meaning to write you a monthly letter akin to the weekly one’s I did when you were in my belly. And now it has taken me eight months to write the very first one. But this one, THIS one, I wasn’t going to let past me because this particular one has lots of meaning.

All in all, it’s been an incredible year. Today is January 1, 2009. It marks a new year, a new beginning. Most significant, for me, is that…

you have now been
on the OUTSIDE of my belly
EXACTLY ONE DAY LONGER
than you were on the INSIDE.

This should be so exciting, an incredible and miraculous milestone. And IT IS! You are thirty-seven weeks old! But there is a twinge of sadness knowing that you are growing so fast, developing so quickly, that this is only an inkling of how quickly time will continue to pass. So I promise you that I will be better about documenting the milestones. In the meantime, here’s a brief recap of 2008 post-RJBs.

For starters, this time last year, you were 20 weeks or so and all we could see of you was black and white images on an ultrasound screen. Oh sure, we were in love with you then. But now? Now, it’s grown just as much as you have.

April – You were born! (16th, 37 weeks gestation).
Mateo
Harper

May – We sent out your birth announcements and the reflux began (around the 25th). We would watch you for hours on end, just sleeping and feeding you, and trying to learn your every tiny feature.

June – Matou legally adopted you! (6th) I started transitioning back to work (23rd) a few days a week and you stayed home with a nanny. Your cousin, Sara, was born (24th). You met your great-grandmother, Mama Betty (28th). You threw up. A lot.

July – You moved out of Size 1 diapers (23rd-ish). Your cousin, Xavier, was born (28th). And on that very same day, you started daycare. You threw up. A lot. You smiled with intention.

August – Matou turned 33 (17th). Harper sprouted two teeth (14th). You were with all your cousins on Matou’s side for the first time – Bailey, Sterling, Batton, Breanna (17th). You discovered your toes and loved to put them in your mouth. You started to notice each other. Your coo’s and your laughter melted our hearts. Almost overnight, the throws of reflux disappeared.

September – Almost five weeks after starting daycare, you both got your first ear infections (2nd). You experienced your first hurricane evacuation and stayed at Grandma Yoyi’s for ten days. There, you got to meet all your cousins on my side of the family (13th-ish). You tried your first solids, rice cereal 15th-ish). You were baptized (28th). Harper started blowing raspberries. Mateo loved his toes and enjoyed rocking back and forth on his back. Harper started sitting up unassisted, though certainly wobbly. You both loved the jumparoo.

October – Officially started solids (rice cereal 6th, sweet potatoes 16th). We had your 6 month appointment and also stopped by the IVF clinic to introduce you to the staff that helped us get you here (20th). Harper did her first sign: Milk/Eat (26th). We took pictures at a pumpkin patch! You dressed up as the Lion (Harper) and the Scarecrow (Mateo) from the Wizard of Oz for Halloween (31st). You got in the infant swings at the park for the first time. Mateo sucked his thumb, the tip of it, for all of a few days. We took a deep breath and stopped swaddling you at night.

November – Mateo got a really bad stomach bug that nearly landed us in a hospital. Mommy got sick, too. Mateo did his first sign: Milk/Eat (9th). Ear infections #4 & #5 for Mateo and #2 for Harper (17th). It was a really sick month, all around. The highlight was that Barack Obama was elected president.

December – We took you out of daycare to stay home with a nanny. We’ve had nearly a month illness-free, and you seem to like it at home. Of course, the challenge is providing fresh air and varied activity so you don’t get bored. We’re on our second, going into our third nanny. Each of them has taken incredible care for you. Harper, you now have SEVEN teeth. And Mateo, you have four with a fifth one peeking through. Harper, you still love to dance dance dance to any music you hear, even if it’s music that we don’t. You have no desire to roll over, but you you’ll sleep on your side every once in a while. You’re an expert sitter-upper and though you still dislike tummy time, you push up quite well and scooch backwards on the floor. This, unfortunately, irritates you to no end. Harper, when we put you to sleep, you tend to wake up each night at almost exactly 7:38 p.m. with a scream that can make anyone jump. Usually, you put yourself back to sleep, or maybe one of us will rock you gently from side to side but not picking you up. New Year’s Eve, though, you didn’t stop screaming until Matou came to get you at which time you promptly threw up in your crib, had to get changed, and then acted like it was party-time.

Christmas

Mateo, you are scooting on your butt to get you to the thing you want to get. Usually, that thing is me or Matou sitting nearby on the floor. And as soon as you are within arms reach, you grab and start pulling. Pulling up. In fact, you are trying to pull up on everything these days. You’ve made it to your knees. And you’ve made it to one knee and one foot. You are very active on the floor on your tummy. We put you in one place sitting up, and the next thing we know, you are 6 feet away, facing the opposite direction, rocking on your belly. Which reminds me, we need to babyproof. And put your crib mattress down a level. Speaking of your crib, we watch you at night because you are like an alligator in your sleep. If we made a time-elapsed video, you’d look like an ant bed of a thousand ants. But it would only be you.

You both continue to amaze us in so many ways. We talk about you in the mornings. We talk about you in the going to bed. We love you so much and look forward to the months ahead.

Love,

Mommy & Matou

Dear RaJenBabies,

What will you look like? What will your hair look like? How will your hands lay while you sleep? Will 10:00 p.m. still be your most active time? Will you have innies or outies? We’re about to start learning you, something we’ll continue to do over our lifetimes. And what eager students we are.

You see, around the time this post gets published, you’ll have had many a tender hand delivering you, measuring you, cleaning you, welcoming you to the outside world. It’ll be a lot of activity, much of it not so welcome as such a stark contrast to the cozy dark womb from which you grew.

I won’t be able to hold you right away, but Matou will. Her voice you’ve responded to for the last several months, her touch you’ve snuggled against. And you’ll know you are home.

And in the coming days, you’ll be tenderly cradled and lovingly gazed upon by other’s who have been a part in growing you. Some will do so in person, some will do so in thoughts and well wishes, some will do so in prayer. But not without all of them – family, friends, neighbors, our church – would we be where we are today.

RaJen Babies, welcome to our world.

Mommy and Matou

Dear RaJenBabies,

This last week has been challenging. I’ve developed this rash-like itchiness that is called PUPPPS. I probably don’t let you sleep very well at night because I wake myself up, scratching my belly so much that it’s bleeding. At Monday’s doctor appointment, the doctor considered it severe enough to prescribe some medication and a stronger topical steroidal ointment. And although it’s not harming you, it really wears on me knowing that it’s passing through to you. We’re in the delicate time zone of between-36-and-37-weeks (37 Weeks is term for twins) and so this balancing, of trying to obtain relief for me while minimizing the impact to you is very tricky. Do we delivery you sooner because my blood pressure is creeping up? Or because the burning/itching is so intolerable? Or do we give me medications that pass to you, but in so doing gives you an opportunity to grow another golden 24 hours at a time? This is like walking a tightwire.

We’re taking it day-to-day now, though, and thankfully, today is a better day than yesterday was. And hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day than today. So that’s progress. And the greatest thing? The greatest thing is that the two of you are snug and doing well in the womb. All the more reason to continue baking you just a little longer.

I guess, these last days in my belly, it’s really hit me. Hit me that we’re about to be parents to you forever and ever. Hit me that life as me and Matou and the two of you know it will be forever altered. And we’re excited, and honestly, a little apprehensive. Not scared because we don’t want you on the outside, but because we want to be the best parents to you both, and yet, we have no instruction manual or experience.

We are so grateful that God has picked us to be your parents. Everything is so temporary. And we’re just blessed to borrow the miracles that are you during our time on Earth.

No matter what, we’ll be seeing you within the next seven to ten days, our little RaJen Creations.

There is so much we want to say to you, me and Matou. But I don’t think we’d recognize the words if they were blocking the stairs in all capitals and bright colors. But this we promise you, we are ever ready to shower you with love and affection. And that is a universal language.

Mommy and Matou

More Photos!

The Aforementioned

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