My name is Rachel, and in elementary and early junior high, I so wanted a different name. Something beautiful, like Lauren. Or Katherine, but with a Y. Or Alexandria. But there I was…Rachel.

With no middle name.

Oh, I had nicknames. I went by “Whiskers” in my elementary school CYO softball/basketball/soccer teams. I know, intimidating! Was “Ace” when I took up tennis. “Smach” with a long a, later shortened to “Rach” in youth group. “Rubin” like ‘roobin’ as a college Young Life Leader. Or, if I was in trouble at home, “Raquel!!” Each name enveloped in specific, transitional, and memorable periods of my life.

In late 2000, I met Jennifer. And in late 2001 we moved to Houston. And that’s where Jennifer roped us (translation: ME!) into making executive gift baskets for a client of hers. They needed 100 of them. Within 10 days. I’m still livid about it, but the point is that’s where I first came up with RaJen Creation. “Ra” for Rachel, and “Jen” for Jennifer. And “Creation” for Creation because before that first basket I was all thinking: Gift Baskets! Crawfish Boils! Photography! The next Christmas, we (translation: I!) used the logo title on cute little jars filled with homemade salsa as Christmas gifts to co-workers. And so it just made sense to continue on with the name when I started this blog to chronicle our journey to conceive. Because didn’t “Creation” fit just perfectly trying to have a baby?

Except that I had no idea how popular the name “Rajen”, pronounced rah-jhen, is. In India. And I’m all, no, it’s RaJen, like ray-jen. And Google pronounces both them same. Seriously. Go browse it.

And then three years went by and I decide I’m going to revamp the website because I obviously am not stretched out thin enough. And though it hasn’t been as quick a process as I liked, and though it’s not completely finished, I’m going to go ahead and take it live. Because keeping two websites is tricky and I don’t know enough code to go importing and exporting dangling posts.

One of the fun parts? I’m changing my name. Something that reflects this chapter we’ve only recently begun in the last seventeen eighteen! months, our two mom household of twins. Most of the posts here have been transferred over there, but not all.

The set up is different with several deliberate changes that I’m excited about. You can read more about them by heading on over to the new website by clicking on the logo or link below.

final logo


Incidentally, I just noticed that Harper first wore that outfit at 12 months, thereby disproving my theory that clothes barely last a couple months.

Background music is “Animal Crackers” by the Wee Hairy Beasties on the Animal Playground CD produced by Putumayo Kids.

Since our lake experience, we’ve been reluctant to go anywhere for an overnight stay. So it was with some trepidation that we finally took up an offer from a co-worker to stay at his weekend home in New Braunfels. And this past weekend was one where both the house was available and we had no other major plans.

Guadalupe River

Tubing was out on account of the cold weather, fast moving river, and, you know, toddlers that can’t swim. We felt rain in our palms, and in moments where the drops retreated, we searched out lizards, picked up sticks, and ran up and down hills with the WHOA! that can only be experienced hand-in-hand with a toddler. Plus, cold weather equals lots of books and laps and fleece blankets. Delicious!


On Saturday, Gamma (my mom) joined us from San Antonio. I made a rosemary pork tenderloin with roasted fingerling potatoes and steamed vegetables. And we almost got to enjoy it before the kids, as on cue, woke from their naps. Still, though.

I invited Annie up, who blogs over at We Are Fambly. Over a year of reading one another’s blogs and commenting and exchanging the occasional email, I up and asked her over, to which Jennifer said “great, strangers.” and my mom said “what if they kidnap babies?” And to think that I’m the introvert.

Nevetherless, Annie and her partner and their as-beautiful-and-tall-as-she-looks-in-pictures-but-taller toddler spent the better part of the afternoon and early evening with us. Mateo was Jude’s first older boy kiss, too. And after they left, we all agreed they were the nicest stranger baby kidnappers we’ve met.

Hey, Jude!

Bring us back a stuffed animal camel from Egypt, Paw Paw!

PawPaw Jim

So I get a phone call at 3:58 yesterday afternoon from Jennifer that she is on her way to the pediatrician with the boy. But I can hardly hear her because it seems she’s carting around three elderly emphysematics that are trying to sing row row row your boat in harmony. In rounds. Except that it’s Mateo trying to breathe.

I’m gathering my bag, car keys, and shooting an email to the boss that I’m leaving as I pellet Jennifer with questions, all in an effort to determine if he’s getting enough oxygen: “Is he blue?” No. “Is he red?” Yes. “Did he have a fever?” Low grade. “When did he start doing this?” Immediately upon waking from his nap. “Was the humidifier on?” Yes. “What’s his general disposition?” He’s eating his trail mix as I talk to you, she says.

Apparently, the boy’s stomach is one of his major vital organs.

Fifteen minutes later, I met them at the crosswalk of the medical office building of our pediatrician (conveniently located on the campus of a hospital), breathing was labored, but the singing smokers gone.

His coughing and breathing sounded horrible so it was kinda fun to be that family in the sick waiting room that the other parents are trying to keep their kids away from. The benefit, of course, was that Mateo had both Doodle Sketches to himself.

A quick assessment by the nurse showed barely a fever at 99.6, something I think he had coughed himself into what with all that kinetic energy heating up his body, the one that weighed 28.1 lbs. The doctor came in shortly thereafter and assessed his lungs and throat which were amazingly (but thankfully) clear. For that reason, no antibiotics or breathing treatments were necessary. He said he had croup and gave him an oral steroid (dexmethasone) to open up his airway. As we were getting ready to leave, he started to sound a bit better, but still with the wheezing, which I captured here as he “washes” his hands, in case you want to know what croup sounds like. Turn up the volume. Not only to hear him better, but to hear me ask for confirmation from the nurse that what we’re hearing from him is okay, me in my most professional valley girl dialect. Ugh. This is why I don’t like being on video.

Afterward, we headed home with instructions to turn on a cool mist humidifier in his room, something we’d been doing the last couple nights and naps anyway because both kids have had runny noses since Thursday and cough since Saturday. In addition, we separated them almost immediately after baths last night, lest they start playing, which inevitably leads to chasing, which necessitates running, which requires heavier breathing, which causes coughing, which leads to airway constriction, something we were trying to avoid. Because it was now after clinic hours and dexmethasone is far less expensive at the clinic than the emergency room thank you very much. So off we went, Jennifer with Harper to her room, and me with Mateo to his room, for quiet reading and calmer play.

We braced ourselves for a long night, but they both slept soundly throughout.

Here’s a general description and guidelines for addressing Croup, as laid out by our pediatric clinic. And for my fellow Type A’s out there, a more detailed article on Viral Croup and practical therapeutics written in the American Family Physician Journal.

In 1959, an author and illustrator named Garth Williams wrote a book called The Rabbits’ Wedding. The beautifully illustrated book tells a story of two rabbits – a black one and a white one – that met in a large forest and lived happily ever after.


Lots of folks in the 60’s thought so and for that it was removed from libraries in the South or transferred to reserve shelves because it depicted the marriage of a black rabbit and a white one, leading some to believe it promoted interracial marriage, and was thus inappropriate for children. I am so glad times have changed.

But have they?

For the last 28 years, the American Library Association (ALA) has celebrated the Freedom To Read during it’s annual Banned Books Week, always the last week of September. I know, I know, that was last week. I’ll spare you the details of how hectic last week was and this week will be and tell you that you can see a complete list of banned or challenged books for 2008-2009 here.

On the list? Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling)! Beloved (Tony Morrison)! Catcher In The Rye (J.D. Salinger)! Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain!) And Tango Makes Three (Peter Parnell)! Uncle Bobby’s Wedding (Sarah S. Brannen)!

Wanna read any of these? Better watch out. Each of those and many more have been challenged, restricted, or removed from public libraries because somebody didn’t like them for them, and thus they don’t think they should be available to anybody.

Think this nonsense about book banning only happens in the South? Think again.

Banned Books Week may be over, but you can have an impact any day of the year. Buy a book and donate it to your local library! There are other things you can do, too.

Book Sale

Each fall, the Friends of The Houston Public Library have a children’s book sale. The majority of the books are sold for $1-$2, and the revenues are used to support the Houston Public Library. This was the first year I went. Actually, this was the first time I had even heard of it – another one of those niblets of information I wasn’t fed until I had passed into the underworld of parenting.

I was there when it opened on the first day and only wish I had had my camera to capture the beauty of tables upon tables of books, organized by Board Books, Early Readers, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Bilingual, Advanced Reader, families entering with WAGONS (I’ve noted that for next time), children sitting engrossed in a book while parents picked up more, educators thumbing through selections to add for their classrooms, rookies like me just standing there, overwhelmed with where to start.

I hovered around the Board Books, mostly. Though I picked up plenty of Early Readers for special reading time (lest those fragile pages get ripped out on first look), while eavesdropping on more experienced parents and educators calling out their favorite authors and illustrators, and the children repeating the name of their favorites like “Look! Here’s a Maisy one!” And I’m all scrambling to see what the kid is looking at, trying not to yank it from his hand too hard, and I’m all a mouse? But what do I know about wildly popular children’s books. Incidentally, what are your favorite early childhood authors and illustrators?

Harper continues her obsession with Elmo, so I reluctantly picked up one of those. Want me to recite it? Because after six days and about fifty readings, I practically can. The kids have matching Dora and Diego toothbrushes that they are fascinated with (the sucking the toothpaste, not so much the brushing), so I picked up a Dora and Diego book, despite the fact that I still don’t know who those characters are. Besides, those, however, I steered away from television character books and instead picked up books exhibiting ethnic and cultural diversity, manners, and, noticeably, sleep story books. I guess I’m tired.

I love that they’re developing a love for books. Reading is part of our weekend family time as well as our evening routine. Even after baths, play, milk, brushing teeth, and books, on their own, they’ve developed an additional bedtime cue: grabbing a book and heading to their respective rooms as a way of telling us they are really ready for bed. And there, we have special one-on-one reading time, Jennifer and I alternating kids each night.

Lately, they both say “book” and “read” during our wakeup routine and so we often get a book in even before breakfast. Letting them hold and “read” a book has also made diaper changes a little less…acrobatic.

Best part of all? I walked out with 42 books for $45.47!

Growing up, my grandparents owned a dry cleaning and tailoring business. I can remember summer days, my grandmother in the front part of the store, bifocals balanced on the bridge of her nose, threading a needle, El ChapulĂ­n Colorado on the television in the background. The rhythmic hum of the machine wheel, the swoosh of the steam, the smell of the starch, and the chatter of the ladies working, all combine to create a symphony of my earliest childhood memories.

My mom also sewed. She was (and is) quite skilled, though she focuses more on quilts now. Back then, it was repairs here and there, curtains, and clothes. Oh my god, the clothes. In my pre-teen years this was a horror. Because your social standing depended almost entirely on the fact that your clothes had the right labels on them, and Handsewn By Mom was not one of them.

Now, more than two decades later, I’ve been thinking about learning. Been thinking about it for a good seven or eight months. Have had some people supporting the idea, and others telling me I’m crazy and that I don’t have any time and why would I do that? Well, I’m motivated partially by the art of it, partially by the connection I feel to my mom and grandmother through it, but mostly because I am a cheap ass. Let’s face it, Woobies need replacement and repair and why pay someone else to do it when I should be able to do it myself?

So about a month ago, someone in my neighborhood group posted a classified ad putting their Singer machine up for sale for $30. I scooped it up. Granted, it’s still in the back seat of my car. But this past weekend? I took my first sewing lesson.


I took the two hour beginner class at Sew Crafty and this place is SO CUTE! The class familiarized us five students with machines, basic tools, and backstitching. I LOVED IT! Our project that pulled all our newfound knowledge together was a simple clutch (which I made into a diaper holder instead).


My first on-my-own project? Harper’s trick-or-treat basket, a round, puffy felt-ish basket that looks something like this, but that matches her costume better. Yes, I know I can probably find one online. Yes, I am sure there are free patterns out there. Yes, I’m sure they have the exact colors and size I want at a local supermarket. BUT THAT IS NOT THE POINT. It will be my first from-scratch venture in perpetuating an art through another generation of women in my family.

So, yeah, sorry for the sparce wordy content. I’ve been spending my free hour of the day trying to figure out the web host I’m moving to, formatting pictures, deciding on content, heading down one road, then wanting to change everything, thereby frustrating my consultant. Actually, not really. She just tells me, “so what you are wanting to do now isn’t what we talked about in the beginning. Why don’t you pick a starting point and once you have time and resources to go down that other road, you can.” I hate being told what I can and cannot do, but she’s probably right. Because otherwise, I won’t launch until a date far beyond the point that blogging is like that VCR collecting dust in your closet. My goal is no later than October 16. Mainly because Jennifer and I are doing a half-marathon relay on October 25 and I named our team the name of the website. No pressure.

More Photos!

The Aforementioned