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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

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Seriously, I thought the She/He-Took-My-Toy-So-I’m-Gonna-Whine/Cry-Because-That’s-How-I-Communicate-And-I’m-Too-Young-To-Be-Reasoned-With-Anyway didn’t come for another 6-8 months. Could it be that the kids were on target or advanced in crawling or walking? No, of course not. Instead, they are ahead of the curve in SIBLINGWHINERY.

I’ll have to record some of that sometime, once I grow another arm or two since the original arms are covering my ears or pulling my hair out. Or laughing. Is that bad? In the meantime, here’s a clip of Sleep = Happy = The Biggest Incentive For Having A Routine.

I hope this holiday finds you gifted with the blessings of friends and family and knowing that you are loved. Merry Christmas!

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Monday Morning

Thanks to each of you who have provided your stories and experiences of sleep(less) nights and how you’ve gone about making things better. We’re doing a half-ass Cry-It-Out right now, less because we are wimps, and more because there’s no sense in heading into baby boot camp when we’re about to be sleeping at Grandma’s house for four days. I’ll be sure to let you know, however, what hybrid of methods we end up trying and keep you posted on the results thereof.

I will say, though, getting them down for naps over the weekend ROCKED.

He used to sleep through the night.

But it’s been so long, the nights such a blur, that I’m not even sure when the last full night’s sleep was.

It has usually taken a few days, after being sick, for him to fall back into his sleep-through-the-night routine (defined as 7:30 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. ish). But after the Thanksgiving Week DIARRHEATHON, he has taken to waking 1 to 3 times per night, and he will only be calmed by a bottle. A habit we had no small part in creating since we HAD to keep him hydrated so as to avoid hospitalization, which meant giving him a bottle every couple hours, 24-hours a day, for a couple of days. Call us enablers.

Let me break it down: He is not undernourished. Might I remind you that he weighs nearly 21 pounds. He is getting plenty during the day – upwards of 35-40 ounces, including the 12 ounces at bedtime that he demands. And this is in ADDITION to the three meals a day that he’s getting. He is not sick (thank you, Jesus!). He is not too cold or too hot. He is getting solid naps during the day. He does not respond to shhhhhhh-ibng, nor pats on the back, nor tender loving whispers. If anything, anything less than a bottle escalates his cries. Yes, we have let him see if he can put himself back to sleep. But the thing is, he’s not ever truly awake; at least not until the times that he’s waking between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m., but the wakings between 10 p.m. and 3:00 a.m., he’s not really awake and won’t even open his eyes. Yes, we’ve tried making sure his diaper is dry and have changed it when it’s not. Yes, we have white noise. No, nothing in his routine has changed. I’m telling you, it is JUST A HABIT.

A HABIT THAT NEEDS TO BE BROKEN.

So I made the mistake of telling my mother that we were considering moving H to the guest room to sleep in the pack-n-play, while we left M in the nursery in his crib (the less variables we change, the better) and POSSIBLY did the forbidden and controversial Cry-It-Out-Method. And listen, internet, don’t even go off on me for the CIO method since I’m drafting a post (albeit only in my head right now) about ALL KINDS OF CONTROVERSIAL PARENTING ISSUES that we’ve either breached or embraced and you can blast off your opinions on that one. Get in line and wait your turn.

So, here you have a recorded message from my mom – a message she left on my cell phone voicemail yesterday afternoon – as a warning to her first grandson. This is proof that grandparents will work against you. (Nice touch with the still photo of M, right?)

I didn’t check my voicemail until this morning on my way to work and I laughed so hard when I did. Yes, I’m evil. And exhausted. ‘Tis the season.

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Happy Eight Month Birthday, RJBs!

If there is a melody in the vicinity, she will find its rhythm, after the requisite twenty second spirit finger introduction, of course.
She makes us laugh out loud.

(Thank You to my sister who brought the analogy to my attention. She, apparently, went to all those theory lessons growing up – the one’s I skipped to go to soccer practice.)

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My mom came to Houston on Friday, only for us to load up with the kids and leave for San Antonio on Saturday morning at 7:20 a.m. Which was only about 20 minutes late. “Late” meaning it included a 1-hour buffer for traffic or extra stopping/feeding in order to arrive On Time for an 11:00 a.m. shoot at The Picture People – a shoot which was to include the current brood of little ones on my side of the family. And I’ll go ahead and reserve my comments on The Place That Employs Teenagers With Good Cameras Which Isn’t The Same As A Photographer, but suffice it to say I was less than impressed. I can’t post the best pictures from that shoot at this time. No, not because they are proprietary, or because most of them sucked, but because one lucky one or two photos may or may not be given to some certain family member(s) that may or may not peruse this blog. In the meantime, here’s one of the RJBs that won’t go to press, but was cute nonetheless.

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The rest of the afternoon is a blur what with getting the RJBs home to mom’s for lunch, naps, picking Jen up from the airport, discovering a nail in the tire while at Whole Foods, finding a place that was open and could repair the tire before Sunday morning, playing with the kiddos, and eating dinner.

I will say that probably the best part of the weekend was co-conspiring with my siblings and our significant others to have a surprise birthday luncheon in celebration of my mom’s 60th birthday. I had told my mom that Jen and I wanted to take her out to lunch for her birthday before we headed back home. I also told her that my siblings wanted to come, but that my brother had picked up an overtime shift at work, and that my sister had both the girls by herself while her husband was at the recording studio. I lied with ease and I felt fourteen again. So I can’t tell you what a joy it was to get to the restaurant, whisk myself to the table, and be there in time to snap these shots of her tearful and joyous surprise.

Surprise!

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What a blessing it was!

Our trip home was a little longer what with Tato having a poop blow out through his diaper and onto his cords. You should have seen us in Flatonia, improvising a diaper changing station in the back of the SUV (the gas station was a little iffy), using a dry cleaning bag as protection, wiping a naked baby on a cool windy day with cold wet wipes, him crying, then peeing like a fountain, then finding a bag to put this poop clothes into, then putting him in the Extra Outfit We Had Accessible. Or when Harper was so tired and fought a nap so hard that she cried until she threw up down her dress. Or when Tato Bear threw up a bit in the car after a bottle (cleaning the nooks and crannies of the chest buckle will be fun). Or how we extended our drive just a little longer by driving around 20 extra minutes because they were FINALLY BOTH NAPPING. Let me just say, that I’m learning that traveling in the mornings is so much better.

Now that the household is relatively healthy (M has a cold/congestion. Again.), we’ve had some time to ponder decorating for Christmas. And then we yawn, look at the piles of laundry, and say “maybe tomorrow”. Not sure we’ll get all decorated up this year, but there is a local gardening place that has little charlie brown trees which we’re seriously considering. More on what I’ve learned about decorations here.

While much of my online journaling has been related to Tato and his illness(es)(es)(es)(es), I need to give props out loud to our little trooper, Harper.

Amidst ear infections #4 and #5 for Tato, Harper had ear infection #2. She apparently also had a fever when we went to the clinic, though you’d never know it because she smiles and laughs in the face of her little body fighting infections.
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Through a week of her brother being pretty damn sick and waking and screaming every hour or two or three, she lived up to her middle name, Grace, in SLEEPING RIGHT THROUGH IT ALL. A miraculous blessing for two very tired mommies. We’ve had two stomach bugs rip through our house in the last six weeks. The first time, her belly was ill for less than two days. This time, she escaped all contagion.

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She sprouts teeth (she now has SIX!) with barely a drip of drool. Has fevers of 102 with no indication in disposition. This makes for an “easy” baby, but it also means that we need to check her more often because she doesn’t “tell” us that something is wrong. We have learned that if she wakes during the night, though, that’s a dead-ringer for an ear infection – because that is the only time she does that. We can only hope that her sleeping through the entire night continues indefinitely.

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Each morning she awakens so very happy and curious and busy, with a near constant look on her face expressing something like “isn’t today AMAZING?? Can you believe we get to have another today? What am I going to DO today?” Oh, that we would learn to emulate her enthusiasm for each moment of each day.

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The only time she’s really fussy these days is if (a) you disappear from her line of sight for too long. She plays well independently, but every once in a while, she just needs to know that you are THERE and will cry out if she doesn’t see you. (b) she’s tired/hungry at the end of the day – which we can’t do a lot about except get her fed, bathed, and put to bed smoothly and efficiently. (c) she’s tired during the day and needs a nap but fights that nap like hell. And I think in exchange for her being so “easy” is the counteracting blood curdling SCREAM that comes from her tiny body when she’s one of those things above. Because I am telling you, all those years of being next to the stage speakers at a concert DO NOT EVEN COMPARE.

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You can see her wheels spinning all the time. If a toy is held in front of a baby, they will tend to grab at it or bat it around. Harper will study it, look to see how it is hanging from your hand, and then deliberately move to the connecting point before pulling it from you and studying some more. She has the appearance of being serious and contemplative, but my gut feeling is that she’s getting a sense of how things work and plotting something. Something that will ultimately get someone ELSE in trouble. So full of mischief and sass, she is.

Sassy

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