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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.


Most days, the kids begin stirring between 6:15 and 7:00. I love those days because I get to see them before I leave for work. While Jennifer prepares their breakfast, I go downstairs to get their diapers changed, get them dressed, and upstairs to eat.

Which means I’m usually sweating before I even leave for the office.

Here in the days of this sixteenth month, with favorite words abounding, I am witness to some cute and tender moments in our morning routine and finally took the camera down to record them.

Were it not for our six year refusal to patronage Wal-Mart, and were it not for those pesky child-labor laws, what with Mateo’s new favorite word of “Helll-OOOOOO!!!” we might have put him to work as a greeter.

Prolific Pooper

Dude poops upwards of four to five times a day. A DAY, people! And we’re not talking the second one is leftover from the first one kind of poop. We’re talking full on, wholly independent, fifteen wipes, under the balls, centimeters from the top of the back of the diaper kind of poops.

Battling this kind of pooping requires strategy, such as in the form of meal planning. I seriously plan their meals around their bowel movements. Overnight pooping (which leads to massive diaper rash for Mateo)? Make sure his fruits are in before 1:00 p.m. Poops too watery? Add starches, reduce dairy. Good day for watermelon? Better have some bananas handy. After dinner poops? Move the proteins up in the day.

These kids are as much science as they are art.

Our dining table is a sore subject, primarily because things get stacked on it that shouldn’t be. Like the camera, mail, kid swimsuits. And ASL flashcards that we purchased for ourselves so we could learn and then teach the kids. One day, one of the kids saw the boxes and asked for “more”. And now, we can’t serve them a meal without doing sign language flashcards at the table. BUT HOW CUTE ARE THEY SIGNING?


Mateo in the backyard, just before I put my cupped hand at his chin and he spit out chunks of blue sidewalk chalk.


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.


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.


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.

Peek A Boo

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.


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


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.

Read the rest of this entry »

I wasn’t going to be home for bedtime. But then the late meeting never happened. Only I didn’t know it wasn’t supposed to. Miscommunication on the date. With a broken cell phone, email or call service is unavailable. How will Jen know I am coming home early? And will my earlier-than-expected still be too late to see the kids before bedtime?

Traffic was forgiving. The lights were not. Upon opening the door, the hum of waterfalls, the gentle sounds that lull our children to sleep. Then water fell from my eyes.

The house is quiet but for a tiny whimper from Mateo’s room, that briefest of sounds he releases upon the close of a day, resigning himself to sleep. I enter to find Matou giving him his Raffy. She walks out as if she knows I need these precious moments with him alone.

As it is, Harper was long gone for slumber. Matou tells me Harper actually approached her, signing “bath” and “sleep”.

I walk over to the crib to find Mateo lying on his back. He looks up at me. Smiles. We are separated only by a ray of light streaming from the hall through the cracked door. I rub his belly and stroke his hair. I hum our song, the one I remember my own mom and grandmother humming to me in comfort. Three generations and the result is the same – washed over by calm.

A warm boy under my fingertips as his eyes become heavy and he falls off to sleep.

Though they may be brief, these are memories.

More Photos!

The Aforementioned