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Xavier's First Birthday

Last weekend we took our third birthday trip to San Antonio this year, this time in celebration of my nephew Xavier’s very first birthday. Monkey cupcakes, two bouncers, a piñata, a water table, individually labeled lunch sacks for kids, yummy food, family, friends, and fellowship. My brother and sister-in-law can throw a party, you hear me?

The sweltering heat helped in that it assured a solid afternoon nap for Mateo and Harper (and Mommy and Matou!). That evening, we ordered takeout burgers and congregated at Grandma Yoyi’s house and watched all five nieces and nephews play together. Mateo was up until 8:00 p.m. hanging out with his night owl cousins, but despite the activity, Harper was all “EXCUSE ME! IT’S 6:30 AND I HAVE GOT TO GO TO BED!”

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

Mateo @ Dentist

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

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Sea World season passes: $138
Gas to get to San Antonio and back: $47
Plastic Pool from the grocery store: $12

Grandma’s homemade tortillas on a Saturday morning, playing with cousins, meals with grandparents, lots of bubbles, lots and lots of walking, and swimming in the back yard: priceless.

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We placed a bookshelf in front of the fireplace in the living room, and typically it might look something like this:

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In an effort to minimize stuff, we keep the other 40+ books we have put away and rotate them out, keeping less than 15 available at any one time. Throughout the day, the books (and the bookshelf, for that matter) garner lots of attention as shown here:

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A few weeks ago, we would come home from work to find a very lean looking bookshelf like the one below. Which we found a little odd because WHERE WERE THE BOOKS? Not feeling like searching the house high and low for books, and forgetting to ask the nanny if they were being collected elsewhere, we’d put out a few more books.

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But if you peek over the top of the bookshelf, there’s a dark abyss. And I’ve previously mentioned Mateo is fascinated with putting things “away”.

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And a light went off in our collective mama heads. Anticipating the logical conclusion, I grabbed the camera while Jennifer pulled back the bookshelf to reveal this:

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Last week was Spring Break for half of the earth, and we actually landed on the itinerary of some friends who were coming through town from Dallas. Which is more of an effort than many of our pre-kids friends have made and they live less than twelve miles away. Ouch. Do you need a rag to wipe up the hurt feelings I just threw up all over your monitor? Come visit and I’ll give you one.

I’ve known Sam (right) since we were both hyper-competitive, cocky, self-absorbed young professionals in New Orleans. And then we grew up. Ish. Alicia (left) is a loyal reader and bee charmer who had the patience and wherewithall to settle Sam’s ass down. Lucky Sam.

We played in the back yard and visited for about an hour, catching up on the recession’s impact on the job market, what it’s like for them raising two adolescent boys, how kids these days are coddled and never given the opportunity to be independent and self-sufficient thinkers, learning styles, and the elasticity of property values. Which is to say that we sounded EXACTLY LIKE OUR PARENTS.

Quite a departure from a decade ago when we were making plans to see a band at Howling Wolf or Tipitina’s or The Mint, sushi at Ninja, or fine-tuning the recipe for summer beer at the weekend summer annuals. Good times, both old and new.

Over the last couple years, I have sold countless items on Craigslist. That 65 inch projection screen HD television we had in the ‘burbs that wouldn’t fit in the house when we went urban? SOLD to the Mexican family that came streaming out of a pickup truck. And they didn’t even have cable. The first receiver I ever purchased? SOLD to the surgeon who wanted a little music in his garage workshop. The beloved jumparoo that gave us five or ten precious minutes to pee and change a load of laundry? SOLD to the grandma who wanted something fun for when her grandchild comes for a visit.

Oh, we’ve bought used – for SURE. Just a few days a go, Jennifer brought a bag of kids clothes purchased at Goodwill. We’ve purchased clothes from the mom’s of multiples garage sale. And we’ve purchased used toys from family’s in our multiples group and from our neighborhood group, like this laugh and learn Learning Home we bought for $20 (and retails for four times that).

Learning Home

But I have never before PURCHASED something off of Craigslist. Until last week. We purchased a playhouse and climb & slide from a family that lives in the burbs near Jennifer’s workplace. This photo shows one at a church (the photo the seller sent us). Theirs was never used outdoors and so it was in particularly great shape.

playhouse

It takes up quite a bit of our postage-stamp sized urban backyard, but it’s a nice home alternative to them staying indoors all day or having to head to the park. Just another “station” for these growing and increasingly mobile and brave miracles. Here are a few pictures of the RJBs enjoying it in our backyard after Matou set it up yesterday morning.

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My biker dude dad and his wife sent the kids Harley Davidson Build-A-Bears. I’ve only ever seen Build-A-Bear studios from afar, and found myself inching towards the opposite walls, because that many bears and that many kids makes me kinda nervous? The bears they sent were docked out in leather jackets and orange Harley bandana’s. I’m not sure if they were purchased that way, like a Meal Deal at McDonalds, or if, gasp, my dad and his wife went in and built them this way. And if that’s the case, I have a completely different view of my dad and his wife, including What Were You Smoking?

Which is probably the same thing I could have asked Jennifer AND THE NANNY when I came home to them playing gangsta dressup with with the kids. Introducing GangstaTato and GangstaCita, photos courtesy of Matou. Don’t mess with dem, yo.

Whuzzup Yo

Gangstacita

COMING NEXT WEEK: I’m going to do a three-, maybe four-part series on airline travel and over-night stay suggestions based on, wait for it, our SINGLE EXPERIENCE. But that’s the beauty of the internet: anyone can be an expert. Why three-, maybe four- parts? Because all that written on one post is painfully long, and because I have a short attention span, and because traveling with infants takes a lot of parts, at least when it’s more than one, and because I wanted to be detailed enough to be a decent resource, at least in part, for someone who wanted an overview that they could tweak from. Stay tuned.

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

One of the fun things about having twins is being able to have your own little observatory of the great range of Normal as it relates to early childhood development. It is also sometimes stressful because sometimes I’m all WHY IS HE DOING THAT BUT SHE ISN’T? Or the other way around.

Harper JUST started to roll over. I met an 9 month old who was RUNNING, but Harper finally decided over the course of last week that she’d flip herself over and over and over again. It’s not that she COULDN’T roll over, after all, we would find her sleeping on her side at night. Plus, she’s got the abdominal strength from all the leg lifts/baby wrestling she does lifting her legs straight up and then banging them onto the crib mattress, time and time again. It’s just that she is a pretty easy going baby and finds contentment, though not complaceny, in whatever position she is in. Unless it’s too long on her belly. Then she’ll just lay on her side and look up at you with pleading eyes to sit her up. And I do it because she has a spell on me.

She still dances to music. Any music. She likes to surprise us with her laughter, laughing out of nowhere, so happy, and the three of us will look at her and she’ll stop laughing for a second and then wheeze and smile, like she’s on the inside of the joke that we can only see from the window. It sounds and looks like this:

In an effort to avoid the sippy cup, we worked on drinking water from an open-top cup for a couple days. She took to it a bit, but we decided to teach her to use a straw instead, last week of December. Within a day, she had it down. She looks forward to the cup so we have to hide it until after she’s done with her meal.

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Mateo, not so much. We tried the cup and he was gumming it and thus only getting water because the banging against the cup would spill water into the vicinity of his mouth. So we tried teaching the straw (plugging the top of the straw and letting him suck from the bottom of the straw), but he’d just sit there with his mouth open like a little bird waiting for a worm. So I relented and we’ve gone with a sippy cup. He’s starting to get it, except for the fact that he doesn’t want to hold the cup (unless he’s grabbing it, hitting it on the table, and then tossing it off the side of his chair). Instead, he tilts his chin upwards and sucks from the sippy cup like hand feeding a calf a bottle. We’ll get there.

Mateo has been sleeping on his belly since forever. He’s been great on his tummy since shortly after that. He’s trying to pull up on just about everything. And has managed to get into a knee-standing position.

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He prefers standing, initially with assistance, but then holding onto something on his own terms. He thinks EVERY object should be a jumparoo. And though we’ll put him in a crawling position and he’ll rock back and forth, his preferred mode of transportation is scooting.
And like proper parents that will end up paying for therapy because of that hazy sense he’ll have of “my moms had high expectations, but I felt like achieving those goals was always just out of my reach and I can’t shake the feeling as to why”, we reward his mobility by moving the objects farther away.

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The Aforementioned

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