Wednesday, December 29, 2010

still waters run deep

Okay, so I don't post as often as I could, right? Little things happen here and there every day that either astonish me or crack me up. Often, they blitz out of my mind with the changing of the next dirty diaper duo. But sometimes I get set to share something, and I realize that it's not going to make an impression on anybody who doesn't have any 19-month-olds around to understand exactly what I mean. And in a couple of months, I'm going to have lost all frame of reference myself.

But I wanted to write this one down, so I need to explain a little bit of background:

Noah doesn't talk yet. Not really. He says a bunch of consonant sounds that are his words, but there are only 15-20 of those that I've nailed down as consistent words. (Things like "na-na" for banana, "bah" for bib or ball--or blocks or box or bye!--you get the idea.) 20 words isn't too bad, but in the grand scheme of things, it's not a lot. He still depends on his signs though, and uses them pretty consistently. Yesterday he even started using the sign for "daddy" even though I haven't used it with him in at LEAST 6 months. Crazy!

I digress... As far as their comprehension, both the babies are pretty good at following one-step concrete directions--sometimes even two-step ones--but their grasp of the abstract is... well, a bit lacking for obvious reasons. We know they understand more and more all the time, but we don't know how much.

Anyway, about a week ago we came back from a visit to Gemma and Granddad's. We brought back a picture of them which Scott posted on the fridge. Noah noticed it, and had fun pointing out Gemma and Granddad. He then pointed to the other prominent picture on the fridge, the save-the-date for my brother Michael and his fiancee Danielle. They're getting married next week and we're flying to see them. He had NO clue who they were (he's seen them twice, most recently 7 months ago), so I said, "That's Uncle Michael and Aunt Danielle". He pointed, but... I mean, really--how was he supposed to know who they were? But you're supposed to talk to your babies, so I figured I might as well say their names.

Okay, fast forward a bit. A few nights ago, I was rocking the kiddos in their room before putting them to bed. We heard a plane fly overhead, and Noah signed "plane" (with sound effects, of course). I said, "Yes, that's a plane." Then, because you're supposed to talk to your babies, I figured--what the hey, I may as well explain more even though he's not going to understand. So I continued, "We're going to go on a plane. We're going to get on it and fly in the sky to go see Michael and Danielle."

He BURST out sobbing, and signed that he was scared. I shushed him, bewildered--SURELY this child had no clue what I was talking about. He knows airplanes as things he waves bye-bye to in the sky--how on earth could he have the concept that they're big enough to carry people? I figured he had misunderstood somehow. So I explained again, "No, it's okay! It's a plane. Mommy and Daddy and Noah and Lily are going to go on a plane. We're going to fly in the sky and go see Michael and Danielle."

BIG sobs, and more professed fear. I was pretty amazed at this point. I mean, his idea of what I was talking about had to be pretty limited, but he understood a lot more than I had given him credit for.

...and now the REAL story I was leading up to:

Today, I was helping Noah wash his hands at the sink when he pointed over to the fridge. But he wasn't pointing at Gemma and Granddad--instead, he pointed to Michael and Danielle, signed "airplane" and then "scared".


How in the world did he remember those names and put all that together??!! I have no idea. But I'm going to start reading Dickens to him tomorrow.

And the morals of this story are:

1) We may be in for a real meltdown on our plane trip next week.

2) You really never know what your kids understand. Seriously!

3) If you EVER plan to have children, TEACH THEM TO SIGN!!! I can't believe how much of a blessing and a window into their little minds it has been!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

my title

Mommies do lots of things, I'm finding.

Among other things, I am:

Kisser of Boo-Boos
Singer of Songs
Spinner of Stories
Tickler of Ribs
Captain of the Anti-Furniture-Climbing Squad
Chief Cook (and Veggie Hider)
All 3 branches of the government--I can create a law, enforce it, and sentence the guilty in under 1 minute
Master Peek-a-Boo-ist
Professor of English (and Math, and Science, and Ethics, and Everything Else)
Family Photographer and Historian
Guardian of the Remote Controls (and anything else with BUTTONS!)
Human Jungle Gym
Senior Laundress
Head of Purchasing
Dispenser of Marshmallows

And sometimes I even sit down.

At times it is wearying. (Okay, daily.) For example: I dream my lamplit visions of a Christmas morning of perfection, of smiles and hugs and cuddles. Of my children graciously eating their food (without throwing any on the floor). And then I come to the reality that there will be plenty of screaming and squabbles and tantrums and time-outs, just like any other day.

But if Christmas will be just like any other day, then any other day is just like Christmas. While I don't see the sort of linear progress or payback that might seem logical, there are other bonuses. Like the fact that I lose track of how many sweet smiles, hugs, and kisses I get all the time. And that I get applauded for opening the garage door (no kidding--they are THRILLED!). Even turning on a faucet is pretty much magical. So even if the days can be long and ordinary, and even if my ideas of what make a day special don't quite happen... well, at least I should get couple kisses if I happen to bang my knee. And even if my efforts at Christmasy-ness seem to go unnnoticed by my wee ones... well, I'm sure they'll give me applause for flushing the toilet!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

sometimes you just gotta stop and pet the doggies

When I was younger I remember my parents and other adults mentioning things about kids being very observant and noticing little details of things. I think I remember it because it didn't make any sense to me.

But now I think I know what they meant. Did you know that approximately 38,401 airplanes fly over our house every day? Neither did I, until Noah started pointing out every. single. one. And there are WAY more trains running through this neck of the woods than I ever knew about. I now am aware of all of them, though--Lily doesn't like them, so every time she hears a train whistle (even faintly), she screws up her face into an anguished look, says "Ooohhh!!" in a pained tone, and pats her chest (our sign for "scared").

Toddlers bring renewed meaning to the idea that it's not the destination, but the journey, that's important. We were getting family pictures taken a couple of weeks ago at a state park. As we traipsed along with our photographer, two women walking dogs came at us from the other direction. Listening to my children, you would've thought they'd just discovered the entire world was made of candy or something. I mean, come on--we HAVE two dogs! The ladies and their dogs seemed friendly, so we stopped and let Noah and Lily get acquainted for a minute. As we walked away, I realized that I hadn't even thought about how our photographer might not have the priority of stopping to pet every dog in the world. But she has small children too, so hopefully she didn't mind!

Back when the babies were little, I realized that having children totally overhauls your ideas about productivity. Sitting around waiting for two newborns to wake up and need to eat didn't feel very useful, although it was. The rest of my life's activities had ground to an immediate halt. Now, at least, I can go about most of my usual business--I just have to stop for several detours along the way. Shopping at Wal-Mart? Sure. We just have to pass by (and discuss) the bananas, cookies, and Elmo, along with dozens of other things. Because what to me is a shopping trip is an adventure to my incredibly observant, 90-mile-an-hour toddlers. It's very fun if I can remember to be patient and not be in a hurry all the time. The times I forget to be patient... well, it's not so fun. But there's always another doggie around the next corner to let me try again.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

turn, turn, turn

Word has reached me from afar that I have been lax in posting. And I knew that, but when my mother-in-law brings me word from six hours away that her coworkers have been wondering if things are okay, then I suppose it's time to update! Rest assured that I still have all my fingers and that my children are still doing adorable things. If they would do those adorable things a little bit slower, I might take time to breathe and post a little more often.

Noah and Lily are almost eighteen months old. A year and a half!! Unbelievable. Every week they develop new aspects to their personalities and seem more and more grown up all the time. Some developments:
  • We are still signing, even though Mommy has gotten lazy about trying to research and teach new ones. At last count each of the twins was using over 70 signs.

  • The reason Mommy has gotten lazy is that the babies are now talking. Talking! They often sign at the same time, which is helpful in distinguishing whether "ba-ba" means "bye-bye", "pumpkin", or "zebra". I've counted about a dozen distinguishable words from Noah--I know there are more, but a lot of them sound like "da" so I'm not counting them yet. Lily's vocab has absolutely exploded--she says over 80 words and learns more almost every day.

  • Babies this age are completely exhausting, and an absolute BLAST! Scott and I have so much fun with them! It's hard to give up playing with them and go do housework, because it's just too much fun to watch them play. (Oh, and they scream like banshees if we stop paying attention to them. That too.) Sometimes I find myself just staring at one of them as they look at a book or play with a toy. Every facial expression, every turn, every movement is fascinating.

  • What is it about being outside? Lily and Noah could spend absolutely every moment outdoors, and probably never be sad, tired, or hungry. They would gladly pick up rocks and dirt (and dog poo) for weeks and happily waste away to nothing. I can fix any bad mood simply by mentioning "outside"--and they both make a mad dash and start grabbing at the door. I'm not looking forward to the cold months when our outdoor activity is restricted, but I'm glad we don't live in a cold, unpleasant climate.

  • Both of the kiddos are absolutely enthralled with aspects of going to the bathroom. This, along with a history of horrible diaper rash, has prompted me to plan to potty train them next week. I may be absolutely crazy, but we're going to give it a whirl while I have a week off. I just don't like the idea of keeping my kid in diapers when she tells me she's pooping, you know?

In recent photographic history, we enjoyed a visit from Grandpa and Grandma in mid-October, dressed up and went trick-or-treating for Halloween, and are currently hosting Gemma and Granddad for a couple of days. In recent un-photographic history, Scott has been out of town for trainings for about four weeks out of the past month and a half, so we're glad he's done with those for a while. As for me, I finally took the EPPP, the beastly licensing exam for psychologists. And I passed! So now the only things I need to do are to pass the oral exam, finish my postdoctoral supervision, and pay the state of Texas a lot of money, and I will finally finally FINALLY be a psychologist!

Okay, pictures. Grandpa with Lily:

Here's Noah with his (tiny) pumpkin. We let the babies choose their own, and I'm pretty sure he found the smallest one there. (I think he thought it was a ball, because he kept throwing it...)

Lily was less content to pose with her chosen veggie. I had to catch a shot of her as she attempted to climb off the wall.

Grandma with her grandbabies. Not sure what they're looking at, but it's not the camera.

Aren't I cute?

Here we are carving the (tiny) pumpkins on Halloween. This task was made more frustrating by the fact that I had kept them in the back of the fridge since our pumpkin patch day to keep them nice. But the back of our fridge freezes things. In case you're wondering, I don't recommend trying to carve tiny frozen pumpkins. Also, this picture is misleading: the babies didn't help carve pumpkins. They just kept trying to eat the seeds.

The end result:

Here's their Halloween costumes, although they looked cuter in person. Lily was Dorothy, and Noah was the cowardly lion. Which was fitting, because he was afraid of the costume for weeks. Oliver was Toto, but he had to play his role from inside our house, because he is insane and tries to kill other dogs with his high-pitched yelps of death.

And Scott dressed as himself. Note the dark colors and law enforcement t-shirt... he did a great impersonation!

My first kid-to-Mommy flowers. Now I just need a vase...

Monday, September 27, 2010


Ahh, camping. Doesn't everybody love camping? The idyllic settings, the stillness, the s'mores. Who could ask for more?

Camping always sounds nice, but I'm learning that actually getting out for a trip is easier said than done. The last time Scott and I went was 3 years ago, in August. It was 104 degrees. We happened to pick a campground that was hosting some sort of terrible redneck family reunion--so not only were all the good camping spaces taken, but the place was absolutely overrun with loud, uneducated, profanity-spewing drunken rednecks. We ended up next to a group of particularly beautiful folks who woke us at 6 a.m. with loud arguments about how best to cover up the pile of human feces in the middle of their campsite. To top it off, we almost lost Scott's wedding ring and I ended up with about 60 bug bites on my feet and ankles alone.

Still, we told ourselves, we had fun. We love camping. Right? But in the three years following that particular trip, we haven't really even come close to having another go at it. A big part of that had to do with Exhibit A and Exhibit B showing up last spring. Who wants to go camping with one baby, let alone two? But toddlers are better. Right? So we became semi-determined to tackle an outing this fall, in a noncommittal "if-it-works-out" sort of way. And when Scott's long weekend coincided with the first true cold front of the fall, we decided to go for it.

It was, in a word, wonderful. The weather, the activities, the food, the company--perfect. We rented a screened shelter (basically a bare cabin) at Mineral Wells State Park. It's only an hour from home--so, we reasoned, we could easily turn around and come back if things got really bad. Here's our humble abode-for-a-day:

The view from our porch:

As far as activities, we thought we'd tackle a trail or two, and otherwise sit around and watch Noah and Lily eat rocks. But we got an added bonus in the form of a spillway that comes over the dam at one end of the lake. It's the wildest thing I've ever seen--an actual sidewalk and road that they allow water to trickle over constantly. It was fun even for Scott and I, and the twins absolutely couldn't get enough.

You can tell the sequence of some of the pictures based on the state of relative dryness of Noah's clothing. Early:


...and then we gave up even trying to keep him dry...

This morning we packed the kiddos on our back and tackled a lakeside trail. The terrain was rough, but pretty and very fun. Scott went first and cleared out most of the spiderwebs with his face, which was very kind of him. In related news, there's a species of very large spider living all around the lake that must not have any natural predators. We could have easily counted over a hundred dangling from the trees overhead in just our short hike.

So all in all, it was a great trip. I'm not sure I want to go for more than a 24-hour outing anytime soon, but I could see us taking more short camping trips in the near future.

Ahh, camping...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

hats off... er, on

Lately Noah and Lily have been obsessed with hats. That's not particularly new--they've enjoyed playing with random cowboy hats and baseball caps for a good while now. But for the past couple of days they've wanted to wear their sun hats that we use for zoo trips and such. And instead of the off-on-off-on routine they usually pull, they just wear them... for hours! It's so funny to see them toddling around in their hats as if they have every reason in the world to do so.

If there's orange and green in the plaid on his cap... does that mean the hat pulls the rest of his outfit together?

Lily prefers to wear her hat pulled low over her eyes, and then walks around half-blind. I have no idea how she manages not to walk into things constantly. She wore it this way during her snack, and just groped blindly at me whenever she wanted another bite of cheese or cracker.

It makes me feel like I'm interacting with one of those cutesy bonnet-wearing shepherdess girls that show up in country-esque drawings.

See what I mean?

The other night Scott was reading the kiddos a bedtime story. They just cuddled right down on his lap and sat there, pretty as a picture. Until I actually wanted to TAKE a picture, that is.

In other completely random news, our crepe myrtles have decided that it is June again. After flowering all summer, the blooms finally petered out a few weeks ago in what I assumed was the natural end-of-summer way. But after the torrential downpours of last week, they have found new energy (and flowers). I was just trying to take a semi-artistic picture of the flowers at an angle, but Lily wandered into the frame. And I think it's cuter that way.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

an unplanned family trip

So it's been a while since I posted. (What else is new?)

A couple of weeks ago, Scott's grandmother passed away. She had been suffering with Alzheimer's for some years and it's so nice to know that she is finally at peace. I never got to know her before her illness, so I look forward to the day when I can REALLY know her. We traveled down for the funeral and to visit Scott's family, and it was neat to hear everyone's stories and memories.

Here she is in an early picture. I'm not sure how old she is, but she can't be more than a few months different in age from the twins right now. Lily looks a lot like her, don't you think? Her face isn't so round, but she definitely has those eyes.

And although our purpose in traveling was for a funeral, and although we drove down through THREE HOURS of solid Tropical Storm Hermine, we had a wonderful time visiting Scott's parents, siblings, and extended family.

Baby Elijah had really changed since we saw him last! He is 8 months old now, crawling everywhere, and very alert and interactive. It won't be long before he and the twins will be able to play really well with each other. Assuming, of course, that my children ever stop stealing toys and biting long enough to ever play with ANYONE.
Granddad likes to transport babies in various vehicles:
The babies enjoyed it pretty well, too. Noah especially appreciated being Lily's grab-bar for the wheelbarrow ride.
We also had the chance to spend the day at the Texas State Aquarium, which was a lot of fun. Noah enjoyed terrorizing the hermit crabs...
Lily and Gemma just happened to pause in front of a scenic mural.
Noah hanging out waiting for the dolphin show to start. Babies' maximum wait time: 3 minutes. Dolphin show wait time: 20 minutes. Dolphin show length: 15 minutes. Any way you add it up, it was a tedious business. That, and jumping dolphins make Lily cry hysterically.
But although dolphins weren't Lily's fave, she enjoyed lunch much better. Here she is chowing down on the sauce that came with her meal. She didn't actually eat the fries--just dipped them in the sauce and licked them clean, over and over. Until it was GONE. It wasn't until later that we found out she was eating SPICY CAYENNE tartar sauce, and not some sort of southwest ranch dip, as I had thought. I tried a little--it wasn't for wimps! But apparently my child's love of uncommon baby foods extends beyond black olives.

We also took the babies by the beach for a quick look-see. They had an absolute blast. I'm sure they'd be up for a full swim day, although Mommy's nerves may not be ready. Here is Noah eating sand:

Noah hunting seagulls (unsuccessfully, thank goodness):

And just a couple of beach bums...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

baby math

If x is equal to a baby's normal speed,

y = (x /p) +m

where p = distance to the pool, m = Mommy's speed, and y = the baby's supersonic pool-sprinting speed.

In other words, the baby goes faster as he gets closer to the pool, and even faster as Mommy runs after him.

Solving for y, y =

Monday, August 23, 2010

oh where, oh where did my babies go?

I realized recently that I still think of Noah and Lily as being just barely out of babyhood. But apparently I blinked, because they're not. They're FIFTEEN MONTHS old! A quarter of a year, gone in an instant.

They're both "officially" toddlers now--Noah walks around as if he's never done anything else, and Lily can make it across the room without a problem. Along with this new mobility, their attention span is completely out the window. We rarely make it through an entire board book these days, let alone a half-hour DVD. Excursions out of the house have become an ongoing dog-and-pony show, with Mommy as the star attraction. We point out hats, we sing songs, we look for babies--and that's just in the frozen food section of Wal-Mart.

At home it's a little better, mostly because we have baby gates and it's easier to contain the madness.

Any given activity entertains a baby for approximately 2.4 minutes. That is, if the other baby doesn't want to take it away. (The other baby ALWAYS wants to take it away.) So our day runs in a cycle that goes something like this:
  • Lily finds the shapes and the shape bucket. She settles herself in for some quality shape-sorting time.
  • Noah sees she has the shapes. He chases her down and wrests them from her, amidst screams and attempts to bite.
  • Lily moves on in search of the phone, while Noah plays with the shapes for 12 seconds before tiring of them.
  • Lily finds the phone on the other side of the recliner. Noah follows her to steal it. She sees him, squeals, and runs away.
  • Noah thinks Lily is playing peek-a-boo around the chair. Ridiculous giggles and raucous laughter ensue.
  • Peek-a-boo ends when the chair swivels unexpectedly, catapulting Lily's head into the baby fence. She cries. Noah siezes the opportunity to finally take the phone.
  • Repeat sequence approximately 482 times throughout the day.

It sounds tiring (and it is), but it's fun too. Major accomplishments are made every day. Things like First Successful Climb Onto the Coffee Table and First Time Closing the Drawer Without Squishing Fingers happen all the time. They're still using signs like crazy, with over 3 dozen signs each. Lily has said a few words lately too--"cracker" and "banana", and I think she's trying to say "diaper" and "shoe".

In the evenings after dinner, the backyard has cooled down enough for us to go and play before bathtime. As soon as I say the word "outside", Lily and Noah start a mad, shreiking scramble for the back door as if the house is on fire. I'm not sure why a 100-degree backyard, complete with poky, half-dead grass and scattered dog poo holds such an appeal. But it does. It will be nice when things cool down a little bit and we can spend some true quality time outdoors.

In other news, the babies' 15 month appointment was today. Noah weighs almost 25 lbs and Lily is almost 23. The fact that they've gained 4 lbs in the past 3 months isn't really a shock, given the fact that they've gone through 2 sizes of clothing this summer alone. One surprise: Lily has a heart murmur! The doctor wasn't concerned and said it was a small, benign murmur that she'll most likely outgrow as she gets older. Maybe it happened one of the times that Noah stepped on her in pursuit of a toy.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

hard to go back

Now that my summer break is over, today was Lily and Noah's first day back at Lisa's for babysitting while Scott and I both worked. I took them over a little early this morning so that I could stay a few minutes to help them get re-acclimated.

No dice, though. They started screaming as soon as we got in the door.

Nine hours later, they had taken a measly 45 minute nap, eaten very little, and cried most of the day. Oh, and Noah leaked nasty diarrhea through his diaper as soon as I picked him up.

And were they happy to get home with Mommy and Daddy? If happy means screaming, crying, and throwing fits, then yes. They were absolutely tickled to death.

I put them in bed an hour ago (at 6:30) and haven't heard a single peep since.

And we get to do it again tomorrow.


Saturday, July 31, 2010

going vertical and other stories

Wow, it's been a long time since I set out to update the blog! It's been Since my summer vacation started five weeks ago, in fact. One might assume (rather naturally) that since I was home nonstop, that would give me ample time to chronicle our family's happenings. And that does seem to make sense, and I'm really kind of shocked that I've gone SO long without updating. But being home all the time with two baby-toddlers does weird things to your sense of time and accomplishment. One one hand, they do cute/new/funny/horrifying things all the time, so there's lots to remember and write about. On the other hand, our day is broken up into about a million tiny segments. So by the time the 10 interesting little segments are mixed in with the 999,990 completely mundane segments, the days tend to feel pretty routine and unremarkable overall.

I recently ran across a funny column someone had re-posted on facebook. For those of you who don't have kids, and even for those who do, it's a pretty concise description of what mommies spend their days doing. Here it is. I'm going to keep it handy to read at the end of the days when I feel exhausted and yet can't quite exactly remember what I've done all day.

In the interest of everyone's time (mostly mine), I'm going to summarize our recent happenings and accomplishments...
  • We didn't do a real "vacation" this year, but we visited Gemma and Granddad in Bastrop and at their house (we're there right now) and hosted a week-long visit from Grandma, which was very fun. I'm missing some pictures, but here is one with Grandma about a week ago:

  • Both babies are walking, in a sense. Noah took steps almost a month ago, but has just recently gotten independent enough to walk across the room. Not to be outdone, Lily has decided she needs to walk as well. She's not very strong or coordinated, but has managed to toddle a couple steps out of sheer willpower. I think it'll be a while before I have two true toddlers, but it's not too far off.
  • Lily has continued to impress us with her determination and concentration. Lately, both babies are infatuated with clothes, especially putting on their pants. One day she sat down with a pair of shorts. I saw her get one leg in, and then I got distracted with something else. Next thing I knew, I heard her clapping for herself--she'd gotten both her legs in her shorts and was apparently very proud!

  • With the new walking skills, the babies have begun to discover the possibilities of climbing. We hijacked our neighbor's plastic kiddie slide while they were on vacation, and then got one for our own backyard. It is most enjoyable when mixed with suckers and hose-spraying.

Noah was determined to climb up the slide, even though it was slippery and soaking wet.

  • Neither of the babies has said much yet beyond a couple of words, but their sign language is taking off like crazy. In the past two months, they've gone from using the sign for "more" sporadically to using about 30 signs... and new ones still show up every couple of days. They tell us when they see a hat or ball, or when they want their milk or water, or get hungry and want to eat. They sign for several animals--dogs, bears, frogs, ducks, fish... and for a lot of daily routine things like washing hands, bath, blanket, and sleep. It's truly incredible, and much more fun than I ever thought it would be. I'm amazed to learn what they're thinking about and what they remember--it's a lot!

Okay, I think that's most of the notable notes. We did have a couple of play dates and zoo trips, though I'm not sure whether I have many good pictures to post. Perhaps I'll tell about those later...

...and, AHA! I just found a post from Page with some more pictures. We went to visit her family last Monday and Tuesday, and it was a lot of wild and crazy fun. Mostly crazy. Here's her summary of events: