Archive for September, 2012

First steps: Cate!

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Over the last few days, Catie has taken one step several times. But this afternoon, she strung three of them together to cross the final foot or so from Claudia to Mama. And after we exclaimed gleefully, hollered for Dad to come see, and reset her to Claudia’s position, Cate did it again!


Thursday, September 20th, 2012

We’ve just started reading a cool board book that my friend Gina handed down, called Animals. On each page it has a photo of an animal isolated on a plain background, with the name of the animal in a huge font below. We have the English-only edition, rather than the bilingual edition, but we read it in both English and Spanish anyway (with the exception of “macaw” and “piglet”, which Claudia isn’t yet sure how to translate).

I’ve been trying to convey that these photos represent living things, by imitating the sounds various animals make. (I’m not sure what to do for penguins, guinea pigs, zebras, and a few others. Meanwhile, Bill makes an impressive elephant call!) I can tell that they recognize the dog concept when I “ruff” and “woof”, which makes sense because our next-door neighbor has dogs and we encounter others when we walk the ‘hood. They also recognize the kitten since we have a cat. And they recognize the bear from so many readings of Bear Snores On (not from real life)!

However, Sam and Cate have no experience with most of these animals, and I’m eager to change that. I’m really looking forward to taking them to the Houston Zoo someday. But I can’t see how that will work until they no longer need a morning nap. Then it occurred to me that there are other places in town with animals.

We hit the biggest pet store closest to us. It turns out that they only have cats/kittens, fish, small lizards, and crickets in stock; no other animals. Despite the limited array, Sam was enamored once I got too close to the fish tanks and she realized that she could get her fingers wet. Cate was content to observe and take it all in.

There’s another company that does a lot of the best saltwater fish tanks in town called Fish Gallery. I got all excited about taking the girls to their showroom nearby on Shepherd, until I learned that they recently moved to the other side of town. Humph!

This morning, I remembered that there’s another big new pet store just a little farther away, and we went. In addition to fish and kittens, it has bigger/cooler lizards, small (sleepy) rodents, and tons of birds. Sam was immediately fascinated with the cages of cockatiels and finches. Cate took a few minutes to get used to their raucous antics, but then she grabbed the cage enthusiastically and voiced her delight. Yay!

Bob and Cate

Claudia and Sam. I have a photo that captures Sam actually looking at the birds, but this is a good one of our wonderful nanny, Claudia.

Anyway, I’m very pleased to have found at least one more quick-and-easy place to expose the girls to live animals. If you have any suggestions for others, I would be grateful if you would share them below. Thanks!

p.s. For those times when you need a little goldfish time, enjoy:

Get the Flash Player to see this video.


Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

I’ve probably mentioned before that a LOT of things fall through the cracks around here. So you won’t be shocked to hear that I went months and months and months without looking at my wireless bill.

That said, you can imagine how surprised I was to see that I sent/received more than 1,900 texts last month. And thousands the months before that. I obviously like texting.

Texting is great for interacting silently in a non-demanding, asynchronous, way with people who might be busy doing something else (like sleeping). It’s also great for interacting *next to* (small) people who are busy doing something else (like sleeping).

I also really like that the iPhone groups the whole history of text conversations I’ve had with someone into one thread. Given the (spotty) state of my memory, that’s super helpful.

There’s only one problem. My wireless rate plan only included 400 texts/month. All of the others cost extra. Oops. (A few of you may recall how I got the 400-message plan a few years ago, but we won’t dwell on that here.)

I could be horrified or dismayed or something, but that would require emotional energy that my sleep-deprived brain hasn’t got. So I called AT&T and asked a customer service guy to help me fix it. Effective immediately, I’m paying $20/month for unlimited texting. Problem solved. What’s more, Wasim volunteered to give me a $166 credit toward past months’ overages. Even better!

First haircut: Cate!

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Lots of babies, like me, are born with no hair at all. I remember my mom saying that I was “bald as a ping pong ball” for a long time.

Other babies, like Sam, are born with a full head of hair, that then falls out shortly after they’re born. Sam lost most of her hair by early November, leaving her most bald on top, and making her look a little like Friar Tuck. The effect was temporary, and she was growing new hair by the end of the year, or 4-6 weeks past their due date.

Some babies, like Cate, are born with hair and then keep it. She did lose a little hair at her temples, but kept the rest of it. I initially *thought* she was losing her hair, because it appeared to get thinner. But then I realized that really her skull was growing and only spreading her existing hair over more head.

Not losing her hair means that Cate has a LOT of hair compared to many infants, and by August, it was getting in her eyes. Dr. W urged us to cut her hair to prevent transferring dust and other irritants that might cause infection.

Long tendrils of Cate’s hair reach her eyes

So, after a month of sweeping hair aside, and with some trepidation, I braved giving Cate her first haircut. My friend Emily recorded the event for us. I managed to remove only a miniscule amount of hair. But in the spirit of “measure twice, cut once” (thanks Rob & T!), I figure that if I take only a little, there will be enough hair left for a professional to come behind me and clean up any mess I make!

Get the Flash Player to see this video.

Nascent self-feeding: spoons and nibbles

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

At their 9-month appointment, Dr. W said the girls are ready for a lot more opportunities to feed themselves. So we’ve added a variety of new items to their menu: Cheerios, half slices of banana, bits of cherries, peas, and scrambled egg yolks, among others. They seem delighted to munch away merrily while Bill and I prep (and eat!) other items nearby in the kitchen.

They’ve also developed new eating skills.

Cate is putting her new teeth to work. With many finger foods, instead of popping them into her mouth, she now uses her thumb-and-finger pincer grip to hold an item close and use her front incisors to take tiny bites of it. Envision a dime-sized rice puff being eaten one nibble at a time. She makes small items even smaller with tiny audible crunch sounds. Cute!

Meanwhile, Sam is working on spoon dexterity. If you scoop a bite-sized amount of food onto a spoon and bring it most of the way to her mouth, Sam will reach forward to grab the handle — usually with two hands — and guide/bring it the rest of the way into her mouth. So now instead of using one spoon to feed both of them, I’m using two in succession because Sam holds onto the last one while I give Cate the next bite with the other one.

So far, we (mostly) are not feeding them wheat, egg whites, peanut butter, strawberries, or shellfish, which aren’t recommended in the first year because of possible allergy risk. We’re also avoiding corn, cruciferous veggies, legumes, and aromatics that seem to result in voluminous gas (and attendant discomfort). Nonetheless, their culinary repertoire is growing, and they eat almost any grown-up food we offer them. Several parents have told me that their babies wouldn’t eat meat. But whenever I offer Cate and Sam crumbs of real meat (rather than meat-flavored slurry), like chicken, burger, or chicken-maple sausage, they devour it eagerly.

And I like it. During the many long years that we were trying to make babies, I somehow never particularly contemplated what it would be like to feed them (beyond breastfeeding). I am repeatedly surprised and delighted that they seem to really enjoy the food we make and offer them. It probably should have been obvious to me, but I’m rediscovering that eating together is fun.

Cool new card coming from Shutterfly!

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

I like our daughters’ 10-month photos so much that I ordered some cards from Shutterfly. And I’m telling you all about it here because they’ll give me $10 off our next order for doing so:

5×7 Folded Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Peekaboo with props

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

As I mentioned earlier, one of our favorite aspects of the big, lap-sized, Boynton board books is the die-cut hole in the front cover. Whenever we finish reading The Belly Button Book, Pajama Time, or Barnyard Dance, we wrap up with a round of peekaboo through the hole in the book.

I recently added the girls’ “loveys” to the mix, by having the critters in their blankets peek through the hole. This new approach delights the girls, and Sam and Cate both squeal with laughter when I do it.

This evening, we were in the midst of peekaboo when we got interrupted. I had just peeked Sam’s frog through the cover of Barnyard Dance several times when I got distracted by Bill joining us.

We talked for several minutes, and then I looked down to see Cate pulling her own lion through the hole by herself. She obviously noticed that I didn’t finish our game, and took it upon herself to finish it without me. Clever girl!

I’m hard-pressed to convey how ridiculously happy this made me. But suffice it to say that I think it’s wonderul!

Sleep adjustment update

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Sunday marked day 6, unless it’s 7 by now, of trying to achieve more sleep by adjusting the schedule. Overnight, when the girls went 2-1/2 hours before the next bink, then 2 more unassisted, it felt like we were making progress.

They woke at 6:45. We nursed, did bottles, played in the jumper and saucer, ate some egg yolks and oats with prunes, read two stories, and got back to sleep at 9 am. We were right on time for them to catch the mythical 9 am napping sweet spot.

However, Bill and I just had time to clean the kitchen before they woke up 35 minutes later and wouldn’t go back to sleep. Not only was the nap so short as not to count, but it moved up the rest of the schedule.

Instead of waking around, say, 10:30 am, ready to enjoy more activity until 1 pm, they woke at 9:40, scarcely rested, and were starting to fuss with fatigue by 11:15 am. We put them down for afternoon naps just before noon.

Instead of a nice, restorative,two-hour nap, they woke after just an hour. It’s a LONG time from 1 pm to any bedtime, and the girls were tired and fussy again mid-afternoon.

As Kelley observed in the comments to my last post, “sleep begets sleep.” Getting a good nap in the morning makes it easier to fall asleep in the afternoon and take another good nap. Getting a good nap in the afternoon makes it easier to fall asleep at bedtime abd stay asleep.

Abbreviated naps like the ones we saw through the week and weekend are a serious challenge. We’re making progress, but the girls are clearly still adjusting.


Thursday, September 6th, 2012

About a month ago, Cate figured out how to snuffle air in-and-out through her nose. Whenever she does it, she scrunches up her nose and grins at the same time. Yesterday, I finally caught her in the act.


Cate snuffling. If you look closely, you can also see the giant bruise on her left temple from where she bonked her head on the foot of our bed. Ouch!

First teeth: Sam! And lots of teething torment

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Cate cut her first tooth on June 20, and has spent the last two months teething, building her front four incisors one at a time. After some initial discomfort, she seemed to acclimate to the process. She’s now building a 5th tooth, on the bottom. And while she obviously appreciates teethers, she seems relatively undistressed.

Rather later, Sam cut her first tooth on Aug 21 (two weeks ago). Since then, she has already cut the second tooth, and is plainly working on the third and fourth, fifth, and sixth in stereo simultaneously. Yes, that’s SIX teeth at the same time. Rather than just sucking her binky at bedtime, she’s working it while she’s awake: sticking it in, biting down, and popping it out, in rapid succession, over and over and over. She’s not eating well, she’s fussing, and she’s gnawing on the coffee table (and anything else she can chew on), which all points to big time Teething Pain. Poor kid! Thank goodness for ibuprofen.

Sam is building four top incisors simultaneously

And just when Sam was beginning to learn to sleep for more than 45 minutes at a time, discomfort — from her teeth and/or hunger from not eating because her mouth hurts — is waking her up. But where before she used to take a binky and go right back to sleep, she’s now so uncomfortable that when she wakes she’s AWAKE. Several days this week, ibuprofen has let her sleep for only an hour or two before waking, and then she’s needed more milk and/or formula and a staggered dose of acetaminophen to get back to sleep 2+ hours later. Poor kid!

Sam working her binky. If you look closely, you can also see the giant fading bruise on her left temple from where she bonked her head on the foot of our bed. Ouch!

I understand that it will take most of the next year for them to finish making their first sets of teeth. For their sakes, I’m hoping they do more of them in series than in parallel!