Archive for April, 2013

In search of the One True Nap

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

As I mentioned earlier, it’s gotten harder and harder to get both girls to take two naps a day. Several folks have suggested shifting to one longer nap midday, but we’ve tried several times during the last two months and it just hasn’t worked.

Sometimes I could get one girl to take one later nap, but often as not, the other girl just ended up not getting an afternoon nap. That’s never A Good Thing.

In my experience, under-napped toddlers are not sleepy. Instead they’re wired, frenetic, cranky, aggressive, and clumsy. That is to say, they’re not only unpleasant to be around, but also scary.

The sleep books say that most toddlers are ready to transition from two naps to one, sometime between 15 and 18 months, sometimes later, and rarely earlier. Our girls are now 17 months past their due date, and I’m getting hopeful that they’re finally ready.

This morning, we kept them awake for about four hours before putting them down for naps, which is significantly longer/later than usual. And it seems to be working: Sam has been asleep for 2:15 (three full cycles) and Cate has been asleep for 2:51 (almost four cycles).

These are the longest naps they’ve taken in months! I hope this is a good sign that they’re ready for a long-awaited One Nap Schedule. I know that I am!

Something else we’re all ready for: lunch! Long naps mean breakfast was a long time ago. Time to go see about pottying and feeding some girls…

Sam Hugs #2 and #3

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

I’m not sure just why it happened, but Sam learned how to hug earlier than Cate. However, such things were not always given out with aplomb since there is just so much that a busy girl needs to do. As a result, I had gone a LONG time since I had gotten my first hug.

On Saturday, we went over the Bellaire to have lunch and to continue our property investigations. After the girls woke up from their naps, it was time to change diapers and start getting the girls ready to go out (they really like going out).

Sam usually does not stay still for me for a diaper change, but I told her repeatedly that we were going for a ride in the car-car, but that she needed to get a new diaper first. She grinned a big grin and was among the most cooperative she’s ever been.

After the change, I said, “All done. Listo!” and a big smile appeared on her face. I held out my index fingers to help her stand up, and instead of just standing, she jumped into my arms and hugged me! Sam hug #2!

Tonight, putting her to bed, she reached up and gave me a hug as we were transitioning from story time to placing the girls in their cribs to sleep. Hug #3.

You know, a dad could get used to this.

Lest I be accused of leaving out Catie, she’s become much, much more of a hugger of late. She also has gotten in the habit of running across the bedroom and jumping — somewhat — into my lap if I am sitting in the chain in our bedroom. All are great things.

Crunch redux.

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

I was just able to download the report from the Houston Police Department for my unexpectedly noisy backing up incident in my new minivan two weeks ago.

The investigator’s report says we were “both backing up from a private driveway” and “both backed without safety and struck each other.” There’s a cute diagram, too:

In short, young neighbor D and I are both at fault. So, in the interest of not unduly jacking the rates for our auto insurance, we will be taking care of this out of pocket. Nice.

Postscript: For more about how insurance rates are affected by crash claims, check out this article, which explains how to find out more about your insurance company’s “surcharge schedule” — the predetermined premium increase they will charge if you cause a car accident.

“Car insurance companies are required to file rates with each state insurance department where they operate, and included in that is how they’re going to determine rates after a claim is made.” They go on to recommend that when choosing an insurer, it’s in your interest to ask beyond your initial rate quote for the surcharge schedule, to make sure you won’t get gouged later if you actually have to make a claim. Good advice!

Eighteen months

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

Here are a few of Sam and Cate’s monthly birthday photos, from April 11th.

These adorable hooded towels — a dog and a fish — were gifts from my aunts Amy and Karin when the girls were born. We’ve only started using them recently, after the girls started walking, and Sam and Cate *LOVE* them.

Sam the dog

Cate the fish

Cate the fish

Sam the dog

Sam making fishy noises to go with the fish hoody towel


Friday, April 26th, 2013

In the lexicon of Houston’s Major Thoroughfare and Freeway Plan, Fairview is a “collector.” It’s busier than a typical residential street, and it has traffic signals in either direction from here, but it’s mostly only busy at school times and rush hour.

I remember my Realtor warning me about the perils of busy streets. But in the nearly 14 years that we’ve lived here, the only “interesting” traffic event was the time in August 2007 when the 18-year old kid crashed his car through our fence and came to a stop a foot from our steps… the same afteroon that we returned jet-lagged from France.

His girlfriend had kicked him out, so he had a duffle bag with all of his clothes, a ~27-inch tube TV, and a pit bull puppy that he carried around

So a couple of weeks ago, Claudia and I were playing balls with the girls in the front yard, when we heard a metallic crunch. An elderly woman ran the stop sign on Van Buren and broadsided the shiny black SUV of a dad taking his two sons to school.

Then on April 15, the kid across the street backed out at the very moment I did, and our vehicles met with a crunch.
This week, just 8 days later, a customer of the auto mechanic across the street, backed his old beater BMW into the driver’s door of our nanny, Claudia’s car which was parked on the street.

What the heck?!?

I love the convenience of living on a main street. But I’m no fan of crunching metal. I may have to think hard about where we want out next house to be.

Yogurt tower

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

I’m thinking it’s finally time to break out the Duplo blocks!

Sam built a tower from yogurt containers and a soft drink

Breakfast books with Daddy

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Last summer and fall, when we were still nursing three times a day, we enjoyed a reading “course” between nursing and meals.

After nursing, the girls would sit with me on the bed and we would read two or three board books together, before moving on to “solids.” For a while there, we were reading six to ten stories a day.

When we weaned to nursing just twice a day, we accidentally fell to reading together only twice a day as well. But Sam and Cate weren’t deterred for long. They started helping themselves to books off of my nightstand and poring through them at will.

A few weeks ago, they became more assertive. Now, when they want to read, they paw through the books until they find one they want to hear, and then they bring it to you and declare, “booka!”

Up to now, I have done the majority of the reading around here. But Sam has started pulling Dad into the fun. Most mornings, she pulls out the big First 100 Words book, brings it to the “big” chair, and declares for “Dad!”

The book has about a dozen photos per page of familiar objects, grouped by category, with names below each in a large font. At first we read the book, identifying each photo one by one.

But now, Dad has made it into a game. He asks, “who can find the… [dog, truck, broccoli, tree, etc], and one or both of the girls point to the picture in question. And if they’re able, they often say the name, too: dogga, trucka, brocca, etc.

Cate, Bill, and Sam

Bill often works long hours at his new job at GE, and the girls are often in bed before he gets home. Nonetheless, he’s in town and he’s getting Daddy Time moments like these on many mornings, and I’m glad.

The Continuing Adventures of Sampie and C’ay’ee

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

For the last month or two, both girls have been fairly clear (and confident) that Cate (or Catie-Cate in dad-speak) is named C’ay’ee. They can both almost get the “t” in there, but there is definitely a few extra pauses to consider. Poor Sam (or Sammie-Sam in dad-speak) has not had either girl be quite as confident in her name. All that has changed relatively recently with both girls proudly, loudly and eagerly calling each other by name. Of course, execution isn’t quite 100% so Sammie has become “Sampie” (or “Sampy”) while we work to figure out what a glottal stop is and where it should really go.

During the depths of our collective exhaustion, our friends Mike and Susan had confidently assured us that it would get easier and that, at some point, the girls would begin playing with each other. For them and their twin boys, this happened at about 15 months. For us, our girls started ‘playing’ with each other — such games as “steal the binkie” and “steal the binkie and run” — at around 13 months, right around when we seemed to turn the corner on sleep.

Just yesterday, though, the real fun kicked in. Both girls have loved playing peekaboo for quite a while. This is typically done with their blankies, but really, almost anything has served the appropriate purpose in a pinch. One of the lesser-used, but still loved, items for playing peekaboo has been the moon cut-out in the cover of the book, Pajama Time. One opens the book up, and then uses the body of the book to hide behind. Interrogation then obviously begins, “Where’s Mommy? Where’s Lion? Where’s a courageous elected leadership who actually works to help us through economic scenarios they continue to describe as apocalyptic yet seem satisfied to muddle through?” At an appropriate time, the hidden object in question moves to the cutout window in the cover (or the cover moves to the object), and the interrogation ends with “Peekaboo”. Well, except for looking for competent leadership. That still hasn’t popped out of the children’s story yet.

Last night, though, while a good round of family peekaboo got going at the end of story time, Sam and Cate began to play peekaboo with each other. Not just the typical “steal the binkie”, but actual, intimate play. With HUGE grins on their faces as they got close to each other to see if the other was really coming out of hiding. They called each other by name a few times in there, and Robin and I beamed. A great and happy night with the girls and the continuing adventures of C’ay’ee and Sampie.


Monday, April 15th, 2013

Ugh. In the middle of an otherwise lovely afternoon, our young neighbor across the street and I backed our vehicles into the street at the same time… and met in the middle with a small crunching sound.

Young D was parked directly opposite our driveway. Best I can tell, we were each poised to back into the street, waiting for traffic to go by. When the way cleared, we each pulled out without realizing the other was moving… and met in the middle.

I was driving my new minivan. The rear bumper seems to have done what it was supposed to do and has only a few blibs in the white paint to show for it. D’s older Dodge Intrepid has a big bumper-shaped dent in the back left door and a bit of the frame.

Claudia, Sam, Cate, and I were en route to meet up with Baba Jean and Susan Milius, who’s visiting from DC. We took bread and went to stalk ducks, coots, yellow-crowned night herons, and others. The girls seemed rather annoyed that they sat around in the driveway for an unduly long time not Going for a Ride in the Car Car. But we eventually got to Hermann Park and enjoyed a lovely sunny walk together. We’re all fine.

Later, Bill reminded me that D and I needed a police report if the damage was worth more than $300, which Mark the Mechanic next door estimates it is. (I haven’t collided with anyone in more than 20 years and didn’t think of it.) The police came, asked us a few questions, and filed an incident report… and then wrote D $600 worth of tickets. Apparently, his car was new to him over the weekend and he had not yet registered or insured it. Ouch!

D insists that the whole crash was my fault: that he was already in the street and I backed into him. Further, D has optimistically asked me to cover the cost of making basic repairs to his car door, plus cash to make up for not making it perfect. However, neither Claudia nor I saw him in the backup camera view until it was much too late. The geometry suggests that he pulled out late after I was in motion. The police declined to assign fault since our statements conflicted.

I could call USAA and file an insurance claim. But that is likely to result in higher insurance rates for both me and him. Particularly since pulling out the dent will cost less than our deductible, I’m not inclined to file a claim.

I’m also cognizant that he’s a neighbor. He seems like a good, earnest, kid and I’m not eager to foster any adversarial feelings. I’ll review the incident report once it’s online tomorrow, and talk more with D about expectations.

* * *
The girls got no naps because I was out talking with the neighbor and HPD. But they had fun playing with Susan, Baba Jean, and Claudia. Highlights of our play included acting out Eric Carle’s Head to Toe, and reading Sandra Boynton’s Doggies together, where each of us barked the parts of different dogs. Cate and Sam even both joined in for howling. Good times!

Speed blogging: Grateful for brief respites

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

I’ve been meaning to blog about our Rolling Nap Ops. As in, most days, if one or both girls take short midday naps, and I want them *both* to get a second nap, so as not to be frighteningly wired and unmanageable until bedtime… then I resort to driving them in my minivan until they fall asleep.

(Anymore, I can sometimes get one girl to take a second nap, but rarely both. I get downtime when both sleep. That hasn’t worked in the afternoon at home in about six weeks.)

In my head, as I’m driving endless circuits along Memorial and Woodway, from Downtown to IH-610 and back again — which takes approximately 20 minutes — I’ve been crafting a blog post about how much I love my 2013 Honda Odyssey minivan.

I would tell you about how it’s not only good for rolling naps, but also for picnicing by the park, stowing our doublewide Bumbleride stroller, moving furniture, and carrying 4 or 5 adults and two toddlers to the zoo. But alas, I cannot blog while I’m driving.

Today, however; by some small miracle, both girls succumbed to afternoon naps at home, in their own beds. I suspect that the afternoon showers and hair washing that immediately preceded said naps contributed happily to successful sleeping.

In any case, I am at home at my laptop — free to work on something — while *two* girls are sleeping in their own beds, *at the same time*. And I’m grateful.