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Dad's Coping Mechanism - 2009

2009 begins with the twins at 5 1/2 months. 2008 saw their pregnancy, birth story, and those first months.
2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012

December 26th+ - 27 weeks

Pictures and video.
Texts between us, regarding her flight home today:

I'll often lie or sit on the floor to be at the boys' level. One of my favorite things they do is approach me, find some open spot, turn around, and plop down to sit on me.

Dad - the human bean bag chair.
We used to say that Bob was developmentally a couple of weeks behind Drew, but not anymore. There's basically no telling who'll do what first, or sleep better, or get which tooth when, or say which words.

Generally, Bob is more high-strung, but by now I think that has more to do with personality than maturity.
As expected, the boys had a nice haul at Christmas, not that they had any idea why they suddenly had so many new toys. They also got several outfits and sleepers, which is great, because their it-fits wardrobe was getting pretty slim.
Liss is in Minnesota for a few days for family, so it's just me and the boys. I'm getting some help from friends, but mostly it's the three of us.

So far (two days in), it's been fine. They've been pretty mellow - in fact, so much so that now we're both wondering if they're just extra whiny around her. Maybe she's enabling it by caving sooner than I do.

Monday morning was the exception - besides Bob waking up early, they were both pretty upset for a while before finally calming down. Work mornings are the tough part of single-parenting these guys, as I only have so much time to get all three of us fed and ready to leave the house. If I show up to work without pants, we'll know why.

Two days to go.

December 19th+ - 26 weeks

The boys' present from us this year? One roll of toilet paper each, to do with as they see fit. I'm certain it will be a gleeful scene.
We went to a Christmas cookie party Saturday afternoon. The boys were happy as clams to be handed all that sugar. Whether it was related or not, they slept late Sunday morning - making us happy. This begs the question of repetition.
We're no longer 100% sure that Ellen will be the last. It's more like 98%. To that end, we won't be looking into permanent prevention for a few years.
Liss's new thing to say is that she doesn't have time to be pregnant. To the extent she can, she's just going to keep up her day to day life and then have a baby in a few months.
This is a horrible picture and caption, but it cracks me up every time.

December 12th+ - 25 weeks

After a week of the new car seats in my car, Liss took the boys in hers, which has the old rear-facing seats. Their reaction was something like the toddler equivalent of "Oh, I don't fucking think so, bitch!"
Article on whining, mostly for my future reference.
It's becoming standard for the boys to employ delaying tactics when it comes to bedtime, such as suddenly being playful and cuddly and happy. Another tactic is to refuse their milk before we read to them, but then drinking it after - just before getting into bed. I think they think it's delaying bedtime, at least, but only because they don't understand the math yet. After all, the time it takes them to drink doesn't change, so it's just A + B = B + A.
Amy passed this along. I think she's trying to tell us something.
In defiance of tyranny our pediatrician, we put the forward-facing car seats in my car. The infant ones are rated to 22 pounds, and the boys are 20, but their winter coats more than take up the remaining space.

The change gave me a chance to practice adjusting the rear-view mirror to look at them and say things like "don't make me come back there!" and "I'll turn this car around, I swear!"

They were unimpressed.
A couple of videos.

December 5th+ - 24 weeks

"Customers who bought this item [pre-natal vitamins] also bought:

Whipped Cream. Vanilla ice cream. Bacon."
Liss says she's been having a few more "practice" contractions than last time. It's nothing to worry about, but certainly something to watch.
This morning, as I was leaving for work, I told Liss "don't give birth!"

She pledged to try her best.
Seventeen months old.
A mom in an online twins community was describing her situation - she has a girl toddler and twin boys that have just started walking. She says "It's like having triplets with a super genius ring leader."

I guess we'll be like that, but with two ring leaders.
The boys have learned how to properly throw their own diapers into the bin.

Whenever I watch a movie or listen to music these days, I think to myself "could I stand to watch/hear this over and over again?" The word from parents of older toddlers is that they get easily obsessed, so I hope we can at least steer them in a tolerable direction. Those same parents would probably tell me "Good luck with that."

The overlap between that qualification and the media in question being of high quality is iffy. We watched Mamma Mia! a few days ago, and while it was just okay, I could handle an obsession with it. I've always liked Abba(*), and could mostly tune out the "plot" if it came to that.

(*) What'd you expect? Liss and I met in a gay chorus, ferchristsakes.
The boys sometimes grab a push broom or similar and copy our cleaning motions with them. This morning Drew had the long Swiffer, and we thought nothing of it. As I went into the kitchen for something else, though, I realized that he was trying to use it to knock the glass measuring cup off the countertop.

Creative use of tools. That's an important skill, right? 'Cause it's going to cause trouble.
We came under the expanding umbrella of Amazon Fresh's delivery zone a few months ago. That's been fabulous in and of itself, but as a bonus, frozen goods get packaged with a little dry ice. This morning I used that to distract the boys from their usual "we're awake and cranky!" whinery, with a bubbly cloud in the kitchen sink.

Unfortunately, all it did was delay their fussiness, for the cloud eventually went away.
More Onion.
A friend of ours was due last Wednesday with a baby that was already estimated to be pretty big. Five days later, there's still no baby.
Now 12 days overdue.

November 28th+ - 23 weeks

From Liss:
Last month James and I read Free Range Kids, about how overprotective parents have become for overblown reasons. For example, there's no evidence that anyone has ever been harmed by poisoned Halloween candy or razor blades in apples, and far more kids are injured in car accidents being driven to school than while walking there. And so on. We'd like to think our own children could walk the block to the library together when they're 5 or so, but other parents will probably question our judgment. Which just confirms my suspicion that most people are fundamentally good, but not particularly logical.

We've been having these conversations at work too. Our family support worker wants to call CPS because a 9-year-old student is frequently left alone for a half-hour before school. A lot of parents won't send their kids to a school if it's close enough to walk, because they think riding the bus is safer. I think we should just go back to neighborhood schools, but other teachers have suggested that we should just bus everyone. Even if they live two blocks away, we should give them a ride so we can keep them at our school. Ridiculous: childhood obesity epidemic, anyone?

Teachers have also suggested that we need to have all our doors locked at all times, with a buzzer system. Why? Well, three parents have lost it and burst into classrooms this year. They've yelled at teachers or students who they feel have wronged their own children in some way, generally accusing everyone of racism and swearing up a storm. OK, it's a little disturbing but it's never gotten physical and these incidents have all ended quickly. Plus, it's three parents out of nearly 600 students. And for that they want to lock out the world.

They've gotten a bit more vehement this week. The man who killed four police officers in Lakewood over the weekend was shot not too far from the school a couple of days ago. And now it's said that he wanted to shoot up a school before attacking cops.

"So don't say it can't happen here!" a colleague chided me today. And I don't. It's scary that these things happen anywhere, let alone a few miles away. But it's still unlikely. The guy did kill 4 officers, but no children were harmed. And we prepare; we have drills all the time. They've already told us we all need to carry cell phones--are firearms next? It's like arguments about security vs. freedom with regards to preventing terrorism, though: where do we draw the lines?

When I talk to my mom about it she says we should all move to an island in Scotland. Sometimes that sounds like a good idea.
New milestone - Drew got his diaper off. Either we need to keep his pants on, causing him great anguish, or learn to put them on backwards.
It's a plunger!
It's a toddler toy!
It's both!
"Boys, go show your mother your teethbrush."
A friend of ours was due last Wednesday with a baby that was already estimated to be pretty big. Five days later, there's still no baby.
Lately I've taken to calling them my "little bizz-oys," which is exactly the kind of thing that'll cause them to roll their eyes at me when they're teenagers. I'll definitely deserve it, but I figure if you're going to embarrass your children - and all parents do - you might as well get to feel like you've earned it.

My and my wife's own parents are hereby disallowed from referencing the above paragraph.
After almost never mimicking us for the first year+ of their lives, they're doing it more and more lately. This morning might have been the cutest one yet. Every morning we make sure their two bears and binkies are accounted for so they're ready for that night's bedtime, but we couldn't find one of the bears. I got down on all fours and looked under Bob's crib, so Bob did the same. It was probably one of those "you had to be there" things, but if nothing else, it shows how they're turning into little people.
We'd thought that the boys' day care was going to be open the day after Thanksgiving, and we could drop them off and have a day to ourselves. However, we were mistaken, so we had them for four straight days. Fortunately, they were mostly pleasant, but our fuses were running short by Sunday morning. Taking care of them is a 13-hour a day job, so our weekends aren't very relaxing. That'll stop one of these days, but with Ellen coming, it'll be a few years.
Both boys got a bottom molar on their right side, again skipping the third tooth on that side. Maybe that was why their sleep was worse last week; it was better over the weekend.
Of course, this article says nothing about having to bathe them afterwards.

November 21st+ - 22 weeks

Anti-helicopter parenting article, a movement in which we hope to have a part, in Time.
We have some cute videos of the boys nude. I'm not sure what to do about them. YouTube's policy is basically "well, we probably won't ban them, but it's not really a good idea."
Pictures of both boys. They're all "Drew on the left, Bobby on the right" by coincidence.
We changed the boys' toothbrushes and toothpaste, and they find the activity much less repellent now.
Currently, the pregnancy seems to consist solely of her getting a little bigger and the Weeks incrementing in the headers of this blog. She had an OB appointment last Friday, which returned nothing of note, and that's the way we like it.

At some point, it'll affect how much she can do, but you can't predict when or how much. For all we know, she'll get put on bedrest at 28 weeks. If it's strict bedrest, that would mean not running after the boys (or me); when they say strict, they mean it. Or, she might get pre-eclampic and deliver at 36 weeks again - but that was probably just her body responding to carrying twins.

Or, she'll keep working until she's due and that's that. Who knows?
Gonna play the tuba."
The boys have been regressing the last several days - starting their whinefest at ~5:30am instead of 6:30. It's a big difference. We started putting them to bed later so they'd sleep later, but now we're getting the short end of both sticks.

There's supposed to be a true regression at 18 months; maybe this is the lead-up to that.
It turns out that our day care provider doesn't have off the day after Thanksgiving. I plan to take full advantage of that by taking the day off from Team Baby, since I have it off work. Otherwise it'll be a four-day weekend of Team Baby, and the two-day versions are tiring enough.
Guidelines be damned, we started giving them peanut butter this weekend. No trips to the hospital thus far.

November 14th+ - 21 weeks

Things I've learned about sippy cups:
  1. Get the kind that don't leak when held upside down, but
  2. With enough "give" that your kid can easily suck out its contents.
  3. The only way to know this is to buy several and try them out.
  4. Make sure they're see-through so everyone knows what's in them and how much, but
  5. Not clear-clear, because that means BPA and the end of civilization as we know it.
  6. You will lose at least one with liquid still inside, only to be found by your kid three weeks later, who will then proceed to drink from it. In Drew's case, the liquid in question was milk.
The dark side of their being neo-nudists is that they'll often show disdain for clothing.
The boys have discovered a great fondness for nudity.
I've added to the wish list by popular demand. More ideas may or may not be forthcoming. The general idea is winter clothing and things to occupy their minds and time.
Pictures. Videos.

November 7th+ - 20 weeks

Postscript from Liss:
Oh, also--when offered stickers, Bobby picked Remy from Ratatouille and Drew picked ... Tinkerbell. Gay, or just looking at the pretty lady?
From Liss after the speech pathology evaluation:
Our instincts were right: they're just a little behind. She didn't laugh at me(*), but kept commenting that they seem so normal compared to most kids she sees.

Normal is 85-115. Bob is at 84, Drew at 81. Bob's expressive language is around 10 months, Drew's around 9. Both are at 14 months (and in the normal range) for receptive.

But, this is compared to all kids and doesn't take into account that they are boys, twins, and still get credit for being a month early. Plus, she says they are way more interactive than other kids with the same score. She says come back at 2 if they don't have somewhere near 50 words and occasional 2-word constructions.

Drew picked up a new word there, too: she crashed a car into the wall and went "Boom!" and he copied "Boom!" and thereafter kept handing her the car and signing "more" and saying "boom."

No sentences on the way home, though.(+)
(*) We'd joked that they'd at laugh us for being your typical overparanoid "why isn't my baby gifted?" middle class white parents.
(+) We'd joked that the boys would be mum during the eval, and then say their first clear sentences in the car ride home.

We joke a lot.
A helpful reader pointed me to this tooth eruption schedule, which shows that the boys' gaps aren't all that uncommon, as the normal canine (3rd tooth) time is a few months behind the first molar (4th tooth).
Sixteen months old.
Pediatrician visit.

They suddenly weigh the same (19#2 with diapers), so I'm a little suspicious of that much gain for Bobby, but no biggee. He's a half inch taller - 29.5" to 29". Their weights are still under the 1st percentile, height at 1.5th% and 4th%, and head size at 15th%.

She saw right through us on the question of switching their car seats - "you want permission." Yes, we did. We didn't get it. They're to stay rear-facing until 22# and 34", the latter of which seemingly won't come until Kindergarten, and certainly not before their sister is born.

She's still not concerned about their weight, so there's no reason to introduce peanut butter early. We're to just keep doing what we're doing.

She hadn't seen the skip-a-tooth thing, and since they both have it, we'll probably take them to a pediatric dentist in a few months if nothing pops in. Liss had similar issues with those same teeth, as well as her brother and aunt.

We made a late December(*) appointment for an assessment with a speech and language therapist, as a cautionary measure. If they show improvement, we can cancel. As the ped said, they're probably just going at their own pace, but if there are actual problems, let's find out as early as possible.

Four - count 'em - four shots for each of them. Two in each thigh. They were very cranky this morning after solid sleep.

(*) Update: Winter break time slots are booked solid. It's now this Friday morning; they must have had a cancellation.
The daylight savings transition taught us that changing their night schedule takes a few days. We've been keeping them up later (7 instead of 6:30) so they'd get up later in the morning, and it seems to be taking hold. There's a little babbling and whining before they really get up, but we've been able to wait until 6:45 or so before getting them. Sometimes we're awakened by - our alarm clock! Amazing.

Their cribs touch on the long end. When we go get them, they're usually standing and facing each other while they babble.
The boys have a check-up Wednesday. Our biggest question will be whether or not we can put them in new, forward-facing car seats. The seats say the kid needs to be 34" and 22 lbs., but they're something like 29" and 20 lbs. However, at this pace, they'll be rear-facing another year, and they're already bored back there, staring at the back of the back seats. If she says no, we'll probably have to suck it up and get new seats designed for smaller toddlers to face forward.

Their size is another topic of conversation. Not only are they in the less-than-1st percentile for height and weight, but they're growing too slowly to even keep pace. Since they're healthy, it probably doesn't matter, and hasn't so far. However, we may ask about introducing peanut butter early to get more calories into them. The general recommendation is to wait until three years, but there's no allergic history in our families, they haven't shown any other food allergies yet, and again with the calories. We'll see.
There seems to be a small grass-roots movement to refer to her as Ellie instead of Ellen. It doesn't bother me, but I think I'll stick to the latter.
Crawling is pretty rare now. Usually it's over an unfamiliar surface, and otherwise they ... toddle.
Something I wrote about a year ago:
It seems a common opinion that if I were to have a daughter, especially as the youngest, she'd have me wrapped around her finger. I don't argue.
Another example of their general awareness is that, when they're done with something, they'll either give it to us or try to set it on a surface as opposed to flinging it to the floor. It's not 100% yet, but in just the past couple of weeks it's gone up from zero to maybe 50%.
In the continuing saga of "are they saying things or not," Bob may or may not have said "Thanks" when I gave him a bunny cracker this morning. Of course, it was more like "ank," but Liss and I both looked at each other with recognition. The real point is that he wouldn't have been merely copying what I say, but engaging in give and take conversation.
For now, brushing the boys' teeth is mostly for the practice, so they get used to the idea before doing it themselves. They tolerate it at best, and sometimes go ballistic trying to avoid it.

This morning, however, they were upstairs with us while we got ready for an outing, when I started brushing my own teeth. Drew was curious and wanted to borrow my toothbrush, so I handed him his. He happily put it into his mouth. Bobby, curious what his brother was up to, wanted the same and got his own. The two of them had their brushes in their mouths for the rest of the morning.

Tonight they were again tolerant at best.
The boys have had some pretty terrible spells this week. We're pretty sure it's teething related, but whatever it is, it's not fun to watch.
Ultrasound pictures. As for the actual anatomy scan, everything looks normal. She's about 12 ounces right now. She actually measured four days ahead, which might get the due date bumped up a few days. The next OB appointment isn't for a couple of weeks, so we won't know until then.
Quote from my dad: "She will be the first girl in this line of Mungers since my Aunt Betty was born -- around 1918."

There was legitimate concern, based on this family history, that it was only possible for me to have boys. Now we know otherwise.

October 31th+ - 19 weeks

It's a girl!

Her name will be Ellen Joy.

Ultrasound pictures later.
Pictures of both boys.
Bobby had a bad night. We think it's his teeth. That fourth tooth on his left side has almost broken all the way through. It can't be comfortable.
Ah, The Onion.
Either twin will grab two binkies, pop one in his mouth, and bring the other to his brother. It's very sweet.

This morning, Bob grabbed two, popped one, toddled the other over to Drew, smacked away the milk cup he was drinking from, and put the other binky in Drew's mouth.

It's the thought that counts?
A lot of things will be determined and set into motion by this Friday's ultrasound. While there's no reason for some to wait until then, it's been sort of our "okay, here we go" date on the calendar - kind of like when the roller coaster gets to the top of the hill, and you finally see the vast chasm below.

So, assuming everything looks okay in the scan, we'll need to: I'm sure I'm forgetting things.
Minor milestone - when Liss gave them little cups full of cereal, they ate without dumping the cups on the floor for a good ten minutes.
Monday the day care lady called Liss to have her pick up Bobby, who was running a fever. He seemed in good spirits despite his 100F reading, still babbling and playing. However, at some point he got fussy all of a sudden - and then puked up everything he'd eaten all week, or so it seemed. Five minutes later, he was happy again.

This morning he was down to 98.9, but she stayed home with them anyway.
This morning one of those things you dread happened, but thankfully in a minor way. I slipped down the last few steps carrying Drew, bonking his head on the wall. Two minutes later he was happily shaking a cat ball that was nearby, but he was understandably upset before that. It was more scary than painful - for both of us.
Probably a joke from Roman times:

Giving birth really takes it out of you.

October 24th+ - 18 weeks

While keeping them up later has been fine, they haven't been waking up later. That's going to suck when their current 6am wakeups become 5am wakeups after the time change.
Lately, Drew has become what one would call "not a morning person."
We're keeping the boys up later in preparation for turning back the clocks this weekend. They were pleasant until well past their normal bedtime tonight, so maybe this will be a smooth transition.
It's not like we want their first words to be for food, but we'll probably have to concede it. They've both said some semblance of "bunny" (for a bunny-shaped cracker they like), "muffin," "cheese," "ball," and maybe "bottle." And maybe "kitty" and "binky."

They're very short syllables, like "buh" and "chee" and so on. They only do it when we model the words so far, so you'd never know what they were saying if you didn't already know. It's a start.

There's certainly nothing in reference to us or each other or themselves, though.
Pictures. I'm trying a new thing - click the [+] to reveal the video, and [-] to hide it again. Let me know if it doesn't work for you (or if you hate it). What you can't see in the stateroom picture is that we pulled out the wire that goes to the phone. The first thing they did when we got there was make a beeline for the phone ("electronics!"), which allows you to press buttons that do active things (like call the front desk) without even picking up the receiver. That didn't last long.
The boys were very pleasant most of the weekend. Even when they wanted attention, they asked for it without whining, and were happy to sit in our laps. They even slept until 7 Sunday morning, which is a minor miracle.
Liss noted that she's now at the halfway point of her pregnancy with the twins. Of course, everyone's hoping this one goes to the full 40 weeks; it's just a mental note.

October 17th+ - 17 weeks

From two weeks ago:
The boys have been sleeping later, getting up around 6:30 instead of 5:45. This has happened before, and we've been bitten by regression before, so we're cautiously optimistic at best. For now, though, we'll take it.
They're back to 5:30.
I'm pretty sure the boys have smuggled a video monitor into their cribs. They always seem to know to start crying just as I pour milk on my morning cereal.

Either that, or they were born with the weirdest psychic ability in history.
While at urgent care, Bob got a weigh-in of 18/8. He was 17/14 three months ago, so that's an even slower pace than the pound he should have gained in that time.

Tiny toddlers.
I keep alternating between calling the boys "large babies" or "small toddlers." We're in that transitional period where both are true, though which is more true than the other is changing over time.
The big ultrasound is November 6th, during which we'll hopefully find out the sex of the baby. In May, I laid out lots of what-if scenarios for trying to conceive, but now we're down to just "it's a girl" or "it's a boy."

If it's a girl, and Liss ends up with another c-section, they can just fix her while they're in there. If she doesn't get opened up, we'll have to figure out another way to please don't have a fourth.

It's unlikely that I'd be the one to get fixed, though, since I plan to have a mistress in my mid-life-crisis years, and she may want a kid.
Liss has just really begun to show in the last week.
Our main "hurry up and wait" right now is words, or as we put it, English. They babble up a storm, and definitely understand a lot of what we say, but still have a hard time telling us what they want. According to this and others:
"At his first birthday, your child will likely use one to five words meaningfully. By 14 months, that working vocabulary may grow to seven real words ..."
And here:
By 15 months, most toddlers can say 10 to 15 basic words.
We're at 15 months, and basically have nothing. We think "buh" means "binky," but that's all we've got so far. There's no cause for concern until 18 months, but that doesn't stop us from being irrational about it. Fortunately, we also have this:
The number of words toddlers understand is far more important than the number they speak during the second year of life.
We got this book on "letting go" for a friend's baby shower, and one for ourselves while we were at it. It's all about how parents have changed in the last generation to allow their kids less freedom lest they be harmed or kidnapped or whatever. I say that parents have changed because kids haven't, and crime statistics actually show that we're safer than any time since the 60s, despite what the news sensationalizes.

There are a couple of things I note about the book's common themes. One is that "we had more freedom as kids." That's generally true for anyone who's an adult now, but tomorrow's adults may not be able to say that. In fact, over-paranoia might become so normal that a parent can't choose whether or not to let their 8-year-old walk three blocks to buy a loaf of bread, because it'll just be illegal.

The other is that a lot of testimonials included that people were overly cautious "even though our neighborhood is perfectly safe." The thing is, ours isn't. We had a shooting this week a block from our house. We were burgled last year. I can already tell I'm going to have difficulty with this.

Liss says there was a big stink about a kid riding his bike to her school a few years ago, because they didn't know what to do with the bike. They have no racks, and didn't want to be responsible for it if something happened. I remember rows of full bike racks at my schools in the 80s.
Liss took Bob to urgent care over the weekend for some breathing noise. He has (had?) mild asthma, hopefully just associated with a cold he's been suffering. They prescribed a special inhaler, which he took to surprisingly well, considering it covered most of his face.

The night they went, as we were preparing to put them to bed, she wondered if we ought to give him a "hit" to help clear his passages first. She read the packaging, which said "may cause sleeplessness and irritability."

Guess what we decided.
Random little things.
Liss had a "boring" OB visit, which are the best kind.

October 10th+ - 16 weeks

So. The weekend cruise. Or, as Liss puts it, "my third worst idea ever."

It was a three-day thing to Victoria and Nanaimo, British Columbia. A cruise in and of itself is a good thing; we took one to Alaska for our honeymoon and had a fine time.

However, the whole point of a vacation is to relax - especially on a cruise, where 40% of the people on board are underpaid workers whose sole purpose is to help you do that. With two toddlers in tow, that wasn't possible. Liss concisely said that we had to be "on" all the time, as they were hell bent on exploring and/or overwhelmed by their surroundings. Even the kids' area doesn't let you drop off kids under three, so we had to stay there with them and make sure they didn't get into the ball pit (diapered = off limits).

It turns out that cruises offer babysitting for a reasonable $8/hr, so we signed up for it all three nights. The first night (Friday), we took them to dinner first, knowing it would end past their normal bedtime. They got so cranky that we left early to put them down. The poor babysitter had to wait outside our room while they wailed (common when we put them down), but then we got a couple of baby-free hours out of the deal.

Now, a stateroom is a tiny place. After all, you're on a cruise, so why would you need to do anything there besides sleep and store your stuff? The challenge comes when you try to cram two pack-and-plays in there, but that wasn't really an issue. The sore spot was that we were in the room with them, so we had to be extra quiet lest they see us and start wailing at 2am. After all, we didn't know how thin the walls were (as we came to find out, "kind of" thin), and we generally like to avoid wailing as it is. Meanwhile, every whimper and groan woke us up.

Saturday - the first full day - the boat was docked at Victoria. We didn't want to disrupt their nap schedule, so we went to breakfast and the kid place and elsewhere until naptime, then lunch, then Victoria. We walked around downtown for a while, but maybe half the afternoon was spent on a bench in front of the Empress Hotel while they charmed passersby and poured their milk onto the sidewalk.

That night, we changed our plan. The dinner menu is printed ahead of time, so we told her family what we wanted, put the boys down, waited for the babysitter to sit outside while they wailed, and went to dinner, where our food was waiting. It worked out pretty well, and we saw a good comedian before tiptoeing back to bed.

Sunday the boat was anchored a couple of miles from Nanaimo, which doesn't have a deep-water harbor, so they were shuttling people back and forth in a smaller boat that was definitely not meant for strollers. So, Liss's mother offered to take the boys after lunch (the morning was very similar to Saturday), while we took a boat into town. It was [Canadian] Thanksgiving weekend, but enough things were open that we got to be touristy, especially for our big weakness - used bookstores. You can learn a lot about a town by its used book selection.

Sunday night we followed the same plan of putting the boys down before dinner - except the babysitter didn't show. The guest relations people couldn't track her down. That was Liss's breaking point. Her mother took over the duties so we could get away, though much of it was spent over a Scrabble board, which has become our "thing." Conspicuously, none of the babysitting was on our final bill. Either they screwed it up or deleted the other two nights; I'm thinking the latter.

Next time we have a chance at a vacation, we'll suck it up and get a 24/7 in-house babysitter. After this vacation, we needed a vacation.

For the record, Liss's "worst idea ever" was buying a condo with her now-ex, and number two is ... she doesn't know, but wants to reserve the spot in the belief that she's done something else dumber than thinking up this trip.

As a side note, the boys were understandably famous by the end of the weekend. As we were leaving, one of the employees approached us, very happy that she finally spotted "the twins she'd kept hearing about." And we don't even dress them the same. They're just that cute.
Fifteen months old.

October 3rd+ - 15 weeks

From Liss:
I went to the lactation consultant yesterday, at 15 weeks and change. This isn't THE Boob Lady, but someone who's willing to go to extreme measures to help me make milk for Kid #3. I've heard the term "Extreme breastfeeding" to mean those who nursed their children until kindergarten or whatever, but this is another kind. I'm SO determined to do this better--the antibodies and not-paying-so-much-for-formula weigh heavily on me though I confess to looking forward to weight loss and bigger breasts too sshhhh.

Anyway, the plan is:

-- Progesterone-only birth control pills from next week until a month before birth
-- Domeridone starting next week (there's a compounding pharmacy right across the lake now, hooray for not ordering drugs from overseas!)
-- Breast stimulation in the last month of pregnancy
-- Acupuncture
-- Oatmeal at least 50% of breakfasts starting right this second
-- Skin-to-skin for entire hospital stay and as much thereafter as possible
-- Supplemental nursing system instead of pumps or formula bottles for the first week, with possible pumping after feeding later
-- Go into labor rather than scheduling C-section (since I had a prior section) (but fine to have C-section after hormones have kicked in ... we'll see ...)

I don't think I'll ever make a full supply, but I'm optimistic that I'll make a lot more this time. Especially if this kid goes full-term and is healthy, which are both higher priorities than please let it be a girl.
The boys have been sleeping later, getting up around 6:30 instead of 5:45. This has happened before, and we've been bitten by regression before, so we're cautiously optimistic at best. For now, though, we'll take it.

At first I wrote "it's most welcome," but a quick search revealed that I've already used that phrase five times this year.
Way back in March or so, Liss's parents booked a weekend cruise for them, her brother, and the four of us. Now that that weekend is upon, we're getting nervous about how the boys will handle it. The biggest question mark is sleep. They haven't done well sleeping anywhere but their cribs, and we'll be in the same room to hear every whine. Who knows how soundproof the walls will be? The next is access to warm milk, though lately they've been transitioning themselves to less of that and more solids.

We had similar anxieties about their plane trip last winter, and that went fine, so we're probably just being paranoid.
Liss never ended up taking the boys to the doctor. The ped's nurse called her and asked to hold off, because they had a glut of sick babies coming in, and our problem didn't sound very bad. We've joked before that the telephone nurse is too quick to have patients come in, but the ped nurse said the same thing this time. So, we're just supposed to make sure things don't get/stay bad and make another appointment if they do.
Liss is taking the boys to the doctor this afternoon. For about a week, they've had more frequent and runny poops. The telephone nurse suspected the same thing Liss did - food intolerance. The prime suspects there are wheat and milk.

We're hoping it's "just" a low-grade infection or some other temporary phase.
From Liss:
The boys and I have invented a delightful new game. They wave a finger in the air, conductor-style, and I sing. Sometimes they'll babble extra-tunefully along. Today they started waving their fingers while we were at a restaurant (OK, a bar, don't call CPS) with James's alumni group (watching the Texas A&M vs. Arkansas nightmare). I hesitated, but the Aggies were all yelling at the TV so loudly that I figured nobody woud notice if we played the game right there.

They understand so much, follow directions, respond to questions. Now I'd just like some English, please.

September 26th+ - 14 weeks

I haven't seen or felt them yet, but Liss says they're getting too more upper teeth - not the eye (vampire) teeth, but the next ones back. Normally they come in from the middle to the back; I wonder if it's common to skip a tooth and come back to it later?
This entry involves potty humor, so those readers with weak constitutions may wish to skip ahead.

Last night both boys were in the half-bathroom, which is normally closed off and therefore a source of magical wonder. I went to check on them, and - perhaps by association - realized I needed to pee. I didn't shoo them out; my theory is that if we want them to learn to use the toilet, I should be showing them what we expect them to do.

It's worth noting that, when they soil a diaper, we try to put as much of the poop in the toilet before sticking the diaper in the trash bin. We also try to save water, so normally their poop will sit there until we use the toilet for our own purposes. This was the case at this time.

They were only paying marginal attention to me when I entered, but when I stood over and started my business, their attention became a laser focus. Within seconds, they were standing against the commode, holding on to the seat. All of a sudden, I realized that I didn't quite think this through, because they both had binkies in their mouths, and I wouldn't put it past them to drop them into the now-very-sullied water. You can't flush a binky, so there's only one other choice.

I only had a few seconds to contemplate that, though, because Drew started to reach for the stream. In a panic, and unable to move it or his hand out of the way, I stopped. Ow.

Everything went okay upon resumption, as they were fascinated by their own poop breaking up and moving around the water. However, when Drew realized the show was over, he ... reached for the source. I quickly defended my honor, flushed (also fascinating!), lowered the seat, washed my hands, and left them to their exploration.
Bob's had the runs for a day or so. The day care lady called Liss and had her pick him up because of it. It's a normal day care thing to turn away a sick kid, but she only has the boys right now, and even if the problem were contagious, Drew would get it at home anyway.

So, Liss had to pick up Bob and take him to work for a few hours. This meant borrowing a car seat from a co-worker, since I take them to day care and therefore have both seats. Since I won't get home until later, she'll walk the mile with him over her shoulder unless she can get a ride with the co-worker she borrowed the seat from. Then she'll have to walk back in the morning (unless it's raining and I drop her off - an hour early), because her car will be there overnight.

For tomorrow, I'll take Drew back to day care and their old nanny will come to the house to take care of the sick Bob. The only part that bristles me is that day care is a flat monthly fee, so we've already paid for him to be there, but now we'll pay the nanny for a day as well. Neither Liss nor I can take off work tomorrow - at least, it'd be a bad enough idea that paying the nanny is worth it.

I guess this sounds whiny. It just seems to me that our child care provider may not realize the trouble she's put us through with a marginal decision we can't appeal.

I'd bring Bob to work, except nothing would get done - not because of his runs, but because he's so distractingly cute.
In the time span between the two pregnancies, Liss's health co-op instituted a policy whereby expectant mothers had to take a class about giving birth and what to expect at the hospital's birth center. So there she was, sitting in a class with other newly-pregnant women, learning nothing new while I wrestled with the boys at home.

Her greatest restraint was not telling the others how the first ultrasound missed the twin.
After the breastfeeding debacle of the last pregnancy, Liss is being more vigilant this time. She has a referral to a lactation doctor, who will probably put her on a regimen of birth control pills(!) and a slightly controversial drug. This combination is used successfully by women who aren't even pregnant - such as lesbian partners and women expecting an adoptive baby - so we have high hopes that it'll give Liss a kick-start.

The drug is so regulated that only one pharmacy in Washington carries it, which fortunately is about eight miles from our house.
The boys have been mildly sick for a few days, as evidenced by their 3 1/2 hour nap on Sunday. Mostly it's a little cough and a little sniffle, but they're still too young for drug relief. All you can really do is wipe their noses, keep them hydrated, and feel bad for them.
Bobby's seventh tooth came in over the weekend.

September 19th+ - 13 weeks

I read a book on "your 1-year-old" that was written in the 80s, and it showed. The first half was fairly useful - they'll get gradually fussier and sleep worse from 15 to 18 months, then gradually better until 21 months. The second half was a hodgepodge of new age theories I'd never heard of, which tells me they didn't survive peer review.
Bobby's taken his first steps. It's only a few so far; he's still a crawler.
"They know more than you think."

You hear that a lot about babies and toddlers. Just because they don't talk, doesn't mean they don't understand.

When I picked the boys up from day care, they were so excited (natch) that they dropped their binkies before crawling over to me. The day care provider and I instructed Bobby to go get them. He crawled over and popped one in his mouth. We asked if he could please get his brother's, too. He grabbed it, crawled back, and handed it to me.

Next stop - changing their own diapers!
We'd been planning to go to the Vancouver Olympic games this winter (with her parents in Seattle to watch the boys), but she'll be almost eight months pregnant then. Instead of going for a week, we'll see about taking the train up for a weekend and seeing a couple of events. The silver lining is that it turns out that tickets to events are outrageously expensive, so we'll be saving that money.
Liss is moderately famous at her OB's office. In his ~15 years of practice, he's only missed a twin once using his small office ultrasound - Bobby. So, she made him look extra hard last month. Between that and the single heartbeat on a couple of occasions, we're as sure as we can be that he hasn't repeated the faux pas.
"Your pregnancy test was positive. This means that you are pregnant." [picture] We already knew that, but it always helps to have the professional backup.

The way the tests in the picture work is that there's one line that says it understands you're peeing on it, and another that shows up if you're pregnant. The first one (bottom) was very, very faint. So, a couple of days later, she took the next one up - slightly less faint. And so it went until the fourth, which was pretty solid. The tests were messing with our heads.

We did well, conceiving on the second month of trying.
Pregnant. Due March 28th. Only one that we know of.

September 12th+

I'm certain that whoever came up with the phrase "sleep like a baby" never had one.
Just over the course of this weekend, Drew has switched to walking as his primary mode of transport. The turning point was when I first saw him go from sitting to standing in order to walk somewhere, instead of the standard sitting to crawling.
Fourteen months old.

September 5th+

Bob can get up the stairs now. Like Drew before him, he's having a little trouble getting over the bottom bar of the open baby gate at the top, but he's getting it.

Meanwhile, Drew's walking more and more lately. It still won't be his primary mode of transportation for a while, though.
I was a few seconds away from getting onto I-5 this morning when I realized I hadn't dropped the boys off at day care yet. Oops.
From Liss:
I just noticed our former nanny's phone number among this evening's Missed Calls. School starts tomorrow. We never specifically told her "You're not coming back in September" because we weren't sure; but last June's calendar said "LAST DAY" and I did mention trying to get the boys into "school" for this year. Plus, I'd have wanted her before the first day of school.

The right thing to do, of course, is to call back to clarify: No Job For You. Awkward, but right.
The upstairs bedroom doors have those spring stoppers that go Twaaaanananangg when you kick them or whatever, which the boys find endlessly amusing. They're part of the reason that the upstairs has sort of become the "bored babies when it's raining" place to go for a change of scenery.

So one evening, we were in the living room, thinking that Drew was on the other end of the floor exploring the dining room, when we suddenly heard a muffled Twaaaanananangg from above. We hadn't put up the portable baby gate, so he had climbed the stairs and made his way to one of the stoppers.

He doesn't exactly have the stealth skills of, say, a Navy Seal, but right now that's probably for the best.
Bobby definitely uses the headshake "no" with full intent now. It's very useful. A typical exchange goes like this:
  1. He claps his hands for "more," which still means "gimme."
  2. We show him something he might want to eat or play with.
  3. He shakes his head "no."
  4. Go back to step two. Repeat.
Eventually, though, we can usually find out what he wants. It's still a lot better than just whining and pushing everything away.

August 29th+

It appears that Bob is getting the hand sign for "milk," and possibly realizing that shaking one's head means "no." It could just be mimicry, but there seems to be a touch of insight in there.
Drew's becoming more likely to take steps as long as he's already standing with support, though rarely does it have anything to do with us. Encouragement seems to make him gun shy - either that or he knows he's faster at crawling, and decides he wants to get to us sooner.
Liss says it's a good thing that I'm the one dropping the boys off at day care, because they already recognize that they're being dropped off and won't see us all day. As a result, they wail uncontrollably. If she had to witness that scene and leave them in that state, she says, she'd probably join the wailing.

Besides all that, she gets 45 minutes alone every morning.
A new chapter - the boys start day care today.

Except for today, I'll be the one dropping them off and picking them up. We only have one pair of car seats, so it has to be the same person each way, and it makes more sense that it be me. She'll be using the extra time to work on her National Boards, when she's not using it to not do the nothing that she hasn't been able to not do all summer.

August 22nd+

Pictures and video.
Bobby may or may not have pointed at me and said "Da-da" twice and pointed at Grace and said "Kit-uh" twice.

But if that wasn't his intent, he was damned convincing.
Some little things.
We've secured day care, starting next week when Liss starts back to work. It's a place about a mile away in someone's home.

A lot of people have asked if we were looking near my workplace, which is 25 minutes from home. The thought never even crossed our minds; if I'm sick and they're not, I don't want to have to drive 50 minutes - twice - to get a restful day.

August 15th+

Bobby has refused blueberries since getting sick after eating them in late July.
Hopefully we'll conceive kid number three early enough to avoid the awkward scene in this video.
Over the last year+, we've gone through a lot of kids' books, but have rejected many as being too insipid or irritating or dated or whatnot. We have maybe twenty that have made the cut. Of those, at least half are by Sandra Boynton. Another several are the "That Not My ..." series of touch books.

The boys aren't terribly interested yet. They're starting to get too old for the touch books. Mostly they just like to turn pages as quickly as they can muster.
The day care hunt is not going well. It looks like we may have to stick with the nanny, which was something like Plan D.

While on the surface it may seem racist to reject a day care run by a Somali immigrant family, for example, we're also talking about a very different culture. In that example, it's a very strict and patriarchal society. We don't want the boys to spend their early years being taught that men are automatically superior to women. They need to learn that on their own.

We've heard that 12-18 months is one of the more frustrating periods, because they want things, but can't articulate what they are. We've been trying the hand signing, but mostly it's just Bobby using the "more" sign to mean a general "gimme."

We also made what I call a mistake in letting them ask for - and get - samples of whatever we're eating. They can pretty much eat anything we do by now, but that's not the point. When I sit down to my morning cereal, I don't need two babies hanging onto my legs like dogs, begging for my scraps.
The truth is, we're in no hurry for them to walk. We still help them practice with the wagon and so forth, but it's not a priority.
While Drew can take a few steps, he doesn't do it often at all. Usually it goes like this: Meanwhile, Bob hasn't taken any steps. In fact, he doesn't stand without support very much yet. He's a master crawler, though, so I guess he's not in a hurry.

August 8th+

Simple pictures in simple outfits.
People tell me the boys look like me, but I don't see it. However, when I look at this old picture of myself at about 18 months, the similarity is ... eerie.
Thirteen months old.

August 1st+

Drew's doing the feet-first thing now, too.

Nine months ago, these guys were lumps of eating, pooping meat. The first year is about weight gain, but from their first to third birthdays, they're only supposed to gain about ten more pounds. Most of their digestive efforts are now going toward developing the human body's gas guzzler - the brain.
Bob's figured out how to get off the couch feet-first.

July 25th+

Friday night video: Drew's second steps. I didn't have the camera for the first ones.

This is four steps; the first was more like a dozen.
A little jello and a light bottle for dinner, and the boys slept fine in their room despite the heat, with no puking. We even put them down at 6pm instead of 7 for lack of an afternoon nap, and they still slept 'til 6am (Bob) and 7. We'll take it.
Here are the name popularity charts for newborn boys - Robert and Andrew, courtesy of this site.

Looks like I picked my boys' names like I pick stocks.
Sunday night's blueberry puke incident was just the beginning. Monday night, it was Drew. Tuesday, it was both. I'm having difficulty deciding whether or not last night was worse than the Mother's Day cut finger.

Liss had the idea of running a cool bath for them well before bedtime, to let them cool off. While she went up with Bob, I was preparing bottles when Drew became increasingly upset. I picked him up, and he heaved all over my shoulder - twice. As I was taking him to the kitchen sink, he got the floor, and then I held him over the sink until he was seemingly "dry."

Rather than sully the bath that Bob had already started, I put Drew in the other bathtub and ran the water. He was livid, but I still needed to undress and clean myself with washcloths lest it drip everywhere. Once he was clean-ish and in the other tub with his brother, he calmed down.

Keep in mind that during all of this, it's about 89 degrees in the house.

After a bit, we put them down in the pack 'n' plays in our room, and they fell asleep a little while later. When we went to bed ourselves, however, I checked and saw that both of them had puked again. Drew's was just a little bit on his pillow - to the hallway it goes! - but Bob's was a nice pool that had wettened most of the bottom. While I was trying to clean it, he rolled into it and woke up. Liss changed him and put him down in his normal crib, where he slept fine after that.

We have theories, but the main change lately is the heat. I think it's acting as a general stressor, and changing their sleep environment - hot as their room is - isn't helping with the stress part.

Liss said the cut finger made her feel like a mom; last night I definitely felt like a dad.
Random pictures. Can you guess which baby gets excited when I pull out the camera?

(*) Or so she tells me.
Monday night Drew reprised his brother's overnight regurgitation by doing so in his pack 'n' play. I noticed as we were going to bed, which brought up the age-old question: to wake the baby, or to not wake the baby?

Waking him held a good chance of having two wailing babies for an hour, it wasn't much, and he wasn't really in it, so ... we didn't.

I sure hope it's not the weather causing this, because the heat's not going away for several days.
It's currently 9:15pm and 87 degrees in the living room. Seattle is forecast to be like this all week. I get to work in air conditioning, but Liss has no such respite, except in our bedroom, which has a window unit. I foresee a lot of trips to the mall.

The boys get cranky (okay, cranki-er) in the heat, so tonight we put them in our two Pack 'n' Plays(*) at bedtime. This means we'll have to be extra quiet when we go to bed, and use as little light as possible to do so.

We'll see if they sleep well, or at least well enough. If not, Plan B is to put them in the basement, which is cool relative to the rest of the house, reasonably dark, and not under our feet. However, we'd have to make sure the baby monitor works from two floors away.

(*) Packs 'n' Play?
Weights at the pediatrician: 18/6 for Drew and 17/14 for Bob. We figured they were around 20 each by now, but nope. This puts them both around the 1st percentile for their [unadjusted] age. Their heads, however, are still around the 35th.

Bob measured taller than Drew, 27.5" versus 27", both also around the 1st percentile.

She (the ped) says their small size is no cause for concern. They're just small people. This means we can use their infant car seats a while longer. They go to 22#, and we thought they were closer than this. It turns out that the growth curve slows considerably after the first year; the 5th percentile of weights is 23# at two years and 27# at three years, and since they're both under that part of the curve, we have time. They got some birthday money, which we might now use to get a window air conditioner for their room instead of new car seats.

She declared them to be in perfect health.
Since they're constantly teething these days, we sometimes give them baby Tylenol during particularly fussy episodes. It tastes like grape candy.

While giving some to Drew, Bobby came crawling over, pulled himself up on my leg, looked up at me, and gave me the "more" hand sign.

Smart little bugger.
Sunday night I smelled something while going up to bed, which I thought was from the cat box on the staircase landing, for lack of better information. It was in my bathroom and the boys' room as well as the hallway, but with all the fans we had going, I couldn't pinpoint it. It was dark in their room, so I couldn't see anything.

Cut to Monday morning, and there's Bobby lying in his own half-dry puke, mostly blueberries. I guess he got a bad one. He hadn't eaten anything at bedtime, which is unusual, so now I guess we know why. So yeah, we feel badly today.

Fortunately, he was fine - after removal of clothing, a wipedown, and a full bottle, he was happily exploring the dishwasher with Drew.

July 18th+

The boys seem to have learned the baby sign for "more," as in more food, though we're not sure they only use it to mean that. It might just mean "food," or even "figure out what I want and give it to me" ... but it's a start.
Over the years, I've come to stop using the common "I just don't have the time" excuse for things I end up not doing. The truth is, even now I have lots of time. If time were the limiting factor, the house would be cleaner, I could write music again or learn to cook or exercise more, and so on.

However, the limiting factor is energy. I have the time to vacuum twice a week - but not the energy. My piano is five feet from where I normally sit, but I don't play it much. You get the idea. Liss is in a similar place, though she does more than I do, like cook.

I guess it's a combination of the energy I have to put into my work, plus taking care of the boys, plus the chronic shortage of sleep. That last one doesn't just get negated after a few later-than-usual mornings, but hopefully someday it will.

Instead, when the boys aren't demanding our attention Right Now, we play on our computers and watch TV and movies. I played 3000 games of Freecell in the boys' first few months, finished Peggle and am working my way through the extra scenarios of Neverwinter Nights. She's recently gotten into jezzball after a long addiction to Bejeweled.

What do these have in common? That's simple: they require little (but not zero) mental effort, can be played with one hand - leaving the other free to hold a baby - and can be abandoned at a moment's notice and picked back up without penalty. In other words, they require little energy. And they take up our time.

I have several friends with small children who are still able to do creative things. Granted, they don't have two one-year-olds and a complete dread of feeling like an ass for pursuing selfish outlets at the expense of their spouses, but they still give me hope for my own future endeavors.
Liss this Tuesday:
I want to write about interesting things, positive things, intelligent things. But my days are not always any of the above. It's too hot to stay home with the boys, but too hot to drive anywhere cooler either. The boys are cranky from the heat, don't want to eat much but are starving--same as us, without the words to complain. It might work to play in the cool of the garage, but that place is an accident waiting to happen. The basement is cool too, but has those tempting litterboxes. So here we are. It's hard to walk far, though I got down to the light rail station today (air conditioned! new! light rail!) and headed downtown for lunch.

The thing is, though I get through the days fine, I'm still in a lot of pain. I dread mornings (Thank god and knock on wood, the boys are sleeping again), waking myself up early to take painkillers before the human alarm clocks sound. And I'm trying not to take too much now and I need to go to the doctor to discuss options because we're trying to conceive.

Tomorrow is James's and my third* wedding anniversary--maybe I'll think of something extra-tasty for dinner, but we're not going out until the weekend and then just to Harry Potter and dinner. Tomorrow the boys and I will go to swimming and probably out to lunch. I'll call the doctor during naptime (assuming there is one) and try to make an appointment for Thursday morning, when some friends have agreed to babysit.

Thank goodness for my family. James is my rock and the boys are, literally, the reason I get up in the morning. I'm so lucky to have them.

* Only 3? 3 already?
I think by "rock" she means I sit around and collect moss, but I'm not certain.
One piece of advice they give for parents of newborns is to keep a dim red light in their rooms overnight. Newborns can't see that color, so it allows the parents to check in or soothe their cries without turning on a harsh light.

With this, we've been looking in on them at our bedtime, "to make sure they're still alive."

The bulb burned out this month, and that night they slept until 6:45am, and similarly for the few nights after that. Because of this, we have no desire to change the bulb, and can't make sure they're alive at our bedtime anymore.
Speaking of light, my bathroom next to their room has four bulbs above the mirror. When the boys were younger, I loosened three of them to reduce the chances of waking them with it. I ended up getting used to it, so when we had a maid service come by recently and they screwed the other three back in, it was like the freakin' eye of Sauron in my bathroom.

I unscrewed three again.
Liss has been having a pretty bad time with her lupus this month. Since she now spends half the time in "may or may not be pregnant" mode, the doctors have to be careful about medication. Thursday they gave her a new drug which did absolutely nothing, to the point that she could barely get up the stairs to bed.

Seeing as her job this summer is taking care of two proto-toddlers, she "has to be functional" as she puts it. So, she hobbled to her bathroom at some unreasonable hour and took her old medication, which helped her get out of bed in the morning. If not for that improvement, she'd have asked me to take a sick day.

This will be one advantage when the boys start day care in the fall - if one of us is sick, we'll be able to drop them off and actually rest and recuperate at home.
In my own subconscious display of socioeconomic disdain, when the boys are shirtless, I tend to jokingly refer to them as "white trash babies."
Whenever I'm not sure which baby I'm addressing, I'll refer to him as "Bob or Drew."

"Hey there, Bob or Drew! Is it time for a diaper?"

"Please be gentle with the cat, Bob or Drew."

I'm sure I'm setting up future identity crises.
I have found that more experienced parents are completely unsympathetic to our current "stop the whining!" complaints, i.e. it'll get a lot worse.

July 11th+

To help wean them off formula onto whole milk, we're doing bottles of half each. They're still picky about temperature, so we nuke the milk before adding formula. Because of the short time this takes, I now know that the little rotating plate in the microwave makes one revolution every ten seconds.
From Liss:
The boys turned one on Saturday, and as predicted, life is not magically easier. It's certainly easier than it was a few months ago, though. They're on the verge of real communication (no words yet), they play and wrestle and chase and giggle, they love music almost as much as they love strawberries and yogurt.

We had a nice party--somewhat smaller than expected, but it's not like we have that much room to begin with. I made gluten-free cupcakes and a cool cake, which both boys gobbled down. They got some great gifts, including this delightful shirt.

Otherwise, though, things are kind of tough for me. I made this handy chart to explain the difficulties, and now I'll stop whining. I e-mailed my doctor to let him know I'm ready to consider the options.  I'm very aware that It Could Be Worse; I know my lupus is still, even in a flare-up, milder than 95% of those on the planet. It's just that most of those other 95% don't have almost-toddler twins to chase.

What was supposed to happen

What happened

Boys continue habit of 6:30 or later wake-ups

Boys start new habit of 5:00-5:30 wake-ups

Boys' predictable, 2-hour morning naps continue

Boys are teething/growth spurting and don't nap either

Liss works out and/or tutors during naps and gets healthier and wealthier

Liss has time to get dressed OR shower during naps, messes around on computer instead.

Lupus meds work their magic

Lupus pain intensifies

Subsisting on salads and seasonal fruit

Subsisting on leftover birthday cake and cheese

Frequent long walks

Hobble down to the mailbox

Lovely, relaxing summer with the boys

Frustration and fatigue, but still lots of fun

Since they started waking up at 5:xx instead of 6:xx again, we're trying a new experiment, giving them a bottle and putting them back down. Wednesday morning - the first attempt - they* cried for five minutes, then slept for forty or so. This morning, they* cried for five minutes, then slept for an hour. While we can't get back to sleep after all that activity, it's still better than being downstairs with two still-tired and cranky babies.

(*) And by "they" I mean Drewbie. Even when we go in the first time due to his crying, Bob's just been lying there staring at the ceiling, as if to say "Dude, would you shut up!?"
There's a new game whereby we crawl-chase the boys around the room. They'll even stop to look back and make sure we're still following, which implies a certain cognition on their part.

Liss has had knee aches from playing this, and I'm not far behind, but the boys love it, so we still do it.
The general idea when giving a new type of food to a baby (called "introducing" it) is that the longer you wait, the less likely they are to develop an allergy to it. There are eight major allergens, so people tend to be careful about when their babies first get them - with the obvious exception of milk. The most extreme is peanuts, which you're not supposed to introduce until a kid turns three. Most of them are fine by about nine months.

We've been extra careful about wheat, because both of our families have a history of celiac disease. The boys' birthday cupcakes were gluten-free, but now we're letting them have a small cracker or two as a way of introducing wheat. We'll see what happens.
More top teeth have broken through - one on Drew's right side, and both for Bob. This is our scapegoat for the goings on of the past few days: waking earlier, less interest in solids, and general extra-fussiness.

There is a world of difference between 5:15am and 6:30am. The latter was nice while it lasted ... a couple of weeks.
Speaking of binkies, they've come back in a big way. For a few months, the boys didn't seem to care for them, but now they're a must. This is both good and bad, but unlike previously, at least they can find them and pop them in on their own now.
One year old.
Yes, I've been lax with this for a couple of weeks. The reasons are many, and not in the "no news is good news" way.

July 4th+

Now that the boys can crawl with something in their hands, our main floor constantly looks like a tornado hit it. Everything reachable is a toy, and we pretty much only remove the unsafe from reachability. After all, they get bored without something new to explore, but the shelf life of awesomeness is pretty short, so you constantly need to introduce more new things. Fortunately, for now that means things like empty spice shakers, but if I'm any indication, later it will mean DVDs.

Someday they'll be old enough to make picking up their toys part of the nightly routine, but not quite yet.
Liss's mom arrives Monday for nearly a week; her dad will be here in a couple of days. Obstentiably, it's for the boys' birthday, but the length of stay means we get to have an excursion or two on our own.

June 27th+

"We need to get them little collar cameras."
Now that Liss's class is over, she's in full-fledged stay-at-home-mom mode for eight weeks. Don't think of it as a gender stereotype made real, though; if I were still a teacher and she did something else, then I'd be the one gladly caring for them all summer.
Bob seems to have come out of his latest (and possibly longest) fussy stage and plateaued to calm again. It's most welcome.
Only one picture this week, of Liss and Drew in an verticalized tent while a half-naked Bobby attempts to join them.

In an effort to assuage the picture-hungry public, here's a bit of humor regarding the process. I'd say that less than 5% of the pictures that we take end up getting posted, and here's an example of why. Many of you have now seen this fine picture of the boys; it was on their birthday invitations. What you haven't seen are the three rejected ones that necessitated continued attempts, but here they are now: one (Drew had just slipped, and I obviously needed to turn on the flash), two, and three.

Thank goodness for digital cameras. There must be billions of baby photos from previous generations that ended up in the trash, and rightfully so.
I've been sick as hell for days. I'll catch up on this thing soon enough.

June 20th+

One of our fantasies is to roadtrip with the kids to see a game in every Major League ballpark. Planning it out in my head, though, it doesn't seem feasible in a single summer. We'd probably have to split the country in half and do it over two summers instead.

My parents were young enough when I was born that I remember them in their 20s. I was too young to understand that in context, though; it's mostly remembering my very young self with them in the frame somewhere. They were in my 30s in my teen years, so I can remember them for themselves at that age better, but it's still kind of vague.

The boys were born when I was 36. It's likely that they'll have very little memory of me in my 30s. If my own experience holds for them, my 40s will be a vague haze later in their minds, and my 50s more solid.

That's kind of sad, because I was more fun when I was younger. I already have chronic health problems creeping up, I was more apt to try new things and meet new people, I wrote music, etc. Heck, just having two babies at this age - plus everything else going on - means I'm tired all the time.

I'm hoping that their energy will be infectous when they hit a better "play" age - catch! parades! the zoo! - but for now I must be the lamest dad around.
Not to seem opportunistic, but with the boys' first birthday almost here, we've updated the wish list.
Liss has a class all day Saturday and Sunday, so it's just me and the boys for most of the weekend. Since she's starting her stay-at-home-mom summer thing this week, I can't complain too much, but I can complain about not seeing her much for a whole weekend.
The last few nights have seen an annoying trend, whereby one of them wakes up just enough to cry for a few seconds, then goes back to sleep. That's plenty to wake us both up, and then we have trouble getting back to sleep ourselves. Meanwhile, he's snoozing away again.

The second-worst part is that we can't tell their cries apart, so we don't know whom to blame.
My first Father's Day as a dad wasn't different than any other Sunday. That's fine, as I've never been one for the arbitrary holidays, but if the boys want to make a thing of it in later years, I'll play along.

Something I find odd, though, are the few dads who make it a point to use Father's Day to take time away from their kids. I'd think if we're going to take a day to celebrate fatherhood, we'd do it by being active fathers.

June 13th+

Now that it's warmer, the boys' bedroom window is open to get rid of the stuffy air overnight. It just hit me this morning that our neighbors might be doing the same thing, and might be hearing our crying babies at all hours of the morning.
After his previous record of two, Drew made it up the entire flight of eight steps last night, ending up at the landing where the cat's food and water reside. Since I kept bringing him back down, he kept going back up - four times in all - before we strapped him into a high chair and gave him Strawberries of Distraction.

He has no idea how to get down on his own; he just knows that cat food and a water dish are great fun. A baby's desires don't involve thinking ahead.
I think Drew's starting to emerge as the dominant twin. He just seems more capable of entertaining himself or wandering off on his own, less frazzled by goings on, more likely to lead than follow Bob, etc.
One reason for me to want a girl next is the diaper situation. Based on my own observational experience, girls don't poop.
Proof that we're cheap: Target brand pregnancy test.

Proof that we're not that cheap: Dollar stores sell pregnancy tests.

June 6th+

Until their last two, baths were a fine time. They'd mostly just sit there and splash and gum their rubber duckies while we scrubbed them down.

The last two have been horrible screamfests, perhaps because we won't let them stand up or crawl, for safety reasons.

Liss is starting waterbabies in a few weeks. Hopefully this isn't an anti-water thing that will also manifest itself there.
Eleven months old.
The period of their waking after 6:30 seems to have passed. Alas.
Bob's always been the more high-strung twin, but lately he's been reaching new heights. It's gotten to where the only way to soothe him is food and/or picking him up and walking around. That's very two-month-old behavior. While holding a baby isn't the worst thing in the world, it precludes you from being able to do almost anything else, and gets especially old if he's still not particularly soothed. Twenty pounds of dead weight gets to be a workout.

In the past, we could always chalk up these spikes of fussiness to growth spurts, but those have been accompanied by more eating - not so this time.

While Drew has his moments, he mostly just calmly observes and explores his world. It's interesting to watch him look at a fussy Bob with this sort of "what's his problem?" look on his face.
There's a new game in town called "put things through the baby gate." Left to their own devices, the boys will grab whatever's available - loose diapers on the changing table are a favorite - and slip them all through the gaps in the bars. Sometimes they're especially rewarded by something bouncing all the way down the stairs and making noise.

While cute but slightly annoying, this is actually a prime example of two developmental advances. One is that this is a procedure, requiring multiple steps to get the outcome they want. That's kind of a big deal, and something they should be learning at this age. The other is that I doubt they both could have come up with this independently, which would mean that one thought it up and then the other observed and learned it.
We took the boys to their first baseball game, but they only lasted four innings. Well, Bob only lasted four; Drew probably could have gone a few more. It's just another example of how our social life is limited by whoever's fussiest that day.

To be fair, sometimes that's me.

May 30th+

Friday morning, Drew woke at 5:50 and Bob at 7:15.

Guess who's our favorite today?
Okay, this couldn't wait 'til the weekend for me to upload.

We bought a walker wagon to help them learn to walk. Drewbie took to it immediately, using it to walk several steps until running into obstacles. However, it's kind of light, so we put Bob in it to help weigh it down and get him involved.

This video is the result, and just may be the cutest thing ever.
Someone awesome needs to buy the house across the way from us, which is being sold for a song.(*)

(*) Relatively speaking.
Planning for a third kid/second pregnancy is very different from planning for the first. Instead of The Great Unknown, we're forging into The Great Mostly Known. Going for the first kid requires a leap of faith in your self, partner, relationship, future parenting abilities, and how her body handles the pregnancy. With the third kid, you've already made that leap - you're just learning how good your parachute is.

Every kid and pregnancy is different, so we can't assume that a = b = c (heck, a and b are twins but not equal), but since it looks like we'll all survive their first year, we can reasonably assume that we won't damage c too much, either.
We're planning to go to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver next February. However, if we get lucky and conceive this month, she'd be due then. If next month, she'd be eight months along, and so on. So, we've only booked the place to stay and are holding off on event tickets.

After all, we wouldn't want to deny the kid the chance to be President just to see some curling.
They're both getting their first upper teeth - one each. It looks like Bob's has broken the gumline, and Drew's is "any second now."
This whole "babies wake after 6:30" thing (six days in a row now) is a whole new dynamic. We were mostly awake when our alarm clock went off at 6:20 this morning, but that's what got us out of bed instead of their cries. It gives us less time to make sure they're fed and changed and we're fed and clean for work. It also means one less hour of baby time per day, but if that hour is sleep time for us, then we'll take it.

We dare not consider this permanent. Surely there's another regression coming - probably the day after we start taking this for granted.
Drew's started standing without support. It only lasts a few seconds before he lands on his butt, but that'll change with more practice.
The boys have woken up later for the last four days - 6:20 for the first three, and then 7:15 Sunday morning.

That's great news for us, but our brains need to catch up. We've still been waking up around 5:15 without wanting to, in "anticipation" of their waking.

May 23rd+

A few days ago, I put Drew on our bed while I changed. After a juke move to put me out of position to catch him, he practically dove off the side, flipping in mid-air to land on his back.

He cried like mad, as they often do after doing something like that. All you can do is comfort them and chalk it up as a learning experience - for both of you.
I don't know if it's a boy thing or what, but they both enjoy it when we roughhouse with them. They've even done a little proto-wrestling between themselves, which will surely only magnify with time.
We're taking the boys to their first Mariners game on June 7th.

After all, they're playing the Twins.
When I entered third grade, I insisted that people stop calling me Jimmy and go to James. It was an "I'm not a baby anymore" kind of thing. I remember it being a pretty smooth transition. My dad has a similar distaste to being called Bobby.

Eventually, the boys will do the same. With both, there are multiple possibilities: And that's not counting middle names.

Of course, we're being pretty silly for now, what with Drewbie, Drewfus, Drewbie-Doo, Drewbie To The Doo, Mr. Andrew, Mr. Bob, Mr. Bobby, Bobalou, Señor Bob, Roberto and others I'm forgetting.
We all spent an hour or so on the lawn after work because of the sunny but mild evening. Bobby spent most of the time exploring the immediate area, pulling up grass, etc. Meanwhile, Drew crawled as far away as we would let him, eventually ending up some fifty feet away, trying to eat rocks.

This means he'll end up moving to New York or something, and Bob will buy the house next door to us.
We've been "brushing" their "teeth" before bedtime, mostly to get them (and us) used to the idea. We expected them to fight it like wild dogs, but they actually seem fine with it.
We're planning for the boys' first birthday party, which is to say we're having invitations made, buying propane for the grill, and figuring out when to cash a gift certificate for a maid visit. That's about all we can muster, except she'll bake them a cake when the time comes.
There are many possible scenarios to trying to conceive again:
Our ground rules for announcing any new pregnancy will be the same as last time. About 25% of pregnancies miscarry, and Liss is at higher risk than most women, so we have to be careful about telling people. We don't want to announce, have the worst happen, and then have to un-announce. We'd rather have two miserable people (us) instead of fifty. So, we'll be keeping things close to the vest, and probably announce after 11-13 weeks or so.

Since a lot of people have an interest, I might say "nothing yet" every few months, but any inquiries will just get a "maybe" or a "no" from us. Of course, like last time, most relatives would get phone calls for the "yes" instead of first hearing about it on this thing.

It took five months to conceive the boys, which isn't bad at all, so patience is the word - especially for us.
Pictures. And videos.

May 16th+

A woman at Liss's work brought in her newborn, which "really made me want a baby."

It's a good thing we're already planning, because otherwise that would have really thrown me for a loop.
Their bottom two teeth have broken the gumline by the minimum amount physically possible. They've been like that for a good week. It's been "teeth any time now!" for months, but I guess this time it's for real.
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roberto
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roberto
I figure they're about the same age as Maggie Simpson right about now.
We have a standard against which to gauge the boys' development - a constant for comparison over time.

It's Grace. The cat.

Consider: So, they've reached a few Cat Standards, but have a long way to go.

They say cats - even your long-haired froo-froo show cats - can survive in the wild. The boys, not so much - but then, neither could I.
It's commonly known and has been studied that women tend to forget the pain of their childbirthing experiences. It's considered an evolutionary advantage to help them decide to have more than one.

Less well documented is the similar concept of forgetting how difficult it is to take care of a newborn. That time is starting to become a distant memory for us, and a good thing, too. Otherwise, I'd bet the world would be bereft of twins with younger siblings.
Liss thought Bob was getting dehydrated, so she put a little cinnamon in their mid-morning bottles to encourage extra consumption.

"It was a hit."
Not directly spawn-related, but Liss's neck biopsy came back all clear.
We went to Volunteer Park on Sunday, where a lot of toddlers were playing in a certain area. One was a 14-month old boy who was walking all over the place, climbing this and that, falling when the steps were too high, then crying about it, and generally driving his mother ragged.

Fourteen months old. That's September to us.
Some other little things.

They've started transporting items when they crawl, i.e. whatever toy they were playing with. It's cute to see one crawling across the room with a pink stuffed hippo in hand.

They can spend more time exploring the house together before needing to come back to us. They especially seem to like the area by the sliding glass door, where the recycling and morning sun are.

Bobby's finally figured out how to go from crawling to sitting. It took him a month, during which he'd get frustrated when he was done crawling.

Drew climbed his first step (and then fell off it).

We think Drew might have spring allergies. He rubs his nose area like it's itching. I'm mildly allergic to bananas, and he was doing it after eating some, but it's too early to tell if that's the problem.

May 9th+

A few of Babies' Words to Live By:
  1. Mine!
  2. Just because there's poop on your crotch doesn't mean you shouldn't grope it.
  3. Whenever something drips out of your nose, smear it all over your face.
  4. I don't know what this is, but it belongs in my mouth.
  5. Pardon me, but I believe you should be holding me right about now.
  6. This is the most awesome thing I've ever seen! Hey, what's that over there?
  7. If I'm not supposed to be there, I'm going to try to get there.
  8. If I'm not supposed to have it, I'm going to want it.
  9. (boys only) I'd better nuzzle up to women's breasts while they still think it's cute.
  10. Dad's crotch makes an excellent trampoline.
Liss had a biopsy in her neck Tuesday, from which she's now recovering. She's not supposed to lift heavy objects for a while; when she kept asking if that meant eighteen-pound babies, she never got a straight answer.

She's been lifting babies.
There are a couple of little changes lately.

One is that they'll go off and explore something together. Usually it's one crawling away and then the other following. After a few minutes, they'll come back to us for attention, but any such independent activity is welcome. Of course, that's how they got into the recycling and Drew cut his finger, but I digress.

Another is that they're sometimes waking up happy. It used to be that waking almost always meant crying, but not so several times now. We're trying to resist the urge to let them lie there babbling - we don't want them to think that they have to start crying before we'll come get them, though it's especially tempting at 5am.
Their hair is really starting to come in, but pictures still don't capture it well because it's so fine and blonde. If it were any darker, it'd be pretty noticeable, but alas. As it stands, we still have to put sunblock on their heads when we go outside. According to them, hats are not an acceptable solution.
Here's another Odd Thing They Don't Tell You for the prospective parents out there - you will do anything reasonable to keep a sleeping baby asleep. When we got back from our errands Sunday, Drew was still napping in his car seat. Liss took Bob upstairs, and I unfolded a chair and waited in the garage for over an hour until Drew woke up. To pass the time, I checked the mail and read the only thing in the pile with any worth - Working Mother magazine.
Ten months old.
Something that got lost in the shuffle - they both decided to stand while in the bath by hanging onto the wet side. I'm a little surprised neither of them slipped.

While in that position, Bobby had to pee, so he did so in three short separate streams. He might have saved us eighteen cents for a diaper with that. Thanks for helping out, kid.

There's also a tradeoff to standing in the tub when you still need to use your arms for balance - you then can't use them to splash your brother, hit your brother, grab your brother's duckie, or grope yourself.
Our first blood and more, as written by Liss:
This Mother's Day has not been particularly happy, but it sure has made me feel like a mom.

It started with the worst night's sleep we've endured in months, followed by the crappiest morning nap of the week. I'd really hoped to get a nap myself, but it was not to be. I made some nice wholesome muffins, since the boys can't exactly do breakfast in bed yet.*

In a respite from the misery, we went to Target, Safeway and Staples; the boys slept in the car. Later, friends came over and we went took Bobby out for ice cream, leaving Drew alone with James for some Daddy time.

We actually had a pretty nice evening for a while. We didn't worry when they wandered into the dining room; there's not much there that can harm them.

Then they got into the recycling. Drew cut his finger on an empty soda can. He shrieked about it, but no more than when Bobby grabs one of his toys. When we investigated, he was happily playing with the shiny can, blood all over the kitchen floor.

He really got upset, though, when we tried to make the bleeding stop. We tossed the boys into the bath early and Drew seemed fine, but his finger was still bleeding when they got out. He bit off every band-aid we put on. It took both of us to wrestle him into pajamas while applying pressure to the cut. In the meantime, Bobby fell off the bed. I scooped him up with my non-pressure-applying hand and jiggled him on my knee.

After an hour, the blood was still trickling unless we were holding Drew and his hand still. I called the nurse, who (thankfully) told us to put him to bed.** Which is super, except he still sometimes gets upset when we put him in his crib--especially when it's been a hard day. We tried holding him until he fell asleep, but he was still agitated and chatty, so James made the executive decision to put him down. He must have been really worn out, because he went straight to sleep.

We ordered pizza and I am drinking limeade with blueberry vodka.

Happy Mother's Day! I'm grateful, as always, for the boys--smart, funny, adorable babies. But I'd like a do-over on the day.

* Don't tell me James should do this. He's not the cook and even if he were, it's a lot to ask to wrangle two babies AND cook. Not that I won't attempt it when Father's Day comes along.

** She also said he's up-to-date on his tetanus vaccine, which I probably didn't think he needed back when they gave him the shot--what would a baby need with that? Now we know.

Drew's sleeper has maybe a square foot of dried blood on it. I wasn't about to annoy him into more wakefulness by changing it.

You will find it either amusing or heartless that we laughed after Bobby fell off the bed - not at him, but the situation. That was the straw that just pushed the whole thing into absurdity.

May 2nd+

Bobby hit another skill last night and verified this morning - he can get up the first two steps of the staircase. Another six at a time and he'll be able to eat cat food again - and splash the water dish!

He has no idea how to get back down. Without our intervention, I believe his method would have been "head first."

Drew's almost there, but not quite. He can get one leg up, and then ... that's it.
Just a few pictures. The camera's memory card is acting up.
We normally keep the boys' schedules pretty close. They eat together, nap together ... and they usually wake up about the same time in the mornings. So, when we had an hour with just Bob this morning (see below), it was unusual. It gave us a glimpse into what it would be like to only have one baby - and man, was it a freakin' breeze.
Drew has a cold, which makes for a very snotty baby. He has no concept of sanitation, etiquette, etc., so he just lays it out there. He's already anti-Kleenex, but his way of showing it - turning his head - is predictable. Therefore, all you have to do is press the tissue on the right side of his nose and he'll wipe for you.

The silver lining? He slept 'til 7:20. Bob, who's not sick (yet), woke at 6:20, so this was one of the better mornings.
Because he was eating very little during his cold and needed the calories, Liss fed Drew ice cream - not one of those food-guilt low-fat reduced-sugar things, but full fledged ice cream. This made for a very happy boy. Sugar high!
The boys had their quarterly diabetes study visit on Saturday, which involved blood-letting. Liss claims from previous visits that the boys inherited her difficult veins; this visit seemed to back that up. They didn't get anything from Bobby (despite two needle-pricks to try), and had difficulty with Drew before succeeding.

Since they got one but not the other, we're assuming they'll take Drew's results and apply them to Bob.

For the record, each time they've done this, they've since sent us two letters and envelopes(*), each saying that (baby) tested very low risk for juvenile diabetes.

(*) Because one letter and/or envelope would be efficient, and this is a health care bureaucracy we're talking about.
Sunday was pretty bad, as in "are we sure we want a third kid?" bad. They were whiny, cranky, not napping, and inconsolable, so we in turn were ... whiny, cranky, not napping, and inconsolable. Our best guess is a growth spurt - that's the hope, at least, because those are temporary. It might have been residual pain from the blood draws.

April 25th+

Grace was being especially cranky, and took her first swipe at Drew. She didn't draw blood, but he felt the pain of her claws (and let me know about it), so it was probably the best middle ground we could have hoped for. He was back to smiling at her when she passed five minutes later, so it couldn't have been too traumatic.
Lately they seem more aware of each other as compadres, if you will. When one crawls off somewhere, the other will often follow. They'll sometimes sit quietly exploring the same corner of the room and the treasures within. They've start to wrestle a little, though since they can't control their bodies very well yet, that sometimes ends badly.

It's especially cute to be somewhere out of sight and hear two babies crawling your way, and cuter still to see them both round the corner.
Baskin Robbins was having a 31-cent-scoop deal last night, so around 5pm we walked to the one kind-of-near our house and got in line. It was one scoop per person, so I asked if the boys qualified as people. With the yes, we got four scoops total. The boys got some with the little taster spoons.

Later, they were so good that we let them stay up late. I'm not sure if it was because of the ice cream, but I'll take it. However, the later bedtime probably didn't make them sleep longer; they were up at 5:20.

Somewhere while eating the ice cream, I joked that we were ruining our dinner, but she thought I was saying the ice cream was dinner. This caused quite the confusion later.
Upon arriving home Monday, by the time I got to the stairs, the boys had crawled to the baby gate in anticipation. The garage door had alerted them.

Hormonal birth control takes a while to wear off, so Liss is now off it in preparation of our trying again starting in June. However, you can't count on any sort of grace period. Therefore, while we'll be careful for a couple of months, it's possible (but unlikely) that things will happen early. We had the same situation last time, and came to the same conclusion - it would be slightly inconvenient timing, but whatever.
We've discovered a subset of parents (mostly moms) who have a visceral response to their babies crying, and will do anything to stop or prevent it. We are not of that subset. This morning Bob half-woke again around 3:45, so we ... turned down the sound on the monitor. And slept until 6.

Granted, if they get loud enough, we can still hear them just fine, but there's often this half-whiny half-asleep stage that could end with either screaming or sleep, but that middle stage over the monitor is enough to keep us awake. So, we rolled the dice, and it paid off; I felt much better at 6 than I did at 4.

Meanwhile, some people reading are now aghast at our horrible parenting, but we came to terms with that a long time ago.
We moved Grace's food and water to the staircase landing, which is just a temporary place until they learn to climb stairs, but it'll work for now. Bobby, especially, was a little too fascinated with splashing the water dish, and her food contains a few things they're still not supposed to have.

When the door to the half-bath is closed, we can declare the main floor 98% baby-proofed. There are still a couple of little gaps in our barriers, so we still can't leave them alone while we go to a movie or anything(*), but it's good enough. I'm also pretty sure that, in our current configuration, we're only about 60% toddler-proofed, but we'll cross that bridge later. We're finding that we're not very proactive about it because we can never correctly predict how they're going to behave - which seems like a good microcosm of parenting in general.

(*) Just kidding.
How to amuse a baby at 5:30 in the morning: give him a spatula and hold him close. Every time he smacks you in the face with it, he'll giggle.
For the last week or so, the standard operating procedure for either twin has been to see Liss, crawl toward her, lift himself to standing against her leg, and whine until she picks him up or otherwise pays attention. If this means crawling over me to get to her, so be it.

From all perspectives, it's a mixed blessing. They're demanding more attention from her, which drains her after a while, but is validating. They ignore me more, which is less draining but less validating. There's probably some unknown happy medium that will probably never be reached. She's the center of their universe right now; eventually the pendulum will probably swing the other way and I'll take over that role for a while.

I guess it'd be just as confounding if one twin treated me like the primary focal person, and the other her. We're hypersensitive to the idea of favoring one twin over the other (even though they clearly don't care about doing the same to us), and such an arrangement would probably fry our already fragile liberal-guilt brains.
We're definitely in the midst of some kind of sleep regression. Bobby woke up at 3:58, Drew about an hour later.

The general pattern for babies is to take three naps a day for the first few months, then go to two, then eventually one. Over the weekend they went from two back to three.

It's a good thing they're so cute.
Something they don't tell you about beforehand, maybe because it's so obvious:

Crawling begets rugburn.

April 18th+

We went to a new pizza restaurant last night; Bob pooped on the way. Not only did the place not have one of those fold-down changing tables, it had no surface anywhere that I could change him sanitarily. I ended up doing it outside on the trunk of Amy's car, which - it should be noted - is not an entirely flat surface. I'm sure the scene would have been hilarious to anyone watching.

Afterwards, we went home and had some of Liss's birthday cake for dessert. Later, I felt what I thought was a small crumb on my shirt and popped it into my mouth.

These two events are related.
They know that stairs go up or down to magical new places to explore (and consume), but not how to use them, and it's their next hurdle. Sometimes we'll sit on them (the steps, not the twins) to entice them up, but it'll be a while before they figure it out. They pull themselves up and rock back and forth, but don't know about raising their legs/knees to get to the next step.

If their procedure for learning to crawl is any indication, one of them will figure it out after long frustrations and trial and error, and the other will pick it up a few days later by watching his brother.
The boys love Grace the cat - they'll crawl across the entire house to get to her - but they are not gentle with her. They don't understand the difference between grabbing and petting yet, and they grab her - a lot. Their fingers end up with fur between them. She's learning to just walk away (or better yet, go upstairs), but her own desire for attention often clouds that judgement. To her credit, she's never harmed them, though I'd say she's had justification. She seems to "get" that they're under my protection, and we praise her for her restraint.

Early on, they were so small that if she were to try something, she'd have gotten swift retribution from us. Now, though, we're entering a grey area. Pretty soon they're going to be strong enough to cause her real pain ... and maybe they need to learn that that's not such a good idea. Children learn by doing, and at some point they have to learn that actions can have consequences. I'd rather they learn caution from a warning swipe from Grace than, say, a random dog at the park.
I'm not sure how searches for "small boys peeing" and "boys showering outdoors naked" (from the same surfer) yielded this picture, but I'm glad to have done my part in delaying Anonymous's gratification.
Matt and Ben took the boys from us Sunday afternoon for a museum visit and whatever else. In our six babyless hours, we: Yeah, we're rockin' the lifestyle, lemme tell ya.

Though, Amy gave us an actual date night Friday, which we used to watch the Mariners win from excellent seats at Safeco.
A couple of female friends came over Sunday under the pretense of a grad school assignment, but also to visit the boys. The assignment is to observe parents interacting with their young children. I forgot about that part, which is probably good, because people change their behavior when they know they're under observation.

However, there's a stark difference in my interaction with the boys when there are people over. For one, I'm far less embarrassingly cutesy with them. More importantly in this case, when there are other people around fawning over them, that means I get to take a break. So, she might write about how hands-off I "am" with them based on a skewed sliver of time.

It's not something to worry about - just one of those quirks of human interaction - unless the professor calls CPS on us.
I'd complained previously about The Wonder Weeks as being overly mom-centric, but the latest chapter (37 weeks) just reinforced another complaint - each chapter takes 30 pages to give you two paragraphs of useful information. The first 20 pages of every chapter are "your baby is growth spurting again, and will be cranky and clingy again, and you may feel tired and frustrated about it." Well no shit, Sherlock, that's why I'm reading your book.(*)

Being the efficiency nut that I am, I can skip all that and find the useful stuff by now, which this time is "describe objects and actions as they capture your baby's attention, like 'I am bouncing a blue ball,' as their brains are starting to categorize similarities, like 'these are blue' and 'these are balls.' There - I just saved a new parent twenty minutes of lame, perhaps with a giggle thrown in.

This is part of a trend that I've seen in baby-help literature everywhere - lots of filler to justify a higher price. The worst example is Priscilla Dunstan, who's isolated six universal newborn cries as their "language." The whole thing can be boiled down to ten minutes, but she sells a 2-DVD set for $40. She might regret going on Oprah [video] and revealing everything for free. I guess it's the balance between the publicity and the imminent posting of the video on the 'net, but I'm certain it was strictly a business decision and not altruistic in the least.

(*) No offense meant to the person who bought it for us. The eventual meat is useful, after all.
We installed a pair of baby gates at the tops of stairs over the weekend. This will allow us enough complacence as they're crawling around to let them find other mischief.

We decided to try to make the lower gap high enough for the cat to get through, but not them. For this, we had to Do The Math - the latest ped visit measured their head circumferences at 43cm, which at 2πr means they're about 5.4" across(*). We made about a 4.5" gap, successfully tested by a surprisingly eager Grace.

Engineering - not just for engineers.

(*) Assuming their heads are perfect spheres, which they're not, but we assumed the Earth was a perfect sphere as a meteorology major, so I used that as precedent.

April 11th+

Bob woke at 4ish this morning crying from more than just loneliness, but we couldn't really tell what his problem was. He woke Drew, so we fed them both and gave Bob some Tylenol; about twenty minutes later he was fine and happily went back to his crib, not waking again until after 7.

There's supposed to be a sleep regression at nine months, but something in his tone tells me it's not that simple - like he was in actual pain. The only variable we changed was that last night they got their first meat - a little chicken mixed with their sweet potatoes. He calmed down when I pressed his stomach area, so maybe I loosened something down there. He might not be ready for meat yet, but we'll try again to see how he reacts.

It could also be related to teething, or a growth spurt, or the onset of an ear infection, or the British are coming, or goodness knows what else.
California was pretty craptastic - woke up at 5, 4 and 4 the three mornings despite no reason to, and was 1000 miles away from my wife and sons while putting in 12-hour days. Thankfully I get overtime, so the paycheck for my 57-hour week will "cushion the blow" as Liss puts it.

The boys were no happier to see me come home than they are after a single work day, but that's still pretty happy, so I'm only slightly insulted. The cat, on the other hand, was ecstatic.
My first morning in California, alone in my hotel room, my brain woke me up at 5am, I presume in anticipation of the boys' imminent waking.

Thanks, brain.
It's highly unpleasant being away from Liss, but I've made lemonade by cranking the hotel room temperature down to 58 or so.

I'm sure she's gone the other way and toasted our bedroom in my absence.
Weights from the pediatrician: 17#8 (Drew) and 16#12. That's the farthest apart they've been since birth, and here we thought they were getting closer. It also puts them at the 10th and 3rd percentiles for their (unadjusted) age. Apparently it's not of great concern, though. We were both small kids.

They're both the same height, but I forget what she said for that. 25.5"? Whatever it was, it's the 0.23rd percentile. Shorties.

And their crania are half a centimeter apart, which is apparently the difference between the 41st and 27th percentiles.
(*) But with diapers - I don't live that dangerously.

April 4th+

Now that both boys are crawling, it looks like I'll never have to vacuum again. They're like two fleshy Roombas.
Amy passed along this blog post about what we, um, have to look forward to.
I'm going to California for work this coming week. I'll be away from Liss and the boys for three days, and she won't have my time with them (or her). She's already seeking evening help, but morning help will be harder to come by. Maybe we'll have the nanny come earlier every day.

Meanwhile, I'll have a hotel room and no babies to wake me up. That sounds ideal, except it's an unfamiliar setting and my sleep's been weird for months, so we'll see.

This'll be the longest by far that I've been away from the boys. I wonder who'll handle it better, they or I? Probably they, but except for what it would do to Liss, I hope they get Whiny For Dad at some point. :-D
For once in their lives, we have a precedent. We can probably assume that Drew's timeline to crawling will more or less equal Bobby's, just later. If that's the case, then he'll have a feel for it by this weekend, and a good grasp by the next.

This is as opposed to, say, teething, where we thought they were coming ages ago but still haven't. We had nothing to go on but our flawed intuition.

In the meantime, Bob crawls to where any self-respecting baby would - the places we've never set him down. The world is now his to explore, and he's hell-bent on exploring it, especially electronics, wires, tops of stairs, lamps, remote controls, anything on the coffee table, anything fallen to the carpet, and the cat.
From Liss, recapping her spring "break":
This week is Spring Break, so I'm off with the boys. I'd really been looking forward to it, and had two goals: 1) improve their nap schedule; 2) finish writing my first portfolio for my National Boards. And get out of the house and have adventures, too.

We've had a lot of fun. Monday we went out to lunch with a friend who teaches at another school. I gave the babies jasmine rice with the tiniest bit of my spicy eggplant and they gobbled it up. Tuesday I got roped into helping a co-worker with his National Boards; after that, we went and got my car's oil changed, which isn't exciting but not having a dead car is a good thing. Wednesday, April Fool's Day, it snowed; this canceled our picnic plans but we still had to go trade in some diapers. And since we were out and about, I took them for Chinese food and let them chew on long beans and eat rice with more sauce. Also, I made ice cream because I'd dreamed about it the night before: cardamom-pear ice cream.

Yesterday was the real adventure: the weather was still disgusting, but a friend and I took them over to Bainbridge Island on the ferry anyway. We got windblown and there were no changing stations in the restrooms, but it was still fun. The boys got a bit of blackberry ice cream, and more rice (this time a curry).

But now here it is, Friday, I'm beat, and what do I have to show for the week? They've had decent morning naps but crap afternoon ones. I've written all of three more paragraphs. They're happy. The ice cream was good. But man, mommy needs a massage! Since the boys are only somewhat mobile, I've been hauling them around--34 pounds of baby. Since they're in a clingy phase, a significant portion of the week has been either carrying both of them around, or letting them both crawl/climb all over me.

How do real stay-at-home parents do it? Though I've had some adult company, I'm finding myself getting sillier and talking to myself more each day. I'm looking forward to doing budgets, which should tell you something. I'm physically sore from all the lifting and carrying. How am I going to handle the whole summer?
Bobby is no longer kind-of or semi- or anything like that - he's crawling. He doesn't spend much time doing it - it tires him out - but when he wants to get somewhere, he can get there. I think his record is about twelve feet in a minute or so, or 0.136 miles per hour.

Meanwhile, Drew really wants to get from A to B like he sees his bro doing, but he still hasn't figured out how. He did manage to make a little forward progress over the weekend, but it can still be measured in inches. He's pulling himself up on us and standing well, but I'm starting to doubt that he'll skip the crawl stage.
A few pictures.

March 28th+

Their latest, um, "trick" is trying like mad to squirm-flip from back to stomach while on the changing table. This is especially problematic with a poopy diaper. My insistence on preventing this is often forceful enough to frustrate them into crying after a dozen or so thwarted attempts, but the clothes and diapers need changing, dangit.
Right now, the boys' brains are so "green" that their thought processes can be pretty well boiled down to: either they want something and whine, or they're content and don't. We want to reduce the whining part of it, because it gets pretty incessant. The only problem is they haven't learned to communicate what they want, so we have to use our limited experience combined with trial and error. This mutual frustration is probably our biggest hurdle right now.

Babies don't learn to really relay their needs through words until well past the first birthday, so we'll be trying signing with them. It's supposed to allow them to communicate before words, which are a very complex skill when you get down to it. Learning signs comes from consistent repetition, so it'll be easier to take hold if we can get the nanny doing it, but our own language barrier with her doesn't make me optimistic.
As an incentive to get them crawling, I've been reprising the episode from last week. That is, my new come-home-from-work routine is to come to the top of the foyer stairs and let them try to crawl to me. However, Drew can't go forward yet, and Bobby's ... still having trouble getting out of first gear. He usually gives up about halfway through, which I subconsciously encourage by then going to him.
Tonight, Drew did two things that I hadn't seen him do yet. The first one Liss says he'd done once or twice this week - clap his hands. It's baby clapping, so it's mostly just bringing one hand to touch the other, but it's purposeful. The unique thing is that he imitated me clapping. Neither of them had ever aped me before, even though all the literature says babies are natural imitators.
Liss is on her spring break this week. In past years, I'm sure she fretted the time away on youthful debauchery, but these days she's just taking care of the boys. Besides the time with them, the nanny gets a week off for which we don't have to pay her.

With summer approaching, we had to make a choice - keep the nanny and teach summer school, which would net a couple thousand dollars, or don't teach and be with the boys. She (we) chose the latter. It's one of those "quality of life" things.

In the fall they'll go to day care, which I suppose means we should start looking into day cares.

March 21st+

Liss says that, like the cat, the boys have started to look for me coming up the staircase after hearing the garage door. In tonight's case, however, Bobby took it a step further by starting to stumble/crawl over to greet me. He made eight feet in about two minutes, definitely a new record.

That's 0.046 miles per hour to you.
I wasn't writing this thing the last time we were trying to get pregnant, but I will be this time, of course. We've decided to start again in June, which involves Liss prepping herself now; it takes a while for the birth control to get out of her system.

Also like last time, she's at a higher risk for miscarriage than the usual 25% for reasons I won't disclose. So, even if we conceive again, we wouldn't announce it until - well, we waited until nine weeks last time, but you're supposed to wait until thirteen. It took us five tries (months) last time, which is pretty good.

Long before I met the woman who would actually bear them, I decided that I wanted 2-4 kids. Liss also decided long ago that she wanted exactly two, but left the door open for more in our early conversations. Having two at once didn't change my mind, though I was definitely leaning toward trying again. Having two boys at once made her much more open to the idea. She wants a girl.

That isn't to say she'd be disappointed in a third boy. The girl thing is only part - let's say 30% - of her assent to a third kid. We're both thinking three will be the end, but if it's another boy ... who knows? There are supposedly things you can do to tip the odds either way, but that's another post.

Meanwhile, we're timing it such that kid number three might come less than two years after the twins. In other words, we'd have two toddlers and a newborn(*). We're putting ourselves through that because we're frankly not getting any younger. She'll be 33 soon, and the odds of birth defects (and fraternal twins, and miscarriage) skyrocket at 35. Meanwhile, I'm almost 37; I'll be in my mid-50s by the time the boys start college, to say nothing of their younger sibling(s).

(*) After several months of dealing with two toddlers and a pregnancy.
For the last few mornings, they've gone back to waking at 5:15 instead of 5:45, even with the later bedtime. It's most unwelcome. Heck, 5:45 isn't all that welcome.
It's still odd to me to have people at work with younger babies ask me for parenting advice. I guess it's a mental compartmentalization on my part, since I'm always talking numbers and other work stuff with them, and such a different topic is kind of a lurch in conversation.

I can't say I separate things too much, though, what with the six pictures of the boys (and two of Liss) on my cube wall.
Bobby just crawled five feet to get a sippy cup. Well, "crawled" is a generous word in this case, but it was definite forward movement with intent.
Many uploads today. Notice how different their smiles are. Bob's is more flat and like a stereotypical toothless grin.

March 14th+

We've entered a holding pattern lately, because they've settled into a routine. Based on previous experience, it will be disrupted soon enough, but for now it's what's what.

Since they'd been getting up for the first time around 5:15 every morning, we bumped their bedtime forward thirty minutes (to 7:30), and now they're going 'til 5:45. We lose half an hour to ourselves in the evening to get another half hour of sleep, which to us is a net gain - but we do miss that babyless half hour.

Of course, we could have just bumped our bedtime back half an hour, but that'd be one step closer to facing our fading youth.
I've been a bit remiss about the blog this week; my March Madness pools are taking up the time.
They've historically been most pleasant in the mornings, but not the last few days. Whiny, cranky, complainy, etc. is what they've been, and since they're still getting up at 5:15 to do it, so have we.
From Liss:
I'm a little sappy reflective today. Part of it was hearing our wedding song playing at the fabric store and wanting another honeymoon (the wedding could be at the courthouse). Part of it was eating lunch at the same restaurant where I was last July when I found out that that was the day. I don't know how long the strip-mall conveyor-belt sushi place gets to stay special, but at least a year seems fair, no? (And by the way, Bobby loves sushi rice and avocado.)

Part of it is spending time with two couples this week, close friends who are hoping to enlarge their families soon (I hate the phrase "start a family," as if you can't have a family without children)--one through their own future pregnancy and one through adoption. Watching them plan and dream brings back all those hopeful, optimistic feelings we were having a year or two ago. And don't get me wrong, I'm happy to have the real, live boys; but part of me misses the anticipation just a tiny bit. It makes me wonder if I'll be as excited if and when #3 is on the way.

I've also been thinking about how my own expectations back then compare with our current reality. I think I had a good perception of what parenthood would be like, but I don't think I'm handling it quite as well as I thought I would. I know I'm a B+ mom at worst, but I don't always take care of my own mental and physical health the way I should.

Tomorrow we're hanging out with another couple who's expecting a baby later this year. For some reason that doesn't sap me up as much--maybe because they're past the hoping and dreaming phase and well on the way to a viable, healthy baby.

Our own babies continue to delight, frustrate, and amaze us. They babble up a storm, laugh at each other and us, appreciate music, eat all kinds of crazy foods, squiggle around the floor, and wear us out.

I've checked a lot off my life list: found someone who gets me and married him, had children. I guess it's time to make some new dreams--preferably ones that can be achieved before retirement.
"Please refrain from groping yourself until I've cleaned the poop that migrated in that direction. Thank you."

March 7th+

It's kind of surprising how easily we broke them of the pacifier habit. The problem wasn't the things themselves, but that the boys had come to "need" them to get to sleep. They weren't able to get one out of immediate reach, so they'd cry, and we needed to break them of that cycle for our own sanity.

Maybe we'll reintroduce them when they're mobile and can Solve The Problem themselves, but it's still up in the air.
Baby monitors only work on a few frequencies. Ours has A and B settings, just in case you need two sources or if a neighbor has one on a conflicting frequency.

Our neighbor two doors down had a baby recently, and you could barely hear it crying on our monitor regardless of which setting we used. However, this didn't last long; it stopped happening right around the time Liss was doing sleep training on the boys, which involves a lot of crying.

I guess we outgunned them.
This morning, some formula went down the wrong pipe, and Bobby upchucked his entire breakfast in five successive geysers of warm white wetness.

Good times.
About four times a week now, they're both sleeping through until 5:30. This is most welcome.
I very rarely dream, or at least remember that I've dreamed. I remember about five a year, and mostly tiny details that don't form a plot or anything. However, there are those occasional dreams that are basically like a very realistic series of events playing out in front of me. They're so realistic that over the years I've trained myself in the "it was just a dream" arts during that groggy wake-up period. Without it, I'd wake up in a panic over what I'd just "seen."

This morning I'm very grateful for that mental discipline, because I dreamed that Bobby died in his crib.

Even the recollection as I'm writing is making me kind of lose it.
We've been taking the boys' immobility for granted, such as when we get ready in the morning. We've just been plopping them on our bed and doing our thing, checking on them every few minutes. That'll change soon enough, and we'll need to figure out what to do about it. Some bathroom rituals probably shouldn't be viewed by impressionable children.

Perhaps a playpen in the hallway.
We expect teeth within a week.
That was a month ago. Obviously, we don't know squat.
Eight months old.

Last night we were talking about how they don't "officially" turn eight months until 11:36 and 11:37pm, their birth times. Both of us were born around 4am; a few times during childhood we woke up early from the anticipation of seeing the clock hit our birth time.

When they're 7 or so, and they proclaim "it's our birthday!" in the morning, will we mess with them and say "no, not until almost midnight."?
They're both really close to crawling. We still put them on their stomachs for practice, and bait them with toys or something, and watch them kick their little legs in frustration. They'll get it.

Babies make for fascinating human behavior study subjects. By giving them a goal (toy out of reach), we give them an incentive to solve a problem on their own. However, unlike most problems that you and I might encounter, they aren't aware that they possess the tools for solving. They have to discover that.

However, what if we didn't give them that incentive? Would they bother? Probably, because they're always looking around and finding the next Thing That Probably Tastes Awesome.
Drew has added "puh" and "teh" to his vocabulary.

There's some idle chatter in A Few Good Men where a new dad thinks his kid's about to start talking because "he just looks like he has something to say." These new 'words' make me think of that.
Is this our future?
We all went to see the Aggie men's tennis team play the Huskies, which for us is a major excursion. The boys were the center of attention, of course, but it helped that they mostly just sat in our laps and looked at people. We left halfway through, which is typical; their naptime was approaching, and it takes a lot for us to disrupt their sleep schedule.
During tonight's bath, Bobby discovered splashing.
Just a couple of pictures.

February 28th+

Two nights in a row of 10+ straight hours of baby sleep. Dare we hope?

There's supposed to be a sleep regression at eight or nine months. If it's anything like the 4-month ... oy. We'll see.
One of the consequences of publishing on the web is that you never know where your content will end up, in this case a picture. Technically, it's copyright infringement, but I don't mind and it's not really enforceable anyway.
The latest casualty to the retirement bin - the bumbo seats. They don't need the sitting support anymore, and they were starting to squirm out of them anyway. Like most things, we'll offer one to Cari (she's four months along now) and keep the other for possible child number three.

That brings up a side topic - who are they boys going to play with among our peer group? Despite being in our 30s, we're the first among our usual circle of friends to have kids; Cari and Cameron will be the second. In fact, it's likely that we all gravitated to each other over the years because we were childless and doing the social things people can do when in that situation. That circle is also disproportionately gay, who as a group are less child-bearing.

Sadly, seven kids under age five moved away last year, all within five houses of ours. There are still a few babies nearby, so there's some potential there. There's the PEPS group, E-Moms, and the boys are going into day care in the fall, so who knows? They'll have each other, of course, but part of the point is exposing them to other viewpoints and family structures - and getting them out of the house.

The more likely answer is that we haven't met many of their future friends yet. I'll bet lots of them haven't even been born.
Random video of how they spend a lot of their time lately. Drew is shown "exploring" Bobby a lot.
With the spring-forward time change coming this weekend, we'll start shifting their bedtime by 15 minutes a day to acclimate them. Last time we did it backwards, forcing us to lurch them back during the weekend of the change. That was unfun.

Today or tomorrow we'll decide if we want to use the opportunity to make their new bedtime 7:30 instead of 7. They've been waking pretty consistently at 5:15-5:30, which isn't horrible, but 5:45-6:00 would be better. The drawback of the potential change is that they're usually more pleasant in the mornings and less so in the evenings.
Tuesday night, Bob's poop smelled like buttered popcorn.
In a stroke of divine luck, my mother lives five minutes from the Mariners' spring training facility. This will likely spur some spring break trips in the future, assuming they take to baseball. Since we watch almost every game, it'd be quite an act of rebellion if they didn't.
Bobby slept through ('til 6) for the first time Monday night, so of course Drew pitched a fit around 4. We'll get both on the same night someday, dag nabbit.
It's part of our routine to read to them before putting them down, which means I've entered the world of children's books for the first time since I was a teacher. The nitty gritty - most baby books are boring as shit. I've gravitated toward a few that I can stand to read over and over. Blasphemically, Dr. Seuss is not among them. That may change when they're more "into" it, but for now those mostly annoy me. Besides, the purpose at this age is to show them the act of reading and practice hearing the words; their actual interest so far are the pretty colors and something to grab and put into their mouths.

I also have personal fantasies of the long run, when I can read some of my favorites with them, though I think they might be beyond the read-to-me stage by the time 1984 is appropriate.
My mother and step-father were here this weekend, the last of the grandparents to meet the boys. Erring on the side of caution, I recommended they get a hotel instead of staying with us and risking the middle of the night screaming, which turned out for the best (see below).

In a lot of ways, it's unfortunate that we live so far from everybody, but we made that choice long before we met each other, let alone had children. After succumbing to wanderlust several times in my earlier days, I have zero desire to leave Seattle nine years after moving here.
After the week of sleep training, there were four nights in a row of Drew going at least 11 straight hours and Bob only waking once for a quick snack. However, their sleep was erratic over the weekend, possibly setting us back several weeks. Sunday night was almost ideal, and thank goodness, because if things get consistently bad [again] on the sleep front, we're almost out of options.

I harp on sleep a lot because it's important enough to harp on. I can take one night of bad sleep. Two in a row, and I can feel loss to sound judgement, patience, and focus - not good things to lose when you have a job and two babies. It's analogous to a constant state of minor alcoholic influence. It's just not safe. Even when I do get a few good nights in a row, I still never feel fully refreshed. It's like those rechargeable batteries that are too old to really charge anymore.

Liss has it even harder, because it messes with her emotionally. We do everything we're supposed to to maximize their sleep, but it still doesn't always work. She's always been a [successful] problem solver, but this problem is months old and still not solved, and she sometimes takes it as a personal failure. A baby napping only thirty minutes instead of two hours shouldn't send a person into tears, but it does.

February 21st+

The boys' first birthday is a mere four-and-a-half months away. We're already making nebulous plans, not so much for them, but as a "holy crap we survived their first year" milestone for us. Everyone else can fawn over the boys all they want; we'll be in the corner giving each other high fives.

Granted, we're technically counting our chickens, but the wind is at our backs, and it helps to have a long-term thing to focus on amidst the day to day work.
Mark your calendars: the Minnesota Twins will be in town to play the Mariners in June.
Throughout this whole process, we've heard "it'll get better" from just about every older twin parent out there. The first x months are very hard, they say(*), but eventually it'll pass.

It's getting better. It's a slow and gradual thing, but it's there.

The easy way to tell is that we never pine for the past. Just born? No, thanks, they're stronger and sleeping better now. Two months? No, I'll take these interactive sitting-up versions. The only time we've yearned for the "good old days" was their sleep regression during the holidays, but that's apparently passed.

One can therefore conclude that the upward trend will continue. Granted, it's still tough, but ... it's better.

(*) With x being anywhere from 3 to 24.
It we were to take a time-lapse video of Bobby on the floor, it'd show him moving all over the place within a 5-foot radius. It's not a quick process, though. He mostly does it by rolling hither and dither, with a little bit of foresight but mostly just frolicking. There might be a lunge in there for something he really wants, but it takes a while and frustrates him.

All of this is precursive to walking. Not all babies crawl before they walk (despite the saying); some roll or scoot on their butts or whatever else. The point is mobility, and it changes everything. We're still not babyproofed.
We've starting telling them "no," mostly when grabbing our glasses. We don't expect it to sink in for a long time, but we need to get used to saying it and they need to get used to hearing it.

The funny thing about language is that we could use the word "elephant" or "fn5egv" to mean the same thing, and it would have the same effect over time. Of course, we wouldn't do that to them, but it's an interesting thought experiment.
From Liss:
Sometimes I wonder what kind of parent I would have been if we'd only had one baby.
Or if I'd been able to make more milk.
Or if I didn't have a full-time job.

Things would be different, that's for sure. I fear I'd have been one of those hard-core judgmental attachment parenting evangelists. I was already pretty down on people who didn't breastfeed, before I found out I had such low supply.

So we feed them formula.
It's different with twins.

And I don't wear them too often anymore because they're too grabby and they don't both fit.
It's different with twins.

And they sleep in cribs in their own room.
It's different with twins.

And we use only disposable diapers now that our cloth service gift cards are used up.
It's different with twins.

And this week we did sleep training using the Ferber method. It's not something I wanted to do in my idea of what Good Parents Should Do. But we finally decided it was better for them to cry at night for a few nights than for me to be crying in the corner for the next few years. Besides, with two, somebody's always crying anyway so we might as well make that work for us.

It's different with twins.

The Attachment Parenting Police warn that if you let babies cry at all, they'll be withdrawn and never trust you again and turn into serial killers. So far those first two haven't come to pass; we'll have to wait and see on that last bit. That said, it hasn't been easy. All we did is cut out their nighttime bottles (which had already been weaned to 1 ounce) and pacifiers (OMG Nooooooo!), and gradually extend the waits before we'd go in and comfort them. Of course, the only comfort they wanted was the (GIVE ME THE DAMN) pacifiers. They'd actively shove my hand away as I tried to stroke their heads.

Of course, "through the night" is ending at 5:30 these days (Ed note: see compromise update three posts down), but that's still progress! We can live with that amount of sleep if that's the first time we wake up. We could even start having people over at 8, after they're in bed. What an idea!

And during they day they're as giggly and active as ever, except for a bit of teething whininess. That's not my fault, or theirs, or even Dr. Ferber's.
(Liss's post above, and another from a friend about attachment parenting, triggered this.)

There are dozens of variables to raising a baby, and they all have their passionate advocates and detractors, which I've touched on before: birth plan, cloth/disposable, formula/breast, nanny/day care, immunizations and so on. In a typical relationship, the mother makes these decisions, sometimes with input from the father - especially when cost or his convenience are at stake - but it's definitely Mom territory.

With that said, I've noticed a pattern among mothers which begins at pregnancy:
  1. They seek each other out.

  2. A pregnant woman wants to knows that she's not alone in her combination of misery and happiness. Online, there are groups for certain due-date months that pretty much form nine months prior to that month. In person, there's PEPS and Emoms for twins and goodness knows what else. They share stories about their previous pregnancies, doctor visits, ultrasound pictures, bedrest woes, decorating nurseries, etc.

    In addition to same-age groups, there are also (mostly online) groups dedicated to promoting those variables above. An expectant mother is likely to research them, make some decision, then gravitate toward those of similar ilk. Such groups are eager to give advice to a worrisome new mom leaning their way. It's like a sewing circle for gestators.

  3. They are genuinely supportive.

  4. No one is more understanding of a pregnant woman's daily issues than another woman who's in (or has been in) the same boat. Even a loving husband can only empathsize so much - what do I know about spotting and swollen ankles? When disagreements in the groups arise, they are usually short-lived, but powerful enough to at least make a new mother consider her stances; experienced mothers are much more stubborn. Meanwhile, when the time comes, the actual births are widely celebrated.

  5. The honeymoon period fades.

  6. Now that everyone's babies are out and growing, the mothers have less in common over time, because babies and their care are so different. Liss is becoming disillusioned with the PEPS group because they're mostly stay-at-home Microsoft wives who want to meet on weekday afternoons, when she's supposed to be working. She and the other twin/working moms want to meet on the weekends and possibly [gasp] bring their partners along.

    Of greater contention are the issues groups. A new mother can intend to do x and y with her babies, but reality sometimes prevents it from happening (e.g. Liss and breastfeeding). If she admits this to the group, there are invariably a few hardcore mothers who will let her know in no uncertain terms that she's a horrible mom for it. The usual paraphrased language is "I did it this way and my baby is better than yours can now ever hope to be." Such opinions also drive out the moderate members who don't want to be associated with such extremism, so you end up with a bunch of extremists.

    A prime example is La Leche League. To the expectant mother looking to learn more, they're actually a very good resource. However, the minute you tell one of their advocates you're looking into formula, it's guilt time. They're one of the more organized examples, but every advocacy group has the same modus operandi - pour on the advice and information and welcomes, then turn backs in disgust if the decision or circumstances differ.

  7. (Prediction: the same-age group becomes inactive, but a few like-minded friends have been made.)
So to summarize, like anywhere else in life, parents will tear down others' choices in order to feel better about their own. Also like anywhere else in life, the solution is to do what's best for you. Emoms is actually really good about promoting this mindset; they understand that multiples mean compromise after compromise.

As a dad, I get to stay above the fray, because expectations are low (from others, not her). My job is to help her wade through the options and follow through on her/our decisions.
Monday morning there was "just something different" about the boys, especially Drew. A seriousness, an awareness? I don't know what to call it. It was intangible, but we both noticed it.
After a regression from last week's optimistic start to sleep training, we've reached a compromise with the boys about sleep. They can wake up between 3-5am and get a snack, as long as they go right back to sleep. We just can't lie there and listen to them wail for hours like Friday night; we have jobs. We drew up a contract which all four of us signed in the presence of a notary. Okay, not really.

Since I have trouble getting back to sleep after a wake-up (I've been up since Drew's 4am fussiness), I get to go back to ear plugs for now. It only takes a few minutes for Liss to get up and do the snack feed, and she can usually fall asleep again with little problem. She can always kick me if she needs me.

February 14th+

Unofficial weights from a diabetes study checkup: 16/5 and 15/14.
Drew's two little lower teeth are teasing us. They're right there, very obviously teeth, pushing against his gumline. He seems to be taking the pain as well as can be expected, but we also give him (them) Motrin and Tylenol with some regularity. They're nowhere near being able to just suck it up.
Three wakeups, but none was long enough (10 minutes) for her to need to get up to comfort, so she doesn't even know who was doing it. They woke up for the day earlier than usual (5:30am), but if that's the first time they wake us, it's definitely worth it. Since this is markable(*) progress, we can have hope that very soon they'll just sleep right through.

(*) If it happens again, it'll be remarkable.
Just a couple of little milestones - they're both sitting up indefinitely, and they'll probably have their first bath in the real tub this weekend.
The whole deal with Ferber is that waking up gets them progressively less reward. The first night, she was to let them cry 3 minutes, then comfort them, then let them cry 5 minutes, comfort, cry 10, comfort, cry 10, comfort, repeat until asleep(*). The second (Tuesday) night it bumped up to 5/10/12 minute intervals. She took to writing down what happened in their food log; around 3am, Bobby had a 5, 10, 12, 12, 12, 5 series. That's 56 minutes of pissed off baby. Drew had a shorter series in the middle of that.

To pass that time, she's bringing her cell phone into the room. It has a game that lets her choose the length of time to complete levels; she's using that as her stopwatch. It's better than staring at the wall.

(*) How long she cries remains variable.
From last week:
We think Drew has a couple of little white bumps showing under his lower gumline. It's hard to tell.
It's no longer hard to tell. We expect teeth within a week.
Liss has the week off from work. Her mom arrived Monday to help out, because this is the week we've been working toward for a while now - sleep training. This involves Liss staying up much of the night; she can't soothe them with food or binkies if they wake up. She's not even supposed to hold them. Since I have to work, I get ear plugs.

She reports that for the first night, they took turns screaming for four hours. The only silver lining I can think of is that they took turns. And that I had ear plugs.

It's supposed to get drastically better after a few nights. We'll see what happens.
Their heads belong in 6-9 month clothing, because of the head hole and their big melons. The rest of their bodies are still 3-6. This'll be an issue for the next month or so.

February 7th+

The 2008 page hit 30,000 views today (counter at bottom), though these days its traffic comes from two main sources:
  1. Search engine hits.
  2. People who haven't updated their old bookmarks to this page and go through it to get here.
Basically, the curious and the lazy.
We read that in order to keep a baby from rolling from back to stomach in the crib (for SIDS reasons), you should put him in with his feet in the corner. The idea is that when he starts to roll, his feet hit the sides and stop it. However, it doesn't work, because the boys' first step when flipping over is to lift their legs up.

That's okay, though, because if pop culture taught my generation anything, it's that nobody puts Baby in a corner!
We had the names for the boys before they were born, but waited a day to assign who was who. The main "factor" was just gut instinct, but we both acknowledge that Bobby was more mild mannered, which fits the three elder Roberts after whom he's named. For a few weeks, this seemed fitting; we even nicknamed Drew "Drama King" at first(*).

In the long run, though, Bob's been the King. He's generally whinier, harder to soothe, quicker to complain, and so on. Hopefully he'll mellow with age. If there's one thing we Munger men are good at(+), it's being mellow.

(*) Including holding him up with both hands like the baby Simba in The Lion King and bellowing "I present to you your Drama King!"

(+) But just for the record, there are more.
"Lissa thinks seven months sounds way older than six."
We think Drew has a couple of little white bumps showing under his lower gumline. It's hard to tell.
Amy surprised us with some professional portraits of the boys from when she and Cameron and Cari had them. They had the good sense to not use the cheesy backgrounds and costumes those places have on hand, and let the boys' cuteness speak for itself.
I did our taxes this weekend. It turns out that for deduction purposes, a baby counts for the whole year he was born, rather than pro-rating it from his birth date. 11:59pm December 31st counts the same as 12:01am January 1st. I guess they figure it'd otherwise be too complicated for people.

But get this - remember those $600 stimulus checks everyone got last spring? The boys weren't born yet, so "they" didn't get the $300 per child. However, because they count as taxable entities retroactively for the whole year, their $300x2 gets added to our tax return.
Officially speaking, "sleeping through the night" means a single five-hour stretch. We have an unofficial definition - from when we go to bed (~10pm) until we normally wake up (6:30am). Since we put them down around 7pm, we're actually looking for almost 11 hours out of them, but a little soothing between 7 and 10pm doesn't bother us. By our standards, when we can sleep during our window without having to get up, then we'll be in the promised land.

What isn't in the books is what counts as sleeping through and what doesn't. Historically, the only way we've been able to get them back to sleep was to feed them. However, that's changing over time, starting with lowering the amount we let them eat when they do wake, but just putting a pacifier in a mouth is sometimes enough to get them calm again. The idea is to make waking less worthwhile from a food standpoint; they're supposed to make up the difference during the day.

Sunday night was the most stark example of this "training" to date. Bobby, usually our bigger waker-upper, didn't eat until 5:30am. However, he did get me out of bed four times with his whinery, but popping in his binky got him back to sleep. Meanwhile, Drew only ate one tiny snack and had one such binky-popping. So the question becomes, which is closer to sleeping through - the restless one who whines but is easily soothed, or the harder sleeper who requires a little food before breakfast? An important variable in all this is that occasionally (and more often over time) they'll spot their bink, grab it and pop it themselves; we can hear it on the monitor. Contrasting that, it's not like they'll ever be able to whip up their own bottle.

Central to this are diapers that don't leak. Changing a diaper wakes them up, but so does a leak. We tried several kinds and got several leaks a few weeks ago, but we've settled on one that's rarely failed us (and probably due to user error). They hate wetness on their clothes, and I don't blame them.
Lots of pictures.

January 31st+

It's interesting (to me) to see them learning the most mundane things. For example, last night I had Drew while Liss took Bobby to a friend's. He was in my lap, and: These are little things, but new little things.
Drew got his diaper half-off this morning. I think he was just trying to play with scratch himself, but he grabbed the velcro and pulled it off instead.

This could portend some future grossness.
I think I can now safely announce that they're both ticklish.
I've decided that I'm not going to hide the fact that I plan to live vicariously through my sons.

Every father does it, but for the last generation or so we've been told that it's a bad thing, which just means we have to be more subtle about it. I figure it's backlash against the dads who take it too far(*), but like anything else, a few extremists shouldn't determine policy.

Besides, if anyone's qualified to make sure I don't overdo it, it's Liss. I'll do the same to for her when we have a girl. We're good at calling b.s. on each other.

(*) As seen in Dead Poet's Society and Varsity Blues.
If bad eyesight is genetic (and it is), the boys will be in glasses by the time they start kindergarten.

What's the minimum age for Lasik? Five? Seven?

I'm not one to use the word "blessed" or even "lucky," but if I were, I'd use them to describe ourselves with respect to the boys. Consider the following: So, yeah, I complain (see below), but only about temporary stuff.
"They grow up so fast!"

In hindsight, sure. Living it day to day, not so much. Maybe I'll miss this phase later, maybe I won't, but right now I just want it to be over. I want babies that sleep through the night and entertain/soothe themselves and each other. I'm exhausted, she's exhausted, our social lives are near nil, blah blah blah. How could I miss this?
For the few years we've been together, I've grown out my beard until Liss tells me to trim it. She likes it, but there's a "too much" point that hits after a couple of months.

For now, the boys - or more to the point, their grabby hands - have shortened that window.

The witching hour was bad enough that we tried packing them up and driving them around for the first time. It normally conks them, especially when they're already tired. It worked, but only as long as the drive. Five minutes after getting home they were back to being complainy.
We were without the boys for 28 hours over the weekend, thanks to our friends Amy, Cameron, and Cari. Liss went to a class while I watched one of my favorite movies (Master and Commander), we saw Benjamin Button(*), putzed around the house, went to a party, stayed out late (for us), and slept late (ditto). Amy also gave us movie passes and faux gift certificates for "Gitmo Nanny Service," which gave me a good laugh.

(*) Which was good, but I liked Slumdog Millionaire more. Plus, we saw enough parallels between Button and Forrest Gump for it to be distracting. And here's another blatant plug for my free Oscar pool.
While The Wonder Weeks is an okay book for knowing what the boys are going through, it's the most egregious example of mom-centric writing I've yet seen. During every growth spurt, moms can expect their babies to be clingy - to Mom. Here's what Mommy can do to help with the transition. There are abundant quotes in every chapter from other moms. If an alien were to use this book to learn how our species raises its young, it would have no idea that fathers even existed. Perhaps it'd assume our species reproduced by budding or something.

For the record, the boys are just as clingy to me as to her - which I kind of like, except for the part where they're being clingy.

Even The Girlfriends' Guide series explicitly acknowledges dads. Lots of books have dad-read-this sections, which I still find slightly insulting, but at least it means the author doesn't think my sole purpose is to bring home less than half of the bacon.

To be fair, I'm not a 50/50 participant. It's probably more like 60/40. But as I've said before, she thinks that's great after talking to other moms, so it's all relative.
The Bob had a bad night. In fact, most of Sunday was less than stellar. Signs point to a combination of a new growth spurt (clinginess, easily bored) and teething (pulling his ear, trouble sleeping).
We've retired the swings. In their place are the two high chairs, so it's not like we got the space back.

Since we're good friends with a pregnant couple, they'll be getting a lot of one-of-two things from us, like a swing, while we keep the other for theoretical baby number three. In the case of things that aren't doubled, like maternity clothes, she'll be able to use them until we need them back. It should work out well.

January 24th+

People say the boys are spitting images of me, but I honestly don't see it. Maybe it's one of those "too close to the situation" things. I do, however, see my grandfather and Liss's mom and brother in them.
Another good night, especially for me, since Liss fed them back-to-back the one time they woke. I slept through 'til 6:15. These days, that's practically hybernation.

The ped said now was the right time to start Ferberizing them. Liss has a week off in two weeks, at which time her mother will come help so Liss can do the graveyard shift. The general idea is that instead of feeding them overnight, you soothe them for progressively shorter periods of time. Their bodies are supposed to adjust by eating more during the day. Hopefully that'll be the end of the overnight feedings, but the key word is "hopefully."
Ped report.

They got the hib shot (among others), so that's two down and one to go. We were way short on the weights: 15/3 and 14/10. Both are 25", or 2'1" as Liss likes to say. Their head sizes are in the 21st percentile for their [unadjusted] age, up from about 6th last time. Height and weights on the curve are still single-digit percentiles.
There are parents (moms, really) who can't leave their babies without getting emotional, fearing the worst, etc. Over the years, I've often seen the phrase "this is the first time we've ever been apart" when the kid goes to preschool at age two or whatnot.

We are not those types of people. If we can reasonably expect that someone won't hurt them, off they go. Our lives are so saturated by Team Baby that a Gitmo detainee could show up at our door and we'd probably let him watch them while we take a nap.
A trio of friends are taking the boys from Saturday morning until Sunday morning. We have several things planned to do, none of which are terribly exciting but are rare these days. Like sleeping.

Two of the three are a married couple, newly pregnant. I guess they want a trial by fire.
We figure that until Bobby learns to enunciate, he'll refer to his brother as "Doo." We'll have to resist calling him that so it doesn't stick.
A 4am bout of binky-popping notwithstanding, Drew slept through the night again. At least, we're calling 5:30 "through the night." Like last time, Bobby only ate once overnight.
Today is their first ped visit in over two months. We weighed them on the kitchen spring scale a month ago, but today will be the official version. I think I guessed 14/6 and 13/15 last night, and Liss 14/8 and 14/1. Something like that.

Neither of us thinks they'll have the hib shot in stock. They're supposed to get it at 2, 4 and 6 months, but only got the 2. Hopefully they won't have to start over.
Though this link says it's too early for night terrors, Drew's having something in that vein. This is probably closer to what's going on. It'll be on the list of things to ask the ped about tomorrow. It's pretty disturbing to wake up to your baby screaming as loudly as he can.
From last September:
Once in a while, as a reminder of how good we have it, we catch up with this blog. This baby was also due in July, but born in April at 1 1/2 pounds. He's still in the NICU, was denied a lung transplant for being too weak, and today has a 10% chance of survival.
Drayke passed away last night.
Group Health has a phone number to a consulting nurse. Liss calls it first, and they invariably tell her to come in. I think they were 5 for 5 when she was pregnant. So, imagine our surprise when she called about Bobby and they said not to bother.

All this time I thought it was just a recording: "Hello? .... I see, anything else? ... uh-huh ... sounds like you'd better come in just to be safe ... You're welcome, have a good day. -click-"
Milestones are important in their own right, but also for a very specific purpose - so the nurse will check the "Yes" box after asking about them during a check-up. Drew's back-to-stomach flipping got in just under the wire, perhaps helped by this week's appointment being at 6 1/2 months instead of 6. However, the dreaded checklist doesn't take their early birth into account, so the fact that they've gotten "Yes" for everything so far is that much more impressive. After all, they're still not up to the 5th percentile in size for their age(*), but at least they're developing those motor skills on pace.

Following that trajectory, they should be crawling in March. If previous milestones are any indication, it will be Bobby before St. Patrick's Day and Drew after.

(*) And if my own childhood is any indication, won't be until well into puberty.
It's a good thing we didn't see Thursday's sleep-a-thon as The New Thing, because it was definitely a fluke.

Only partially related, it's now par for the course for them to flip onto their stomachs at night, seemingly as soon as they can manage it. This makes for a lot of drool on the sheets.

We can also confirm that they both caught my cold. If Bobby's "bubbly" breathing hasn't improved by the time you read this, Liss will be taking them to the clinic just to be safe.
Drew has started babbling. It's been elusive to filming, however.

January 17th+

My 2009 Oscar Pool is up and ready. Go forth, my minions!
Not to state the obvious, but poop and jumperoos don't mix.
We put the boys down at the usual 7:20pm. We woke up this morning to the sound of my alarm clock. In between, Liss fed Bobby at 3am; he quietly drifted back to sleep. I popped a binky into Drew's whiny mouth around 4. That's it.

Bottom line: Drew slept through the night! ... sort of.

We're not popping champagne corks just yet, because we think they have colds, we don't want to get our hopes up, etc. But it was nice and hopefully a taste of the near future.

The odd thing - which ties back to the colds - was that Bobby refused to eat at bedtime. Zero. Normally they chug their biggest meal of the day at that time. I tried again an hour later, and nothing. We were certain he'd have a difficult night, but it just didn't happen.
Five months after making the decision to do so, I took my cats Vince and Andi to the Humane Society on Thursday. I'd had them nearly ten years, and they'd always had litterbox problems, but it had gotten much worse since they boys came. Hopefully they'll get adopted, but there's no way for me to know. It's much less likely that they'd get adopted together, even though they're littermates.

Grace remains. She's been extra clingy, perhaps because she doesn't have them to boss around anymore.
They're in a transitional phase between size 1 and size 2 diapers, especially overnight. The goal is to not have to change them until morning (unless there's a poop), because it tends to wake them up. However, the size 1s don't absorb everything they now put out, but they're not quite big enough to fill the size 2s. Leakage happens either way, which definitely wakes them up in whiny fashion - and who can blame them?

We're experimenting with a few different diapers, but another tip we got was to stuff a maxi-pad in there for extra absorbency. If that works, it'll be fun telling them about it when they're 12.
Drew's becoming quite the champion sitter-without-support. He can only last a couple of minutes before slowly "timber!"ing in one direction or the other, but it's progress.
I let Bobby sleep starting at 5:30, and except for the bedtime feeding, he was out until 3. We're cautiously optimistic that we've gotten through the worst of it.

My posts have been very sleep-related lately. During the week, I only see them from the time I get home (~5) until they go to bed (7 at the latest). Every other interaction is overnight or during the rush to get ready for work. Plus, now that we're letting them sleep before 7 instead of keeping them up, that's even less time we get to interact with wakeful babies.

Weekends provide the most fodder for your consumption.
I'm a cheek-pincher. Who knew?
!b * !d

Sunday night was one of the best in recent memory, but it started out with a big if. When they've been sleep/cranky during the witching hour (5-7pm), we've tried to keep them awake until we put them to bed at 7. Instead, Drew fell asleep in my lap at 5:15 and stayed that way until 7, when we did The Routine and he went down again (after maybe an hour of babbling to himself). He didn't really get up again until 4. One night isn't a trend, but we're at least going to be more lax about the evening naps until proven otherwise.

Drew has also flipped from his back to his stomach three times in his sleep, so he's got that milestone too. However, I can't help but worry about the whole SIDS back-to-sleep thing, even though each night is something like a 1 in 24000 chance at this point. The alternative is to flip him back, but waking a baby has become akin to sin in this house, except you confess to your spouse instead of your priest. Spouses are less forgiving.

Meanwhile, Bobby seems to prefer sleeping on his side. Whatever works, kid. He didn't get up 'til 3, which is pretty good for him.

They're definitely more pleasant when they've had a good night's sleep - as are we.
I had my first outing with just myself and the boys on Saturday. A little of that was paranoia at my own abilities, but mostly there just hadn't been much of a reason. We went to Fry's (for me) and Target (for us) and of course spent more on them than on us.

Total bonus: Babies count toward the HOV lane.
Just by coincidence, it's the all-Drew picture hour.
b * d

January 10th+

From Liss:
This morning I went digging for some frozen blueberries to juice up my stale waffle. I found, instead, a tub of sliced strawberries. Figured I could settle.

But when I opened the tub, I was hit by the smell: amazingly fresh, local strawberries, frozen in their prime.

And then I was hit with the memory of that day, the day that I sliced them, six months ago. And suddenly there I was, puffy feet elevated at the dining room table, waiting for a friend to come take me to lunch. Of course my nesting would involve food, I thought. I was so sweaty, so uncomfortable, so excited and hopeful. Slice one, eat one, as my arms stained red with the juice. I didn't know at that moment that the babies would arrive that very night, but I knew it would be soon. This morning, smelling strawberries, I felt it all again--and then I was pulled from my reminiscence by the whining of the real, live babies.
We've stopped using the Miracle blankets, but it certainly wasn't our idea; their rebellion against them had been escalating for some time. It's sleep sacks now, which means their hands are free. This is a double-edged sword, as free hands can be soothing (sucking on fingers), but also un-soothing (remove binky from mouth but can't put it back in, smack self in face). As their brains learn to control their hands better, it'll lean more toward the soothing aspect.

They're starting to outgrow those sacks, but we already have larger ones. All we have to do it find them. Oy.
Stereotypically speaking, when childless men fantasize about parenting, we imagine lots of apostrophized gerunds: tossin' the pigskin, fixin' the car, wrasslin' in the yard, goin' to Fry's. In other words, we see our future children as interactive and playful beings who give us a chance to vicariously relive youth and pass down our values.

Meanwhile, women imagine babies: pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, snuggling, cooing. I don't know if they jump the gun into dollhouse/dress-up territory like we do, but I know the baby part is there in force, unlike us. If you want to see for yourself, come with us to a crowded area with the boys, and tally how many people of each gender stop to chat.

My point is that as a new dad, I'm glad I'm also a generally patient person. The baby phase takes a long time and a lot of energy and yields little reward. So far, I have no idea if my sons are going to be good people. I don't know what their talents will be. Are they good at math? Do they like going to baseball games? Can they turn a clever phrase? How are they different or alike? It will take years to find these things out, and those discoveries are what I'm most looking forward to - what kind of people have we created here, anyway?

Of course, there will be some things we can't expect and won't enjoy. For all we know, we're raising a couple of NASCAR fans.
When pregnant with a first child, especially with twins, people always say "get your sleep in now!" We found that annoying. If we'd slept the entire first half of the year away, it's not like it would be making any difference for us now. It's not a savings account for later withdrawal.

I propose we modify that standard piece of crappy advice to this - get your fun in now. The months leading up to that first kid is your last chance for a long time to do interesting things aimed at adults on a regular basis.

Go to concerts. Hang out with your friends at a (smoke-free) bar. See R-rated movies. Fly to Aruba. Take in the local art museum. Sing in a chorus. Write a novella. Make love. Whatever her energy level allows, do it while you still can.
Babies are imitators, or so they say. Ours aren't. One of the first "tricks" you're supposed to be able to do with a baby is stick your tongue out, and they'll stick theirs out in response. I've never seen either of ours do that. They just laugh at us - if we're lucky. The same goes for anything else we've tried; there's never been an obvious aping.

I could interpret this as a sign of slow developmental progress, but I prefer to think that - like their parents - our boys aren't the type to do something just because someone else is doing it.
I'm pretty sure Bobby's going to crawl first. He's just more physically active - flailing arms, stomping feet while standing (supported), he rolled over first in both directions, etc. It'll probably still be a couple of months, though.
Liss reports that Drew has joined the "explore one's crotchal region with one's hands" bandwagon.

She revealed this to the other moms at her weekly PEPS gathering. Other babies in the group are older, so they're starting to show teeth, crawl, and even flash some fledgling signs. But they're not groping themselves like our boys are starting to do.

Their mother is so proud.

Let's say b are the odds of Bobby having a bad night, and d the same for Drew. Lately, I'd say b = 0.7 (or 70%) and d = 0.2.

To calculate the odds of their both keeping us up, you just multiply the two: ... which is almost exactly 1 in 7, or once a week. I swear I didn't predetermine that, but it seems about right. As I've previously stated, two fussy babies has pretty much the same effect as one when it comes to parental sleep; it's not like either of us can sleep with a wailing child in the house, even if the other parent is actively trying to soothe him.

Calculating the odds of both babies having a good night is a little trickier - with a bad night as your premise, a good night is defined logically as the opposite of that premise, which in Bobby's case would be denoted as !b, with the ! meaning "not." Because the premise and its opposite must total 1.00 (or 100%), the odds of Bobby having a good night are: So, the odds of both happening are: The middle ground - one baby having a good night and the other bad - is even weirder. This is actually two possible conditions - Bobby having a good night and Drew bad, or Drew good and Bobby bad - but with the same net outcome (one fussy baby). In our notation: That's the other four+ days a week.

Since there are only these four possibilities, and their sum must equal 1.0, we also could have taken the first two (0.14 and 0.24) and subtracted them from 1.0 to get this last scenario (1.0 - 0.14 - 0.24) = 0.62. Self-checks are very useful in math, as evidenced by the fact that I had that last one wrong at first. :-D

Obviously, I have a lot of time to think about these things when I can't get back to sleep after a 3am feeding. I started to do it by hour (it's usually worse after 3am), but stopped myself.
Contrary to what other twin parents have been telling us, a couple of twin dads told me today that it doesn't get better, just bad in different ways. I'm choosing to ignore that in hopes of preserving my sanity. Besides, if different involves more sleep for all, that's a lot of good to counterbalance whatever the new bad will be.

Speaking of sanity, it's clear that Liss and I are handling this long term stress in different ways. When I reach the point of losing it, I kind of shut down. She plunges forward and crosses that threshhold anyway, because things need to get done regardless of how she feels, and she pays the piper later.
More sleep issues.

They've started moving around in the crib - despite being swaddled up - so we assembled the second crib we'd bought. The rails were very high, but Liss came up with an off-the-wall solution. She took one of the leaves out of the dining room table and put it under the mattress. It turns out to be a perfect fit. Plus, it frees up some space in the dining room (we tend to clutter any horizontal surface).

Drew had an almost ideal night, so he's still on track. Bobby, again, not so much. It's bad enough that we're looking at doing some of the Ferber things now instead of next month, as we'd planned. The basic idea is that they've come to associate certain things with falling asleep - like eating and binkies - such that they think they need those things to fall asleep, and wail if they wake up and don't have them handy. Since they're not yet aware enough that a binky within arm's reach is but a grab-and-pop away, and we're getting up a dozen times a night to do it for them, something has to give. If we have a plan, at least we can continue to pretend that we're in charge.

As part of breaking the binky-to-sleep habit, Liss thought of hiding them ... when only the nanny is around. We're not that cruel - yet.
We'd cleared the living room to vacuum the carpet, after which we put one of them on it for whatever reason. It turns out they both thought it was great stuff, but carpet burns to the head prevent it from being their permanent play mat.

This is what quadruplets would look like, but actually it's their first tandem bath.
A friend stayed the night Friday to watch the boys, and we stayed over at a friend's. As I told Liss "tonight you're my wife first, and a mom second." It's always the reverse nowadays, and it's fleeting when we get a break like that, but it's certainly appreciated when we get it.
We're having more issues with the nanny, to the point that we're seriously considering replacing her. She's actually fine when she's directly interacting with the boys, but that's pretty much her only saving grace. She's been late, absent, slow to learn the routines, etc. Of course, you get what you pay for.
Six months.

Six freakin' months.

It feels like six weeks.

It also feels like two years.
They've started taking to this toy lately, not that they have the coordination to really do it justice yet.

January 3rd+

Liss's initial report from the rescheduled Nanny - Day One was positive. Here's hoping it stays that way.
We hear "I can't imagine two!" a lot.

To preserve her sanity, lately Liss has taken to saying "at least there's only two."
Judging from recent nights, Drew has outgrown this awful phase of waking every couple of hours. He only got up once last night to eat, and the previous couple of nights were similar.

Bobby, not so much: 10pm, 1am, 3am, 4am. Since he's still developmentally behind his brother by a week or two in most respects, we hope Drew's predicting Bobby's near future.
Bobby hit another milestone last night - flipping from his back to his stomach. I know this because when I left him at 4:30am, he had already made it to his side; five minutes later, he was on his stomach with his legs caught between the crib's bars.

Drew's pretty close to doing it, too. It's a six-month skill, which would mean they're both still on schedule despite being a month early.
As may be evident in the bumbo picture, they're looking more and more alike. A big part of it is that even though Bobby still trails Drew in weight, the proportional difference is less, so he doesn't look "thinner" like he used to, especially in his face.

Thank goodness for the ear thing, or I'd be really paranoid about this.
Our first nanny skipped back to California, leaving us with our second choice. Today was her first day. When she hadn't shown by 8:30 (due at 8:00), Liss called; she said she had a sick kid and could start tomorrow.

Not a good feeling. We might have to look for a Plan C.
While they've both been learning about their toes, Bobby's also discovered another ... appendage. About half the time I removed his diaper over the weekend, his hand ended up down there before the new one was ready.
Judging from his overnight "feed me" screams lately, Bobby may not be a baby human after all, but a baby eagle.
(*) Which would entail their being much, much better at it than I.