Saturday, May 29, 2010

Henry's newest accessory (and a toy)

I learned a new definition recently - orthotics.

Henry had to visit one (or rather, someone who specializes in it) - to be fitted for a molding helmet (or cranial brace). The helmet (and Henry, of course) came home with us last week. Tony and I decided on the design with race cars. Which is fabulous and a perfect fit for Henry's personality.

And no, we haven't the foggiest idea why there is a universal 'no' sign through a dog on the helmet (if any of you know let us know?) but, for the record, Henry isn't anti-dog.

But, apparently, his helmet is.

For those unaware, Henry has to wear it (and get physical therapy) for his torticollis and his head shape...which is, for lack of a better term, non-round. But by August 13th it should be round. Or rounder. And hopefully his head won't be cocked as much as if asking a permanent question. Which is cute but something we feel would be better for him to do voluntarily.

Look at him though - isn't he a trooper? And its been a billion degrees (I exaggerate, I know - but it has been rather warm). But he doesn't mind.

We've started the "breaking in" process with him and are gradually working up to him wearing it 23 hours a day. We are at day 4 now. Oy!

In a moment of weakness and with a 20% off Babies 'R Us coupon, I caved and bought the twins a stationary jumper. In addition to the doorway one (I know...I'm bad - but two kids? Two devices? Is that really all that awful?). So, we bought, and have been using the Baby Einstein Jumparoo (which folds down! Very cool...) and with Sophia's help yesterday, I assembled it.

She is such a good supervisor! (And was really 'talking' me through the process). Fortunately, 'Baby Einstein' products don't require an 'Adult Einstein' to assemble it.

And Henry, while donning his new helmet, decided to give the 'jumparoo' its first try. Its like watching Evel Knievel in the making. I so want to buy him a cape. Don't you?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Swing with me you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue
From Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Swing”

I recently found out that Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verse was originally titled Penny Whistles.

This, for those who know me, thrills me to no end.

If there is one book I could rip apart and scatter into loads of smaller ones, it would be Stevenson’s. A runner up would be Hafez.

Tough competition, I know. Henry’s favorite poem in the volume is “The Swing”; Sophia’s is “The Lamp[lighter]”. Truth be told, that’s a guess on Sophia’s. Sometimes she doesn’t have the patience for poetry. She has more important things to do.

Like kick her legs.


But she still maintains a relationship with the living room lamp and my suspicion is she would like a poem about it. She also is interested, I believe, in baby modeling (can’t you tell by the way she works with the camera?).

But Henry oh – ho – has an affinity for poetry. And at his request we’ve started reading Chapter books aloud. First on the list is Peter Pan. And Henry is already smitten with Wendy Moira Angela. I can tell by the way he grows silent during her parts.

They also both like the new doorway swing I bought them. At least they pretend to. Last week at their four-month visit, the pediatrician gave the green light to stationary walkers (?!) and the like. So they have this new slightly terrifying device.

Neither of them know what to make of it yet and I am unsure how to demonstrate it for them. But they are brilliant and I know will be fast friends.

So while they test it, I read to them from A Garden. Perhaps someday I will tear the Stevenson into mini-pieces and illustrate every single poem for them. For now they just have to tolerate my painfully simple sketches and tendency to read too fast.

And when it is done I will rename it Pennys Whistle.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I've waited my whole life for this -

…yes, baby laundry. Washed, hung up outside, lovingly folded and put away.
I know what you are thinking –
Liar. Liar. Pants on fire.

But, I’m not fibbing. I love this. I love it so much I asked my friend Amanda to custom-make an accessory rejoicing in children, play and the persistently bottomless laundry basket (the item, a clothespin bag, is in the left hand corner of the photograph, as well as on her blog).

I’ve waited for this just as I’ve looked forward to sharing the magic of Queen and Philip Glass with someone. Fortunately, Henry and Sophia are willing to oblige – happy even. Our mornings are blissful moments – filled with milk, music and mom.

And the occasionally common load of laundry.

We talk about Sonnet 18 (which I know was Uncle Will’s way of writing about baby laundry). We talk about Rodin. They stare at me with those poignant eyes as if to say “Yes. I know exactly what you are talking about” and watch as I hang the sheets.

I’ve read in countless parenting books (which, fortunately, I’ve stopped reading) that “babies are selfish creatures” – always taking, always egotistical. To them I present the knowing eyes, the soulful hands and the stories of compassion.

Henry used to think, for instance, I needed entertainment. So he would force himself awake in the middle of the night just to make sure his mother has companionship. It was very sweet, actually. I tried to persuade him that this was not necessarily true - he can sleep through the rest of the night and mom will be just fine.

And this week it worked. Ironically now, I am sad. I miss him. We would stare out the back door and watch the sun rise though the trees. Make a pot of coffee (for one). Dabble a bit in my thesis. He would help me revise. Aside from the occasional cry, it was a relatively peaceful time where we enjoyed each other’s company. And now, though it may come back sporadically, it is a time in the past.

Yes, Henry and Sophia cry. Sophia needs her naps. And Henry’s new favorite toy is a mirror attached to the belly of a cow (?!). But I don’t buy baby-selfishness. Perhaps I am delusional. But when we talk about Rodin, Henry will sit in his Bumbo and look like a miniature-Rodin-in-miniature – just to make me laugh. They let me read, and even request, Anne Bradstreet. They eat my hand before their own. And most importantly they keep making laundry for me.

Because they know how much I like it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Baking Chicken Sophia

(Sophia with *her* chicken)

I have been given the unfair distinction of being a bad cook. Why, I do not know. Actually, I love to cook (and am not completely terrible at it). I follow blogs with food (I love my friend Kelly's Land Locked (and in love). Mostly, I love to make things up - see what works and what doesn't. Sometimes things work; other times I'm washing the entire oven/kitchen down with vinegar.

The other night I made up a dish called "Chicken Sophia" -

it was a hit.

Henry, in the recent future, will get his own culinary titular dish - but he strikes me as a pasta-guy.

And so Sophia is chicken.

(Henry with the baby spinach)


2-3 breasts of chicken
2 tb olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup long grain brown rice
3 cups fresh baby spinach
fresh chives - chopped
fresh oregano - picked off the stem-ish thing
fresh sliced tomato (I used cherry tomato, but any would do).

(going for the layered look)

Directions in 20 easy steps:

1. give Henry baby spinach to play with to keep him busy
2. bring broth to a boil
3. stir in brown rice - let simmer for 15 minutes
4. brown chicken in olive oil and season with oregano
5. talk to Henry about the importance of vegetables like Spinach
6. turn oven on (350 was perfect)
7. get out baking pan
8. take away spinach from Henry. bad idea giving a baby spinach. or a baby, spinach. there's a dangling modifier in there...
9. clean steam off camera lens (too close to the boiling food...stupid)
10. line bottom of dish with the brown rice
11. put fresh washed spinach on top of the rice
12. put browned chicken on top of the spinach on top of the rice (don't worry it looks high but the spinach will fall)
13. and down will come baby....
14. (consider having self committed)
15. put tomato and chives on top of chicken on top of spinach on top of rice lining the baking pan
16. cover with foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes
17. put oven on warm while Tony walks the dog
18. tease your children for their inability to have solid food while eating a dish inspired by one of them
19. don't forget to sprinkle with cheese - never forget the cheese
20. enjoy!

(the resulting "Chicken Sophia" plated)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sophia did the unthinkable...

...she rolled over.

I'm so proud. Henry was watching (and is the one who cries in the last second). His version of cursing the heavens in futility I guess (he's been trying to master this skill for weeks - Sophia beat him to it!).

Take a peek:

A Year Ago...

...there wasn't a rose bush in my living room.

and it was Mother's Day.
At the time I: 1. believed I would never eat food again 2. didn't have a car 3. was dutifully working on my thesis

A lot can happen in a year:
1. *sigh* I love chocolate, and cookies, and...2. drive my mom's van 3. have two cribs in the room we, just a year ago, called the "study" (and have spit up on my laptop, again).

And, as stated, there is a rose bush in my living room. We've never had a rose bush before. The reason why its in the living room instead of outside where it belongs is obvious of course, I didn't want it to be cold. It was the rose bush's first mother's day too. And it gave quite a performance.

Tony took Henry and Sophia to get the bush on Saturday, and the twins presented (or bookended) it to me (as the photograph documents). It was a very sweet, unexpected moment.

This first mother's day weekend we had plenty of outside time, where Sophia wore her new hat and Henry wore his new pants. The question remains however: what is he supposed to put in the pockets? Why do baby pants have pockets? Interesting.

And no perfect performance would be complete without an encore - Henry, my little musical man, spent some time with Mom at the piano. He, naturally, was trying to upstage me and play with his feet. Go figure.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

In the beginning, there were books

"Despereaux waited until she was gone, and then he reached out and, with one paw, touched the lovely worlds. Once upon a time." - From Kate DiCamillo's The Tale of Despereaux

Henry and Sophia had a nearly-full library of their own books before they were even born. And we wasted no time introducing them to the world of words. In addition to their own, we read to them from our books, library books, magazines, text messages, thesis drafts, road signs - anything. We read to them when I was pregnant, in the hospital and daily since we came home.

We've also shown them how a book "works" - where pictures and texts meet on the page. What a flyleaf is, what covers do and how to stitch a binding. Okay, maybe Tony hasn't taught them bookbinding skills yet, but they are now 16 weeks old and almost magically respond to the sound of the written word. Especially poems. And recipes.

The other day I decided to see what would happen if I gave them a book to play with - these two photographs are the result.

I can already tell they have the souls of poets. Or epicureans. [n.b. this is the first book their father bought them entitled Little Panda]

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sophia and the Story

I never really spent all that much time listening to babies before I had my own. Now, of course I find their noises endlessly fascinating.

Sometimes when Sophia wakes up and "talks" in her crib, I think she sounds like she's speaking French. I wonder if French moms think their babies sound like their speaking English.
Or maybe they think they're speaking bad French.

In this clip I caught the tail end of a massive Sophia-story.
And in the grand tradition of open mouth insert....everything she had a bit of "book time".


Henry and the baby

From the beginning I decided to try and have the twins play with different toys. Most of the toys I have for them are gender neutral (as a general rule). But someone from my mother's school bought Sophia a little doll and Henry a tiger. So I decided to see what Henry would do with the doll. In a word or two:
he ate it. Take a peek: