Archive for November, 2012

Nate CAN dooo eeet!

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

On October 11th, my 35-year-old cousin, Nate, was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. He’s currently on chemo, in the early stages of a fierce battle for his life. I can only imagine how daunted he must feel.

That first week after he was diagnosed, a bunch of the Ohio and Indiana Holzers had a party to meet my cousin Emily’s son. From our Gran’mere down to baby Edwin, there were four generations represented! While they were gathered, they took this photo to let Nate know they were thinking of him and rooting for his recovery:


Four generations of Holzers rooting for Nate

This weekend, the Texas Holzers gathered in Galveston for Thanksgiving. We took this picture to let Nate know that we are thinking of him, too!


Texas Holzers for Team Nate: Yooo CAN dooo eeet!

Then we took this photo, just to be silly, and we hope, make Nate laugh:


CAN yooo eeet dooo?

We love you, Nate! Keep up the good fight, and kick cancer’s ass!

Finger lips

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

So… what do you call that thing where you hum, and then use your fingers to strum your lips and make funny “ba ba ba ba” sounds? I’m not sure, but both of our daughters have figured out how to do that and it’s ridiculously cute.


Cate strumming her lips with her fingers

Snuffleupa-Sam

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Back in September, I captured a photo of Cate’s “snuffle” face. Sam also figured out how to snuffle air in-and-out through her nose within a few weeks, but it has taken me until now to capture a photo. Enjoy!


Sam snuffling

Nap time

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

We started “nap training” the girls ten days ago, on Nov 12. It was Bill’s first (official) day of work, and the girls woke up *early*, which means the morning nap needed to start long before Claudia arrived. Since I was on my own, and unable to hold/bounce/rock two 20+ pound girls to sleep at the same time, they got to do it themselves.

They weren’t starting from scratch. We started sleep learning three weeks earlier, though only at bedtime. The girls have used this opportunity to learn new self-soothing skills. For example, Cate now effectively self-swaddles by crawling onto her stomach, and then tucking her hands under her hips to hold them still. (I’m amused by this because I do the exact same thing, or at least, I do when I’m not pregnant or nursing and can sleep on my belly.) Sam now apparently tries to block out light and sound by pulling her blankie up over her face and eyes. Nighttime sleep is easier to achieve than daytime sleep, but I was hopeful that they could manage it.

I cuddled the girls while sitting on the bed, sang one (or maybe two) round(s) of our bedtime song, and then put them in their cribs. I made sure they had their blankies and their binkies, and urged them to “lie down and close your eyes.” I reassured them that “Mama will be in the kitchen, I’ll see you when you wake up, I love you!” and left and closed the door behind me.

The idea is that they go in their cribs and figure out how to fall asleep on their own. That first morning, it took Cate nearly an hour to fall asleep, and Sam was unable to do it. The second day, Cate was asleep in 15 minutes. It took Sam an hour and 15 minutes, but she eventually figured it out. By Wednesday, they both managed to get themselves to sleep in 25 minutes. Yay!

We’ve been starting naps in more-or-less this way ever since. Some days, it takes longer than others. Some days, there are more tears than others. A few times, they’ve been too wired and have declined to nap at all. But most of the time, they do get themselves to sleep, mostly without crying.

We’re generally meant to leave them alone to soothe themselves, unless they become hysterical, or lose their “transitional objects” to the floor. The main exception is if they poo, because sitting in poo for any length of time is Not A Good Thing.

With that in mind, Sam seems to have decided that standing in her crib “getting ready to fall asleep” is a fine time to poo. She’s used this winding-down-to-nap time to poo 8 of the last 10 days. That’s quite a track record considering that our daughters have historically tended more toward constipated than ready pooing.

What’s funny is that Sam seems to revel in this opportunity to get out of bed one last time before napping, and Cate doesn’t appreciate it one little bit. She plainly wants picked up, too, and is not satisfied with a quick cribside cuddle.

Yesterday, Cate eventually cried fiercely and I went in to check on her. Not only had she “lost” her blankie and binkie to the floor, but in a new embellishment, she’d lost her pants as well. I think they probably got caught under her feet (they’re a little long) and she tugged them the rest of the way off, but she seemed hopeful that losing her pants might be her ticket out. (It was not.)

This morning was different. About 15 minutes into winding-down-to-nap time, instead of eventual crying, I suddenly heard Cate chirping cheerfully over the monitor. Suspicious, I went in to check on her. Sam was asleep. But Cate’s binkie and blankie were on the floor. And again, she wasn’t wearing any pants.

But this time, when I approached to help her redress, I nosed the ever-so-distinctive odor of fresh poo. I picked her up to change her, and she seemed absolutely delighted, and more than a little pleased with herself. I have a feeling that this will happen again.

I’m sure there are parents who would not appreciate their kids repeatedly delaying the start of naptime by pooing. But if pooing as a get-out-of-jail-free tactic marks the end of six months of frequent constipation, we’ll take it!

Milestones: Clapping!

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

The thing about sororal twins (I can’t bring myself to call them “fraternal”), is that they’re no more or less alike than any other two sisters. They’re exactly the same age, but they are each developing their own skills, mannerisms, and preferences, in their own time, just like anyone else.

One skill in particular highlights that Sam and Cate are striving independently: clapping. Cate figured out how to bring her hands together, flat, and clap 13 weeks ago. Since then, she claps lots: when we play pat-a-cake, when we finish a song or dance, when we say “yay!” about anything, at the beginning of Barnyard Dance where it says, “Stomp your feet, clap your hands,” in the middle of Everywhere Babies, on the “Babies make noise” page, etc.

Sam gestures at those times, too, often enthusiastically, but up to now, it has looked more like flapping than clapping. Her fluttering in-lieu-of clapping has been pretty endearing.

According to What to Expect the First Year, clapping first shows up as a “Your baby may even be able to” stretch goal in the eighth month. Cate mastered it during the ninth month past their due date. After that, as weeks turned into months that Cate was clapping and Sam was not, I admit that I began to wonder why there was such a difference.

Last week, I picked up What to Expect the Toddler Years, and it identifies clapping as a “Your baby should be able to” skill by the end of the 13th month. Hmm.

So yesterday, I took some time to explicitly show Sam how to do it, explaining that she should hold her hands flat, and bring them together. This afternoon, my teaching paid off when Sam started clapping on her own. She clapped spontaneously for a “yay!” occasion, she clapped again with some prompting, and when we read Everywhere Babies tonight, she clapped unbidden at just the right line on the “Babies make noise” page. Yay!


Sam clapping

Hmm. Now that I know she can clap, I’ll probably be wistful if she stops fluttering her hands when she’s happy or excited. sigh.

Teaching sleep…

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Motivated by Bill’s impending return to full-time work — and the attendant need to leave the house coherent five days a week — we started sleep training in earnest on October 20th. It’s been slow going, but we’re all making progress, and we’re hopeful that the girls will be able to put themselves to sleep reliably in the near future. More on all that in a later post.

In addition to changing our behaviors, our sleep teaching effort includes reading books that depict sleeping and sleep-related behaviors. Two particularly-good ones were gifts from Auntie Em. Dr. Seuss’ Sleep Softly Book features the spread of a yawn from one little bug to the whole host of Seussian characters. I can’t tell if it’s making them sleepy, but it makes me yawn every time!

The second is Llama Llama Nighty-Night, which shows Llama Llama going through his routine to get ready for bed. On the last page, you see him in his bed, holding his lovey. I take time to point out that he’s “lying down,” “under his blankie,” and that he’s “closed his eyes” so that he can “go to sleep.” My hope is that when we put Sam and Cate in their cribs and tell them to “lie down and close your eyes”, they will soon understand and perhaps even comply.

Over the weekend, I noticed Cate trying. Specifically, a few of the times that I said, “close your eyes,” she made an obvious effort to scrunch her eyes closed for a moment. She then opened them again and resumed waiting for fatigue to overtake her. Progress!

Today, while holding Sam, one of the times that I said, “close your eyes,” she reached up with her hand and began fingering her eyelid, as if to close her eye manually. Cute, but yikes!

I love seeing them trying to figure it out, and I hope they’ll get the hang of it soon, both so they can sleep a little more easily, and also before any corneas get scratched!

Seeking little girl gift ideas

Monday, November 12th, 2012

My Gran’mere mentioned again that she sees baby items that she’d like to buy for Sam & Cate, but she doesn’t know what they have or need, so she doesn’t. With that in mind, it occurred to me to create an Amazon gift list for them.

So far, it mostly has things we know we’ll need in the year ahead, like a second safe booster seat, and board books in two languages. And really, we don’t expect many gifts this way. As much as anything, this seems like a convenient way for us to keep track of cool stuff we’ll plan to get for our girls later (most likely via resale or craigslist).

That being said, a bunch of you have kids older than ours. I would love it if you would take a quick peek at the list I made. Think about what items your kids have most enjoyed or benefited from during their first 2-3 years, and let me know if we’re missing any essentials. Thanks!

Career in Transition, pt. 4

Friday, November 9th, 2012

It’s been almost three months since my last post on career activities. On Monday, I start my first official day at GE Oil & Gas where I will be the Pricing Leader for the Drilling & Surface division (a mouthful, no doubt). Astute readers of our blog will note that Bob has already blogged about my first day. Apparently, due to a nice coincidence of “my not getting the right answers despite having asked the right questions”, and sheer bad luck, my background check was incomplete when I nominally started on November 5th. As a result, my start date got pushed back a week while we provided the requisite documentation of my work at Deloitte and Lenovo.

That being said, my first week started with a meeting with the top executives of the D&S division (approx. $3b in revenue), followed with a meeting with the ‘CEO’ on Tuesday afternoon. To say that my work has the appropriate attention at the top is an understatement! When I first started talking to GE back in June (May?), this was definitely not a ‘dream job’. However, it has definitely lived up to my expectations for being high on the list of executive agenda items, and it gives me an opportunity to begin learning the oil and gas industry — important if we are staying in Houston for the long-term.

That being said, if anyone wants access to GE’s ‘friends and family’ pricing for major appliances, let me know. We need a new house, and a new set of appliances to go with it, and the employee prices seem like a decent, if not stellar, deal on GE’s well-regarded appliances.

SK

Monday, November 5th, 2012

I’m nearsighted, and I’ve worn contact lenses since I was 16. Well, I did, until the girls arrived. I wore my glasses to the hospital, and then kept wearing them. On the one hand, when you’re hoping to sleep at any moment, glasses are more convenient than contacts that would need to be removed. And while breastfeeding, my eyes have been way, way, too dry to contemplate contacts.

As a result, I hadn’t noticed a spot on the bridge of my nose. I mean, I vaguely remember knowing that there was a brownish spot on my nose, but I hadn’t paid any attention to it this year. Then one day a few weeks ago, I had my glasses off in the bathroom and actually looked in a mirror. To my dismay, I look a lot older and more haggard than I remember… but I digress.

More importantly, there was a *red* spot on my nose. It didn’t hurt, but I couldn’t figure out what it was from. Eventually, I convinced myself that Cate had scratched my nose one of the myriad times she had tried to snatch my glasses off of my face. I expected it would heal quickly.


Bob

But a week later it was still there. That’s when I remembered the previously noticed brown spot. Hmm… Skin that’s changing is rarely a good thing. Knowing that two members of my extended family are dealing with cancer scares motivated me to get this spot checked out promptly.

Bill’s classmate from Rice, Suneel Chilukuri, grew up to be a dermatological surgeon. I called his office Friday to make an appointment, and then spent the weekend in anxious trepidation. Monday afternoon, I went back to see him. Fortunately, Suneel said the spot looked like a seborrheic keratosis (SK), which is a type of benign skin growth that is common among older people.

Apparently, SKs only affect the outermost layers of epidermis, which means they can easily be removed with cryotherapy. He pointed a tiny jet of liquid nitrogen at the spot for a few seconds, and just like that, the cells froze and died. I had never experienced cryotherapy before and I was relieved to find that it was quick and nearly pain-free. Phew! The spot looked red and angry for the rest of the day, but it didn’t hurt. It then itched some the next day. After that, the spot of skin started to look loose, and within a week, it flaked off. What a relief!

Milestones: Cate is walking!

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Cate took her first unassisted steps six weeks ago, on Sept 25. But since then, she’s done almost all of her walking with some form of assistance: holding on to an adult, steadying herself with a hand on a wall or furniture, etc. It’s been clear for some time that she has sufficient balance to do it, but she has continued to elect to crawl, rather than walk. Occasionally — when she had interesting objects in both hands — Cate would take a few hesitant steps, rather than setting the objects down to crawl. But mostly, her caution has kept her grounded.

Today, Cate finally got confident enough to let go and really walk. While we were playing in the bedroom before breakfast, she let go of Sam’s crib and walked across the 2-1/2 feet to her crib. Actually, she was so enthusiastic, it almost looked more like running than walking. Then while we were playing in baby jail after lunch, she let go of the front corner and strung together 6-8 sure steps to cross the 3-4 feet between there and where I was sitting against the wall. Way to go!