We dusted off some old videos: Max & Manu in their crib at 3 months and 6 months. So old, so old… They are almost 10-month old now!


 

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Happy New Year to all the tall people!
Happy New Year to all the tall people!

 

Happy New Year to all the baby seals!
Happy New Year to all the baby seals!

 
 
Hello to you all, our friends and family!

It’s a New Year and finally we are poking our heads above ground. As a toast, we invite you to visit us in our new home - or on our blog for those who can’t make it: . We’ve added several new stories and images on our life with Max, Manu, Pius the teen pope, and all the other crazies.

I’m lovely too
I’m lovely too

Max & Manu are now 8 1/2 months old and are beginning to crawl. Best of all, their laughs are infectious and with all their babbling, our home sounds like a rainforest. In all our imagination, we couldn’t have dreamed up a daughter & son more lovely.

We decided to move out of San Francisco to Sebastopol, a small town of artists, academics, organic farmers, retirees, and a mish-mash of other miscellaneous folk. We weren’t sure how we’d feel leaving SF, but so far we love it. Why? SPACE, lush trees, animals about, bright constellations, and best of all, we can make all the noise we want, when we want! clang, clang!!

More friends come to visit us here than they did in the city. We plan to continue to lure you to see us and be part of Max & Manu’s world.

The Diapers Fund financed our trip to Poopy Land. Thank you all!
The “Baby Diapers Fund” financed our trip to Poopy Land.
Thank you all for your generous contributions!

 
Other plans for 2009?

Yes, we can!
Yes, we can!

Merritt finally gets to jump horses again (there are 2 top equestrian centers here) and she has an appointment with Chronicle Books to pitch an idea for our long overdue coffee table book chronicling 3 years traveling by motorcycle through Europe, Africa, Asia, and South & Central America. The most optimism of all though comes from the election of President Obama. After 8 long years, she feels fortunate to be Citizen US again.

During a videoconference on Inauguration Day, Nicolas, who lives in France, appears with the American flag in the background, shockingly visible from the outside through the window. Note that during all the years he lived in America, Nicolas never publicly displayed his French flag through the window. Brave but not dumb.
The French pull out Old Glory again

Pierre has not yet recovered from his recent celebrations and he’s still taken aback that the pleasant winds of Hope and Change blowing from Hawaii finally prevailed against the powerful forces of Fear and Continuity from Alaska. He’s now a strong proponent of the Global Warming Up, and he can’t wait to go back to France to tease his friends and family about the soggy climate over there.

Also in 2009, we’ll be updating our website more often: Videos, amusing news of the world, the hoonanigans of Max & Manu, and many images. Make sure to sign up for the “RSS feed” (located on the front page of our blog, bottom left) to receive notice when we update & post new pics.

In our latest installments many things are revealed! Learn how Pierre teaches infants to swim in the comfort of his own bed… Discover what Merritt learned from the Alabama prison system… Hear Max & Manu’s favorite Madness song… And see for yourself how the French eat hotdogs!

We hope the new year brings you new friendships, and deeper relations with the ones you have. Most of all, here is to your good health and to your brain pan staying finely tuned, because it is… isn’t it?

Happy New Year!
 

Say Cheese! Cheese… Cheese… Milk… Milk… Bone!
Say Cheese!
Cheese… Cheese… Milk… Milk… Bone!

 

Merritt and her baby cameleon
Merritt and her baby cameleon

 

Smells like happiness to me. Happy Happy to you too!
Smells like happiness to me.
Happy Happy to you too!

 
Voilà!

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“We’re coming!”

It’s what Françoise and Jacques say as soon as they know we have successfully rubbed two sticks together and made 2 babies.

The seed that keeps traveling
The wind carries our seed

Françoise & Jacques are Pierre’s maman et papa. They live in the south of France in Saint Jean du Gard, a small mountain village. Their love of travel takes them to Egypt, Japan and Turkey. They write for a small newspaper, and like most retirees I saw while living in France, they seem relaxed and well-cared for.

Before they have any idea we are are pregnant, we decide to play a little trick and so, while chatting via webcam, we show them an image of the ultrasound and say in a downturned voice, “Merritt had to see a doctor today, and they found this (pointing to the embryo). Can you tell what it is?”. Jacques squints and then with big eyes exclaims, “A baby?”
- “Not just one”, we say.
- “Two? Two babies!?!”
Françoise didn’t speak. I think she was about to cry.

7 months later they arrive in the US to our open arms, their 2 new grand children, and stay for an entire month to help us out. We don’t think we’ll need all that help, but they know better.

We found them an apartment on Craigslist near us, and each day when walking to our house they stop at an organic market for fresh salmon, dark berries, hand-made yogurts & gourmet oils. I eat 3 balanced meals every day, and by the end of the month, I weigh the same as I did before pregnancy! Those French know how to cook!

Joyeux Bastille Day!
Even Bi-Rite speaks French

Having a pocket of euros doesn’t hurt either in these times of the suck ass dollar. They arrived the first day with a large bag exclaiming, “We found a lovely market, and it’s so inexpensive”. Pierre and I choke-up as we see the name Bi-Rite written on their bags. We shop there often but there is so much we’ve never tried because of the $$$. $9 chocolate bars, $10/lb bean salads, $8 bowl of soup. But damn, nothing beats visiting America these days with a fist full of foreign currency. I feel back in Argentina 2004 again when Pierre and I were relishing the benefits of their crashed market thanks to our western banks.

Our dinners last an hour and more. We talk and talk, of politics & religion, of their childhoods & our thoughts on raising Max and Emmanuelle. There are expressions of love and strong debates, out of which came something I won’t forget Jacques saying… “I am so glad to have come, I am learning things about my son I never knew”.

Mode de la Françoise
Mode de la Françoise

But they didn’t come to talk ideals and debate, they came to hold babies! Max & Manu in their first month home after spending 6 weeks in the hospital are held pretty much morning to night. There’s nothing more soothing, more comforting, than folding into the crux of a loved one’s arm, and that is exactly what the kiddos receive for a month.

I expected the parents to get bored eventually, just sittin’ around holding squooshy babies all day. I began trying to find things for us to do until finally Francoise puts up her hand and says, “Merritt, we did not come here for tourism, we came to help you with your children.” It was so difficult to just accept their kindness, without wanting to act in return. It was a good experience to be confronted with for me.

That said, on the last day I get everyone out the door for a visit to Golden Gate Park. We rent a quad bicycle, Pius runs along side us, and Max & Manu sit in our laps. And then the best thing ever happens!

Let them eat hotdogs!
Let them eat hotdogs!

The French want to stop to eat some hotdogs!? This is probably the first and last picture you’ll ever see of that!

I can’t thank you enough Françoise et Jacques for the security and love the kiddos felt. They can’t thank you either, but that’s because they can’t talk.

Shadow of no doubts.
Shadow of no doubts.

Too soon the parents were gone, and the baby poo hit the fan and Pierre and I were covered in the reality of bringing up twins alone. Babies take beaucoup de travail! I often think of what single parents must go through. Those on welfare need something a hell of alot more important than a few dollars to raise kids, they need community.

Africa showed me the power of community - something most of us crave but don’t know how to manifest. I was grateful to feel it and share it with family, if even for a short while.

 

And then just because he’ll kill me…

So, do you want one?
So Jean, do you want one?

Jean, Pierre’s brother, came for a visit and to meet the kiddos a few months later. I quickly threw the baby in his arms and snapped this picture before he could toss it back : )

Voila! And that is the story of ‘When the Frenchies came for a visit’.

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Max & Manu trained for 4 months for my birthday present. Thank you kiddos!

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We don’t know what happened, the kids have been cleared for discharge. Friday, we must spend the entire day and night with them in a family room at the hospital, and Saturday morning we’ll bring them back home. It wasn’t supposed to happen before next week. Time to panic! Watch this little video, you’ll see why…

 

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 (If you are with Children Services, don’t worry, everything will be ready. You are most welcome to come over and inspect. It’s always like that with us.)

 

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Cleanliness is sometimes an acquired taste, but the rewards are worth the efforts. Here are 2 pictures and a video…

don’ wanna go
Don’ wanna go
Babies smell like catnip
A clean baby, it’s like catnip

 

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Today is really Father’s Day. Like everybody, the idea I had of Father’s Day was a sexy mama wakes you up in the morning and invites you to a French café for a duck sandwich and a flute of champagne. Everybody dreams about it but I haven’t met anybody who got it all yet.
Well, guess what? I could not believe it but on my first Father’s Day, it’s exactly what happened to me. Lucky me!

The luck of a duck
The luck of a duck
The princess and her pea soup
The princess and her pea soup

 

Who’s Who
Who’s Who

Then we went to check if the kids were still there for real. No problem. We were greeted by the nurses who had hung a beautiful handmade sign above their crib. They just got the names wrong; they wrote “Max” on Manu’s picture and “Emmanuelle” on Max’s picture. I don’t know how they got it wrong, I mean, they’re nurses! Just look inside the diapers and you can tell who’s who right away. They really made us laugh.

 
 
We were all in the mood to celebrate.
We shook hands and pulled out the bottles.

Hand in hand
Hand in hand

 

99 bottles of milk on the wall
99 bottles of milk on the wall

 

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Tomorrow is Father’s Day, my first Father’s Day.

Look at what the storks brought me exactly a month ago…

Merritt took the picture but when she saw it on her screen, she immediately sent my mom a copy. It’s true: it’s so cute that it’s difficult to tell if I posed for Father’s Day or for Mother’s Day.

I think the storks were drunk
I think the storks were drunk

 

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Looking at the pictures of Max and Manu from 2 days ago, some readers found them curiously similar - more than brother and sister should be - and they started to wonder if the whole “twins” thing wasn’t just a scam, if we hadn’t made it all up and photoshopped two siblings out of a single image from some obscure reason, like a double ration of food-stamps or something.

Merritt and I could not stand this abject suspicion anymore. So, taking the risk of incubator cross-contamination, we instructed the nurses to place Manu in Max’s fishbowl. It’s the first time they meet, so you people of little faith, watch this video. This is the proof!


 

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Kiddos’ weights in grams
Kiddos’ weights in grams

String of good news today.

Manu hasn’t showed any “bradys” in several days (a brady, as the nurses say, is an episode of bradycardia, a drop in the heart rate).

Max got his breathing tubes removed from his nose and he likes it much better like that. His bradys come back from time to time but he had his first full day without. And the best: he’s been allowed to have some breast milk once a day (which is a good thing for Merritt too: she produces so much milk with her milking machine that the nurse told her to stop bringing some because their freezer is full!).

We go to the hospital once a day (twice for Merritt) for a Kangaroo session and we keep the kiddos on us for longer periods of time, up to an hour and a half. Both gain weight, are stronger and really start looking and behaving like good babies. They are more interested in what’s going around; they let us know what position they want to be, pushing and rolling.

They even had their first kiss today. At the end of the Kangaroo, we put them together on Merritt for her first ever armful of babies. “Come on! Kiss your brother!” the nurse said to Manu, pushing her onto Max. Cute like hell.

 

Manu
Manu the girl

 

Max
Max the boy
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