Archive for the ‘Cate’ Category

Sous chefs!

Friday, July 10th, 2015

Back in 2010, I was duly impressed by Elizabeth’s account of 3-year-old-Carter making waffles and attempting coffee unassisted. I had no idea how you get that kind of initiative from a preschooler.

But flash forward five years, and we’re there. One girl or the other — usually Sam, but sometimes Cate — emerges from the bedroom before we do. Beyond self-serve yogurt and berries, we have arrived in the kitchen to find:

  • Sam with a skillet full of cabbage and Brussels sprouts
  • Cate with a toaster full of mini-bagels
  • Sam with a French press holding 9 (“Nine!”) scoops of coffee ready to brew
  • Cate whisking an egg in a bowl with food color, and some butter smeared in a cold skillet

Fortunately, forewarned is forearmed. So we have relentlessly coached that toasters and microwaves and stoves and ovens are only for grown-ups. So far, they still believe us. And I’m comforted knowing that Carter survived his independent cooking adventures!

Bill and I are mostly looking forward to having help in the kitchen. In the meantime, here’s a photo of Cate and Sam peeling carrots (“we’re making carrot salad!”) on June 6. Enjoy!

Catherineism #: Sock it to you…

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

Friday morning (Feb 20), Emily was in Houston, and we invited her to come with us to Shabbat at Becker. While I was making breakfast, the girls got out the musical greeting cards Emi gave them for Valentine’s Day.

Catie’s card plays a snippet of “Who let the dogs out?” I pulled up the Baha Men’s original video on YouTube, and the girls found it fascinating.

Sammie’s card plays a song by the Isley Brothers:

“It’s your thing
Whatcha gonna do?
I can’t tell you
who to sock it to…”

* * *
Listening to that snippet reminded me of Gran’mom.

Language and idiom change over time. I’m not sure which factors most shape which elements stick with each person. Many of my expressions date to the 1980s; many of my Gran’mom’s expressions were much earlier.

During her final year or two, Gran’mom was decreasingly able to care for her cat. More pertinently, she was unable to fend him off. When Zachary batted at her ankles, her paper-thin skin split open into painful wounds that needed nursing care.

One time, when a nurse was tending to her wound dressing, he caused her discomfort. Gran’mom squirmed and exclaimed, “Ouch! Watch it, Buster, or I’ll sock it to you!”

* * *
Emily arrived in time to help the girls get dressed for school. Cate decided to skip socks and just wear her berry-colored play shoes. While Cate was getting her shoes, Sam opened the card to play the song again, and Emi and I sang along.

When we finished the song snippet, Cate was standing in the doorway looking quizzical. She asked, “What is ‘sock it to you’?” Emi replied, “Oh, it’s a very 1960s expression” and Cate wandered off.

I captured Sam and started talking her into blue leggings, a long-sleeve blue tee, her Becker blue top, and fleece pants with pockets for Tzedakah. Just then, Cate approached from the dressing room, and lobbed a roll of turquoise socks at me.

When I asked, “What’d you do that for?!” — feeling puzzled because she’d declared for going sock-free — Cate beamed and exclaimed, “I socked it to you, Mom!”

Saturday morning dyads

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Our girls got some one-on-one dyad time today. Cate and Sam both slept well, and we woke to sun and a beautiful forecast. However, they woke with different ideas about how to spend the morning, so we split up.

Bill took Cate to the Houston Zoo, for some time with the big cats and a couple rides on the carousel. They had hotdogs and goldfish for lunch, and then came home.

At the same time, I drove Sam with her helmet and running-bici to Buffalo Bayou. She’s stronger and faster than ever, and I had to jog to keep up with her! Sadly, she lost control on the first downhill, drifted into a retaining wall, then tumbled ass-over-teakettle onto the path and scraped her lip. But after a good long hug and a short discussion of the importance of aiming for the middle of the path and how to use two feet as brakes, she was up and running her bike down the hill.

Every time I tried to suggest that we turn back, Sam insisted that we press on, until we looped both ped bridges — from Rosemont to Jackson Hill — and back. She only stopped to sit and rest on a bench when we came to the amazing new dog park. Once she caught her breath, Sam declared for going in to check it out and play with some pups. We even made friends with a young woman named Jamie and her little dog, Hank.

Eventually, I convinced Sam to head on up the final hill — jogging now, while I carried her bike — to the shiny letter people next to Montrose. Then across the Rosemont bridge and back to my van. A surprising 1.8 miles later, she was so tuckered out that when my car door didn’t open immediately, she plopped down on the grass to wait.

During the ride home, she devoured *two* cereal bars back to back, and once home, devoured the rest of her eggs from breakfast. Bill and Cate returned momentarily, and then both girls went down for good, long (3-hour) naps. Good Saturday!

Preschool! First day at Becker

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

I have so much I want to say about the girls starting school. But I’m too tired and stressed to organize all of my thoughts. So here are some tidbits.

I think one of the most important outcomes of preschool is for kids to be comfortable going to school. We already know Cate and Sam are interested and engaged in all manner of things. I’m confident they’ll learn lots of good stuff. However, I really want them to transition comfortably into *wanting* to go to school.

To that end, we’ve been talking a lot about what happens at school. We’ve also been reading, Blue goes to school, Maisy goes to preschool, and Knuffle Bunny Too.

* * *
Tuesday was “Meet the Teacher(s) Day” at Becker. Sam and Cate were both a little nervous, but were eager to explore the classroom. At the end of the hour, Sam seemed energized and ready for more. But Cate was overwhelmed. She sought out Dad to pick her up, then Mama for a hug, and then burst into tears in the car. I think Cate’s going to need some time to get used to this school business.

* * *
After a summer of going to sleep after sundown, and waking between 8:30 and 9 am, we’re struggling to shift our schedule early enough to get to school on time. We worked hard the last ten days, with occasional success, to get the girls into bed before 8 pm.

This morning, the alarm went off at 7 am. Sam stirred almost immediately. Bill turned off the “air machine”, uncovered the southeast window, and turned on the Beatles’ “Here comes the sun.” Cate woke a few minutes later, and we all got out of bed.

By the time I shepherded girls to the kitchen for breakfast, Bill was returning with a surprise bag of donut holes. I insisted that they eat some eggs first: Cate chose a red “omelette” and Sam asked for “blue plain eggs.” Cate declared, “I love donut holes!”

While the girls were donning their play shoes, Bill and I slammed a variety of foodstuffs into their new lunch bags (Thank you, Auntie Emi!). When I collected exhausted girls later, Cate had eaten her half banana, Sam had eaten her steamed carrots, and both had picked at some hummus. Neither ate the hotdog or Babybel cheese we packed.

As we headed out, I tried to get girls to pause on the porch for a first-day-of-school photo together. Cate accommodated me:

Cate sat where I asked, but once we were in the classroom, I noticed that she had put her shoes on backwards.

I saw Cate consciously school her expression and smile for the camera.

Sam paused momentarily on the step next to Cate, then strode down the front walk. She stopped at the gate to regard the rest of us. Then despite Bill admonishing her to come back to me, Sam let herself out the gate and ran down the sidewalk to the driveway, before returning to my van:


Sam hiked her lunch bag up onto her shoulder, the way I carry my tote bag.

Cate, resolutely ready to face preschool

* * *
A week ago, while helping my mom purge her office, I came across an old leaflet from the Steineau School that had urged my parents to plan to stay at school *all day* during my brother’s first day of preschool. In keeping with that, I packed a book and a bottle of water, and camped out at Becker this morning. When it was time for me to leave the classroom, I told the girls that I needed to read a book and was headed to the library. I assured Cate and Sam that I would come back during lunch.

I peeked at them repeatedly through the little window in the classroom door, and they seemed calm and engaged. However, at story time, I heard Ms. F announce that she was about to read, Love You Forever, and I went to pieces. Our friend Susan introduced me to that one years ago, and we don’t own it because I cannot read it without crying my eyes out, every time. I fled, and made friends with Ms. T, a very-kind assistant director, who reassured me without making feel even a little bit silly.

After school, Sam told me that she had cried right after I left. Tomorrow, I’ll do a better job of saying goodbye and making sure she recognizes that I’m about to depart. And tonight, it’s time for us to read, The Kissing Hand.

Catherineism #: She needed a trim!

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Shortly after I cut Catie’s hair for the first time, Auntie Em’ gifted me with a cute pair of hair-trimming shears. The cover is shaped like a giraffe, and doubles as a whistle. It’s useful for motivating the girls to sit still and let me trim their hair. It lives in the tool drawer in the kitchen.

* * *
When Bill left GE at the end of May, we agreed that it would be helpful if I could settle Gran’mom’s estate sooner than later. We decided that I should shift gears and focus on trying to disposition all of her belongings, empty her condo, and list it for sale.

With Bill scheduly unconstrained, he could now cover girls during the afternoons and evenings, freeing me to make overnight runs to Galveston, for the first time in many years. In the last 12 weeks, in addition to Toddler Tuesdays for swimming, I’ve made 9 or 10 trips to help my mom purge, recycle, donate, and slowly empty Sarah’s place.

* * *
Monday afternoon, Sam saw something on the dining room floor, and exclaimed, “what’s that?!?” Cate observed that it was hair.

Nane asked to see it, and then remarked that it was *a lot* of hair. On closer scrutiny, it looked decidedly like a lock of hair. I asked the girls whose hair it was.

Cate replied cheerfully, “Sam’s!”

I asked how Sam’s hair came to be loose on the floor, and Cate said, “we cut it with scissors.” She continued knowingly, “She needed a trim,” and then added, “I told Sam to sit still, but she wiggled!”

I reminded both girls that scissors are a tool for grown ups, and to please leave all the trimming to me and Victoria. In the meantime, Sam’s bangs are a little thin in front!

The giraffe shears with snippets of Sam’s hair

Catherineism #: Oh, crumbs!

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

A few months ago, while reading reviews on Amazon, I came across a marvelous children’s book called, The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. It’s about a cheerful, intrepid, and clever little mouse who takes a stroll through the deep dark wood, and the creatures he meets along the way.

The story is told in lyrical verse and is delightful to read aloud. Also, because the author is English, the story includes several Britishisms. For example, when the fox takes leave of the mouse, he says, “I’m off!” When the snake becomes alarmed, he exclaims, “Oh, crumbs!” before he slithers back into his logpile house.

* * *
The girls are all signed up to begin preschool next week at the Becker Early Childhood Center of Congregation Emanuel, across from the Rice campus. Thursday night (Aug 21), the four of us attended a “new families” welcome event at school. Sam and Cate are really excited about becoming “school girls” and were eager to see the campus and meet some of the kids.

Afterward, we went to Jason’s Deli for dinner, although they’d had enough cheese, fruit, and pink lemonade that they weren’t especially hungry.

Rather than ordering entrees for them, we fed them off of our plates. Cate asked if she could please have *another* club cracker and I encouraged her to eat some more meatball and veggies instead. Undeterred, she continued to work at prying away the plastic wrapper from the crackers at the middle of the pack, thoroughly smushing them in the process.

Eventually, she succeeded in perforating the wrapper, sprinkling a shower of tiny cracker bits across the floor. Cate paused for a moment, surveying the situation, and then exclaimed gleefully, “Oh, crumbs!”

Hee hee!

While I remember Baba Jean exclaiming that during my childhood, it’s not an expression Bill or I use. Which means, in retrospect, that the girls would have to take it literally. Too funny!

Zoo carousel!

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

One Saturday in mid-March, we ventured over to the rodeo carnival. Bill had to work the Wednesdays that we saw livestock with grandmothers, and this was his chance to experience the show with the girls.

Our mission was to ride a ferris wheel. Two of our story books — Hello, Chicago and M is for Monkey — include ferris wheels, and I had been talking them up. The carnival had THREE ferris wheels, including a “little” one in the “kiddie” area, so we expected it to be easy.

Much to our surprise, the grand wheel required riders to be 52″ (4-1/2′) tall, and the little ferris wheel required riders to be 36″ (3′) tall, even with an adult. In fact, every single ride had a minimum height requirement. With Cate just under 32″ and Sam just over 33″ tall, the only ride we were eligible for this year was the carousel.

So we took our ride card and rode the little carousel… twice. Cate was discomfited by the herky-jerky motion of her first horse, but she selected a sleigh bench for the second trip and enjoyed going “dizzy” (round and round) on it immensely. Sam’s inaugural rounds were on a stationary horse, which she thought was great, and she tackled a horse on the second round.

Sometime before our second ride it started to rain, so we bought some funnel cake and walked back to the rail station to head home.

The following Saturday, when we asked the girls what they’d like to do, they both declared for riding the carousel at the livestock show. At first, we explained that the show was over until next year and we’d have to do something else. But then it dawned on us that there’s a carousel at the Houston Zoo between the giraffe yard and the Children’s Zoo.

Armed with our 2014 membership card, we set out for the zoo. We were delighted to discover that the Wildlife Carousel is absolutely marvelous. New in 2004, it has four rows of animals including a frog, a bear, several lions, tigers, gorillas, a caterpillar sprouting wings, a couple of Rice owls, and even the only known carved wood carousel armadillo.

We’ve been on the zoo carousel at least once every weekend since then. Here’s a video clip of Daddy Bill with two very happy girls: Cate is astride a lion, and Sam’s riding a log with a couple of baby gorillas.

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Bluebonnets 2014!

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

With the warm burst of spring weather sometime around the last week of March, Texas Bluebonnets made their 2014 debut. On April 5th, we took girls to Memorial Park to wander among the blue blossoms for a while, and then visited the swings and the playground.

Here’s a very short video clip of Cate and Sam in the bluebonnets:

Get the Flash Player to see this video.

And here are my favorite photos from our outing:

This was as close as we got to sitting four of us down for a family photo.



Dad, Cate working the tripod, and Sam with her hands in her pockets

Cate hug!

Sam sprawled among the bluebonnets

Cate swinging “higher, please!” on the big-kid swing

p.s. For some startling perspective on how much Sam and Cate have grown and developed in two years, take a look at our 2012 bluebonnet photos. Wow!

After dinner conversation: livestock show!

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Every March, Houston hosts a livestock show and rodeo at Reliant Center. The show includes tons (literally) of toddler-friendly displays and a petting zoo. This year, we brought Gram Nancy with us one week and Baba Jean the next.

From time to time, I capture some after-dinner conversation with Sam and Cate, as a snapshot of their personality at the time. Here they are on March 12, 2014 — nearly 2-1/2 years old — talking about their trip to the livestock show:

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Catherineism #17: Glee!

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Two mornings after Christmas, a still-sleepy Cate, wearing her reindeer jammies, performed “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” for my camera. Enjoy!

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