Archive for the ‘Sam’ 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!

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!

Samanthaism #: Dusts

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

On becoming sneezy tonight, Sam offered this explanation:

“Rana put 15 of her dusts in my sneezers!”

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.

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.

Get the Flash Player to see this video.


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:

Get the Flash Player to see this video.


Samanthaism #18: want more chard leaf, please!

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

I know that I’ve mentioned chard before, but I’ll mention it again. Bill sauteed a big batch of red chard with red chiles (bell peppers) and pine nuts, in some balsamic reduction. He chopped up the stems and sauteed them until they were nearly tender, and finished them with the rough-chopped greens.

I hear that some toddlers don’t like veggies, but our girls like ’em. Very yummy. In fact, I wasn’t dispersing it fast enough this afternoon and Sam called to me, “want more chard leaf, please!”

Yay! My parenting rationalization of the day is that I hope this makes up for at least one of the times that we’ve made their lunch or dinner out of franchise chicken “nuggets” while out in the van.

Fountain girls!

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Amy observed in August that we haven’t posted any girl photos in ages. It took a few weeks, but thankfully, Bill was able to resolve the hard drive issue in our home server, and I have not yet identified any missing content.

In the meantime, I also acquired a big, beautiful monitor for working with digital photos. It’s my first desktop monitor in more than a decade, and I love it. All I need now, is more rest and spare time to upload photos.

In the meantime, here’s a pair of photos I really like. For September, we did “birthday photos” at Super Slidey Park on West Gray. It was really, really hot, and the girls enjoyed refreshing themselves at (in) the water fountain. (As always, click for larger)

Cate and Sam couldn’t wait to use the water fountain



Samanthaism #16: Hoh-kay

Monday, September 9th, 2013

In the last few weeks, Sam has become much more verbal. However, she’s still learning to enunciate, which means we don’t always understand what she’s trying to say.

To compensate, we’re using “active listening” techniques to validate our understanding. Whenever Sam says something, we repeat what we heard her say to confirm her meaning.

Some of the time, Sam simply replies, “Si,” to affirm that we got what she said. But sometimes — especially when she’s requesting something good — Sam interprets the question instead as an offer, and accepts it with a delighted smile and a breathy, “hoh-kay!” For example:

I ask, “Did you say that you want to switch shoes with Cate?”
Sam agrees, “hoh-kay.”

I ask, “Did you say you want some of Mama’s eggs?”
Sam agrees, “hoh-kay.”

I ask, “Did you say that you’d like to go swim at the pool?”
Sam replies with, “hoh-kay!”

Her “hoh-kay”s are self-serving, but adorable nonetheless!