Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Samanthaism #: Hey, grown ups!

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

A month ago, Cate had figured out how to hold her breath under water, but Sam didn’t have the hang of it. In the meantime, she and Bill have been practicing.

Both at the Memorial Park pool and the Bellaire Family Frog pool, there are water slides. Cate has been eager to slide and have me catch her at the bottom, but Sam hasn’t been excited about sliding. Instead, Bill helped Sam practice launching herself from his knees toward the wall, kicking and pulling, until she grasped the edge of the pool and pulled her face up to breathe.

By the first week of August, both girls were feeling confident, and eager to jump into a(ny) pool, unsupervised. So we’ve begun practicing “sit and stay” on the edge of the pool. Most of the time, Sam and Cate now call out, “Are you ready?” before lunging through the water. Sam usually asks each grown up by name: “Are you ready, Baba Jean?”

While swimming last Tuesday in the condo pool, Sam launched herself toward my back unannounced, into water well over her head, as I was looking the other way. I turned to find our daughter several inches underwater, reaching toward me. I scooped her up, and admonished her to make sure I’m ready next time.

Sam asked, “Why???”

I tried to explain that, if she swam out and no grown up was expecting her, she might end up on the bottom under water with no air to breathe, which would be very, very bad.

Sam looked thoughtful for a moment. Then she replied, “I would yell, ‘Hey grown ups, I’m under water. Come pick me up!'”

Toddler logic: still scary.

* * *
This week, for my birthday, I asked Papa Chuck to play hooky from the Field House and come swim with us at the condo instead. I’m so glad he did! Much swimmy fun was enjoyed by all:


Cate, Papa Chuck, and Sam enjoying the condo pool


Cate kicking with bar floats with Nane nearby


Papa Chuck, Sam, and Baba Jean


Cate and Sam were startled and utterly fascinated to hear Papa Chuck blow their bar float like a bugle…


… but Cate was ready to blow bubbles in reply.

Sam was delighted to swim from the steps to Papa Chuck, from him to Baba Jean, from her to Nane, back to Baba Jean, and back to Papa Chuck, lather, rinse, repeat. I even caught some of Sam’s swimming on video. Check this out:

Get the Flash Player to see this video.


Sam and Cate have worked really hard this summer to learn to swim, and I am immensely proud of them. I’m excited to watch them grow and go!

Hotel Development

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

It’s been a bit since we took an extended weekend trip to San Antonio, but the girls still talk about it every now and then. They REALLY liked staying at the hotel and visiting San Antonio.

This week, I had to travel to Cleburne, south of Fort Worth (or Eff Tee Worth according to Google’s turn-by-turn directions…), to attend some meetings at a facility there. With the girls being very sensitive to their environment, Bob and I felt it important to have a proper send-off with the girls to talk about things like daddy’s trip and daddy coming back home.

Yeah, that wasn’t really what happened. Sam insisted that she go with Dad. To San Antonio. After it was explained that Dad wasn’t going to San Antonio, she allowed that this was okay, and that she wanted to stay in a hotel even if it wasn’t San Antonio. Not to be outdone, Cate also chimed in that she should go, too.

Well, that covered getting out of the house yesterday. Today, we had a pre-bedtime discussion on the phone, and it had a wonderful discussion with Cate (Sam was a bit distracted):

Cate: What .. is .. in .. your .. hotel .. room, .. Dad?
Dad: I have a bed and a desk in my hotel room.
Cate: Are .. you .. in .. San .. Antonio?
Dad: No, I am in Burleson right now. It is north. San Antonio is to the west.

Seriously, without prompting, I was getting cogently-formed interrogation from Cate. I’m still not convinced I got the wording correct with the sentences Cate used, but call this one astonished (and proud) papa.

First sunrise

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

It was still dark, just barely, when the girls and I woke from an uncharacteristically uninterrupted long night’s sleep. Bill is in Atlanta this week for a professional pricing conference, and I’m grateful that last night went well.

Looking out the window, I noticed that the sky was shifting from dark to lighter blue, and asked if they would like to see the sun come up before breakfast. They exclaimed “si!” and raced off to collect shoes.

We donned fleece pants and jackets against the cool morning and walked to the end of our street, where we could see the eastern sky brightening from pink to orange. Then… POW! the first blinding rays of sun cleared distant treetops on the horizon to paint our faces golden and light our street.

On our way home, we greeted dogs, collected loose flowers, spotted the moon, watched birds and airplanes, hugged a pumpkin, and ran into one of my colleagues. We also saw a front loader, a dump truck, two school buses, and several Metro buses, too. Good and lovely morning!

Catherineism #13: Alphabet variation

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Cate has begun singing a lot during the last few months. Her first song was, “Miss Mary Mack.”

She then started singing along to Woody Guthrie’s, “Car Song,” and before long was singing, “Lullabye” and “All right for now” with us at bedtime.

Sunday afternoon, the girls and I played in the bedroom for a little while before dinner. At some point, I heard Cate singing to herself.

I tuned in to hear her finish singing the alphabet song. I hollered for Bill to come listen, too, and then asked Cate to sing it again.

Cate started over with, “A, B, C, D,” etc. But when she got to the middle, I was surprised and amused to hear this:

“L, M, N, Go Pee”

Ha! I’m not at all sure that she’s always sung it that way, but it sounds like potty learning is super salient. Too funny!

Toddler dreams

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

I’m not sure at what age babies/toddlers begin to dream. But I’ve noticed that both of our daughters have begun talking in their sleep from time to time.

The first time that I heard Sam, she was repeating, “Baby doll! Baby doll!” in an anxious voice. The next time, she called out, “Sammy, no!”

Tonight, as I approached Cate’s crib, I noticed that she was repeatedly murmuring, “front loader, front loader,” in a small anxious voice. She was also huddled in a tight ball, presumably cold, since she refused to wear her sleep sack to bed.

I’m not sure what they’re dreaming, exactly, but the tone of it doesn’t sound good. I have spent many years plagued by anxious dreams (back when I slept long enough to dream), and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I sincerely hope the girls get more happy dreams than not.

Postscript: This morning, I told Cate what I heard her say last night, and I asked her if she remembered it. She said, “si!” I asked her what she saw, and she replied definitively, “excavators!”

Samanthaism #10: recycling can excitement

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

The City of Houston just expanded single-stream recycling — with the big green automated collection container — to 35,000 more households. We’re delighted that our part of Hyde Park is included!

I was excited that Monday (July 29) was the first collection for our new green recycling can. The girls were excited to see the big green truck come.

Sam and Cate have lots of reason to be excited by Mondays, too. Not only does Claudia come back, but also the City’s big blue garbage trucks swarm our neighborhood to collect garbage.

This morning, the girls had finished breakfast and made it back to our bathroom, just in time to see the green truck collect our recycling. About the time they finished pottying, we heard the big diesel engine of the first garbage truck approaching.

However, we apparently placed our two cans too close together. When the blue truck reached for the black garbage can, it knocked over our green can.

Sam was delighted and talked excitedly about what happened for more than 5 minutes. Before she was done, she mustered a four-word sentence to capture it, “Blue truck knocka can!”

Glass half full

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

The night before last was as bad as any of the earlier ones I don’t remember. I had only been asleep 20 minutes when the first girl woke crying, and it was staggeringly difficult to rouse myself and tend to her. The rest of the night was similar, and not one spell between interruptions spanned two hours.

However, at one point in the wee hours, I asked a whimpering Sam what was wrong, and whether she was cold. Sam agreed emphatically, “Mama, COLD!!!”

Ah ha! Unlike teething and separation anxiety, cold has a ready, tangible remedy!

So last night, even though it’s mid-July, we put girls to bed under flannel blankets. Sam slept through the night — more than 11 hours — for the first time in weeks and weeks. And Cate slept through, too, waking only once, when Daddy Bill got up to go pee.

As Bill said this morning when I asked him how his night went, “1000% better!”

* * *
Unsurprisingly, getting a lot more sleep, makes bad things better, and enables more good things.

When we came out this morning, The Cat had both pood and peed in the girls’ play area, again. But, he peed only inside one of the white dish tub “boats” that we use for toy storage. So it was easy to clean up. Phew!

It’s rainy and 75 today, so no walking along the bayou to watch big trucks, and no splashing in the pool. I decided to take us to Costco instead. Not only were we able to return an item we didn’t need, but they had 12-oz flats of gorgeous, organic, raspberries for just $3.99. That’s a third of what Whole Foods usually asks, so I bought 3 pounds of them, and Dad agreed to bake the girls some raspberry pie.

While we were shopping, Cate said she needed to pee. So we paid for our groceries and headed to the big restroom. With only one mishap (removing Cate’s diaper while Sam was still on the potty), both girls peed in the big potties, washed their hands, and braved the Dyson “air blade” hand dryers.

Finally, the Costco in central Houston is a vaguely “urban” store, with a four-story parking garage. After we loaded our groceries, we drove up to the third level, and cordoned off a corner by positioning my van as a blockade. We got out our big yellow CAT truck and the girls took turns pushing each other across the smooth pavement, sheltered from the rain. We then looked out across the lot below, caught rain in our hands, and watched windshield wipers swish. Fun!

[photos to follow]

When we got home, the girls devoured a bunch of the raspberries with some milk and chicken maple sausage for a snack. After pottying again, we read Byron Barton’s Boats book, sang Pete Seeger’s “Sailing up, sailing down,” and put girls to bed for what I hope will be nice, long, naps.

Great morning!

Adventias: Falling

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

My brain is so full it’s overflowing.

Gran’mom fell this morning and bonked/cut her forehead while a PAL was trying to get her into the shower. In retrospect, the PAL observed that Sarah had seemed weaker and less verbal than yesterday. It seems that Sarah’s experienced another step-down decline in cognitive function.

Belmont’s nursing staff sent Sarah to the ER by ambulance, to rule out internal bleeding. Sharon raced over to meet the ambulance and supervised Sarah’s care until I arrived. I’m again thankful for having her so close!

Sarah was particularly uncommunicative after the fall, and her pupils were tiny, constricted, dots. It was hours before she expressed anything that looked like she recognized me, and then only briefly.

Her neurologist, Dr. Roman, says her CT showed extensive atrophy of the brain and “relatively advanced Alzheimer’s”. He said that sensory processes become disconnected and “she’s not seeing the world through the same eyes as you and I.”

He also asked if we would consent to let them remove and examine Sarah’s brain post mortem. I’m confident that as a 40+year clinical scientist, Sarah would be delighted to be able to contribute in this way.

She was discharged by 1 pm, and transported back to Belmont by ambulance. She slurped down a chocolate Ensure shake, with help from the nurse, Joel, and then went straight to bed.

Before I left, staff had managed to get her to the dining room for dinner, but her PAL admitted that she’d been pushed on her wheels. Chris popped by after work, too, to give Sarah a hug and check on her.

Sarah’s physicians and nursing staff feel that her end is nearer now than it was, and that she would benefit from complementary hospice care. I spent the afternoon researching and contacting hospice providers. I have more calls to make tomorrow, and if I’m lucky, we’ll get her “admitted” tomorrow, too.

* * *
Tonight, I had helpful conversation with another hospice provider, perhaps the one we’ll use. I then connected with Melinda, a lay leader from St. Stephen’s, for a good talk about death and dying. I’m grateful that we connected via Facebook.

* * *
It takes me about 20 minutes to drive home from Belmont. I’m grateful that that’s long enough for me to call and catch up with my mom, and then, switch gears mentally to start thinking about our girls.

* * *
Both girls slept through the night last night. But tonight, Sam woke up crying for Mama and Dad around 11:45 am. After locating her binky and blankie, she asked for “Mama… chair” several times, so I sat down to cuddle Sam in my lap.

As I nuzzled my cheek against Sam’s hair, I thought also about holding Gran’mom this morning. It struck me that there’s a 95-year spread between the people I cared for today. That’s boggling. But the how of the care is really the same, and that helps.

Catherineism #7: four syllables

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

As I’ve mentioned previously, the girls are into trucks. Monday was garbage day, and that means big blue trucks.

We were still in the bedroom (pottying in the bathroom, actually), when we heard the first big diesel engine of the morning. Cate looked up at the sound, smiled in recognition, and declared, “big gar bage truck!”

Wow.

Curb appeal

Monday, May 20th, 2013

I gained an unexpected view of the “curb appeal” of our house today, when I recognized a new neighbor at the grocery and introduced myself. When I described which house is ours, she said, “Oh. I thought that was a daycare.”

Yeah, I can see that.

What’s funnier to me is that Bill once looked at the variegated lot of pale, Goth-y, 20-somethings who live across the street, and said, “they look like they should work at Whole Foods.”

Given that I encountered Katarina in her black smock, restocking the bulk foods aisle, apparently at least one of them does. Bill called it.