Posts Tagged ‘Cate’

Ohio roots: Chuck with a guitar

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

We just returned from our first family trip to Ohio. My aunt Amy shared another handful of old photos she found for me, which included this gem. It’s a newly-wed Chuck at 25, in what looks to me like Gran’mom Sarah and Gran’pop Roger’s house in Orlando, strumming Jean’s guitar:

When Jean was in college, she bought a guitar and began teaching herself to play. Over time, after she and Chuck married, it became Dad’s to play, although Jean still asserted that “it’s My guitar.”

I have many fond memories of listening to my Dad play and sing folk songs from the 1960s and 1970s. Pete Seeger and The Weavers, Peter Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, the Beach Boys, and other singer-songwriters were all cherished performers in our home. Sometimes, Mom and I sang along, too. And occasionally, they hosted wonderful parties where their friends played and sang, too.

I admired — and envied — people like my Dad who could play and sing at the same time. After high school, when I played bass guitar in a band* with Geoff Fish and Del, I aspired to get good enough to sing, too. But while I achieved some proficiency on bass, I never practiced enough to multi-task. I was also too self-conscious to want a microphone in front of me.

* Geoff and Del were both 5-8 years older than me, and called us The Lawrence Welk Renegades. It sounded funny to me, but I wasn’t really old enough to get the reference.

* * *
Last summer, when the girls were two, we managed to spend a day in Galveston every week or two. This summer, I’ve been busy assembling submittals and building website content for Traffic Engineers, Inc. (TEI), and I’m sad to admit we have only made it to Galveston 6 or 7 times this summer.

Bill was in London for the last three weeks of July on proposal work for Wipro. He got 36 hours at home the weekend of the 18th, but we saw him little between flight delays and jet lag. The Zoo snow day was all we really managed.

In Bill’s absence, I decided to make the most of it by taking Sam and Cate on their first overnight grandparent visits. We spent one night at Gram Nancy’s house, and we spent a night in Galveston, too.

We had big plans for that Friday morning (July 31): Dr. Glenn (my dentist) invited us to come fish (for the first time!) from his dock, and ride in his boat, and swim in his pool. Unfortunately, Sam and I were awake from about 2 am to 6 am, after she succumbed to the puking bug that Cate suffered from the prior Sunday night. Poor kids.

When Cate woke, Baba Jean found her breakfast and entertained her so Sam and I could sleep, for which I’m most grateful. Friday afternoon brought much-needed naps, which helped immensely. When the girls woke, Dad and I were sitting in the office. They pointed to the guitar, hanging from the bookshelves, and I asked Dad to play something for us.

He hasn’t practiced in too long. He can barely see for cataracts and retina damage. The tremor makes his arms shake even as his hands finger long-familiar chords. The affliction of it all is profoundly sad. But hearing Chuck play for Cate and Sam, and hearing them start to learn the haunting melody of “Goodnight, Irene” makes me really, really happy.

Apologies for the upside-down free-handed video. I may be able to right it the next time I can upload files from my mom’s phone. In the meantime, the audio makes me happy.

Get the Flash Player to see this video.

Personal obsessions at 3-3/4…

Saturday, July 18th, 2015

Even now, upon realizing our kids are twins, strangers still sometimes ask, “are they identical?”

“This word, identical, it does not mean what you think it means.”

Mostly I smile and answer, “no, not really in any possible way.” Aside from skin tone and that cute nose, Sam and Cate are as different as any two sisters might be, including different personal interests.

A couple of months ago, the girls extended their independence to climbing counters and retrieving from cupboards any items that interest them at will. Sam has become very fond of bandaids. If at any point you realize that it’s quiet and Cate’s in sight but Sam isn’t, odds are you can find her in our bathroom, helping herself to a variety of plain and character bandaids:

Sam emerged wearing 9 bandaids and several wraps of gentle tape (July 3)

Meanwhile, both girls mastered counting — that is, uniquely enumerating discrete objects — last year, sometime around age 2-1/2. Then in April, it occurred to me we could make counting more interesting with playing cards. So Bill started teaching them variations on Go Fish and War:

Bill teaching the girls Go Fish

At the beginning of July, I showed the girls how to play Solitaire on my iPhone. Sam enjoys sliding the cards around, but seems to prefer physical cards to touchscreen cards.

We played this first game together (July 1)

Cate, meanwhile, *loves* to play the game on my phone. She squeals with delight when she finds an ace to start a “home suit” pile or clears a column: “Mom! I have room for a King now!” She knows how to use the Hint button to confirm when there are no more useful moves remaining, and she even wins sometimes!

Several times in the last two weeks, I have waked to the sensation of a no-longer-sleepy Cate at the bedside, asking “may I come up?” But where she used to want to cuddle, she now declares conspiratorially, “Mom, it’s Solitaire time!”

Friday morning, it was too cold inside, so first Sam and then Cate took turns wearing the Lion costume we received from Nicole’s guys. But as soon as she was warm, Cate wanted a Solitaire fix:

Lion Cate working the cards on my phone (July 17)

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!


Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

It’s summer!

For several months, we have been enjoying “Toddler Tuesdays” in Galveston with Baba Jean and Papa Chuck. Yes, we miss preschool, but it’s important to me that the girls spend time with all of their grandparents — Gram Nancy, too — and my Dad is no longer comfortable riding to Houston in the car.

We’re continuing to use the pool at Gran’mom’s condo to teach girls to swim. I wrapped up the Downtown Commute Survey for Central Houston at the end of March, which means I’m a free agent again. So when the water started to get warm in April, we started going every week.

However, Sam and Cate finished their first year at Becker near the end of May, which frees up our daily routines. And Bill separated from GE at the end of May. He’s looking for work but functionally free-range. Not knowing how soon he will start a next gig, we decided that I should seize this window of opportunity to spend more time in Galveston and try to settle my Gran’mom’s estate.

So last Sunday, I met Mom and Chris at the condo to unearth and discuss treasures together. (More on that in another post.) I spent most of last week there helping Jean sort clothes and housewares to donate to the Resource Crisis Center.

Since 50 miles separate Galveston from Houston, Bill and I decided I should go solo for 2 to 3 days at a time, while he keeps girls at home. It’s the first time I’ve been away from them for more than 12 hours, and it required adaptation from all of us.

We took advantage of technology to bridge the time apart. My little iPhone 3s only supports audio calls, but Papa Chuck let me borrow his iPhone 4 for Facetime calls with Bill and the girls. Here’s what our first video call looked like:

Mama Bob, Sam, Cate, and Lion

Such cuteness!

Afterward, the girls did *not* want to hang up and go off to bed. Some fussing ensued. For next time, we’ll plan to chat earlier in the day when they’re less tired and more resilient. In the meantime, it feels good to be Getting Things Done.

Sights of summer: New brain buckets for girls!

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

When my colleague, Carol, unexpectedly gave us her bike trailer in late July, we were unprepared with helmets. I nearly ordered some cute ones to come quickly from Amazon, but then remembered that Consumer Reports rates that kind of essential safety gear.

Armed with comparative data, we elected to suck it up and order a pair of top-rated youth bike helmets from Bontrager. Unfortunately, they were both expensive ($45 ea) and back-ordered. But they finally arrived a few weeks later and both Cate and Sam are delighted to have their own helmets! (As always, click for larger.)

Newly helmeted trailer girls



Trailer girls

Cate exclaims

Sam in sunshine

*Astute readers will notice that neither of these helmets is sufficiently well-adjusted yet. We’re working on that, and in the meantime, they’ll fit right in around here!

Sights of summer: popsicles on the porch!

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

A “cold” front brought cool weather to Houston this morning, including temps in the 60s. Quick before we get to winter, here are some more photos from our summer.

We have an “ice tube” mold that I found at Ikea. During our last gut bug, it occurred to me to use it to make popsicles out of lime Gatorade. They don’t have any sticks/handles, but once I wrap the end with a bit of paper towel and secure it with a rubberband, they’re easy enough to hold on to. (As always, click for larger.)

Sam, Cate, and Nane



Cate-chism: the Quest for Daddy

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

I got out of the office today (Friday) a little early, so I made it home before Caludia, our awesome nanny, left for the weekend. As a result, two little girls were somewhat confused about whether they should be excited that Daddy was home or sad that Nane was leaving. Since we are trying to get the girls down for sleep quickly (or more quickly, really) in the evenings, I proceeded quickly through the “unload the pockets” and “wash the hands” steps, while girls ran around the house saying, “Daddy?” or “Nane?”

While washing my hands in our master bathroom, Cate finally found me, and squealed loudly, “DADDY!!” when she saw me from our bedroom. She then ran towards me and threw herself into my arms for a big hug.

Definitely a good start to the weekend.