Archive for May, 2013

Shifting asset allocation: more land

Friday, May 31st, 2013

As Bill mentioned a few weeks ago, we’re looking to build a new house in Bellaire. As of Friday, May 31st, it’s official: we just bought some new dirt!

Bill and Bob at the title company office, just after the Locust closing

Samanthaism #7: labeling priorities

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

At 18 months, Sam has about 40 words or so, though she’s now adding more daily. In the last two weeks, both girls have started using two-word phrases.

With a somewhat smaller vocabulary than Cate (who has at least 70 words so far), it’s more apparent that Sam is focusing on words for things that are important to her. It speaks volumes that Sam’s first two-word phrase is, “big pool!”

It’s also telling that Sam’s daily requests to visit a pool start before breakfast. ;-D

Catherineism #6: two-word phrases

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

In the last two weeks, both girls have started using two-word phrases. Here’s my favorite so far from Cate:

Upon finding a raisin on the floor, Cate pointed to it and plainly said, “big bug!”

Did I promise them the moon?

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

The first time I showed the girls the moon, it was a tiny sliver of moon. I’ve been wanting to show them a big real full moon ever since.

The website,, has moonrise, moonset, and percent illuminated data for various locations. The challenge has been that while the moon is big and bright for probably a week each month, that it only rises before the girls’ bedtime for two or three days. So first, I have to remember to look on the right days. And then, the weather has to cooperate and hold clouds at bay.

One night in late April, while reading Doggies and howling merrily, I realized that the time was right for another full moon. We gathered up two jammy-clad girls, went outside, and walked out into the street. Up there beyond the big trees was a bright, very-nearly-full, moon. It had taken four months, but we’d finally shown the girls a real moon. It was beautiful, and the girls loved it.

* * *
A couple of days later, after waking from a nap, Sam went to my nightstand and pulled out Buenas noches, Luna. I asked her if she wanted me to read her the book, but she shook her head, no.

Instead, Sam backed up toward the door, inquiring, “moon?”

I was puzzled at first, but then it dawned on me that she might be asking for us to go out and look. I asked her, “Would you like us to go look for the moon?”

Sam replied emphatically, “moon!” with a big grin spread across her face.

I admit that while I was excitedly showing them a rare, big moon, that it never occurred to me that I might be creating expectations that I wouldn’t be able to meet very often.

Unfortunately, at the time Sam asked, there was no moon to be seen. And worse, instead of going out to look anyway, I tried to explain that we didn’t need to go out because there was no moon.

Cate, who had joined the effort, asked hopefully, “ca[r]?]

I asked if she wanted to go out in the car?

Cate confirmed, “si” while nodding yes.

I said, “No, and really, we should go have lunch” at which point both girls burst into tears, disappointed. I reassured them, hugged them both, and then Claudia beckoned them toward the kitchen to eat lunch.

As they left the bedroom, I pulled out my iPhone to make a few notes about our interaction for this blog post. But a moment later, Sam appeared again carrying my sneakers, which she then gave to me to put on, clearly hoping that I might change my mind and take them out.

If I haven’t mentioned it yet, Cate and Sam are both very… persistent. I expect that will serve them well over the long run.

Pool 3.0

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Our cousin Sharon lives all of three blocks from here, and her condo has a nice medium-sized pool. She’s been inviting us to come swim at her place for more than five years, but somehow, we’ve never managed to do it.

Pathetic, I know.

On Wednesday, I went by Sharon’s place on an errand, and brought Claudia and the girls along to visit Max, Sharon’s dog. We went out into the back yard to kick a ball, dig in dirt, pick up rocks, and enjoy the sounds of birds and squirrels.

But as we walked past The Big Pool, Sam and Cate could not contain their enthusiasm. Fresh from an afternoon in a kid pool, they were eager to explore the “biggie” pool.

I tried that afternoon to keep them sidelined on their bellies, only splashing in the water with their hands. But I eventually caved to their relentless requests, took off their clothes, and let them slip into the pool at the steps.

It was their first time ever in a pool, and they loved it. So we made plans with Sharon for Claudia and me to bring the girls back on Friday to swim on purpose, with swimsuits and towels and stuff. Bill took the day off from work so he came, too.

Claudia with Sam

This was Sam and Cate’s first time in a real pool, so our primary mission was simply to keep them above water and help them get comfortable enough to have fun and enjoy the water. Judging by their expressions, mission accomplished!

Sharon with Sam

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Sharon!

Update: Sharon also captured a few cute video clips of flying girls and other pool play. I’ll post those here, soon!

Pool 2.0

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

It’s finally getting hot and summery in Houston, and Sam and Cate are more interested in water than ever before.

Last summer, Gram Nancy brought the girls a tiny, red, one-ring, inflatable pool. When Rebecca and Miranda spent the day visiting us last May, we set it up on the deck and enjoyed the girls’ first splash day.

At six months past due date, Cate and Sam were still little enough that the pool had room for all three girls to sit in it. I remember feeling very nervous that Sam or Cate could topple over face first into the water at any time.

Last Tuesday, Gram Nancy brought the girls a larger, three-ring, inflatable pool, that’s more than 60″ (5 feet) across. We set it up for a splash day and as 18-month olds, the girls were all over the thing.

Cate was delighted to get to play with the hose

Cate and Sam

Cate briefly considered blowing a dolphin whistle for Gram

Sam was delighted to get a turn with the hose

Sam splashed everyone

Sam sprayed Gram with the hose repeatedly

The girls promptly learned the word “poo[l]” and since that afternoon, they have spent a lot of time talking about wanting to go play in one. Thanks again, Gram!

* * *
Afterward, the girls were chilly so Claudia and I took them straight in for a warm bath… which was a tactical error.

Until now, girls have been willing to sit in bath seats, which helps me feel a lot more confident that we can get both of them bathed at the same time without anyone drowning.

However, after having free range of a 5-foot pool for half an hour, Sam immediately perceived that wandering around the bathtub might be an option, too. And once Sam declined to sit in a bath seat, Cate promptly climbed out of hers, too.

Instead of two girls sitting docilely in seats and playing with nearby bath toys, they sat under the faucet, they climbed in and out of the seats, they sat/climbed on each other, and generally took the most nerve-wracking bath ever. But we eventually got them out alive, for which I’m grateful.

I’m undecided regarding whether to attempt bath seats next time. In the meantime, we’ve taken several showers instead.


Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Last Saturday, Auntie Em volunteered to take care of Cate and Sam, so that Bill and I could enjoy an afternoon out together. We enjoyed a sumptuous lunch with Jean at Artista, Michael Cordua’s restaurant downtown. Yum!

Then, Jean took us to a matinee of Spamalot! at the Hobby Center. What a silly and delightful musical! We had fun!

Theater Under the Stars (TUTS) brought the Spamalot! tour to Houston

Patsy and Arthur: “always look on the bright side of life!”

After we got home, Emily forwarded me several cute photo collages to commemorate the afternoon she and the girls spent together. I won’t post the one of cute naked water sprites enjoying their splash day on the deck, but I will share these two:



Thank you, thank you, thank you, Emily!


Friday, May 24th, 2013

The last Saturday in April, we drove what I hope will be our last circuits of Memorial Drive for quite some time. When Cate wasn’t interested in an afternoon nap — even with the gentle motion of the van, hum of the tires, and whoosh of the A/C — I decided that I would rather put effort into making a One Nap Schedule work well, instead of racking up more hours/miles in the van.

That means we have a new daily schedule. As of April 29, girls are waking between 6:30 and 7 am, and we’re aiming for a late morning snack followed by a midday nap. We’ll walk the start time later over the next several weeks, but right now, naps are starting sometime between 11 and noon.

And it’s working! Nearly every day, girls are sleeping for at least 90 minutes, and usually two hours. Then we’re having lunch, or a snack, or second lunch, or something around 1 pm, which gives us the whole afternoon to Do Something Fun.

Several Thursdays ago, as we finished lunch around 2:15 pm, I suddenly realized that it was Thursday and after 2 pm. That meant we could go see butterflies again for nearly free. Yay!

But when I asked the girls if they’d like to go see butterflies, I got no response. Nothing. We were already rolling and there was just the hum of the tires. No response from the backseats at all.


So I asked if they’d like to go to a park instead?

“Pa’k! Pa’k!” was the enthusiastic reply from the back seat.

Ok, then. I turned and we headed over to Ervan Chew, where the slides and swings and people watching have been superseded by a new diversion:


* * *
Sam is really excited about trucks. We’ve been reading Roger Priddy’s Trucks board book, and identifying trucks we see on the street.

Whenever a truck goes by, we call it out and stop to watch it:

  • pick-up truck! / camioneta!
  • garbage truck! / camión de la basura!
  • recycling truck! / camión de reciclaje”
  • beer truck! / camión de cerveza!
  • van! / furgoneta!
  • street sweeper! / barrendero!

One truck name makes more sense in Spanish than English: “camión de bomberos!” which is a truck of firefighers, rather than a “fire-truck.”

Sam seems delighted to call out, “truh!” whenever she spots another truck. Lately, she’s been spotting trucks at the park. Every day for two weeks, one neighborhood kid or another lugged a favorite wheeled vehicle to Ervan Chew.

A kid named James brought a big yellow Tonka dump druck. A girl named Georgia brought a smaller yellow steam roller. A girl named Ella brought a red Fisher Price ride-on firetruck.

But the first was a kid we didn’t meet, who brought a big green and blue plastic dump truck, and abandoned it… for Sam to find and commandeer.

Sam climbed in to enjoy the dump truck she found

Cate coming over to check out Sam’s new ride


What’s even cooler is that my friend Michele was in town for the occasion. We chatted and caught up for a while, she met the girls, and then joined us for a park expedition. While there, she managed to catch some of Sam’s larceny on video:

Get the Flash Player to see this video.

This first day, Sam was delighted to have Mama and Cate push her back and forth across the playground, but she was NOT eager to share her treasured truck. She stole it first! When I made her hop out to let Cate have a ride, she was crushed.

But a few days later, Sam and Cate engaged in the first true collaborative play I’ve seen from them. The little girl named Georgia loaned us her brother’s big yellow dump truck, and the three girls took turns pushing one another from one end of the playground to the other and back. Even a fourth girl, who originally told Georgia, “I don’t want to play with your truck,” asked if she could ride, too.

Good times!

To bink, or not to bink…

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Both girls are erupting “two-year” molars like mad. Sam is working on the lower two. Cate is working the lower two as well as the upper left. All at the same time.

In retrospect, we missed some obvious signs: Sam is drooling constantly, for the first time that I can recall. Cate has been more inclined to bite. They made some particularly caustic poop. They started waking repeatedly in the middle of the night, and declining to go back to bed, again.

And they’ve been doing vicious things to their binkies.

For the first few months of their lives, we got by with just a pair of binkies each. After Rob pointed out the merits of a near-infinite supply, we stocked up.

But for the last several months, binkies are mostly limited to bedtime and sleepy return car trips, and the girls have been using their Wubanub “kitty binkies” almost exclusively. That means the kitties are taking all of the abuse from this latest round of molar-making torment.

Last Thursday, the kitties gave up. While Cate’s binky experienced a tiny point failure, Sam’s sprang a gaping flappy hole. Not only did they cease to be satisfying to suck on, but also they became choking hazards.

While Cate seemed ready to make do with a plain green Soothie, Sam lamented her fallen friend. Friday night, she plaintively moaned, “meow,” over and over again, while she fingered the torn silicone, apparently wishing her kitty binky whole again.

Saturday morning, we disappeared the kitties, redeployed plain green Soothies, and pondered whether 18 months is the right age to withdraw pacifiers. Given the current intense round of teething, we decided not.

We also pondered whether to stick with plain binkies. But after spending 5-10 minutes in the wee hours of Sunday morning hunting for lost binkies by the glow of my iPhone, we decided to order replacement kitties.

The fluffy orange and white tabbies that arrived Tuesday are almost unrecognizable next to the weathered gray binky pals they’re replacing. I was anxious over how the girls would respond to them.

We brought them out at bedtime Wednesday. Sam seemed startled by the new appearance, but accepted the replacement readily. Cate looked at it only briefly, gave it one or two test sucks, then took it out and handed it to Sam, while saying, “no.”

At that point, I pulled out the old ones to allow them to see the difference. Sam again fretted over her old friend, and readily learned the word, “broken,” to describe it. She also learned the word, “new,” to label the replacement.

Cate seemed delighted to see her old kitty. But when a quick suck revealed the hole, she pulled it out, put it into my hand, and said, “back,” while pointing to the nightstand. Rather than accept an impostor, Cate elected to stick with an old simple green Soothie.

Tonight (Thursday), Cate briefly accepted the new kitty. I’ll be curious to see whether she adopts it going forward. In the meantime, I hope this molar-making business goes quickly.


Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

(Apr 21) I didn’t realize until now that our kids could get even more cuddly.

Friday morning, Cate sidled over toward Sam, saying, “Huh! Huh! Huh!” She then wrapped her arms around Sam’s neck (from the back) and sighed, “huh.” Sam seemed unsure what to make of Cate’s sudden embrace, but it was nonetheless sweet.

Then Saturday night, after reading stories, and before donning sleep sacks, Sam was sitting just behind and to the side of Cate. She leaned forward, tucked her chin onto Cate’s shoulder, and wrapped her arms around Cate’s neck, hugging her. So sweet!

In the month since, there has been lots of girl hugging, blankie hugging, doll hugging, bear hugging, bowl and spoon hugging, rattle hugging, etc. the girls make dolls, bears, and other objects hug each other, too.