Archive for July, 2015

Snow day at the Houston Zoo!

Saturday, July 18th, 2015

For the last couple of Julys, TXU Energy has sponsored a snowy “chill out” day at the Houston Zoo. So Saturday morning, we treated ourselves to breakfast out at Harry’s, and then hit the Zoo around 9:30 am. We were glad to be members because parking was scarce and the lines were really long. I overheard an EMT tell a colleague that their gate was nearly 6,000 people before 11 am!

We remembered to wear boots but forgot gloves, so our hands got cold. Nonetheless, the girls played in the “snow” for almost an hour!

Dad and Cate charged through the heat and crowds past the elephants to the snowy clearing

Cate and bootless Sam. Sam says, “my feet were hot in the boots” (it was about 95 degrees outside), so she took off a boot to cool off. But “I got cold and put it back on.”

Sam insisted I dig her “snow boots from Mt. Charleston” out of the winter bin.

Sam, Cate, and Mama Bob

Cate explained to me earnestly that she was super hot (it was 95 degrees out!) and so she pulled up her pants to rub snow on her leg, and then “I put snow in my boot!” Cate and Sam then both pulled up their shirts to rub handfulls of snow on their bellies.

Cate says, “I was trying to ring up snow.” Sam asks, “do you mean rough up?” Cate agrees, “yes, rough up snow!”

Sam says, “I was trying to dig in the snow. I was trying to make holes in the snow.”

Sam says, “I put snow in my boot. I was trying to cool off! But there was too much pieces of snow.”

Sam with sweat beading off her brow and lip

Cate says, “I was putting ice in my boot, toot, toot.”


Daddy Bill

Cate laid down briefly. She says, “I’m trying to get up from making a snow angel.”

After the snow, we rested and snacked on benches in the new clearing where the vulture pen used to be. Sam asked me very nicely if she could take some pictures with my camera. I really like what she got!

Cate and Dad, as seen by Sam

Mama Bob as seen by Sam

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)

Ship Channel boat tour!

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

A couple of months ago, Bill declared we had reservations for a boat tour. The Port of Houston Authority operates the M/V Sam Houston on a free 90-minute tour of Houston’s Ship Channel. Baba Jean and Izzy joined us for this outing, Sam and Cate’s second ride on a boat!

Baba Jean, Bob, Sam

Bill, Cate, Izzy

Sam dancing

Tank farm

Pine 5 freighter

Cate and Sam in the fantail


Jean and Izzy

About an hour into the ride, I realized my camera auto-focus was disabled. Sorry!





Ship Channel Bridge

After the boat tour, we crossed back over the bayou and headed to Brady’s Landing. The parking lot was packed — they had 5 events that morning! — but the restaurant was wide open. We enjoyed their seafood buffet, dessert, and their panoramic view of boats and birds along the bayou.

Sleepy Cate

Sleeping Sam

Looking at how this sleeping Sam neatly fills her car seat, I’m reminded of an earlier trip to the Ship Channel, while a tiny Sam dozed. Such changes in two years!

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!