Posts Tagged ‘Gram Nancy’

Pool 6.0: semi-independent with bar floats!

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

Saturday afternoon, Gram Nancy invited us to come enjoy swimming and a picnic dinner at the River Plantation club pool. The Odales were in town and the Friedmans came, too.

We haven’t seen Bill’s sister, Barb, and her family since Christmas, and the kids all seem so grown-up now. Jordan, the youngest, will be 13 in a few weeks, and Jeremiah earned his lifeguard certification this summer. All three of the kids swim like fishes!


Sarah, Barb, and Jordan

Gram Nancy

Suzi’s daughter, Addison, will be 4 in September, and has been learning to swim at Houston Swim Club (HSC). Addi showed me how she can blow bubbles and swim underwater. She also brought a really clever pair of bar floats — constructed from PVC with old-fashioned rope floats at each end — that are part of the HSC curriculum.

Sam was eager to try Addi’s floats (“Please, I use your floats!”) and when she got in the water and tucked them under her armpits, a remarkable transformation occurred. For the first time, Sam was totally stable, floating independently in the water. Within a few minutes, she got the hang of bicycling her feet, and was self-propelled. She wore herself out, kicking to the deep part of the pool and back again. We have never seen Sam so happy in the water!

After dinner, Cate wanted a go. She, too, quickly got the hang of propelling herself through the water. But where Sam was quietly studious in her endeavor, Cate made up a mantra to sing, “I can go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth!”

After that, Sam wanted to go again. And when Aunt Betty let us know it was time for them to go home, taking Addi’s floats with them, Sam tried to hustle away to the deep end of the pool again.

Get the Flash Player to see this video.

Get the Flash Player to see this video.

We’ll find out tomorrow, when HSC opens after the holiday weekend, how much they extort for their bar floats. We may just knock ’em off and make our own. Either way, we can hardly wait to see how quickly the girls progress with them. What a great teaching tool!

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.


Christmas people

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

We’ve been reading Clement Moore’s, ‘Twas the night before Christmas, as illustrated by Tomie dePaola, and Olive, the other reindeer, for about ten days. We also watched “Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer” a couple of times.

We never said that Santa would come here. But we did point out that Tuesday night *really was* the night before Christmas.

Regardless, the girls made some connection. When they woke Wednesday morning, instead of agreeing to go to the potty, Cate said she wanted “to go out front.”

Once we insisted, both girls pottied promptly (which isn’t always the case) and when we opened the bedroom door, they went straight to the living room. On the coffee table, next to our little balsam fir tree, they were delighted to find a pair of plush baby elephants from the Zoo, and 8-10 new “brick” (Duplo) people.

[All of the brick people that have come with their sets are male, which is limiting. So we sucked it up and paid for an all-people-all-the-time 20-piece set, that included 7 female figures. That’s still a dismal gender ratio, but we’ll make do.]

We also opened stockings, which held chocolate “Crisp Kringle”s, chocolate coins, mandarins, and tiny peppermint canes.

After a few pieces of chocolate, some quick frozen waffles and chicken maple sausage for the girls, and coffee for us grown ups, we pottied again. We swapped jammies for red snowmen dresses and set forth to Conroe.

Bill’s niece, Charlotte, and her new husband, Steve, drove in from Virginia for the holiday. Sam and Cate enjoyed meeting and playing with their daughter, Justice, who’s just 5 months younger.

After opening and sharing presents, the three toddler girls ran around on the golf course, while cousin Sarah, Bill, and I tagged along. Sam then asked Gram Nancy to take them riding in her golf cart again, please, and Cate insisted that the go all the way to Gran’s playground. Much swinging and climbing ensued.

[photos to follow]

Back at the house, two overtired girls convinced me that they wanted to stay and nap at Gram’s, instead of driving home. However, after half an hour of lying on the mattress, the floor, a pillow, a big kid bed, the mattress again, (lather, rinse, repeat), I decided that we should bail and take them home. I was sad to miss dinner with the Odales, but two unslept toddlers were likely to make things tough all around.

Forty-five minutes later, I woke to find us somewhere along IH-610, with Dad at the wheel, in the midst of a fine circuitous rolling nap operation. Girls slept another 45 minutes and were chipper by the time we got home.

Once home, Cate and Sam fell immediately into playing with their new toys. They sat at the little table (thanks, Gram!), and played with their new people, both Duplo and Fisher Price. Here’s some video to capture that interaction:

Get the Flash Player to see this video.

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.

Unexpected Easter, part I

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Gram Nancy and her sister Betty each have two kids, who are each married with kids of their own. When Nancy realized that Jenni and her kids would be in from Atlanta the same weekend that Barb and her family would be up from Mission, she had a good idea.

Last Saturday, she brought us all together for an Upchurch family reunion, with 17 family members present. Only husbands Rich and Foster were missing. (As always, click for larger.)

Gram Nancy with sister Betty

Nancy, Betty, and Jerry with four kids, 8 grandkids, and 2 spouses

The idea was simple: get everyone together in the Park at River Plantation to visit and have some food. There would be cupcakes to celebrate Barb’s birthday. And finally, Barb’s three older kids hid plastic Easter eggs in the field for the five little kids to find.

Cate, who had been unable to nap during the afternoon (she’s teething all four canines at the same time. sheesh.), was unenthused and hung back with Dad. But Sam had fun toddling across the field toward brightly-colored plastic eggs. Mostly, the older boys dashed in and snatched up eggs before Sam could get to them, but her cousin Sarah graciously ensured that Sam collected two or three.

Sarah helping Sam hunt eggs, while Colton dashes in

Sarah and Barb helping Sam and Addison (re)hunt their eggs

Betty, Jerry, Jenni, Caleb, and Gram Nancy

Sam was entranced with openable plastic eggs, while Colton and Caleb worked through them quickly looking for treats

Bill with a very-tired Cate

Cate eventually ventured forth to check out Colton’s eggs

After the egg hunt, when everyone gathered to sing for Barb, Cate and Sam remained on the field, entranced with the mountain of plastic eggs.

Cate and Sam after the egg hunt

The schedule ran way past bedtime. The upside was we were late enough to enjoy “golden hour” light on the field. The downside was our girls were really strung out by the time we got them home, and we had a rough night. But it was good to visit with seldom-seen cousins, and a good time was had by all.

Samanthaism #5: Beep! Beep!

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

At Christmas, Shawnacy and Chris gave our girls a delightful book called, The Little Blue Truck.

Much like Bear Snores On, it’s a wonderfully lyrical story with a cast of animal characters. It’s about friendship and working together. Sam and Cate love it!

The dramatic action peaks when the Little Blue Truck races into the mud to help the big dump truck and gets stuck:

“Help! Help! Help!
cried the Little Blue Truck.
Beep! Beep! Beep!
I’m stuck! I’m stuck!”

Much of the language is catchy and we incorporated it into some of our daily activities. When we’re ready to release girls from booster seats after eating, we recite that verse to relate that they’re “stuck” in their chairs.

Then, as we get ready to unsnap their safety belts, we pantomime the verse after next, in which the friends work together to free the truck:

All together!
One… two… three!
One last push
and the trucks were free!

Cate and Sam seem to enjoy when book language crosses over into our daily existence.

* * *
Early this week, the girls were riding their bikes around inside the house. I was sitting at the dining room table at my laptop. Behind me, I heard a bit of clatter as Sam rode past me into the kitchen, and then got her bike wheels caught up with the chair under a booster seats.

As she began to get frustrated that she was unable to free her bike from the chairs, what did Sam exclaim?

“Beep! Beep!”


Friday, December 21st, 2012

My perception is assuredly biased, but as of late, the weather in Houston has been as lovely as I can remember. While we are bundling up for lows in the 30s tonight, it seems like we have had weeks and weeks of sunny 60s, 70s, and 80s. It’s been beautiful, and we’ve been making a point to get out of the house to enjoy it at least once and sometimes twice a day.

Until recently, we’ve almost always gone walking, with girls in Bjorn carriers. We mostly wander around Hyde Park, though a few times, we crossed over into East Montrose. We even ran into Bill’s cycling friend, Laura, over there on Thanksgiving morning.

But now that both Sam and Cate can walk, we’re spending a lot more time in parks. On school days we’re having to go over to Cherryhurst, which is a brisk 10-minute walk each way. But on weekends, we’re really enjoying the new Wilson Wonderground Spark Park. On Saturday, Gram Nancy walked over there with Bill, me, and the girls (click for larger):

This may be the last time they ever looked this blase about arriving at a park.

Kenya has no apples…

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Last Sunday, we went to Gram Nancy’s house for lunch, and the girls had lots of time to play and explore her house. Early on, an empty wine case/carton was commandeered to become a boat.

What happened next may remind some of you of comedian John Oliver’s bit in “Terrifying Times” about Kenya and the apples:

Sam has a boat

Cate wants that boat

How many boats does Sam have?

Sam has no boat.