Saturday, December 30, 2006

More from Christmas Eve

Cooper & Daddy

Snacks before dinner

I love the look Papa & Katie share as Cooper & Jim open stocking gifts

Grandma with one of the kids' new bears

Steve opens a handsome new tie

Tired, wiggly kids

I think Cooper took this one

Cooper attacks Uncle Jim, who wisely removes his glasses

The end of a happy night

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Yesterday Mel & I took Cooper, Katie & Brooke (Molli was ill) to the Heard Science Museum to see the dinosaur exhibit and explore the rest of the museum. The weather was perfect -- cool, sunny, clear. We walked the half-mile dino hike, taking breaks to roar at dinosaurs, play in a log cabin and climb trees. We hope to return next month with Molli and Conor!

Mel took this photo of the 250-year-old bur oak on the museum grounds. We have the same tree in our front yard -- just a bit smaller and 245 or so years younger.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Ready for bed

Christmas Eve at Grandma & Papa's house

Words they live by

I wrote the cover story for the DMN's Religion section last week. (It required more reporting than writing, actually.) I enjoyed speaking with so many religious leaders and discovering new verses of scripture. I received two anti-Muslim e-mails, questioning my scholarship and judgment in including comments from an imam. Bruce the Boss (Cooper's nickname for the Religion editor) has had some heated correspondence. You can read it here, on the Religion blog.

The Religion section, which is nationally recognized as one of the best and was my professional home for almost three years, is folding in a couple of weeks. Some of the content will find a new home in Metro, but it certainly won't be the same. I did learn this week that I can still contribute Web reviews and the weekly A-Z feature. (This week, Z is for zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam. I wonder if I'll get more hostile letters.)

Merry Christmas!

I would prefer to report on the week's events in one big entry, but I haven't found the time for that yet. So, I'll try to report bit by bit.

Here's Katie in the beautiful dress Jim & Betty bought for her. She wore it to church on Christmas Eve and to their house that night for dinner. Her Aunt Mel says it's definitely her color.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Some B old, Some B new

If you know Cooper well, you've met B. B was a hand-knit gift from Grandma five years ago, when Cooper was 6 months old. It was bright yellow, soft, fuzzy and cuddly. Steve & I called it Big Bird, because it reminded of us the Sesame Street character's feathers. Cooper quickly became attached and called it B. (Sometimes it's called BB.)

The blanket is now a calmer yellow, not as soft, not as fuzzy but sill cuddly. It's accompanied Cooper to four day-care centers and (smuggled in a backpack) to preschool. (It's never made it to kindergarten.) B has been to Sunday school and on our church altar for choir performances. It's been shopping and dining all over town.

It's been to Walt Disney World; Disneyland; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; the Gulf Coast; the Atlantic Ocean; New York City; San Francisco; Philadelphia; Boston; and all over Texas. It's been lost a few times, but it always finds its way back into Cooper's expectant arms.

It's been washed maybe 300 times. There are a few holes forming and growing bigger. With this in mind, Grandma has given Cooper a new B (not to be confused with Blue B, another handmade blankie). The contrast is striking -- kind of like a makeover's "before" and "after." Cooper is now sleeping with all three, though he clutches old B most tightly.

"BB is my favorite blanket," says Cooper, who is sitting with me and approves this message.

The original B and the new B mingle.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas card photo outtakes

I had forgotten that 17 months is not an easy age for capturing "perfect" photos. For about three weeks now, I've been trying to get a Christmas card photo of Cooper and Katie. Katie, though, is on the move and doesn't want to be held down. I think I've settled on one. The ones here are among the dozens that didn't make it.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Weekend roundup

Friday night:
  • Cooper watches three Christmas specials -- Rudolph and two Frostys. He watched downstairs, where there is no Tivo and seemed to enjoy the commercials as much as the shows.
  • Tyra shops for a new Christmasy outfit and makes a couple of ill-advised, hurried purchases.

  • Cooper's basketball team, the Bulldogs, loses to a more talented kindergarten team. Last week, the Bulldogs won 2-0 in the team's season opener. (The majority of the team wanted to be called the Mavericks, as did every other Frisco kindergarten team. The YMCA allowed one Mavericks, one Mighty Mavs and one Mavs. Cooper's suggestion was the Firebolts, a Harry Potter reference, apparently. I don't think anyone on the team knew what he was talking about. I certainly didn't, but I liked his suggestion.)
  • Tyra drags the whole family out for shopping, as Steve agrees that the previous night's purchases weren't very good. Success on this trip!
  • We all go to Andy-Julie-Adam's house for pizza, popcorn and a movie. Most of the moms gather outside the media room with babies and toddlers while the dads wrangle active older kids during the show.

  • Steve performs beautifully in two Lessons & Carols services at church.
  • Cooper makes a guest appearance at Jim & Betty's church as a shepherd in the Nativity play. Before the show, Katie has great fun poking around the manger and doting on the plastic lamb and cow.
  • The Dallas Damms and the Frisco Damms dine at Tupinamba.

(Photos maybe later.)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Scenes from New York

Outside St. Patrick's Cathedral

In the sculpture garden at MoMA. We love this Metropolitain sign, reminding of us of our Paris trip seven years ago.

Shopping in Chinatown

More photos from the trip are here.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Weird labels

Because Stacey tagged me, here we go (though I prefer "unique" or "unusual" instead of "weird") ...

1. I've never been on a car trip that takes more than one day.
I've heard lots of great stories about cross-country road trips. I have none to share.

2. I saw the Future back to back to back.
It was on May 4, 1990 (I think that's correct). My employer, Walter Dewar, loved Back to the Future. When the third movie opened, the NorthPark movie theater (long since replaced) showed all three movies in a row. While on the clock, I stood in line for tickets and watched all three movies.

3. I still have three baby teeth.
They're tiny, and there are no adult teeth to take their place. I often worry that they'll fall out prematurely. I also never had wisdom teeth. And, so far, I've never had a cavity.

4. I attended five elementary schools for K-5.
Walnut Hill (Dallas), Cabell (Farmers Branch), Leon Heights (Belton), Cabell again for a week, Burnett (Dallas) and Gullet (Austin). When I moved to Leon Heights, it was in the middle of second grade. By the end of my first week in Belton, they moved me to third grade, and I finished the school year there. When I moved back to Dallas that summer, DISD said I needed to take third grade again. I stayed there for a week, until my dad threatened to beat up the principal if they didn't move me to fourth grade. I took a test, and they let me move on to fourth at Burnett.

5. I have never watched Star Trek or any of its franchises.
This makes me weird in at least one circle of friends (hello, Noel & Layne!).

6. I frequently work puzzles in my head.
It's usually one I invented in which I see if a word or phrase will fit in a "perfect" box. The rules and exceptions make sense to me but probably to no one else. I'd definitely have to draw you a picture.

Oh, gracious. I could just keep going! But I'll stick to six. Now, I tag someone else. So, Melane and Melissa, you both are it.

Friday, December 01, 2006

We love New York

Steve & I had a wonderful weekend getaway to New York a couple of weeks ago. (Thanks, Laura, for reminding me to post!)

Some of the highlights:
  • Quiet, peaceful hotel and room service
  • St. Patrick's Cathedral
  • Brice Marden exhibit at MoMA
  • Lunch at the Bar Room (the most amazing soup I've ever had -- wild mushroom with chorizo ravioli)
  • Exploring FAO Schwarz and Dean & Deluca
  • Dinner at Blue Hill (they ran out of the tasting menu just before we got there -- a mild disappointment)
  • Spanish painting exhibit at the Guggenheim
  • Shopping in Chinatown (Steve bought a "Rolex")
  • Being part of the masses at Times Square
  • Laughing at some of the street vendor signs (This season there are "cashmere" scarves for sell on just about every corner. Most were $10 or $8. One sign said, "$5. It's war!"
  • Counting Bugaboo stroller sightings

The weather was cool but not too cold -- perfect for walking, which, of course, we did a lot of. Some stores were decorated for Christmas, and the Rockefeller Center tree was being installed.

Mostly we just enjoyed time together, away from computers, pagers, everyday activities.

And then we came home, eager to see our little ones, who had a great time at Grandma & Papa's house.

(I'll post photos soon.)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Early Thanksgiving

Part of the kindergarten mass

Cooper and Cade

Mrs. D and Cooper
Cooper's kindergarten program was this morning. About 140 5- and 6-year-olds stood on risers in the cafeteria and sang and recited Thanksgiving poems. My favorite:
Turkey, turkey
Gobble, gobble
Eat too much
Wobble, wobble

After the 5-minute performance, the kids broke free and received congratulatory hugs, posed for photos and played with friends.

Cooper, as you can see, was a Native American. There were also plenty of pilgrims.

Katie loves interacting with Cooper's friends -- she was wiggly!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Moving service

Our church is one of a handful of area United Methodist churches sponsoring a new congregation, Christ Foundry UMC, a predominately immigrant congregation in the Bachman Lake area. Last night Christ Foundry hosted a Thanksgiving celebration for all the sponsoring churches. We met at Walnut Hill UMC in North Dallas, the first church I ever attended.

Mel and I would walk a couple of blocks on Sunday mornings to attend Sunday school. I sang in the children's choir. I attended Mother's Day Out there. I haven't been back since I was 6! It was so comforting to return. Cooper and Katie stayed in a nursery during the service. It was the same room as my MDO class! Of course, the toys, carpet and furnishings have been updated in the past three decades, but I remembered it just the same.

The service was simple and beautiful. Ministers from different churches participated by reading Scripture, serving Communion, leading prayers. Christ Foundry's minister preached in English and Spanish (and another minister signed in American Sign Language). We all met downstairs after for a potluck dinner. Unfortunately, it's unusual for us to worship and eat among such diversity -- ethnic, socioeconomic, theological. I loved it and hope the service becomes annual.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Trying to get healthy

Ugh. We Damms have been sick off and on for the past three or four weeks now. Somehow we've still managed to go to work, school, church, stores, etc. But the laundry is about to defeat us. I'm pretty sure Katie is out of clean socks. That will force me to dive in tomorrow!

Steve & I are escaping to Manhattan for a couple of days. There is just too much to do there! So, we're focusing the trip on modern art museums -- Guggenheim, MoMA and the Whitney. (As a bonus, MoMA is hosting a Brice Marden exhibit. Marden is one of Steve's favorite artists.) I've made reservations at Blue Hill for a nice dinner and at the Bar Room for a fancier-than-normal lunch.

I'd also like to visit some Harriet the Spy spots. Last time we were there, I drank an egg cream to celebrate Harriet, one of my favorite fictional characters. I'd like to visit Carl Schurz Park, which is near Gracie Mansion, which I've also never seen. The park is the setting of a pivotal moment in the book, which I first read when I was 8 and continue to read every year or so.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Watch Cooper read

Cooper's reading skills are improving so quickly! He brings home one or two guided reading books from school each day. (You should hear him read a question or exclamation -- very dramatic!) Here he's reading a card from Grandma and Papa.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Boo! (updated with photos)

Our ghost and lady bug are fast asleep now after an adventurous evening. We saw our favorite neighbors, hosted the Pry-Becka-toddler-monkey family for dinner and trick-or-treating, gave out handfuls of candy (Cooper is most generous) and ate a few sweets.

Earlier this month, the kids and I visited the pumpkin patch (the same one from Cooper's field trip). Photos from that afternoon are here.

Sunday night, Steve and Cooper visited Grandma at her church for trunk-or-treating. (Papa was out of town for work. Katie and I were home resting, after a week of being sick.) Those photos are here.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Punkin patch

This may be the last year that Cooper says "punkin" instead of "pumpkin," so I get him to say it often. It's a small way to hold on to the little boy, even as he's growing taller and more mature.

Last Wednesday, all seven kindergarten classes rode school buses to a nearby pumpkin patch. It was the group's first field trip. There were lots of moms chaperoning -- one class had a 2:1 student-to-parent ratio! Our class had five moms for 19 kids. I don't think you can ever have enough -- wrangling a bunch of 5- and 6-year-olds in an open field of bales of hay, countless pumpkins, snow cones, a bounce house and various games is a lot of work! We had a great day, as you can see here.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


A few weeks ago, I interviewed Paula Spencer, a family writer and author of "Momfidence! An Oreo Never Killed Anybody and Other Secrets of Happier Parenting." The Q&A is in today's Morning News.

The book is a deceptively easy, fun read; it covers some important issues in parenting and society. Her premise is that parents, specifically moms, should trust their instincts more and rely less on experts. She thinks we've become too protective of our children, and it's going to be a problem later. This fits with anecdotes I've read about oversheltered Gen Y kids, who have worked in groups all their lives and now have trouble being leaders.

Some of her advice challenges my own parenting style -- I do buy only organic milk, shun fast food altogether, advocate organized sports for little folks. But this is what works for our family right now. Our style, cobbled together from all sorts of sources (as I wrote about this time last year), is constantly evolving and probably riddled with "mistakes" according to others. But ultimately, I think that's what "Momfidence" is about -- being confident and comfortable with your choices and being able to sometimes tune out the constantly running monologue of guilt and questions. The job of a mom (and a dad) is much too important to be guilt-free, but it shouldn't overwhelm or paralyze you or your children.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Howdy, partner

Katie and Cooper before our walk to the round-up

Cooper's school sponsored a Western Round-up (fancy words for pizza in the cafeteria, a dance in the gym and vendors in the hallways) last week, and he found it the perfect opportunity to cobble together a cowboy get-up. On our walk to school that night, he stopped at every stranger, tipped his hat and said, "Howdy, partner." I don't know where that uninhibited extroversion comes from, but it sure is entertaining.

Cooper practices some of his "cowboy moves."
A music school offered short guitar lessons.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Well, I have to start back sometime

I haven't had much time for posting, and as the days go by and the photos accumulate on my memory card, I get more intimidated about starting. So I'm just going to start small!

I recently reviewed a book for Religion -- I'm Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers by Tim Madigan, a writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, one of my previous employers. (That was a dismal eight months on a sports copy/layout desk.) I love this book and wish I could buy a copy for all my friends.

Speaking of friends, Michael Taylor was in town about three weeks ago, and he spent some time with me and Katie. It was wonderful to catch up with him and his life in D.C. I miss his company so much. We worked together at the NT Daily in college -- I don't think I would have survived a couple of those years without him and Will. We were reunited later at the Morning News and have had some memorable adventures.

Katie and Michael met for the first time three weeks ago.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Pure joy

The baby swing at our neighborhood park is new. Katie loves it and laughs almost the entire time she's swinging. (Her pants and jacket are hand-me-downs from Cooper. I love the associated memories.)

Thankful for fall

Before church this morning

The weather is cooler today -- cool enough for a mid-afternoon walk/bike ride to the park. It was our first visit to the park since Katie started walking. She loved exploring the tunnel and even slid down a big slide in her brother's lap. Her favorite activity was the new baby swing, especially when Cooper was swinging next to her.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Where's the fire?

Cooper's class studied community helpers this week, and today they were asked to come to school dressed as who they want to be when they grow up. Cooper didn't hesitate to choose a firefighter. (Thankfully he already had all the gear, as part of a treasure chest of costumes from Grandma and Papa.)

Sleeping beauty

Katie loves to sleep -- 11 or so hours each night plus two or three naps during the day. Yesterday she was wiped out from a late night before (soccer practice and school family night at Gattitown), and I was able to take this photo without rousing her. (The bruises on her arm are from blood tests two weeks ago. The technician didn't seem very comfortable with a child.)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Damm briefs

Welcome home, Sydney!
Katie and I met baby Sydney last Friday. She is gorgeous! I resisted the urge to scoop her up right away and let her observe us for a few minutes. She is one cuddly, sweet baby girl. Jackie has eased right into motherhood, as any of you who know Jackie would expect.

Katie before church Sunday

Katie has recovered from a high fever that started just after her ear surgery. We had a scary few days, but she is healthy and bubbly again. She's discovered that she can walk about as fast as she can crawl. It is so fun to watch her toddle, gaining confidence each day. The ladies in the church nursery hadn't seen her in two weeks, and they were shocked to see how much she was walking yesterday.

The Dolphins huddle before Saturday's game.

Cooper's soccer team has played two games so far, and we've got two this week. He scored a goal Saturday! The past two seasons he was content to hang out by the goal, more worried about the opposing team scoring. This year he's showing off his improved dribbling skills and moving down the field.

We enjoyed dinner with the Pry-Beckas a couple of weeks ago. Conor is looking more like a little boy. He and Cooper have a great time playing together. If we lived a bit closer, we'd get them together every night -- it would guarantee them both a good night's sleep as much as they wear each other out.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Teachers Notice Things

Cooper and friend Cade before the assembly

Cooper received a TNT (Teachers Notice Things) award this week and was recognized in front of his entire school at this morning's assembly.

Mrs. D referred him:
"Cooper, while sitting during a big book lesson, noticed a friend who answered a question correctly. He politely patted that friend on the back and said, 'Good job, friend. That was a great answer!' Way to encourage your fellow student!"

That's Cooper, standing amid a sea of students and teachers.

We are so proud, of course, and Cooper was proud of himself. Earlier this week he was escorted to the assistant principal's office, where he was able to choose a toy from the treasure chest. Plus, his name will be in the main hallway all school year.