Monday, August 28, 2006

Quick reunion

The Damms hit the road for Houston Friday night and spent Saturday with Swati and Karen.

I've known Karen since eighth grade, and we shared classes, interests and employers all the way through college. She and her husband live in the Atlanta area, and unfortunately we see very little of each other. She was in Houston visiting Swati, another great friend -- since ninth grade -- and another T-84 alum. They were both in our wedding, more than 12 years ago now!

In front of Swati's house. (Cooper is intrigued by the trick dice Swati gave him)

We spent a few hours at Swati's charming home, then ate a late lunch at Niko Niko's. Mmmm, falafel. Then we went to the Children's Museum of Houston, which we first visited in February 2005 with Uncle Jim.

We look like giants in the Alice's Wonderland room. (Thanks, Steve, for being the official photographer!)

The reunion was much too short, and we were back home by 10:30 Saturday night. We learned the hard way that, while the Honda Civic is excellent for long drives because of its gas mileage, it's not very comfy.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Setting limits

Cooper takes his lunch to school four days a week and buys on Fridays -- pizza day. The first Friday of kindergarten, Katie and I joined him for lunch, and I helped him make his selections: a slice of pizza, corn, half an apple, chocolate milk and a Rice Krispie bar.

Last Friday we were unable to join him because of Katie's ENT appointment (her sugery is scheduled for Sept. 5). So, Cooper and I talked in advance about his lunch -- one entree, two sides, a drink and a dessert.

Guess what he bought.
  • Slice of pizza
  • Corn dog
  • Half an apple
  • Chocolate ice cream
  • Chocolate milk
  • Peanut butter crackers
Total: $4.20

Ack! He said he didn't get corn because a corn dog is kind of like corn. And he said at least one adult questioned his amount of food, but he assured her that it was OK.

There are forms parents can give to the cafeteria, setting limits on what a child can and can't charge on his/her account. Clearly, Steve and I need to establish those limits officially, not just with a hungry 5-year-old.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Quick, random post

Katie has an appointment with the ENT tomorrow to discuss tubes for her ears. She's been struggling with ear infections all summer, and our doctor predicts it will just get worse with the coming cold/flu season. She's remained remarkably cheerful considering how much pain she must be in.

As you can see, she finally has some teeth. She "hasn't read the textbook," as our doctor says -- her top teeth have erupted first. Still no sign of the bottom choppers. The lack of teeth certainly hasn't affected her ability to eat. Current favorites: strawberries, blueberries, cheese toast and ravioli with meat sauce.

Katie loves removing items from cabinets and drawers. Her favored destination is the game table. Before she discovered it, all the game pieces were neatly stored in the appropriate bag or box. Organizing it now is futile. She attacks with wild abandon.

Cooper is really enjoying kindergarten. He reports that his favorite part of the day is recess. He's also a big fan of pizza day in the cafeteria. He comes home every day worn out but eager to share a new song, story or impression. When Uncle Jim called last week, he asked Cooper, "What have you learned so far?" His answer: "To keep my hands to myself."

He's in a puzzle stage, working one every day or so. We ran out of room on the dining room table this week, so we took this photo before packing them all away and opening some other boxes.

It's been a rough few weeks for my Dallas Morning News friends and colleagues. The buyouts and pending reorganization are upsetting for so many reasons. I learned to read at 4 by reading The News. I've read Philip Wuntch and Ed "Uncle Barky" Bark since I was 7. It wasn't just an employer for me -- it was a trusted source and my destination paper. Many excellent journalists are remaining, but many are leaving, taking with them irreplaceable institutional knowledge, heart and personality. Selfishly, I am so thankful that I am at home, taking care of my family and freelancing when I can -- and not in the middle of the stressful, gloomy newsroom.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Journey to Sydney

Our dear friend Jackie leaves tomorrow for Vietnam to pick up and bring home her baby girl, Sydney Mai. Steve and I are so honored to be Sydney's godparents. We can't wait to welcome her home! Jackie plans to keep friends informed of her adventure on her new blog.

Monday, August 14, 2006

First (abbreviated) day of school

I think he grew an inch in just the past week!

Katie was napping when her big brother left for school.

After all the forced photos, Cooper was ready for some silliness.

Cooper found an old friend -- soccer teammate Reilly.

With some free time in the classroom, Cooper settles in with Scooby and the Magic School Bus.

Meanwhile, Katie and Grandma played at home.

Cooper survived -- and thoroughly enjoyed -- 90 minutes of introduction to kindergarten this morning and a 20-minute language arts evaluation with Mrs. D this afternoon. Just before he fell asleep tonight, I asked him, "What was your favorite thing today?" "Going to school," he answered.

I was only a bit misty during the kindergarten orientation. (The kids were off in the gym and library while the parents learned about logistics -- dropping off, picking up, lunch, snack, recess, folders, feedback, parties, e-mail, etc.)

Cooper spent three-and-a-half years in day care and a year in preschool, so I'm not upset about him being away from home. But I definitely feel a loss of control with public school. I rationally understand that this is a normal part of growing up -- gaining independence, learning to make decisions on his own, choosing friends. But it still breaks my heart a tiny bit.

Tomorrow is the first full day, and he's so ready. I'm thankful that he's enthusiastic about the experience -- it would be much more difficult for me if he didn't want to go.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Puzzling geography lesson

Cooper is so fortunate to have generous friends, like Miss Sharon, who recently emptied most of her game closet and sent us home with dozens of boxes of puzzles and board games. (Her boys, now teenagers, took remarkably good care of their games!) We've since been playing a lot of Trouble, Battleship and Guess Who?, and Cooper has been piecing together 100- and 300-piece puzzles -- a big leap from the 48-piece ones he already owned.

This detailed Carmen Sandiego map of the United States is the most challenging yet. He's been working on it off and on, with our help, since Friday afternoon and was very proud to finish it this morning after church.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Meet-the-teacher night

Note that lunch is at 10:40 a.m.!

We met Cooper D's kindergarten teacher tonight -- Mrs. Despino, aka Mrs. D. I'm very excited. I observed Mrs. Despino's class one morning last spring and was impressed with how she handled/wrangled 22 or so children. She should be a good fit for Cooper -- strict, efficient, no-nonsense but still friendly. He definitely needs someone who will enforce rules! None of the boys from his soccer team are in his class, but there are twin girls who we know from the playground.

Cooper invited Grandma and Papa up for the event, and after we all went out for pizza. (Thanks to Grandma for being the official photographer of the night!)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Postcard from the beach

Sarah arrived yesterday morning to hang out with me when I'm not at the conference and to swim, see the sights and relax a little. Last night we drove down Santa Monica Boulevard to the Pacific Coast Highway. I love Santa Monica and have great memories from when Steve was an Arthur Andersen consultant, living in Marina del Ray four or five days a week. I would fly out every six weeks or so (instead of him flying home), and we would go to the beach, eat at fabulous restaurants, go to the movies, shop, etc.

Yesterday was my manuscript critique, with a book editor from Knopf. She was very helpful -- and I have a lot of work to do on Graham the Duck. I'm looking forward to a plotting class today with Caroline Cooney.

More to come later. I'm on my way to the first session.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Postcard from L.A.

I’m at the SCBWI conference, Day 1. It’s been a good day, though I am tired. It’s 8:15 p.m. at the hotel, which means it’s 10:15 p.m. at home, and I’ve been up since 4:30 a.m. Dallas time.

The sessions have been informative and energizing. Of course, I enjoyed the Mo Willems presentation this morning. He even taught everyone how to draw the pigeon.

Elisa Primavera (of Auntie Claus fame) was a wonderful speaker, too. The most inspiring speaker was Jacqueline Woodson, who has written young adult novels and picture books. Her writing is lyrical and descriptive, and she read beautifully.

In other news …
Katie’s walking! She started taking more than one step at a time last Saturday, when she was home with Steve and Cooper. She still prefers cruising or crawling (or being toted by one of us), but she’s getting a bit braver and more sure every day. She’s also becoming an accomplished swimmer. She kicks constantly when I hold her in the pool, and she’s sometimes bold enough to jump off a step and swim a couple of feet toward me.

Cooper is counting the days to kindergarten. We visit the school a week from today to get his teacher assignment and meet her (all seven of the potential teachers are women). He told me this week that he’s worried no one will like him. Of course, Steve and I assured him that he’d make lots of friends – he’s been doing so, after all, since he was a tiny baby.