Monday, July 28, 2008


Katie attended three third birthday parties this weekend -- an outdoor Veggie Tales splash party, a princess party at the Little Gym and an outdoor beach-themed splash party.

One of the party favors at the princess party was a deluxe set of Disney Princess Pez dispensers and plenty of Pez candies. Katie has been admiring the box all day. I read aloud the box's description of each of the eight princesses. (Disney is somewhat loose in their princess genre -- Pocahontas and Mulan certainly aren't princessy, and I mean that in an admiring way.) We talked about each one. And we agreed that we'd open the box tomorrow. I also let her take the box to bed, in lieu of a book, so she could stare at them some more before she fell asleep.

Around 9:45 tonight, about two and a half hours after putting Katie down to bed, Steve went to the kids' bathroom. He noticed Katie's light was on. He opened the door, expecting to see Katie fast asleep. Instead, he found her sitting up in bed, stuffing Pez candy in her mouth.

She had ripped through the box, leaving shreds of cardboard and thin plastic on her floor. She took all eight Disney girls out. And she unwrapped the Pez sleeves from their plastic covering and then opened the paper wrapper around the Pez. I think she devoured three sleeves of Pez before she was discovered.

When I asked her how many she ate, she said: "Seven. That was too many. The last one was really big. Do you think I'm going to vomit again like when we went to Disneyland?"

The princesses and their Pez are now safely removed from Katie's room. I have learned my lesson and will never send a child to bed with a box full of candy again. (You would think I'm brand new at this parenting thing!)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

21st-century child

Our friends Andy and Julie have two cars -- a plush, well appointed SUV with automatic everything, satellite radio and heated seats and a basic four-door economy car. Julie likes to call the small car a clown car. When Andy bought it, he was focused on safety, fuel efficiency and value -- not frills. So much so that even the locks and windows are manual (but the car payment is super low!).

Last night, Julie drove me, Cooper and Katie home in the clown car from another friend's house after some Slip 'n' Slide fun. Cooper was in the back seat and kept asking, "Julie, what's this?" I finally turned around to see what puzzled him -- the handle to roll down the car window. He had never seen one before and was delighted to discover that he could make the window roll up and down with his own power!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Little drummer boy

Cooper lived most of this week at Grandma and Papa's house. He spent each morning at chess camp at Hockaday, just a few minutes from their home. (Betty and I both think we saw Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison there, too. Maybe one of her children was in the camp? Would a U.S. senator drop off and pick up like all the other parents and grandparents and nannies -- without security detail? I just interviewed Cooper on the topic, and he confirms that a boy named Houston was in his group. Houston is the name of the senator's son. Cooper played Houston twice and beat him twice.)

This week was also the annual garage sale at Betty and Jim's church, so he spent a little bit of time there, too.

Yesterday he found a drum and drummed up some donations for the church. He asked Grandma to a make a sign.

Then he sat on the floor and played to one person at a time. He raised about $20 to donate to the church.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Happy 7th Birthday, Cooper!

Cooper Matthew Damm, July 3, 2001 (with a forceps bruise on the right eye)

Cooper today, July 3, 2008 (with no visible injuries)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Happy 14th Anniversary!

Today Steve and I celebrate 14 years of marriage. I know that every couple has a great love story to share. Here are glimpses of ours.

1993: Steve proposed on Christmas morning this year. In this photo, we're at his parents' home in Carrollton. I had just graduated from the University of North Texas. We met while I was a journalism student there. One of Steve's high school friends, Will Pry, was one of my college friends, and he was nice enough to introduce us. (Steve graduated from the University of Michigan in 1991 and returned to Texas for a medical administration job in Brenham. He didn't love the nightlife in Blue Bell country and instead spent many weekends in Denton with Will.)

1994: We're making our getaway from the reception in this photo. The car was my blue Saturn -- a car Steve had bought for me as a surprise a few months earlier. We were married in Dallas, at Schreiber Memorial UMC, but lived in Lubbock. I started working as a copy editor for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that January. Sweet Steve followed me to the High Plains. Just a few weeks after our wedding, he started taking classes toward his MBA at Texas Tech. We didn't love the looks of Lubbock, but we made some lifelong friends there and enjoyed living in a small community our first few years of marriage.

1995: We helped chaperone a St. Luke's UMC youth group ski trip in New Mexico. I had never skiied before. Steve, a veteran of the slopes, loved the trip. I was mostly scared the whole time and preferred the toasty lodge to the great outdoors.

1996: We spent a long weekend in Seattle -- one of our first of many great getaways. I didn't realize how much I loved big cities and travel in general until Steve. He's always up for an adventure.

1997: Steve graduated from Texas Tech with his MBA-Health Organization Management this year. We left Lubbock and returned to the Dallas area for his new job with Arthur Andersen. Actually, we moved to Dallas, but Steve wasn't home much. His consulting job sent him out of state for the next three years. He spent half of '97 and half of '98 in Los Angeles. (I loved the weekends he stayed in LA and I would fly there to meet him.) Meanwhile, I worked for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for a few months. In this photo, we're playing at Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels.

1998: This is Steve's greatest costume of all time. (He's The Son of Man by Rene Magritte.) I'm just a crazy lady with bright colors and lots of accessories. We had a great time at the Cedar Springs Halloween celebration. This is the year we bought our first home -- a cute one-story house in Carrollton. A week after we moved in, Steve's job sent him to St. Louis, where he lived Monday through Friday for the next two years. This is also the year the Dallas Morning News hired me. I had tried countless times to get a job there and was thrilled when the fourth floor finally took a chance on me.
1999: We never took a "real" honeymoon, so we celebrated our fifth anniversary in a big way, spending a few days in Paris, Munich and Salzburg. All of Steve's work travels paid off, as we cashed in his miles for two round-trip business-class tickets to Europe. We toured the Louvre, went to the top of the Eiffel Tower, ate the best chocolate torte of our lives on the Champs de Elysees, took an overnight train between countries, danced at Oktoberfest, held hands on beautiful Austrian streets.

2000: Steve left Arthur Andersen this year to take a position with Children's Medical Center Dallas. (He had no idea of the troubles to come for Andersen.) We had both grown weary of his traveling life and were ready to grow our family. We were so thankful when the Children's job worked out for Steve -- the commute was counted in minutes, not hours; he was helping to serve a patient population that desperately needed quality health care; and we could start having babies without worry if Steve would be an absent dad during the week. I was about two months pregnant in this photo, taken at the Jones house in Austin on Thanksgiving Day. We waited to tell anyone on my side of the family about the baby until we saw them in person.

2001: Cooper Matthew Damm was born July 3. We didn't wait long to take our little guy to his first Rangers game. He was about 8 weeks old here, and after the excitement of the game, he slept about nine hours that night. He's been a solid sleeper ever since. I took a six-month leave of absence from the News to stay home with Cooper and just enjoy being a mom. On Sept. 11, though, nothing could keep me out of the newsroom. Steve and I were watching the Today show that morning when the towers were hit. I will never forget the sense of helplessness and responsibility I felt, holding my two-month-old son in suburban Dallas while New York and D.C. were under attack. Just a month later, Steve, Cooper and I visited Baltimore and Washington. We have been to New York since then as well, but we've not been to Ground Zero.

2002: One Sunday in February, we took a drive to Frisco, fell in love with a barely there neighborhood and one of its model homes. Two days later we signed a contract to build a house. We sold our Carrollton house just in time to buy the Frisco house, and we moved in in early August. We truly love our community and the neighboring friends we've made. This photo was taken in a pumpkin patch in Frisco, on land that is now occupied by a bank, a grocery store, a book store and a hobby store. We've watched crazy development the past six years.

2003: We attended a wedding of a dear friend in Washington, D.C., that fall, and took Cooper to NYC. Earlier that year I started my favorite of many jobs at the News -- assistant editor of the Religion section.

2004: Steve and I love to cook together. He's a master gatherer and chopper and stirrer. I like to plan and direct and present. I enjoy baking. He loves decorating cakes. We are a great team. Later this year, just after a trip to San Francisco, we learn I am pregnant with Damm baby No. 2. When we tell Cooper the news, he's decidedly unexcited and pretty much ignores the obvious until his sister arrives in 2005.

2005: We almost always spend Thanksgiving at Ami and Rich's home in Austin. This was our first Thanksgiving with Kathryn Sibley Damm, a.k.a. Baby Katie. Cooper slowly adjusted to life with another child and also made the transition from full-time day care to twice-a-week preschool. I took another leave of absence when Katie was born and then chose to stay home altogether, launching my freelance career.

2006: We spend Easter with Jim, Betty and Jim each year. Here we're in Jim and Betty's back yard after church Easter Sunday. 2006 was a great year. We traveled to the East Coast for a wedding and great site-seeing. Steve continued to love his work. My freelance client list was growing. Cooper started kindergarten with an awesome teacher and great group of friends. Katie alternately melted our hearts and made us laugh out loud.

2007: We spent a fabulous week in Wisconsin and Michigan for summer vacation. In this photo, Steve and I are celebrating our 13th anniversary on a sunset cruise around Mackinac Island. The year was rocky in many ways -- our sweet dog of 13 years died; I was having some health troubles; work was stressful for us both. All of that seems trivial now, in light of the neurological problems that Steve developed late in the year.

2008: The four of us gathered after the Easter egg hunt at our church of eight years, Holy Covenant UMC in Carrollton. Steve had just finished radiation treatment for the Grade IV tumor on his brain stem, which was diagnosed in January at M.D. Anderson. All that traveling we'd done together prepared us for the travels to come. All those amazing friends we'd made in the past three decades pulled together with our equally awesome families to support us when we needed it most. The communities that partly defined us -- our church, our neighborhood, our colleagues, our schools -- came to the rescue. Those two sweet babies smiled or giggled or told a joke or gave us hugs at just the right times. Our careers -- one in the medical field, one in writing and research -- prepared us for the networking and researching that we would need to accomplish with lightning speed.
I can't wait for the next 14 years of our love story.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Big girl

I fully intended to potty train Katie over Christmas break. Of course, more important matters took precedent. Then all of the sudden, she turned 3! The day after her birthday, we started training, and I think she's close to being diaper free (except at night, which will probably take a while).

On her own last week, she also decided she was ready for a big-girl bed. We haven't wanted to push the issue -- she was happy in her crib, and with all the turmoil and uncertainty around here, we didn't want to rock the boat. Still, once a week or so I'd gently ask if she was ready to move to a bed. Last week for the first time she agreed.

So Papa delivered today a beautiful bed, which we assembled in her room. I've had the bedding for a couple of years; it's a bigger version of her nursery bedding. I chose the pattern before she was born, and somehow it matches her personality perfectly.