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Favorite Things of 2009

January 1st, 2010 · No Comments

Despite all the grousing about 2009, there were a lot of things this past year to appreciate, like:

IMG_0437 (Oct. 13)

The way they talk.  Carmen saying Cinder-re-wra and lello (yellow); David building wooden block fences for his hossies.  I wish I could follow them around with a recorder all day.  "You scrubbled in my book!" David cried to Carmen when she decided to help David color a picture of backhoe loader and her crayon slipped outside of the lines.  "I didn’t scrabble on it!" answered Carmen.

Their pictures.  I love their pictures.  David is the more prolific artist , using the chalkboard and any scrap of paper.  He draws trains, sometimes with smiling people inside, and rainbows and butterflies on flowers and tractors and (new today) feller-bunchers taking down large trees.  I bought David a small set of train stencils for Christmas, and soon enough he glued a few large pieces of paper together to build a very long train.  In the Christmas season they’ve both drawn a multitude of angels, baby Jesuses in mangers, even reindeer.  David’s snowmen wear scarves that stick straight out.  IMG_0906  (6 Dec.)

Carmen’s loves drawing happy people, and often embellishes her stick figures with eyebrows and bows and feet.

 IMG_0764  (23 Nov.)

Her people–even the angels–often display two nipples and a belly button, even under their clothes.

IMG_0907  (6 Nov.)

We’re hoping to find a big scanner on the cheap; we can’t keep every drawing but they amuse and amaze us so much that we can’t help but want to record some of these pictures for posterity, and the camera just doesn’t do them justice.

IMG_0726  (17 Nov.)

Amedei La Tavoletta ‘Cioccolato al Latte Bianco con Pistacchi’  (white chocolate with pistachios and cocoa nibs).  Central Market sent me a coupon for a free bar earlier in the year and I can still remember the taste.

The beach at sunset.  This has been the year of the beach.  It’s civilized enough to have bathrooms, but quiet enough to enjoy some relative peace and quiet.  At sunset it’s not overly bright, even in summer.  Towards the solstice, even mornings are pleasant.  Plus the ride to our favorite beach is relatively quiet and easy, unlike the route to Galveston.



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Watching C&D play.  They can do the most amazing things.  Earlier in the fall they were playing Mary and Joseph, and one of their dolls was Baby Jesus.  They decided Baby Jesus needed to sleep like the baby they had seen at the consignment store the week before; he had finished a bottle and was sleeping in a baby swing while the mother worked.  C&D took a large silk scarf and tied it between our four dining chairs (Carmen is the family expert on tying knots) so that the baby was in a bit of a hammock.  Then they pulled and pushed the chairs so that the baby rocked.  They got tired of that, so they just rocked the baby by hand.


Dancing and playing music.  Boy, do we ever.

Ballet paper dolls.  After David expressed his distress when Carmen cut out the ballerina from his much-cherished Houston ballet postcard advertisement, I printed a picture of a dancer for him to cut out.  He was overjoyed, and requested another one.  I pressed print.  Could he have another one?  Print.  Could he have ten, please?  I pressed print.  Then, he asked, could have some boys?  A mess of cutting later, he laid them all out.

  IMG_0422  (12 Oct.)

Later it was time for a performance, with David as choreographer.

 IMG_0446  (14 Oct.)

I laminated the dancers to make them sturdy; who needs paper dolls when you’ve got a printer?  As a fan of paper and scissors, David also has a folder full of paper trains, tractors, and construction workers to fill the floor with elaborate railroad and construction scenes.

Watching them get dressed.  And undressed.  And dressed in a different outfit, or in a leotard, or in a costume, or in a bunch of scarves.

IMG_0899 (6 Dec.)


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Carmen’s pictures.  C&D are allowed to use my camera if they keep the strap around their neck.  I love seeing the things that they consider photo-worthy, and appreciate seeing the world from their visual perspective at forty-something inches tall.  While they both take pictures, Carmen takes hers seriously.


IMG_0471  (Oct. 15)

The orange fluffy thing is a scrunchy holding a bun on top of my head.  Looks a little funny, yeah?  It keeps my hair from interfering with the way my head fits against the head rest in the Subaru.  We had probably just come back from someplace.

Sharing C&D’s triumphs.  This year C&D began to read, figured out how to ride their bikes, and learned how to climb the rope structure at River Oaks Elementary all by themselves.  (Matt stands at the bottom to spot them in the event they run into any trouble.)


IMG_0491 (Oct. 19)

Matt Family Orchard.  We went twice, and would have gone a third if we could have.  It’s a pleasant, quiet place to rest, and a heckuva place to pick the sweetest persimmons you’ve ever eaten.  Because they’re Fuyu persimmons you can eat them firm and they’re delicious (other varieties of Persimmon are astringent unless they’re soft), but the soft ones are more fun.  If you time it right, you’ll even get to pick some citrus when you’re there.



IMG_0539  (6 Nov.)

Persimmons.  Matt especially appreciated these.  Could you guess?

IMG_0550  (6 Nov.)

Butterflies.  Of course.  I don’t know what it is, but we sure do like butterflies in this house.

IMG_0675  (12 Nov.)

And C&D just about went crazy when I found a wounded monarch on the ground one day, and told them we could keep him as a pet.  The monarch was happy to sip from just about anything, from our leftover smoothies (that’s the green sticky stuff on my finger) to juicy bits of persimmon.

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We had some Painted Lady butterflies this month, but they weren’t especially interested in the nectars we provided with them and my flowers had all died back in the surprise freezes earlier this month.  Before another cold front hit we let them out so they had a better chance of expressing their butterfly-ness.  We’re going to try again soon.  The monarch was very easy to feed but I don’t have a lot of milkweed (host) plants on hand, so we’ll probably try to keep and breed another set of Painted Ladies while I get more milkweeds together.

Wood Duck Farm.  Starting in the spring, Van Weldon of Wood Duck Farm had some fresh greens and vegetables and fruits brought into town from his farm in Cleveland, Texas.  Van Weldon appreciates flavor, and his produce is full of it.  His salad mixes are so sweet and fresh that C&D refuse to eat any other.  There’s no fooling them, either.  If she thinks she might have to eat that boxed. flavorless stuff from the grocery Carmen will cry tears full of despair.  "No," she cries, "I only like Van’s!"  Sometimes our energy-trader-now-grower finds produce from other farms in the area and includes them in our share.  Last summer he brought us better watermelons than I’d eaten in years, mushrooms that made C&D clap when they saw them in the share and oranges.  "I like everything," David would dictate in e-mails to Van, after they met him in the summer and considered him a personal friend, "but not the cilantro, and not the baby cilantro.  I don’t like any cilantro.  But I like everything else."  Carmen would make sure I got the story straight, though.  "I like the cilantro.  I eat everything!"

Utility Research Garden.  We discovered URG only recently, and just signed up for their CSA program.  There are a lot of things to like about Utility Research Garden.  First, the food.  Despite our unseasonable weather lately (too rainy, too cold), the greens have been beautiful and full of flavor; when David found a bouquet of Gai Lan (also known as Chinese broccoli) in our share two Saturdays ago, he buried his head into the flowers and buds and couldn’t help but take a big bite.  C&D also appreciate that URG’s owner is also named David; that he drives a big truck (to better pull his trailer as he delivers bamboo all over the state) is a big, big bonus.  Last week our share was packed up in a recycled Buc-ee’s ice bag; Buc-ee’s is a requisite road stop on the way back from the beach and on the way to San Antonio.  The bathrooms are pristine and the snacks are top-notch for two hungry four-year-olds.  "Our vegetables are in a Beaver Garden bag!" Carmen rejoiced.  ("Beaver Garden" is Carmen’s special name for Buc-ee’s, whose logo is a cute beaver.)  Recycled Buc-ee’s bags:  another reason to like URG.

Lights, especially fire and candles.  We’ve made lighting a candle a near-daily ritual, and C&D have enjoyed exploring the science and story behind light, candles, and fire.  So it make perfect sense that we make a point this year of celebrating Martinmas with a lantern walk.  Our lanterns were made of old jars with tissue paper glued on with Mod Podge.  I twisted wire around the lip of the jar to make a candle.  Can you guess which lantern was Carmen’s?


IMG_0634  (11 Nov.)

Our neighborhood.  Everything is close, and I never need to get on the freeway.  One public library, two universities, three farmer’s markets, Central City Co-Op, and several groceries aren’t more than a couple miles away.  Most of the stores, even the big-box stores, are scaled down to fit in their urban location.  There’s no "Super" anything here.  Personal Shoppers can get my groceries at Whole Foods–I LOVE you guys, Tod, Michelle, and Beaux–so that Matt can just pick them up on the way home from work.  (Yes, houses cost a small fortune.  There are cars everywhere, and big, noisy trucks because we are, after all, in the city.  And someone tore down all the pretty trees across the street to build five-story townhouses.  But where else do I have so much at my fingertips?)

I love mud, and mud loves me.  There is a park in Seabrook next to a magical place called Maas Nursery; part of what makes the nursery magical (besides the fact that it’s lovely) is that to get there, we drive down Highway 225, a road runs through the middle of miles of refineries and chemical plants.  Next to the nursery is a park with a pier and playground and a trail along some brackish mudflats.  It looks like this:


Look closely in the above picture.  What do you see?  There’s a bird in the grass.  But Carmen and David saw something different:

IMG_0698  (15 Nov.)

Mud, glorious mud.  We took some video with the camera; maybe Matt can post it later.  Mostly we took some video so you could hear the squelch, squerch, sqwooch.  We are so going back.

* Mud and tap shoes/tapping/drumming videos were inserted here:

Pets.  Carmen is still stuck on a horse (you and me, girlie), but David will make a pet out of just about anything, even snails and pillbugs.  At the beach he likes he to catch hermit crabs and keep them for a bit, wishing he could take them home.  Last time we were there, we filled up the wagon with sea water so we could watch our finds for a bit.

IMG_0773  (23 Jan.)

Dr. ChouDr. Chou is C&D’s allergist.  He’s friendly, gives C&D knick-knacks (like zebra and tiger sunglasses!) when they visit, and likes arugula.  We know this last bit because Carmen asked; you’re cool if you like arugula like she does.  (Naturally, she prefer’s Van Weldon’s.)

The Potette.  Sometimes you just gotta go . . . now.  C&D won’t go in the bushes or a cat hole (yet), but they’ll perform for their trusty Potette any day.

Now I’ve gotta go . . . to bed.  Happy New Year.

Tags: Bigger Pictures · Dynamic Duo · Go Joyce Go · My Brain (& the AVM)

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