Kids' First Day In Houston

Picked Caroline and the kids up at the airport on Wednesday just after midnight. Caroline's back is 'out' and so it was a hard flight for her. She does not sit well when her back muscles are in spasm. Kids seemed in good spirits though, and happy to be off the plane. They were lugging their car seats.
We got to the house at 1:00 a.m., after a ride filled with enquiries from the back seat: "How many more minutes 'til we get there?" The house was superficially explored, Cherrios were opened for snacking and we were all in bed by 2:00 a.m. I had a 9:00 a.m. meeting at the site, so left these loved ones sound asleep. They were still asleep when I returned at 11:00. Good for them. They needed the rest.
After Lulu woke up, she selected a very sweet outfit to wear for Mameau's tour of the back garden and sun porch. I especially like her broad brimmed hat. Perfect for Houston summers.
Toward noon, Lulu and I headed for Brothers Tacos over on Dowling at Leeland, where she made quite an impression on the women behind the counter. It must have been her hat? They motioned to her through the glass window, before we even got into the place. I am sure it must have been her hat and the fact that she was carrying a stuffed animal and a Second Seating fan. An unusual sight for Brothers Tacos.
I bought three Thursday lunch specials which are my absolute favorite green chicken enchiladas in Houston.
In addition to the Thursday lunch specials, I bought several carne asada tacos. They were to be lunch for the kids, as Caroline tells me they love Seattle's carne asada meat. Neither of them however, were about to eat the Houston version, so it was back to Cherrios.
After lunch we headed to Randall's in midtown, the one supermarket in Houston where we can park below ground. No sweltering heat in the car when we returned carrying bags of fresh fruit and vegetables and products I've never seen like the bag of miniature frozen pancakes and tubes of fruit juice that can be frozen and eaten like popsicles.
Lulu looks happy here, but actually she was totally irritated to be in the grocery cart. She wanted out and ended up in a snit sitting on the long loaf of sandwich bread. Caroline bribed her with a giant birthday card that played music when opened. It sort of worked, but not really. Caroline says she never shops with her kids. She makes fast, efficient trips to Trader Joe's when they are at school. I'd say she has the right idea.
We saw a most magnificent cake in the deli department and Lulu's eyes lit up at the sight of it. My eyes lit up too, because it had chartreuse frosting. Is this a bit of fairy magic or what? Right there in the middle of Randell's.
We did not buy the cake or the very large birthday card that played a tune. Some staffer at Randell's will find the card on top of a special promotion of canned goods, none the worse for wear.
Back in the car, we headed over to Tanner and Greg's house for a swim in their pool. I suspect we will spend quite a bit of time in that pool, if Tanner is OK with it.
Caroline brought presents. Matching swim suits for Peyton and her new baby sister Anna. Pretty cute, don't you think?
The pool was perfect and we could feel the heat leaving us. Not a bad way to spend part of a hot afternoon. First cousins get to visit and their children get to wear themselves out.
Such was our first day together. Our first evening is another story entirely. No photos with this story.
Caroline went out to a wine bar with friends from Lamar H.S. days. We'd planned that Charlie and Lulu would stay with Earl and me. Rather, the kids stayed with me. Earl read his new book on Titian's paintings. Which was fine.
Funny how things turn out differently than one expects. I expected Charlie to be upset when his Mom left, but he fell sound asleep on the living room couch and never knew her moment of departure. Lulu was fine with the whole thing.
And then about 30 minutes later, Charlie woke up. I watched him from the kitchen as he contemplated his situation. His mom was gone. He knew it. Minutes passed. And then when I went to check on him, he was in his bed with the big green eiderdown pulled up to his ears. Sound asleep again. All good.
Soon, I was reading to Lulu in the back bedroom. After two stories, she requested a third and I went to get another book. She was quiet so I checked a few emails. And then I found that Lulu too had fallen asleep. What a good evening. Really.
Sent more emails, made out my invoices to Houston Arts Alliance. Actually got some work done. And then all hell broke loose.
Lulu woke up and realized that her mom was gone. The very idea was more than she could bear. I sat on the edge of her bed, but any motion I made to comfort, any syllable I uttered brought on a howl of rage and despair. Lulu stretched her legs out and pounded them on the bed. What good cardio. She screamed, "I want my mommy." For a very long time. She was inconsolable. She seemed both heartbroken and furious.
"I want my mommy." Indeed. I suddenly thought of E.T.'s wish to go 'home'. A primal need. Certainly seemed that Lulu was experiencing a primal need of epic proportions. I sat with her and Earl was on the other side of the house reading about Titan.
I felt very like my grandmother Shirley, doing the things she used to do with my brother and sister and me. Food bribes, another story, doses of comforting babble. None of it worked.
Then, suddenly Charlie was in the room. "Lulu woke me up." Of course she did. Her screams were rocking the whole house.
It looked for a moment as if Lulu wanted to clean into bed with Charlie, but he said no to that. He looked at me, "Will you promise to tell me when my mommy comes home?"
"Yes, I promise," I said and he snuggled down under the green eiderdown and closed his eyes.
I thanked the universe and then had a sudden moment of inspiration as I led Lulu out of his room.
I suggested a walk. Outside. In the dark. Something about this idea appealed to Lulu and she stopped screaming. "Get on your flipflops," I said to her.
We walked down the front steps on to the sidewalk and there was the moon. We both looked at it. The darkness and the moon quieted her. Walking at night was perhaps a new experience? We started down the block and then around the corner. I thought about knocking on Sally's door as a diversion. Lulu would have none of it and headed on down the sidewalk at a fast clip. Farrell followed us. We turned and walked up Lindy Lane almost to S. Wayside. I suggested we cross the street and turn back to look for the cat. She complied. We passed Sally's house again and I quickly ran up her steps and rang the door bell, but Lulu charged on. I ran after her. Sally opened her door. I called out to say that Lulu and I were out walking and there would be no When we returned home, she was again disconsolate. I was absolutely not going to call Caroline and disturb her evening out with friends. I suggested a call to Steve, but Lulu was having so substitutes. I called Steve anyway and put him on speaker. She refused to listen to a word her father said.
After the call, she threw herself on to the kitchen floor, kicked and rolled and screamed for her mother. How could it be that bad for so long? I again thought about my grandmother Shirley. I felt just like her, a grandmother doing her best and it wasn't good enough.
Suddenly the phone rang and it was Caroline. She spoke with Lulu. Assured her that she would be home soon. Lulu was calmed. Her mother existed. Her mother had spoken.
That was seriously good news.
Again, Charlie woke up. He asked about 'the big phone' which is Caroline's iPad, on which a movie had been downloaded. He remembered that movie. So these two siblings sat on the couch to see a movie on 'the big phone' and await their mother's return. I guess she was surprised to see them both up at 11:30? They were absolutely delighted to lay eyes and hands on her.
We all went off to bed after a midnight snack - that would be more Cherrios. Earl had been fast asleep for quite some time. I have no photo of the moon or the walk in the dark.

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