It has become almost impossible to take pictures of video of Claire because she wants to look at the pictures of herself on the preview screen. Whenever we pull out the camera, she charges it, smiling and giggling, saying, “Claiiire!”, meaning, “I want to see Claire!” Unless we are very covert, we end up with sequences like this.

Playing Hookie

Today I had Claire to myself. Grace had asked for a week off to take her family to Orlando while her kids were still out of school for the summer. With Kit on a tough rotation and short on vacation, I would have had to take the whole week off myself to watch Claire. But I could not absorb a week off from work so suddenly. As a compromise, I am taking Thursday and Friday off to give Grace and her family a four day weekend for their trip. So it’s just me and Clair for two days.

Claire started out a little groggy today, so I thought I was in for a tough day. Usually a groggy Claire is not a happy Claire. But I knew that as long as she was doing or looking at something interesting, she would be ok. No problem. Fun for her is fun for me.

Thanks to another of Kit’s great ideas, we have a yearly membership to Zoo Atlanta, so we can just waltz in any time we want to without paying a nickel. We showed up at the zoo right when it opened at 9:30 am. I was anxious to go since I had missed the last couple of trips to the zoo, opting to “go running and stuff” instead. Kit had been happy with this arrangement since it gave her and Claire have some valuable “face time” together during Kit’s tough month.

Claire might have been the only kid at the zoo without a stroller. Letting Claire walk generally works out alright, although she needs little steering or else she ends circling back on herself a lot. We started out at the “mingos” near the entrance, and we moved on to the “ephelants”. But Claire’s favorite attraction today was not any bird or large African game, or even a monkey. It was the hand washing stations, which are scattered throughout the zoo. She really loves to wash her hands at home. She has even gone so far as to drag a step stool across the house, carefully navigating over the dog gate and into the bathroom, so she could climb up and wash her hands. But the zoo faucets are extra fun because they are motion-activated. She just sticks her hand in the sink, and it sprays a little stream on her hand. Then she giggles a lot and make it go some more. This is probably one of the coolest things Claire can imagine right now. After I drag her away from the sink, she spends a few more minutes maniacally running her hands under the hand dryer, which is also motion-activated. It blows hot air when she waves her hands under it. To Claire at the moment, all this is way cooler than some smelly elephant.

Later, as we wandered past the kangaroos, the zoo’s little train chugged by, startling Claire at first with its loud rumbling engine. Once she realized it was a “choo choo train”, just like Thomas the Train, she began to literally ran after it. I had to run and scoop her up before she made it to the tracks or crashed into a gaggle of kids from some sort of summer camp. But I promised her we would find that train again.

We slowly made our way across the zoo to the train area, visiting hand washing stations along the way. Once we got there, we had to burn a little time at the playground before the train’s ticket booth opened. The playground was fun, but apparently feeling that her basic pants and shirt were not quite appropriate for this situation, Claire repeatedly requested the “play suit” that Noni Harriet had made for her.

After a little while, we got our $2 train ticket and headed for the station. Claire was excited to see the train, and pointed out that the Braves had sponsored one of the passenger cars. But she stiffened up a bit when we actually got on it. She kind of had a look like, “You can do that? Actually get on a train?” The little train seats were perfectly Claire sized, but she opted to sit in my lap, which was probably wise anyways. We were the only people on the train when it left the station. Once it picked up some speed and we got a nice breeze, Claire was finally smiling and talking and pointing out all the different animals she saw.

After about three minutes, we were back at the station. Fifteen kids were there waiting for the next train ride. I guess we were real trend setters today. As we walked away from the train, we passed a running zoo themed merry-go-round. Seeing all the kids riding on the backs of (plastic) lions and ostriches, Claire said “Cowboy! Cowboy!” I think she knows cowboys from our big “Texas Inside Out” book that we sometimes read/show to Claire.

We were both pretty hot, thirsty, hungry, and generally tuckered out by the morning’s adventures. After lunch and cool drinks at Sonny’s, we headed home and played bubbles and jumping games in the back yard, followed by dancing to An Old Navy Christmas inside. Then Claire settled in for some some quiet reading alone. It has been a fun day with Claire, and it’s still only 2:00. I would normally be joining a weekly “Public IP MLFR Development Status Meeting” on the phone right now. Instead, I get to play with Claire and tuck her in for her nap soon. Maybe giving Grace these two days off was not a bad deal after all.

Power Outage

Today did not start off well. I woke up at 5:15 to the sound of beeping in the living room and downstairs. The UPS battery backups were complaining that the power was out (again). It was an overcast night, and the house was pitch dark; I could not even see my hand in front of my face. But I had a small flashlight right by the bed, and I quietly roamed around the house turning off the beeping batteries. I even made it back to bed without waking anyone up.

Fifteen minutes later, as I was trying to get back to sleep, Claire started calmly saying from her room, “Eyeball. Eyeball.” At first this seemed like an odd thing to say. But I figured out what she meant pretty quickly. Normally if she hurts something or if something is not quite right, she will simply say the name of the offended body part, like saying “finger” if she were to hurt her finger. She did not sound panicked this morning, so I figured her actual eyeballs were okay. She must have been complaining that she could not see anything at all in the pitch dark, and maybe she was afraid here eyeballs were not working. I was impressed how calm she stayed when she suddenly realized she was, well, blind, and that she figured out a way to tell me that she could not see. I took her back to our room since it was still completely dark in the house and I did not want her to be scared.

We could not get her back to sleep since it was almost time for her to wake up anyways. But she laid down at the foot of our bed, asked for her blanket, pulled it over herself, and twice proclaimed “Sleepy time”. She rested there, but did not sleep, for a little while. But by 6:00 am, she was off the bed and wandering down the hall to gather toy animals from around the house. Pretty soon she was asking for pancakes. So our day started a little early, but luckily we got the power back within about an hour, and everyone was happy and safe.

Zurikoo and the Deathly Hallows

This morning we went to Borders for story time, which is at 11:00 every Saturday. Besides just being something fun to do, we are hoping this will help Claire become more comfortable in large groups of unruly kids. Granted, aside from the occasional kid hopping around the story circle, the kids are not that unruly, but there certainly are lots of them, from little babies to school-aged kids.

Coincidentally, the last Harry Potter book also comes out today, so we half expected some sort of mad house at the book store. Entering the store, the mad house turned out to be only a guy at a card table with a clipboard and a highlighter, distributing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to people who had pre-ordered it. Kit had ordered it on Amazon already, so we expected to see it on our doorstep sometime today.

We made it upstairs to the children’s book section for story time. In the past, Claire has generally opted to sit in my lap and listen during story time, usually getting up to explore and mix with the other kids only in the last five minutes or so. This time around, Claire was mixing it up sooner, doing some nice dancing and stomping during Miss Wendy’s more upbeat sings like “Driving in My Car” and “Wheels on the Bus”. Then she would clap enthusiastically and retreat back to my lap during the book readings or quieter songs like “These Are My Glasses”. After this happened a couple of times, Kit said I should “get smaller” so Claire would actually sit in her own lap sometimes. Apparently my lap was too cushiony and expansive, and it overpowered Kit’s lap for sitting comfort. I managed to scrunch up some, although I was quite uncomfortable. But it did the trick, as Claire hopped in Kit’s lap (and I got to loosen up again).

After story time, another mom came up and told us in a thick accent that Claire “Looks just like Zurikoo”. “Excuse me?”, I said. The lady said more clearly this time, “She looks just like Suri Cruise.” I don’t know, I think Claire might be a little cuter than Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ kid. Well, maybe it’s a toss up.

After we got home, the Harry Potter book magically showed up on our doorstep with special instructions for Muggles like our mailman. Now we finally have the full series, consisting of several thousand pages, that Kit plans to eventually read to Claire. I hope Claire likes Harry Potter!

Catch Phrases

Claire has developed a couple of catch phrases lately.

The first one she stumbled upon accidentally when she randomly said something like “Stay safe!” over dinner one night. She said it sort of seriously, but with a little grin, and looked at us for a reaction. Of course, we were rolling around laughing. The other phrase she likes is “Take it easy”, which I occasionally say if she gets worked up about something, like splashing her bath water too much or redistributing all her socks around the house. One day I said it, and she repeated it back to me with flourish. “Takeiteasy!” she said as sort of a single word.

She says both of these phrases a lot now, at least as a parlor trick if we remind her of them, and she usually says them back to back. It probably cracks me and Kit up more than anyone. Kit has started singing the Eagles song “Take it easy” to get Claire going.

We’ll finish with a message from Claire:

“Stay safe!”

Remote Entry

When Kit left for work this morning, her car was sitting there in front of the house at 5:30 am with the trunk and widows open. The car was unlocked, and the seats were “all moist” from the humid night air. Kit didn’t leave the car wide open last night, so what happened here?

Yesterday, Kit had rushed out of work “early”, at 7:00 pm, so she could see just a little bit of Claire before her 7:30 bath and bedtime. When Kit got home, she put her car keys down on a stool by the door and picked up Claire for a nice extended hug. When Claire was back on her feet, she immediately reached for the car keys. She loves the keys, especially the remote entry buttons, which she mashes a lot. Sometimes it even makes the car honk outside the window.

Claire had pressed the “open trunk” button at least once, and did something to open the windows too. I used to accidentally annoy Kit by somehow cracking the windows with the remote entry buttons, but I never even knew how I did it. Apparently Claire picked up the same trick, and it is a lot cuter when she does it.

Popular Kid

With Reese’s family at home taking care of new little baby Davis, Grace has been coming over to our house to watch Claire. Sometimes Grace’s daughter Julianna (sp?) comes over as well, and they have a lot of fun together.

It used to be just me and Muffin (and Daisy in spirit) down in the basement in a quiet house during the day. Now, there are as many of four people upstairs, and various parents and spouses coming and going. I hear the muted sounds of kids stomping around, giggling, and screaming, and the infamous Tigger scooter (from my parents) playing “Camp Town Races” all day above me as I work. Sometimes there are quiet periods when they are playing outside, napping, or watching TV. Reese’s favorite show is Caillou, and of course it is now one of Claire’s favorites by proxy.

When I go upstairs to get a drink or use the bathroom, it is always a very fun, nice scene. Claire is sometimes entertaining Grace and/or Juliana with her words: “Baby! Reesie! Rain! Rain! Mingo! (for flamingo) Kitty! Kitty!”. If Reese is around, she might be sort of playing with him or messing with one of his toys.

Today we had a big thunderstorm in the late afternoon, and we lost power. After everyone left, it was just me and Claire in a quiet, dark house. Kit is on a tough rotation, and we would miss her for dinner. With no way to cook, we went to Moe’s for dinner. We had the usual, a John Coctostan for me, and a Mini Me for Claire. I am a regular, and they guys at Moe’s sort of know Claire too. They also asked about Kit. During all of this, Claire was flirting with one of the really nice Moe’s guys. When we sat down with our quesadillas, he came and sat down with us for a few minutes, mostly to admire Claire.

When we got back home, Claire saw Melissa across the street and said “Lissa! Lissa!”, so we had to go pay her a visit. Claire proudly showed her belly to Melissa and asked about her kitty cat, Marmalade. Kit got home around 7:00 to play and cuddle with Claire a little bit, and to do her bedtime routine.

Somehow Claire already has something of a social life. She has managed to put together a nice cadre of friends, and is never in want of someone to admire her. And just like with the Peachtree Road Race, Claire is also helping to get me into the mix.

New kid in town

Reese is a big brother! Melanie gave birth to little Davis today. Before long, Claire will get to hang out with Davis and Reese and Grace every day. We think Claire will be a little jealous of Davis at first, with all the attention he will be getting. But on the other hand, Claire likes babies and new friends.

Claire likes to point out babies in stores and restaurants, and often tries to wave or say hi to them. She has not had a lot of baby interactions beyond that, except she did get to visit Chrissie and Brian’s two month old baby Luke recently. She liked Luke a lot, and kept saying “baby” and “Luuuuke” a lot after that visit.

For now, Grace is coming to our house to take care of Claire, and Reese is over here sometimes, but not regularly.


This morning Claire and I set down for breakfast, as we do every morning. Usually during breakfast, she’ll go on about the “pancakes” or maybe that she misses “Reesie”. But this morning, she started saying “Braaaay! braaaaay! braaay!” quite enthusiastically, as if trying to tell me something.

I didn’t know what the heck she was talking about.

She could tell I was confused, so she tapped my shirt. When I looked down, I realized I was wearing an Atlanta Braves shirt. She patted the shirt right on the Braves tomahawk and said what I now realized was “Braaaaaves”, with a proud smile. Just in case I did not know what she was talking about, she followed this comment up with “ba-ball”, meaning baseball.

I guess when we have the Braves games on TV, she’s actually paying attention, a lot of attention. I wonder if she knows how to get Andruw Jones out of his slump.