Meet & Greet

Claire is starting pre-pre-school every Tuesday and Thursday morning starting next week. Today the school, part of a neighborhood church, hosted a “meet & greet” for parents to bring their kids by and meet the teachers. Kit and I (and Claire) rearranged our schedules to be there for the big event.

This is the preschool that Reese has been attending the last couple of years, and Claire has been here many times already in the past with Grace to drop off and pick up Reese. Claire already knows some of the kids, teachers, and parents from playing around on the playground with Reese after school. Walking around with Claire, we heard comments like, “Claire’s back!”, and “Look, Claire’s talking now.” It is remarkable that Claire has managed to etch out her own secret life over here at this age. Even though Claire is just now starting school, Kit and I are the only new really new people here.

We introduced ourselves to the teacher, Ms. Betsy, and Claire almost immediately rushed off to explore the classroom. She pointed out the stuffed animals (“teddy bears”), and tried out each of the three rocking horses in turn. Then she found the shelves of toys and started talking on two play telephones, one on each ear. Another little girl name Matilda showed up too. Claire was pretty quickly saying “hiiii” and repeating Matilda’s name over and over. Kit and I incorrectly pointed out that Matilda is the name of the little girl in the “Carl the dog” books (the girl’s name is really Madeline — oops). Before we knew it, Claire was gently throwing her arms around the unsuspecting Matilda and saying “huggggg!” She had truly embraced the “meet & greet” concept with full force.

We had to get back to work eventually, and we had to somewhat drag Claire away from all the fun. Claire loudly said, “Byyyye Betsy!” as we left, and repeated Betsy’s name as we walked out the classroom and down the hall. We were very proud of Claire for showing such confidence on what could have been a scary and overwhelming occasion.

A Real Bath

A warm, bubbly bath has been a key part of Claire’s bedtime routine since she was just a little baby. It helps her unwind and tells her, “It’s time for bed.” Until tonight, Claire hast taken her baths in a small, blue, plastic infant/toddler bathtub on the kitchen counter. We had a such a strong bathtime routine that we could have practically done it in the dark (which is not out of the question with the power grid around here). We had her washcloths and pajamas stuck in the kitchen drawer below the counter, special playlists going on the iPod, and everything else you could think of. But alas, little Claire is getting too big for her plastic tub, and tonight she finally graduated to a real bathtub.

So Kit and I clumsily took a first stab at a new routine in the “nice” bathroom. There was an issue with the bathmat being too spikey, which stool to sit on, getting the water temperature right, and waiting for the water to fill up high enough (wow, that is a lot of water). Claire was happy enough to stand up in the tub, but it took some extra convincing to get her to actually sit down in the water. After that, the bath went well, and she seemed to enjoy being dried off and dressed on the cushiony bench in the bathroom. In the end, the new routine officially worked, as Claire went to sleep just like normal.

Goodbye, little blue tub! Thanks for all the hard work.

Pool Bust

Today I had another involuntary day off with Claire. Grace needed today and last Friday off for family reasons. Kit took Friday off and went to the zoo and did errands with Claire. Today was my turn. The day started off with a good sign. Claire’s first words this morning when I got her out of her crib were “Wow! Awesome!” Sadly, the day would not live up to those bold expectations.

The first task of the day was to go to Target to return some lake supplies that we did not end up needing at the lake this weekend. As we pulled into the parking lot, just as Claire said “Target!”, I realized I had the unused toddler life preserver with me, but not the unused sunglasses. I would come back another time when I had everything I needed to return.

Returning home, I began the hour-long process of getting ready to go to the pool. This process involves dressing Claire in her bathing suit and water shoes, dressing myself in my bathing suit and water shoes while keeping an eye on Claire, applying sunscreen to both of us, collecting together all the necessary water supplies such as towels, cups to play with, a kickboard, change of clothes, snacks and drinks, shutting the bedroom door so Muffin does not pee on our bed, and finally getting out the door and into the car. Damn, I forgot my cell phone. And Claire’s hat. Back in the car.

We finally made it to the Garden Hills Pool, at 10:45, just 15 minutes after opening time. Claire enthusiastically said, “Pool!” as we drove up. We parked and walked up to the pool…And nobody was around. Literally nobody. The pool was closed. No hours were posted, it was just closed. I had to explain this to Claire, saying “Sorry, no people. Closed.” Claire calmly repeated back “no people” as I loaded her back in the car. She cried a bit when she realized we really we not going to the pool any more, but she calmed down pretty quickly.

Determined to swim now that we were both all greased up ready to go, I went to plan B. I was not going to spend my day off not swimming! Chastain Park was not too far away, and I knew it had a public pool. So we drove up Peachtree and Roswell roads to the other pool, Claire glumly but calmly repeating, “Closed. No people.” We parked, unloaded, and walked up to the pool…The closed pool. Claire offered, “Sorry, no people.” The pool was closed until 4:00 in the afternoon. These beautiful pools are wasted just sitting there on such a hot, sunny day!

Plan C is to find a playground to get Claire’s mind off of today’s fiasco so far. After all, this was a park, and I hoped to avoid getting back in the car, which I would have considered a mortal failure at this point. The nice fellow at the nearby tennis center told us that there is a playground a little way down the road. So Claire and I walked a few blocks down Wieuca Road in 98 degree heat in our swimsuits and water shoes to the goddamn playground. We stopped along the way to sip on the Poweraid (“juice”, as Claire calls it) that I had bought at the tennis center, and to enjoy the views of the golf course and baseball fields. Most of the goddamn playground was roasting in the near-noon sun, and the swings and slides were too hot to use, especially in a tiny nylon bathing suit. Claire did manage to have some fun, though, generally running and climbing around and just looking at the other, mostly older, kids. I was personally somewhat out of place among the Buckhead nanny set, but it was fun to hang out for a while. We cooled off over lunch at Moe’s with a “kadeeya” and finally headed home to listen to music, dance, read, nap, and take it easy.

Even though today did not live up to the “Wow! Awesome!” expectations, it was still a fine day, and I even learned a few things along the way.

  • Atlanta’s pools are not open on Mondays…or something.
  • Chastain Park offers some nice views of the Buckhead skyline across the golf course.
  • Poweraid is a fine, refreshing beverage, even when quite tepid.
  • Some nannies seem impatient or bored with the kids they are watching.
  • Any day with Claire can be fun even if it is totally screwed up.

Jackson Lake

Today, we joined Reese and his parents, along with some other friends, at Jackson Lake for a day of watersports and fun. Today’s high at the lake was a sizzling 102 degrees. Usually we would be holed up in the house on a hot afternoon like that, but today we were out in it. Fortunately, Claire handled the weather just fine. She pinked up pretty good in the heat, but we had a thick glaze of SPF 50 sunscreen on her all day, and she did not get burned.

The lake house was crawling with little kids and babies. It was pretty much a who’s-who of Claire’s kid friends. Reese was there with his new little brother Davis. Baby Luke, who is the four-month-old son of the other chief resident Chrissie, was also in attendance. Claire loves these babies. The last few weeks she has been whispering, “Shh… Baby Luke, sleeping. Shh… Baby Davis.” Claire also met Melanie’s friend’s daughter Jaia (Jaya?), a lively, two-and-a-half-year-old girl with curly dark hair. Claire had actually met Jaia a few months ago when Melanie had arranged for Grace to watch her for a few days along with Reese and Claire. Apparently Grace had her hands full during those days, but Claire sure had fun with Jaia today. Well into the night, she was saying “Jaia” over and over.

We all soaked in the warm bath-like waters of the lake, the kids in full safety gear. This was Claire’s first dip in a lake, and she seemed to enjoy it. She must have spent over an hour in the water, including about 15 minutes under Chrissie’s watch as Kit and I took the Waverunner out for a spin. That thing was crazy fast, and Kit and I felt like we were both going to get blown off the back. Fortunately, we were able to hold on and make it back to the lake house and the kid. Besides our 15 minutes of adventure, we spent most of our day watching Claire and various babies. Claire was too wired up for her nap, so I drove her around the countryside and eventually got her to sleep a little. It had been a very long time since I had to use the old car trick to get Claire to sleep. Her little nap was enough to get her through a couple more hours of playing and exploring with all the other kids.

Everyone except Reese’s grandma “Beebee” and the kids spending the night were going to ride the pontoon boat across the lake to the infamously slow Kountry Kitchen. Kit and I decided to go along and bring Claire, even though it would put her way past her usual 7:30 bedtime. Despite previous “difficult” experiences when missing bedtime by even a little bit, we decided to take a chance and join everyone for dinner.

Dinner was fun, and hot, and slow…and very late. We got to the restaurant around 8:00, and the waitress warned us before we ordered that it would take at least 45 minutes to get our food. After we ordered, Kit and I took turns sitting on the docked boat outside the restaurant in the hot night air reading Claire Curious George and the Rocket and trying to get her to sleep. Even a dark lakeside walk carrying Claire did not do the trick. Claire was charged up and ready to explore the lake or the restaurant. Eventually I brought her into the restaurant because I was about to die of hunger and thirst. We all had a fun dinner and were riding the boat across the lake around 10:30, listening to Hootie and the Blowfish’s greatest hits, when Claire finally fell asleep under the stars. She stayed asleep for the transfer out of the boat, up the driveway, into the car, on the hour-long ride home, through a change of clothes, and into her crib. She probably had one of her nights of sleep ever that night, dreaming of Jaia and Reese and lights reflecting on the warm lake water.

Talking Maniac

Claire has been elevating her talking to the next level lately. She used to say mostly single words about things and people, like “blanket” or “Gracie”. Now she is sometimes speaking in actual sentences. If she spills her drink, she’ll say “I spilled it.” Dropping something, she’ll say, “I dropped it.” If she wants a book that is out of reach, she says “I have it.” That last one sounds kind of rude in a way, but I think she picked it up from me asking her to give us something she has, like a flashlight. I normally say, “Can I have it?” as I hold out my hands. She even told Kit, “I love you” the other night out of the blue.

I guess this means that one day I will have a conversation with Claire over breakfast beyond the current standard, “Pancake. Table. Reesie. Goergie.” But what else could there possibly be to talk about?

She is also “messing up” fewer words, which she does so cutely. Sadly, flamingos are no longer “‘mingos”. I think she was onto something with her “mingos”. We call aligators “gators”, right? And “ome-ne-ne” has largely been replaced by the technically more correct, “Open it”. She is even sort of counting now. Somehow a game evolved where we spread the phonebooks out on the kitchen floor in a crooked line, and Claire steps from one to another. As she steps, Kit and I count, “Oooone. Twooooo. Threeeeee…” Claire has picked this up and will usually repeat the number, and sometimes even say the next number before we do: “Fooooooour” That just kills Kit and me.

But happily, she does not say everything perfectly yet. Here are some things that she still says funny. I wanted to get these down before she fixes these too.

  • Oatmeal is “elmote”. It sounds like “Elmo”, with a distinct “T” on the end.
  • She also adds a sharp “T” to the end of “arbor”, which is Spanish for tree, making it “arbort”. Sometimes this devolves into “Eye-bort”.
  • “Close the door” is just “Clodoor!”, usually said with gusto as a single word.
  • Elephants are “ephelants”
  • A lion is a “liney”
  • A spider is a “pider”, and Spiderman (Reese’s favorite) is “Piderman”
  • She loves saying Cock-a-doodle-doo, but leaves out the “doodle”, making it the more concise “Cockadoo!”
  • A strawberry is a “strawburrrdy”, usually said with gusto.
  • Pasta is “patsa”
  • Blueblerries are “blue-blerrrries”
  • A quesadilla is a “kadeeya!”
  • A heart is a “lart”
  • Corn is “corner”. This especially applies to the Mr. Potato head character Pop Corn.
  • Some phrases are a mystery, like “Apple duty!”, which she repeats often.
  • When we say “Gimme five”, she’ll slap our hand and say, “Go five!”