Merry Christmas 2010!

The girls hang out with trusty Grammy as we head off for some errands

Merry Christmas 2010! As usual with a big event like this, a quick summary is going to have to suffice, or I will be here typing all day. There was a lot going on this Christmas, but this account is focused on the girls from my perspective.

Molly is still too young to grasp what all these decorations, music, and gift-wrapped items are all about. She was just happy to have all her grandparents in town again to celebrate whatever this is! And she even got a few presents out of the deal, mostly plastic sorting toys that make crazy sounds. This Christmas thing may be something to keep an eye out for in the future.
Molly wanted to show off for her grandparents and continued to take great strides in her standing and walking. She took a couple of steps several different times over the weekend. She’s not quite walking as such, but she is getting mighty close, and all the grandparents (and parents) were so proud!
Claire wraps herself up as a gift

Big sister Claire is now an old Christmas pro. Like Molly, Claire was also thrilled to have all four grandparents in town again, less than a month after her big birthday party. She had been anticipating Christmas for a couple of weeks, and was especially eager to find out what would show up in her stocking on Christmas morning. She did end up receiving a much anticipated candy cane, as well as a Magic School Bus chapter book called The Search for the Missing Bones. This book has a lot more works and and a lot fewer pictures than any of her books so far. Apparently Santa thinks Claire is getting close to reading age. Everyone received a different “Mr. Men” or “Little Miss” book, such as Mr. Funny or Mr. Loud (perhaps to fit our personalities?), which all we generally donated to Claire for further reading.

The new bike, compliments of Santa

 I don’t think Claire 100% realized that she should expect a big actual present from Saint Nick too. Well, the good man came through and brought Claire a beautiful pink bike — a real, heavy, rubber and metal bike with training wheels. Claire has officially outgrown the Big Wheel, although I am sure Molly will happily inherit it soon enough. We went outside into the blustery cold to try out the bike. Claire gave it some spins back and forth on the side patio. After getting used to the pedal brakes, she was off and rolling pretty well. Molly watched eagerly from the door window. Soon Claire requested that we try it out on the front street where she would have more room to open things up a bit more. Kit and I headed out there with her to the street. After one ride of maybe 30 feet, she hopped off her bike quickly. I thought wanted to she turn it around and come back, but instead she sprinted for the front door saying, “It’s toooo coooold!” That was it for the bike until a warmer day.

Molly meets Astronaut Claire 

Among other highlights, Claire also received a microphone for her singing, a Barbie (her first), a Leapster 2 educational game system, Melody Harp from me and Kit (which she summarily ignored without opening the box, but which I believe she will one day enjoy), and a full astronaut suit from her Uncle Tim. Pretty soon Claire was exploring around the house pretending it was outer space, and everyone had a turn trying on the crazy helmet.

Reading “A Butterfly Christmas”

Of course, we all wanted Claire to understand that giving is an important part of the whole gift exchange too. Claire (and Grammy) gave me and mom beautifully framed pictures of her and Molly, which Claire designed decorated herself. I remembered about two days before Christmas that Claire should give something special to her grandparents too, so in a panic I picked up a you-decorate-a-butterfly kit at Target with three butterflies. Late on Christmas eve, had to drag a grumpy Claire upstairs to begrudgingly decorate these butterflies. This was going to be the worst, most uninspired kid present ever! But Claire rallied under the promise that she could keep one of the butterflies, and before long we had three nicely decorated butterflies: a blue one and a pink one for the sets of grandparents, and a purple one for Claire to keep. They were named Butterfly, Pretty Butterfly, and Pretty Pretty Pretty Butterfly, I think. Then I asked if she could do a picture or a story or something — anything — to go with the butterflies. She started out slowly but then worked into a groove. She dictated a story of three butterflies — a blue one, a pink one, and a purple one — while she drew an illustration of the story. We eventually ran out of room on both sides of the paper, so I re-typed it on the computer where it would actually fit and be more legible. We called the story “A Butterfly Christmas”.  With Kit’s inspired wrapping, we ended up with a good present just in the nick of time.

Among other presents, Claire and/or Molly also gave at least one grandparent as well as me and Kit the customary gift of a nasty cold. This is price we pay for togetherness, I suppose.
Whew! So much more happened, but I don’t want to prattle on much more for your sake and mine. One a side note, Kit spent most of Christmas week bogged down in an insanely busy week at work while also dealing with negotiations related to her company being sold. I cannot say much more, but she was mostly gone or asleep right up until Christmas eve, and she was exhausted through the weekend. Personally, I am feeling exhausted too, partly from work and normal life, but also from having hosted three big events within the last month: Claire’s birthday, Thanksgiving, and now Christmas.
Claire for her part is excited about the next big holiday after Christmas. I was thinking it was New Year’s Day, but Claire tells me it is Kwanzaa, which starts the day after Christmas.

(Well, so much for a quick summary, but this was the best I could do.)

A Butterfly Christmas

Claire dreamed up this story for her grandparents as part of Christmas 2010

A Butterfly Christmas

by Claire M

Once there was a large oak tree with a hummingbird in it.  There was one pink butterfly who flew past the hummingbird. And then the butterfly saw the hummingbird and said, “Will you please help me get around this oak tree because there are many hills around it?  Will you help me find somebody strong to cut down this oak tree?”  The hummingbird nodded.

Then a purple butterfly flew past the pink one.  And the purple butterfly said, “May I please fly past you so I can get the cherries in the large oak tree for my gramma?”  And the pink butterfly said, “I’m so sorry, but I am stuck between the hills and the oak tree and am in a miserable maze.  I cannot let you through.”

And then a giant grumpy two-headed troll stomped past the butterflies!

And then a blue butterfly flew past the purple butterfly and said, “May I please get past you?”  The pink butterfly said, “Well, I guess it’s time to go to my house.”  And the purple one said, “My house!”  And the blue one said, “My house!”  And then the pink and blue butterflies agreed to go to the purple butterfly’s house for Christmas because the other two were grandparents, and she was the youngest. 

At the purple one’s house, they sang Christmas carols and had cookies and Dr. Pepper and watched their favorite DVD and exchanged presents and had a great time.

Season’s Favorites

This Christmas season, Claire does not have any obsessions like she did last year with the music from Charlie Brown or the movie The Polar Express. But she does have a couple of standout favorites this year for Christmas. Her favorite holiday song this time around is definitely the 1970 Jose Feliciano classic “Feliz Navidad”. She loves to sing along to the song, which of course is quite easy, being only two real lines. She likes the Spanish part best, where it says “Feliz Navidad” over and over. Claire’s favorite Christmas movie this year is Elf. She especially likes when Buddy is in the North Pole, oversized for everything, including his adopted dad’s lap. She also likes the music, and we listen to a CD I made partly of the soundtrack (along with “Feliz Navidad” and others) to and from school.  I also included her favorite from last year’s Peanuts obsession, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, but Claire prefers to skip over this touching song for Jimmy Durante’s spirited rendition of “Frosty the Snowman”.

Polly Wogalina and friends

Claire’s imagination continues to run on high power. She spent most of last weekend in character as a five year old girl named Tara who lives in a hotel lobby. Tara loves to show guests around the hotel lobby (the downstairs of our house) as well as the hotel kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom. There is one guest room upstairs. Apparently it is a fairly exclusive hotel. Tara hangs out with a six year old boy named Sam (me). She spends a lot of time saying things like, “Hey, Sam! You wanna see the hotel dog?” A hotel chef (also me) serves delicious food from time to time, about which she always says, “My compliments to the chef!”, which she learned from her grandparents.

Over the last few days, Tara has morphed into Polly Wogalina, a two year old toddler who also lives in a hotel lobby. Polly is bigger and abler than her baby sister, Pig Tail Polly Wogalina (Molly), but big Polly is still just learning to walk, and talk she speaks like a baby, although she has full control of proper and sometimes quite complex grammar. I am a boy named French. Sometimes I call Claire “Polly Woggle”, but she does not like that. Kit is Sarah Cockaberra, a name which Claire is very proud to have invented.

We will see what next weekend holds, although Claire may be too distracted from Christmas presents to create any brand new characters.

Sing Along

Claire was invited by one of her friends to an Austin symphony Christmas sing-along tonight. Kit took Claire and got this awesome picture of Claire and some of her school friends.


Kit and Claire went out to a Christmas sing-along tonight, and I was left at home to put Molly to bed. I was sitting quietly with Molly in the rocking chair right before putting her in her crib when she lifted up her sleepy head, looked over my left shoulder, and very clearly and loudly said, “Bob!” Then she quietly put her head back down. It was so convincing that I instinctually peeked over my left shoulder, just to make sure that a man named Bob was not standing there. Thankfully, there was only a wall and a bookshelf, as expected, and me and silly little Molly.

First step!

Molly took her first official step (that I know of) today when I dropped her off at school. I was chatting with her teacher out n the playground where they go in the mornings, and I had to put Molly down to get something from my bag. I expected her to just sit down when I let her go like usual, but this time she kept her legs straight and just stood there by herself looking up at me. She stayed there standing nice and steady for a long long time, maybe more than a full minute. (It is hard to judge these things since I was standing there in shock with my jaw wide open.). Finally, Molly decided she wanted to come to grab onto my pant leg for support, but she did not want to sit down and crawl only a foot or so to make that happen, so she tentatively and slowly stepped towards me! The first step was successful — she did not fall, and she stayed up for another step. She took a tumble on the second step, but it was amazing to see her first real step.

Here is some video a couple days later in the same spot standing (but not walking) for a much, much shorter period of time. These moments are like the Sasquatch — impossible to catch on film!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Pump it up!

Claire has officially been five years old for a few days now, but today it was time to celebrate with all her friends! With Claire’s birthday falling on the Monday after Thanksgiving, we opted to have the party the following weekend to try to get the biggest crowd for Claire. Although the initial response was low, in the end we had over 20 kids, mostly classmates, plus about as many parents, at the party. Plus all four of Claire’s grandparents were in town for the event. This gave the weekend a big, festive feel.
A picture break at Pump It Up

For the past few months, Claire had been communicating two key requests for her party. Her first request was to have the party specifically at Pump It Up!, her favorite bounce house, which had, among other amenities, a big colorful blow-up throne for the birthday girl to sit on. She had been dreaming of sitting on that throne for months. Claire also requested several times that we invite everyone from her class. Last year, in the wake of Molly’s birth and just moving to Austin, we had a small party with a few girls from her class. But this year, she wanted to make sure we invite everyone. Surely, anything less would be undemocratic! She really did not want to leave anyone out.
We scheduled the party for Saturday morning at 9:15, which was unconventionally early. But the party had a good vibe. The kids were fresh and rested. The parents were in good spirits too and were able to relax, socialize, and feast on coffee and bagels while the kids played.
Claire savors her time on the throne
The kids had a blast playing on the bounce houses, and then gathered for cupcakes and to sing Happy Birthday to Claire. Claire beamed on her throne. The only tense moment was when she had a little trouble sharing the throne with some eager friends, but she did relent and then had fun sharing the spotlight with her friends.
We went home and opened dozens of presents that day and next. Some highlights for Claire were various the Littlest Pet Shop and Polly Pocket sets, plus some real Annie shoes from Noni to go along with the outfit we had given her on her actual birthday. Many items went into storage to rediscover in the coming weeks and months. It’s a long time until another birthday!