Capital Time

We finally, after several weeks of requests from Claire, went to the Texas capital building today.  It is not far away, practically in our neighborhood in fact.  But the weekends tend to fill up or pass us by before we ever get over there.  Usually Saturdays fill up pretty quickly with Claire’s ballet and/or swimming classes in the morning, then Molly’s nap time, then lunch, then Molly’s and sometimes Claire’s afternoon nap time and/or errands.  But today ballet was cancelled, and we decided to limit Molly (the sleepyhead) to one nap, and then the day sort of magically opened up for things like seeing the capital.

We spent all of five minutes driving to the enormous, 1888 limestone and granite 308-foot-tall neo-classical domed building and 22 acres of parklike grounds just sitting there down the street open to the public free of charge.  We just parked, walked across the grassy approach, right up to the front door, and just let ourselves in.  A state trooped escorted us through a metal detector and presented Claire with a “Junior Trooper” sticker as well as an extra one for her to give to Molly.  Molly would end up clasping this sticker in her right hand for the better part of the next two hours.

As impressive as it is from the outside, the main building is perhaps even more opulent on the inside.  The wide, elegant wood and marble hallways were flooded by soft light and lead to senators’ offices and wide staircases in every direction.  Claire and Molly both loved the main rotunda.  Molly pointed straight up with her usual look of wonder, and Claire spun around while looking up for a cool effect.  The building exuded a calm confidence and sense of purpose rivaled only by a large, old cathedral.

This was all pretty good, but the real kicker for Claire was the fact that the House chamber was open, and something was going on in side.  Kit and I took turns going in and watching from the balcony viewing area with Claire.  It turned out to be junior high school kids holding a mock legislative session, debating the merits of some sort of domestic animal protection law.  There was a lot of ernest, mumbling adolescent debate going on, along the lines of “Imagine if this was, like, your own dog or cat or whatever.  Wouldn’t you want it to have a shelter to go to?  Or would you want it to just, like, die and stuff?”  Claire was fascinated by it all.  She just wanted to stay and listen.  It was more entertaining to Claire than watching Arthur.  I almost had to physically drag her out of there.  But we needed to move on to lunch at the farmer’s market, plus Molly was starting to audibly fuss just outside the House chamber.

We promised Claire a return trip to listen in on the House debate.  Claire spent a lot of the after noon pretending that the dog catcher was trying to “get” Muffin, which I assume was tied to something one of middle schoolers said in the House chamber.

After running around madly on the capital grounds for a while, we did manage to get over to the farmer’s market, another new weekend treat for us on our newly open schedule.  We all had fun there too, even over Claire’s initial objections (who wanted to stay at the capital and listen to the teenagers debate).  Kit enjoyed the best (and only) asparagus truffle benedict she had ever had while Molly chomped on a raw green tomato with abandon.

A Fine Friday Evening

Good things happen when you have time off from work.  After taking a trip back to Corpus Christi and tackling countless piles of papers that have been building up for years, Kit has been able to relax a little bit this week.
Kit and I both picked up the girls from school today, thanks to Kit’s week off and an early day off for me.  Claire loves those rare occasions when both Kit and I pick her up.  As an extra special treat, we got her a bit early, while she was still out on the playground.  Claire noted that we got her even before her friend Renee went home, which basically never happens.  Usually Claire and Molly are among the first to be dropped off at school and among the last to be picked up, and usually it’s just Dad doing the picking since Mom is off helping people at one of the hospitals around town.  So this was a really special occasion.

After we got Claire on the playground, we all went by to get Molly, who was also excited to see us.  Even though Molly is walking around now, I usually carry her back to the car, just out of habit.  But today Molly had other plans.  She grabbed Claire’s hand and nonverbally asked her to walk her out to the car.  It was a really good idea, and it worked nicely, as you can see below.
Then came dinner plans.  Usually we are worried about filling Molly up with food (todo link), but tonight Claire had that honor.   She had recently experienced a new bout of asthma, her first in almost a year, and she was prescribed a steroid to help her breathing.  These nasty steroids had caused Claire to feel (and act) really bad last time we used them, and apparently taking the medicine with as much food as possible helps lessen these negative side effects.  So we are filling her up with her favorite foods.  Last night it was pizza. Tonight we came up with hot dogs.  The pleasant early spring weather beckoned us to the Trailer Park Eatery where Claire could load up on hot dogs, Kit and I could enjoy the best tacos ever at Torchy’s, and Molly could sample from the rest of us.  Claire ended up spending most of her time playing a game of “freeze tag” with a little boy she met there.  She saw said boy, wearing a large inflatable guitar on his back, introduced herself, and got a game of freeze tag going on the large dirt driveway within two minutes.  Both kids stopped off at their respective picnic tables every now and again for a bite to eat and a sip of water, sort of like a pit stop.  Kit and I yelled “Car!” any time a car showed up on the scene, no matter how slowly and carefully it was traveling. Claire managed to get down two full hotdogs with ketchup, minus the buns, during this game.  The dogs seemed to keep the nasty steroid issued at bay (which was ostensibly the whole excuse reason for coming here to eat).
Molly, meanwhile, giggled and watched the scene while nibbling at Claire’s spare hotdog buns.  As it grew dark, Molly was captivated by the light balls hanging from the trees, which were colorful and bright and roughly the size of an adult’s head.  She kept pointing at them and saying “ball”.  Finally we found one that was low enough that we could lift her up to touch it.  She whacked away at the orb, sending it swinging above us, producing a big smile on her face.  Molly also got a brief chance to try to chase down Claire and her freeze-tag friend, which she took to with glee and some screaming.
Next week, Kit will be back to work and on call.  It will be back to boring dinner at home, possibly with Kit off at some hospital for some or all of the night.  But now that Kit has her full allotment of vacation this year, hopefully we will see more fun nights like this.

Gettin’ Sandy

Molly had her first ever trip to the beach today!

She was in Corpus Christi visiting her grandparents when they took an afternoon trip to the beach. Molly enjoyed playing in the sand and required a major bath and laundry service afterwards.

Screamin’ Valentines

Tonight we had our least romantic Valentine’s dinner ever.

Valentine’s Day fell on a Monday this year, which is unromantic right off the bat. But Kit and I were not going to be defeated that easily. We had roses, a nice dinner ready to heat up, and even a heart-shaped cookie for dessert, thanks to Kit. That was about the best we could do on a weeknight with the kids.

Molly was in a fussy mood, maybe from teething. To avoid a continuous gale of sobbing, I held her while preparing dinner with one arm, something that I thought was a thing of the past with our newly semi-independent toddler. Claire, for her part, was happy and enthusiastic about Valentines Day after exchanging Valentines at school, and contented herself to watching Arthur while I cooked. Kit was stuck in traffic as I cooked, but she managed to get home right about when dinner was ready. At this point, Molly was showing some interest in food, such as trying to say “more” while pointing at the bananas on the counter. Maybe she was fussy from hunger?  It would actually be good to see Molly hungry (todo link to not eating / weight). We optimistically sat everyone down at the table, Molly took two bites of food, and then the screaming started.

The screaming stopped and started in fits, but the general trend was louder, more piercing screams as time went on. There was also the food throwing to accompany the screaming.  Molly managed to bat away the food we offered her (even the bananas), with the food hitting the floor even before it reached her high chair table. We got her out of the high chair and tried sitting her on our lap to eat. That did not help. She only got more irritated, and the shrieking continued.

Eventually, I took her outside for some fresh air (for the both of us!). That did the trick. Once we exited the back door, she almost instantly stopped crying and started smiling. As Molly and I hung around the backyard in peace, Kit and Claire enjoyed their romantic dinner together. I could se them through the window just having a nice dinner. After about 10 minutes, I brought Molly back inside for another try at eating. The crying and screaming started the minute we came back inside. So Kit grabbed Molly and headed outside while I sat in on Claire’s romantic dinner.

Kit and I never ended up so much as sitting down together that night, and we were both frazzled by all the screaming. But we did make up for it later. We went out for a long, relaxed dinner at Chez Zee the following Saturday night while Molly’s teacher Angie handled the kids’ dinner and bedtime for us. Every once in a while you just need a relaxed evening, and sort-of-Valentine’s Day gave us a good excuse this time.
(todo Need crying photo of Molly)

The Land of Ice and Snow

This week, Texas, and most of the country, received an extended frigid blast of winter weather. We did not have to tolerate anything too bad here in Austin. Sure, it was real cold — down into the teens at night, some days never above freezing all day, and windy to boot. But we were fortunate enough to avoid any power outages or other substantial discomforts. Kit’s parents were not quite as lucky. They were in town and got stranded here for a few extra days due to ice and other logistical issues.

The girls, of course, had a ball. They missed a bunch of school due to the weather (and illness) and stayed home with good ol’ Grammy while Kit and I worked. Claire recovered from strep in time to enjoy the snow on Friday, which provided a rare opportunity for snowball fights and a snowman, not to mention some fun pictures and videos (see below). Claire and I also enjoyed a brisk walk around the block right before bedtime on one of the colder nights, punctuated by some refreshing hot peppermint tea at home.
Finally, some footage of us pelting Molly with snow balls. I promise, she enjoyed the snowballs just about up to the point where we started rolling video.

It’s a Walking Baby!

Molly is walking around really well now, as we have stated.  While on errands, she occasionally receives a surprised reaction from an amazed bystander.  “Wow!” they say, “That little baby can walk already?  How cool!”  Molly is so small that she looks like a little baby walking around.  She does not appear to be over 16 months old.  That’s our Molly, a big baby or a tiny toddler, either way, she is amazing and surprising.


Claire is hooked on Arthur, the PBS cartoon about the adventures of Arthur, a human-like aardvark, and his human-like animal friends and family in the fictional town of Elwood City. The show is not as odd as it sounds. You forget pretty quickly that everyone is ostensibly an animal, just like in most kids’ books. The opening reggae theme song still surprises me, though.

Claire has watched Arthur for months now. This show does not get old. There are so many characters and so many episodes (hundreds!). As I write this, the show is in its 14th season, so it has more legs than something like Imagination Movers, which Claire tired of once it started repeating its limited episodes a lot.

The show is also engrossing. It has stories that a kid Claire’s age can relate to, involving friends and fun, plus conflicts and insecurities and how to deal with them. I feel like she learns positive behavior from the show.  Even has a lot of good things to say about the show.

Claire’s favorite episode is “Elwood City Turns 100”, which has lots of music and dancing and features an interview by the real Larry King.