Claire accompanied her mom to Iowa this weekend to attend a service for her late, great uncle (?) Jim, and to take part in an Alzheimer’s fundraiser walk .  Molly stayed back home with me, as she is still not quite ready for a fast-pased weekend trip, in and our of airports and hotels, like this.  And it’s a good thing she stayed home, because there were some late nights and no real nap times.  In particular, the well-planned return flight from Iowa got delayed by several hours.  Kit and Claire ended up ditching the last leg of their flight and driving home to Austin from Dallas, arriving home at 11 pm on Sunday night.  Claire was up for school at 6:30 the next morning.  That might have been sort of tough on Claire, but if Molly had been on the trip, it would have cut Sunday night’s sleep just about in half!

Anyways, I just wanted to briefly mark this trip, and the fact that Claire visited a new state, and the old family farmland in Iowa no less.  And Claire, as always, we super excited to go on a trip with her mom and fly in an airplane.  And she got to visit a butterfly house thingy.  I did not go on the trip, so I will just stick some of Kit’s pictures in here to tell the main part of the story.  (Kit and I tried on several to sit down and write this blog together, but time does not allow such frivolities.  Now I am writing it along a month later!).

Claire’s Interview #1

Today in kindergarten, Claire did a school assignment called “My Favorite Things”.  Claire was given a small book and had to fill in her answer to various questions about her favorite things, plus add an illustration.  I’m not really up for scanning each page into the blog, but here is a sample page and the full text:

    My favorite food is: smoothe (smoothies)
    My favorite place to go is: the pool
    My favorite thing to do for fun is: jump
    My favorite color is: piek (pink)

It may be interesting to do some sort of regular “interview” in this blog, so look out for this type of thing again in the future.  They will all be available under the label “interview”.

Party at the Park

Yesterday was Molly’s actual birthday, but today being a Saturday, we were able to really celebrate.

We kept the celebration small, just family this year.  Noni and grandpa Phil were in town for the occasion, so they and Molly had a lot of great face time together.  Kit wanted to do something that Molly would really like, so we decided on going to Pease Park and just letting her go nuts.  We brought some Sesame-Street-themed party supplies to make it festive.  Molly and Claire both got identical party favors, which were completely mixed up together by the afternoon.

One of Molly’s classmates had her second birthday party today at a local kid-oriented gym (and indoor play area) in the afternoon.  It was nice to celebrate with one of Molly’s friends as well.  Claire was the biggest kid at the party and seemed to enjoy helping the little ones out (especially Molly), and just going nuts herself.

We managed to open a couple of presents today but still have some left over for tomorrow.  Some highlights include an Elmer the Patchwork Elephant stuffed animal to go with Molly’s Elmer book, an interactive electronic toddler purse, and a hand-made book from Claire (and Noni).

A Book About Molly, For Molly

As her present for Molly’s second birthday, Claire made a book for about Molly for Molly.  This was done with inspiration and the help of gramma Noni, who assembled the book, while Claire came up with all the words and pictures.  There is one thing about Molly per page, with an illustration for each.  The book reads:

    Molly likes vanilla yogurt.
    Molly likes her snuggy bear.
    Molly is giggling.
    Molly is funny.  She is having a crazy hair day.
    Molly is cute.
    I love Molly.

Here are a few sample illustrations.

Molly is funny.
She is having a crazy hair day.

Molly is cute.

I love Molly.

Molly Turns Two!

Molly doubled her age today!  She went from one year old to two.

Being a regular work/school day, and not having much time for a proper celebration, Kit suggested making a few brief notes about Molly’s regular-ish day when she turned two…

The day started just before 7 am, with Claire already downstairs eating breakfast and prepping for school.  I sat Molly down in her little blue toddler seat for a normal breakfast, starting with a fresh sippy cup of whole milk and an English muffin with cream cheese.  Molly almost immediately began to scold her breakfast.  She literally shook her finger at her food, saying “No!” sharply a few times, as if it had done something wrong.  Her mixed feelings about food continue to age two, I can see.  Within a minute or two, though, she was happily eating the naughty English muffins.

We dropped Claire off at kindergarten and then dropped Molly off at pre-school with a couple dozen mini-cupcakes to celebrate her birthday.  The next I saw of Molly was at 5 pm, when I heard about Molly’s day from her teachers.  Molly was okay but had been somewhat banged up from a small toddler stampede on the playground earlier in the day.  Before going onto the playground, all the kids wait their turn on a bench right outside the playground.  Usually Molly goes in last, maybe because she is smallest.  But today she went first, and she decided to run really fast through the gate. She tripped and fell face-first on the the way through the gate, and the next two kids then tripped and fell on Molly.  Apparently another couple of kids tripped and fell after that too, and there was a pile of crying toddlers at the playground entrance, with Molly on the bottom of the heap.  The teachers brought out some ice packs and sent for some help at the main office to check for loose teeth, blood, etc. but everyone checked out okay aside form scrapes and bruises.  I am told that at the end of playground time, Molly was the last one out of the playground and proceeded carefully.

Also, Molly had changed into a new set of shorts at school, as is often the case, due to some unknown liquid or dampness issues (the teachers think it’s probably water).

Checking into school
Checking out of shcool

Being a normal weekday, there was not time for Molly to do much between school and bedtime.  My parents had come to town for Molly’s birthday, so Molly did get a nice surprise in that regard.  I considered making Molly a special dinner, but she doesn’t really have a “favorite food” except for what she eats every day, which mostly whole-fat vanilla yogurt.  We tried giving her some penne with marinara, but it did not “take”, so she had vanilla yogurt as per usual.  Dinner was followed by a rendition of “Happy Birthday”, a mini-cupcake, a bath, and bed.  We didn’t even have a chance to give Molly her presents today and are saving them for the real celebration tomorrow.

It was a pretty normal day, but we are so proud of our Molly turning a ripe old two years old and getting bigger and stronger every day!

Favorite Books #1

There have been a few random posts in the past about the girls’ favorite books at the time, such as Chrysanthemum and Knuffle Bunny.  Now I am going to make an effort to post their favorites regularly, about every 6 months.  It should be interesting to see how their favorites change over time.  So here we go…

Molly’s favorite book at the moment is Going to the Potty by Fred Rogers.

Molly loves to sit and “read” this book in her leisure time.  She is transfixed by the pictures of toddlers sitting on toilets, being praised and helped by their ostensible parents.  Molly is not quite yet starting toilet training, but they are talking about toilets, BM’s, etc. at school now, so it is a good subject.

Kit and I love this book too.  The book is 25 years old, and its pictures are badly outdated in a funny way.  The writing is quite entertaining, too, such as, “Some children wet or mess their pants now and then before they really get used to going to the potty.  Learning to stay clean and dry is one way to please you mom and dad and you!”

Molly is also especially enjoying Cuddle! and Corduroy, two very sweet and entertaining books.

Claire’s favorite book right now is our least favorite, Barbie: Princess Charm School, based on a movie of the same name.

Kit and I were somewhat skeptical about the whole Barbie thing initially a few months ago when Claire first discovered it, but we were pleasantly surprised with the relative quality of movies like Twelve Dancing Princesses.  But Princess Charm School, which Claire picked from the Scholastic catalog from school, and which we assumed was alright, is pure drivel.  In the book, Barbie is a hardworking waitress who is picked by lottery to attend the prestigious Princess Charm School, where “girls were trained to become princesses and Lady Royals”.  Most of the story involves the backstabbing treachery of a snobby, jealous teacher.  Eventually, Barbie joins her slightly-skanky friends and overcomes her obstacles by simply inheriting the throne of Queen of Gardania.  Hurray for monarchy!  Wait, what the… ?  The book pays lip service to hard work and honesty, but in the end it is pretty clear that really the best thing is to be the queen’s pretty daughter.  When we read it, Kit and I do our best to draw some helpful conclusions and perspectives from this book.

Claire just loves this book, though, I guess for the drama and the visuals.  For example, she told me that this page is maybe the prettiest thing she has ever seen.

This page definitely scores big on its overall pinkness and fairy-related content, big points for Claire right now.

Other current favorites include The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School, which Claire checked out from her school library, and Ruby the Copycat, both of which are about a girl’s struggle in school and ultimate redemption.  These fine books may be helping to soothe Claire’s kindergarten jitters.

Kindergarten Jitters

Claire having a good moment at school.

Claire has had a tough couple of weeks since starting kindergarten.  It’s strange, because she actually likes her teacher a lot.  And the other kids are fine.  And she is doing okay while in school, for the most part.  The teacher did ask her not to wear her new Twinkle Toes shoes because they are distracting her.

For one thing, Claire says she does not like Extend-A-Care.  She is the only kid in her class who goes to Extend-A-Care.  Extend-A-Care itself seems okay when I pick her up, but apparently, every other student in her class else has a parent or a big sibling or nanny to pick them up right after school (this is amazing to me).  Claire is 1 of 22 who goes to Extend-a-Care, and she is all by herself when the kids split up to go home at the end of the day.  I can understand how that would be a bad feeling.

And Claire is definitely “off” at home in the evening.  I think she is exhausted from the early mornings and the new environment and all the new rules.  By the late afternoon and evening, she is really wiped out.  In the evenings, Claire is always at the extremes.  She either mumbling or screaming, acting silly or crying, wiggling around or laying down flat on the floor, cuddling up to you or running away.

These have actually been some of the toughest weeks we have ever had with poor Claire, who is also asserting herself, you could say.  She has discovered the joy of not doing what we ask her to do, even if it is something she has done 100 times before.  She is basically rebelling, and she is driving us a little crazy, I must admit.  But mostly we feel bad for her.  She is struggling through a big transition, and hopefully with some patience and understanding, we can help her through it.  I sure hope so, anyways.  🙂