Claire has been wanting an iPod Touch for a long time, mostly because a few other kids at school have them. She occasionally likes to use my iPhone to do some drawing with Flowpaper or the like, but she has largely lost interest in games like Angry Birds. However, inspired by her friends, Claire wanted an iPod Touch, perhaps more as an accessory than a useful or fun device.
Kit and I were skeptical of Claire having an iPod Touch, but seeing a nice lesson in saving and delayed gratification, we said she could buy one herself. We offered her a used one for a marked down price of $75 rather than $200 new. We told Claire is was actually an old iPhone, but she did not mind. Claire quickly agreed and proceeded to save up her $5 weekly allowance, which was already accumulating. She did not spend any allowance for months, quickly passing up sticker and other treats without a thought. It was just like she didn’t have allowance money. Each week when we gave her $5, she disinterestedly put it right away in her savings without an apparent thought.
Then suddenly she had $75. Kit in particular, and me to some extent, concerned about Claire doing too much iPod Touch. We didn’t want her to stop doing all her playing and art projects. So one contingency on selling her the iPod Touch was a contract so we were all on the same page. It did not specifically limit Claire’s time on the iPod Touch, but it did leave room to do
that if we had to. Claire happily signed the contract and handed over her (sort of) hard earned money. It was quite an accomplishment for Claire to save up for so long, and she made it seem effortless.
Now that Claire has earned her iPod Touch, she basically doesn’t use it. It just sits there. She takes it around a little bit as an accessory and likes to sometimes take pictures. She has yet to play a single game of Angry Birds.
Normally our weeks follow a pretty steady and predictable rhythm based around work and school. The days are busy, planned down to the minute at spots, and each day feels like a sprint that you can never quite win. But the basic routine is there. Except for this week, which was a little different…
On Sunday, we meet Noni, Grandpa Phil, and even Uncle Tim in Round Top. Tim was in Houston for a conference and had Sunday off, so we decided to meet him for lunch at Scotty & Friends in Round Top, midway between Austin and Houston. After lunch, we explored grounds of Festival Hall before heading home for Molly’s nap. It was really great to get the girls together with everyone, especially Uncle Tim on his visit to Texas. Tim and Claire made a sweet pair, as always.
On Tuesday, Kit and I went to a fundraiser through Kit’s job at a fancy house in the hills overlooking Austin. Kit’s parents arrived that day to babysit for the night. The event was based on the movie Bernie, and we got to meet some of the real people that the story is based on as well as chat with director Richard Linklater. Now Rick is not just any old director. Besides Bernie, he has made some of my favorite movies ever, especially Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. It was so cool to get to just chat with him for a few minutes.
On Thursday evening, it was off to Chicago while Grammy and Granddaddy watched the kids back home. Kit had a conference in Chicago, and I got to tag along. Our plane dodged thunderstorms as flew in to Chicago, which was flooding as we landed. The next day was cool and rainy, but we still got to use our great Cubs tickets. We huddled under coats and umbrellas in a very light crowd, which I believe is rare for a Cubs home game, and which will tell you about the weather. The next day was cold and windy. During the day , I did lots of lots of exploring on foot, and some work on my apps. As Kit and I explored Michigan Avenue at night, snow flurries began to fall and fly horizontally through the bitter winds. It was still fun, and I got an amusing picture of Kit, but it was a bit much. We net up with our college friend Asma on Saturday for a great night on the town full of sushi, piano bars, an outrageously overpriced dessert bar, and lots of cab rides. The next morning, it was time for a crisp walk up through Lincoln Park and back, and then flying back home in the afternoon.
The next morning, back in Austin, it was no more art deco hotels, fine food, and freezing winds. It was just getting the kids up at 6:30 and off to school like usual. It was sort of strange. Chicago, the fundraiser in the Westlake hills, and Round Top all seemed like their distinct little islands that we visited briefly, and now we are back to our own crazy little world.
It has been a while since the last favorite books entry on this blog, so here we go…
For bedtime stories, Claire has been reading the Harry Potter series almost every night for months now. We just finished up book #3, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Claire loves the HP series and has a tendency to think it is real. Occasionally she even insists that it is real, a non-function book as she put it once. Each time we finish reading a book, we get to rent the movie afterwards. After watching one of the movies, Claire said, “Do you think that is what it really looked like?” She seems to understand that the movies are just movies but thinks they are based on real events. We have stressed to Claire that the stories are made up by J.K. Rowling, a nice, talented writer from England. One time I showed Claire an interview of J.K. Rowling on The Daily Show just to drive home the point that this is all made up by this one lady, and there she is. Claire seems to understand rationally that the story is actually fiction, but it also just seems real to her. That must make the stories very vivid for her.
For the sake of mixing things up a bit, we are trying Nancy Drew mystery series now. Claire is luke warm on Nancy Drew. She says it is alright, but it is just not as exciting as Harry Potter.
We also listen to the Ramona Quimby audiobook collection every day after school, while driving to pick up Molly. Listening to Ramona stories peacefully in the car with Claire after a hard day of work is a highlight of every day for me. I really look forward to those 20-30 minutes.
As for Molly…
Molly has more variety than Claire at the moment. It is hard to pin down a favorite. She can pick three books to take to bed each night, and usually they are different. Lately, though, one of the three is almost always one of the big Harry Potter books. This is surprising since Molly cannot read and the books have no pictures except for the cover and the start of each chapter. But Molly seems to enjoy the pure physicality of the Harry Potter books and insists on saving her place with a bookmark every night. Molly also loves Claire’s school yearbook from last year (kindergarten). She loves to look at all the kids and teachers, some of whom she knows. The third book is the wildcard. A long-running favorite is Dr. Seuss’ Big Green Book of Beginner Books. She keeps a bookmark as she works her way through this book too. She likes any Dr. Seuss book, of course, but this big one is her favorite. Basically, she likes big hardback books. Molly also enjoys pop-up books such as a Peter Rabbit pop-up that we have. She also enjoys some cute little books such as the square Little Miss and Mr. Men books by Roger Hargreaves and the occasional book about potty training.
Claire just finished up a brief 4-week claymation class at the Art School at Laguna Gloria. All of her classmates’ animations are posted together as a single montage online. Claire’s creations are in there, but I’m not even sure which ones are hers exactly, except for the one spelling “Claire” in the names section near the end. Anyways, the class put together some really creative ideas, the kind of stuff only kids can dream up.
She has been building little houses for them, grinding up and refrigerating food for them, and even making a park and pond for them in the backyard. She really believes in fairies. Or she may have a rational clue they are not strictly speaking “real”, but that is a secondary concern because fairies are just so magical and sweet.
Claire checked out a “non fiction” book about fairies from the school library. It tells all about the lives of “faeries”, as the book calls them, and Faeland, where they live. It is all quite convincing and cute, and it is fun to pretend along with Claire (even though she knows that I know fairies aren’t exactly real.)
Kit and I needed some nice shoes for an upscale fundraiser we were supposed to attend in a couple of days. The dress code for the event was “Dress to kill, but no tie required.” We puzzled over this a bit but agreed that we both needed new shoes to start. Running out of other times to shop, we dragged both girls to the local DSW shoe store with us on Saturday after Molly’s ballet / tap class. This massive store features aisle after aisle of nothing but shoes. It has historically been a place where the kids go pretty crazy from boredom pretty quickly.
I took Molly to the men’s shoes, and Kit took Claire. Molly was still dressed in her pink ballet leotard and tutu and armed only with a small purple teddy bear for her entertainment. She was pretty helpful in the shoe hunt at first. She gave me several shoe suggestions, most of which were flip flops or running shoes, but she was trying. Then Molly grew bored and started throwing said small purple teddy bear up in the air. It would land in another aisle or sometimes fall hidden in between shoes boxes. Molly loved this games and started hiding the teddy bear on purpose. Then Claire came over to join us and tried to entertain Molly, which was also good at first. But even Claire grows restless and bored in DSW very quickly. So she and Molly were making repeated trips to the water fountain at the back of the store. At this point, I was getting no shoe shopping done whatsoever. I was baby-sitting two tired, hungry, and bored little girls stuck in a large, boring shoe store for grown-ups
With the girls headed toward a peasant revolt, I just picked some reasonably attractive and well-fitting shoes and took the girls over to check on Kit. Kit had a pile of possible shoes beside her on the ground. Without getting into the details, Kit was not too happy with any of them. I honestly thought they all looked pretty darn good and was hoping she would pick one so we could get out of there and go eat lunch. But more choices kept coming. Shoes were reconsidered. We were not going to be leaving soon. To be fair, Kit was not taking an extraordinary amount of time to pick her shoes. It would have been okay except for the two restless little girls. Now in the women’s section, where the shoes come in more than two colors and shapes, the girls were no longer in revolt. There we just getting really wild and silly — too wild and silly. They were running around, trying on grown-up high-heals and hats (or were they bonnets?). They were giggling, getting louder, and wandering farther afield. Molly was within an inch of a loud scream and/or a bad trip in those way-too-big heals.
I was splitting my time watching the girls and suggesting shoes for Kit. At some point, I gave my full attention to Kit’s shoes for too long, I guess about 30 seconds straight. Molly was gone. But she was easy to find. She was the three-foot tall giggling ballerina bounding away from us down the next aisle. She was already 40 yards away from me (these are long aisles) and gaining speed. At first I approached her at a cool, fast walk. Then I realized that I had to actually run because she was running away pretty fast. She had made 40 yards in seconds, and I was not gaining on her. I was getting a little frustrated or scared, or both. I ran towards Molly at a pretty fast jog, not quite a sprint, carefully dodging the lady shoe shoppers. I caught up to Molly just before she turned a corner at the end of the aisle and swooped her up swiftly but gently with my arm. Luckily, Molly did not cry or scream, but she did kick her legs in the air as a show of protest.
When we got back to Kit and Claire, Claire was smiling and chuckling heartily. Fresh off Molly’s poorly advised escape attempt, I was a little angry with Molly and failed to see the humor. I asked Claire what was so funny. Claire said, over giggles, that my catching Molly was funny because she “just watched a big man chasing a little ballerina.” Now that she mentioned it, that did not hilarious. I wished I had seen it myself!
We ended up buying my shoes with one alteration suggested by Kit, but no shoes for poor Kit, who was forced to leave the store before she could make a final decision. We went straight to lunch at the close-by Indian restaurant Tarka, which Claire voted for even over the barbecue place next door with the free ice cream, because Tarka’s chicken fingers were “hot, salty, flavorful, and roasted.” I found that “roasted” part in particular hilarious. Turned out to be a sort of funny shopping excursion after all.
Claire entered her school’s optional art contest a few weeks ago. The assignment for the art contest was to create a picture of the Austin skyline or a local landmark. The contest started the week before Spring Break and was due the Thursday after Spring Break. For her subject, Claire picked the University of Texas tower. Claire kept wavering on actually doing the project. She always had something else to do, and it was in danger of becoming another homework-type struggle if we pushed it too hard. So we just gently reminded her about the contest every couple of days, even going so far as to say she could just skip it since it’s just for fun. Over Spring Break, we sent Claire off to Corpus Christi with a photo of the UT tower and the official contest paper. Claire came home with nothing.
Then, two nights before her art submission was due, Claire decided to focus on it. She got far on her initial ideas but ran out of time the first night. On the second — and last — night, Claire got into a really good groove after dinner. She asked, “Does it have to look exactly like the tower?” to which we said no, you just have to be able to tell it is the tower. Claire got excited and started adding bright new colors to the tower itself and imagined details around the base of the tower. She worked hard on it up to and past bed time, giving up her nightly story time to finish the picture. She got to bed 30 minutes late but with an awesome picture to take in the next day.
We found out today that her picture won first place for first grade! Claire was so proud and excited. As a prize from the school, she received a compact art kit, containing paint, colored pencils, oil pastels, and more.
Claire had Friday off and, as usual, she spent most of her day working on a project. Lately, she is particularly interested in making seasonal or holiday-related pictures, cards, gifts, etc. This Easter, she has taken this idea to new a level. On Friday and Saturday, Claire planned and prepared her first play, a performance about how Easter began. She assigned each member of the family a character. Claire was the Easter Bunny, Molly was a chick, Kit was a bumble bee, and I was a butterfly. Claire then made costumes for each character. She taped paper and stickers to dresses for her and Molly, a similar idea for Kit, and we agreed on an outrageous orange outfit for my monarch butterfly. Claire wrote a script, which I dictated on the computer so we could print out a copy for everyone. Claire picked some music so we could do a dance in the middle. She created a set and put out chairs for the audience.
This whole play was a surprise for Grammy and Grandaddy, who were staying with us and served as our audience. Claire made sure they did not see the costumes or other preparations before it was time for the performance on Sunday morning! Claire was super excited about her play, and he excitement was contagious for the rest of us. Well, except for Molly, who refused to take part in the dress rehearsal, but who came around when it was time to actually do the play for a real audience.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “How Easter Began”…