Date with Ikea

We took the kids to Ikea for the first time in years. ¬†Neither Claire nor Molly had any remembrance of it. ¬†When we told them we were going to a furniture store, they we pretty bummed. ¬†Once we explained that it was not just any furniture store, but a big, crazy, Swedish one named Ikea with sample houses you could explore, a cafe, and a huge warehouse, they were sold. ¬†We were just shopping for a few household items, maybe a¬†TROFAST here, or a¬†SKYLTA there. ¬†Don’t forget the¬†BJURSTA and the¬†√ĄPPLAR√Ė/ H√ĖGSTEN.

Among other treats, Molly was able to spend her first allowance money. ¬†She had earned $4 over the last two weeks doing the standard dishes, shoes, cleanup routine that Claire has been doing. ¬†Molly had been expressing a desire to have some of this stuff called money that Claire keeps buying cool stuff with. ¬†When we first told Molly we would be giving her allowance now, she was thrilled. ¬†The first time she took in her dishes, she held out her hand and said, “Where’s my money?” ¬†Anyways, Molly had $4 to spend. ¬†At Ikea, even $4 goes a long way. ¬†Molly bought four tiny stuffed animals for $2 and saved the other $2.

Molly was just a hair short to get into Sm√•land, the kids’ play aera. ¬†But the¬†girls had a great time exploring the famous “375 Square Foot Home” display, and snuggled up in the little bedroom together. ¬†They also enjoyed Swedish meatballs (Claire) and chicken fingers (Molly) with Lingonberry juice¬†while watching Finding Nemo in the kids lounge. ¬† It was a fun morning shopping for housing goods. ¬†Now that is almost a contradiction in terms, but not at Ikea!

BTW, the name of this message came from the Pavement song of the same name.

Bedtime Delivery

There is a period of about 10 minutes between tucking Molly into bed and then finishing up Claire’s bedtime story and tucking her in too. ¬†During those 10 minutes, Molly almost always does her daily poop. ¬†It’s to the point where I literally now just expect to change Molly’s diaper when dropping Claire off to bed. ¬†Molly has a poop something like 85% of the time. ¬†You can tell for sure as you walk down the hall towards the girls’ room. ¬†The odor is unmistakable. ¬†I wonder how this will play out if/when Molly finally gets out of diapers.

Summertime Ins and Outs

Winters can involve dealing with a certain amount of extra “stuff” at times, namely coats and umbrellas when it gets particularly cold and/or rainy. ¬†But I think summer takes the prize for extra stuff. ¬†Below is what we had to carry out to the car this morning for school/camp for the girls. ¬†It is not all summer-related, but the seasonal aspect does add some heft. ¬†If anything is forgotten, it is kind of a big deal or at least a bummer. ¬†I was tempted to compare this to the Normandy invasion, but happily we did not take any mortar fire on the way to the car.


  • Two “splash day” bags containing the standard swim suit, towel, water shoes, minimal change of clothes.
  • Two lunches. ¬†During the school year, it would be down to one packed lunch as Claire would eat a hot school lunch for like $2. ¬†Claire’s camp lunch cannot be heated and cannot contain peanuts. ¬†That basically leaves ham or turkey sandwiches and fruit.
  • Extra snack / sunscreen / glasses bag for Claire for art camp.
  • Standard diaper / accessories bag for Molly.
  • There happens to be a tuition check taped to Molly’s lunch so I don’t forget that.
  • Claire’s backpack full of books, flash cards, dry erase board, etc. for morning pre-camp study session after dropping off Molly.
  • Also in Claire’s backpack are some fairy wings, red slippers, and a magic wand for a performance ¬†at camp.
  • (Unpictured) Two face sticks and one spray can of sunscreen for the morning send-off
  • (Unpictured) Two girls, ages 3 and 7
  • Silk map of Northern France ¬†— oh wait, that actually was the Normandy Invasion.

At the end of the day, this stuff came home all soggy, crumpled, and scattered.  Plus completed art projects and such also came home from school.



I did not make things any easier by agreeing to pick the girls up a little bit early from school and take them for a picnic and a swim at the park in the 107¬į heat¬†while Kit finished up at work. ¬†Seriously, though, the pools are only open for three months of the year. ¬†You have to jump on that while you can, people, even if it means a lot of sunscreen and a big pile of soggy stuff waiting for you at 10 pm.


Panties and Coke

This picture describes our current life pretty well.  Elmo underwear and an empty bottle of Mexican Coke.  Yep, somehow that captures it pretty well right there.


Going Overboard for Father’s Day

This Father’s Day was broken up into three distinct parts. ¬†First there was the part where we took the girls and Uncle Bob to Austin Java for a nice breakfast. ¬†This was the part before the whole family had all fallen into Ladybird Lake. ¬†Then came the part where¬†Bob left for Corpus Christi and¬†the rest of us went canoeing on Ladybird Lake, tipped the canoe, and the whole family fell¬†into Ladybird Lake with all our clothes and possessions. ¬†The third part was when we and ruminated on everyone falling into lake, who reacted which way, what it meant for our upcoming boating trip to the Pacific Northwest, and so forth. ¬†The discussion also touched on whether this was the best Father’s Day ever or the worst.

We had decided to finally go¬†canoeing on the lake for Father’s Day. ¬†Everyone liked the idea. ¬†After breakfast with Bob, we all geared up in sunscreen, water shoes as available, and hats as available. ¬†Claire did not have good water shoes, so she wore her waterproof pink and yellow Crocs sandals. ¬†I got to wear my cowboy hat, which I had purchased late last summer as the “perfect sun hat” since it was light, waterproof, and has good sun coverage all around.

Being the honorary father of the day, I picked Zilker Park Boat Rentals¬†for our put-off point since I always liked that little shady spot just downstream from the¬†Barton Springs Pool. ¬†Thinking we were being overly careful, we left our cell phones in the car, and I left the car keys in a little plastic box at the rental dock. ¬†(You know, just in case. ¬†Not that anything would happen.) ¬†On the canoe, we took only a small bag with Molly’s diapers, wipes, and some bottled water. ¬†The dock guy gave us all oars, including one for each of the girls. ¬†The instructions were to keep the girls sitting on the floor in the middle of the canoe.

We rowed down the stream to Ladybird lake, then upstream toward the Mo-Pac bridge. ¬†It was great. ¬†The weather was warm but pleasant, the kids were having fun. ¬†We counted turtles, dodged a seaweed-like stringy plant growing on the water, and just enjoyed the day. ¬†We looped under Mo-Pac bridge feeling relaxed and confident and headed back to the springs. ¬†Kit and I took off our clumsy life jackets but left them on the girls, just in case. ¬†By now Molly was sitting on Kit’s lap and “helping” row the boat. ¬†I had to row a little harder to make up for Molly’s “help” but sort of enjoyed the physical challenge.

Then it happened. ¬†If you ask Molly, she dropped her oar. ¬†From my perspective, I would swear I saw her throw it clear of the boat. ¬†It does not matter, really. ¬†Molly’s oar went over the left side of the boat. ¬†But the missing oar did not in itself¬†cause the canoe to tip over. ¬†It was the fact that we all suddenly¬†reached to grab the oar at exactly the same time that tipped the boat. ¬†It did not take much. ¬†The boat just tipped to the left and spilled us all out into the green lake, full of turtles, fish, weeds, birds, probably snakes, and now two adults and two kids.

Kit, who cannot swim and was not wearing a life jack, was initially panicked, especially for Molly, who was in the water next to her.  Kit managed to tread water with floating by her in her little life jacket.  It was briefly pretty scary for Kit and Molly, our two non-swimmers.  Claire, who had a life jacket and could swim, was as cool as a cucumber.  She just floated around with a small grin on her face.  Kit said I seemed panicked, but I do not remember that.  I remember thinking, hmm, did that just happen?  Are we really in the lake now?  I guess we better do something about this.  The water feels refreshing.

Within what seemed like 10 seconds, a gaggle of lake-goers showed up to help. ¬†They were mostly on kayaks and those flat boards that resemble surf boards. ¬†A dad with his own family showed up and let Kit and Molly grab onto his board, which was as stable as land, as he said. ¬†He helped calm Kit and Molly. ¬†Claire¬†used the board as a base but would sometimes shove off to swim around just for fun. ¬†A kid 20 yards aways yelled, “Is this someone’s cowboy hat?”, waving my hat in his hand. ¬†We were still missing one of Claire’s sandals and the diaper bag.

Meanwhile, another dad was helping me out with the canoe. ¬†He knew exactly what do to with a waterlogged canoe, and I just followed orders. ¬†I swam the bloated canoe over to the edge of the lake, maybe 20-30 yardsaway. ¬†There was no “shore” per se, only a less deep area near the tree-choked edge where we could touch the bottom. ¬†I got my footing either on loose rocks or maybe turtles. ¬†I never got bit, so I am guessing they were rocks. ¬†The water weeds were thick here, and I was swimming around in them up to my shoulders. ¬†It reminded me a little bit of the garbage compactor scene from Star Wars. ¬†The other guy said I should just flip the canoe over to dump out the water, and then flip it back over. ¬†This was not as easy as it sounds, and it took all my strength. ¬†We flipped it twice before it was lake-worthy. ¬†When I loaded back into the canoe, the helper guy looked at me and make an “ick” look on his face. ¬†I was wrapped in those long green water weeds, which I had to unwrap from my arms and torso.

I paddled the canoe back to the family, who were still surrounded by friendly helpers. ¬†I was instructed to stay in the boat as ballast while Kit and the kids loaded up. ¬†Their spirits were good now, having calmed from the initial shock. ¬†Claire was happy as always. ¬†The girls were lifted into the canoe, and Kit had to pull herself in, which would later leave terrible bruises on the backs of her legs. ¬†Someone had produced our diaper bag, which was full of soaking diapers and now weighed about 50 pounds. ¬†Someone else had found Claire’s missing Croc sandal.

From there, we said our thanks to our helpers and paddled back. ¬†I told the canoe rental guy we tipped the boat when our kid dropped her paddle. ¬†He said, “Did you all reach for it at once?” ¬†He reduced our rental fee to half since we “were out of the boat for some of the time.”

There was a discussion on the way home that this demonstrated the importance of water safety and life jackets.  If Molly in particular had not been wearing a life vest, we probably would have been diving down to pull her up from under the green water.  And we were lucky that Ladybird Lake is nice and warm, something like 70 degrees, where you could swim all day if you wanted to.  When we visit Anacortes, Washington in a couple months, the water will be much colder and more dangerous.  You cannot necessarily doddle in the cold water waiting to be rescued.  We would also learn after the fact that canoes are notorious for tipping, and a kayak would be a better choice for stability.

Still, it was a great Father’s Day, probably the best ever, and definitely the most memorable. ¬† Plus a little kick in the rear over water safety is a good thing too, maybe a blessing in disguise.


Pencil Sharpeners and Other Hazards

20130624-2Molly is still learning the fine art of common sense.

The other day, she asked me for a band aid for her finger. ¬†Her index finger was bleeding a little bit on the tip, not a lot, but definitely bleeding. ¬†While putting on the band aid, I asked her how it got cut. ¬†She held up a small plastic pencil sharpener and said, “I put it in this thing.” ¬†Yes, Molly had unwittingly sharpened her finger, just a little bit, just until it hurt. ¬†(I mean, what else would you do with a finger-sized hole besides stick a finger in it? ¬†Not put your finger in it?)

Yesterday, while Kit was loading the kids into the car after meeting friends for dinner at a restaurant, Molly was playing with a cigarette lighter.  She had apparently found the functioning lighter on the ground and decided to see if she could make it work in the car.  I was not there, but apparently Kit screamed loud enough to leave a real impression on the kids.

I found Molly wandering the house the other day with a spray bottle of DEET bug spray. ¬†Thankfully by the time I noticed, Molly not sprayed it in her own face or anyone else’s face and had not damaged any furniture. ¬†Maybe it is because we keep telling her that the bug spray hurts eyes really bad and is not for kids. ¬†Or maybe she just couldn’t get the darn thing to work. ¬†We may never know.

Still, Molly is learning.  She had not tried to sharpen her finger again and has laid off the bug spray, so we are getting somewhere.

Claire is not 100% out of the woods either, although she tends to avoid physical injury and focus more on making a mess.  Claire also got her hands on some bug spray, which was packed in her bag for camp.  She managed to pour about 4 ounces of into a plastic bag in the back seat of the car before telling me that it was leaking.  Thankfully, she did not hand it to Molly.

Girl Interrupting

Sometimes Molly cannot wait to talk.
Sometimes Molly cannot wait to talk.

If you are having a conversation with someone and Molly is in the room, watch out. ¬†There are good odds that she will suddenly and loudly interrupt you or your companion. ¬†At times is seems like Molly has no regard for the fact that other people are talking. ¬†Even when two people are clearly engaged and carefully listening to each other, Molly will suddenly shout over them something like, “Where’s my lovie?” or “I want to go outside.”

Sometimes Molly will even interrupt you while you are answering a question she asked you.  For example:

Molly: “Can I have a drink?”

You: “Yes, in just a –“

Molly: “Can I have my drink?”

You: “Yes, but we –“

Molly: “But I want a drink.”

We normally take care to tell Molly in a non-angry way that she is interrupting. ¬†She is usually receptive but then does it again. ¬†And again, and again. ¬†To be fair, I do not think Molly is trying to be rude. ¬†She just has something to say and maybe has trouble waiting or else feels like she will have to wait too long to talk. ¬†Sometimes when we ask her to wait to talk, she says, “Is is going to be a long time?” ¬†I think it is not easy being three years old.

To be fair, Molly treats herself the same way. ¬†Sometimes she literally interrupts herself. ¬†“Can we go for a — hey, there’s my lovie!”

Birthday Trip to DFW

For Kit’s big 40th birthday, we took a weekend trip up to Dallas to see a Rangers baseball game and enjoy brunch at the Dallas Arboretum. ¬†Kit took some ribbing from her fancy friends who thought this did not sound like fun at all. ¬†They would rather go to their vacation houses in San Francisco or Italy than plain old Dallas. ¬†But Kit had a good time, and the kids had a ball. ¬†We were wiped out and still recovering days later from the 36-hour trip (which is the longest we could get out of town). ¬†A few highlights…

  • Much to Claire’s chagrin, The Rangers game went into extra innings. ¬†By the 10th inning, though, Claire had come to accept that the game was going to take a long time, and she started to get very good at cheering when it seemed like people were excited about something. The Rangers lost to the Royals 4-1.
  • Throughout the weekend, Claire was a character named Scrumford the dog. ¬†Scrumford is a sweet, shaggy dog who gets in trouble despite his best intentions. ¬†He loves milkbones dipped in peanut butter and belly rubs from his cousin Susie. ¬†Molly took on the alternating characters of Susie, Cuppy (Scrumford’s dog friend), and Old Whiskers (yes, a cat).
  • Molly missed her nap both Saturday and Sunday. ¬†She was extra crazy at bedtime but otherwise handled it well.
  • We got to bed late on Saturday night (thanks largely to Dallas traffic) and all slept in until 8:30 am on Sunday, shattering our previous record by an hour and also pushing the rest of the day about two hours late past the expected 6:30 wake up time (who needs an alarm?).
  • The girls absolutely adored the Dallas Arboretum. ¬†Claire said it was “literally” what heaven must be like. ¬†We could have spent all day there but had to get home. ¬†To top it off, Claire got some shark’s teeth and a butterfly necklace at the gift shop with her allowance ($8). ¬†Molly got a couple of sheets of stickers which she promptly stuck to each other in one big clump.
  • The girls traveled well besides getting a little crazy at times from over-excitement in the hotel room.
  • The girls each gave Kit a ceramic creation they hand-painted at Ceramics Bayou.

And the rest I will leave to the pictures…