Going Overboard for Father’s Day

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.


The Day of Urine

The Day of Urine

I was fortunate enough to miss the following series of events since I was off working hard on my side project. ¬†But from Kit’s description, here is what I am to understand Kit and her parents endured this Saturday…

At some point during the usual Saturday morning hubbub of getting the girls fed and Claire off to swimming class, our dog Muffin slipped into the guest room, where Kits parents were staying, and peed all over the bed.  So they got that cleaned up and started a quick load of laundry for all the urine-soaked sheets and bedding.  The comforter, which was new, had to be sent off to dry cleaning.

The morning’s plan was to take the girls to a birthday party directly after swimming. ¬†The party involved water balloons, so they would need to wear swimsuits and, in Molly’s case, a swim diaper. ¬†So Molly, who had been playing outside in the warm morning sun, and accordingly drinking a lot of water, was wearing a swim diaper when she stared to yell, “Pee! ¬†Pee! ¬†My leg! ¬†My leeeeeg!” ¬†And sure enough, urine was running down her leg and on the floor, apparently due to both the volume of water consumed that morning and the peculiarity of the swim diaper. ¬†Kit picked up Molly to help clean her up and then discovered that Molly’s urine had spread all over her own pants. ¬†Another load of laundry was started, and Molly received a fresh swim diaper.

Swimming and the birthday party went fine until the very end of the party. ¬†Kit had been trying to gather up both girls to leave at the end of the party, a process which can take some time to get both¬†girls off to the car at the same time. ¬†Finally when walking out the gate, Molly’s face appeared stricken, and sure enough, there was a little trail of pee on the ground around here. ¬†So it was back inside for another diaper and yes, at home, another load of laundry.

After started, checking, and changing laundry at home, Kit went upstairs and laid down in Claire’s bed to get a few minutes of peace. ¬†I am not sure why she laid down in Claire’s bed — maybe she was too tired to make it all the way back to our bedroom. ¬†Either way, you might guess now what Kit discovered in Claire’s bed. ¬†Yes, dog urine. ¬†Muffin struck again, this time at Claire’s bed. ¬†Surely Muffin skipped peeing on our own bed only because it was too high for her Muffin to jump onto. ¬†And another load of laundry was started.

Claire’s bed was not dry of urine and bleach in time for bed, so she had to sleep in our bed, which may have been a nice bonus for Claire. ¬†There was no bonus for anyone else. ¬†Muffin may have made her point, if only we knew what it was. ¬†We may never know.

Movie Mistake

Movie Mistake

Today we were looking for a fun activity to fight the post-Christmas blues. It was too cold for the zoo, and we wanted to do something new anyways. So we decided to go to a movie. This would be Claire’s first real movie in a theater!

The theater at the nearby mall had two cartoons showing in the late morning.The Tale of Despereaux was about a mouse who lives in some sort of castle and maybe sings or something. Then there was Bolt, about a scrappy superhero dog. We leaned towards Bolt since it looked cute and was about a dog, which is always fun, right? The reviews on imdb also favored Bolt, plus it was showing earlier in the morning. So it was clinched, we would take our sweet little girl to the cute movie about the scruffy white dog.

Bolt started out promisingly enough, with the expected cute puppy playing around with a little girl. I whispered to Claire that the little girl looked just like her. She seemed to enjoy the giant movie screen and the engrossing sound, all of which really shamed our little TV at home. Her eyes and mouth were wide open.

Ten minutes later, we had witnessed roughly three helicopter explosions, a pair of bad guys being “shaken down” for information with their car dangling off a bridge, the violent deaths of several evil guys in black suits and masks with deadly electric shocking hands, the destruction of an entire dessert valley along and the entire army of evil guys populating it, and of course several near-death incidents involving the scrappy white dog and the little girl who looked just like Claire.

Claire was terrified. Well, may not quite terrified, but she was definitely scared and grasping her mom’s arm really hard. She tried to say something, but I could not hear it. I asked if she wanted to leave the movie for a while, and she nodded her head. I took her out to the lobby to get some delicious theater popcorn. We sat in the lobby for a few minutes enjoying our popcorn. When we returned to the movie, it had settled down. In the movie, all of the mayhem was revealed to have been fake — a show within a show. But of course Claire did not understand these concepts. It was just scary to her, really scary. When the little girl in the movie got dragged off by bad guys at the protests of her howling dog, who was being dragged off somewhere else, Claire calmly asked to leave. And so we did.

Uh, what was this thing rated? Oops, it turns out Bolt was rated PG, which basically means, “think about leaving your sweet little three year old at home”. Normally we pay pretty close attention to what Claire sees and hears. But not today! We had assumed that Bolt was rated G, or maybe we just hadn’t thought about it at all. Either way, it was the idiot moment of the day.

We snuck next door to try out The Tale of Despereaux, which was just beginning and really was rated G. It started out as a nice sweet movie about some soup — yes, soup. Things picked up, and eventually a bunch of people were chasing down the silly protagonist rat, who was running for his life. There were no explosions or scary evil guys. It was standard old-school little kid cartoon stuff, lighthearted and decidedly more funny than scary. But Claire’s mood for this sort of thing had already been ruined by Bolt, and she politely asked to leave.

We spent the unexpected free time getting a little post-Christmas shopping done at the mall. Ann Taylor Loft had a kid’s bench set up outside the fitting room, filled with Dr. Seuse books, which was a nice touch. I read Green Eggs and Ham and Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? to Claire while Kit tried on sweaters. Claire may actually enjoy Bolt in another 10 years. It’s supposed to be a good movie, at least for the right audience. But for now, Dr. Seuse was just the ticket. It was silly and colorful and very G-rated.

Pool Bust

Pool Bust

Today I had another involuntary day off with Claire. Grace needed today and last Friday off for family reasons. Kit took Friday off and went to the zoo and did errands with Claire. Today was my turn. The day started off with a good sign. Claire’s first words this morning when I got her out of her crib were “Wow! Awesome!” Sadly, the day would not live up to those bold expectations.

The first task of the day was to go to Target to return some lake supplies that we did not end up needing at the lake this weekend. As we pulled into the parking lot, just as Claire said “Target!”, I realized I had the unused toddler life preserver with me, but not the unused sunglasses. I would come back another time when I had everything I needed to return.

Returning home, I began the hour-long process of getting ready to go to the pool. This process involves dressing Claire in her bathing suit and water shoes, dressing myself in my bathing suit and water shoes while keeping an eye on Claire, applying sunscreen to both of us, collecting together all the necessary water supplies such as towels, cups to play with, a kickboard, change of clothes, snacks and drinks, shutting the bedroom door so Muffin does not pee on our bed, and finally getting out the door and into the car. Damn, I forgot my cell phone. And Claire’s hat. Back in the car.

We finally made it to the Garden Hills Pool, at 10:45, just 15 minutes after opening time. Claire enthusiastically said, “Pool!” as we drove up. We parked and walked up to the pool…And nobody was around. Literally nobody. The pool was closed. No hours were posted, it was just closed. I had to explain this to Claire, saying “Sorry, no people. Closed.” Claire calmly repeated back “no people” as I loaded her back in the car. She cried a bit when she realized we really we not going to the pool any more, but she calmed down pretty quickly.

Determined to swim now that we were both all greased up ready to go, I went to plan B. I was not going to spend my day off not swimming! Chastain Park was not too far away, and I knew it had a public pool. So we drove up Peachtree and Roswell roads to the other pool, Claire glumly but calmly repeating, “Closed. No people.” We parked, unloaded, and walked up to the pool…The closed pool. Claire offered, “Sorry, no people.” The pool was closed until 4:00 in the afternoon. These beautiful pools are wasted just sitting there on such a hot, sunny day!

Plan C is to find a playground to get Claire’s mind off of today’s fiasco so far. After all, this was a park, and I hoped to avoid getting back in the car, which I would have considered a mortal failure at this point. The nice fellow at the nearby tennis center told us that there is a playground a little way down the road. So Claire and I walked a few blocks down Wieuca Road in 98 degree heat in our swimsuits and water shoes to the goddamn playground. We stopped along the way to sip on the Poweraid (“juice”, as Claire calls it) that I had bought at the tennis center, and to enjoy the views of the golf course and baseball fields. Most of the goddamn playground was roasting in the near-noon sun, and the swings and slides were too hot to use, especially in a tiny nylon bathing suit. Claire did manage to have some fun, though, generally running and climbing around and just looking at the other, mostly older, kids. I was personally somewhat out of place among the Buckhead nanny set, but it was fun to hang out for a while. We cooled off over lunch at Moe’s with a “kadeeya” and finally headed home to listen to music, dance, read, nap, and take it easy.

Even though today did not live up to the “Wow! Awesome!” expectations, it was still a fine day, and I even learned a few things along the way.

  • Atlanta’s pools are not open on Mondays…or something.
  • Chastain Park offers some nice views of the Buckhead skyline across the golf course.
  • Poweraid is a fine, refreshing beverage, even when quite tepid.
  • Some nannies seem impatient or bored with the kids they are watching.
  • Any day with Claire can be fun even if it is totally screwed up.