Moving Beds

We have been talking with Claire a little bit about moving to a new house this summer. She does not seem concerned about it. In fact, from her experience this is just business as usual. This will be the fourth house and third city for this four-year-old! She probably just thinks we move every year, like some sort of migrating animal.
There is a possibility that we may put Claire and Molly in a room together in our next house. Claire’s reaction varies wildly from time to time, from excitement to defiance. Last night was the later. “I will never, ever, ever share my room! Don’t put anyone else in there with me! Okay?” She was in sort of a bad mood at the time.
Claire has also been using her newly apparent problem-solvig skills to try to arrange everyone. One of her early suggestions was to move her bed into the room with me, Kit, and Molly. Or we could leave Molly downstairs in the guest bedroom and let Claire move up with us. “Or maybe we should move your and Mommy’s bed into my room,” she said peering into her room to size it up. “Actually, it might not fit. My room is kind of small. Hmm.” Anyways, you can see the theme. Claire would prefer to sleep in the room with us. After all, Molly is still in the room with us, mostly due to space concerns. This inequity will be corrected in the new house though. Unfortunately for Claire, the solution will be to move Molly out of our room instead of Claire moving in!

Howdy, Austin

At long last, we have moved to Austin!

Not long ago, Kit’s job search from Dallas was not going so well.  We were afraid Kit would be unemployed, and we would be forced to move to Richardson for the lower rent, where Kit would be a stay-at-home mom with a hard earned but unused MD and PhD.  Or we would move somewhere random and presumably cold (Duluth or Scranton come to mind) just to find a place that would hire her.  The job market out there is tough now, even for doctors!

But here we are moving to Austin, of all places, where Kit has landed a sweet job thanks to her friend Chrissy from the residency days. Chrissy recommended Kit to her group in Austin, and by some small miracle (actually a big miracle to us), they hired her.  We always had our eye on moving to Austin or San Antonio, but we never really thought it would work out.  But here we are with a good job lined up for Kit. We are very lucky indeed.

Even though we are happy to move here, Claire had to leave behind some great school friends (Katherine from her Dallas preschool was her best friend!) plus a great baby sitter who we only used once before we left.  Claire of course has a new bedroom that is smaller than her old one in Dallas, but it actually works better for her age.  She will be starting up at her new preschool soon, which we were also extremely lucky to get her into.  Many of our other preschool choices were unorganized and chaotic, and one seemed to be run by a teenage girl in a swimsuit with no shoes.  But by another miracle and some good timing, we got Claire into an excellent day care which normally has a two year waiting list.

So far to Claire, Austin has meant a lot of fun, especially in the water.  In the first weekend alone, we went swimming or splashing on three different occasions: Barton Springs, the splash fountain at Auditorium Shores, and Chrissy’s backyard for the Fourth of July.  You just can’t help but run out and get wet around here, especially with a little kid and temperatures over 100 degrees most days.

Now the real adventure begins as Kit settles into her new job, Claire settles into her new school, I move back to full-time working at home, and we all prepare for the new baby.  These are huge life transitions, and they will bring challenges for us all.  But for now, it looks like we have things on the right track.

Pack Rat

We spent a good part of the weekend preparing for the move to Austin, with the help of Kit’s parents. Claire has mostly busied herself with packing and unpacking various bags. Her favorites, by far, are her backpacks.

Backpacks have been a long-standing amusement for Claire. She spends a lot of time stuffing them to the seams with whatever toys she has on hand, plus maybe a twig or two (another favorite). Several weeks or months later, out of her backpack comes a missing toy, such as Leo from Little Einsteins or that one puzzle piece we had been looking for. She has also lately learned to add load on the outside of her backpacks, by attaching a balloon or a stuffed animal with a string.

But today she took her backpack stuffing to new levels when she asked us to help her put her little backpack, already stuffed to the brim with detritus, inside the other backpack. “Will you help me put my backpack in my backpack?” were her exact words. Common sense took over pretty quickly, though, and we were able to talk her down from this idea. However, she did manage to load up her big backpack to the point where she was literally unable to get up. She kept struggling to stand up from a sitting position on the floor, and was only able to get up with a helping hand or two.

2008 in Review

Here is this year’s Christmas mass mailing.

2008 was an eventful year for us. We started the year in a house in Atlanta with a two year old, and ended the year in a townhouse in Dallas with a three year old. That may not be the most radical transformation imaginable, but it seemed pretty big to us. Fortunately, the two year old turned out to be the same kid as the three year old, just slightly aged.

Kit spent the first half of the year finishing up her pathology residency at Emory University and preparing for her fellowship at UT Southwestern in Dallas. She completed the dreaded medical boards and endless other exams, licensures, and registrations to practice medicine in Texas. On the other hand, I transferred my current software position to the Dallas office by simply filling out a change-of-address form.

Meanwhile, we prepared to sell our house in Atlanta. Although the market was tough, we did turn down a generous cash offer from an “English woman” whose email happened to originate from a Nigerian cyber-cafe. In the end, we managed to sell the house to a local person who was legitimate but substantially less generous. Moving was not easy, but with some creative scheduling and plenty of help from our parents, we eventually got everyone and everything to Texas in good shape.

We left behind great friends and memories in Atlanta. We have also enjoyed our time so far in Dallas. Claire declared upon seeing her new house, “I love it! It’s my Christmas day!” She is a huge fan of the Texas Rangers baseball team, a connoisseur of the local parks, and even a local architecture enthusiast, especially the Bank of America Tower, which is trimmed with bright green lights from top to bottom like a 921-foot tall Christmas tree. Claire insists that a prince lives in the tower, but I am pretty sure it is zoned for office space. Claire left her beloved nanny back in Atlanta but has transitioned admirably to daycare, where she has met many fun friends, learned about art and music, and developed a taste for
chicken fingers.

We are now trying to figure out what to do when Kit’s fellowship ends next summer. It is shaping up to be another eventful year.

Merry Christmas and everything else from Kit, Pat, and Claire.

The Big Move

I was reviewing the blog, and I realized there was nothing at all posted about the little matter of, oh I don’t know… moving half way across the country! You will notice that, besides this post, there is nothing else at all during the actual move. This post was written a couple of months later just to fill in the blanks while I still remembered anything about it.

This was probably some of the most interesting and challenging times in Claire’s life so far, but alas, I simply did not have the time/energy to write up anything about the move. The long and short of it was that we did successfully sell our house in Atlanta and move to Dallas.

My dad and I headed out with the big truck a few days ahead of Kit, Claire, and Joyce, with the goal of getting mostly settled in before everyone else got to Dallas. Kit, Claire, and Joyce stayed in a “hotel house”, ate Chik-fil-et in the room, and did a little swimming at the pool, all of which Claire talked about for some time afterwards. She would sometimes asks, “When are we going back to the blue house?”

Claire (sort of) saw two new states, Mississippi and Louisiana, on the trip to Dallas.

Here are some quick high- and low-lights of the move, from my perspective. Claire was, by design, not along for most of this.  (I should probably ask Kit to add some additinal comments for when she and Joyce had Claire…)

  • Getting more and more behind schedule with the house closing moving around
  • A couple of real country folk loading up the Penske 20″ truck somewhat sloppily in Atlanta, and Joyce squeezing everything from our storage unit into the last remaining space in the big truck on a very hot late afternoon on Cheshire Bridge Road
  • Paying something close to a dollar per mile with record-high gas prices all the way to Dallas
  • Thinking I really should not be driving this gigantic truck half way across the country, or even around the block. Shouldn’t “they” require some sort of training or a license before I get behind the wheel of this monstrosity?
  • The formerly road-weary Muffin riding shotgun on a bed of pillows and blankets, and sleeping most of the way.
  • Nearly getting lost trying to avoid a traffic jam in Birmingham.
  • My dad tailing me in the Accord, although most of the time I could not see him.
  • Driving endlessly in East Texas as the sun was setting trying to find a hotel where I could realistically park the truck. I called by dad on the cell phone just in time for him to exit at a junky hotel in Longview that did accept big trucks. Menacing guys hung out on picnic chairs outside their rooms, and there was a Days Inn sign sitting wrecked in the woods past the parking lot. My dad remarked “It’s not even good enough for Days Inn.”
  • Eating dinner in the outskirts of Longview at some half-deserted catfish restaurant in what seemed to be an office building or warehouse.
  • Finally pulling up to the beautiful townhouse in Dallas and waiting for the movers to show up to help unload. They scoffed at how the truck was loaded, and asked who the heck did it like that.
  • My mom showing up with Carolyn, Beth, and Worth, not to mention a boat load of drinks and snacks, to help unpack. Beth tripped on the stairs to the lower level, and messed up her ankle pretty good.
  • Finally passably moved in that night, me and my parents went out to eat at Taco Cabana… a real Taco Cabana, not that fake one back in Atlanta.
  • My mom working her magic on the Claire Club in the cave-like recessed area in the living room. It was beautifully done.
  • Waiting impatiently for the ladies to arrive!
  • Claire and Kit looking around the new place and saying, “Ooohh! Ahhh!” Calire even said, “It’s my Christmas day!”
  • Claire hopelessly tangling the pom-poms hanging outside the Claire Club. My mom spending an hour or two untangling them. Claire hopelessly tangling them again in minutes.

Striking Out On Her Own

Claire and I had this conversation in the car today, perhaps inspired by talk of the move to Texas.

Claire: Daddy, I’m moving to my own house.
Me: Oh really? Wow! (feigning belief) How big is the house?
Claire: Big enough, Daddy! Big enough!

She sounded pretty serious.

I want Grace!

Claire has been going to Grace during the day for over two years now. She loves Grace like another mom, and she is often upset to leave Grace at the end of the day. But once she gets home, Claire knows she is with her own family and does not ask for Grace.

Recently, however, with only about one month left in Atlanta before we move to Texas, Claire has occasionally started saying things at home like, “I miss Grace!” or “I want Grace!”. This is strange timing. We have not actually talked to Claire yet about moving, as it is supposed to be too early for a kid her age to understand. But maybe she is picking up on some subtle clues anyways. Maybe these kids are smarter than they act.

Dancing with the Cows

We are in the middle of selling our house in Atlanta right now. “Fantastic Renovated Bungalow with Finished Basement!”, anyone? So far, no offers. There are 22 houses for sale in our little neighborhood of Woodland Hills, so it is going to be tough.

Anyways, someone had arranged to look at the house this evening, and we all had to clear out of the house between 5:30 and 6:30. So Kit picked up Claire from Grace, I dropped Muffin off at our friend Melissa’s house, and we all met up at Chick-fil-A where we could turn Claire loose on the playground for a while. They were having some sort of kid’s night there, and the place was crawling with kids. Claire played a “spin the wheel” game, where in reality she won a Cinnamon Cluster, but thankfully they gave her a little toy cow with a sign reading “Eat mor chikn” instead.

As we ate dinner, a really big guy in a cow custume started wandering around the place waving at the kids. At first, Claire was a little scared of the six-foot-tall walking cow, as I think any sane person would be. But she did wave back at him, softly saying, “Hiiiii.” Besides that, it was mostly an arms-length situation, and the cow went on his way to pester some other kids.

After gnawing on some more chicken nuggets, Claire got her courage up and hopped out of her chair without a word. She waddled across the crowded restaurant all by herself straight for the giant cow. I was hoping the cow would not accidentally step on her. He did not, and in fact he crouched down and waved at her. Claire then stepped forward and hugged the cow’s large legs. After a lot of staring and waving between the cow and Claire, the situation bizarrly turned into a dance-off! The cow stomped his foot, then Claire stomped her foot. The cow wiggled his arm, then Claire wiggled her arm. Eventually Claire took the lead, doing some light hopping and then some hilarious rear-end wiggling, some serous getting-down. The giant cow matched her step for step. After that it went back to some waiving and stomping, and then I had to escort Claire away from the gigantic cartoonish cow to give other kids a chance to play with him.

Claire made another break for the cow a few minutes later, but by then it was getting late and we needed to do some errands before heading home. Sadly, we did not have all night to watch our daughter dance with a giant cow. Wow, that is a really weird sentence. But we were very proud of Claire for being so brave as to go after that “silly dancing cow”, as she would recollect later before going to bed.

Catching up

The last couple of months have really gotten away from Kit and me. It has been sort of a perfect storm. Being chief resident at Emory takes up lots of Kit’s time on top of her regular demanding work. Plus she is constantly studying for various massive tests to complete her residency. My job at Verizon got out of hand trying to deliver an especially difficult project (“Option 4 IP Provisioning Automation for MLFR”) under tough circumstances. And we are trying to get our house cleaned up and remodeled to sell this spring, as well looking into our upcoming living situation in Dallas. Fortunately, we had many visits and a ton of help from the grandparents, which really helped save the day. My parents came to Altanta and watched after Claire for the better part of a weekend while Kit and I scrambled about. And among many other things, Joyce even painted our whole kitchen all by herself.

Of course, this is a blog about Claire, not about Kit and me. But it is interesting to note that this has probably been the most challenging few months in our lives. Fortunately through all of this, we have managed to keep Claire mostly happy and healthy, although she did have a runny nose through most of January.

But niceties like this blog fell out of the routine. Now things have cleared up for me at work for the moment, and it is time to catch up on this blog. I am afraid I have missed a few funny / interesting / cute things that Claire has done lately, but I am now going to backfill some things I still remember. Plus I had some written down in rough draft but never published all the way back to last November. I will probably not catch up on everything, but as I get these finished some entries will magically show up “before” this one.