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.  🙂

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!

Bye Bye Potty Seat, Hello Diapers

Claire now uses the toilet exactly like an adult.  She has graduated from all props, including little her step stool and her toilet seat topper.  She just hops up on her tip toes, does her thing, and hops back down.

This new independence started almost exactly when we first came home with baby Molly.  Perhaps the arrival of baby Molly inspired Claire to demonstrate her maturity.  Or maybe Claire is just trying to drive home the irony that we are starting the whole potty training process all over again.  Yes, even as we clear the various toilet accessories out of our bathrooms, we are in the other room changing dirty diapers.

Special Addition!

Molly arrived today!

Kit and I showed up at the hospital this morning for our 5 am appointment, which had been set for a couple of weeks before Molly’s original due date. After a brief wait in the lobby, the hospital staff took us to the delivery room where some additional staff poked and prodded Kit for a while, eventually hooking her up to some tubes to help get things rolling. The gynecologist checked in. Besides that, the morning was mostly uneventful.

Kit’s parents took Claire to school at her normal time and then joined us at the hospital mid-morning to wait for Molly. Kit was not dilating very much, and in general not much was happening. After a couple of hours, Kit’s dad and I made a lunch run to Wendy’s and picked up some hamburgers for everyone except poor Kit, who was otherwise engaged. Walking down the hall towards Kit’s delivery room, we heard some absolutely awful screams coming from one of the other rooms. This was a panicky, sustained, primal scream. Kit’s dad said, “That scares the crap out of me.” We did not mention it to Kit when we got to her room.

Kit was starting to dilate more, which was really good. And then she just kept going, dilating more and more! Even before we could finish our hamburgers, they doctor said, “Let’s do this. We’re going to have a baby, people!” About 15 minutes later, Kit pushed hard three times, and out popped Molly!

Little Molly was covered in a thick layer of what was described as alternately “wax” or “cheese” by the nurses. It took a while for the nurses to wipe Molly down enough to see a baby under there. We knew Molly would be small, but it was surprising to see just how small she was in person. We could barely feel any “heft” when holding her. She was so small, in fact, that the standard newborn shirts did not fit her. Instead, she wore little pants, turned backwards and upside won, as a shirt. Of course babies are small, and they often come a lot smaller than Molly. Either way, she was adorable, and her vitals all checked out fine. Meanwhile, Kit was in good shape and was cleared by the gynecologist relatively soon. Kit got a big smile on her face as she got to hold Molly for the first time.

It took several more hours to get everyone together in our assigned hospital room. There was a lot of waiting around. I spent a lot of time in the nursery as Molly’s surrogate while Kit waited around in the delivery room. Kit’s friend Clarissa, who works in the hospital with Kit, dropped by and saw Molly through the glass. (We saw another of of Kit’s peers later as we were leaving the hospital.)

We were not 100% sure about the name Molly for the first few hours. When people asked us her name, we said, “Maybe Molly”, so people started to call her that: Maybe Molly, or Molly Maybe. We did finally settle on that name over the next day or so.

The hospital stay was a blur. We struggled somewhat to feed little Molly, and breast feeding was a challenge. We were supposed to feed her every three hours. Finally when she had gone for five hours without food, the nurses suggested a bottle of formula, which Molly took happily. We were forced to stretch the feeding again the next few times but eventually sort of got breast feeding figured out, although not perfectly.

During the night, nurses were in and out, there were tests and checkups and forms to fill out, and a few trips to the “nourishment room” for snacks. Unfortunately, having gotten up at 3:30 am that morning, and having trouble getting to sleep the night before, and not getting enough sleep for several weeks before that, and Kit going through the trauma of labor, it turned out that staying up all night to work with Molly was tough. Were were both exhausted, and we were just getting started!

The definite highlight of the hospital stay was when Claire came by for a visit. Somehow I had the honor of picking her up from school and driving her to the hospital. She was so excited to see her little sister. To set Claire’s expectations, we had been telling her that babies can’t talk or walk or sit up or even smile. All they do is sleep and drink milk and poop and pee. Claire did not care; she was absolutely thrilled to meet her sister. From the first minute, Claire was all smiles and extremely gentle with Molly. She introduced herself by saying, “I’m your big sister!” several times and patting Molly gently. She patted Claire’s back, talked to her, and enjoyed some cookies. She also got a big sister present, a brand new kid’s Dora the Explorer watch.

So Claire was off to a great start as a big sister, and Molly was off to a good start as a baby! Now the real adventure begins…

Happy birthday, Molly!

TODO: Make and add a video

Rolling Out the Carpet

With my parents here this weekend, we took the opportunity to finally get some basics in place for the matter of the new baby, due at the end of the month. We made countless trips to the local strip mall to pick out a crib and a mini-crib to fit in our bedroom and changing table. We also generally stocked up some baby supplies, although we did not have a good “feel” foe what exactly we needed. We had actually forgotten a lot in the last four years since we had Claire. Uh, what do we need? Diapers, I guess? Don’t we need some wipes or something? What do babies wear? It is too early for baby food?!?!

We spent the rest of the weekend assembling and arranging said crib and changing table. The crib was not too bad to assemble, just standard please-assemble-this-at-home stuff like you might expect from Ikea. The changing table was another story. It looked simple enough in the store, but I was dismayed to find that it consisted of 128 separate parts and something like 68 different screws, all packed neatly in a deceptively simple looking flat rectangular box — an extremely heavy box. It took both me and my parents a lot of grunting and gasping to move the box from the car to the front door. I could not carry it up the stairs by myself. The simple act of unpacking the box and taking the outrageously heavy components upstairs individually took about 45 minutes. From the instruction booklet, it appeared that if I were to accidentally put one of the irreversible screws in the wrong place, then the whole thing would be ruined and we would have to go back to the strip mall and start the whole process over, probably after dumping another $300. Fortunately, I was astute enough to complete the project, after some sweating and cussing, without incident, and we did end up with a functional but disappointingly understated changing table, considering the effort put into it.

Kit, being pregnant and all, was mostly able to offer moral support. And my parents entertained Claire, although she wandered up from time to time just to see what I was yelling about. Anyways, we sort of have a place to physically put a baby now, which is good since she is due just around the corner. I don’t think it would have been appropriate to ask her to crash on the living room sofa at this point.

Panda on the Loose

The new school year started today for Claire. She has graduated to the next class, and is now officially a Panda. This is good since Claire is now with her own age group. She had spent the first few weeks in the Colts classroom with slightly older kids since they had a random spot open just to get her through the summer.

Claire may benefit from having more girls in her new classroom as compared to the Colts, where there were only three girls to about a dozen boys. However, she will leave behind some friends, including her very favorite twins, Alex and Leo, who she seems to follow around and literally pull their arms towards her to make them play with her.

Claire’s new teacher writes a little summary of all the kids’ days, which is helpful. Apparently today Claire ate “some” of her lunch (just the muffin and bluberries), but she was too busy talking to do much eating. (One of her Colts teachers had also remarked that she “treats lunch time as sort of a social hour.”) Claire’s new teacher circled “cheerful”, “silly”, and “talkative” to describe Claire’s mood today. I am glad Claire had a good day, especially since she is a little sick. If I were to fill out the same form for tonight, I would have circled “cuddly” and “frustrated”.

Finally, a Real Kid Bed

Kit and I had been shopping around for a crib for the upcoming new baby. While looking at various baby furniture stores, we saw lots of cute little toddler beds. We had no practical reason to move Claire out of her current bed, which is her original crib converted into a toddle bed. The problem is, we really liked the purpose-built toddler beds in the stores, and we thought Claire deserved a real bed. We also thought somehow we should get Claire a new bed since the baby was getting a new crib. Plus the beds were on sale for a great price. We probably came up with a few more justifications to pile on top of those. You can see where this is going…

Ladies and gentlemen, here is Claire’s new big-girl bed!

Disassembling Claire’s old bed made us surprisingly nostalgic. We thought maybe her crib would see new life with the second baby, but logistics in the new house are forcing us to get a mini-crib for the new baby. So the bed that Claire learned to sleep in (or perhaps more accurately learned not to sleep in) may be going to a needy kid at the nearby Goodwill store soon. So long, old convertible crib. You served Claire well through three years and three cities.

For the record, Claire and her new teddy bear, Corduroy, fell asleep fast and sound the first night in their new bed.

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.