Another First: American Girl

I remember the first time Jess and I discussed the American Girl store together for some strange reason, which was maybe a year before EK was born. We had gone to the Galleria, maybe just driven by it, and there was a line out the door to get in. I just assumed it was a clothing store à la Janie & Jack or something. Jess educated me that they sell high-quality dolls with all sorts of accessories. Real clothing made for dolls and I was baffled about the popularity, and my naivety of what this American Girl longevity truly was.

Wow.

Fast forward in time to EK being maybe 2 or 3, and we go to Nana’s house and, sure enough, there’s an American Girl doll there. Samantha is her name, if I recall correctly, and she’s having her 35th anniversary with American Girl. Into perpetuity.

EK’s reward for this summer’s reading plan was a trip to this magical doll palace at the Galleria. EK read two books a day (give or take) all summer break. Special thank you to cousin Shelby for sending us dozens of chapter books to fuel that fire as that was an amazing gift…

Jess and I had no clue what to expect walking through the doors. She had never been to an actual American Girl store either (though she was far more educated than I on the subject).

We started to the right of the front entrance and meticulously and methodically walked through the store once. Watching in wonderment as our darling girl took in the experience. “Ooh, look at that one,” would escape her mouth at every turn.

We made a single pass, and then we asked if we could start over to make sure she found the one she wanted.

We traversed our course once more, mostly. We discussed several of the dolls, but EK eventually decided on Kira, who was the “girl of the year for 2021”. Australian descent, so of course we brought home a kangaroo or wallaby. That question is still in the air. Kira is apparently some sort of veterinarian or zoologist, based on the accessory pack we also bought.

It was a worthy reward (though expensive) for her summer days reading.

Moving up to Chapter Books

I’m not sure I knew what “chapter books” were as a kid. I don’t know if that’s a new term or just something my very naive younger self was unaware of at the time. Trying to figure out if that was the term in the late 80’s in TX or LA or not… would love to research that.

Either way, it’s the term today. You sit and read a few chapters then read the next part of the story the next time you open the book on a different day (in our family, that’s daily). But the story continues over days and not just one night. Makes sense. Chapter books.

Before the last few months, it was always the full book each night. Simple books as she learns. As EK matures, so does her sophistication in reading. It made me reminisce on my own education.

My first chapter book, I’m fairly sure, was either one of the “choose your own adventure” books during the book fairs at our school or, almost definitely, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. The spider on the face story stick with me forever.

The librarian at Honey Elementary was one of my best friend’s mom, so I was in good hands at the book fairs.

We’ve focused on reading with EK since she was very young. There’s a theory of 10,000 hours of pretty much anything that will make you an expert. Want to be great at ping pong? Practice 10,000 hours. Tuba? 10,000 hours. Not sure who came up with that idea, honestly, but it’s really about dedication. EK is a great reader. I have no idea how many hours she’s spent reading, but 10,000 hours is 416+ days. As a 6.5 year old, I’m going to guess we haven’t been that rough on her. Yet.

Luckily, we’ve also found some church friends that are the same when it comes to advancing the kids to chapter books, and we’ve traded books lately. The Princess in Black and Dory Fantasmagory have been favorites. And maybe a myriad of other books. 10,000 hours.

We love to watch EK see words. “Sight words”, as they’re called these days. It’s impressive. Kids learn very differently now than when we did as children, too.

Jess and I have always thought giving a book versus a toy at a birthday celebration just made sense. So we’ll add a few extras in the basket (Jess should have a patent on her birthday gift baskets), but we always include a book. These days we’re upgrading to chapter books. Fun witnessing all our little ones grow up and learning the lessons from our parents, aunts & uncles, grandparents, etc. Reflect and never take it for granted. Teach, but never forget to be taught.

“Tedds” – A Journeyer of a Bear

The three of us went to Austin long ago, maybe when EK was 2 and a half, to visit some friends. In fact, one of those friends would be the reason Jessica and I are married today – Ashton. So, Ashton and Scott (or as I refer to him as “Dr. Scott”), were gracious enough to host us into their home.

They introduced us to Nespresso, which we now drink fairly exclusively at home today. Thank you for that, Ashton (not to mention making Jess give me her number, eventually getting married, and then having an amazing daughter who I’d walk on the sun for…). But Nespresso is pretty darn good too.

In addition to the Nespresso, we were treated to the special, meticulous barbecuing of Dr. Scott on his Traeger Grill(s). And yes, I’m still jealous of all his gadgets as we sat and watched his alma mater on TV instead of manning the grill the entire time. Pretty neat.

But the most important part of that trip was that EK received her most prized possession of all. Teddy.

As the time has passed, we have had Teddy or “Tedds” for 4 years. And EK has slept without Tedds 1 time since then. Truly a special gift from someone who connected not only husband and wife, but now daughter and bear.

And Tedds has been tons of places. Colorado twice, New Orleans twice, San Miguel, Mexico, camping, and a myriad of other destinations as we always have the travel bug.

As we dropped off EK to Grand Cane, LA this weekend, Tedds forgot to pack himself into the suitcase! And yes, complete meltdown when I asked EK if Tedds made the trip realizing he’d been left asunder.

Today, my job is to let Tedds, yet again, be a journeyer; he’ll be shipped overnight to Grand Cane, LA. Safe travels, Tedds. Go make our little bear happy again.

Who Wants to Dance the Flamenco?

The backstory…

Jessica, when she was younger, found a Halloween costume in a magazine or some other form of media from the early 90’s. But her grandmother, Nana, has a talent for sewing some amazing things. Dresses, costumes, etc. So she put this skill to work and created a work of art.

And these items have stood the test of time. EK wears some of these hand-me-downs to this day.

There’s certainly a resurgence of seamstresses (or seamsters) in the world; fashion on the grass roots level. Maybe that’s EK’s future, but who knows. She had a blacklight flashlight out this morning at her grandparents house search for stains from the cats, so maybe she’ll be a forensic investigator. We love watching this little bear grow up.

And there’s Pappy, too.

We honor and take care of the creations you’ve made over the years. Thank you, Nana, for all that you’ve provided to this family.

Dallas Zoo Camp Pick-Up

“Wrapped around her pinky.”

Heard it before from various folks describing EK and her relationship with me. I think people see how sweet she is and know that any dad would be that way too. So that being said, as if it wasn’t obvious if you have read 99% of the things Jess and I post…

Dad, or “dad-bear”, was on pick-up duty from the Dallas Zoo Camp, and she came scampering, downright sprinting up to tell me that the face paint lady was there and that the Kona Ice truck was open too. I pause thinking, “I’d assumed she was here everyday”.

I was reluctant that this idea was a once-in-a-lifetime chance considering half the time we go to the zoo the Kona Ice truck is open. Also because it was a Wednesday, and I didn’t want her to think the next two pick-ups, which Jess actually did, would result in one or both of these things. Can’t have your child hopped up on sugar all the time (even though I’m sure we were as kids) and face paint isn’t great for the skin, I would assume. Definitely harder to get off at bath time.

But like I said before. Wrapped around her pinky…

Our violet tiger. For the record. She didn’t get Kona Ice.

Piano Tuning

What a wonderful gift from EK’s great grandmother, Nana (“Nay-Nay”). We now have a piano that is settled (apparently you need at least two weeks to “settle” before tuning a moved piano). So excited to practice on this gift.

Eight years ago, at least, I was granted access into the Moore family for a Thanksgiving celebration. Something I will never forget.

As the story goes, Nana has always blessed the food. Something important to the family, for sure. And this particular blessing ended something like, “bless those who are here with us.” She might have forgotten all the family members who weren’t able to be there in the blessing, and one of the cousins definitely called her out. Eight years and we still all laugh about it to this day. Family is important.

Back to the piano – it sat next to the “adult table” and we, even though I think I was 32 or 33 at the time, sat at the “kids table”. Family is also funny.

In the end, we will be excellent stewards of the piano. Provide EK with lessons and keep care of it. Thank you, Nana, for this amazing gift of music. It will dawn our home with beautiful music until it’s time for the next family members to take it.

Window Shopping

Our black cat, Millieandra or “Millie” or “Mills” or “Me-Me” or a slew of words that I won’t type here while she traces between my legs coming down the stairs in the darkness is now about eight and a half.

She loves this couch. This perch. Where she can plot and scheme on what she’s hunting next. We explain to EK that it’s just in her nature. That all felines (not that we’re experts) are hunters. They bring their catches in and show them off to those they care about.

And Millie must care A LOT about us. I think the lizard population in East Dallas is about half now. And not just figuratively. She learned after an animal hospital stay that eating a whole lizard, head and all, didn’t do well for her digestive system. Or our wallets. So, we routinely get half lizards in various places inside our house. That’s a dad clean-up job. Stepped on one the other day, and Millie was called another one of those words.

Lizards, locusts, birds (thankfully not our friend, Flit the hummingbird… although, I haven’t seen him in a while…), rabbits, grasshoppers, mice, moles, etc. It’s fairly safe to say, I need to report her to the authorities.

But we still love our Millieandra just as much as she loves (or tolerates) us.

A Fossil Rim Memory…

In March of this year, as things started opening back up, we went to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. It’s a nature preserve that you drive through and see various animals. Like this guy…

It’s in Glen Rose, TX, which is about an hour and a half drive from our house. You get to see all sorts of animals like cheetahs, giraffes, emus, goats, rams, etc.. Not even sure what that animal is in the video, but they like to be fed. Almost as if we’re a reverse Sonic Drive-In.

Then we came to the end of our journey. About two hours to drive through the place (and totally worth it). I warned EK that the ostrich, which parades around demanding things, can be aggressive. She’s watched Wild Kratts on Nickelodeon enough, we figured this wasn’t anything new. Jess reiterated that EK needed to throw the food away from the car. And this happened…

And literally every time I watch this video I laugh. Sorry to my wonderful wife that you almost got your face pecked off. Next time, I’ll throw the food.

Bobblehead Night

If I’m honest, I don’t know who won. So, thank you internet.

EK attended her 1st official Texas Rangers baseball game on June 21st. Even got her an official Elvis Andrus bobblehead as we reminisce to “his baby shark”.

Uncle Regan and Charlie invited us and it was super fun. Game ended early for us. I think 7th inning. Parents can sympathize.

Rangers won over the A’s 8-3. EK and Charlie won better.