Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pat on the Back

I have confirmed with some of my stay-at-home (SAH) friends that one of the hardest parts of leaving the workforce is the sudden absence of affirmation or real sense of accomplishment. At work, you complete a task and get a "good job" or even just the completion of the work itself is enough. At home, the story is very different. The task, as the saying goes, is never complete. Even if it is, a pat on the back or word of praise is pretty hard to come by. Granted the bread-winning partner can praise the SAH partner up and down, but it's just not the same. I am very grateful for Erick's notice and appreciation of my contributions, but there is just something different.

Just recently, however, I have been amazed how a little praise from Sophia can brighten my day. I guess it's because she's my only actual "constituent." The past week or so, she has been so sweet about clapping and saying "Yeah, Mommy!" when I do simple things like get her a drink or change her diaper. It's pretty funny, but I really enjoy it. My favorite happened yesterday when I held her in one arm while getting the stroller out and up with the other arm. Apparently Sophia recognized the level of skill required because she quickly said, "Mommy so strong!" I just really enjoy those little affirmations from Sophia because I really don't expect her to notice when I'm doing my "job." What a privilege to get to serve and add to such an already generous spirit!

What are your favorite stories of notice from your babies? I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pictures from the Weekend

Yes, I know it's Wednesday, but, if you haven't noticed, we've been a little preoccupied this week. Anyway, as I said, it was a very good weekend. Here are a few of the fun moments.

Sunday we went to the Fretwells for a little while. I forgot they have a sandbox, or I would have brought the extra outfit that was needed after an impromptu bath. Sophie loves sand.

Sophie also loves Ava Canlas. Who can blame her?

Monday was spent hanging out at the VanDykes doing as close to nothing as I could manage. It was a great day. Here's Sophie cheering on the boys as they play some washers.

Our friends the Mitchells stopped by for a while.

Sophia had lots of fun playing on the playset with the boys.

Our evening was spent in the company of Niki & JP and Aaron & Jenny. Here's proof.

All in all, a very good time.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

He's Usa again

It has been a good day here. Once I was free of the burden of decision regarding Voo Doo, I could enjoy him more. Ironic, right? Still confident in our decision. Sophia said good bye very easily this afternoon. She kept saying "Voo Doo home with Holly. Happy there." I know that we'll answer the question "Where Voo Doo?" a lot over the next day or two, but I'm just glad that so far is so good.

I will miss Voo Doo as well. Given different circumstances (the absence or significant maturing of Sophia or our purchase of a farm), I think Voo Doo would have been the perfect addition to our family that I was so confident of. So now we'll just enjoy our family of three.

Here is a video of Sophia and Voo Doo. I caught Sophia "sharing" and Voo Doo on the couch. If it makes you feel any better, this was about the only thirty seconds they showed any interest in each other all day.

Or maybe not...

We had a great weekend. Voo Doo is a great dog. He's just not our great dog. His foster mom is coming to pick him up tonight after work.

There wasn't any single thing or even a few big things that we could point to in order to explain why we feel the need to take our free pass during the trial period. Basically, we aren't ready for a dog in this house - particularly not a dog's dog. He is big and loud and all dog. The problem is that these things are exactly what I DO want in a dog. Weird, huh. With Sophia and all the work she takes right now it's just impossible to transition a dog into our lives smoothly. I wasn't going to go into a list of reasons. I'll stop myself.

As I was walking in the rain being pulled by his leash, pushing Sophia in a stroller with all three of us getting soaked, I realized that we had made the right decision.

We are going to miss Voo Doo. Sophia will miss him badly...for a while at least. The boys will miss having him around too. Even though he just liked to watch them from a reclined position, it was still fun for them. All right. Bye Voo Doo.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Voo Doo Creach

We added a new member to our family today. Erick and I have wanted a dog for a very long time, but we have put it off for one reason or the next. Recently, we revived our interest but made our list of demands for a dog so stringent that we never imagined there would be a pound puppy to match it!
*Good with kids
*Not a barker
*House trained
*Easy going
*Lays around a lot
*Erick put hound dog on the list for fun

We thought we were making it unattainable to have a dog. Then we met Voo Doo. Unbelievably, he meets all of these criteria. He is a fabulous dog. Sophia is in love with the "new dog." She followed him around non-stop when she woke up to discover him in her house.

We have been amazed at how good he is with her, William and Aaron. He allows William and Sophia (Aaron has no desire) to explore every inch of him without getting irritated - or even interested. If they were inclined, they could be offended at his apathy.

Voo Doo seems to have settled into life here more or less. Once he finally calmed down, he has been asleep 75% of the time. He likes to come and get a little lovin' before he settles on his spot on the floor.

My only problem is his thick black hair. It makes for a wonderful coat to pet, but my floors are already covered in a black shag rug. So this is going to add to my daily routine pretty significantly, but we are sure that he is entirely worth it!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Something of Importance

One thing that I love to do with my spare time is help out an organization called Invest, Inc. Bethany and Nick are the operators of this organization. Bethany is an alum of MU, and Nick is a native of Malawi. Essentially, what they do is practically equip and educate villagers in Malawi, specifically widows and orphans of AIDS victims, in order to provide them with the resources and capacity to provide for their own daily needs. They also sponsor somewhere around 60 orphans between two villages, providing them with daily meals (they may otherwise do without) through the feeding program. This is just the briefest description of their ministry. It is much more deep and detailed than that, but go to the website for more information, or feel free to ask me! I'd love to talk more about it.

The reason I am writing about this now is simple. There is a need. I am honored to put together their monthly newsletter from information given to me by Bethany and by their Malawi Director. This month's update was disturbing. Only two of the thirty plus children from their second village have been sponsored. Because of this and other shortages, they have been forced to bring those children to the first village and combine feeding programs into one. I can only imagine the challenges presented by this given the lack of transportation and the need for these children by their mothers, and a score of other difficulties.

What better place to talk about this than on this blog. I don't expect everyone to decide this is as important to you as it is to me, but if it stirs anyone to action, I will count it as a victory. Please give it a moment's thought. I know that times aren't the best. Gas is expensive. You already give generously. I'm just saying. Give it a minute and take a look.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Without a Camera

Sophia and I have had a week filled with play and laughter and silly toddler moments. During one of our visits to our little park at the corner, as Sophia proudly displayed a handful of "f'owers fo' Mommy," I realized that I didn't even have my camera. I took a mental snapshot of her blond curls and smudged nose and the dirty fingers clutching tightly to a few limp, tiny weeds and realized that moments like these are the entire reason that I decided to stay home. I wasn't too busy catching up on all the work yet to be done; I wasn't distracted by my blog or email; I wasn't even directing her play. I was just living in the fantastic moment that was entirely created by a toddler at play. Sometimes I get so concerned about getting a perfect picture or movie that I forget to slow down and look at her, and the rest of my world, with BOTH of my eyes. So if I get a little low on pictures, forgive me. I'll try to capture the moment and tell you about it when I am in the mood to lose my way in words.

John Mayer

I’m writing you to
Catch you up on places I’ve been
And you held this letter
Probably got excited
But there’s nothing else inside it

Didn’t have a camera by my side this time
Hoping I would see the world with both my eyes
Maybe I will tell you all about it when I’m
In the mood to lose my way with words

Today skies are painted colors of a cowboy cliche
And strange how clouds that look like mountains in the sky
Are next to mountains anyway

Didn’t have a camera by my side this time
Hoping I would see the world through both my eyes
Maybe I will tell you all about it when I’m
In the mood to lose my way

But let me say
You should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes
It brought me back to life
You’ll be with me next time I go outside

No more 3×5s
Guess you had to be there
Guess you had to be with me

Today I finally overcame
Tryin to fit the world inside a picture frame
Maybe I will tell you all about it when I’m
In the mood to lose my way

But let me say
You should have seen that sunsrise with your own eyes
It brought me back to life
You’ll be with me next time I go outside

No more 3×5s
Just no more 3×5s

Disclaimer: Of course I'll still have my camera with me most of the time!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Next Generation

Another baby girl, Grace Ann Townsend, has joined our family of friends. (Is that a thing? It should be.) She is so beautiful and sweet and just a wonderful addition to the Townsend family.

This morning, Sophia and I joined Lauren, Will and Caroline and Erica and Ava at the Townsend house to fully introduce her to ALL the kids. To her credit, she didn't seem at all overwhelmed. She was the sweetest among them! She enjoyed kisses on the head from the other baby girls. They're still babies, right? You tell me.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun to see all the kids playing together. Sophia has been very concerned about where Jimmy (Grace's big brother) has been for the last week or so. She was relieved to see that he and Chelle were still thriving, even with a new baby sister.

With everyone around her having these baby brothers and sisters, I'm surprised to see that she doesn't have a look of panic in her eye wondering when her time is coming. She has nothing to worry about for a good long while.

Here are Caroline and Grace together. Aren't they beautiful?

Here are the rest of the beautiful children. You've seen enough of Sophia.

Ava (too busy to pose):


Monday, May 19, 2008

Another Wonderful Weekend

As odd as it sounds, wonderful weekends generally make me dread Monday less. I guess that's the way it works when I actually do get a little replenished and enjoy each moment of the weekend. This weekend was one of those. Saturday was spent in complete relaxation. We went garage saling in the Fretwells' neighborhood. Then spent a little time at the Farmers Market. That was a lot of fun too. The rest of Saturday was spent in play and rest. Sophia took a very long nap, and we took advantage of it by napping ourselves. That was too wonderful for words. Our friends the Chandlers came over for dinner. It was our first "date," and they all passed with flying colors. Isn't it funny how making friends as adults is a lot like dating? Sometimes everything looks great on paper, but you just can't make it work. Other's destiny! Well, a little dramatic, but you get the point.

Sunday was my favorite. After church and lunch, I went to get my hair cut. I went shorter this time, and I love it.

Then. . . Erick gave me the rest of the afternoon alone! It was fabulous. I wandered around the mall doing pretty much nothing. I wasn't efficient about where I went. I tried on clothes! Just talking about it gives me chills. Anyway, suffice it to say that I had a really good time. Erick and Sophia did too. She was a daddy's girl all weekend. Those are my absolute favorite weekends!

The final movement of our weekend was dinner at Bambino's with David and Casey and the boys. Not to let the secret out, but kids eat free on Sunday nights, and what kid doesn't love pasketi? After supper, we made the short walk to Lee Elementary, where Aaron will be attending school some day (in the fall, but I don't want to say it.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Gift o' Gab

Some have said that I have it, and many would agree that Erick doesn't shy from a chat. I think we have blessed (or cursed) Sophia with the same qualities of gab. She has always been more concerned with talking than anything related to physical development. She can still hardly crawl, but boy can she talk! We're really enjoying carrying on lengthy conversations with her now. One of my favorite little quirks she has is that when she talks about, or to, Erick she almost always says "My Daddy." She never uses the possessive for me, so it seems pretty special. It's just so sweet.

Speaking of sweet, tonight on the way home, my heart was melted for maybe the 14th time today when she said, "Mommy very sweet." Of course I agree, but I'm just glad she notices. (Just to be fair, this was shortly followed with "My daddy sweet," but still.)

Just for fun, a few of our favorites: nadybugs and nook at dis! (most of her L's come out as N's if they are at the beginning), "More juicies pease." Also every time we pull into a parking lot or garage, she shouts, "I ready!" as if we have previously been doubtful that she would be willing to get out of her carseat. One of her first phrases that is still repeated frequently is "Where go?" Obviously, she uses that frequently because I tend to lose things. The best, of course, is "I yuv you." She will say this to pretty much anyone who says it to her, but I still love to hear it.

One last example - tonight we were talking about the stars on her drink cup and she came up with "Up above" all on her own (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star). I was pretty impressed. Needless to say, I don't expect anyone else to be as impressed with all this as we are, but I keep saying I need to write this stuff down. Might as well get a blog post out of it, right?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

These Kids and Their Music

Yeah!! Got it to post!

This goes to show that we can never understand the music of the next generation. Says I, "What says honk?" Sophia's terse response, "Geez, Mom, I'm singing.


I have been trying to load a video since last night. Yesterday, Sophie and I went to the park, and I took several really funny videos. Anyway, I haven't been able to do it at all, so here's a new picture of my head. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Day in the Life

Here's a day in our life. A good day, mind you.

This is what I look like at the beginning of any given day. Lovely, right?

Every day involves dancing. This particular day, we took Grandmary out for her Mother's Day dinner. We had a great time, and it made Sophia feel like dancing. Here she is 'pinning around.

Just before bed, things tend to get a little chaotic. On a good day, we always end up laughing hard. It was a good day for Tiger spirit.

There are various and sundry shenanigans in between. I just don't always have the camera with me. Sophie is sometimes impatient with the camera as it is!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day Weekend

We had a very enjoyable trip to Springfield and Branson for the weekend. Sophia did wonderfully and had a blast getting spoiled with attention and treats from Grandma and Grandpa. It is really great to have her back to her nutty self.

Saturday we went to Silver Dollar City for the first time that Sophia has been really able to enjoy a place like that. Of course she mostly enjoyed staring at people and dancing to music.
She loved my dad's frozen lemonade...although the first bite was a bit of a shock.

We thought she would enjoy the rides and the picture here is very deceiving. This was apparently the moment before she realized that the frogs were intent on injuring and torturing her. We had to let her get off before it started.

All was made right with a box of popcorn.

I always enjoy reminiscing scenes from my own childhood and the past price of sarsaparilla. It's $2.50 now! Inflation... We managed to stay dry and relatively warm, so it was a good time for all.

Mother's Day began by doing nothing at my mom's house and ended by doing the same at my own! Precisely what I wanted. Erick bought me a couple of very cute summer things to wear, but they were a little snug. So I took them back and have decided to lose a few pounds before spending the cash. Wish me luck!

Oh, a highlight at my parents house was watching the news. KY3 in Springfield used to be high quality. Maybe it still is. Not last night. I'm sure you've heard of the deadly and devastating tornado that went through the area yesterday. Well, they spent the first minute or two of the news talking about that and then moved on to a story about a family in Springfield that found "debris" in their yard from Oklahoma. The debris was the Sports page of the Tulsa newspaper. . . from 2001. Now, I'm not typically a skeptic, but the chances of this seven-year-old newspaper actually making it from Tulsa to Springfield on the wind are extremely slim. They went on and on about it. Really. I tried to get a clip, but it wouldn't play. I just couldn't imagine that this story was kept in the 10 o'clock news when they had reporters at the scenes of each of the largest tornadoes. Even the people being interviewed about the "debris" admitted they never had much wind! Ugh.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Another Project Complete

We have been needing a new bed for a long time. Ever since we moved our room downstairs, both cross bars of our frame will randomly pop apart, regardless of our ingenuity and efforts. So, while in Atlanta, we scoped out the perfect bed, and we put it together last night. Mind you, we need a new bedspread, and I am going to decorate the walls behind it. This was taken immediately after putting it together last night. We love the bed, though. I would toss and turn in the night, just to not hear it. Sophia loves it too because she can climb up and down by herself. So it's a good deal for all of us.

She tried to help us out some, too. I had a video, but it wouldn't post. I'll try again another day.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

She is back!

My baby is becoming more and more her sweet and nutty self. I am so glad. It has been a rough couple of weeks with her not feeling well. She is still not quite physically 100%, although I'm not sure what that would look like. She is still sleeping a lot during the day (not a complaint, mind you). It's just different.

Yesterday, we got out just a little bit for a WalMart run. We would have spent more time out, but we got our Ikea bed delivered....about 3 hours later than expected. Anywho...Sophia wore her rain jacket, although I'm not sure why. She refuses to put her hood up. She screams as though I'm smothering her with it. When we got home, I let her run around in the rain for a little while and she was beside herself with glee. You don't think this is why I have a constantly sick kid, do you? Don't judge me! Sorry, I just wanted to throw that one in there again. Actually, I don't think it was raining any more, but there was still water coming out of our gutter. Don't judge Erick!

Last night, Sophia and Erick went Mother's Day shopping for me. Apparently they had a grand time. Sophia discovered the Hallmark cards that are nearly as big as her - and they sing! Erick told me that the first one she opened just made her laugh hysterically and say, "I yike it!" over and over again. Then she started opening them and putting them on the floor so she could dance. I'd say she is getting back to herself. Yeah!

We're going to Springfield this weekend to visit my parents, so hopefully this attitude adjustment bodes well for our journey.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Very Good Start to the Week

We've had a very good start to the week around here. As I said, it is going to be a busy one. Monday was our friend Will's birthday. So we met him and some of our other friends at the park for a little lunch and play. Sophia was still not quite herself, so our play was cut short. I knew something was wrong when I offered her favorite pastime and she said "No swing!"

The evening was spent celebrating Cinco de Mayo with Erick's Grandma Charlotte and Uncle Bill, who were visiting from California and Oregon respectively. We also enjoyed the company of our Timbers Court crew. I didn't get any pictures that evening. Sophia was still not herself and refused to willingly go to anyone but me for the large part of the evening. She would, however, seek out one of our neighbors "Big Aaron" (we have to call him that as a distinction from one of Sophia's other favorite people Cousin Aaron.) She was constantly asking where Big Aaron was and would then cover her eyes when he looked in her direction. I have tried to tell her to work on her methods, but it seems to be working pretty well for her.

Yesterday, Sophia was finally starting to feel a little better. She still wants to spend most of her day being held and/or in front of the TV. Preferably both. She's sick. So don't judge me. Anyway, yesterday we actually played and she spoke in a normal tone of voice instead of the high pitched whine I have come to know and love. I was so glad to see this change because I was leaving her with Casey yesterday afternoon and evening, and I was starting to feel very guilty. Erick and I went with our friends the Harrises to see The Swell Season. The Harrises are apparently our concert going friends. Back in December (yes, December! Last night we were convinced this happened in February), we went with them to see Ja Rule. This was an entirely different experience.

I mentioned the movie Once and their Oscar winning song before. The Swell Season is a band the two musicians formed as a result of their working together before and during the sound track. I can't begin to describe how great this concert was. The opening act was a "giant" Irish performer, Damien Dempsey. This was both literal and figurative. He was physically imposing, and Glen Hansard from The Swell Season said that he is part of the best that Ireland has to offer. Our favorite song of his was entitled. "I'm never going to let your negative vibes and comments get through to my psyche and cripple me." I think on the album, it's shortened to "Negative Vibes." He was a good opening act. I did feel as though I was getting something through watching him perform that I would never get anywhere else.

The Swell Season performance was outstanding. The chemistry that the entire group of musicians has is very energizing. The opening number was one of the highlights without a doubt. Glen Hansard walked out alone and stood in front of his microphone, acoustic guitar not yet plugged in, and belted out "Say it to me now." Below is his slightly different performance of this song in Portland months ago. It doesn't do it justice, but here it is anyway. Just because I wanted to hear it again reallly.

We commented last night that we can't remember a concert that an artist explained the back story of each and every song. It didn't hurt that Glen Hansard is Irish. He loves to talk. It was so much fun to try and follow him on his babbling brook of expressions and attempts to explain the heart and its intricacies. My favorite tirade had to do with his disgust with technology. An iTunes playlist could never have the power of a compilation cassette tape, and an email is just not as tangible or tactile as a meaningful hand-written letter. "Because if you kiss the monitor, you'll get an electrostatic shock to your lips." I happen to agree with him, yet here I am contributing to the cause. In the future I will simply send you all letters with the same information. . . daily . . . okay, maybe not. The entire set was very eclectic. Market and Glen switching between guitar and piano and back was tiring just to watch. The flow of the set list was great, though. Marketa's vocals are, as Niki said, "Like the tinkling of bells." And I love it when Glen screams out the lyrics, but simply because you think that heart of his is breaking. Anyway, great concert.

Anyway, it was a terrific time. Niki and I are convinced that we could be friends with Glen and Marketa. They would certainly be fascinating individuals to get to know.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Weekend of Extremes

This weekend was both very good and just okay. It's a weekend, so it's rarely very bad. All of the unpleasantness revolved around the two health issues in our home: Sophia's recovery from pneumonia and my recovery from the head wound.

Saturday morning, we went to Jefferson City to attend a ceremony in which Erick's late grandfather, Ross Creach, was being honored again as a Missouri State Highway Patrolman to lose his life in the line of duty. He was one of many to be recognized in such a way that day. I didn't see much of the ceremony, although I did get to hear the governor's speech. It was good as always. Sorry. Can't help it. Anyway, I was busy trying to A) keep warm, and B) entertain a very grumpy Sophia. Holy cow, was it every cold! I think if the wind had stopped blowing, it would have approached pleasant. As it was, it was all I could do to keep two feet on the ground! We made a couple of trips inside, and I got a lot of this look:

It was another time when I was grateful that I couldn't understand all of her vocabulary. One needn't use one's imagination to guess what she is saying.

The best time of the morning was spent at the "mountain" looking at the nearly dead tulips. I was very bummed that I missed their prime photo time.

The rest of the day was spent doing things we enjoyed and keeping Sophia happy. Did I mention she's on steroids again? They just make a mess of her. Anyway, it was all in all a pleasant day. For a change this weekend, we attended Saturday night service at our church since we wanted to be able to relax on Sunday morning. That was a good choice.

Today was a productive day. I got a lot of cleaning done during Sophia's brief nap, and then we carted her off to Grandmary's house to get a little rest and some desperately needed time to connect. Between my head, Sophia's lungs and Erick's allergies, Erick and I had probably exchanged a total of three sentences this week that weren't related to the preceding topics. So we were very glad to have some uninterrupted quality time.

The evening, however, was spent going from trainwreck to meltdown. She's just so tired from all of this, and so hepped up on steroids, that she really doesn't feel herself. Not to mention what we think is a tummy ache caused by all the medicine and a lack of desire to eat. One of my random projects today was to plant some flowers. I planted these flowers willy nilly in about ten minutes, and Sophia was glad to help. The result was a very dirty girl.

We're hoping for a better day tomorrow as her last dose of steroids is in the morning. Getting into a routine again always seems to help a bit too. I'm open to any suggestions on helping to settle her tummy. She is a very finicky eater these days. The fever magnified that tremendously.

Here's hoping for a good week. It's a busy one...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A War for our Generation

I don't make too many social or political statements on this blog. That is largely because my social and political ideals are being wrapped up in an 18-month-old at the moment. This social statement is one that I am working very hard on heeding myself. This video was posted on Greg Boyd's blog and it got to me as they always do. What more can I say about it? How much is enough? To whom should we offer more of our precious resources? You know what, there is someone closer than you think who is living in poverty. That is the sad fact. Find them. Help eliminate poverty in their life.

All we can do is enough.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Saga Continues

I thought we were finally on the road to peace and tranquility as it came to Sophia's health. A little bump on the road with the allergies, but all in all headed in the right direction. Wednesday we took her to the doctor to follow up on some pesky fluid in her ears. It was still there but less. I took her home and put her down for her nap. She woke with a 102 fever. Have I already told you this? I could look, but I'm too tired. Anyway, she's had a fever ever since. She has slept in our bed for two nights with her fever getting as high as 105, which is what it was when I took her again today.

She has a little fluid in her lungs again; we'll call that pneumonia. She also has a bit of an ear infection again. She is so sad and pathetic with this fever and all this yuckiness. These pictures are from her hour of life after a breathing treatment and steroid. Her hair is in a ponytail because it's so dirty. She will never let us give her a bath when she has a fever. She freaks out if we carry her anywhere near the tub. Anyway, the sad story continues.

I got my stitches out today. I'll post a picture some day when I have the energy. Until then . . .

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Where did she get these curls?

Basically, I'm just making a new post so that nastiness isn't the first thing you see. Seriously, that's gross. Don't worry, I will post new pictures of the wound as it evolves and heals.

So anyway, the other day Sophia woke up from her nap and had ALL these beautiful curls. It's just funny. I do have curly hair on my side, although I never got it. I just love her sweet little ringlets. Not to mention her snuggles.

As Promised.

Here it is in all its glory. This was taken on Saturday I think. It looks a lot better on the sides now, but the center is still pretty raw. Also, my swelling has actually gotten worse since then. Right now the raised eyebrow is less obvious because my eyelids are full of fluid. Weird. Enjoy!