Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sometimes I...

...look at Sophia and catch my breath. I'm not sure if she just transformed in the moment or if she's been this grown up for a while.

Sometimes when she says, "Hey, Mommy! Look at me!" and she just wants me to notice her super jump or practiced twirl, I can't help but think that what she really wants is for me to capture that moment in my mind's eye. I hear "Mom, you better watch me. I'll only need your attention a little longer."

It's certainly no surprise, and I know that I am not the first mother to get sentimental at Christmas. That's just what it is. Christmas is a compilation of memories. Mine and yours and everyone else's. Sometimes we're trying to recreate the perfect one as brand new, or maybe we just want to retell it. Or maybe we allow it to remain a pleasant thought that stays quietly in the corner of our picture of Christmas - right next to the hearth.

Becoming a parent magnified those special moments to a surprising level. The moments that I've always experienced are infinitely more tender and meaningful.

Here is Sophia's first Christmas at Granny's.

Here she is just being a goon at home when she was one.

And here's a great Christmas memory at Silver Dollar City.

Don't be fooled. Even though being a parent is what has magnified my enjoyment of Christmas, I still treasure the Christmas memories that Erick and I make every year. Sophia is more fun to watch at Christmas, it's true, but Erick is still my favorite part of that and every season.


Pardon my sentimental ramblings. I managed to do so without sharing any of my favorites. Maybe I'll get around to that, although it's not really necessary, is it? Hope the holidays have created some new and treasured moments for all of you.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

In a Nutshell

It's been a great few days. The best part is that Erick is still home tomorrow, so it's just like my Saturday! Yippee! So here's an idea of what our days and our Christmas were full of...

Christmas Eve was our day with Grandmary. Presents, food, church. A very full day and a great time!


We almost forgot to put out a snack for Santa, but Erick remembered at the last minute. We didn't have any decorated cookies, so we decided he'd probably like a salty snack after all. Pretzels and milk, anyone?


Sophia woke up with lots of excitement on Christmas Day. Santa had brought the Little Pet Shop sheep that she had been talking about and hoping would come from Santa all along. He also brought a few other pets and a vet clinic to keep them healthy. I really think that was all her favorite part because it came from Santa.


We bought her several more things. Nothing huge this year. I came across this cardboard castle that you can color on. It's been a big hit and has become home to all of her princesses, big and small. Erick only had a little trouble putting it together. She's waiting so patiently.


The other thing she'd been asking about for weeks was SNOW! Sure enough. Santa brought her that, too...


Before nap, we headed to the movies to see Disney's Princess and the Frog. I highly recommend it. There were a few scary parts, but she worked through it. The New Orleans scenes were fun for Erick and me. That was a really great part of our day. Maybe my favorite.


Our trip to Illinois made for a long day, especially with the winter mix coming down and already on the roads. Of course it's always worth it to see family at Christmas. Henri really enjoyed all the activity around him. Here he is with Great-aunt Amy. (Don't know why I had to add the great. Just thought it would be fun...)


Sophia got some books from Granny for Christmas. Mr. Willoughby's Christmas Tree was one of them. It's my very favorite Christmas book. How lucky for me....


After the trip back in the van yesterday, I was very willing to get out today and stretch my legs. With a little extra snow on the ground, we thought we'd try for a snowman. With the cold temps and powdery snow, this was the best we could do....


Then I shoveled. And asked Erick to take my picture. Who knows why.


That was still a lot of words, but it's been a big few days! Hope everyone has had a lovely Christmas.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!


This is how Sophia set up our Nativity. All focused intently on the baby in the manger. Hope Christmas holds a few similar moments for you.

Merry Christmas!!
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Playing Catch Up

I have been pretty disconnected from the blog lately. I have been pretty distractable lately, so it's hard to pin me down to write too much. Sophia has been downright hilarious lately. She's also been full of vim and vinegar and huge amounts of 3-year-old energy and chatter. It takes some getting used to, and I'm still adjusting...

We've been busy with celebrating and preparing for Christmas. Now I'm excited for the big day to get here.

We made another batch of Christmas cookies. Sophia has been really trying to "help" with everything, and if not helping she wants to do it all by herself. I'm surprised at all she can do on her own, but it still takes a lot of patience to allow her to try new things.


One morning we took some cookies across the street so Aaron, William and Sophia could decorate and enjoy their own cookies.


Here she is displaying her edible art.


We have been enjoying our friends. Some stranger than others.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Into Oblivion

The video was not recovered from Columbia Photo. Oh well. I'm just glad we have this one, and I may get another version or two as time passes. Eventually, we'll recreate the whole scene from every perspective. Just thought you'd like an update. Now I can move on.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


This video was taken by Molly's parents. Molly is the little girl to Sophia's right, your left. So Sophia is in the shot the whole time, except for one point that things got a little confused... Then in the very last two seconds you will hear (not see) Sophia's famous, "I DID IT!"

Enjoy. I took my SD card to Columbia Photo today, so I may have my own copy shortly.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


There is hope on the video front. Sophia's teacher, Miss Hallie, did get a video since her son Parker is also in the class. She said they didn't get the "priceless 'I did it' comment" but that's all right. I think most of you can imagine that one coming from Sophia.

I'm also holding out hope that I will figure out a way to recover it from my SD card... I'm open to any and all suggestions...

Monday, December 14, 2009

"I DID IT!!!"

Let me just preface all of this by saying that I took a video which has since disappeared. I was distracted during the uploading process and Sophia clicked on something that deleted only the video from the album. Weird. Anyway, I am trying to recover from the disappointment. Part of that process is to recount the experience as best I can and to console myself that after tonight, I am confident there are many more recitals to come.

So tonight was the night. All along, Sophia had been saying she wouldn't dance. I told her it was fine if she didn't dance, but she was going to put on the costume and we were all going to the recital, even if only to support her friends. Of course my hope was that she'd decide to give it a go, but I know her capacity for stubbornness, so I didn't have very high hopes.

She enjoyed getting the costume on, and having Grandmary around helped distract her from the purpose of the costume. By the way, they were dressed as Who's from Whoville and danced to Welcome Christmas.

Here she is in her getup, holding Cinderella (a gift from her friend Ava).


She stuck pretty close to me once we arrived. But after seeing her friends and some older kids running around on the stage before the show, she figured she might be brave enough to run around too. A little game of Ring Around the Rosie apparently helps calm the nerves.


I am always surprised at how relational Sophia is most of the time. Before the show started, she kept seeking out people she knew just to interact with them and try to join in their activity. This activity was just a cute version of waiting, I think.


This is where it got interesting and where the recording stops. Sigh. As soon as the show got close to starting, Sophia ran to us and insisted that she wouldn't dance. We asked if she'd just like to line up with them. She tried a few times but was very timid and would return quickly. Just before the music started, Hallie came and just got Sophia and put her in line. A few tears dropped, but no real crying. Then the music started and it was as if the clouds parted. Sophia immediately began to smile. I wish I could describe their performance to you. All of the children did really well. I'm hopeful that I can get a video from another parent that will at least show the performance. They sang out loud to the words "Fahoo Fores, Dahoo Dores, Welcome Christmas, Come This Way." It was a true choreographed number. They had to step in time with one another and even hold hands in a circle dancing around an imaginary tree at one point. Miss Hallie put a lot of faith in those 3- to 5-year-olds and they really came through. It required lots of listening and understanding, and Sophia did SO well. I was really amazed. Seriously, she smiled the entire time. Then the music came to a close. Just before the applause started, Sophia lifted her arms in the air and yelled at the top of her lungs, "I DID IT!! I REALLY DID IT!!!" The audience all laughed. At that moment, all this silly saga really seemed worth it. She was so proud of herself. She was thrilled that she had done it. It was HER accomplishment entirely. What a big girl.

The rest of the show, Sophia sat with us and kept asking if she could dance with each group. I guess she's in. Now she can't wait to wear tap shoes like the big girls. Should be a fun ride if she's still up for it.

After all was said and done, we did as any parents do after a successful extracurricular activity. We went and had burgers and ice cream. Well, she had ice cream. And boy, was she pleased about it.


What a night. I'm sad that you all can't witness it, but mostly I just hope that it stays clearly in my mind's eye. Sophia did it.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dance Class Commitment Saga


For many of you who I have talked with or shared with on Facebook about Sophia's dance class, this will probably be the last thing you want to hear about...again. But I'm writing it anyway. Largely because I find that I still need to process it with words and partly because I think I have learned a couple of important things about Sophia through this process.

For those of you who don't already know what I'm talking about, Sophia has had a rough go of it with concern to dance class. Last week, she left after only five minutes of class, complaining that her "cough hurt." Miss Hallie brought her out really crying, which is way out of character (not crying in general, but skipping dance). Since she was just getting over that cold, I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. However, ever since that morning, each time dance has come up, she has cried and insisted she wouldn't go back.

This left me in quite the awkward position. On one hand, I really don't care if my 3-year-old goes to dance. I signed her up because it fits her and she enjoys it immensely. So if she's done, I'm fine with that. On the other hand, I can see a pattern developing. With every little class or activity she's been involved with, she has fun and likes to participate up until the last few times. Then she's done and never wants to hear or talk about it again. I don't like that pattern. It's a little too familiar. She comes by it naturally. It's one of the weaker sides of my personality. The advantage is that I love starting new things, and I'll try just about anything. The downside is obviously that I don't stick with too much once I get bored with it. This blog is about the longest I've done any sort of recreational activity. Pretty much everyone I know can attest to this fact. I don't really want that for Sophia. I realize that there's no fixing one's personality. But I do think that to acknowledge one's weaknesses, even starting young, could help a person to grow past it. Only one way to find out.

After much discussion with Sophia throughout the week - much to her chagrin - we went back to dance class. On a side note, she's very perceptive. Every time I tried to sneak in mention of dance class without bringing it up directly, she shut me down. Earlier in the week, we were talking about her friends. I listed all the usuals, then added Emma and Ella, who she knows through dance. She looked up at me and said, "They are NOT my friends because they go to dance." Denied. In Target one day, we walked past the leotards. I pointed out one that looked like her blue one and she said, "I don't want to look at those, Mommy, and you don't look either." Shut down again.

Back to class this morning. She went willingly enough, but this time I watched through the window to see if it happened again. Sure enough, they had just started the first song and she started to look really sad. Lip out, head down, still dancing but only with half heart. Hallie noticed too, and I saw her gently question Sophia. That made it worse. Then it continued in a steady decline until the next song when she finally broke down crying. At that point, Hallie decided to try the approach of pretending it wasn't happening. By the end of the song, Sophia was fine. Never to fuss again. Happy as a dancing clam. That was it.

The more I thought about, the clearer this whole thing became to me. I had forgotten how I used to feel as a child. Just like Sophia, I was pretty outgoing and friendly. Shy was never really a descriptor, but I also remember that randomly I would feel a strong social anxiety and feel a lot like Sophia looked at the beginning. If someone mentioned it, I became embarrassed and began to cry. If they tried to help me feel better, I cried harder. If I was left alone, I could typically work through it, and it would pass. Is that typical? I never asked anyone about that before. I don't know why I didn't think of this for Sophia. I guess I thought she was too young to feel social pressure. Or I hoped that it wouldn't be an issue for her. But I really think this may play a big part in what I just saw this morning.

My hope is that since I am aware of it, I can help Sophia to be aware of it. Then we can figure out how to work through it together or help her to work through it herself in the moment. I have noticed that Sophia is completely kid now. It makes sense that the joys of independence come with the pains of living among and wanting the approval of other people. I just hope I can help her navigate all the highs and lows that await her.

I have no idea if any of my conclusions are correct. It seems like I'm finding that either Sophia is becoming more like me, but that seems awfully convenient. Would anyone who knows us well like to confirm or deny or shrug your shoulders on this one? I realize that I will have to be careful not to try to "fix" in her what I don't like in myself. Ugh. Parenting is hard.

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

24 Hours of Fun!

Really it was closer to 28, but it seems to make sense to round it to an even day.

Erick and I had a fantastic time in St. Louis. Pre-concert dinner with JP and Niki at Cicero's on Delmar Loop.


After a cold but invigorating walk down Delmar Loop, we reached The Pageant. We have had a lot of fun in this area of St. Louis/University City. This was definitely the best experience yet. Here we are prepared for a great concert experience.


The Swell Season was really incredible. Right on. New music, old music, cover songs. Just a really terrific live show. I thought it was even a little better than the first concert we saw from them. Seemed like they have gotten comfortable with their new found fame and have decided to run with it.


After the concert, we went back to Cicero's without JP and Niki, with our friends and neighbors the Grays and the newlywed Orrs. However, it was after midnight (and Dr. Aaron Gray's birthday) and I took no pictures... Back at the hotel, we slept in at our pricelined hotel in the giant king bed under a luxurious down comforter. That was fantastic. I highly recommend the Maryville Marriott.

Then things just got better. We headed home to a very happy Sophia. She and my parents had been having a great morning and were waiting patiently for us to arrive and open our Christmas gifts. Let's just say that so far, Christmas is treating us well. Sophia was really pleased with her gifts, including her very fancy clothes and dog Frenchy.


And it worked out really well that she wanted to wear them (and bring Frenchy) to The Nutcracker tonight.


I don't really know where to begin about The Nutcracker. Before we even arrived, Sophia was so excited to get to see the ballet, but to see it with Grandma and Grandpa was just beyond thrilling. This picture is the closest to capturing how thrilled she was.


I thought we'd make it to the intermission but probably not too much later. I was wrong. Sophia was riveted through the whole show. At one point, she leaned over to me (from Grandpa's lap of course) and said, "I love this show!" Again this year, I was amazed at the fact that in spite of the inordinate number of small children, Jesse Hall remained nearly silent through the entire two hours! When it was finished, Sophia actually cried and said she wanted them to do it again. Apparently she didn't think they should be tired after their performance. Regardless, we headed home. And yes, I am wearing a hat. It's among my favorite Christmas gifts of the day. Feminine but still modern. Like me?


What a fantastic twenty-some hours! A really, really great weekend already. The perfect way to celebrate Christmas.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Just a Quick Howdy Do

I've been sick for a couple days. Just the gunk making itself known. I'm feeling better today. Still grumpy. Poor Sophia. And I still have unearthly amounts of snot. Just so you know.

In about an hour, Erick and I are headed to St. Louis to again enjoy the stylings of The Swell Season. This is our second year. You can catch up on our last trip at THIS POST. Same venue. Same concert buddies, add our neighbors the Grays. We're all driving separately and have different plans, but the concert will be fun.

My mom and dad are coming to spend the night and morning with Sophia (after Casey puts her to bed). When we return, we'll have Christmas with my parents. Sophia is terribly excited, but so am I. The evening will be capped off by seeing The Nutcracker Ballet. That blog is HERE. Again, we did this last year, but it wasn't on the same weekend.

So, big plans. Hopefully I can manage to not sneeze and snort through the whole weekend... Updates will come as I manage.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The things Sophia says

I'm sure you've figured it out by now, but our family likes the words. Sophia loves them too. She can make me snort with laughter and then catch my breath because of her sweet spirit in a moment's notice.

Today, we were playing the whispering game, where you don't actually whisper anything but just make the whisper sound in order to tickle each other. Then she leaned over with another secret, only this one was, "Mommy, I love you so much because you're so special to me." Wow. Sweet.

Yesterday, after going on the potty, she said, "So I said to myself, 'Let's get that poo poo out of there!'" Funny.

She's a little crazy on the medicine right now. The stuff that we have to give her for the cough has some steroids in it, and it shows. So I need to remind myself that she is a sweet and funny girl. Not just the hyped up preschooler trying to tackle me at every turn.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Restful Weekend

Our weekend was so relaxing and refreshing that it's hard to believe we've had a sick kid for a few days.

Thanksgiving Day we drove to Kansas City and back to spend the day with Erick's mom and extended family. It's always fun to reconnect. Sophia loves her family. She hated leaving, especially because there is a boatload of kids there. Lexie, in particular, makes for a very good partner in crime. Lexie turned three in July, and the two of them are as cute as they are ornery. Wish I took my camera.

Friday, Sophia was still just a little coughy, but all together doing fine. So after nap, we took her to Grandmary's house and had a long luxurious date. Dinner, movie, shopping. Perfection.

Then, Friday midnight, or is it Saturday, regardless, she woke up with croup. Now, I haven't blogged this fact because I didn't want to jinx anything, but now it's broken, so I can tell you. The winter of 2007-08 was awful. Two pneumonias, too many croups to count, colds constantly. She was on breathing treatments at least twice a day. Last year, however, Sophia didn't go to the doctor once (aside from the burn). We haven't used the nebulizer for breathing treatments for over 18 months. Until Friday. She's been on several breathing treatments a day now.


No more croup, just a continual cough. I hope to get in to the doctor today to be sure there is nothing extra that we're dealing with.

Seriously, though, in spite of, or maybe because Sophia was sick, we had a fantastic weekend. We stayed at home pretty much constantly. In our pajamas. Yes, Sophia's are Spongebob.


We got takeout for supper because we didn't want to be the ones with the coughing kid. We played and played. I remember now that Sophia is quite possibly even sweeter than normal when she is sick. We got so many cuddles and kisses and hugs. She was a big time Daddy's girl but she still prefers her mama when she needs some comfort or to sleep an extra little bit at nap.

It always helps our weekends when the Tigers win. But when they win over the Jayhawks to keep them out of a bowl, it makes our weekend, week, month, etc. Sophia watched the end of the game with gusto. I had to hold her for part, and as I wandered away, she said, "Mom, I wanted to watch the Tigers."


I just loved this weekend. It's a shame that Sophia wasn't feeling well, but it didn't seem to affect her fun at all. I could do with some more weekends that we do as little as we did during this one.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Grateful is an Understatement

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Rarely am I without words. When I try to put a name to all of the things that I am grateful for, my mind tends to black out with overpopulation. That's an easy way out, though, so here I go. Just a drop in the bucket.

I find myself most frequently grateful for Erick. Sappy, but true. There are no words to describe how grateful I am for the fact that when he isn't home, I know he wants to be. That's not to say that there aren't times that he leaves to have fun or work on relationship with friends. At those times, we're both grateful for other reasons. But, even then, I know that he is happiest when with his family, and for that I am so very appreciative.

I'm so glad that he and I tend to agree on politics, religion, music and TV shows. On the former two, we have enough opinions that differ to make for good discussion and constant learning. Because if we agreed about everything all of the time, I wouldn't be very grateful at all. Then I'd have to go exclusively elsewhere for all of my heated discussion, and that just isn't any fun.

There are many, many more things about Erick for which I'm grateful, but I'll save those for another day.

As I listened to Sophia scream for the first twenty minutes of her "nap," I realized just how grateful I am that she still naps. That's all I'll say about that one since it may be over anyway.

But I am incredibly thankful for the fact that when I am away from Sophia, even on a rough week, I miss her. I'm grateful, mind you, for the opportunities I have to get away, but it is nice to know that I always look forward to being home. Feeling her ever longer arms wrapped around my neck. Nothing makes me more grateful for those moments than the ones I have away.

Sophia feels loved, and for that I am so thankful.

I'm grateful for modern conveniences. There's no denying it. That's all I need to say about that, I think. You know what I mean, and if you don't, I don't want to rub it in...

Maybe more than anything in my life, I am grateful that I am known. That there are people around me who care enough to pause when I pause - just to see what it is that distracted me. Because even if they weren't distracted, they know me better after the experience. I love that there are people who will listen to me ramble for seemingly hours on the finer points of theology or society or pets or furniture even when I don't have something important to say. I'm thankful for people who love me in spite of my sometimes oblivious and thoughtless ways. I work hard to be thoughtful, and occasionally I'm successful. But the people who know me love me even when I'm not. That is incredibly liberating. I think I'm grateful for the freedom to be myself. I am, on most days, entirely comfortable in my skin. That is a beautiful thing. That is not to say that I don't work hard at improving myself. I'm not perfect, nor do I strive for perfection. Most of what I work toward is to more perfectly love others, allowing them to be free and comfortable in their imperfections. I thank my God for taking pleasure in my imperfections as much as he enjoys my few accomplishments.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Just because


I was looking through pictures on the computer, and I found that each time I scrolled past this one, I couldn't help but smile.

Thought a smile might be worth sharing.

It's from Jacob's birthday party in February.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Christmas Cookies Round One

I honestly couldn't tell you why I'm so into Christmas stuff already this year. I like it. It's fun. That's about all I've got so far. There is no telling, but I may be completely tired of the whole thing in a couple of weeks while the rest of society is just ramping up. Regardless, Christmas cookies have already been made at this house.

I started to just make regular sugar cookies, and decided to give our Christmas cutters a test run. Given that motivation, I really don't feel too overboard with this one. Anyway, we made the dough the night before. Sophia was, as always, ridiculously excited about the prospect of working in the kitchen.


The next day, we got out the dough and I let Sophia break in her new rolling pin - just her size.


These cookie cutters are the same ones (brand and origination, not actual) as the ones my Granny uses, so it is fun to use them each time. So many memories of doing this around Granny's table. Somehow it always felt more organized there. Well, she also cut them out herself while we were young, and she let us decorate. I am starting to understand why. Decorating is definitely the tedious part for me. I'll have to ask her about that...

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

A few notes on the movie:

-Yes, she is pantless. Why? She said, "Mom, I don't feel like wearing pants." You know what, sometimes I don't feel like it either. So, while it's still socially acceptable, I'm going to free her up...

-Just before she guesses "Frosty" to the most famous reindeer of all question, you'll see it. That grin that she puts on when she's about to say something silly. Then she reviews the silliness just to be sure it was as funny as she thought it would be.

-When she's pointing during the Santa part, she's pointing at a Santa decoration in our house.

-Finally, she really makes me laugh. That's all. That was the final note. This kid makes me laugh. Hope you laugh too. If not, that's cool. I'll keep posting videos anyway.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

She's Officially a Very Big Kid

I am updating on the potty situation not to brag or toot my own horn. I realize how little I actually have to do with it. However, I do think Sophia needs to get some serious credit.

She has not had a poop or pee accident since the first day. It's kind of insane really. I know. The only catch is that she will only do this in her Winnie the Pooh potty, so we have been carting it around in the back of the van for the last week. We are those people. I figure she is doing so well that I just don't want to pick another battle until it matters.

Anyway, I think she really crossed the line today. I had to take a shower, so I reminded her about the potty procedures in case she had to go without me. In the middle of my shower, she ran in to tell me that she peed in the potty. She also told me that she had dumped it in my potty and I could flush it. Of course I was glad she had done it all by herself - pants down and up successfully, etc. Imagine my shock when I went to flush the pee and found poop too!! Immediately I asked her about it, and she seemed surprised that I was surprised. Like, yes, mom, I pooped in the potty. That is sooo last week. I expected to find a big mess on her bottom. Nope. She had wiped too. I know this is way too much information for some of you but others realize what a feat Sophia just accomplished.

All that to say Sophia is potty trained. She's a great big girl. It's a little sad, of course, to give up any of that baby stage. But mostly, I'm just thrilled for her and us. Yeah, Sophia!!

And that is all I've got to say about that.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christmas Prep Day Two

Nope, the spirit didn't suffer. Sophia was stuffier, more tired and grumpier, but Erick and I are still in the Christmas spirit!!

Erick got up with Sophia, allowing me to sleep in. Have I mentioned how much I love that man? She's still waking up at 5:30 - for no apparent reason. Just wide awake, raring to go. She is tired by noon, of course. I don't know what it's about. Regardless, Erick lets me sleep on the weekends. Then he made french toast! Sigh. Don't wonder any more. Yes, I know how lucky I am.


Once our bellies were full, we could focus on the task at hand. Getting our lovely green tree to stand upright. Sophia's a big help.


What better way to enjoy a Christmas tree than sitting next to its glow to read a good book? Dressed as Cinderella, no less...


Here is our tree in all its glory. I am not ashamed to admit that I am much happier looking at this for the next 39 days than I would be if the white tree were still in my constant view. I'm just saying. I'm a tree snob. I can embrace that. But seriously. Who can argue with me?

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