Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rockstar

While at the last Shelter Gardens concert of the season, I caught some photos of Sophia in her rockstar sunglasses. She had been wearing her rockstar shirt earlier in the day, but after lunch, a wardrobe change was required.

So here's our rockstar.

A little bit hard to hold



Aloof



Cool



Contemplative



Always entertaining

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Live Music is the Elixir of Life

I don't attend nearly enough concerts. This is what I say after each and every live music experience, good or bad. Friday night was incredible!

Coldplay at the Verizon Wireless Ampitheatre in St. Louis with our friends Niki and JP Harris.

I love the music of Coldplay. I have loved it for a long time, but I wouldn't call myself a devotee. Meaning I don't know the lyrics to all the songs or have the setlists memorized before I arrive at a show. That is, up until last night. After experiencing their live show, I may change my status. Devotee, I am.

Here is a video of a song that, I think, embodies why the show was so memorable. The technical aspects of the concert were truly breathtaking. The way they incorporated video into the live show made us on the lawn feel like we were as important as the patrons who paid extra to be on the front row. Honestly, I rather appreciate the whole picture far more than I appreciate being sweat on. I'm just saying.

This song is called "42". I love the video elements of the old-fashioned flickering show, along with the sing-along at the end. This is a great snapshot of the concert.



Speaking of snapshots, I got a few of my own.

We went to the concert with our friends the Harrises. After The Swell Season and Ja Rule, they are our live music consorts.



This is my favorite shot of the night. During the title track Viva La Vida, the drummer rings the bell.



Another favorite, the final encore of the evening was Life in Technicolor ii. This was by far my favorite set. I really enjoyed their use of the ginormous screen to bring to life these pieces of art. Fantastic imaging to go along with great lyrics.



This Coldplay Concert was one for the ages. I'll always remember their cover of MJ's Billie Jean, acoustic and in the audience. The outdoors is also a meaningful addition for me. Nature with awesome lyrics and melodies? Live? Doesn't get any better. Like I said, I'm working harder now to get familiar with the lyrics so next time, I'll be ready to belt it out!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Then there was one

New Lulu is gone. We mailed her off yesterday, and Sophia seems happy about that fact. Good old Lulu's place is secure, and I think I saw a glint in that stringy eye of hers this morning. She just bowls over the competition one by one. I am pretty sure we won't bother with that again...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Decision

Since I sewed Lulu up, Sophia has had nothing, and I mean nothing, to do with the new Lulu. In light of this new development, I think we'll send her back. I realize that I'm going against the better judgment of 75% of my readers. All 9 of you. But the decision is really Sophia's, and I believe she's spoken.

This morning, I asked her if she thinks we should send new Lulu back to the store. At first, she said that she wanted to keep her here. Then I explained to her that new Lulu needed to be loved just like her Lulu has been loved. If she didn't think she had enough love for both Lulus, then we should give another little girl the chance to love her (although I don't think there has ever been a Lulu as loved as Sophia's). Sophia took both Lulus and gave them a big hug. Then she threw new Lulu to me and said, "Another little girl can have this Lulu and I will keep my Lulu. They'll both be loved." And that's that.

Now she's excited to go to the Post Office and send her off. So, thanks for all the input. If you have any last minute arguments, you better get them out. Otherwise, new Lulu is headed off to a new home.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Another Lulu Development

As Erick put Sophia to bed this evening, they reviewed Lulu's injuries. Erick told her that some time in the near future, I would really have to sew her up so Lulu would be more comfortable. I think this made sense to her because in Corduroy, Lisa sews on Corduroy's button to make him comfortable, even though she likes him just the way he is.

Being the type of girl she is, Sophia went ahead and sent Lulu downstairs with Erick tonight. Yep, she's up there snuggling with new Lulu as I type. I don't know what that means for the poll, but not looking good for Erick's camp.

I sewed up four sizable holes, which should keep her limbs attached for another good month or so. Additional gentle wiping and an air toss in the dryer with a Bounce sheet, and senior Lulu is . . . well, she's still ragged, but she appears to have a little more life. She'll still be stuck in our house, but I think she'll rest more comfortably now that her innards aren't dangling. Nobody likes that.

Old v. New

Monday, July 20, 2009

Delaying the Inevitable

As promised, I'm going to address the Lulu conundrum. If you are unfamiliar with the sage, you can click here..

We knew that Lulu would barely survive the trip to Florida. Sophia did bring Lulu with her most of the time, but one thing that helped to delay Lulu's demise was the acquisition of a new friend. This is Marie, the kitten from Aristocats. For about six hours, she supplanted Lulu. That was it. Now she's just another friend.



Lulu did survive the trip. Her current condition adds new meaning to "hanging by a thread."



Three of her four limbs are hanging on by mere threads. She still has Cheeto residue on her face because I'm afraid to use more than a gentle wipe. Her stuffing is coming out. Really it has to be humiliating for her.



Particularly when compared to the bright, shining countenance of her newer counterpart. Notice the freckles. Old Lulu's freckles are long gone.



Lulu no longer leaves the house. That's the rule. I told Sophia if she leaves the house again, she'll probably fall apart. Sophia seemed to accept that. When asked if she'd like to bring the new Lulu with her, she glanced casually at her and said, "I'll just bring no friends." Ouch.



I even tried to tell Sophia that she just needs to let me have Lulu for a little while, so I can work on stitching her all back up. Sophia was not okay with this idea in the least. "No, Mommy! I like my Lulu lumpy!"

So I guess we're all in a stand still until Lulu actually falls apart. Any bets on when that will be?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hip Parents

Erick and I happen to think we're cool. Okay, we know that we're borderline, but we're willing to assume that we're cool enough to throw around some hip language from a mere three to five years ago. Sophia occasionally pops up with one of these phrases at the appropriate time. Sometimes I remember to write it down. Today was one of those.

As we left the farmer's market this morning, Sophia said she wanted to watch some Barnyard when we got home. Receiving no response from us, she added, "Can I get a what what?!" We laughed so hard that she repeated it all the way home. I just love when that happens. I also love that she so enjoys making us laugh. Again, she pushes the line now and then on being the funniest one here...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Anticlimactic

We are currently experiencing technical difficulties. Our internet is down, so I'm using our neighbor Ernie's internet when I can. That means I haven't been thinking much about the blog.

Vacation is over. Lulu post is next on my agenda. Who knows what might happen in the meantime.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Princess Sophia

Disney knows how to do it. That's the only way I can explain the way every staff person (or should I say cast member) that we met greeted Sophia with a "Hello, Princess!"

It didn't take Sophia long to figure out that in this place, she was a princess. She loved it - and who wouldn't? The very first store we came to in Downtown Disney was a huge toy store. Inside this store is a castle tower-like room that had crowns and jewels. Sophia could have spent all day every day in this little corner. Here she is getting ready to dance to this Cinderella music box.



A few doors down is the actual princess store. This building is "guarded" by Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. For once in Sophia's life, we didn't have to do much coaxing to get a very cute shot of her with Sleeping Beauty. She was more than happy to oblige.



Here is the scene on the inside of the princess store. Moms and dads bombarded with ways to make their little girls feel like princesses. It was hard not to get caught up in the madness.



Especially when Sophia caught a look of herself in the mirror and was clearly pleased with her reflection.



We didn't buy a thing in the princess store. Honestly, it wasn't because we didn't offer. (And she did get a stuffed animal from a different store) All she wanted in the princess store was to be sprinkled with the princess dust. Allow me to explain. At the back of the store is a salon for little girls to be transformed into princesses (for an appropriately exorbitant fee). This place is called the Bippity Boppity Boo Salon or some such. On our first day, women from the salon were by the front doors with their Fairy Godmother wands sprinkling princess dust on anyone who slowed down. They said something like "May all your wishes come true" as they sprinkled on the body glitter.

Sophia was hooked. I'm not sure what they put in this body glitter, but the next day when we passed by the store, Sophia wanted to go in and get sprinkled with princess dust again. This time, they were not at the entrance. We had to go to the back of the store, where Sophia waited (no joke) close to ten minutes, just standing in front of the cash register, to be sprinkled with princess dust. This particular fairy godmother decided that for an extra long wait, Sophia should have an extra dose of sprinkles. It was clear down her arms, but I didn't mind. I wish I could have caught the look afterwards. "Daddy, look at my sprinkly arms!" It was heartwrenchingly sweet.



Sophia, just like every other little girl, is a real life princess. It was just a wonderful moment to get to watch her live that out. By the way, if you look very carefully at Sophia's scalp, you'll see that I'm still working on a few of those glitter specks.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Favorite Parts

As I said, this was the best vacation ever. Each trip gets more fun as Sophia gets older, having lots more opinions and ideas about what to do. Since we went with pretty much every idea she had, we all had more fun. Spoiled a little, maybe, but we had few arguments. The ones we did have were usually because she was exhausted, and when she got a little rest in the stroller, she was as good as new.

All that to say, we each had different favorite parts of our trip.

I loved each aspect of this trip: swimming constantly, dancing, shopping, eating and playing. Still, my favorite part was a brand new tradition that I started our first night just to keep Sophia entertained for a couple of minutes.

Each night, as we wound down together in our room, we took the camera and looked through the day's pictures. That mostly involved Sophia saying "It's me! What am I doing?" But it was still a perfect way to end each day. After we looked through the pictures, we always took a family self portrait like this one:



After the family shot, Sophia got a chance to take a picture or two with the camera. That whole little routine was definitely my favorite part of our vacation. I hope that is a tradition that will stick, but I know her interest level will decrease as the years go along.



Erick enjoyed each part of our vacation too. His very favorite part was swimming with Sophia and watching her be so proud of herself for doing big girl things. She had no fear in the water and would just jump right in there. The first night in the pool, she insisted that she could do it herself. In a 4' pool, that wasn't an option, but the thought was endearing.




Sophia and Daddy really did have a lot of fun together in the pools over the week.



Sophia's favorite part is a little harder nail down. When I asked her what it was, she replied, "The airplane ride," and we all know how that ended. So I can hardly take that seriously. After that, I began giving her choices, and each time she picked the last one. For example: the airplane or swimming? Swimming. Swimming or dancing? Dancing. After a while, we caught on and began asking other questions. Erick: Who do you like better - mommy or daddy? Daddy. Of course I followed it up with the reverse and was rewarded with a "Mommy." So I guess we'll just have to take our best guess.

I think it was dancing. In Downtown Disney, which was a few blocks from our hotel, there was a stage with a dance lesson each night. One lady directed all the kids in their steps on dances. Sophia loved this. It was so much fun to watch. The first night, we just stopped the stroller at the back to check it out. Before we could say anything, Sophia had hopped out and walked up front with all the kids.

She paid attention and kept up as best as she could. I was pretty impressed with her ability to follow dance instructions.



She was one of the littlest ones out there, especially on the first night. She definitely stuck with it longer than any of the other little ones. She also stuck close.



The next night was the same thing. She had been asking about dancing all day. So when she got down there, she concentrated and listened carefully.



Then jumped right in.



Here's a little sampling of her talent... video

video

Monday, July 13, 2009

Traveling

This is my first of an undetermined number of posts related to our Florida vacation. I like to write about our travels as much almost as much as I like to travel (apparently genetic Aunt LZ?). So please have patience with my ramblings.

This first post is going to be about the time spent in actual travel with a toddler. Sophia is a great traveler, really. We couldn't ask for a better companion. She is, however, still two years old. On our return trip, we had a layover in Atlanta for almost three hours. The layover was all right, but two airplane rides was definitely one too many. The last thirty minutes of the second flight was spent physically restraining Sophia because of no nap and air pressure changes. Just an all-around bad deal.

In general, though, traveling was very enjoyable. We headed out on Monday and drove to Kansas City to get vacation started a day before our flight out. That turned out to be a great choice. We enjoyed shopping and eating in a development near the KCI airport called Zona Rosa. Here's our Sophia Bear at a great Irish Pub in that area. Great Irish menu and atmosphere.


Erick's a great traveler too. Just thought I'd share that.



Sophia is actually pretty comfortable in airports and around lots of other travelers. Clearly she doesn't have any difficulty relaxing.



Making friends also comes pretty easily. I think these friends were strategic considering the fact that they were watching a movie. Still...



Staying in a hotel poses a challenge, but we worked through it really well. Once in Florida, we had bedrails for her bed, and Erick slept in it with her. We all slept for about ten hours each night. That's slightly less than usual for Sophia and significantly more than usual for us. A good compromise, although we missed sleeping in the same bed and watching TV or talking after Sophia's bedtime.



(Notice Lulu - more on this to come after FL posts)

All that to say that we make a pretty great traveling unit. It just makes us more excited and determined to continue making this a habit, in order to stay in traveling form.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sigh


It's a good sigh and a bad sigh. A sigh of relief to be in our own bed tonight. A sigh of sadness to end the best vacation ever.

That's right, I said it. Best vacation ever. They just seem to be getting better. I'm not going to say too much at this juncture. For the next few days, I'll be sorting pictures and thoughts. Not to mention laundry. Oh yeah, and trying to wash all the princess dust out of Sophia's hair and scalp... Here's a lovely posed shot of our family to keep you company while you wait for more candid shots.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Off to a great start

I thought I'd go ahead and post before we left. Today was a great start to our vacation! We stayed in town, but we have piddled and played all day long. Now we're completely ready for an early morning departure.

After Sophia's nap, we headed to the mall for our second round of the new Glo Golf that is in the MC Sports wing. It's a good time for all of us, but especially Sophia. It hasn't been busy yet while we've visited, which means that Sophia can just jump from one hole to another without concern for the rules. That works out well.

When I tried to snap her picture to get the feeling of glow, it turned out like this.



Fortunately, the flash can keep up with all of her activity. Clearly, she was having a grand old time.




Our plane doesn't leave until Tuesday morning, so we're excited to just hang out in KC for a day to get this party started. Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Packing


Today we are packing to leave for a few nights. One in Kansas City and three in Orlando. We have been waiting for this trip for what feels like forever. We are nearly giddy with excitement! I know it will be over before I'm ready, but I plan to enjoy every moment, knowing full well that traveling with a toddler can be tenuous.

And then again, I'm back here where I started. At the risk of being a Debby Downer, I'm going to be honest. In the excitement of packing for our trip, I came across Sophia's "Big Sister" shirt, and it hit me all over again why we get to go on this damn trip to begin with. So, here I sit. Typing this out and hoping that my tears will all be shed this morning. It's the same old tune. I suppose I have to cry today so I can laugh until I cry tomorrow. At least that's what I'm holding out for.

Sorry to bring it down a notch. I really am excited to get away with the sweetest little girl and the funniest guy I know. We have the best time traveling together. We're a very good team. I just wanted to share. Why? I have no idea.

We are sleeping in the same room with Sophia, so I'm not sure I'll have any chance to post while we're gone. Maybe I'll post tomorrow so this isn't the last thing you hear from me for a while. I'm sure you'll be okay. Just take this moment to breathe it in. The good with the bad. Gotta love this ride.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Transitioning Lulu

Lulu comes up often around our home. I'm not sure how many times I've mentioned her here, but I remember this post, after NYC, in which I acknowledged her necessity to the success of our trip.

Since that time, almost a year ago, we have somehow become even more dependent on Lulu. For that reason, Lulu is about to fall apart. I already did my best to stitch her up, but new holes keep coming and old ones renew their size. Her stuffing has almost completely relocated and shifted. She's definitely in her sunset years, so to speak.

Before our NYC trip, I casually mentioned trying to replace Lulu with this guy. Billy.



The response I received from my readership (tongue in cheek) was such that I hesitate to bring up the topic again.

This time, I was more proactive with Sophia. I let her go onto the website: www.blablakids.com and choose any doll she wanted. Since I purchased Lulu three years ago, they have at least a dozen new and cute (won't say cuter) dolls. Sophia studied them all, commenting here and there; then she decided on another Lulu.

So, we'll be getting another Lulu in the mail some time soon. It won't be here before our Florida trip, but I think that's a good thing anyway. Sophia and Lulu can have one last Hoorah together before this new interloper comes in. We're talking a lot about the transition. Sophia still hasn't committed completely to the idea, but this time it's not really a choice. She wouldn't agree to put Lulu on a shelf, but it's okay if she sits in the blue chair in her room. I'll be sure to let you know how and when the switch happens.

I'm actually quite sad that we have to make this transition, but it's necessary. When the new one arrives, I'll take the opportunity to spend some serious "fix-it" time on current Lulu. I'll try to re-stuff her and stitch up a few more holes. She'll never be the public face of Lulu again, but she can retain a little dignity. She's meant a lot to our little family. As a matter of fact, we consider her to be part of it, and here's why:

When they first met, Lulu's smile seems to indicate that she knows her place is secure.




It didn't take long for that to become solid.



She has helped Sophia sleep comfortably.



She has monkeyed around more than once.



She defiitely helps Sophia feel better when she's sick or injured.



She has listened to hundreds of books, and she occasionally reads to Sophia.



She's even suffered in the elements.



Feel free to share your own Lulu memories if it will help