Friday, December 31, 2010

A Visit from a Friend


We love and miss our friends in Columbia. That's why we're thrilled when we get the chance to see them here or there. Yesterday, Sophia was giddy with excitement to welcome her "best friend" Ava. She couldn't wait to show her everything in our apartment and play princess with her. The dresses that have been away since we moved came out first thing.

It was so much fun to watch them pick up with ease and enjoy each other's company as they always have.

I didn't jump up and down and make Erica wear my clothes, but I was excited to see her too. Friends are precious.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Come and Gone

It's hard to believe that I am sitting here looking at an apartment without anything Christmasy. We only had a week or two here before we set it all up, so it looks a little bare without the festive decoration.

We had a truly memorable Christmas. Our time at my grandma's house was fun and the traveling was easy. Christmas itself was a whirlwind of celebration from our house to Grandmary's to David and Casey's with the rest of our family. An after-Christmas treat came our way with the visit of our former neighbors, Aaron and Jenny, who are currently in Santa Monica.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that Christmas was fun. Sophia did great considering nearly a week of gifts and sugar and low expectations from us. We are finally getting her back to an understanding of what "normal" life is again.

This was the first time that I had returned to St. Louis and looked forward to getting back to our little apartment. Back to the radiators and the small kitchen. There's just something about being away from home that really does help the heart grow fonder.

Now we are ready to plow ahead. Sophia starts school next week. Erick and I start a couple of new commitments: eating better and exercising. Now that the holidays are past, we'll start looking around for a church, and we'll start making time to reach out to people we know and people we meet here in St. Louis. It will be a different start than we have known before, but there is a thrill in the freshness of it.

I hope that everyone has had a peaceful and relaxing holiday season so far. Maybe I'll have some more to say about the new year. If not, good luck to all of us on not biting off more than we can chew in the new year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010



Just a little something for your viewing pleasure. Sophia and I went for a walk around our neighborhood the other day. I have been so impressed by the architecture and character of the apartment buildings around us. This is just an example of one of the doors up the street from us.

I would love to hear the stories of the people who have, at one time or another, lived behind this beautiful green door. I'm sure you'll be seeing more of my neighborhood as time goes along.
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010


We have a busy few days ahead - traveling to Columbia to celebrate Christmas with our families. I'm looking forward to it immensely.

Even with moving and things being different, I have enjoyed this holiday season even more than I normally do. It's a little ironic, I think. Normally, the schedule is packed so tightly with Christmas parties and people that we never quite manage to rest and soak in the wonder of the season. This season our schedule is just a smidge more open. I have felt an enormous amount of freedom to just be in the spirit! Sophia and I talk constantly about Christmas - what we're giving people, what we're making and why we Christians think it's a pretty big deal.

I am not a bastion of focus, so I always suspected that I may get distracted from the holiday by the celebration. That is now confirmed. I can't say that I prefer this. As a matter of fact, I miss being too busy to see straight. I'm just saying. I've learned my lesson. Next year, let's get back to the parties!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Magic House Membership

We have been to the Magic House, here in St. Louis, several times. Last week was our first visit since the move. For that matter, we have done surprisingly little in the kid amenity category since arriving.

In the past, we have never come with friends, so I didn't think this would be any different. I think since Sophia has been the only kid around for a while, she was much more interested in what other kids around were doing. She would nonchalantly walk up to kids and start playing with them. It went pretty well, but she's new at this friend-making thing, too, so she tired pretty quickly of doing what someone else wanted. It was just interesting to watch her mind working when other kids came around. Basically deciding if it was worth the effort. I imagine my face looked pretty similar as the moms approached...

Anywho, we did have a very good time. Sophia served pizza to the parents in the pizza kitchen.

She birthed and named babies. You'll notice one of her temporary friends in the background.

She had two favorite spots. One is her normal favorite. There is a quiet little nook in the loud and busy Magic House. A gable filled with books and tea things. This is her old favorite.

Her new favorite is the opposite. It's loud and bright. But she is on screen, and as she dances to tunes from The Nutcracker Ballet, the lights follow her movements making delightful patterns and scenes. It took her a while to leave this room.

At the end of the day, we became members. During the holidays, they are giving out gift baskets to new members. Sophia is a very good gift-getter.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Feeling Crafty

Maybe it's the holidays. Maybe it's helpful to keep busy. Who knows exactly how these things happen. I only know that craftiness seems to be going around.

My sister-in-law, Casey, has got the craft bug pretty seriously. She's a knitting fiend. Yesterday at my grandparents' home, I was the beneficiary of a heaping of that fiendishness. Look at this beautiful scarf! It's perfect, and I will wear it with pride, boasting of Casey's talent and taste. Assuming a stranger will ask me about it...


I have a slightly less ambitious version of craftiness, brought about mostly for a desire to have color and life on my walls and a lack of funds to make that happen professionally. Here is an example of some artwork, carefully crafted by yours truly. I'm actually quite pleased with the way this turned out. Don't worry, I don't fancy myself an artiste. But I will be filling my walls with my handiwork, especially while Hobby Lobby has their paint and canvas on sale!

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow Fam

On Thursday, Erick mentioned that the forecast had snow in it for the weekend. Since that admission, Sophia has been relentless about how many days until snow. I was almost certain this would be a wrong guess by the weather predictors, and we'd have to stall this "first real snow" business another week or two.

I was wrong. They were right. We woke up this morning to a lovely blanket - well, maybe more of a throw - of the beautiful white stuff. I really nearly forgot how much I love the snow. I'm one of those people who always thinks there was more snow when I was a kid. How do I have so many great memories of sledding and snowmen if it snowed as rarely as it seems like it does now? Well, I guess that's beside the point.

Sophia loves the snow, too, and I'm so glad! This wasn't the greatest snow for snowballs and snowmen...


But it is perfect for sledding. So we bundled up and walked down the block to the campus of Concordia Seminary, which happens to have several perfect sledding hills, and they don't even lead into the street!


You can see the joy on my face, I think.


After a few trips down the hill for all of us (and dragging the sled plus Sophia back up...), I became the object of a surprise attack.


The powdery snowballs made for a brief fight, followed by a photo op. Sophia kept calling us Snow Daddy and Snow Mama. I could live with that.


One last trip down the hill with the snow baby and we called it a morning. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can talk them into Round 2 here in a bit.


Thursday, December 9, 2010


I thought this would be the week that I started focusing more on the new world than the old, but it turns out the old one wasn't finished with me yet.

Remember a long while back when I shared a lot about my ideas on grief? We're right back to that. With all the busyness and distraction of the actual move and settling in, not to mention visiting the old world a couple of times, I realize now that I had managed to feel the minimal amount of loss associated with this life twist. (I'm still searching for the proper term to describe what just happened as "move" and "change" don't seem to fully embody the situation.) I still had plenty of feeling, but it was just a pressure release of the feelings beneath.

This week, I have slowed down. There is little or nothing to do to continue the settling process. I knew I was stalling in putting up those pictures, but I didn't realize I was stalling the grief.

But here I am, looking out at a view that I genuinely appreciate. The animals were placed strategically by Sophia. In a room that is warm and feels like home. With a girl playing quietly with her animals on and around me. And here it is. Loss. Grief. Confusion. Hope? Yes. I've got it all. With a stuffed nose and a clogged ear. There is no point in describing what I feel here. You have all felt it at one point or another. A sudden recollection of an unfulfilled dream. A sweet memory of a moment impossible to recapture. Eyes filling with tears for no reason in particular.

It's going to be a long winter. Strap in. I'll try not to drag us all down. There is plenty to share that is beautiful and funny and exciting. I'll let you in on all of that too. But I have to be real. I'm homesick. For my sick neighbors, for my healthy neighbors, for my friends, for my church, for the gym I haven't been to in months, for Sophia's preschool, for Hy-Vee and my stove and my back porch. To name a few. Okay. I feel better. Here's photographic evidence that I feel better. Sophia took this for you.

Hope I didn't make you feel worse.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

True Enough

I have been a bit worn down these past few days, finally giving in to the cough that has been trying to claim me since we moved here. Fortunately for Sophia, she does a relatively good job of entertaining herself.

We have both worn pj's for days now. As soon as she got her clothes on today, she felt like dancing. So I cranked up the tunes and she broke it down. She's been working on her moves.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The "Real" World

We have been in our apartment for nearly three weeks! It seems impossible that it's been that long, but it's true. When Sophia talks about all the changes, she still refers to Columbia as "our real world" and the house we sold as "our real house." She is getting more used to the apartment and her room, but the rest of our existence is a bit surreal.

In that three weeks, Sophia and I have driven back to Columbia twice. One time just a quick trip to clean the house. Two days ago, we were there for 24 hours, visiting church, seeing friends and hanging out with the family in our old neighborhood. It's great to stay connected to our friends in Columbia, working toward acknowledging a new state of normal together. It is always hard to leave after a visit, but the quiet trip home provides a great opportunity to reflect on our rich past and look forward to a future, hopefully still rich with friends old and new.

I think this week will be the week I start thinking more about the new world than the old world. We'll see how that goes. I finally tackled a big stack of pictures and decorations that I had been stalling on. It will be fun to get the rest of our personal touches up and around us.

Sophia and I may work to find a library this week. The other thing that will help us feel at home is to cook at home more. We've been eating out more than normal, so it's easy to forget that we're not on an extended vacation.

I look forward to the task ahead. Making a life for ourselves and learning how to incorporate comfortable alongside the not-yet-broken-in, the proven with the risky. It will be an interesting journey. I'm glad that I'll have all of you to share it with!

School Picture

I just love Sophia's school picture. Johnson Photography came to Little One's Day Out a month or so ago and took pictures of all the kids. They also do family portraits if you choose. Sophia calls this her "real smile."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Flavor of Snow

It really is true. Snow tastes delicious. On Thanksgiving Day, we had a brief and exciting little snow storm. We got out and ran around in it. Sophia required our participation in running up and down the street with our tongues out. The rest of us decided to keep our eyes open, but Sophia thought she got better results with her head completely back. Of course, when she put her head completely back, the snow got in her eyes if they weren't closed... Lucky for Grandmary, she was here to participate in the spectacle.

Now we're all hoping for some snow to test out a great hill just a block from our apartment.