Thursday, December 29, 2011

Almost as good as snow


I'd say it's much more fun to be outside in jackets, but Sophia is still holding out for a really good snowstorm. We certainly did enjoy our visit to the park today. For the first time in a couple of months, Sophia wasn't alone on the swings and made some new friends.

Looks like this balmy weather may bring in the new year. Last year on New Year's Day, we were at the zoo and had to leave because of a tornado warning. And the year continued with the trend of weird weather. I really hope that the coming year is more predictable. On the other hand, I won't complain about lovely days like this for sure!
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

looking both ways

One of the reasons that I love the holidays is that I love thinking back and looking forward. I don't really have to remind myself to stop and reflect. More often, I find myself saying, "Self, enough reflecting and planning. Now just do it."

The turn of the year offers a great chance for that. And this one is extra special because it's the year that Erick and I will celebrate our 10-year anniversary. That's right. A whole year to reflect on our first ten years of marriage. I'm giddy with excitement. So, it may come up a lot this year. Or it may not. We'll see.

Regardless, I'll be thinking about it. And talking a lot to Erick about it. He loves that. He actually does, but I think his ears may get tired sometimes. Anyway, reflection is my favorite. Birthdays, anniversaries and the holidays are therefore also my fav.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays

Feeling Christmasy. Hope you are feeling the love of the season too.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I'm sitting here between the cat and Sophia, listening to the hiss of our radiator. I so enjoy Christmas break. I'd take a picture to share, but we're only lit by Christmas lights.

Christmas is fantastic. I'm excited. Erick's excited. Sophia is beside herself, practically counting down the hours. She has asked Santa for a sewing machine, and she's asked us for a Nintendo DS (a handheld video game). Lucky for her, she's been a very good girl this year.

Tomorrow, we head to Columbia to celebrate with Erick's mom. Then home for our family Christmas on Christmas Day. Monday, we head out to Grandpa and Grandma's farm to have Christmas with the whole family on Mom's side. Should be a good time.

Let the festivities begin! Well, as soon as I'm done sitting right here...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Silver Dollar City in the Rain

A couple of weekends ago, we got down to Springfield to see my parents. While we were there, we went to Silver Dollar City to see the Christmas lights.

I have so many great memories there at Christmas. I had never been during the season until we moved to Missouri in the 90's. Then it was always fun to go with my parents and just enjoy the hustle and bustle and Christmas spirit. Once Erick and I started dating, the Christmas festival at Silver Dollar City became very special to both of us. We didn't have any money in college, but since our parents still bought us season passes to SDC, we could go there for free of an evening! How romantic to wander around looking at the Christmas lights, watching the little familes that we envisioned would soon be us, taking many self portraits and just being together. Anyway, we love it there.

This time around on our visit, it was rainy. Very rainy. But not cold and not crowded. So I really didn't mind all that much. Everyone had fun.


Sophia talked to Santa. Asked for what she wanted and more (just to be safe). She's a wily kid.


And last, we saw the tree. I love that tree, too. Every year it just gets more spectacular. I especially love seeing it reflected in my baby's eyes.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Sophia's Story

I'd explain this if I could, but I'm not sure it would help...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Lafayette Square Holiday Tour


Before Sophia was born, Erick and I stayed at a guest house in Lafayette Square, here in St. Louis, and ever since then we have really liked the area. Beautiful historic homes, a great park in the square (obviously) and lots of quaint shops and eateries.

So we were excited to learn that they open a selection of their homes at Christmas to the public.

Each home is decorated for Christmas. Some more than others. And each home was very unique in its style.


It wouldn't be a holiday celebration without carolers, right?


Even the homes that weren't part of the tour went above and beyond to put on the festive best.


I highly recommend the tour. It was great fun. Big houses, condos, churches and shops. All decked out and packed with people ready to feel Christmasy.

Also, if you're in St. Louis and craving a good cut of hot chocolate, you must go to Rue Lafayette. The best hot chocolate I've had in recent memory. Served at just the right temperature. It warms you up without burning your tongue. Perfection.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

After Thanksgiving, we set up our Christmas tree and decorations as we always do. I forgot how much I love this apartment when its halls are decked. Lovely.

We've been working on Christmas cards, too. Sophia loved stamping and address-stamping all the envelopes, so hopefully everything gets where it's going... Her help might have caused a little trouble too.


We really love Christmas in this house.


All of us. Note the largeness of our "kitten."


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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Adventures

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Erick's mom came to spend the holiday with us, and enjoyed the perfect balance of relaxation and excitement.

This is our second year in St. Louis for Thanksgiving, but our first trip to the downtown Thanksgiving Parade. It was a chilly and windy morning, and we did wait for quite a while for the parade to begin.


But it was quickly worth the wait. Sophia waved at everyone as they passed.


And she got up close with several of the parade participants. All in all, it was a great parade morning.


Our second and most exciting adventure was last night when we went to see Mamma Mia at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. We had bought tickets for Mary's birthday in October, so we've been looking forward to this for a while.


Sophia just loves getting dressed up for a big evening out. She was sweet and excited and so much fun to see the show with.


We all followed Sophia's cue and got fancy for our night at the theatre.


At the end of the show, everyone was on their feet, and Sophia was dancing in the aisle - once she caught her breath from the excitement.


It has been a wonderful start to our holiday. I spent the day today not feeling too great, but we still managed to get our decorations up before I took a nap. I can't wait to see what the rest of the season has in store for us!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Baby Jesus

It's time for my annual post on Sophia's love of the nativity set. Every year, I am surprised at how much she loves it. A couple of weeks ago, we brought back our Christmas stuff from Mary's house. I told Sophia she could pick one thing to keep out until after Thanksgiving when we'll put everything up. Being the quickster she is, she first chose the tree... So once I had told her that was a no go, she chose the nativity set.

I bought this nativity set the year Sophia was born - maybe. I don't remember for sure. What I do remember is that it was the five dollar kind. Just one to tide us over until we could afford a nicer one more suited to my taste. Now I can't imagine replacing it.

Each year, Sophia loves playing with the people and the animals. Usually at the window.

This year, before she put it in the window, she played with it in her room. Joseph got to take a ride on a Zhu Zhu wagon. That would have been a much better way to get to Bethlehem...


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Climbing Trees

It seems like for weeks, I've been saying, "This is probably the last nice day that we'll have, so we better go outside." If I bothered to check a forecast, I might have known that we would have one of the most continuous and pleasant falls that I can remember in recent history.

A couple of weeks ago, Sophia had a friend over for a play date. One of the things her friend wanted to do was to climb trees in the park where Sophia had her birthday party. Sophia has never climbed trees there before, or anywhere else for that matter. She would never climb the tree in our front yard in Columbia even when her cousins were nearly at the top.

Because she had never done it before, she wasn't dressed quite like a climber. The tutu and sparkly hat impaired her skills just a smidge, but she had a blast. Most importantly, she was incredibly proud of herself for trying something new and conquering a fear.


We have been back a couple of times because Sophia had so much fun. She gets higher and more confident every time. One of my absolute favorite activities as a kid was climbing trees. My legs were never without a scrape or a bruise. I have to admit that I actually had a tear when Sophia got her first scrape. Maybe that's because she didn't whine about it. Hard to say.


Now when we head to climb trees, Sophia dresses like a climber. A fancy climber, yes. But a climber.

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Friday, November 11, 2011


It's been an uncharacteristically long time since my last post. I keep starting posts about the fact that it's been almost a year since we've been in St. Louis. Each post has been different and each one is unfinished.

Maybe if I keep it short, rather than comprehensive, I can get one published. In just four days, it will be an entire year since we moved into this apartment. That feels weird on many levels. A year is a long time, but it's still only an eighth of the time we lived and invested in Columbia.

We miss our friends. All three of us miss them. We miss our house, mostly because, as Sophia says, "It was so close to the boysies." I think I may have mentioned this before, but there are definitely days that I wish I were in Columbia, but, so far, I haven't wished that I lived there again. That's not to say I won't have that feeling in the future, but I'm happy to hold onto my contentment for now.

We love our friends in St. Louis. I'm grateful every day for the relative ease of this transition for all of us. Erick loves his job. I love the possibilities in St. Louis. I love the food and the walks.

Sophia loves her school, the parks, her friends. Everything that matters to her about St. Louis is a win.

A year later. Sophia, Erick and I have all grown and changed individually. Our relationships to each other have changed, too, as outside dynamics shift. A year later, and I can still say with absolute certainty that my favorite thing in life is the three of us - together.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Feeling Words

One of my favorite things about Sophia is that she is not afraid to express how she is feeling. Another of my favorite things is how those expressions are described in her words.

A common feeling that she described a while back was "scooped." Because of when and how she used it, I could only guess that she was referring to feeling disappointed or misunderstood. Scooped.

Last night, Sophia and I had another conversation that revealed more of how and what she feels. As she got ready for bed, Sophia told me about something that happened at school. A friend of hers told another friend to go away. She was confused and felt uncertain about what she should do. After we had talked it through, I told her that I was sorry she had felt uncomfortable at school. She responded with "Yeah. Sometimes when I feel that way, my brain gets salty." Oh yeah? "And when I'm happy, there are rainbows right here," pointing between her eyes. "When I'm sad, it's rainy in there, and when I'm angry, there's thunder." She was quiet for a while, and we continued getting her into bed. She decided she wasn't sure that her brain really did those things after all. I told her that since she and I had never seen inside our brains, it might very well be what happens. She brightened up with, "Maybe we each have our own language with our brains. That's my language, and I just forgot it!"

I just love the way Sophia talks about her feelings. She knows just how to describe it, even when she's not quite sure what to do with it. I get all kinds of rainbows when I think about the person she's becoming. Maybe a little salty too.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Autumnal Fun

I guess I'm determined to get my money's worth out of this year's costume because Sophia donned it once again for another trip to the zoo. Grandmary came to visit this weekend, so we all headed back to the zoo for Spooky Saturday. More crafts and treats and such. The animals were supposedly out, but we didn't see them. We did however, ride the train and Sophia and Mary took a trip on the carousel.


We are accustomed to being out-fancied by Sophia, so we weren't surprised when she strutted out of her room this morning ready to go to breakfast - like this.


After breakfast, we went to the St. Louis Art Museum because Monet's three huge Waterlillies paintings are there in a special exhibit together. They are here until January 22nd, and I highly recommend making the trip if it fits into your schedule. Admission is $10 for adults. But if you can make it on a Friday, admission is free for everyone! I imagine we might make another visit on a Friday before they leave.

The chill of fall is rolling in this afternoon, and we enjoyed the view in Forest Park, where the trees are still beautiful shades of red and gold.


A lovely fall weekend in St. Louis.
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Sunday, October 23, 2011



Tonight we kicked off the beginning of our Halloween festivities. We went to the St. Louis Zoo at night for Boo at the Zoo. Animals, characters, lights and activities at night. A great time all around.

Halloween - This is the one time of year that Sophia's wardrobe gets to match the rest of her.
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Highlight of My Week


It's been a good week. The weather is cool, and the sun came out today. I don't mind the first few days of chilly rain. I actually find that I'm more productive on those days. Once the rain hangs around, my productivity plummits. So, the sun is a good thing.

Anyway, today I got to go to Sophia's school and be the guest reader. Every Thursday, Sophia's class hosts a guest - usually a parent, grandparent or older sibling. This Thursday was my turn. I let Sophia pick the book. Children Make Terrible Pets.

I was excited to go to Sophia's class, but my excitement was nothing compared to Sophia's. When she got up this morning, she was already talking about where she'd sit and how much everyone would like the book. As I read the book to the class, I had a lot of fun. I really like those kids. But the best part was watching Sophia's face. When I would get to a funny part or ask for interaction, her face would light up and she'd look around at her friends with a look that just warmed me right up. I guess it would be pride in her mama.

On our way home, I asked if I did a good job. Sophia replied, "No, mommy, you did a GREAT job!"

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Thursday, October 13, 2011



The last month has included Sophia's birthday, a trip to California and the opening of the Disney store in the Galleria, to which Sophia had a gift card.

All that to say that it's been a lucrative month for our five-year-old. I have a feeling that what I'm about to describe is a phenomenon common among children post-birthday, but I can only speak for Sophia. Basically, the more she has, the more she wants. Now that I say it out loud, it's not just kids, is it? It's a pretty common human reaction. Stuff is cool. New stuff is even cooler. Toys and gadgets are addictive.

Most days are actually without greedy incident, but if Sophia catches sight of the $8.00 she has left to spend or sees a commercial advertising something mind-blowingly awesome, then we're back to, "Please, mommy! This is the laaaast thing I'll ask for." And Erick and I are back to being single-message parents. "I'd like to see some more gratitude, Sophia." It's a constant theme. Gratitude is one of the lessons that, as I'm sharing it, I feel an urgency that it eventually sink in. It's a lesson I so often need to hear myself, and it's a lesson that may be the difference in Sophia's life between contentment and bitterness.

In my mind, gratitude and humility are tied closely together. When I am feeling truly grateful for the blessings in my life, it is generally because I am in a moment of awareness that I deserve these blessings no more (or less) than the next guy. When I lose sight of that truth, I tend to have a bigger appetite for things. Of course, when talking with children about humility, it's a short jaunt over to guilt. Learning to share the importance of gratitude, beyond the "Thank you for the gift! It's exactly what I wanted!," which Sophia is quite good at, is a complicated mine field, riddled with the temptation to throw in just a tiny guilt trip. As usual, the best way to teach her is to show her.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Another Fall, Another Pumpkin Patch


I love a pumpkin patch. I don't know why, but I do. Saturday, we headed to Chesterfield to a pumpkin patch with some friends who knew the way. It was a huge farm with tons of things for the kids to do (all of which cost money). Still, a great time. It felt strange to be at the pumpkin patch in short sleeves. I actually regretted not wearing shorts once we got there!

And yes, we have some Jayhawk friends. We are practicing active love. Hoping to convert the kids before it's too late. I just love this picture. It cracks me up that Sophia is so perfectly posed. Obviously I was not the mom who asked to take the picture. Otherwise, we'd have seen the pucker face.
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Thursday, October 6, 2011


Every year, I compile a running folder of my favorite pictures of Sophia, her friends, our family and other stuff that I think might be important. Then, after her birthday each year, I head to a photo site and begin work on a book about that year. The purpose is similar to my blog. I don't want to forget. She loves looking back through the books, and I do too.

It's a process that I look forward to and simultaneously dread each year. This year's favorites folder held over 300 pictures. Not even a third of those go into a book. But it's a lot of fun going through them. I so enjoy reliving our adventures and regular days through pictures.

Here are a few of the ones I have to choose from.

One of our last visits as residents to the little park on the hill in our Columbia neighborhood.


A spring walk around our St. Louis neighborhood apparently made Sophia too tired to go home.


A trip to the St. Louis Zoo, and our first visit to the Sea Lion show. It was hot!!


That would be a silly face.


Working on a project in our dining room.


You can see why it's such a challenge! But I love doing it, and I especially love getting that fresh book in the mail!

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Coastal Cousins

Quite a few things fell together to draw us to San Francisco and the Bay area last weekend. Redeemable Southwest points, a San Jose Earthquakes match and, most of all, the promise of getting to know some cousins better than we did before.

Erick's cousin Andy lives in the Bay Area. In adulthood, our families have mingled a handful of times, and every time we wish it could be longer. This last weekend, we decided to test the truth of that statement. Fortunately, we found that neither of us was just being polite.


During our visit, we filled our time with lots of play, soccer matches and even a couple of naps. We were very lucky to get to visit the winery where Andy and Bridget were married eleven years ago - almost to the day!


The weather was perfect, the conditions were restful (except a little stomach bug for Dylan), and the weekend went too quickly! Connor and Dylan wanted Sophia to stay and be their sister, which I'll take as a vicarious complement (yes, I just invented that phrase.) I have a feeling Sophia might have taken them up on the offer if we'd given her a chance!


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