Thursday, March 31, 2011

Should have done that a long time ago

Tuesday morning, Erick and I set out on a roadtrip to Nashville. We haven't roadtripped together since before Sophia. It was only five hours, but a good enough drive to remind me why we don't do that with Sophia. It was also a long enough drive for me to impress Erick with my ability to sing along to very obscure old country western songs. When he changed the station because he couldn't handle that any more, I started to practice my newly learned beatboxing skills. Needless to say, the station was changed again.

Another quick stop was made in the "metropolis" of Metropolis, IL. We had to see the giant Superman statue. Glad we saw it. Doubt if we ever make that effort again...

The object was to get to LP Field in time to see the US Men's National Soccer team compete with Paraguay. Nashville was a really great city. Not sure why, but I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I'll definitely be going back there. We spent some time prior to the game in the downtown area at the Wildhorse Saloon. After that, we headed to the game with 30,000 soccer fans. It was an exciting environment. I can only imagine how fun it is with a full house for a Titans game. The US lost the match, but it wasn't embarrassing by any stretch. A couple of missed opportunities and one that made it for the other side. All in all a great showing, and we had an absolute blast at the game.

After the game, we were very hungry, so we walked over the pedestrian bridge back into downtown. Every place we went into had already turned off the grill. That was a major disappointment. Finally, we found some food. After we wandered around a little more, we ended up in a place called Robert's Western World. We had hardly sat down when we looked up to see a group of interesting people walk in and sit down at the table next to us. Landon Donovan, the most well-known player on the team (arguably in American soccer), along with the goalkeeper from the game and a couple of other players were just looking to relax after a disappointing loss. It is probably nice to be a famous soccer player in Nashville because you're not going to be bothered a lot. In the entire place, there were about six of us who knew who they were. Erick and I carried on a conversation with Keeper Hahnemann, a beyond nice guy. I also can't say enough nice things about Landon Donovan. He was gracious and kind. Stylish and humble. I'm officially a fan. Erick had Hahnemann and Donovan sign his new red jersey. Now it's a wonderful keepsake from that trip. I'm glad we have it since we were having such significant technical difficulties that there is no record of the pictures of Erick and I with Donovan. That was pretty frustrating, but I don't plan on forgetting how that all went down.

The next day was just taken up by a long drive home. I wasn't quite as slaphappy or entertaining. I wish we could follow the team to every game, but it would never happen quite that way again.

Back to real life - or almost. Sophia and I are excited today because Erica and Ava are on their way for a visit. Can't wait to hang out with some great friends. Seriously loving this week.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


This weekend, we went to Springfield to visit my parents. We had a terrific visit with my parents. We also got some shopping in, in spite of the weather. Also, I acquired this little gem. Proof of my attachment to the shirt. I am going to allow for some over-time shrinkage, but the fact is that I'm eight in this picture.

That banjo player with the stunning smile is Danny Eakin, a favorite of mine from Silver Dollar City. The giant Daddy's Girl hat on my head is pink because my mom didn't think it was ladylike to constantly be wearing ballcaps. Therefore mine always had to be some form of pink. I have lots of favorite stories that revolve around my tomboyness, particularly given Sophia's girliness. It makes me giggle to think about.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hand Me Down


This particular shirt was mine when I was probably 6 or 7. I was a smaller kid than Sophia. When we were going through boxes and stuff before our move, we came across a few of my favorite t-shirts and toys. I handed them down to Sophia, and occasionally she pops out of her room in one of my t-shirts. I'm certain that she does this just to please me because our styles as little girls could not possibly be more different.

This brings me to another memory. Every year, our family took a long vacation to Branson from central Illinois. I was given a certain sum to spend on vacation souvenirs and such. I can't remember the exact amount. I only know that it was just about the right amount to buy a t-shirt with an iron-on transfer at the first Ozarkland we came across. Every year. I was as constant as the moon. No matter how determined I was to save my money, I would always spend it on a t-shirt. From those Ozarkland visits, I have some gems like the cowboy shirt Sophia was wearing. I have several shirts with teddy bears doing different Bransony activities: playing banjo, chopping wood and such. After my t-shirt purchase, I usually had enough leftover to buy a couple Sarsasparillas and ice creams at Silver Dollar City.

I don't know whether or not it's sad, but this is exactly how I deal with my vacation money to this day. Maybe worse. Some vacations, I end up spending it all in advance on clothes to wear on vacation. The good thing is that I almost never buy t-shirts with banjo-playing bears...
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Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Training

At the end of last week, Sophia and I bought a ball and bat. We have signed her up for a spring league with some of the kids from her school, but she's having cold feet as it gets closer. I thought it might help if she developed some sort of familiarity with the game. Little did I know, she would take to it quite so well.

We have played on the sidewalk and in the park at least twice a day since we bought the bat. Her pitching has improved, but they all tend to be sliders...


She's about the cutest batter I have ever seen.


Saturday Grandmary came over for a visit and was immediately pressed into service on the team.


I have no expectation that Sophia will actually decide that T-ball sounds like fun now. That's just not her style. But it has already made for an active start to spring.
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Friday, March 18, 2011

Hoping It's a Habit

The past couple of days have been a great start to spring for us. Yesterday was spent almost exclusively outside at the park or on our sidewalk. We even walked to a nearby restaurant, Caitlyn's Green Eyed Grill, for supper. We thought it would be a nice place to eat for St. Pat's. It was unremarkable. The only reason I would go again would be to try the pork tenderloin. It was a nice walk, so that's a bonus.

Sophia's favorite part of the day was probably blowing bubbles. That girl loves bubbles. Apparently she can get angry with them too because here she is smack talking the bubbles as they flew away...


And here she is desperately trying to get bubbles on the camera so I would stop taking pictures. I did.


I love the fact that when Erick gets home from work, it's light enough to take a walk. We have done that the past two days, and it's a tradition that I would love to hang onto on the nice days. This was the homestretch of our Wednesday evening walk.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

That brings back memories

I have been thinking more about using this blog, not only as a place to share current happenings, but as an outlet and method of sharing favorite stories of my past and childhood as well. I've been thinking about the kind of stories that I would love to have from my grandparents and parents, and that leads me directly to the stories of my own that I don't want to lose before I remember to share them with Sophia.

Since I have started letting my mind focus in this direction, two very interesting things have happened. First, it has become much easier to come up with a memory or a story than it was before. Maybe you know how it is. Often for me, life in the moment becomes all that occupies my mind. As that happens, the past - distant or recent - becomes harder to put my fingers on. The stories are normally on the tip of my brain if I could just stretch my fingers far enough to grab a few. It turns out that quite a few of them are stored within reach of one another. I don't know another way to describe it, but it's been a surprise to me. Now just to get a few down.

The other thing that is even more interesting is that as I think back about things from my own childhood, I feel ever more present in Sophia's. Perhaps allowing myself to truly stop and remember what it feels like to be a kid has brought some of the "kidness" back. When I was younger, I looked forward to being a parent and having permission to play freely and be a kid again with my own family. That tends to get lost in the foray of everyday motherhood, but I feel like I may have regained a shadow of my childish self.

So I'll start this off with a small but mighty one. One of my favorite "run-of-the-mill" memories is of sitting on the floor of my room in Creve Couer, IL, in my dad's lap as he read my The Little Engine That Could. This was one of my favorites because it came with all the actions and sound effects of a real train. I still get a smile when I think about begging my dad to read it with me - "the right way."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Celebrating Granny


Today we experienced one very real pro of living in St. Louis. We are only two hours away from my aunt in Lincoln, IL, so making a trip to celebrate my Granny's birthday became a reality! Granny turned 87 this week. I have written about Granny before here. I'm pretty fond of her, along with the rest of our family.

Her excitement about the fuss everyone made over her and having her favorite meal prepared by her daughter and son-in-law made it absolutely worth a little two-hour drive.

If that hadn't done it, having a chance to get a picture with Sophia and Granny would have pushed it over the edge. Neither of them are crazy about having their pictures taken, so I'm very grateful for this gift.


Sophia was thrilled to find another little girl joined the mix today. She made a new friend who hangs out with my aunt from time to time. I think we'll be headed back for some warm weather play dates before too long.


I just love getting to join in on celebrating my grandma. She is something special. The corned beef and cabbage wasn't too shabby either. Mmmm.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Unexpected Park Day

As we were leaving preschool today, the mom of Sophia's best school friend Tommy asked if we'd like to join them at the park after school as they were going to meet other moms and kiddos. With no plans on a lovely spring Friday, I couldn't resist. Of course if I had known in advance that this would happen, I would have prepared myself. I was not dressed for the occasion as I'd spent the morning cleaning the apartment. Cleaning myself was my afternoon project. But I decided to overcome my initial hesitation and take a risk.

We went to a new playground at Shaw Park, here in Clayton. It was a fantastic park! Slides, swings, climbing contraptions and lots of room to run. Once we had made all the introductions, we just watched the kids. Sophia was more than content to chase and play with Tommy and his friends. As they ran by at one point, she was knocking on her noggin saying, "Come on, brain! Get the magic back in there!" I glanced sideways at my new mom friends to see if any of them noticed. Nope. In the clear for the moment.

I kept the crazy inside my own brain for the day, so we may, in fact, be invited again another day.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bawling Somebody

Some days I simply sit and watch. Monday was one of those days. When Sophia got home from school, she put on her pj's and sat down to write.

Her mind is fascinating. I have not a clue how she gets from A to B in her mind. She was writing the stories of my life - sometimes asking questions, but mostly just winging it. She also wrote in "French." Not quite sure how she managed that, but she did. If you look at my YouTube channel, you can see a longer video of her writing in French.

She is so creative and intense while working on these types of projects. She never ever runs out of things to say.

School seems to bring out even more of this in her. I don't know why, but she definitely comes home with some more randomness in her system she must purge.

Even as I type, she is working on some notes, and she has just fired me. Why? "Because you have to take a boat, go on an airplane, take another ride on a boat, then drive. And because you did never cut pine trees. It's a firing process!" I could go on, as she's still talking, but I'll leave it to your imagination... I better get back to work if I hope to get my job back.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Starting the Week with a Smile

This weekend, we went to Columbia to spend the night with Aaron, William and Henri while David and Casey got a much needed and long awaited night away. It couldn't have gone better for us.

There is no way to describe how much we miss the boys since we moved. It has been the biggest adjustment by far - to go from walking next door to see them to scheduling and waiting for visits when we can make it happen. So we were very excited to have a chance to spend some extended time with the boys this weekend.

The most surprising thing I can say after the weekend is that it was actually relaxing. We just hung out all weekend. The boys read, they all played, watched some TV and we played some games together. It was a very good time. The thing Sophia came away with is an obsession with Harry Potter. Allow me to brag on my nephews for a moment. My 8-year-old second grade nephew is halfway through the third book of Harry Potter. My 6-year-old kindergarten nephew just finished the second book. Seriously. Anyway, now Sophia has an intense desire to "learn everything about Harry Potter." To which end, she came home with the first book that she and Erick are reading together. This evening as they sat on the couch, Erick would get through one or two lines before being stopped with some very pointed questions about Harry's family, his name and why isn't he a wizard yet? So it could be an interesting (and potentially frustrating) undertaking. I will keep you informed if it gets dicey.

Laundry's going. Erick's entering receipts and we're getting ready for the week. I am looking forward to this week. Some of my friends are coming on Tuesday evening for a mall outing, so I'm really looking forward to that.

Hope everyone else has a fun week ahead as well!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

On Hold

My previous week's lesson is currently on hold before resolution will be found. I went back to the residence of the person in question, who does happen to be a professor, and she was asleep. Knocking and calling didn't wake her, so I went upstairs to have a talk with the volunteer coordinator.

It was a very helpful talk. I was right. She wasn't that surprised at the result. We agreed on a few steps to feel out my future welcomeness. And we discussed some other possibilities for usefulness to them outside visiting with this particular person.

Just wanted to let you know that the story is playing out. I, for one, am giddy with anticipation.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

An Expensive Lesson

Apparently, I'm a fool for self-education these days. This particular lesson is currently up to $45.

Each Tuesday, the street sweepers come down our side of the street. If your vehicle isn't gone by 9:00, you will get a ticket. Each Thursday, the street sweepers go down the other side of the street. If your vehicle is not moved by 9:00, you will get a ticket.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are the mornings that we don't have to get out. Sophia goes to school on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I am not a morning person.

So far, the worst way that this has played out was on a Tuesday morning that came with ice. I had to get out, scrape an inch of ice off the windshield just to move the van directly across the street. Sophia watching and waving from the warm cozy apartment, all wrapped in a blanket. Well, she probably wasn't wrapped in a blanket, but she could have been.

I guess, technically, the worst way this plays out is when I forget entirely and get a $15 parking ticket. Cold mornings are a close second. This is the third time I have forgotten and the third time I've gotten a ticket. I really hate that. Seriously. It's the biggest problem I have with city living.

I will set a reminder on my phone from now on. That should fix it. Will someone please remind me to do that?