Saturday, December 29, 2012

Funny things so far

When we spend this much time with Sophia, it's inevitable that she's going to make us laugh. So far, that's happening quite a bit.

Here are a couple of examples.

While putting Sophia to bed, I prayed and thanked God for our family. That got Sophia to thinking about them. She asked earnestly, "Are you all twins?" Before I could speak, she followed up with, "Oh no, because some of you wear glasses and some of you don't." There are many differences between my siblings and myself, but apparently none stands out more than our ocular health.

The one that really has us chuckling lately is about her presents. I also think it says a lot about who she is. You can decide.

On Christmas Eve, we let her open one present. It's never one of the main ones, but we try to make it something fun and surprising. Well, this time, we gave her this baby doll thing that has a place in the back for a Wii remote. And it came with a Wii disc for the game system. Essentially, you care for the baby while the game is on and it tells you how happy or angry the baby is in response. She had asked for the Baby Alive doll that we got in addition, but this was completely different, so we assumed she'd like the options... Unique and fun, said we to ourselves.

When Sophia opened it, this is what we got, "Oh. A baby doll." Feigning a smile and interest, while looking at us for explanation. So I sell it based on the aforementioned awesomeness. And I quickly add, "Of course you'll have lots more presents tomorrow." To which she responds, "And the presents tomorrow - Will these be from my list?"

We laughed very hard, and I had to answer honestly that only most were from her list. However, her Christmas was a huge success, if I do say so myself. I just appreciated her willingness to give us the benefit of the doubt. Being honest about her hesitation about our gift judgment, but not pouting or throwing a fit in her disappointment.

Now, if we hadn't come through on Christmas, and if she didn't have Santa to fall back on, I'm pretty sure she'd be forced to give in to despair... She's only six.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Traditions

Among the many fun things that we did this Christmas holiday, going to see the Nutcracker was definitely a favorite for me. I love that ballet. I'm not sure I love all ballet, but definitely this one. Gets me into the Christmas spirit like no other.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sweet Little Mama

We had a marvelous Christmas here at Sophia's house. She got lots of things that she loves. Santa brought her what she asked - a soccer net and soccer ball.

Her other favorite present was a Baby Alive doll. This is the song that she sang to get Emmy to sleep. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sometimes I...

...get nauseous halfway through eating a banana.

I don't know if it's the texture. Maybe the smell. Or the fact that I usually eat one when I'm very hungry. I am trying to finish one now, so I probably better stop analyzing.

Regardless, it's a fact. A couple of months ago, I actually had to throw up the banana when I was through. I wasn't sick. My body just hates bananas.

Isn't that bananas?

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Prayer for the Grieving

I originally posted this in June 2011. But I wanted to post it again today because it's what I'm praying for today. A few blessed moments of peace for those who feel like they won't last the day without them. For the families of the victims in Newtown, CT, and for the survivors and first responders.

I'm no more an expert on grief than is every person suffering the beautiful and awful human experience. But I know enough about it to know what I want for people when I hear they are grieving.

There are moments so pure and tender that I believe they are reserved for those in pain. These are the things that I pray will be in plenty when a grieving soul is ready to receive them. It could be a long time before any of these moments are meaningful because the first gift God gives those who are grieving is absence of feeling. A numbness and distorted vision that lasts long enough that a moment of clarity will not destroy you. Once the numbness wears off, even for a brief moment, these are the things I pray a grieving soul will know.

~The moment, after hours or days or only minutes of downcast eyes and knit brows, that you can open your eyes, look straight ahead and you feel the lines fall away as if someone has just smoothed your brow.

~A fragrant breeze that cools your skin and dries the hot tears.

~Looking into another's eyes and not finding pity.

~A gentle embrace from one who knows well enough to leave trite comfort, and even words full of wisdom, for a day other than today.

~The freedom to weep in public without shame.

~That one day, in a future that will feel like an eternity away, you will hear in the foreign sound of your own laughter, the redemption of what you lost.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Beautiful Day

Yesterday was a beautiful day for a walk to the zoo. I never get tired of going on adventures with these two. And yes, it's December. Weird.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Flip Side of Independence

We had a fantabulous weekend. Full of relaxation. Laughing. Playing. Resting. Snuggling. General perfection. So it always makes me sad to see Erick head off to work and Sophia walk into her classroom on the following Monday morning.

This morning when I told Sophia how much I'd miss her while she was at school, I thought maybe I shouldn't. I thought perhaps she'd see my admission as permission to stay. I envisioned her clinging to me an extra long time this morning and saying, "Mommy, I don't want to leave this morning. Can I please stay here with you?"

My fears were misplaced. When I uttered my confession, she turned to me and gave me her "Kinda-sorta" face and hand wiggle. I just squeezed her again and said (mostly truthfully) that I was glad that she loves school so much. She said, "Well, I just have so much fun with my friends that sometimes I forget about the weekend."

I'll have to be sure to remind her of how awesome I can be... Legendary fun is in the making.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Great Start to the Holidays

We have already had a fantastic start to our holidays. If the rest of this season is anything like the start, we are in for a really good time. 

Last weekend, we went to Springfield to see my family. While there, we visited Silver Dollar City during my favorite time of the year there. The Christmas lights are the perfect way to really get into the spirit.

Sophia had a wonderful time with my parents.

And during the Thanksgiving holiday, she had a wonderful time with Grandmary.

Thanksgiving morning, we went to watch the Thanksgiving parade downtown St. Louis. It's chock full of great high school marching bands. Here is Sophia snapping along to one of the passing songs.

Today has been a full and fantastic day, too. Shopping this morning, but not till we had hung out for a while at home. Once we got home, we decorated our apartment for Christmas. Here is the teamwork to get the star on the tree. We have so much fun.

Here's our apartment all decked out in its Christmas apparel.

The rest of the day was spent as the beginning - relaxing. Our plan for tomorrow is more of the same. Erick and I bought Jenga last night, and it's been the hit of the day. I expect we'll be stacking and dodging a lot this weekend. Hope everyone's holiday has been filled with food and laughter.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The First Thanksgiving


Last night, the Kindergarten cohort of Captain hosted a Thanksgiving Feast, which included performances by our children dressed as Wampanoag Native Americans and Pilgrims. They got to choose for themselves how they dressed.

This whole unit, which has been the entire month, maybe even before Halloween, has just been so much fun to hear about. Sophia is way into this thing. I hope she hangs onto this interest in history. The story itself is so compelling that I don't blame her for bursting through the door in the afternoons just aching to tell me some additional nugget that she learned today. I'm going to miss hearing about Squanto, Massasoit and Samoset now that it's all over...

Anyway, last night was a great time. The food, which was the whole Thanksgiving deal, was surprisingly delicious! I loved hanging out with Sophia's classmates and their families.

Erick got a couple of videos of the songs, so if we get those into accessible form, I'll be sure to share!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Coolest Place I Knew Nothing About

If one grew up in St. Louis, one has undoubtedly learned of Cahokia Mounds. I did not and had not. It's quite an amazing place. It was a civilization of Mississipian Native Americans that thrived for about 700 years, with it's peak in the year 1200. During that time, between 15 and 20,000 people lived there. That was actually a larger population than London had at the same time.

Anyway, we went there with the Kindergartners today. It was a great field trip, but we were all very tired by the time it was over. And I'm a little pooped still.

The most unique and recognizable feature of the Cahokia Mounds site is called Monk's Mound. It is 100 feet high and has 156 steps leading to the top.

At the top, the settlement's chief ruler lived and governed his people. The area around this main structure has 120 other mounds upon which other people of the upper classes would have built their homes. While most of the economy was based on agriculture, some families would have focused on tool building and even decorative or spiritual items and traded for food.

Obviously, I learned almost as much as the kids did. And Sophia wants to take Erick back on Saturday. Since we'll have about 59 fewer kids, I might be willing...

Here, Sophia and Emery are looking at a marker. Can you see the faint outline of St. Louis over Emery's right shoulder?

 Here's a closer look at what we could see from the top. It was a little surreal to have the modern in view while surveying the ancient. A humbling slice of reality about our place in time.

Just because they're cute. And once we got into the museum itself, they got a little more difficult to follow and impossible to capture on film...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Making a break for it


Monday, November 5, 2012

My Schedule

Many weeks ago, I had mentioned that I might share what my weekly schedule looks like now that Sophia is at school all day every day.

Up until now, I haven't wanted to share, nor have I been entirely sure about my schedule. I'm still not sure, but I'm more willing to let you in on what I do know.

I know that time is a lot like square footage. The more you have, the more crap you get to fill it. I am not complaining, mind you. Just making an observation. In other words, I have been blessed with a lot of time that I can fill more or less as I choose. However, when I'm not intentional about carving out specific time to accomplish my goals, I find less and less of it available to use. In other words, crap starts piling up with no open space for breath and art.

Every week, on Thursday, I volunteer in the morning in Sophia's classroom. I do everything from work on the decorations to hearing the kids read to playing bingo. It is something that I have really enjoyed and feel very grateful for the chance to do while Sophia is in Kindergarten. However, for the past month or so, this commitment has combined with field trips and parties and other requests to put me at the school at least two, often three, days a week instead of one. Again, I'm happy to get to know the kids that Sophia is with all the time and become familiar with her routines, but it's not what I planned. Also, I have within me the power to say no... I'm aware.

I have actually been cooking! For those of you who know me well, you know it's a big deal for me to say that ever since school started, I have consistently been cooking at home significantly more than I've been serving prepared meals or eating out. Even more surprising is that I really enjoy it! Well, I enjoy it a bit. Really enjoying it might be a stretch.

And I've been keeping the house clean, which is not my favorite thing. So, let's recap: Kindergarten, cooking, cleaning. Plus, I love my life.

What I planned on doing during Sophia's Kindergarten year was the following: write. Not blogging. Writing. Something. Who knows what? Really. Do you know what?

Actually, never mind. I don't need your ideas. I have plenty of my own.

So the plan has been writing. For the month of September, I was a writer. Each day, I was getting some good things onto paper. Plots, characters, themes. None of these necessarily went with any others, mind you, but they were there. Then October came along. An illness, a wedding and previously mentioned commitments. I wasn't a writer any more. Or at least I was a very frustrated one.

It's November now, and I am hopeful. I am not hopeful that I will make more time. I only have the square footage that I have. However, I am hopeful that I can see myself as a writer and as a creator whether my time is free or occupied. I am hopeful that I will be more intentional with the time and energy that I do have in order to make things happen. If I can volunteer, cook and clean with a writer's mind in action, then I don't need time at the table with a pen and a cup of coffee. I am selling my mind and my creativity short.

This is actually more sharing than I intended to do, but there you have it. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Halloween (yesterday)

Halloween is a lot of fun for us right now. Sophia is at a great age for it, and our neighborhood really takes it seriously. As I said last year, the kids who trick or treat in St. Louis have to have a joke ready when they get to the door. Sophia loves the extra minute of face time this gets her. I imagine it's a good confidence booster even for the less outgoing kids. Since they're in costume, they all seem to be a bit braver to speak up.

Sophia's joke this year as she put it: What do you get for crossing Bambi and a Ghost?     Bam- BOO!
She got lots of laughs this year. And plenty o' candy.

Erick and I decided to get festive this year too. I like just pulling things together to see what happens. Erick went with the Leprechaun look... Sophia dressed as Gabriella from the movie High School Musical. It's also where our cat  got her name. Here we all our with our carved pumpkins behind us.

Another one of our favorite parts about Halloween is the neighborhood party. Hot dogs, drinks and cupcakes, all while looking at our neighbors in costume. It was even more fun this year for Sophia because with school, she has many more neighborhood friends, so she could join in the games of chase that preceded the Trick or Treat all clear...

Anyway, it was all great fun. I'm not a huge fan of Wednesday night Halloween, but what are you going to do?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fall Frolics

 It's been a busy few days full of fall awesomeness. We've spent a lot of time outside, in spite of the thirty degree drop on Thursday after her field trip.

Friday, we were back at her school for Garden Day. Every year, Sophia's school invites the parents and kids to come winterize, weed and plant some hardy flowers. Sophia and I had a lot of fun with friends.

I'll be surprised if these flowers make it too long, but we shall see...

Yesterday morning, Sophia and I carved our pumpkins. This year, she was more than willing to get her hands dirty with the guts.

After carving, Sophia insisted on bundling up so she could go outside and read for a while. Since I completely understand the desire, I was more than willing to oblige.

Once it got dark, we lit up our pumpkins. This friendly ghost and a bat are now welcoming people to our building.

If there was ever any doubt that Sophia is a cold weather girl, this weekend would do away with it. This morning after finishing her leaf project for school, she asked to go outside to practice her swing. She loves being outdoors with chilly temperature.

It has been one of those great weekends. Erick has been nursing an injured back from his own golf outing yesterday, but we have still managed to have a marvelous time together. I love fall.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Field Trip!!

Sophia's Kindergarten class has had three outdoor field trips planned so far this year. Today's was the only one that didn't get rained out. I was so happy for all of them!

Along with playing, picnicking and picking pumpkins, Sophia got to take her first ride on a school bus. I think you can tell by the strut that she was pretty pleased about that...

We walked all around and through Shaw Park in Clayton, collecting leaves and such. Noticing and discussing signs of fall. It was a perfect day for it! Warm and sunny.

These are no redwoods, of course, but the kids had fun seeing how many Kindergartners were needed to stretch around the trunks of the trees. Most were about two kindergartners around, but this one was much bigger. The count was never made official because they kept joining and leaving. Still, it was a lot of fun.

That was a great way to spend a morning that appears to be the last really warm one that we may have for a very long time. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Best Day of Her Life

This weekend has been long awaited in our house, but not nearly as much as for our friends Nick and Hillary. They are officially Mr. and Mrs. Frey. I have never witnessed a couple that radiated happiness and love as much as those two did last night.

The truth is that it was a day that will live forever in Sophia's memory. I fully believe that. I'm about to tell you why.

The day started early at the salon. Sophia and I both had our hair done. It took about ten minutes for Sophia to get her hair done. The rest of the nearly four hours that we were there, Sophia was entertaining the wedding party and the other patrons with feats of magical skill. It was just the beginning of her day in the sun. Fortunately, Hillary was generous to allow Sophia some spotlight on her day.

Sophia isn't the first young lady that Hillary has become very attached to. The first was Sarah, seen here witnessing Sophia's magic. If Hillary has half the positive influence on Sophia that she has had in this incredible young lady's life, then I will be thrilled and grateful. Sophia said that Sarah was her favorite bridesmaid to play with. (Sorry, Clare. You, of course, were mine.)

This woman wasn't with us, but she had spent enough time admiring Sophia's tricks, that finally she got one of her very own. 

Here is Sophia practicing in her wedding shoes and giving the bride some tips.

I may be biased. Well, I am. But I love Hillary's friends. Here we are just before she got decked out in her stunning gown.

Nick Frey. Sophia's a fan of his, too, but this is about as close as she gets to touching him. Still a little bit of awe or shyness or something there.

Sophia, Hillary and Anna after the wedding. Such beautiful ladies. Full of love and life!

Jonathan was the ring bearer. And of her friendship with him she said, "Sometimes the world puts us where we find people who were meant to be our friends."

All weekend, Sophia was bringing little gifts to give to Hillary. She understood better than anyone, I think, how this was the biggest event of Hillary's life. This particular gift was Sophia's placecard with, "I love you" and part of her flowers inside.

Another unbelievable but true anecdote. As Sophia watched Hillary and her dad dance from here, she began to get some tears. When I looked at her with a question on my face, she said, "I'm crying happy tears."

Oh, and then started the dancing. Nick's aunt Pattie was the first to take Sophia onto the dance floor. She would not be the last.

Especially after the costume change.

Sophia literally danced the night away. She so enjoyed the dancing, but she liked being the center of attention even more. I hope she never forgets how much fun she had last night. Dancing, dancing and dancing.

Erick and I were so proud of our girl last night. She was fun, respectful, sweet. She seemed to understand what was happening, as much as any six-year-old can. Hillary's day was beautiful and perfect. I'm so grateful to have been able to share that with her and that she also shared it with Sophia. 

Now we have to try to recover for a normal week ahead... And hope that Sophia isn't too disappointed at not having an audience.

Friday, October 5, 2012

One Full Day of School - for me

Sophia's school is very proud, and rightly so, of the high level of parental involvement that they expect and receive. Especially in Kindergarten, they encourage parents to be there - a lot. I was at Sophia's school three times today, not including pickup and dropoff.

First event was the Storybook Picnic. It was the second outdoor excursion that has had to be brought inside for this Kindergarten class. The kids did amazingly well with the adjustment. I had a great time picnicking and reading with Sophia in her classroom. She is really working hard on reading. Every day she's a little bit closer to taking off entirely.

Second trip, was the usual Friday Sing Along. So much fun. This week fewer parents were there, so I had the pleasure of the company of three little girls instead of one.

Finally, every year, Captain parent teacher organization puts on an International Night. It was so much fun. The cafeteria is filled with tables that are occupied with Captain families who are first, some second, generation to the United States. They each provide a tasty treat that is common to their culture and any other facet they choose to share. For supper tonight, I had Borscht from Ukraine, sushi from South Korea, dumplings from China and many other delightful surprises.

Afterwards, we were entertained with Turkish music and global styles of dancing put on by some of the older kids.

I was so grateful to become more familiar, not only about global cultures, but about my literal neighbors and our friends.

Quite a day at Captain. Now I'm off to bed. Grateful for a weekend at home!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Birthday Weekend

It's safe to say that Sophia's birthday weekend was a huge success. A family day with Grandmary on Saturday. We went to St. Charles Oktoberfest (yes, they know it's September). Sophia got to make some crafts and buy a little something too. Of course a little family park play is involved pretty much any time you give us some open ground. 

It was a beautiful day to be next to the Missouri River.

Today was Sophia's birthday party. She chose to go bowling with her friends from preschool, Kindergarten and from life in St. Louis. That was a shockingly huge success. 

Quite the group of cute little hooligans. Sophia is blessed with the gift to make great friends. And I couldn't be happier for her.

I would love to know what she's so intently wishing for here. She knows better than to share it though. I just really hope that it comes true for her.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Happy Birthday, Baby!

Dear Sophia,

I will try to remember not to call you baby in public because you've reminded me many times already that you are no longer a baby. Ever so true, darling, but as the saying goes, you'll always be my baby.

I have enjoyed watching you transform, this year especially, from a little kid into a kid who has plans and dreams of her own. As every year does, the year of being five has come with some growing pains. As we get used to you doing things for yourself, and you adjust to the expectations that brings, we have had to work to find our groove together. At times it's been a difficult adjustment, but it has been completely worth it. I can't wait to see what you get up to next.

Although many things have changed, your personality is still just the same. Loyal, glamorous, brave, affectionate, kind, thoughtful. Hilarious, of course. You do come by that naturally. We have had some incredible laughs together this year. My favorite part of humor that you've really taken off with is your word play. It's been fun to watch you use words to make your own original puns.

I am so grateful for the countless moments bursting with joy that we have had together this year. I cannot believe how lucky we are to get to come alongside you as you become more fully yourself. And I'm grateful to you, Sophia, for still allowing us to share in all the facets of your mind and personality. I can only hope that we can continue to earn your trust and that you will continue to give it as you get into your school years. I know that won't always be easy, but I will try to be a safe place for you to rest.

For now, I'll just wish you a very happy birthday, Sophia. I hope that you can feel today just a fraction of how much you are adored by all who know you. We can't help it. It's just that you bring out the love in us. Thanks for that today and always.

Your devoted


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's a Sing Along

Sophia's school really sets the Kindergartners up to love school. They give them lots of extra little attentions that just happen to be right up Sophia's alley.

One of these is the Kindergarten Sing Along. She has had two of them so far, and quite a few more to go before the school year is up. It's really a lot of fun. The parents of all the kindergartners are invited to come thirty minutes before pickup on Friday and sing songs that we either know or the teachers help us learn while we sing. The kids get a chance to show us what they're learning in Music class, and we get a chance just to be kids for a little while, too, while we sing loudly along with the kids and the other parents.

It's an experience that I'm happy to get to share with Sophia. At the first Sing Along, Sophia and the other August and September birthday kids got to stand up front and lead us in one of the echo songs. She, of course, was thrilled to do so.

It's a very fun experience. Maybe one of these times, I'll sneak a video of a song so you can hear the beautiful little voices...and mine.