Friday, May 31, 2013

First Grader Sophia

The last day of school was much more difficult for Sophia and for me than the first day was. Maybe it's just because the school year was such a huge success and she is so loved by her teacher.

Regardless, I was teary. Sophia was "so very sad." I fully expect her to be over it by tomorrow, but  it might take me a little longer to soak in the no more kindergartners thing.

Every day ends with a hug from Mrs. Wilson. Here Sophia is getting her last one.

Here are two of the newest first graders in St. Louis. Apparently, one celebrates by wearing an unusual hat... Why not?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Last Big Hoorah

Captain has a special Ice Cream Social for the Kindergarten class. There is no graduation the way that some schools have it, but it's their celebration of the end of their first year of being big kids. Mr. Mayer is the music teacher, and he does an incredible job of helping these kids learn all these songs. The kids and Mr. Mayer seem to have a great time with it, and he is so full of praise for them when they finish. He's the kind of teacher the kids do not want to disappoint, so all he says is "Children," and nearly 60 five- and six-year-olds get completely silent and attentive. It's a very impressive gift.

The children had a wonderful time singing loudly for us and for one another. Such sweet friendships that they've made over this year.

Love these smiles.

Ice cream was enjoyed after the entertainment. This made it a little late. And it made Sophia a little grumpy after coming down from the sugar high. This was the best of the family pictures we were able to muster... That face!

Here is a video of the sweetest song. I'm sure every Kindergarten does it, but it's a great message! And they really enjoyed singing it out. 

Sophia said the Kindergarten Wall song was her favorite. The chorus is:

Of all you learn here, remember this the best
Don't hurt each other and clean up your mess
Take a nap every day, wash before you eat
Hold hands, stick together, look before you cross the street
Remember the seed in the little paper cup
First the root goes down and then the plant grows up!

This other song is called Hawaiian Rainbows. And I'm posting it because they're so cute. And because Sophia loves to hula.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Adventure in Illinois

Today was Kids Day at Cahokia Mounds across the river. It was hot, but pinch pots and dancing got Sophia to stay outside in spite of her natural aversion to the heat.

I really love this place every time we make it. So fascinating to connect with a culture so different to our own that only lives on through archaeology.

Sophia got to make a t-shirt with animal tracks and what not on it.

A pinch pot just like the Mississippians used to make, complete with etched mountains.

The coolest thing they let the kids do was spear throwing. The tool she's holding is a spear flicker (my term) to give leverage. The spear itself is in the top right corner. Straight at the turkey...

The dancers were a close second.

As we left Cahokia Mounds, we decided to stay in Illinois and head up the river to Alton. On the way, we discovered a Lewis and Clark Historic Site! I had no idea it was over there, but I highly recommend it on a weekend with nothing going on. They have a fort built as a replica of the winter camp of the Expedition at the River Dubois.

Inside the very modern Visitor's Center is this boat that shows how they would have packed and sailed during the journey. The whole center is full of information and well done exhibits.

We did make it to Alton, but all the little shops were closed. We were lucky enough to find a bakery open. We took advantage of that little find...

Friday, May 17, 2013

Date with Myself

The time of choosing what I do with my time is nearing an end, until August at least. Of course, there are millions of moments to look forward to in the summer with my Sophia. However, I am trying to take advantage of the days I have left. Lots of long walks and one venture to a place that's been on my list for a very long time: Bellefontaine (pronounced Belle Fountain) Cemetery.

The cemetery offers a tangible walk through the history of St. Louis. The people with the mansions in the city and the sprawling ranches in the country also have the biggest monuments in Bellefontaine. However, there are also monuments built on love and longing, not built to impress but to honor. And there are reminders of where we've been and what's still possible.

I'll start with the creepiest. Yes, I'm sure I could say that more eloquently. But, truthfully, it was creepy. David Francis was the President of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904 World's Fair). He was also Ambassador to Russia during the 1917 Russian Revolution. Perhaps that's why he felt a connection to the darker element of the spiritual world? Perhaps this figure is simply guardian of his family's remains. Regardless, it's an intense and moving figure. Beautiful.

Also very creepy...

Most people chose to go with the uplifting angelic representation. Many, many ethereal and memorable sculptures. Here are just a few.

It was truly a walk through St. Louis, and American, history. Many people who are buried here helped to change the course of our history. And that's no exaggeration.

In the very back, you will find the monument to William Clark, of Lewis and Clark. It's an impressive monument and is surrounded by those of his descendants. It is also flanked by two people whose epitaphs indicate they were his (beloved) servants, although it's more likely that they were slaves. Yet another reminder of the complications of our national story.

A monument that holds a prominent position today, although probably not as prominent as when it was built, is the mausoleum of Adolphus Busch. The inscription above the door is "Veni, Vidi, Vici", and indeed he did. 

There is another element of history that is well represented in Bellefontaine, and I was unaware of this until my visit. The cemetery is now the resting place of several prominent Suffragettes. I was happy to pay homage to some of these brave and tireless agents of change. Virginia Minor attempted to register to vote in 1872, claiming the 14th amendment gave every woman the rights of a citizen of the United States. She took her case before the courts and lost, but she never gave up the fight. It took nearly fifty more years for women to gain the right to vote, long after Virginia was gone.

Edna Fischel Gellhorn, on the other hand, did get to vote. She was born six years after Virginia Minor first tried to gain rights for women, and Edna joined the cause at a young age. After the 19th amendment's passage, she became Vice President of the National League of Women Voters and joined Eleanor Roosevelt in the United Nations Association.  

 All of the history and St. Louis culture aside, the most meaningful experience in this cemetery, or any other, occurs when met with the beauty and intensity of great loss due to great love. I found that here with the Maude Judge Memorial. This beautiful woman stands at the head of two graves. One is a young woman, who died less than a week after the birth of her only child. The other is that baby girl, less than a year later.

Here stands their monument. Desperate or hopeful? Probably both. As powerful as love.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Kindergarten Field Trip

That is way more fun than it sounds. Honestly, the threat of rain just made these kids so giddy and grateful to get to be on their field trip that they were all a complete joy to be around today.

I was thrilled to get to walk around the Botanical Gardens and see as much as we possibly could in our 90 minute walk.

It's been a challenging week for Sophia relationally. She's been figuratively stuck between these two, but at least for the day, they were happy to be a trio.

After the garden, we had a picnic and play time at Forest Park.

These are the kids that Sophia has spent her year with. Getting it together so I don't cry. They are amazing. And Sophia has her mouth going. So the picture is perfect...

Even with all the excitement of the field trip, all the kids were primarily excited about the bus ride. Captain is clearly a neighborhood school... School buses are still the coolest.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Re: Mother's Day

My mother and my daughter. Sometimes it's still weird to think of having a daughter of my own. Weird in the most awesome way imaginable.

Friday, May 3, 2013

In Preparation for Cinco de Mayo

I went to Sophia's school to see her and her class do the Hat Dance for Cinco de Mayo. Along with watching, we parents also performed. Being good sports and good examples and all.

Sophia videoed said event.

Several things: I'm the one in the comfy blue sweatshirt and the butt that is always in the picture - or at least it certainly seems that way to me. But I'll put this on here anyway because I love Sophia's laughter so much that I'd pretty much do anything to make her giggle in that way. I'll put on Youtube the video of her class dancing as well...