Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Into the Woods

As badly as I'd love to see the movie Into the Woods, that's not what this post is about. This is about Forest Park. And Leo.

As you know, since we've moved to St. Louis, we have lived across the street from Forest Park. It takes less than five minutes for us to walk to one of the most picturesque locations in the city. And we have. In the last four years, we have used that park a lot. A very lot. Playgrounds, museums, picnics, lakes and the whole thing. We've used most of what the park has to offer.  

However, since Leo has been added to our family, we have discovered its wilder side. In the past, we have only used the woods as a cut-through to the zoo. That is no longer the case. In the past, we had sometimes hopped into the car to get to what we thought were the more useable parts of the park. Or we'd walk to one of the buildings. Having a dog who needs walks has led us to be more creative, and that has opened up a world we didn't realize existed. 

At least once a week since we've gotten Leo, we have followed the much less-beaten paths through the woods. We have been when it's cold, when it's muddy, when it's hot. 

No matter when we go, it's beautiful. Sometimes we have to drag Sophia off the couch to get her there. That's a fact. Another fact is that once we're there, we usually have to drag her back home. Point out growling stomachs or fingers and noses changing color from exposure. She has discovered that she loves fallen trees. She already knew that she loved mud holes and creeks.

There are many things that I love about having a dog, but this may be the very best thing so far. The woods.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas to me from Sophia

I am lucky to have received some lovely and thoughtful gifts from my family already. This one is my favorite:

Merry Christmas
by Sophia Creach

I hope you have a great Christmas. The stockings are hung on the windowsill with care in hopes that  morning soon would be there. I wake in the morning and presents neatly put in rows sit there and mock me until you say GO!  I love you so much you will never know. I think this Christmas is the best but so are the rest. I think you should know I hope Christmas is great for you. For there wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t have you. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good Christmas.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Freshly Cut

Ever since Sophia was very small, we've had artificial Christmas trees. After last Christmas, our most recent tree finally gave up the Christmas spirit and we tossed it. Sophia was determined that this year, we'd have the quintessential (she didn't use that word, although it wouldn't surprise me) Christmas experience by going to the tree farm and cutting down our celebratory evergreen.

Of course, that's what we did. In what turned out to be ill advised sentimentality, we brought Leo with us. He's just so cute, and I hate to think of him shut up in his little crate all day. He doesn't seem to mind, really, but it bothers me. He was nutso. Fortunately (?), Sophia joined him in his nutso behavior, and we all had quite the time.

Then we took one another's pictures. Because that's how we roll. Oddly, no selfies this time around.

Saturday was just gorgeous. The weather was so perfect for tree picking. And we had the window open while we decorated! Perfect, I tell you.

A real tree is exactly as I remembered it. A pain in the rear. Worth it, though. When it makes our super Christmasy girl that much happier.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Christmas Spirit

We bought season passes to Silver Dollar City this year. It may have been optimistic, looking back. However, the Christmas festival really makes it all worth it.

We went on Friday night, and the weather was perfect. I have to assume that most others are not yet ready to embrace the Christmas spirit because it wasn't crowded. Oh well. I'm so glad we went and enjoyed it.

See? Christmas spirit.

This was the first time that we've been to Silver Dollar City that Sophia took part in what was a childhood tradition for me. Dipping candles. The experience is almost identical with one very significant change. They now have instructions for making a rainbow! I remember many failures at making striped candles. I can't believe it took them so long to do this. Regardless, it's brilliant.

Another new thing this time around. Sophia is too tall for the double rider swing on the big twirly swings. She has actually been too tall for it for a couple visits, but we've been able to sneak her in because she wasn't ready to do it. This time, she's both taller and braver. Here she is with a big exhale before we take off.

Fact: I have always loved taking pictures of myself and others at Silver Dollar City Christmas.
Evidence from this visit:

Feeling Christmasy yet?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The King and I

Leo and I have been taking longer and longer walks in the morning. It's kind of taken the place of my solitary walk through Forest Park that I usually enjoy. Yesterday, we made it all the way to the Art Museum and the Grand Basin. It's not very original to say that I love these spots. But I do. King Louis and the sun were happy to see us.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Halloween 2014

Halloween was a great deal of fun, in spite of the very cold temperatures. It wasn't actually THAT cold. It's just that it had been so warm a week ago! 

Sophia was a darling little Robin Hood. She loved to say how her job was to rescue people. Erick was a leprechaun with blue hair. 

He was so cheery to my gloom. Face paint is fun.

We got to trick or treat with a Phantom (Jacob) and a person from Guardians of the Galaxy (Jeffrey). I need to see that movie so that I can place all the boys who were dressed as them this year. I had one little boy put on his mask and ask me who he was. I said, "A werewolf?" He was a raccoon. I felt instantly old. Next year, I'll get really familiar with all the movies in advance...

Nothing completes a good haul like a good trade. Everyone was happy with the way this worked out, so it's a win.

Now I'm sleepy and ready to take a nice autumn nap. Maybe next week.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Just the beginning...

This fall has been perfect. Temperatures just right for taking lots of walks with our new little Leo.

Of course, "walking" might not be completely representative of what we do with Leo all the time. There is a lot of running. And a lot of snuggling. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lost and Found

Ever since we planned the move, we have had our eye on the calendar to find a time that would be better than most to add to our family. Sophia has a four-day weekend starting tomorrow, so we've planned this for a few weeks. We were making some progress toward getting a particular dog from a shelter in Fenton. He was about 8 months and a retriever mix. Kind of small for the breed. Pretty bouncy and energetic, but we were excited to do the work to have him fit in with our family.

The process was taking a long time. This happens. We also learned that it might be a little longer, and there were other families interested in him. Just to be sure we were making the right call, Sophia and I went back to the Humane Society last night to visit some dogs.

One particular little guy got our attention. On one side of the glass was Evan, a wire-haired fox terrier, on the other side was Sophia, an 8-year-old dog lover. It may or may not have been love at first sight. Once we met in the "Get to know each other" room, they became inseparable.

He was a stray up until two weeks ago. They don't know anything about him, but we are taking the risk. I'm going to admit it: he's a kisser. And a hugger. and a jump upper.

Apparently, he's also a stitch puller. So he has to wear this around for a few days while we're not around. He hates it.

But, sometimes he gets to take it off so he can do this.

Sophia is so in love with this dog. I believe the feeling is mutual. Erick and I are pretty impressed with him, too. One family member might need a little more time to adjust. This was Gabriella's look when she saw that he had made himself comfortable on the couch.

Sophia named him Leo, and he's settling in nicely. I'm sure our whole family will need to make some adjustments to life with a dog, but I think he's going to be worth it!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

New Digs

It's all rather similar in our new place. Familiar but different. I'm loving my work space here, and the kitchen is simply wonderful.

We're all settling in nicely. Even Gabriella doesn't seem to have much to complain about.

It's the perfect time of year in this neighborhood. The trees are changing and the temperatures are just right for open windows. I'm grateful for our new home, which could possibly even be our old person's home one day. We haven't had that possibility for a while, and it makes me happy!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Halloween Costume - by Sophia

The costume
By Sophia Creach        
October 1,2014
This is where this story starts. So it all started when I went to the store with my mom. I saw the costume isle. It had so many costumes I couldn’t believe my eyes. “ I know wich one I want.”I told my mom. “Ok ,”  She answered back. “ Good ,”I said. So we went in to the costume isle ,and I saw it, the cleopatra costume. I thought I wanted it but when it came down to it, it was missing a piece . As you all might know I would like to solve that case but I didn’t so I went on a search to find a new costume to get. So I went looking around  and what do I find you might ask. I found the thing my dad might be for halloween. Wait to hear what is… A giant pink whoopie cushion. Isn’t that funny . It was kind of fuzzy and as I said It was also pink. But my mom doesn’t know what she is going to be, but being in this family I know it is going to be silly. Anyway guess what I am going to be . It starts with a R … That is right I am going to be Robin hood! I am so excited for halloween. I don’t think I said it but Rayna( My best friend. ) is having a costume party. So I had to chose  early.  As I said  I can’t wait until halloween .                    

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Happy 8, Sophia!

Happy birthday, Sophia!

Your birthday is one of my very favorite days of the year. It's true that each and every day we try to let you know how special you are to us. But this day! This day we get to spend more time thinking about all the many reasons that we are grateful you came into our lives, whether we were ready or not, eight years ago.

It seems impossible that this would be the case, but each year with you is better than the last - and I thought my life was complete on the day you were born!

This has been another year of new things. Last fall, you were beginning violin and horseback riding. You've even added in sports! I am so proud of the courage you have. In spite of the scariness that comes with doing new things, as you've posted on the blog, you face it and do it anyway. Because you have confidence in your ability and, I hope, because you know that we'll always be there no matter how it turns out.

In spite of all the activities and the busy schedule of our family this year, we've managed to ensure that the three of us have still had plenty of time just to be together. Reminding one another what it is that makes us work. I hope you always feel respected and heard by us. It's so important to me that you would know that what you think and what you share matters.

My favorite time of day is just before bed when we talk about all the things that have been on your mind. Your sensitive spirit still amazes me. I am always stunned by how much you notice and what kind of things keep your attention. You are a beautiful friend to all those around you. This is made obvious by all the people - kids and adults both - who value time with you and love to listen to you. And as much as you love to tell a story, you still manage to be a great listener!

I hope that your birthday is everything you dreamed. You deserve a day as lovely and fine as you are.

Love forever,

Monday, September 15, 2014

Of the Hotel by Sophia

For the next eight days we are  living in a hotel. We went to the pool.We also get free breakfast. It is called cheshire. It also lets my cat come to. I don’t know about you but I think that is pretty cool.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Weekend Recap

I don't think I've actually brought up the fact that we're moving. That's probably because it was so sudden and it's not a long distance move - just through the alley.

In spite of all the madness that comes with a move, we managed to have a lovely weekend. My parents came to visit - partly to help out with packing and partly so Erick and I could partake in LouFest. Both wonderful reasons, I might add.

Sophia also had a nice time at LouFest on Saturday. I love taking her to places like that so she can experience something new and different. And so we can make great memories together.

Another great thing this weekend was Sophia's first soccer game. She hasn't been sure about the whole thing, but it turns out she loves it, especially when she's goalie. That should make for a very fun fall.

 Next post will either be from our temporary home in The Cheshire or from our newer, smaller, all ours place. Until then!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Just Because

I don't know that I'll ever be able to capture the sound that goes with this face, or that I'll ever get a non-blurry picture, for that matter. The sound is that particular laugh that only happens on very rare occasions - or when someone says "fart".

At this stage in my life, I think it's my very favorite sound. Pure joy. How great is it that we have the capability to make that distinctive sound when something funny happens! Just try not to smile when you hear a kid laugh with their whole being.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Celebrating Erick

This has been one of those weeks - preceded by one of those months - where Erick and I seem to catch each other coming and going. A little tired. Getting rundown. Trading stories and information. Not really able to spend much time looking each other in the eye without the inevitable, "Oh, did you remember to...?"

And today is his birthday. It's a full day for us, and we won't all be home together until it's almost time for Sophia to go to bed.

But I know Erick will feel celebrated (especially when we're doing whatever he wants tomorrow) because even when we have these weeks and months, which are inevitable in the 21st century American family, they don't weaken the bond that we share. I don't have a fear that once we get the time that we need together, we'll have to start from a different place.

This year, Erick and I will officially have spent more of our lives together (17 and counting) than we spent apart (17 even). That doesn't mean, necessarily, that we cannot fail. But it means we've already failed and come back. It means we know how to cope when being made crazy by one another. It means that he knows which of the crazy shit that I say deserves a response and which deserves a chuckle and an, "I just love you."

There is never a day (I actually sat here to think about whether or not this statement was true, and it is, to the best of my failed memory.) that I am not grateful for the day Erick was born. Maybe I'm not grateful in that specificity. I'm grateful every day, and it's his birthday. Get it? I love the guy. I need him. More than that, when I have spare time to look into someone's eyes and have a conversation, I want it to be him.

So, happy birthday to my partner. Thanks for growing with and near me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Second Grade

I have several posts that need to be made at some point, but the one that I cannot afford to abandon is the first day of school. Some day, Sophia will look through the archives of the blog and want to put together each and every one of these memories. I would hate to let one slip through the cracks just because I'm tired. 

I am tired, by the way. Although I really couldn't tell you why. I assume it has something to do with not enough sleep, but that hardly seems credible. 

Anyway, school started last Wednesday for Sophia. She is now in the second grade at Captain Elementary. Her teacher is Ms. McD. And, apparently, Ms. McD is the coolest teacher at the school. This is what I gather when I tell people who Sophia's teacher is, and everyone responds with, "Oh. Wow. Sophia is going to have a fabulous year." 

What I have learned so far about second grade, however, is that there is less talking allowed. So, there's that. You can imagine how my Sophia and her classroom BFF feel about this heightened enforcement.

This BFF of Sophia's did not end up in her classroom this year, and Sophia was shocked to see that they are no longer the same height. She actually made me take a series of pictures with their backs together just to be sure.

It does promise to be a good year. I'm excited for Sophia to really get back into the swing of things. Other things that are different this year are: spelling tests, harder math and the principal. So, wish her luck!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Best of Busyness

Since we got back from vacation, we've been busy. We have spent a lot of time at the zoo, as we tend to do in the summer.

Once with these guys:

Once with these Seattle guys:

And we're never very far from Forest Park, especially when the weather is going to insist on being so lovely.

We've also had fun of our own. Just packing it all in before summer comes to an end.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Few Questions

Why does California have to be so far from St. Louis?

Why did our families settle in the Midwest?

How is California so stinkin' awesome?

These questions were all raised by our recent adventure (vacation does not describe it) to Central/North Coast of California.

Sophia's joy below is her response to our first steps into the Pacific this time around.

It had been a few years since our last trip, and we were very excited to catch up again with the Creaches on the coast. Sophia loves hanging out with those cousins. They always pick up right where they left off. I'm hopeful it won't be another three years.

And the beach. Oh, the beach. After a couple days near San Francisco with the Creaches, we headed south between Santa Cruz and Monterey to a very out of the way condo complex between two state beaches. The rest of our week was spent primarily right there: building in the sand, running in the waves and watching the ocean change while it stayed the same.

A highlight for me was the fulfillment of a dream that many, many people share. Riding horses on the beach. This particular dream had the added bonus of whale and dolphin sightings. I could not stop smiling. Sophia was impressed, of course, but did not love the ride as much as she loved using her own two legs to get into the water.

The sun wasn't our constant companion, but it came out now and again. We didn't mind the clouds. Apparently, the sun makes people crazy...

On our last day in California, we packed a lot in. More beach, the redwoods and more pier fun in San Francisco.

Vacation was lovely. Restful, fun, adventurous, memorable. Happy to be home, but I think I'd be happier with just another couple weeks on the beach. Maybe a month.

Monday, July 7, 2014

First Cantering - by Sophia

Hi I am Sophia and the pictures you see are of me cantering [ A speed before galloping and after trotting]
Anyway I got to canter for my first time .It is so fast it felt like I was FLYING!
 And it was all because of  Karoly the awesome. An all around fun guy/ horse. The reason it was so awesome is Da Da Da Daaaa. He is a lazy horse some times he doesn't trott.Anyway now he is a cantering machine.

Now this is trotting[faster than walking slower than cantering and galloping] I just wanted to tell you the speeds of the horse. Along with a beautiful story. Keep look at creach spot.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Illinois Summer

This week, Sophia and I took advantage of our free time and visited my mom's family in Illinois. Well, a few parts of the family anyway.

I'm so grateful that my mom's parents are still around so we can continue making memories with them. These are the ones that Sophia will look back on for the rest of her life. I remember rolling a ball back and forth on the floor with my mom's grandpa. So imagine how vivid the memory will be for Sophia of taking a ride on the farm Mule/4-wheeler thing will be! Grandpa took us out to the pasture to get all the cows moving around. That, of course, was not nearly enough, so he took us up the road and around the corner to where the creek crosses so we could ride through. It was about the mildest ride Grandpa's ever taken me on, but it was just right for Sophia's first ride with him. She would have gotten out and walked back if he got to take us down the hills in their pastures up north.


Sophia is a dog person, and there were a couple of opportunities to love on some canines during our family visits. I was happy that we got to visit with Carrie and Ben. Sophia was happy to see Bobby. She even cried when we left him.


On the way home we stopped at the Lincoln Presidential Museum. It was quite impressive. And apparently too intense in spots. Not, as you would guess, around the Civil War parts. It was more just the weird wax representations of Lincoln and other figures that freaked Sophia out. Note to self: no wax museum trips in the near future.

It was a wonderful way to spend a couple of our summer days. I love Illinois, and I do miss it sometimes, especially at this time of year. The skies are so blue when they're pressed so close to the chest-high, tassel-less, green corn. Nothing like it. All those farm houses stand out so cleanly and beautifully right now. In a couple months, all you'll see are the tassels waving. That's another kind of pretty but not nearly as breathtaking.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Circus Time!

Yesterday, Sophia and I made our first trip to Circus Flora, a St. Louis tradition for 28 years. I don't plan on missing another year of this incredible circus.

Even though it was a terribly hot day, the performers worked so hard to transport us to another imaginative dimension. Obviously from this picture, you can see that Sophia was also entranced by the circus. I loved seeing the look of wonder on Sophia's face.


The Wallendas have been a family of circus performers since the 18th century!! Now there are several branches of the family performing in the United States and around the world. One of them performs in St. Louis every year with Circus Flora. And they were so fun to watch! 

Yesterday afternoon was the first time that Circus Flora had a "sensory-friendly" performance. As we walked in, they gave us an informational sheet to give people in attendance a good idea of what to expect in the way of noise, lights and action. Sophia had always been nervous about going to the circus before because of the noise and intensity. Once I told her this performance would be safe for her, she was excited to give it a try. Next year, we may be able to try the full experience. I don't think it will be much different, but the volume, at the least, will be louder.

The circus included horses, camels, dogs, a clown not dressed as a clown and so many acrobats and physical performers! It was an amazing afternoon for me and Sophia. We both had lots of stories to tell. Can't wait to see what next year's Circus Flora will bring.