Monday, October 20, 2014

Picture Perfect

Dear Sophie,

It's getting harder and harder to take your picture, as you are too busy looking at everything and playing and exploring to hold still for a photo.  And because I'm so desperate to capture these wonderful days with you, taking your picture is important to me.  Some day, my little girl won't be so little, and I imagine I will look at these photos over and over again.

Last Saturday morning, we took advantage of a lovely fall day and went to Loose Park.  I intended to take some photos of you, as I usually do in the fall when Nature's colors are so amazing.  You, on the other hand, were quite distracted and photos were the last thing on your mind.  I snapped away, unsure I was getting anything worth keeping - several looked blurry from your constant movement, in others the sun was too bright, or the shadows darkened your face.  And you just wanted to play (and who could blame you on such a sunshiny day)!  But I couldn't help feeling a little frustrated at the thought of not getting a good pic.

I should not have worried.  When I got home and I uploaded the photos from the camera to the computer, I found this gem.  I couldn't have staged this picture if I tried.

I love you!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Conversation with a 3 Year-Old

Dear Sophie,

Conversation with you never ceases to amaze and entertain.  And perhaps it would be a good idea in these letters to periodically capture your typical banter.  Here's the discussion string from our car ride home from work / school.  It all started from a song on a "mix tape" CD playing on the sound system.

Mom, what is this song about? 
It's about a "Holiday." (I did not wish to get into the true theme of Green Day's song at just that moment.) 
Two songs about a holiday? 
Uhhhh (I was puzzled by your question and then realized why you were asking).  No, this is the same song.  It was playing when we got out of the car and it is still playing now that we're back in the car. 
Oh, it's the same song.  Did you pause it while we were gone? 
Something like that. 
Is it on your phone? 
No, it's on a CD that Aunt Kirsten made for me. 
For you and for me? 
Yes, Aunt Kirsten put a song on here for you too.  But it was for Mommy's birthday. 
Oh.  That was nice.....  Can we call her? 
Sure but not right now. 
When you call her, can you tell her thank you for the nice music?  That was soooo nice of her. 
Yes, sure.  I can tell her that. 
You won't forget? 
I won't forget. 
Is Aunt Kirsten your friend? 
Yes, she's a very good friend.  You might not remember her.  You were just a baby when you met her. 
Did you visit her last year in Boston? 
Yes, Mommy visited her in Boston last weekend.  (You get years and weekends confused.) 
Was she in the hospital? 
No, she wasn't in the hospital. 
I was just asking because that would be sad....  I have a good idea, Mommy. 
Oh, what's your idea? 
Let's tell her to come to our house. 
Yes, that's a good idea.  I'll tell her. 
You won't forget. 
No, I won't forget.
And this is a non-stop conversation.  If I take too long to answer, you say, "Mommy, why aren't you talking?"  In the future, I need to remember to share with you the power of a pregnant pause.

You're adorable.  And turning into a wonderful conversationalist.

Love you, Chatterbox!


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sharp Eyes and Keen Ears Catch Everything

Dear Sophie,

You seem to notice everything.  For example, when we were driving down the road, you pointed to a long, airy cloud in the blue sky and said it looks like a "talk-a-dile."  There certainly was a resemblance - the cloud had a long, scaly body, short legs, and the head and jaws of a crocodile.  I chuckled out loud, marvelling at your observation, and then we chatted about the word "imagination" (which you happily repeated and pronounced with greater ease than "talk-a-dile"). As another example, earlier this week you asked, "Daddy, did the orange balloon in the closet fly away?"  Just that day your daddy had secretly taken the balloon from the closet, popped it, and thrown it away.  He couldn't believe you noticed it was gone.

Warning:  If poop talk offends you, proceed no further.

Your terrific powers of observation aren't limited to the things you see.  You also have keen ears, which I hope means you'll be a music lover.  More on that subtopic later in this post.  The next paragraph is about poop.  Warning:  If poop talk offends you, skip the next paragraph.

A few days ago, your day care teacher relayed to us that you had told your classmate, after you had both successfully relieved your bowels on separate potties, that your poop "beeped."  We had no context to share with the teacher to explain where you might have gotten that vernacular.  Perplexed, I tried at various points over the past couple of days to ask you what "beep" meant but was unsuccessful at "flushing out" the answer. Today, that mystery was solved.  While sitting on the potty, immediately after going number two, you said matter of factly, "My poop beeped."  Daddy then realized you were speaking of the sound a number two makes the instant it drops into the water - bloop!  "You mean, it blooped?" he asked for clarification?  You affirmed and adjusted to your daddy's word, "Yes! It blooped."  You actually took note of the sound your poop makes when it plops into the toilet bowl?  And for your next trick, you'll learn the word "onomatopoeia."

Back to your keen ear for music....  Your daddy really likes this one, and has proudly recounted it for multiple friends.  When you were...oh...about six months old, we discovered that you liked listening to the Coffee House Channel on SiriusXM radio.  That channel of music - the singer-song writer channel - made you happy whenever it was on (which, at the time, was whenever you were in Mommy's car or whenever we were in  Daddy's car and Mommy insisted on it).  And if Nora Jones, in particular, popped up, you would immediately sing along (as best you could, being an infant with no real choral skills yet, or language skills, for that matter).

Fast forward two plus years down the road, and we've been listening less to the Coffeehouse channel and more to the AltNation channel or our personal MP3 playlist.  We were watching a certain non-kid-appropriate comedy movie and hoping that the toy you were playing with had distracted you from paying any attention to the sights or sounds coming from the flatscreen.  You certainly seemed to be wholly engrossed in the toy, with no sign of interest in Daddy's movie (I claim no responsibility for the showing of this movie in your presence!).  Near the end of the movie, Nora Jones appears on the screen as part of the plot, and she is playing herself performing at a concert.  Just a few words into "Come Away With Me," and you immediately piped up, as if magically awakened from the spell of your toy, and declared enthusiastically, "That's a pretty song!"  Daddy and I were awestruck.  As I said earlier, I hope you'll be a music lover.  This was good sign.

Trivia Question 1:  For what movie did Norah Jones co-write the song "Everybody Needs a Best Friend," which was Academy Award-nominated for Best Original Song?
Trivia Question 2:  Who collaborated with Norah Jones in writing that song?  Hint: He is also a writer and voice actor for one of Daddy's favorite animated television shows.

Answer 1:  Ted - the 2012 R-rated movie we should not have been watching with you present!  By the way, Mommy really likes the actor Mark Wahlberg, and Daddy really likes Mila Kunis.  This may be why we couldn't resist watching it.

Answer 2:  Seth MacFarlane - the creator of, and writer/voice actor for, the Family Guy, another kid-inappropriate show.  Seth MacFarlane also voice-acted in and co-wrote / co-produced the movie Ted, which was MacFarlanes first feature-length film.

In closing, I hope you'll always have a keen sense of how much your daddy and I love you.  Even when your poop beeps and stinks up the bathroom.

Much love forever,

P.S.  At this very moment, you are sick with a respiratory flu.  You've had fever, congestion, coughing, you name it!  Mommy can't bear to see you so uncomfortable.  Thank goodness for your generally good humored spirit and entertaining ways.

P.P.S.  One day, while listening to "Best Day of My Life" by American Authors, you declared, "This is my song."  And every time it comes on, you notice it right away.  You also like American Authors' "Believer", but you call this Mommy's song.  To be inclusive of Daddy, we made the executive decision that Daddy's song by American Authors was "Luck" (though Daddy refuses to agree).  I think you favor American Authors because of the banjo.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Not A Baby Anymore

Dear Sophie Queen,

It seems appropriate to address you by the nickname you have at school. Sophie Queen started off as a pet name your very first teacher affectionately gave you when you were in the infant room. I'm not entirely sure what characteristics were evident in your infancy that led to your nickname, but all your teachers and even your schoolmates call you "Sophie Queen" or "Queen" or "Queenie". And you seem to have grown into it. I am told that, even though you are tiny, you have a tendency to tell others what to do.

Even though you are not quite three years old yet, lately you have asserted that you are not a baby anymore. When you're eating, and trying to talk yourself into a few more bites, you announce that you have to eat so you can grow bigger. And then you look to me and say, "Mommy, I'm going to grow bigger and not be a baby anymore." I play along and say, "But I want you to be my baby." This is a fun conversation for you. You disagree and reassert your being intent on growing up. And I can't argue because I want you to eat more. (You persist at the "less than 3 percentile" mark on the height and weight scales. The next tallest kid in your class is at least a head taller than you. In the end, this only gets you to eat a few more bites, but every little bit helps!)

At work, a colleague asked me, "How is your little angel?" I replied that my little angel has lost some of her angel dust, and I relayed the story of how you shouted "Dammit!" at our dog Lucy, who wasn't behaving as you had commanded her. You shouted it so loud that I heard it from another room, and I walked to where you were and looked at you speechlessly. Fortunately, you knew your error immediately, and all your Daddy had to say was your name. He didn't say your name angrily or loudly. He didn't have to. As soon as he said your name, you burst into tears. I was relieved that you had a sense of right and wrong, and also amazed at how much it affected you to have disappointed your Daddy. You reminded me of me. Later, your Daddy, who was as astonished as me, asked, "How long will I have that kind of power over (affect on) her?" I was also relieved to see your Daddy recognize your tender spot. You were contrite, and instead of scolding you, he had just hugged you and calmly instructed you not to say that. You then walked to me for another reassuring hug, which you got in full force. Confidence restored, your tears abated.

Unfortunately, despite that learning opportunity, I think I still hear you say from time to time "dammit" very quietly to yourself when you're frustrated. And when I'm 99 percent certain it's what you said, I confront you, and you merely say, "Sorry, Mom. I say dangit." Sigh... You are, after all, your Daddy's girl, so your inappropriate language will have to be his problem to solve. We have other effects of the terrible twos that I can try to help you with - such as your stubborness, to which I will admit to having contributed 50 percent.

On the plus side, I'm seeing you mature in many ways....not just in vocabulary, but also in your breadth and depth of comprehension, and your sense of humor! You are a little like me but mostly I see your Dad's sense of humor in you.

I don't want to forget the funny memory captured by the photos below (I've learned to have the cell phone camera ready to catch these wonderful candids). While I was in the upstairs bathroom doing my nightly hygienic routine, I heard you giggling in the bedroom. Your self-amusement and laughter continued as I was brushing my teeth. My curiosity was picqued, and after rinsing the toothpaste from my mouth, I called to you and asked, "Sophie, what's so funny?" You came to the bath room door and showed me what was so funny - you were wearing my pink bra over your jammies! You stood in front of me and giggled and giggled and giggled, and then for a few seconds, you looked down at the pink monstrosity on your chest and said in all sincerity, "This is scary." You returned to laughing, and I joined you! With tears rolling down my cheeks!

Sophie Queen, I'm afraid to know how quickly the day will come when you will be wearing a bra.

Wearing Mommy's Bra

Wearing Mommy's Bra

Baby, don't grow up too fast.  And, really?  Is my bra that scary?


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bedtime Excuses

Dear Little Sophie,

You're getting creative with your excuses for delaying bedtime.  Tonight, it was, "I want some edemame, Mommy.  I need to eat some edamame beans."  You almost had me convinced, until I saw that sly smile of yours start to form at the corner of your mouth.  And, by the way, the sweetness of your request for one last goodnight hug and kiss wears thin after the sixth time.

Sweet dreams,

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Orange You Glad?

Dear Little-Girl-Who-Is-Growing-Up-Too-Fast,

You asked for a snack.  I gave you two small oranges, and told you I would be right back to help you with them after taking care of a quick chore.  A short couple of minutes later I returned.

"What, Mommy?" you asked, uncertain about the expression on my face as I looked down at a pile of orange peels and a slice in each of your little hands.

You didn't need me to peel your oranges.  How proud and sad I was!

Love you,


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Trip to Kosovo

Dear Sophie, Today is Father's Day, and we are catching up. On sleep (you're napping right now). On time with Daddy (because he's been away for two weeks teaching in Chicago). On the rental property (Daddy is cleaning up the remnants of a big tree that fell down during the storm). On Mommy's blog about you (because we've been so busy, especially with our 11 day trip to Kosovo). The last time I wrote here was about three months ago.

I will be surprised if you remember on your own our March 15 - 26 trip to Kosovo, so I'd like to share with you how it went. Along with you, Daddy, and me, Grandpa Mike ventured with us. You were quite the little traveler. Flying to Skopje, Macedonia, our airport destination city, was a day long process, followed by couple of hours' drive to Brezovica, Serbia (Kosovo), where Uncle Chris, Auntie Jelena, and Cousin Iva live. You did well on the long flight (from Washington D.C. to Istanbul, Turkey), only getting cranky and restless in the last 20 minutes (and frankly, who among us wasn't cranky at that point!). For the most part, though, you slept, and when you were awake, we entertained you with movies and TV shows on the iPad.

The purpose of our trip was to visit your baby cousin, Iva, for the first time. Baby Iva and her parents live in Brezovica, in a village nestled in the mountains of the country Kosovo (or Serbia, as it is known by the residents of Brezovica). We spent the first three days of our vacation in Brezovica, playing with Iva and her doggy Kenny, and enjoying the mountain life. Then Uncle Chris, Grandpa Mike, Daddy, you and I took to the road in a big eight-passenger van to visit some Adriatic coastal cities: Budva, Herceg Novi, Kotor, and Petrovac in Montenegro; and Dubrovnik in Croatia. It rained on us in Herceg Novi and in Dubrovnik, but we persisted in making the best of it, having the time of our lives, and taking probably a thousand pictures to capture it all. After concluding our time in Dubrovnik, we returned to Brezovica to spend the last day and a half with Auntie Jelena and baby Iva, who celebrated her 6-month birthday.

Perhaps the most memorable moment on our trip was in Dubrovnik. It was one of the rainy days, and we had gathered in a hall of the hotel to look through our guide book and find something indoors to do. Your daddy had taken you to change your diaper in the mens room, and after leaving you with us, he excused himself for his own restroom break. In that moment, Grandpa and I looked at you, and then we turned our gaze back to the travel book. Never did we think you would walk away from us. Daddy came back from the restroom, and not seeing you at the table with us, asked where you were. Grandpa and I had not realized you were gone! Daddy and mommy ran all over that floor of the hotel, in the bathrooms, in the hotel office, looking for you. We checked outside, as the door was wide open and you could have run out into the street on your own. We yelled and yelled for you. Daddy was quite angry - at the circumstances and at me - and thinking of all the worst possible scenarios. Finally, I heard a faint little voice that I thought was coming from up the stairs. I went up three flights before finding you, sitting calmly on the top step of the third level. Out of breath, I asked, "Sophie, what are you doing?" "Wooking Daddy," you answered with sincerity. You were looking for your Daddy. Daddy blames me, and I blame him. We laugh about it now, but we certainly weren't laughing at the time.

Other than that one incident, we had a wonderful time. And even now, you say, "Mommy, I want to go back to Uncle Chris' house." It was a very special trip for many reasons: spending time with family and seeing an amazing part of the world.

I am short on time (you've woken up from your nap), so I will wrap this letter up. As I look back through our photos of the trip, I am very pleased. My dear tiny one, I am so very grateful that you took everything in stride and remained an easy traveler for the whole trip. It would have been ruinous if you had been an unhappy tourist. Thank you for being so flexible. I hope that characteristic stays with you throughout your life.

Daddy is so lucky to have a daughter like you. Today should be Happy Father and Daughter Day.

Love, Mommy