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

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Thank You, Daddy!

Dear Sophie (a.k.a. Daddy's Girl),

The phenomena of "Thank You, Daddy" began well before the date of this letter.  It started with the rail that your daddy installed a few months ago in the stairway up to our bedroom.  Your daddy wanted you to have something to hold onto when you climb or descend the stairs, and he placed the rail at just the right height for your reach.  The first time you ascended the steps holding on to your new rail, I told you, "Daddy made this rail for you.  You should thank Daddy."  You dutifully and sweetly yelled out, "Thank you, Daddy.  Rail!"

Your daddy's next project was to remodel the bathroom.  He extended the tile above the bath and installed a brand new shower head.  After it was installed, I casually mentioned to you, "Daddy made that shower for you.  Someday you'll be thankful Daddy did that."  Perhaps a week later, as you were sitting on your little potty, facing your new shower, you looked up at it and said, "Thank you, Daddy.  Shower!"

And so it was that you began to learn about all the things in the house that Daddy had built or made - your bed, your dresser, your bookshelf, etc. - and you thank Daddy out loud for all of those things.  In fact, almost every time you take the stairs, even if Daddy is not in earshot, you yell, "Thank you, Daddy!"

Your dad and I joke that every time someone tells you you're pretty, cute, or smart, you should say, "Thank you, Mommy!"  Unfortunately, that hasn't caught on quite as well as "Thank You, Daddy."

One morning about a week ago, you and I found ourselves in a predicament.  Daddy was out of town for work.  I had finished my morning routine to get ready and picked you up to carry you downstairs with me.  I put my foot out onto the top step, and as I began to shift my weight to step down, I felt an obstacle under my foot.  Junior!  That crazy cat didn't budge!  I stiffened up and all at once slipped down two or three steps (remaining upright but out of control).  Then there was this awkward moment when my uprightness reached a tipping point and began transitioning to a face first fall down the remaining steps.  In that last instant of uprightness, I thought of the stairway rail and grabbed hold, barely catching us.  "Careful, Mommy," you said.  I stood there for a few moments, in quiet contemplation of the trauma that was averted.  "Okay, Mommy?"

My response:  "Thank you, Daddy!"

Stay sweet,


Monday, January 28, 2013


Dear Sophie,

You are my sunshine, and I love you always.  The past week, however, was not sunshiny. Last Monday, you began the week with a fever, a barking cough, and a runny nose - what I thought was just a bad cold!  Tuesday morning, your daddy left for an out of town work assignment in Puerto Rico.  The duty to stay home with you fell squarely on me, and at first I welcomed the idea of nursing my baby girl back to health.

We stayed home Tuesday and then Wednesday.  Your temperature had topped at 102.9 on Tuesday before declining on Wednesday.  In the night, you would wake up crying for something: daddy, pretzels, crackers, Amy (the administrator at your school).  Many times you would yell "mommy hold you (me)!" even though I was already holding you.  I suspected you may have been delirious.  During the day, your coughing hurt your throat, leading you to cry, "Owweee, owweee, owweee!" and no amount of blowing or using saline and a suction bulb seemed to give your nose relief.  In your misery, you wanted constant comfort and "holding".  You cried frequently and for long periods, all while being held. If I put you down or divided my attention for a few minutes, you would wail your insistence that I return.  We watched Disney's Rapunzel over and over again, as it was the only thing that would quiet you (however fleetingly).  You had no desire to eat, unless it was applesauce, jello, a cutie or pretzels, so that was what I gave you. Fortunately, your thirst stayed in tact, and you drank water and juice almost nonstop.  Otherwise, there was little I could do to ease your suffering, and in turn, I too grew weary and drained.

Later in the day on Wednesday, though, you seemed to be on an upward trend, and by Thursday morning, your temp had fallen below 100.  I thought it was safe to take you to school.  I put in about 6 hours at the office when I got the call from your school to pick you up.  Your temp had gone back up to 101.  Your teachers told me they knew you weren't yourself when one of your little friends tried to mess with you and you didn't respond.  After picking you up, we went immediately to the pediatrician's office, where a test of some mucus from your nose revealed you had influenza A.  I had no idea!  Not only did I feel tremendously bad for you, I felt guilty for taking you to school and my going to the office.  All I could think about was how I'd put others at risk - your teachers and little schoolmates and my own officemates.

Thursday evening at home with me, you continued to express your misery, and I could now more clearly see the puffy and red bags under your eyes that the pediatrician noticed right away and said was a big giveaway.  She said the flu symptoms can last 10 to 15 days!  Next year, daddy and I will not wait until your annual birthday checkup to get you a flu shot!

On Friday morning, it appeared your fever had dissipated again.  We stayed home this time so that I could be sure you were truly on the mend (and the school wouldn't have let you return for 24 hours anyway).  Fortunately, the outdoor temp had risen to the 50s for the weekend, so we went outside  in the sunshine and took Lucy for a walk on Saturday and took an outing to Target and Trader Joes on Sunday.  Sunday evening, our thoughtful friends the Buntings invited us to dinner, and we took them up on it.  Although the fever never returned all through the weekend, you still had fitful nights and clingy, needy days.  Both of us were exhausted.

You went back to school today, and lasted the whole day.  Your teachers said you seemed to be back to your old self.  But as soon as I got you in the car, you began to cry for me to hold you.  You cried all the way to the grocery store.  You cried all the way through the grocery store and required that I hold you the whole time.  I got many sympathetic looks and reassuring, positive comments from some very kind patrons and store staff.  You continued to cry as we left the store, with me awkwardly carrying you and two grocery bags.

Bear with me on this side story, the telling of which will allow me to vent.  As we approached the car, I had to put the groceries down, and then proceed with putting you in your car seat - not a quick process.  A man parked next to us had arrived with his groceries, and had gotten his groceries put away in his SUV before I could finish buckling your belt and stash our groceries.  From inside his car and in an apparent hurry to leave, he yelled at me, "Could you shut your door?!?!"  At just that moment, I had shut the rear door and was just getting into the driver's seat.  On the way home from the store, I was nearly in tears.  I tried to remind myself to think about the multiple kind people inside the store and not the ill-tempered one outside the store.

Back to your crying....  You cried all the way home from the store, all the way through dinner prep and consumption (you refused to eat), all the way through your bath, and and all through dressing for bedtime.  Having picked up a new movie, Spy Kids (for $5 at Target) (to give you a tempting alternative to Rapunzel), I put in the DVD and got it rolling.  You cried well into the opening scene and finally quieted (but still wanted me to hold you).

My dear little one, you are sleeping now as I write this.  I sure hope tomorrow is better for you.  Perhaps if you can get a restful night, you'll be less crabby tomorrow.  Here comes the sun!

Love you,