Sunday, December 7, 2008

Prima Ballerina

Sophie has been taking an introductory ballet class one day a week after pre-school. This was our litmus test to see if she would really enjoy it before we were willing to consider any of the local dance schools. She loved it from the get-go, and has insisted on changing into her leotard every afternoon so that she can prance around and practice her moves.

We like to think this has nothing to do with the fact that her wonderful teacher, "Miss Meredith", passes out lollipops or other token treats to all those great listeners after class. I need not mention the fact that Miss Meredith has often commented that Sophie is one of her best listeners, and often rewards the best listeners with not one, but two lollipops to make a point to the other kids. As a dietitian, this drives me a little nuts, but I have become a bit lax in my present constantly run-down state, and I'm learning to see the upside of this rewards system. Especially since Jack is totally oblivious to this type of thing. His approach is more along the lines of seeing the lollipop and then doing whatever necessary (aka tantrum) to get it in his possession. I think they call that that the terrible twos, and it's time I accept the reality that we have reached this milestone despite the fact that in may ways Jack still seems too young. It's hard to believe that Sophie was at this same stage just 2 short years ago when I was 7 months pregnant with Jack!

Last Thursday marked the culmination of the fall session, and the kids put on a sweet recital for families, friends and classmates as they danced to parts from the Nutcracker. Sophie and her little friends were the "Sugar Plum Ferries" It seems that ballet is here to stay, and to be honest, Eric and I are quite happy that it brings so much joy to Sophie. It was so sweet to watch her enjoy herself during the recital, with a smile on her face the whole time. It's hard to say who smiled more!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What Happens in Vegas...

Here's a big shout out to Eric, who planned a fun weekend in Las Vegas where we celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary. Truth be told, we were SUPPOSED to celebrate our big 5 years in Hawaii, where we spent our honeymoon that Eric planned as a surprise trip. Those of you who know me well know that it was a BIG deal for me to let him plan something as major as a honeymoon trip without me having any say, but it turned out to be an unforgettable trip. Which is why we planned to return for the big 5 year celebration. Little did we know that we would have two very "active" toddlers that would make it very hard to implement this plan. So I decided to give up control once again and let him plan a get-away where we could celebrate a very exciting and busy 5 years of marriage.

Thankfully, Grammy and Grandpa Nick were willing to be on duty for a mere 72 hours so that we could have a little escape... not to Hawaii, but a trip that at least involved getting on an airplane and traveling to a different time zone.
I've never been to Las Vegas, and while I've always been curious, I have to admit I was a bit skeptical about what I would find. All in all, we had a great time and it was a great chance to reconnect and just have fun together. And by the way, I really rocked the house with my blackjack game! We shared some wonderful meals, took in some shows, and even had a little time at the spa for a massage. The beauty of traveling to another time zone when you have 2 young children is that you never have to worry about adjusting to the time zone. You are just constantly so exhausted that you sleep when you can, no matter the time. This worked really well for us!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Family Vacation at Litchfield Beach

A ridiculous amount of time has gone by since my last post. After a little bit of nagging from the long distance relatives, I decided to make an album on Kodak Gallery to compile many pictures from our summer adventures just so they could see what Sophie and Jack have been up to. Long story short, we had a very fun yet busy summer, and the highlights were a family reunion of sorts in Monterey Bay, California, along with a visit in Atlanta from Oma (Eric's Mom) and Tante (Aunt) Karin.

In early September, we had a wonderful family vacation to Litchfield Beach, which is just south of Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. We shared a house with 3 other families who are good friends from Atlanta (with kids the same ages). Amongst that crowd was the infamous Kiki, who Sophie has basically grown up with. Both girls had the time of their lives doing everything together, whether it was swimming in the pool at our rental house, jumping waves in the ocean, trading clothes, and having sleepovers every night in the same big bed. They had their normal share of squabbles too, but for the most part, they really enjoyed each other. We must give a big shout out to Abba (Kiki's Daddy), who was always willing to take Sophie under his wing if we were otherwise occupied with Jack. He was in charge of bath and bedtime most nights, and orchestrated some fun beach activities like kite flying and running races on the beach. Even Jack has been chanting Abba's name ever since we returned home!

Many thanks to the James family for coordinating the trip. Kylie, or as Jack would say "Kai", is one of our favorite friends to play with since she is smack dab in the middle of Sophie and Jack when it comes to age. She frequently vacillated between smothering Jack with kisses and hugs, and playing dress up with the "big" girls.

And then there was Ainslee Monroe, the daughter of Vicki and Scott, who Sophie has also known since they were very little. Ainslee cracked me up with all of her questions, especially about why Jack (who was nicknamed "Jackosaurus" on our trip) was screaming. I don't think she was very satisfied when my reply was simply, "That's just what he does...I have no idea why". Nonetheless, Jack seemed to bond with everyone there, and was even the best sleeper of the bunch, which was a big surprise to me and Eric (especially considering the fact that he was sleeping in our bathroom!).

Can't wait to do it again next year!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Great Gram

This post is very behind schedule, but way too important to be forgotten. I have no excuses for slacking on my blog other than trying to keep my kids alive and happy, which sometimes takes a whole lot more energy than you can imagine. So each time I've attempted to work on this entry, Sophie has won me over in her pleading attempt to recruit me for a game of Chutes and Ladders, or read a story, or dance to music. How can I resist such great offers? Or else it's Jack wanting to play Eric's newly invented game "Run-Hug", which consists of Jack standing by the front door with one of us sitting in family room, waiting with eagerness to receive our crazy little man as he says "GO" and runs across the room in a full sprint.

I have realized that it can be hard to find a balance between productivity (especially if you are as task oriented, or, some might say "anal" as I sometimes am) and enjoying the tender age of toddlers who eventually are not going to be as excited about spending time with their Mommy. So I opted for the game, books, dancing and hugs this time around and have been rewarded with precious memories and even a Chutes and Ladder victory. And the blog entry will still eventually get done along with everything else on my increasingly longer list of to-dos.

A few weeks ago, my maternal grandmother, known to me as "Gram" and known to the kids as "Great Gram", graced us with her presence for about 5 days. Sophie has seen Great Gram often enough to have established a sweet bond with her, and I couldn't be happier. After one of Great Gram's earlier visits when Sophie had just started to talk, every time she saw the white-haired lady on the Ingles commercial she would shout "Great Gram!". This was Jack's third time seeing her, and depsite the fact that he didn't remember her, he was more than happy to show off some of his boy stunts, and was generous with flirtatious smiles and babbling conversation.

Since we didn't get a lot of pictures this visit, I decided to include some from past visits as well. In the process of looking for pictures, I realized how remarkable it is that we have seen Great Gram so many times throughout the beginning years in both Sophie and Jack's lives. When Sophie was born, we still lived in Northern Virginia, and since Great Gram is just outside of Richmond, our visits were even more frequent then.

While Atlanta is certainly more of a trek for her, she has still been able to visit once or twice a year, and we have been fortunate to see her for other family gatherings throughout the years as well, including visits to upstate New York, California, and even a trip to Italy. She has always been a trooper when it comes to traveling to see family, and is always eager for new experiences.

I have always had tremendous admiration and respect for my Gram. She is a strong woman who has consistently put her best foot forward despite some tough times throughout both her childhood and adult life.

She was very young when she began her adventure into motherhood, and it always gives me comfort (and more importantly, perspective) that she can't necessarily remember the gory details of some of the more challenging aspects of parenting -expecially those things that seem so big at the time but in the grand scheme of things are actually quite insignificant.

I am relieved and encouraged whenever she tells me I'm doing a good job at this parenting thing (which can be refreshing since my kids certainly aren't telling me that!), because she is one of the greatest mothers that I've ever known, and to receive a nod from her is a big compliment. The fact that all 3 of her children turned out to be pretty extraordinary individuals who love each other and their families, enjoy being together, and more importantly love and respect her, testifies to that.

When I listen to Gram reflect on her experiences as a mother even in the vaguest sense, or when I listen to my Mom or her sister or brother tell stories about their childhood, the focus is on the fun they had together, and the relationships they built in their family over the years. It seems to me that this love and nurturing, and fostering of strong bonds between family members is one of the most important contributions a mother can make to her family, and I will certainly feel like I've done the job well if one day in the distant future, my children still like to be around each other and have the kind of love and respect for me that we all do for Gram. She is an amazing women and we are blessed to have her in our lives.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Swim Lessons

Sophie had her much anticipated first swimming lesson yesterday afternoon. It was a one-on-one lesson at the home of "Miss Brencie", who has worked with this age group for many years. Fortunately Jack was able to be home with a babysitter (Thanks, Laurie!!) so that Sophie and I could embark on this experience without having to worry about the endless possibilities for Jack to turn 20 minutes poolside into his own little adventure. Especially since I wasn't sure how Sophie would respond to her first lesson, it was a relief for both of us to not have to worry about what we like to call "attack of the Jack".

At the beginning of the summer, Sophie was still pretty reluctant about getting her head wet despite loving being in the pool. She even wanted to use Jack's float to ensure she wouldn't go underwater. We've tried to take her to the pool as much as possible in order to acclimate her to the water before her lessons started, and she's become increasingly comfortable. It helps that all of her friends love the water too, and I think watching their comfort in the pool has helped alleviate some of the anxiety she may have had.

She had a great experience at her first lesson, and to my delight was not at all wary about being alone in the pool with Miss Brencie or being challenged to completely put her face underwater and dive for rings. At one point when she was learning how to float on her back, she told Miss Brencie it was time to do something different! I guess she got a little bored with that part and was more eager to practice going underwater.

Later that evening, we filled up our jacuzzi tub because she wanted to practice her new skills, knowing that we will return in a few days to learn even more. It's so fun to watch how quickly a child can acquire new skills, and more importantly, embrace new opportunities with such enthusiasm.

We will return for several more lessons throughout the summer, and even Jack is going to take a couple (with Mommy in the pool, too). Stay tuned for more posts... next up is Great Gram's visit!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Second Child Syndrome

There's a saying that Eric and I toss around a lot with regards to what we think must be Jack's perspective on this relatively new life of his. "Second Child Syndrome" is basically the way we might explain how Jack sometimes gets what the general population would call "the short end of the stick" when it comes to things like hand-me-down toys, dirty pacifiers, flexible naps (depending on what the "first and priveleged child" may have on the docket for the day), and yes, even having to sport a pink bib or cup every once in awhile - truth be told, more times than not.

Jack is a trooper to say the least, and we certainly hope that one day he won't hold it over our heads that we have so many pictures of him in a pink bib, holding a pink cup. The Kings even offered to give us a hot pink wet suit that no longer fits their Sophie to try with Jack in the pool the other day, and I finally decided to draw the line. It's bad enough that he will probably one day wear Sophie's fuschia water wings.

The fact of the matter is, Jack LOVES his big sister Sophie, and prefers to be with her as much as possible. So when I see him go into my closet and try on a few pairs of heels or peep-toe wedge sandals, I smile knowing that he's paying a tribute to his big sister who has taught him precisely how to do it. He literally cheers from his high chair when she wakes up each morning and walks into the upstairs hallway. For whatever reason, he calls her "Nay-Nay", and it's sweet to watch them interact every day. To date, she has taught him so many wonderful things (and maybe some not so wonderful things if you count climbing and jumping on the couch and unraveling and shredding toilet paper). Thanks to Sophie, Jack knows how to sit in order for his shoes to be put on. He knows how to eat a popsicle - and even how to share it with his big sister. He knows how to brush his hair and make himself "handsome". He even knows how lay down on the floor flat on his back, inviting her to tickle him like there's no tomorrow. So maybe we weren't so crazy after all to have these 2 amazing children just shy of 2 years apart. "Second Child Syndrome" may actually prove to not be so bad after all.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Memorial Day 2008

Thanks to my good friend, Susana, we have a few pictures from a Memorial Day BBQ with several of our friends at the neighborhood pool. Unfortunately Jack was sick, so Eric offered to stay behind with him while I took Sophie to the pool for her first swim of the season. Sophie enjoyed swimming with Mommy for a short time, but quickly gravitated towards the more "reckless" adults who brought her down the big slide again and again...and again.

Eventually she asked me to go down the slide all by herself. After borrowing some "floaties" for her arms and asking her repeatedly if she was sure, I sent her off with Rhiannon's brother Trevor who planned to walk her up the steps and release her, while Rhiannon waited at the bottom of the slide to catch her. I felt a slight bit of panic as I let her go - mostly because I knew Eric would most likely not have agreed to this plan (or at least would have wanted to be the one to receive her at the end of the slide), but also because I realized I needed to let her experience this for herself so as not to squelch her desire to be adventuresome.

At the top of the slide, Trevor yelled down to me, "Here she comes...and she's backwards!" I couldn't help but laugh, but that of course was followed by a little more panic. Rhiannon was right there to catch Sophie, but it was inevitable that she would hit the water first. Here's the outcome...

Fortunately, she quickly recovered and did eventually go down the slide again. When I asked her the next morning what her favorite part of the day was, the slide was at the top of her list. The hot dog was a close second!

We are so lucky to have such great friends to spend these fun times with!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Braving the Elements

Eric won a lottery last week at work for 4 tickets to the Braves vs. Mets this past Tuesday. While Rhiannon and Lorraine held down the fort at home with Sophie, Jack and Kiki, we headed downtown with Cynthia and Amir for a bite to eat before the game. During dinner, the sky became dark, the rain started to fall, and Cynthia's phone started to ring (more than once!). It was Meemaw (Kiki's grandmother) telling us about the tornado watch for Atlanta. Eric called Rhiannon to advise her to bring the kids to the basement should she hear the tornado siren (thankfully this wasn't necessary), and we headed to the bar in the restaurant to wait out the storm. Eventually the sky cleared and after we saw the first pitch on TV(almost 2 hours behind schedule), we headed over to Turner Field. On the way to our seats, Eric and Amir tried to impress us with their pitching skills. They each had several chances to hit the target as the speed of their pitch was measured. Eric was proud to demonstrate for Amir, who is from Israel and had never thrown a baseball.

We couldn't have asked for better seats - we sat about 7 rows behind home plate and had a fabulous time. After a lot of laughs, some peanuts, and even a little beer, the Braves won the game and we headed back home for what we knew would be a short night of sleep.

Early (actually, VERY early) the next morning, Sophie and Kiki proudly flaunted their manicures and pedicures that Lorraine pampered them with. The girls did great and enjoyed yet another sleepover, this time with Kiki on an air mattress next to Sophie's bed, and a much more comfortable night for both! If only they could learn to appreciate the beauty of sleeping in once in awhile!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Kiki Spends the Night

By now you all know about Sophie's best friend Kiki. This past Saturday, Kiki spent the night with us while Cynthia and Amir went to a wedding shower. It was Kiki's first night away from home without her parents, but she didn't even bat and eyelash as her Abba said goodbye.

The first thing Kiki said (Rhiannon - you'll appreciate this), was "let's play music and dance on the fireplace". For those of you who may not know, the safety of our fireplace is an ongoing discussion between me and Eric. It's a stacked stone raised hearth, and though we've got a rubber safeguard around it, Eric enforces (or at least tries to enforce) a strict no climbing on the fireplace policy. Our babysitter Rhiannon wasn't aware of this, and about 5 months ago she captured a hilarious video of Sophie and Kiki dancing to the "Twist Around" song on the fireplace. Kiki clearly did not forget this and knew exactly where she was headed. So we let them have a little dance on the fireplace until Eric's blood pressure started to escalate.

Dinner is always an adventure with these girls, as Kiki tends to get distracted and not want to eat much, and Sophie is usually a member of the clean plate club. Typically what happens is that Kiki will start feeding her meal to Sophie once Sophie has finished. This time they actually fed each other...

After dinner they played hide and seek, but their rules were a little different from the ones we all know. Once one was done counting to 10, the other one would yell out from her hiding place..."I'm in here!!". Then the rules changed again and whoever was supposed to "seek" would tell the "hider" where she wanted her to hide, before starting to count.

The evening was capped off by The Little Mermaid movie. Kiki decided she and Sophie would sleep on the couch, so she tucked Sophie in, and then had me tuck her in.

Finally, Bedtime! After having a small argument over which side of the bed they wanted to sleep on, they each grabbed a stuffed animal and cuddled up for a story, before receiving my mini lecture on how late is was and that they needed to go right to sleep. Believe it or not, they actually listened and adhered. I stood outside the door for a minute and could have heard a pin drop. Here are the before and after shots (only 25 minutes later).

We really enjoyed the night and morning with Kiki. Eric and I loved watching the girls talk to each other. They speak in complete, articulate sentences, full of logic, negotiation and humor. It's obvious how much they love each other...we look forward to many more sleepovers with Kiki!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day

It's hard to believe that yesterday was my 4th Mother's Day!! Although I always wanted to have children of my own, I had no idea how truly gratifying it would be to experience the adventures of motherhood and the depth of love I have for Sophie and Jack. After Sophie was born, I quickly learned how complex the emotions of motherhood can be, and I'm admittedly overwhelmed at times by the huge responsibilty of nurturing such precious children who are so dependent when it comes to most everything. At the same time, I'm amazed at how much joy I get out of simply watching them interact with their environment and each other, especially now that Jack is old enough to respond to Sophie. They are truly becoming friends and it's so fun to watch. Here's a couple of pictures of them riding around the house on their toy car...

Sophie's pre-school class held a Mother's Day Tea last Friday and she presented me with a beautiful flower that her teacher helped her plant. Sophie didn't feel like posing for too many pictures that day, but here's a shot of her with the flower she planted and Jack enjoying the big kids at school.

As each day goes by, I realize how fortunate I am to have this amazing opportunity, and I'm thankful for the "fresh start" that each new morning brings. I also have a much better understanding and appreciation for how hard my own mother and Eric's mother worked at loving, teaching and protecting us, and how deep their love goes for their own children.

We celebrated Mother's Day for the 3rd year in a row with The Dekel Family. Sophie and Kiki have been best friends since they met each other at only 5 months! And I'm thankful for Kiki's Mommy, Cynthia, who was my first friend in Atlanta and has connected our family with so many other wonderful families in the neighborhood. We truly adore The Dekels. They have always treated Sophie (and now Jack) as part of their own family. It's so nice to be surrounded by other families who are in the same stage of life, and to watch each others' kids grow up right before our eyes and share the joy with one another.