Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Precious Gift

What was supposed to be a totally hectic week full of pre-holiday school festivities has instead turned into a week of being cooped up at home with a sick little girl. Sophie started to feel bad over the weekend, and we're now on day 5 of fever and sore throat. Needless to say, she hasn't been to school all week, and I'm thankful for Liz, who has shuttled Jack to school and home so that I could avoid dragging Sophie out in the unseasonable 30 degree cold temps.

Today was truly the first day that Sophie seemed to perk up a little, finally eating a bit and not requiring motrin to keep her fever at bay. I've recently started letting her use the computer to browse some websites that were recommended by her Kindergarten teacher. This has become a morning ritual for her this week, and today she spent her time looking at the PBS website and printing out some pictures of the characters from one of her favorite shows, Super Why.

It's been evident for quite awhile that reading and writing is one of Sophie's favorite activities. She conquered early writing assignments in Pre-K with gusto and has been reading chapter books for months now. I am amazed by her progress and am glad that she's so enthusiastic about books.

This afternoon, she decided to use the pictures she had printed out earlier in the day to write a book for Jack. On each page, she imaginatively wrote her interpretation of what was likely happening in each picture, and bound each page together with glue, staples and tape to create a special gift for Jack that she read to him upon completion. Granted, the words are not all spelled correctly...something that I've learned is part of the normal developmental process for this age. But if you look closely at these pictures, you can read the story she put together which really blew me away. I will save this book forever and cherish her great imagination and the sweet spirit in which she decided to create this for her brother.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Nickajack Dash

Sophie and I teamed up as she ran her first official race, Saturday - a 1 mile "fun" run to help raise money for her school's PE program.

While we've both been looking forward to this for quite some time (and even practiced a trial run per Sophie's request), it was unseasonably cold with temps in the mid-30s that morning. Sophie was not nearly as eager as she had been in the days leading up to the race.

One mile doesn't seem like that big of a deal at first, especially in the eyes of someone like me, who's trained for full marathons. But between the chilly temperatures and the task of keeping up with Sophie, who's strategy was to take little walk breaks every so often and then suddenly lurch ahead like a bat out of hell, it was one long and exciting mile. There were points where I thought she might toss her breakfast after running so fast and hard, and times when I nearly lost her as she wove her way through clusters of other runners. At other points, I thought I might have to piggy back her across the finish line. All of this in the course of 15 minutes! But alas, we finished together and we finished strong.

As you've probably already quessed, the post-race recovery breakfast in the warmth of the cafeteria and playing in the jumpy houses was undoubtedly the best part of the morning for Sophie and Jack, who was a trouper hanging out in the cold with Eric.

The highlight for me of course, was running my first mother-daughter race, and the hope of doing it again and again in years to come!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall Fun

It has been a very busy fall, and as usual, I'm behind in my blog posts. So here's the most efficient way for me to archive the many fun experiences we've had this fall...

An outing to the North Georgia State Fair...

Sophie and Jack loved the rides, and Jack was thankful to have his big sister looking out for him amid the crowd of other kids. The dietitian in me was absolutely appalled at the concession stand offerings, but I know that I shouldn't be even slightly surprised. With only a wee bit parental influence, Jack and Sophie opted for Dippin' Dots as their treat of choice. For me, this is like a child choosing an apple over a Big Mac. Believe it or not! We watched as we were surrounded by kids chomping on Turkey legs, deep fried snickers bars, corn dogs and so many other foods that

The highlight of the Fair for Sophie and Jack was their very first roller coaster ride.

The following week we headed to Burt's Farm to select some pumpkins. We knew that Burt's was a trek, but what we didn't know was how much more of a trek it would be with the traffic we hit, which resulted in an 2 hour trip each way. We also didn't know that as soon as we put our very carefully chosen pumpkins on our front porch, that they would be stolen in the middle of the night and smashed in front of our cul de sac. Which broke the hearts of Sophie and Jack, and infuriated me and Eric. Having to explain teenage stupidity, trespassing and vandalism to a 3 and 5 year old is no fun.

But at least we have a few pictures to document that we really did go all the way to Burt's to get our pumpkins before ultimately having to go to Publix to get replacements.

The following week we headed to Cagles Farm with many of our neighborhood friends to enjoy a hayride and smores by the bonfire. There were so many of us that we basically required our own hay ride. We all had a blast, and it was so fun to watch the kids all together, enjoying their smores and playing outside together. We are so lucky to have this great community of young families to share these experiences with.
Stay tuned for a separate Halloween post!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Jack's First Homework

Jack came home with his first official homework assignment from preschool last week. This was very exciting for both him and Sophie, for different reasons. For him, it meant that he was now privileged to sit at the table with Sophie while she works on her own homework. For Sophie, it was an opportunity to play teacher and supervise him. The assignment was a simple tracing page, which Sophie embellished by writing "All Aboard" on the train at the top and later taped a sweet note for Jack's teachers to read him the next day at school. You can click on the picture below to read the note.

I loved watching her delight in helping him, and his acceptance of that help. Even more, I loved the genuinely sweet sentiment behind the note Sophie wrote and that it made Jack feel so special and loved by his big sister.

I'm sure the novelty of homework may eventually wear off, but for now I'll just choose to enjoy watching them find joy in something that could seem like much more of a chore.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

International Walk to School Day

We don't live close enough to Nickajack to walk, but Sophie and I made an earnest effort to participate in the fun since a nearby church agreed to let families park and walk the remaining 1/2 mile or so to school.

This may sound like an insignificant distance, but keep in mind that we had to wake up at 6:00am, and it was a mere 40 degrees and still dark when we started our journey. Also, despite the thousands of steps she must log each day, it doesn't typically involve walking for the sake of exercise.

She was a good sport, even when I turned down her request to be carried about one minute in, and was thankful that she was wearing her jacket as she wondered out loud whose idea it was to do this walk in the fall, when it's soooo cold?!

Oftentimes when I head out for a run, Sophie asks to join me, and I instinctively sputter out all of the reasons why this can't happen...she's too young and can't keep up, or this is Mommy's alone time, etc. etc.

I've tried hard to be a good role model by exercising regularly as part of a healthy lifestyle in the same way that I try to eat well and help her make good choices. Maybe I do this sometimes a little too much since she recently assured me that if I come to the school cafeteria to meet her for lunch, I would be able to order a salad.

While walking to school with her yesterday, I realized that I hope one day she shares my love of exercise and appreciates the benefits of eating healthy, but most importantly, I look forward to being able to share in it as something that brings us together.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


One benefit of Sophie starting school so early is the week long Fall Break in September which enabled us to do our yearly beach vacation. This year, our destination was Sandestin, Florida and rather than spending the week with multiple families as in years past, we opted for a trip with just the four of us.

The beginning of our journey proved to be a bit nerve-wracking as Sophie had some sort of stomach bug that resulted in pit stops along the way that seemed like once every 10 minutes. Thankfully, her symptoms dissipated and after a couple of days on the BRAT diet, she was good to go.

We had beautiful weather and enjoyed a relaxing week on the beach with no real agenda whatsoever. Even with just a one hour time change, the kids were thrown off a bit which led to some very early mornings, but it also meant that we could put them to bed early and have the evenings to ourselves.

The golf cart we rented with our villa provided a convenient means for transportation and was a novelty that never wore off for the kids.

The gulf was quite a bit rougher than we expected, but the kids still enjoyed plenty of time jumping waves and burying each other in the sand. We also had access to a great pool which was great when the kids needed a change of scenery.

Towards the end of the week, we attempted our first family round of miniature golf, which was just as hilarious as expected. Sophie proved to be quite a skilled player while Jack mostly chased the ball and stopped it with his hands to redirect its path. We will surely enjoy many games in the future!

On our last night, we headed on on a Sunset Dolphin Cruise that did not disappoint. We had lots of sightings and Sophie and Jack each had a turn as Captain. At one point the kids were allowed to feed the seagulls, which involved holding fritos into the air as the birds swept down to grab them out of their hand. Kind of scary, if you ask me, but Sophie was especially into this.

There's just something about a beach vacation that allows one to decompress more than any other type of vacation. It was just what we needed but all too quickly, our week came to an end and it was back to reality. Until next time!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Still "Under" the Hill. Eric's 39th Birthday

Eric was happy to celebrate his 39th birthday with both of his best friends from high school and their families. Believe it or not, all three of our families now live in the Atlanta area, which was a totally unexpected perk of moving here five years ago. When we first arrived in Atlanta, The Knabs had moved to Alpharetta just a few months prior. And a few years later, Uncle Matt, Aunt Kori, Will and Colin made the trek all the way from Seattle. These guys have so much history together and it's fun to be able to make more memories with our families being so close. All of our kids are at similar ages and really enjoy being together.

So without further ado, here are few token shots from the dinner we hosted.

Jack loves being with his Uncle Matt...and he and Colin constantly crack each other up.

Below are Dave and Caroline Knab and Aunt Kori and Will...

And finally, Eric getting a little help blowing out the candles on the ice cream sandwich cake we made for him.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Mommy-Daughter Days

Over the summer, Sophie expressed interest in spending time with just Mommy, one on one. She adores Jack (well, most of the time!) but she has definitely born the brunt of being the older sibling at times, and has been noticeably a little jealous of some of the attention Jack gets.

Given that she was not quite 2 years old when Jack came along, most of her life has been spent with another sibling in tow. She didn't begin preschool until Jack was 8 months old, which meant that she had to yield to whatever schedule I had going for him at the time. It was an exhausting chapter in our lives, trying to balance having 2 almost totally dependent children all day long. In all honesty, there's no way I could have appreciated that time the way I would've liked to, and sometimes I feel guilty about that, but I also know that it gave me resilience as a mother that I wouldn't otherwise have.

Once Sophie started preschool, I remember the relief I felt to have just one child at a time - even if it was for just 3 hours a couple days a week. And the one at a time mostly referred to Jack. Even last year, when he started preschool, Sophie was the one who went to Pre-K 4 days a week and Jack only 3, which gave Jack a morning with me, all to himself. This year with Sophie being a full-time Kindergartner, Jack and I will have even more time together one on one.

Knowing that the start of Kindergarten was fast approaching, I decided to spend the last 3 weeks of the summer doing some Mommy-Daughter dates with Sophie. Jack went to summer camp at his preschool 3 days a week, and Sophie and I relished in our alone time. Sure, I can think of a million other ways to have spent this time. Normally, they would've been in camp together and I would've been a whole lot more productive. But, this is time that I will never get back and I am so thankful that I was wise enough to put my "to do" list on hold for a few weeks.

Here's a recap of how we spent our time...

Tea and pastries at Teafuse in Vinings, before heading to the American Girl Boutique, where I fully expected to pay big bucks for a doll. Turns out Sophie decided she wasn't all that interested, so after looking around the store for awhile we rode the carousel and had lunch at Cheesecake Factory.

Date #2 was spent painting pottery at Art and Soul. Sophie painted a jewelry box for me and I decorated a plate for her, which made it's debut when I served her the very first breakfast of the school year. We lingered for almost 2 hours, helping each other pick out the perfect paint colors for our masterpieces.

We spent the next afternoon having lunch with Uncle Mike, who had driven a truck all the way from Chicago with his belongings to unload at his new apartment in Atlanta. Mike had just enough time to take Sophie swimming at the slide pool before flying back to Chicago.

Date #4 was a back to school haircut and lunch at one of Sophie's favorite lunch spots, Garrisons. I realized that with just the two of us, we could actually carry on a real conversation, without all of the normal interruptions from the more chaotic lunches with Jack in tow.

The next day, we headed to the Georgia Aquarium, which despite being a total mob scene, was a nice way to escape from the heat. Eric's office is right around the corner from the aquarium, so we met him for lunch, and Sophie was thrilled that we could be a threesome, if only for short while.

Finally, swimming together in our neighborhood pool and a trip to Yoforia, our new favorite frozen yogurt shop, where we made our own sundaes before heading to Nickajack to meet her new teachers.

The days leading up to the first day of school were quite bittersweet for me as my mind raced back through the last 5+ years which seems to have gone by so fast in retrospect but not always fast enough day to day as I've been on this adventure called motherhood. I am grateful that we shared this special time together, which in some ways marked the beginning of a whole new chapter in my relationship with Sophie. It also made me realize how special that time was to Sophie, and the importance of carving out this kind of time in the midst of our busy and often chaotic daily lives.

Sophie's First Day of Kindergarten

Last week marked the beginning of a whole new chapter for our family. Sophie is now a Kindergartner! Her first official day at Nickajack Elementary School was Thursday, August 5th, but the week leading up to it was full of events to help her transition into her new school.

Tuesday was "Sneak a Peak", where we found her classroom and met her teachers. I have to admit that it was all a bit overwhelming for me, though Sophie seemed unfazed and simply enthusiastic. This is a brand new school for her, so most of the faces are completely new. We did pass a few of her former classmates from VCLC in the hall, but none were assigned to her class.
The next morning, which was the day before school officially began, we woke her up at the crack of dawn to do a practice bus ride with Daddy. We're not planning to send her on the bus just yet, but the school offered a practice run for the younger students to ride with a parent to school and back, just to see what it was like. Sophie was less than enthused when she first woke up at 6:15, since she'd normally sleep past 8 if we let her. Frankly, it was a painful awakening for all of us! This new schedule is going to take us awhile to get used to. The bus ride proved to be a success, and at least she knows what to expect should we decide that she's ready to do it.

And finally, onto the big day. As prepared as we were with supplies and information, etc., nothing quite prepares a mother to watch her little girl embark on the beginning of a new, more independent journey. Being a Stay-at-Home Mom has given me the ultimate control over my children - until now!

We decided to make it a family affair, and all hour of us piled into the car to drop her off. This will be a significant transition for Jack, who is used to being around Sophie for most of the day. Here he is giving her a big squeeze before we drove to school.And the two of them outside her new classroom...
She had a great first day. So much so that on Day 2, she totally snubbed my attempt to kiss her goodbye when I walked her to her classroom. When I called her out on it later, her reply..."I was just ready to be Kindergartner and I didn't have time to kiss you".

And so it begins...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Week in Wallace

We headed to Wallace, NC to visit Grammy and Grandpa Nick for the 4th of July. Sophie and Jack are always thrilled when an opportunity arises to visit their grandparents. They are finally able to keep it straight that Grammy and Grandpa Nick live in NORTH Carolina, and Oma lives in SOUTH Carolina. Much to their dismay, the drive to North Carolina is almost twice as long as going to Oma's house, which makes it nearly unbearable for Jack, who still has very little concept of time. But, we realize each time that it's worth it to endure the many "Are we there yet?" and "How long until we get there?" inquiries.

Our week was full of fun. On the 4th of July, we went to the pool so the kids could flaunt their swimming skills. That's not the only thing Sophie flaunted. There was a DJ at the pool for a celebratory pool party, and he invited all of the kids to participate in a hula hoop contest. Sophie has always enjoyed hula hooping, but I had no idea how much talent she possessed. She waltzed up to the patio with gusto and stood alongside several girls who were mostly all older than her. My jaw dropped as we watched her move her little hips in the perfect rhythm, keeping the hoop up far longer than anyone else. She was SO proud of herself as the DJ announced, "Clearly we have our winner!". Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera, but here's a token shot of her hula hooping at the Children's Museum in Wilmington later that week

Later that day we had a cookout with some of the neighbors and some long time family friends that have retired in the same subdivision. Check out Jack with his Sparklers. Should we be worried that it looks like he's trying to light a tree on fire??

It's so nice that Wallace is less than an hour from several beaches. We went to Wrightsville Beach on Tuesday. The kids were introduced to Boogie Boarding and loved it!

Wednesday presented Eric and I with a sweet deal. My Mom and Nick offered to take the kids to an early dinner at their club, while Eric and I stayed behind to enjoy a quiet house and a glass of wine before swapping places and heading over to the club for our own night. The kids had a blast, which was expected, as they usually don't find themselves in restaurants much fancier than Chick-Fil-A. Apparently they charmed the pants off of everyone and were well-mannered. Phew!

While Eric and I headed out for some shopping and more beach time the next morning, the kids headed to the Wilmington Children's Museum and out to lunch with Grammy and Grandpa Nick. At one point, Jack got himself a little mixed up with a group of camp kids and even posed for their group picture. Eventually he realized what was happening and yelled "I'm trapped!", at which point Grammy rescued him from the group.

Throughout the week, the "Green Man" in Grammy and Grandpa Nick's garden left little surprises and treats for the kids. Each day they would check and see if there was a treasure to be found. The "magic" of all of this did not seem to wane and both kids are looking forward to their next visit to see if the Green Man takes things to the next level. Maybe some cash in lieu of tootsie rolls?!

On our last evening, despite the blazing temperature and humidity, the kids toasted marshmallows over the fire-pit to make smores. Can't think of a better way to end a great week!