Looking in the window, on Ryan's shoulders, eating a snowball. It's nice being four. :)
Sophie has begun to document herself much more – she spends a large part of her free time coloring, drawing and writing. “Writing” mostly looks like pretending to be Annie of the Magic Tree House books and “taking notes” in her notebook, or writing books of rhyming words (her current works are entitled “Book to Remember” and “Coffee in a Cup”, I don’t know why.) She’s drawing about her feelings, processing the existence of Raspberry (lots of family portraits with a baby drawn inside me), and recreating Disney memories and Boxcar Children stories. There is also a lot of output from her art class – a canvas now and then, and things like clay bowls and leaves and creatures made out of pipe cleaners and socks….the whole nine yards. She has also started hanging up her own work, so the entire house is basically a preschool art gallery. She also made me a Valentine’s card that says “HPPY VANTI’S DAY SARA LOV RIN & SOPHIE”. It is awesome. :)
I am the small one, then there's Ryan in the middle and Sophie on the right
A lot of this goes on, as well:
Ryan and Sophie have been getting a lot of good snow play in too, since the most recent storms. They went sledding this weekend (Sophie likes to go down the hill by herself now, quite often, sometimes throwing her hands in the air at the bottom!) and they spend a lot of time exploring our yard. Sophie loves to make snow angels, and it looks like it is quite an effort:
It's FUN AND INTENSE
Sophie and I also went to a preschool program at the Audobon Center after one of the big snows and learned about animal tracks. The snow was too deep to see much, but she did have a great time playing in it!
And because we are looking forward to a time when the world is not brutally cold and white, we turned to thoughts of family biking. (I don’t know how much biking I’ll be up for this summer, but y’know, we’re thinking of the next few years here. :)) Sophie has outgrown her beloved front-mount seat, the iBert, and so we’ll be saving that for baby and upgrading Sophie to a new contraption. We considered many options, but in the end I got a great deal on a closeout model of the Weehoo, so that’s what we went with. It’s a tag-along sort of thing, except instead of just a bike seat it’s a full chair sort of thing with harness, cupholders, and stuff-carrying capacity (panniers on the sides) – and Sophie can help pedal or just relax and watch the world go by. Pretty sweet, huh? Here she is trying the seat out when it arrived (it’s not hooked up to a bike yet, but we did assemble it):
We are looking forward to the not-cold SO MUCH. In the meantime, we are doing our usual indoor activites: yoga, open gym, art, and while I seem to have almost no photos (I know I took some, where are they?) there is an Alice in Wonderland exhibit at Echo right now. You can imagine what a big deal this is to Sophie!
Sophie, Tav, and some other young yogis at yoga class
Oh, and in Raspberry news…I’m 16 weeks along, Raspberry is about the size of an avocado according to the fruit comparison standards ;) and I bought maternity jeans this weekend because the pregnant belly is definitely upon me. That’s all I’ve got for now! Checkup next week. We are planning to find out which parts Raspberry has in a month or so. We have been having conversations about gender identity with Sophie as part of talking about this, and the other day she said “So, if Raspberry has a penis, we can make a pretty good guess that Raspberry will feel like they are a boy. And if Raspberry has a vulva, it’s a good guess that Raspberry will feel like a girl.” She is aware that when Raspberry is older, they might feel differently, though. She also discusses that Raspberry might feel more like a “they” than a “he” or “she”. (Her calling a person “a they” is not my ideal here, but it’s her beginning understanding of non-binary gender identity and preferred pronouns.) We will see. :)
At Sophie’s request, we are listening to Walt Disney World music a fair amount lately – like, the ride soundtracks and stuff. Sophie says she likes to “miss Disney together”, and it really does bring back memories very strongly. The nostalgia is often really nice except for how much it makes us want to leave the frozen north and go to Disney like right now! We have told her we will go back someday, and she is already planning to try the rides she didn’t get to experience this time. She might be tall enough for them by the time we get to go again! :) Right now she is sitting in her “cave” (a fort made of blankets and pillows over the top of her tube tent thing) and singing along with the Haunted Mansion soundtrack, while snacking and reading with a flashlight. Good times! A snack and a book sounds like my next move…stay warm everyone!
First, here is what I wrote down for the post I never finished last month, so I can get up to speed for this month:
“Mama, how did the world….how does the Earth get all these years and all these holidays to be so great?”
I gave her a vague answer about traditions and sharing happy times and how people have been celebrating holidays for a long long time…which was not an accurate or specific enough response. She said, “Hmm. Maybe we should ask the internet.”
Speaking of asking the internet: Sophie asked me how they put stripes on candy canes. I said I wasn’t sure, and perhaps we should ask the internet. She said loudly, at the ceiling “Internet! How do they put stripes on candy canes?” (If we had more modern iPhones and she had said “Siri” instead of “internet” this would be a different anecdote, huh?) PS: we did google it, and found that they make them by hand at Disneyland and had a video about it.
We put up our Christmas tree and Kelly and Peter helped us decorate it. Sophie and I are both pretty much over the moon about Christmas trees, and we like to turn off the lights at night and just look at the lit-up tree. She tells stories to herself about the ornaments and makes sure we remember to water it. She’s been wearing her Christmas pajamas a lot, and Ryan wears his Santa hat and it’s basically just super festive in our living room! (Note: I wrote this in December but it’s January and kinda sorta still completely true.)
Posing with reindeer antler hands!
Hugging her new stuffed Ponyo on Christmas morning
…and now it’s January! And we had Christmas! And also we have some news: Sophie is going to be a big sister! I am 12 weeks pregnant, due in early August. While Sophie was unsure how she felt and unready to discuss it when she first found out, she is now completely over the moon about Raspberry (her name for the fetus, chosen originally because the picture in her book of a zygote looks kind of like a raspberry to her). She came with us to my first prenatal appointment, and got to see the ultrasound and hear the heart beat. So exciting! She likes to talk to Raspberry through my belly button. The day of my appointment, after she had seen the ultrasound, she asked if she could speak to Raspberry. I lifted my shirt and she whispered into my belly button “Raspberry, I am really going to be your sister!” That sound you hear is the sound of my heart inflating, exploding, and also growing back 3 sizes larger. ;)
Because everyone loves an ultrasound photo, right? ;)
I had really terrible and constant morning sickness for several weeks, but am feeling much better now. Sophie is pleased to have a mostly normal mama again, and I am pleased to be getting back into our normal life! She has been very understanding about my continuing issue with smells, needing to eat all the time, and requiring rest for Raspberry. Already practicing her sister skills. :)
You know how last time I wrote I said Sophie was reading, but I wasn’t really sure how much because I rarely heard her do it? Those days are over, people. She’s reading to us all the time now, and very proud of herself. She enjoys reading The Foot Book backwards just for a lark (“feet air the in up!”), and she can also carefully work her way through reading me a chapter of the Boxcar Children. We are all pleased about this…I may have gotten into a discussion of her reading with the guy who works in the children’s department at Phoenix Books in Burlington, because he understood my excitement. :)
Other than reading, we’ve had a great Halloween and spent a lot of time outside this month, playing in the leaves and hiking and so on while the getting is still good. There was even a Halloween bike ride – 300 people came out in costume to bike around the city and then meet up at our favorite coffee shop for a little afterparty. It was great!
Sophie wore her lion costume for the bike ride. Here she is being very cat-like and chasing a ribbon.
Ryan (a ghost) and Sophie the lion ready for the bike ride
For trick or treating, Sophie was Alice when she grew huge inside the white rabbit’s house. She and Ryan made a very elaborate cardboard house, and it looked awesome. She had a hard time actually wearing it, though, so for a lot of the night she was just Alice. With a coat on. But hey, it was still a great idea. ;)
Here is one more shot so you can see the cucumber frame on the side. Alice fans will understand why Sophie really wanted this detail included. :)
Here are some other photos from the month:
Three 4 year olds who did a longer hike that we'd planned (2.5 hours!) and came out smiling. And also tired and hungry. :)
Studying a leaf she pulled out of her clothes. :)
On the merry-go-round with Ryan at the Shelburne Museum
A thing I am kind of proud of: when Sophie is outside lately, she likes to find a big stick, poke a tree with it, and pretend that she is Yoshimi battling the pink robots (the tree is the pink robot). I think that’s a level-up right there. (For the uninitiated, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” is a Flaming Lips song.)
Another thing Sophie is loving right now is art. She is doing the art class that she did last spring again, and it is super fun. One of her favorite things at home is to have Ryan draw her a picture (or me, in a pinch ;)), and then she colors it. On her own, she started adding in speech bubbles. Speech bubbles! That may also be a nerd level-up. The first one she did was in this picture Ryan drew of Peter Pan, crying about his shadow. Sophie drew Wendy under him as if he had sat on her by accident, and the speech bubble says “OOOOH”. Poor Wendy. Sophie thought it was a funny joke though! She also added some pretty alarming teeth because she does that on most of her pictures of people. And then she asked Ryan to write “Boy, why are you crying” at the top, and Sophie added in (a correct spelled) “SHE SAID”. She isn’t writing very much yet, I think because she’s been focusing on reading… so those speech bubbles were a surprise! But now that she is reading, writing is starting to come just a bit. She did her first phonetic spelling a day or two ago…she tried to write “Sebastian” – SBSJN.
A very strange art collaboration, featuring baby's first speech bubble. ;)
Sophie and her mantis
Sophie’s praying mantis died a few days ago. He has lived with us since he and his thousands of brethren and sistren hatched in June. Sophie loved the mantis and thought of him as her pet, and she was of course very sad about his death. She communicated that if he was not here, she was afraid she would forget him, and I told her I took some pictures of him when he was alive that she could remember him by. So in honor of remembering the mantis, for Sophie’s sake, I am sharing this photo. He was a fascinating and sort of gruesome creature, and Sophie really loved him.
I suppose with this: we went to Disney World! It was, as you might imagine, Sophie’s first time…and it was really great. I have a bazillion photos, but I will try to show restraint in making this post.
We got not one, but TWO audiences with Alice. Once with the white rabbit. It was pretty much amazing.
These were possibly the most emotional moments of the trip for all of us. Sophie was so happy, and watching her have this little dream-come-true moment was just so sweet. The first time, I think we all got a bit teared up, Sophie included. She had these long, relaxed talks with Alice each time, got her picture taken, and then came stumbling back to us, sort of breathless and stunned. The second time, when the white rabbit was there too, she came back and asked me to pick her up. I did, and we asked her how it was. She said “It’s a lot to take in.”
Sophie's first and possibly last rides of the trip were on Spaceship Earth. :)
For the first day or two, she was pretty much stunned and so overwhelmed she couldn’t even verbalize her experiences very well: “That was fun,” she would say very seriously, and then we’d move on to the next thing. Then there was a day or two where she was pretty exhausted, so we went out in the morning and spent the afternoon hanging around the hotel room, playing in the pool, and so on. She got her stride in the last few days, and then she relaxed a bit and started to be able to talk about what she was enjoying and feeling and so on. It was an interesting process to watch. The first day, her face was especially fun to watch – it tended to look a bit like this all day:
Taking in her first "It's a Small World" ride!
Her favorite rides were Peter Pan, The Haunted Mansion, the Little Mermaid ride, and Pirates. Each of those got done at least 5 times. She also really liked the Nemo ride, Spaceship Earth, and It’s a Small World. She was really excited about the Muppets, but found the 3D presentation a bit uncomfortable (she told me she knew it was just pretend, but her brain didn’t like it when things came pretend-close to her face. Which, you know, makes sense.) She likes to recite the Haunted Mansion, and if she’s in the right mood she will do an entire, detailed walkthrough description of the Peter Pan ride.
Another awesome thing – the food aspect went very well. While I had been reassured that Disney was great at handling food allergies, it was really quite a relief to see how relatively easy it was and how comfortable we felt. At table service restaurants, the chef would come out and talk to us about what Sophie would like to eat and they would make changes if necessary in order to keep her safe. They were super aware of cross-contamination issues, which always makes me feel a zillion times better. At the counter service places, they had “allergy binders” with all the ingredients for everything, and the allergy binder keeper person would personally place and carry out your order to keep it from becoming contaminated at any point. It was great, and Sophie was very appreciative. At the Moroccan counter service, she was able to eat a bunch of things she doesn’t usually get to have when we are not at home, and she was so happy. She said “Today is a special day because I can eat everything on the table!” She had a yogurt cup for dessert and said “I’ve never had dessert in a restaurant before!” On the one hand, it made me want to cry, but on the other hand, I was happy for her. :)
Exhausted Sophie eating "everything on the table" in Epcot's Morocco
Because I have other stuff to post photos of, I will let you look at more Disney pictures if you want to…just check out the set at our Flickr.
When we got home from incredibly humid, 90-something degree Florida, it was crisp and cool and delicious here in Vermont. We took a couple of days to just play quietly at home…but there’s a lot of good stuff to do in this beautiful weather, so we got to it pretty quickly. Here are Sophie and her pal Tavi being overjoyed to interact with a goat at Shelburne Farms:
And having refreshments on a lovely hike that ended with some very wet feet…
Making faces with velcro parts on a pumpkin at the garden park harvest festival:
With maple lemonade at the south end food truck stop:
We went apple picking with a bunch of friends for my birthday, and it was awesome. I could make a whole other photo post for that because apple picking in Vermont with lovely people is a really photogenic experience…but I’ll refer you to Flickr instead. Except okay, here is one of Sophie enjoying the big rope swing they have at the orchard:
One last important piece of news, that was hard for me to save until last: Sophie is reading! Now, of course there are conditions to this statement: sheoften won’t do it if asked to, she is reluctant to sound out anything that doesn’t come to her very quickly, and she tends to just sort of skip over parts she doesn’t understand. But, she read an entire easy reader by herself, and she can read large parts of a chapter book we have read repeatedly together through a mix of memorization, context, cues from pictures, and some word decoding. She reads a lot of signs and things we see when out and about, and she enjoyed finding lines she could read in the book I was reading the other day. Her favorite way to read is by very quietly muttering the words to herself as she slowly goes through a book she’s really into. I don’t usually get to hear her do it unless she doesn’t realize I’m paying attention, but it is happening! The best part: we silently read together for like an hour the other day. This is the best! We are so excited. While reluctant to perform, Sophie is still very proud. :)
Here is Sophie taking after me: attempting to read while walking. :)
There have been a couple of big accomplishments for Sophie in the past month. She took swim lessons at the pool we go to, and she was super brave. She practiced kicks, putting her face in the water, and front and back floats. At her last lesson, she back floated on her own and kicked towards me – she swam a teensy bit on her own for a few seconds! Her teacher was great – she managed to push Sophie past her comfort zone a little bit each time, but very gently and without any judgement or coercion. The only bad part was that it was often very chilly – this was not exactly an extremely hot August. Next time, July afternoons or bust!
She also found a pedal bike she really liked at a garage sale the other day. (She has been balance-biking all summer and is pretty good at that, so she has been wanting to try a pedal bike. 2 wheels, she doesn’t even know about training wheels I don’t think!) We brought it home, and she tried it out in our parking area with Ryan. After a few tries, she managed to ride on her own! Now she goes back and forth, riding on her own a little bit at a time, staying up for a few seconds each time. She is still working on starting on her own, and she has only managed to turn a couple of times without putting her feet down – but she is enthusiastic, so she’ll probably learn pretty fast! I took a whole 14 seconds of video you can see:
And let’s close with some Sophie-isms, shall we?
Of some local plums we got one day: “I have never ate-n so good a fruit as these.”
Pretending to be a mother pig, nursing her piglets: “I only have two nipples, so you’ll all have to take turns.”
Regarding the cup of cold juice she was holding: “This is like, a cold scenario.”
On things she wants to do in her life: “There are so many things I want to do and people I want to be that I don’t know if I can do it all! I want to do hundreds of things!”