Music in Sophie?

Does she or doesn’t she? That is the question…at least for my brother. My dear sibling is a jazz musician and he is very disappointed in my husband and me. Why, you ask? I don’t think he has any quarrels with our parenting (I mean, how could he? His child, Lucy, is not of the human species – she’s a yellow lab), but he is crushed that we missed our chance to turn Chloe into a musical prodigy.

A few weeks ago, my brother and I had a long conversation about lots of things, including his youngest niece. He’s currently in the throes of getting his Ph.D. in music education in Austin, Texas, and is convinced that if we don’t act soon with Sophie (i.e., within the next couple of weeks), all hope will be lost for her too. Which makes him very sad. You see, our great-grandfather was a well-known musician in Russia (before the Revolution), who was able to immigrate to the United States largely because of his talents. The musical aptitude then skipped a couple of generations before planting itself in my brother, who happens to be a rather gifted guitarist.

I took piano lessons when I was much younger, but never really liked it (come to think of it, I tried a lot of extracurricular activities that I didn’t like, and my parents indulged my lack of sticktoitiveness to an extent that I refuse to replicate for my kids). So now my muscially inclined brother is hoping that his sister’s last child (’cause the factory’s closed, folks) will carry on the tradition.

Uncle James, this video is dedicated to you. Let us know what you think. Is there hope for our little Sophie, who has paid tribute to Beethoven with her own version of “Symphony No. 9 (Ode to Joy)“?

A Brief Pause for Some Sentimental Musings


When I was in college I produced several volumes of journals. The next time I wrote on a regular basis was following the death of my father almost 8 years ago. During that time, I kept a daily diary to record all of my bittersweet memories of him during that first year of mourning, and to record the joys of my first pregnancy. But since then, my writing has been sporadic and brief, occurring mostly during times of discontent or stress.

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Fashionista in Training: Afterword


I have nothing to say, except, 270 minutes at the mall last evening (we decided to go on Friday rather than Saturday in order to avoid the weekend crowds)! For the math whizzes among you, that’s 4.5 hours! Spent at three stores. If you’re inclined to look at the cup half-full, you’d say that Chloe, like her dearly departed grandfather (whom she never had the chance to meet), is tenacious when it comes to shopping. If you’re inclined, like me, to look at the cup half-empty, you’d say that mother and daughter (mostly mother) are both out of their minds. But I was determined to allow her to choose.

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Fashionista in Training


My husband and I had a rare day together today. The girls were with our babysitter, and we decided to go shopping and to a movie. One of our missions was to find a holiday outfit for Chloe. Her father was particularly attentive to the task, and we spent quite a bit of time looking for the perfect celebratory attire for our big girl.

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Are They Sending Me Money?


It’s been almost 24 hours since I announced the existence of this blog to friends and family. Before I sent the fateful email, I had a brief discussion with Chloe about what I was planning to do. You see, I delayed publicizing my initiative for a couple of weeks because I felt somewhat guilty about exposing my children’s antics to the wider world. Will they end up in therapy for life and addicted to painkillers because I’ve exploited them? These are some of the thoughts that have lingered in the back of my mind since I started this endeavor.

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Creative Movement?

Update 11/13/07: Sophie followed instructions again! Not all of the instructions, but most of them. She danced backwards, forwards and sideways. She excelled during circle time warm-up, and helped clean up the props. There’s hope for this toddler, yet!

Sophie likes to dance (see photo to left, Exhibit A).

So when it came time to enroll Sophie in a YMCA class, I thought it would be fun for the two of us to bond while creatively moving across the dance floor, since she seems to have a knack for it (see video below, Exhibit B).

With a feeling of irrational anticipation (adjusting to the stay-at-home gig has been a bit trying for me, to say the least), we went to the first class a few weeks ago. The instructor, a lovely woman who teaches at a local studio, warned all of us caregivers that the children might not participate, at least in the traditional sense, right away. They might simply observe, or make up their own moves. All of this is good, she told us.

No problem, I thought. Sophie loves to shake her booty. But Sophie often moves to the beat of her own drummer. And her listening skills are not yet as honed as her mischief-making skills. She is only two, I remind myself, ad nauseum. She’s also the youngest in the class. First session, she mostly watched. Second class, slight improvement. Third class, complete and utter meltdown. You get the picture. Until today, the only thing she seemed to enjoy was climbing on top of my back during warm-up when I’m on all fours trying to demonstrate the moves to her (“trying” is the operative word here) .

It thus came as a huge surprise when, at class this morning (after a minor tantrum when I tried to get her in the car), she creatively moved! We’re not talking 100% participation, mind you, and she didn’t always follow the teacher’s instructions. But she made a good-faith, smiling effort to move like a duck and like a spider, and she leapt and “swam” in the water (represented, of course, by a blue hula hoop).

Even our kindly teacher noticed the difference: “There’s been a breakthrough!” she exclaimed at the end of the class. Indeed, there was marked improvement. Even I had fun.

I’m currently taking bets on the last two classes. Will the progress continue, or will Sophie revert to her old ways? Tune in next week – same time, same channel – to find out…

Battle of the Pseudo-Crocs and Bulging Jackets


I guess I knew it was inevitable. But I didn’t think it would be so difficult. All the hints were there, however. This summer, the only shoes Sophie would wear were her lime green, jibbitz-infested croc imitations. Every time (and I mean every), we would try to put her cute little chunky feet in equally-as-adorable sneakers or sandals (see photo), she would scream. Not a weak, “I don’t agree with you” kind of scream, but a bloodcurdling, “you are ruining my life” kind of scream.

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Bonding Over Dinner and Folding Laundry

One of the most rewarding aspects of my new career turn as a stay-at-home mom is having more time to bond as a complete family unit. When I was working, it was rare for my husband and me to have dinner together with the girls. For the last six months, not only are we dining more frequently as a foursome, but I’ve accustomed the brood to some ground rules for harmonious meals:

(1) Dinner at 6:30 pm, because if it’s any later, I have to deal with Mr. Hyde (i.e., Sophie, see related post here), who turns into an inconsolable crank if she hasn’t eaten by then.
(2) Chloe must stay seated at the table until Sophie is done; otherwise, Sophie will inevitably follow her sister into the other room before her tummy is full. Saying the word “done” out loud is also verboten for the same reason. Chloe has since taken to spelling it out. Sophie is smart, but she’s not that smart.
(3) And no interrupting! The hubby goes nuts if we cut him off while he’s trying to make a crucial point.

So, it was with great pleasure that, after we finished cleaning up the mess Sophie made of the pasta, tomato sauce and parmesan cheese this evening, our two daughters asked to HELP(!) us fold the laundry. Had a passerby bothered to look through our dining room window, she would have seen the girls diligently trying to fold their father’s ratty old t-shirts – why such rags are even worthy of a folding effort is beyond me, but you do what you gotta do to keep the spouse happy. Of course, we had to refold everything they touched, but Chloe learned a thing or two from her father about proper folding methods. And Sophie amused herself by grabbing as many pieces of clothing from the basket as her little arms would hold, and putting them on her head.

In between folding episodes, the two little kidlets danced to their favorite music, including “Rollover DJ” by Jet and various songs by the Blues Brothers.

I smiled quite a bit during that 1/2 hour. However, in the interest of full disclosure, the girls managed to exasperate me plenty of times after we finished the laundry, so the warm and fuzzy feelings didn’t really last all that long. But the episode gave me fodder for the blog, so that certainly counts for something, right?

A Mom's Ramblings About the Marvels & Mishaps of Parenting, the Joys of Family Travel & the Writing Life