Thursday, January 24, 2013

Highlights from Christmas 2012

I'm almost caught up.... I promise....

We spent a lovely Christmas in Detroit at Niki, Corey, Charlotte, and Peter's new house.  Grandma JoJo and Grandpa Spike arrived not long after we did, and the fun commenced.  Despite the fact that Sonia was attacked by a mild tummy bug that night (can we PLEASE travel somewhere without my child choosing that time to get sick?!), we had a great time.

Batman and Catwoman made many appearances during our visit:

Grandma JoJo is the new lead reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh!

Aunt Niki made an old Notre Dame football t-shirt into some comfy pajama pants for Sonia!  Niki is a sewing goddess.

Sonia absolutely loves snuggling with Uncle Corey!!

The kids loved having the picnic table upstairs to play on all day long.

Charlotte and Sonia got all gussied up to go with Corey and Andrew to see a Christmas pageant put on by the local Catholic church.

During the afternoon on Christmas Eve, enough snow fell that we decided we needed to bundle up and go romp around outside.

Connie Dog LOVES the snow!  She galloped around for a really long time while we all took turns pulling the kids on sleds.

After we came back inside to get warm, the kids changed into their special Christmas jammies that Grandma JoJo gave them.

Corey read "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"....

Whoa-- look what Santa brought Peter: his very own work bench!

Santa brought Charlotte a bike!

Santa brought Sonia a new tee-ball set and some stuffed Muppets!

Andrew and Corey decided to give Sonia a double-smack (in the grand tradition of the Evans twins).

We were only missing my brother, Jordan, in this family picture....  And speaking of missing, we desperately wished he could have been there with us!

Merry late Christmas to everyone!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sonia and The Pigeon (a follow-up)

So, I have THE coolest uncle in the world. Not only is he one of the amazing cartoonists behind the two best comic strips in the entire world, Baby Blues and Zits, but Jerry Scott (my uncle) also happens to be friends with Mo Willems, the genius behind the Pigeon, Knuffle Bunny, Elephant & Piggy, and Cat the Cat books (among others!!).  I did not know of this friendship until Christmas day, when my mom took a picture of Sonia and Charlotte working on their Pigeon activity books and casually mentioned that she was going to e-mail it to Uncle Jerry to see if he thought Mo would get a kick out of it.


It was a very Mo Willems Christmas for The Great Sosini.  She received the Pigeon activity book, an Elephant & Piggy book, and one of Mo's newest books, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs.  Then, she obsessed over the Pigeon book for 10 straight days.  I, of course, chronicled this obsession in a blog post (as I am inclined to do), and e-mailed the link to Uncle Jerry to see if he might want to pass it along to Mo.  Today, we received this in the mail:

Somebody pinch me.  There was a time in my life that I might have been starstruck by an autograph from a famous actor or musician.  But now, as a mother who loves watching her daughter get so much joy out of books, the autograph (and sweet message from) a famous children's book author/illustrator/magician has completely knocked my socks off.  Thank you for making my day month year, Mo!!!

And, in case you forgot, I have THE COOLEST UNCLE EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Thank you so much, Skunkle Jerry....  This is merely one of the millions of reasons I am glad that you are my mom's little brother.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tiny Dancer

During the last dance class of December (before a two-week winter break), parents and other interested parties were allowed in to watch our little dancers show us what they have learned so far.  I took as many pictures as I could, but I (and the rest of the audience) were too busy A) dying from cute overload, and B) laughing hysterically at the goofball children to truly capture any good pictures.  Miss Michelle, the instructor, has her work cut out for her attempting to whip our little cuckoo birds into shape.  I can't believe how incredibly patient she is....

In the pictures I took, it's pretty typical for no two children to be doing the same thing, but the kids look pretty obedient in this one:

Sonia: "Do YOU know what we're supposed to be doing?"
Cameron: "Hush-- we're pointing our toes!"

Looking good, Sonia!

Happy ballerina!

Here's a video of the parts of the ballet portion of the class that made me smile the most:

Before the kids traded their ballet slippers for tap shoes, they performed a routine to "Waltz of the Flowers", and as Sonia's Grandma Jenni noted upon veiwing the videos, organizing a bunch of 3/4-year-old dancers is like herding cats.  Oh, my.  At one point, a pair of adorable but ornery twins started head-butting like mountain goats.  Here's the video, but don't say I didn't warn you....

Sonia really likes ballet, but she LOVES tap. Must be something about making lots of noise....  As soon as she got her tap shoes buckled on, she started hamming it up.

The kids performed a little tap routine to "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"....  What a bunch of nutter butters!  Here's the video I took:

Sonia is having a ton of fun in her dance class, and we can't wait to see the recital in May!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sonia and the Pigeon

Our child just finished a 10-day long obsession with one of her Christmas presents.... During that time, she watched less TV, her scissor skills skyrocketed, her ability to write her own name improved, and she discovered that she is pretty darn good at drawing pigeons.  What is this gift I'm raving about?  An activity book by Mo Willems called Don't Let the Pigeon Finish This Activity Book!, which is related to a hilarious series of picture books about an ornery Pigeon with big dreams.

Grandma JoJo had no idea that when she gave Sonia the book, Sonia would get so into it that she practically became a pigeon herself.  From December 30th through January 8th, she worked on this book for long stretches of time (sometimes an hour or more-- that's an EON when it comes to a 3.5-year-old) every single day after until she finished it yesterday.  The book includes tons of activities like coloring, dot-to-dots, puzzles, writing, cutting, simple crafts, games, and general silliness.  I can't believe how much fun Sonia had!  

The activities are intertwined with an overall story of the Pigeon & the Duckling hanging out and being chased by the Mad Cow.  Sonia loved this page, which asked you to color it while sticking your tongue out.

This page asked you to color it with your eyes closed, which we took turns doing while giggling.

One activity had you color a bunch of different sandwich components, cut them out, and then assemble a sandwich.


Sonia "wrote" a book and "published" a newspaper (made from pages removed from the book and stapled together once she drew & colored pictures and wrote/traced lots of words).  After she "wrote" the book, she held a book signing and gave autographs.  Seriously, what kind of activity books include these types of hilarious activities?

The creativity of this book continually amused us.  What do you do after creating a paper airplane for the Pigeon to fly?  Create an airport, of course.  Then, play a little game which involves throwing the paper airplane and trying to get it to land on the runway.

One of the Sonia's favorite set of activities started with creating Pigeon, Duckling, Mad Cow, and Bus Driver finger puppets.  We planned a puppet show (see the poster below), created a sandwich board advertising the show for Sonia to wear, created a huge map of the Pigeon's town, and performed the puppet show.  Each activity leads to another, which made it hard for Sonia to want to stop doing the activities (even if she needed to go to bed!).

(Sorry the pictures of the puppet show look a bit odd-- you can see the reflection of the puppets and puppeteers in the counter top!)

I think my personal favorite activity was making a bus....  Buses are sacred in the Pigeon universe, because the very first Pigeon book that Mo Willems wrote was about the Pigeon really, really, really wanting to drive a bus (even though the bus driver instructs the audience to refuse the Pigeon this privilege).  Sonia enjoyed vrooming the bus up and down the hallway.

I came up with a silly idea of cutting out old pictures of friends & family members and putting them in the bus windows.... From left to right: my preschool picture (age 4), Ike, Declan, & Kieran.

From left to right: Andrew, Sonia, Anthony, Aidan, & Sophie.

Oh, no-- look who is driving the bus!!  Sonia somehow convinced the bus driver to allow her behind the wheel.  Clear the sidewalks!

One of the first activities in the book teaches you how to draw the Pigeon, and then you have a bunch of chances throughout the rest of the activities to practice your Pigeon-drawing skills.  Sonia got really good at it, and yesterday, when I picked Sonia up from her first day back at preschool after winter break, she proudly showed me this painting she did during class (amazing her teachers in the process):

WHAT?!?!  Seriously, two weeks ago, Sosini was barely able to draw a smiley face.  Now, she can free-hand a Mo Willems Pigeon from memory.  She is cutting with scissors like a pro.  She's writing her name better than before Christmas.  It is very clearly a direct result of her love of this activity book.  

Thank you, Grandma JoJo!  And a HUGE thank you to Mo Willems!!  Now, how would you feel about writing another one?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Other visits with the Clauses

Sonia ended up rubbing elbows with both Santa and Mrs. Claus several times during December....  In addition to her successful encounter at Bass Pro Shop, Sonia got to meet Mrs. Claus at the Lisle Library Holiday Open House.  This Mrs. Claus was incredibly adorable and chatted with us for a really long time, telling us stories about how much the elves party at the North Pole when Santa is away on business.  One of our favorite librarians, Miss Lindsay, took this series of pictures for us:

Sonia was still a bit suspicious of Mrs. Claus, but she did manage to ask for some stuffed animal Muppets, and Mrs. Claus promised to pass on the request to her husband.

Later in the month, Sonia got to see Santa after the Lise Park District Candy Cane Hunt (boy, was that a soggy affair-- why was it raining in December?!?).  Sonia was the very last kid to see Santa, and she was pretty suspicious (as usual).

But Sonia knew she had cameras trained on her, so when Santa was distracted, Sonia tried to flash her 1,000-watt smile.  The onlookers all burst into laughter at her attempted bravery.

On the same day as the candy cane hunt, Sonia and her buddy, Evan, went to a cute little 2-hour Lisle Park Distrct class called "Cookies with Mrs. Claus".  This fun event included coloring, singing Christmas carols, decorating cookies for Santa, dancing, a storytime, and a craft.  Sonia seemed to really have a great time!  Each kid got a private audience & picture with Mrs. Claus, and at first, Sonia decided to forgo the opportunity, so Mrs. Claus's helpers just took a picture of her coloring.

However, Sonia apparently warmed up to Mrs. Claus later, and they posed for this adorable picture:

(Wow-- Mrs. Claus needs to share her anti-aging secrets.  Girlfriend is GORGEOUS!!!)

One more encounter with Santa occurred during preschool.  Ohhhhhh, Sonia Balogna....