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I don't need sunshine now...

The world's greatest Drake in the entire production history of Annie.

It's been a busy few weeks for us. Ellie finished Kindergarten two weeks ago, and sitting in the gym at her school watching graduation I couldn't believe how fast the year had gone. Hadn't we just dropped her off for the first day yesterday?

To top off all of the end-of-school running around we added a new member to our family - a bloodhound/lab puppy that we named Maisy Brown. The kids love her, and she will help me walk some of my midsection away hopefully, but I don't think we had any idea what we were really getting into adding a puppy who wants to put everything in her mouth, especially the kids' shorts while they're still in them. It's been fun watching Sam squeal with fear and delight running from her. She'll knock him over, bite his shorts, he'll squeal, I'll separate, and he'll giggle and run away again. We're lucky that she's a sweetheart who seems to like everybody and is going to make a great pillow for the kids watching a movie down the line, or they'll make a great pillow for her.

Ellie was in a small day camp production of Annie this past week. She's never really done anything like this before, just short little songs for Hanukkah at the JCC, singing about making latkes.

The movie from the early 80s is one of the first things we let her watch. We figured she'd like the

songs and the girls, and we weren't wrong. The opportunity for her to be with a few friends singing the song and doing a 30-minute production seemed like a great way to get her on stage and build her confidence.

Every morning she was excited to go, and each afternoon she was belting out songs like Liza Minelli. She's shy around people she doesn't know, and she can occasionally cling to a teacher too much for security. For some reason she's a little shy about her smile, but I was too, and weirdly still am. It's why some kids that I teach think that I have a smirk, and it works since I'm always thinking of a joke to tell anyway. If you see a smirk, it means I like you. Her's is something different, and it's cute, but I want her to feel good about smiling, for her to learn that it's OK for her to show that happiness because she has the greatest real smile in the history of humans.

The far-right picture above doesn't do the smile justice, but it does show the contrast between posed and real.

Parenting has these beautiful moments that I've written about before. If you're paying attention there are a million of them, but a few stick out a little more than the rest.

Last Thursday Sam, Ellie and I took Maisy for a walk in the last gray light of the evening. Ellie sang "It's a Hard Knock Life" for most of the walk. Sam petered out about 5 minutes from home and he held up his arms and said, "I un go up with you, Da-da." So, with him in one arm, and Maisy's leash in the other, with Ellie walking behind me shouting, "Yank the whiskers from her chin" we continued up the street. Then, she says, "Sing with me da-da-da," and we're all singing the song out in the twilight putting on an off-key show for the neighbors, and rounding the corner we stumbled into one of those beautiful sunsets that happen when there are lingering clouds from a summer rain, but through the gray there was an opening where the sun's light reflected off the big, puffy clouds and the fading blue sky shone through.

Because of so many beautiful moments happening so often it's hard to weigh what they mean until some time has passed, but describing the evening to Alison the next day I choked up and could barely get the words to describe those few minutes out.

I picked flowers for her from the yard before I went to the play, and must have been the first person ever to have tears through 30 minutes of Annie songs, but I was so proud of my little baby (her words as she leans on my shoulder as I write) that I couldn't help it. She sang with her mouth wide open, her smile, ready and real, and she delivered her two lines as Drake the Butler as loudly and confidently as could be expected. "Good afternoon Ms. Ferrell. May I take your coat."

To see her spread her wings that way has given me so much pride that I must express it here for anyone who would read. She asked me what I'm doing and if the whole world could see this, and I said yes. She asked if the whole world would see it and I said that maybe 50 people would. But if I could walk up to each person walking this planet today and tell them how much I love her and how proud of her I am, I would. I guess this is the only way to do that.

"I don't need sunshine now to turn my skies to blue. I don't need anything but you."

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