Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Favorite Words of 2008

Over the past few months, I intended to post a blog with some of my favorite things that Sophia says, but I never got around to it. I figured now is a great time to list my favorite phrases and words of the entire year. Sophia's vocabulary is pretty much as large as mine these days, but she doesn't know what a lot of words mean. That creates some pretty interesting (and cute) turns of the phrase.

I love the way she has said:

Candy Cans (canes)

Poter (polar) bear

Throne (Throat) Actual use: A sucker would make my throne feel better, Mommy.

Bone (Bow) See earlier video post

Skonk (skunk)

Stonkings (stockings)

Saint Newis (STL - usually in reference to Erick's hat)

Random picture alert

When pretending to bake, she likes to list our options of cookies. They are as follows: chocolate, oatmeal or WalMart (walnut)

One of our new favorite things she says is related to the WonderPets TV show. The song goes "We're not too big, and we're not too tough; but when we work together, we've got the right stuff!" Sophia doesn't know what a lot of those words mean, so it comes out "We're not too big, and we're not too sharp; but when we get together, we got the right stop." Now, imagine that being sung in an incredibly cute Sophia voice. It's great.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Favorite Photos of 2008

*Warning: Very Long Post*

After reviewing my photos from 2008, I had a few realizations. First, we were very busy. Second, we had a lot of fun. Third, I took a ton of pictures.

Narrowing it to my favorite hundred took me the better part of Sophia's nap. Then I decided that would doubtless overwhelm my vast readership. So I decided to choose a random sampling. These are not necessarily my favorites, but they give an idea of our year. Chances are pretty good that if I know you, you were in my top 100, even if you don't show up in this sampling.

2008 was a year of:











I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed a year more than I have enjoyed 2008. The little voice in my head is telling me to watch out for 2009. I will do my best to listen to the hopeful voice instead. Each year that I grow older, I learn more of what really makes me happy. The economy can falter, we can tighten our purse, the storms can rage and moan. Inside my little house, I will enjoy the moments of serenity and happiness that we make together in the presence of God.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

As Billed

Christmas in Illinois was, as billed, madness of the most delightful and appealing sort. Being the day after Christmas, we got to show off our Christmas boots, which was a joy for my feet, although Casey made me contort to get this shot.

We had a wonderful time with family - eating and visiting, gifting and battling. Here I am with my mom and my cousin Carrie.

It was fun for all of the cousins to play together - young

and old

It was a full day for everyone, and Sophia just thrived on all of the people and festivity. She crashed pretty hard, though, but kept fighting until Ben got a hold of her. Now I have named him the Baby Whisperer.

After he was through with her, she slept with me, then my mom, for two hours!

While Sophia slept, I won the Annual Snack Challenge with my hastily, but deliciously, prepared buckeyes. No pictures, sorry. I was not expecting a victory. On Christmas Day, I decided I would throw my proverbial hat into the ring, but realized that I had no ingredients. So I looked online for an easy recipe that contained ingredients that could be obtained at a convenience store, since that was the only place open on Christmas Day. The result was the winner - surprising to no one more than myself. Some, however, were both surprised AND suspicious. Our family consists of competitive and skeptical people, so the possibility of the results of any contest being uncontested is nearly nonexistent. Just makes it more fun.

The drive home was an adventure of its own. Against the advice of family members who had ventured out before, we left in the fog. I have never seen such thick stuff. The temperature increased so dramatically while we were in Illinois that all of the snow and ice had almost completely melted during our brief visit, leaving a dense layer of fog. A distance that normally takes 25 minutes took an hour. While we never really felt unsafe, it was just a matter of going so slow so as to keep track of the white line! We safely made it home to our own beds. Christmas is officially over for us. It was my best ever all around. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Merry Little Christmas

Today was a day like no other I have ever had. It was Christmas, and for me, that has always meant insanity - of the best and most delightful kind - from opening your eyes in the morning to laying your head down at night. I come from a big family, and we all get together at Granny's house in Illinois on Christmas Day -- until this year. I honestly wasn't disappointed when we decided to move our big family Christmas to the day after Christmas. I just didn't know what to expect of a day at home by ourselves on Christmas. I was fully prepared to be bored, and I warned Erick not to take it personally.

Fortunately, I had grossly underestimated the entertainment of watching a toddler enjoy each and every new Christmas present and activity with unbridled joy.

Christmas Eve was spent exchanging gifts and eating wonderful treats with Grandmary.
We had to move the party back to our house in the middle of the day because Sophia started running a little fever and had a very bad cough. After playing quietly at the sink with a new little teapot, she was up and running for a fun evening. Before bed, we put a brownie and milk out for Santa Claus. Sophia poured the milk all by herself and was very excited by the prospect of Santa's visit.
When we went to the tree in the morning, Sophia was so pleased to find just what she had asked Santa Claus for (with some direction) under the tree. A dollhouse, horse trailer and, most importantly, a school bus. She couldn't have been happier!
With each stocking stuffer she pulled out from us, she would think it was over. When we told her there was more, she turned to us with, "Oh thank you, guys!" It really doesn't get any sweeter.
Her favorite present from us was her horse, and she promptly told us his name was Simba. They were good friends, and she pushed him around the house throughout the day to wrestle, ride and feed him.

In the afternoon, we took her to see Bolt in the theater. The experience wasn't quite as seamless as her first movie. We were still surprised to make it through the whole film, considering she still has a nasty cough.

So, we ate, sang, danced, napped, read, played, and did it all again. It was relaxing and enjoyable. I could definitely see myself enjoying another little Christmas again! Now, tomorrow off to join the madness that is my family!!

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Monday, December 22, 2008

Our Vandyke Christmas

This weekend was our Christmas celebration with my parents. When we got there on Saturday, we headed straight for Silver Dollar City. It is one of my very favorite Christmas activities. When I was in college in Branson, Erick and I spent a lot of time there because it was about the only thing to do in the area.

By the time we arrived, Sophia had slept all of 35 minutes, only to be rudely awakened to a changing of clothes and diaper. Needless to say, she was not feeling very much Christmas cheer. The distance between the van and the first time we could buy a candy cane felt like an eternity! Then all was well.

We hadn't walked very far when I became very grateful for the snowpants I brought along for Sophia. The windchill was 12 degrees, and it did us in pretty quickly.

This is my favorite picture of the Christmas season so far. To say that Sophia enjoyed Silver Dollar City in spite of the temperatures is a vast understatement. We managed to get onto the train with no wait and the entire ride, she bounced and clapped with the music. As we walked along in the City, Sophia just had the look of perfect happiness, and she would frequently try to make eye contact and say "Merry Christmas!" to passers by.

In the morning, we had presents and food. We were all pleased with our haul, and Ah! the food! My dad loves to experiment with a Breakfast Cookbook they recently purchased. Our yumminess of the day included some cheesy sausage biscuits that reminded us of the biscuits from Red Lobster. Delicious. Those were Erick's favorite. Mine was the little bit of heaven that was blueberry French toast bake thingy. Wow. Cream cheese, cubes of French bread, egg, butter, ah. It was so very, very delicious. The picture doesn't do it justice, but maybe my description did. Is your mouth watering?

The best gift of the day goes to my parents for this Bass Pro tent for Sophia. As soon as dad and Erick were able to set it up, she picked up Lulu and Sam the Dog saying, "Let's go hide, Friends." The rest of the morning was spent in and out of the tent, asking nicely for each of us to take our turn in there with her, which we did. It's currently in the corner of our living room. It takes up a lot of space, but it is definitely worth it. Plus, it's easy to take down if we have company without kids.

Anyway, it was the perfect start for Christmas week. Sophia was in fine form, so there are far too many stories to share. I'll try to keep them in mind for a slow news week. Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas week!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Playing and Praying

When Erick gets home in the evening, we have a pretty enjoyable routine. We eat some supper (at home if we're behaving), then we do some sort of family activity. A lot of times, Sophia chooses this time of day to play in her playroom. It isn't a room that we spend a lot of time in during the day for some reason. I suppose it's because I'm cooking or cleaning, and she still doesn't really want to be by herself that much. Anyway, that's what we do.

Here is Sophia cuddling with her daddy and pretending to sleep.

A blur playing with a big pink ball.
We play, then Sophia watches five minutes of TV while she gets her pulmicort breathing treatment. Since she had been having so much trouble sleeping last week, we started praying together as a family just before Erick takes her upstairs. It seemed to help a couple of nights, and then she just really seemed to enjoy it. After one particularly difficult day last week, she and Erick were talking before bed. He asked what her favorite part of the day was and gave her a few options. She replied, "My favorite part was when Mommy prayed with us."

I feel very grateful for those moments as they are the glue that keeps my sanity partially intact. So we have been praying together every night, and every night she just opens her eyes and has this incredibly sweet and happy smile on her face. Honestly, if I needed convincing that there is a god and that he is a caring and relational being, that look would push me over the edge. During that brief encounter, I don't speak any differently than I do throughout the day. Erick and I even squeeze her in family hugs several times a night, so it's not our proximity, either. I just think it must be that some place inside of our little girl is awakened and soothed in that conversation with her Abba, while her Mommy and Daddy look on.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Can't Help It

courtesy of

For some reason I can't help but love George W. Bush. Now, I am not saying that I think he was a great, or even a good, president. We can only hope that history will sort this all out for us. Fortunately, I don't have to decide how I would have voted in 2004, knowing what I know now. No do-overs allowed.

Regardless, the fact is that when I see clips like these of the innumerable mispronunciations, confusing rambles or "Huh?" moments, it makes me love the guy more! He is who he is, and he is unapologetic about it. Now that might be exactly what you can't stand about him, but it's something I am drawn to. So, here is another clip of why I (and comedians everywhere) will miss W.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas with a Pile of Kids

I'm using that phrase because when Momo used it on the phone yesterday, I had to laugh! I think it's the mental picture. But look at this pile of kids! Cuties, aren't they?

Yesterday evening, we celebrated Christmas with some of our closest friends. Well, we used to be close, now we have a pile of kids. You make sacrifices... We are four families with six kids. The oldest four are all two. So for obvious reasons, we typically try to keep our expectations low when we all get together. Inevitably, someone is grumpy or sick or sleepy or hurt. You never know what is going to happen. At least for our family, this year's party was far above expectations. Because of her week, Sophia was the grumpy one. But it didn't seem to spoil the fun for her or anyone else. The children played wonderfully together, giving us adults a little space occasionally. I was also amazed at how things actually seemed to work out for the guys, then the girls, to get some time to engage in adult conversation!! That never happens with the kids around.

But, really, it was just so much fun to watch all of these kids enjoying their friends and the Christmas festivities. Here are Ava and Jimmy hanging out.

Presents were exchanged, and all of the kids were so sweet. They were each thrilled with their gifts, and so grateful to the giver. It was a treat to see them being such big kids.

We could only assume that Sophia was being blinded by all the flashes because she found Jimmy's sunglasses and kept them on for much of the evening.
And I'm putting this one on here just because I like Erick in blue.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's hard to keep up on a blog

when you don't have a spacebar. Last weekend, I had an incident involving coffee and my keyboard. The result was the failure of several keys, including the spacebar, at the bottom of my keyboard. Right now, I'm posting from Erick's laptop. Maybe I'll make a post with no spacebar just to see who can read it.

It's also hard to keep up with a blog when you're not getting much sleep. For some reason, Sophia has decided she doesn't like her room or crib or sleeping any more. I blame the moon, it's full and closer the earth than normal. It can definitely mess with a person. Erick and I have been a little tired. I usually update the blog while she's sleeping, so that is why there have been few posts. That is also why I haven't had time to look into getting a new keyboard. It all plays together to make it impossible to keep up.

I'll try to be better, and maybe I'll even get a new keyboard. Hereisatasteofwhatyouareinfor.Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Deep Brown Eyes

So what's going on behind that drink cup. . . and those eyes?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Surprise Fall Day

We had a pleasant surprise today when the weather made it possible for Sophia and I to take a little stroll outside. We have both felt a little cooped up, even just now at the end of fall - getting ready to lay in for a long winter.

Sophia did not appreciate the wind. She would stop now and then to say, "Wind, stop blowing my hair!"

One of her favorite things to do at our park is pretend that she runs a hotdog stand.

Here she is promising me the finest in fresh tomatoes.

A morning like we had always makes the weeks spent indoors a little more bearable. So, now we'll bundle up again for a while waiting for our next opportunity to stroll.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Nutcracker

Saturday we took Sophia to her (and our) first ballet - The Nutcracker, performed by the St. Louis Ballet. It was so much fun to share this first with Erick and Sophia. I'm not exactly sure how I've made it this far without ever seeing a ballet in person, but I have. I was definitely more excited than Sophia. We read the story twice just before nap to help her get an idea of what we would see.

So then we arrived and prepared for the show.

She had no idea what was about to happen, but she knew the characters from the book. On the way in, she kept saying, "Where Drosselmeier?" I don't know why she got stuck on that name from the book, but she did.

Once we got to Jesse Hall, she began to ask, "Where is the Handsome Prince?" Then she seemed to remember that the prince played an important role in the story because she was asking about him a lot!

She didn't make it through the whole show, which was not at all surprising for a two-year-old. Intermission seemed to be the breaking point. If we had just pushed through, I think she could have made it. As it was, we finished the show by shopping at the Nutcracker table!

It was really a pleasure to watch the performance. The dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy really embodies the holiday spirit for me. It was just amazingly beautiful! I can't wait to go again next Christmas!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas Preparation

Last weekend, we had a lot of fun getting our final touches on Christmas around the house. I had a feeling put up the tree with a two-year-old might not be all it's cracked up to be. I was right. Sophia was less interested in the tree than anything else, and what little interest she did have was in taking the tops out of the Christmas ornaments.

So in order to avoid the same happening with Christmas cookies, we did most of the work while Sophia was sleeping. I made my Granny's recipe for Santas, and I have the same set of cookie cutters that she does.

I made mine a little thicker than Granny's, but they still turned out great.

We decorated quite a few before Sophia got up from her nap, but we saved some ornament shapes and trees for her to decorate with us.

Can you guess which ones were Sophia's handiwork? Even she didn't want to eat the ones she decorated.

We learned our lesson quickly, and the cookie experiment went much more successfully than the tree. So keep it simple is my new philosophy. Let's see how I stick with it...