Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Here's a video from a week or so ago to distract from the lack of posting. We're doing pretty good here. I'm able to function as a human for the most part. Sophia is snotty and coughy, but getting a little better. Poor Erick is trying to care for us the best he can while work is really busy. I'll be glad when tomorrow is pretty outside and we can spend some more time out there even though it's the culprit of mine and Sophia's downfall.

Here is a funny video. She is just being silly. Hopefully I interpret all that she says on the video. Feel free to ask for explanations of her behavior.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Infirmary

Erick's ability to pamper me has been severely hindered by the fact that Sophia is suffering from some pretty bad allergies. She has been on breathing treatments every four hours (including when she wakes up at night) for a couple of weeks now. That just starts to wear on a person(s).

So we're just looking forward to a day when I can function as a human and Sophia can stay asleep more than three hours in a row. Wish us luck. This afternoon, I had to wake her up from a deep sleep that would probably have gone on a very long time and ruined whatever hope of a good night we have. Isn't she sweet? She is usually that sweet when she's awake too. It's just harder to catch on camera. Lulu is sleeping soundly in this picture too. Sophia always uses Lulu as her pillow. A month or so ago, I tried to put a real pillow in bed with Sophia for a few nights, and that was not well received. I am sure Lulu was quite offended that I thought a simple pillow could perform her essential role. I was mistaken.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Public Service Announcement - Wear Sunscreen!

For roughly the past four years, I have had a spot on my forehead that is scaly, scabby and gone, by turns. It used to come and go until about a year ago, when it stopped going. So I finally got the gumption to go to a dermatologist just to see for sure what it was. Psoriasis runs in my family, so I assumed that was the culprit. Not so. I was told I had basal cell carcinoma. Read about it here. So this morning was spent having a Mohs procedure. Read about that here.

According to Dr. Perry it was "some nasty cancer." I can only assume that is a highly sophisticated medical term. It was about an inch across and went all the way to the fatty tissue at my skull. It's all gone, and now I just have to recover. Not only was the cancer worse than I expected, the procedure was far more intense, which promises some extreme soreness over the next few days. I won't go into detail, but let's just say that local anesthetic doesn't effect what you can hear happening. Heebeejeebies? Dr. Perry and his nurse were very adamant that I would wake up with my eyes swollen shut and large black eyes. I'm kind of excited to go garage saling in the morning. I'll bet I can get some awesome sympathy deals. I suppose I shouldn't get my hopes up that I can get out of bed. Drugs should help with that...or not.

The good news is that a graft was not necessary, although he was sure this morning I would have a dime sized one. It was kind of weird to see how excited he got as he stretched my skin from one side to the other and up and down, testing its elasticity. I guess it's fortunate to have stretchy skin. Currently, my left eyebrow is poised in suspicion, and the doctor says it will take about six months to calm down. So if you see me, I'm not necessarily giving you the stink eye. It's just my new look. I'm hoping I can get some new shoes to go with it.

Anyway, I hadn't really planned to blog about all this, but I figured it was best that you knew the reason for crazy posts or absence of posts. Also, for those of you that already knew about it, I thought it would be good for you to know the result. Oh yeah, and there was one very interesting point. He started asking about my sun habits in high school and how long I thought this spot had been there. When I asked for his opinion, he thought it was probably in the works about ten years. The worst sunburn I think I've ever had was received the day that Erick and I first noticed one another, as I mentioned in an earlier post. It's just ironic that the day had such a huge impact on the rest of my life. Isn't this world a crazy carousel?

Oh, but if you don't have sunscreen, a hat always helps.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Final Chapter of Travel Journal

I know. I'm sure you're all glad to be done with this. Atlanta can't possibly be this exciting, right? Still, I wanted to do Atlanta's finer points justice while addressing the joys and dramas of traveling with a toddler. Then again, maybe I just ran off my entire readership. More pictures of Sophia! That should help.

Anyway, this chapter is about odds and ends and the attractions of Atlanta. Most of our time without Erick was spent at the Centennial Olympic Park. The playground was the best one that Sophia and I had ever seen. It was just right for her. Slides and things to spin or beat on. Plenty of places to climb.

Most importantly for Sophia, however, were the swings. These were great swings. I think she felt like a big kid because she wasn't confined by a bar. Regardless, I had to force her to give turns.

She also loved to plop down anywhere to read her tiny book.

Erick's favorite attraction was by far the Aquarium. It was very cool. We were there over an hour and a half, only to visit two of their five major wings. We saw the big guys, though. They have three beluga whales and a few whale sharks. Both of which were extremely impressive. Sophia, of course, was just as impressed by the schools of tuna and the swarms of elementary kids. Still, I am so glad we went. Here are Erick and Sophie in front of the beluga whales.

We enjoyed our share of malls and walking...lots and lots of walking. MARTA, the public transportation, was a lot of fun to use. Such a country bumpkin to say that, I know. Still, Sophia and I both enjoyed all our trips back and forth...planned or not!

Thanks for coming along with me on this laborious journey through Atlanta!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"She's so beautiful and happy!" - Sophia's profound effect on the city of Atlanta

Sophia had a great time in Atlanta. She and I both love to explore new places and meet new people. She especially loves to have new faces to stare at, and new people to impress. Boy, were they impressed.

She has always had a special something that draws people in, but it was either especially keen or the locals were particularly vulnerable to her brand of charm. Either way, the entire week, Sophia seemed to draw a swarm of admirers with her wherever she went. These were men, women, old, young and all nationalities. We met a lovely young woman at Panera who told Sophia she loved her. She said that Sophia is a common name where she came from in West Africa. A construction worker from Mexico told us at lunch one day that he had an uncle named Sophia (Sofia). I can only guess that his English was a little rusty, and that he meant aunt because I can't find it listed anywhere as a man's name. Still, it's hard to say for sure.

Here she is at The Grape, a wine restaurant in Buckhead (where we stayed). Everyone was commenting on how she was as relaxed as any of those enjoying wine that evening.

A group of seventh graders from Martin Luther School in Joplin, MO flew with us from Atlanta to KC. As soon as we arrived at our gate, Sophia spotted them and she and Lulu strode right into the middle of their group, interrupting what I can imagine was a very important discussion, just to look around and allow them to admire her. You can imagine how a group of 13-year-old mostly girls reacted to this intrusion. "Oh my gosh! What a sweet baby! Look at her eyes! What's your name?" and so on. This went on for quite some time. Sophia occasionally wandered away from their group to give the other passengers a smile and introduce Lulu, but she always returned. When we landed in Kansas City, Sophia again held court as Erick heard the girls whisper to each other, "There's Sophia! We need to go say hi!"

Not everyone is so susceptible to her charms. Here she is trying to engage some older boys, but they weren't impressed at her imitations of themselves.

I am so glad that Sophia enjoys people and is so adaptable to many situations. I am sure that it will help her as she gets older and is just introduced to more and more adventures. I like to think that a big part of her charm is her eccentricity. She's already quite the little nutjob, and people enjoy that. For example, each time we walked into our hotel, she insisted on hugging both of the lions that held up this marble table. She would always insist. "Hug ninons." How can you argue with that?

Monday, April 21, 2008

"You all know where you're headed?" - the truth of Southern hospitality

From the moment we landed in Atlanta, to the time we returned to Kansas City, we were stunned at the reality of "Southern Hospitality." I just assumed that even if it were true that people in the south were more gracious, that it wouldn't be true in a metropolis like Atlanta. I am happy to admit that I was mistaken.

Many people of every ilk and status went out of their way to see if they could help us or just to exchange pleasantries. Needless to say, extroverts such as Sophia and myself were nearly in heaven with all of this assistance. And, as evidenced by the previous post, I needed all the help I could get.

Upon exiting a downtown shop one day, a person passing by the shop noticed us coming out the door and backtracked just so he could open the door for us! We were nearly speechless. Sure, I can chalk some of this up to the fact that Sophia and I were all alone in this big city, and doubtless appeared to be in need of some extra care. Still, people were just as generous with their offers of guidance and even unprompted friendliness when Erick was with us too.

There was, however, one glaring exception to this phenomenon. Ikea. You can imagine our disappointment when we found the people at Ikea to be less than helpful. Just barely civil, really. It probably wouldn't have been as painfully obvious if we hadn't had such a wonderful reception in every other area of the city, including the shuttle that would take us to and from Ikea! Oh well. It really just made us more grateful for the hospitality of the rest of the city. I do want to say that we know it isn't an Ikea-wide problem. Last year, when we were in San Francisco, the help we received at Ikea was great.

Here is how Sophia spent the entire 90 minutes while we were at Ikea.

Some of the hospitable Atlantans were friends. A good friend of ours from college has relocated to Atlanta to be with his wife. It was one of the reasons I wanted to travel along with Erick. They are great people, and it's always a pleasure to catch up with friends. Sophia immediately took to them. We had a wonderful evening visit.

Here are Eric, Courtney and Sophia

There are many other stories I could tell about the generous spirit of the locals, but some of these stories fall under the category of the spell under which Sophia threw the city of Atlanta. So I'll save that for another post.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

"Happily Oblivious" - Traveling as an absent-minded individual (while Erick was in his conference)

On Wednesday, Erick had a full day of conference, so I planned to fill our morning with Centennial Olympic Park. I planned to pick up lunch at McDonald's before we headed there. Sounded like a brilliant use of my time. We had visited the Aquarium the day before, and that was adjacent, so I knew I could find my way there with no problem. Right?

After packing my bag carefully, preparing snacks and extra drinks, we headed to MARTA for the fifteen minute ride into the city. Once we got off at the station closest to the park, I realized that I had forgotten my carefully packed bag. Brilliant! Back on the train, Sophie. Sorry. Back to the hotel and back on MARTA. Let's try this again. Completely packed and ready for fun! This time we got off the train, and I headed straight for Harris Street. I was very proud of myself because I remembered the name of the street that led to the park. It was at the bottom of the hill, so how hard could it be, right? Unfortunately, the MARTA station was on a ridge, so Harris Street went downhill on both sides. I realized this when Erick called to check on us. Didn't he trust me to find my way around the city? Geesh. He described what I should see, and when I didn't see it, I headed back up the hill to go down the other side. Joy of joys.

Now to find McDonald's. I was certain that I had seen one on the way to the park the day before. Why couldn't I see it now? I reached the park with no sign of a McDonald's, so I asked a friendly bystander for the nearest McDonald's. He wasn't sure, but he thought there was one at the top of the hill by the MARTA station...where I had just come from. The other option was the food court in the CNN building. So we opted for that. It was closer and felt less humiliating. After waiting over 30 minutes for our food at Arby's....Sophia and I finally had lunch and were headed to the park.

The rest of the day was much more successful. If I was normally an organized person, I'm sure a morning like this would have made me crazy. As being lost is a state in which I frequently find myself, I actually really enjoyed seeing new things. Apparently Sophia is already used to the feeling as well, because she didn't miss a beat.

There were plenty of other instances of my directional miscues throughout the week, but none so dramatic or entertaining. Mostly just turning the wrong way after coming off the train and having to backtrack or ending up in some store when I was really looking for the exit. All in all, a good show, if only someone had been around to see it!

I didn't take many pictures that day. I guess I was probably afraid I might lose the camera! Here is Sophia enjoying a "slide." She isn't crazy about real slides for some reason, so she would climb up these fake rocks and scoot down saying "Weeee!" Kind of pathetic, but very funny. Just another exhibition in our traveling show.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Atlanta Trip - Part One

After much consideration on how to approach blogging about our trip, I have determined to go topically. I'm certain that it's not this interesting to anyone but me. Still, I wanted to record all this as a journal of our travels. Thanks for humoring me.

Here are the chapters:

"Happily Oblivious" - Traveling as an absent-minded individual (while Erick was in his conference)

"You all know where you're headed?" - The reality of Southern Hospitality; Oh, and I didn't hear "Ya'll"

"She's so beautiful and happy!" - Sophia's profound effect on the city of Atlanta

"Lay down, Sophia!" - A chronicle of our sleepless nights

Maybe another chapter of odds and ends and the attractions we enjoyed.

Now to write them. I know you're all waiting anxiously for the following chapters.

Here's a question while you wait: How do floors get dirty when no one is home?

Two questions, actually: Is it necessary to rev your motorcycle engine and ride up and down the street before it's fully functional for a full ride to the bar downtown? Sorry. I like bikers as much as the next guy, but not when Sophia's already-questionable sleep cycle is in question.
Discuss amongst yourselves.


We're back from our week in Atlanta. More to come later. I just need to organize my thoughts. It took us a week to get the stories together, so it may take me a few days to get them down. It was a good trip. If Sophia had slept a lot more, it would have been a great trip. Such is life.

Here are a few of my favorites, but there are lots more. That's part of my job. Sorting the photos...of Sophia.

Just one thing. Atlantans...very friendly.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ready for a little R&R . . . oh yeah, Erick has a conference

We are so excited to leave for Atlanta tomorrow, or Hotlanta, as I have been known to call it since I know it so well. This will, by the way, be my first visit to Georgia. We have a few things we would like to do while we are there, but with Sophia we know to keep the expectations very low. Her ideal day will be walking aimlessly through some very public place accosting perfect strangers and forcing them into conversation. My two goals are to see the world's largest aquarium, about which I have heard lots of great things. I tend to become mesmerized by sharks. My other, and perhaps more important destination is Ikea. Dear, sweet Ikea. Of course, it's vacation for Sophia and me, but Erick will be working hard for a few days at least. I plan to find a local park and let Sophia run wild and test the authenticity of Southern hospitality. Wish me luck.

Meanwhile, while I've been slaving in order to pack us for this trip, here is what Sophia and Erick have been up to. Apparently Crab is better than Horse. Bumpier and face to face. Sillies.

Anywho, I'll be away from a computer for a week. See ya 'round, y'all! Do they say "y'all" in Atlanta? I'll let you know.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spring Rain and Cute Kids

I will just have to give you a word picture of this since my camera was across the street and Casey's battery was dead.

Yesterday after Sophia's nap, the rain had stopped and the sun was out for a short time, so we took advantage of it as we do many days and played in the driveway with Casey and Aaron and William. First, Aaron pulled Sophia around in a little red wagon. She was so very pleased to be carted about in such a careful manner. Aaron was a very good driver. Quite a while into their stroll, it began to sprinkle. They loved running around catching the rain and Sophia loved getting wet. Then it started to pick up a bit. Casey got out three little umbrellas. The boys, of course, were professionals. I was really shocked at how well Sophia did keeping this big umbrella over her head! She kept it there a lot longer than I expected. Eventually, she just stopped. She stood fully in the rain holding the umbrella by her side and appeared to be frozen to the spot. I went to bring her into the garage, but she wouldn't have it. She still wanted to be in the rain. So, gentlemen as they are, the boys stood crouched over her with their umbrellas overlapped on top of her. "William, we have to walk where she walks." This, of course, was Aaron. They were just so sweet. It's in moments like those that I realize just how lucky my little girl really is. Wow. I just hope she realizes it and doesn't take it to mean that she truly is the crowned princess they make of her. Well, I guess that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. I'm just not sure any man could handle it decades down the road...Anyway, I just had to share the story of the cutest kids on the block.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Calling Grandmary

Sophia picks up random items pretending they are phones and calls people quite often. Usually it's her little friend Jimmy. This time, when asked, she responded by saying "Grandmary" in this gravelly, kind of creepy voice. Lucky for us, the camera was close by and Sophia was willing to perform. You'll see at the end of the video that she is a smidge crazy. Dragging Reagan out of her stroller and insisting to "drive" it upstairs. Disregard that scene, please. It's very close to bedtime there.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Lazy Weekend

After such a full night on Friday, the rest of the weekend pales in comparison. We mostly spent it recuperating and enjoying our time with a crazed 18-month-old. She is really working on being funny these days, so we laugh a lot. Saturday some more friends of mine from Jeff City came up to have lunch with us. I am going to try to get it on the calendar to go down to Jeff City this week if possible. The capitol is so beautiful when spring is in bloom. I'll get some action shots of Sophia ripping through the tulips. Wait, maybe that's not such a good idea after all.

Sunday was spent frivolously. Partly trying out our park for spring. Not a surprise - Sophia loves the sand.

Anyway, it was a great weekend, and we're looking forward to an uneventful and enjoyable week - in spite of the rain. We're preparing for a trip to Atlanta next week. Erick has a conference there, and Sophia and I are going to tag along and see the sights. We're very excited. Our last trip was in August, but we just remembered last night how complicated it is to take a trip with a toddler. Oh well. An adventure.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Par-tay

Last fall, when we went to the RAIN Wine and Art auction, as noted here, we (Erick and I with the VanDykes) purposely bid on and won a private party for twenty at PS Gallery downtown. Last night was the night all of our planning and preening came together.

Saying that it was a lot of fun would be an extreme understatement. We don't get out that much these days, and we had lots of good times pent up in us. David and I put together a playlist that would be the evening's soundtrack. Everything from Jay-Z and Kanye West to Delbert McClinton and Willie Nelson. Lots of choices in between as well. I'd be happy to share it if anyone needs some music to assist in a very good time. The evening's purpose was simply to enjoy and connect with some of our friends. The music was not the only entertainment. The art was also very worthwhile. My favorite was Joel Sager, a home-grown, very talented young artist. Here I am in front of my favorite. The woman in the swimsuit is his wife, he said. Very cool.

Our neighbor Ernie was kind enough to bring his camera and his professional photographer's eye to capture some of our finer moments. Here are a few shots from the evening.
Everyone, including Niki, had a very good time.

Timbers Court Represent!

Friday, April 4, 2008

For Tracey's Mom

We were very lucky to get a visit from our dear friend Tracey this morning, thanks to a change in her plans and some time off. Sophia put on quite the show. She rarely has an audience that isn't familiar with all of her best material. So a "Hello" from downward-facing dog made an appearance. Along with her fake laugh and making Lulu do everything she was doing. It didn't take long for Sophia to figure out that she had Tracey's number, so the show didn't stop until she was out of sight. Anyway, Tracey's mom (Patty) is a stalker of ours, well, our only stalker really. I say that with all the affection in my heart. So here are some photos from Tracey's visit. Please notice the crazy in Sophie's eyes. Her stamina tends to wear out near the end of a full performance.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Just Because

It has been noted that pictures of Sophia have been few lately. I have been too busy responding to her questions and chattering to have the chance to take any pictures. She is talking a lot. It is a blessing and a curse. Anyway, we have been having a lot of fun with her because she has also ben very cuddly and affectionate lately. The past two days have been less pleasant with her, but I'm hoping it's just one of those little phases. My fear is that she's getting sick again. Did you notice how much easier it was to get pictures when she was sick?

Yes, Erick is already wearing shorts.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Does anyone else get a little sick at their stomach in watching this? I'm just trying to imagine a situation in which I would booo the President of the United States. I'm having a hard time comprehending that type of disrespect participated in by so many! I'm not saying that I agree with all of his policies, even most at this point. Regardless of how little you agree with the man, he is still the President of the United States, elected twice!

I'm open to other views on this. Please share them with me. I say "Booo" a lot, but the only people that receive that treatment from me are the Kansas Jayhawks, and even then I would never booo individuals or even the team if I thought they took it personally. Am I being a hypocrite? If so, no more Boooos to the Jayhawks either. Can I get an "Amen" or even a "Boooo"?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fool's Day!

I thought about announcing that I was pregnant or something today, but that is really just pointless and not really very funny. April Fool's Day can be a good time, and it can be a ridiculous way to make your friends look ridiculous. My best April Fool's Day was when I was very young. For some reason, I was at my granny's house. I ran inside and exclaimed, "Grandma! Grandma! There's a bear outside and he's coming in!" I think I had read something similar in a book, so I can't even claim that this particular prank was original. The original prank was probably done by someone who lived near woods or mountains and may have actually seen a bear in their lifetime. Anyway...she played along very nicely, and convinced me that I had convinced her. It's one of my favorite memories looking back. Just because she went to such trouble to make me feel like I was successful in such a small way.

What is your favorite April Fool's Day memory? Have any?