Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ready for some football!

What do you do when you're a Tiger?

Display your gear proudly!

Act tougher and cooler than your opponents.

But help the other guy up when he needs a hand

Even if he's a lot bigger...

because you're a Tiger!

Go Tigers! First game tonight against the Fighting Illini in St. Louis.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pigtails rock!

Pigtails are back. It's been a while since her hair has been long enough for pigtails. They're back and she's happy about it.

Here were her pigtails the first time around.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

From a different perspective

While we were walking along the Missouri River on Friday night, Sophia made another friend. As she sprinted away from me down the trail, she stopped to talk to a young man with a camera. This young man happened to be a professional photographer.

So here is what Sophia did when he asked her to smile. A little Erick, right?

Then she changed her pose.

Then she took off running again. Moved on to something and someone else. She knows how to play it, am I right? He took a few more shots as well, and they're all available at Enjoy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Our Weekend In Review

I didn't spend Erick's birthday with him. Before you feel too sorry for him - he went to a late movie, slept in and went to the driving range while I was chasing Sophia all over God's green earth. Sophia and I went to St. Charles and spent the night with my mom, aunt and cousin. Shopping and eating were our primary objectives, and we were very successful. Here we are enjoying the historic sights of St. Charles. (Polka dots were the weekend's theme. That should explain the scarves, I hope.)

And here are Sophia and Carrie bonding by the river!

I was home by 1 on Saturday, and the rest of the weekend was spent simply enjoying one another. I think my birthday letter did the trick. We just relaxed and chatted and watched Sophia run and talk wildly. Her vocabulary and speed of words has increased exponentially in the last few weeks. We can hardly keep up now!

Anyway, this was a Monday morning that I actually felt more rested than weary, which is saying something since Sophia woke up with a cough again in the night. Now I just have to maintain that feeling for the week!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy Birthday to my Younger Man

Dear Erick

You are my dearest friend, and I am so in love with you. It should be impossible to have it all, but we're proof that anything is possible.

For your birthday, I want you to feel the summer breeze and be reminded of how loved you are. I want you to see tonight's sunset and recall how much I admire you. You know it's true, but I want you to feel the truth of it all over again.

On your birthday, I want you to look around and see a hundred or maybe a thousand reminders of the countless times we have laughed till our stomachs ached. I can't wait to laugh that hard with you again. I want you to hear our contented sighs in the song of the cicadas. Every song you hear will be our song.

Really, I guess I want you to experience what I enjoy every day. The world around me makes me think of you. Our joys and pains. Mostly how much I like you. I need you. It's not that I couldn't live without you. It's more. Each and every day, I choose this life with you and it makes me happy. Hope it makes you happy today, too.

Happy Birthday


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Back in the Swing

In spite of a slow start, Sophia has managed to get back into the routine of life in mid-Missouri. She still talks about swinging in "every park some day." That's her way of recalling our whirlwind tour of NYC's public parks, I guess.

We've managed to stay home quite a bit this week, and for once, that seems to help. Normally, Sophia likes to stay on the go. I think it's been nice for her to have some normalcy, and stay close to "Aaron's house." She's done a lot of writing this week. Maybe she's journaling about her trip, too, or her newest foray into the tumbling world.

Here she is wearing next year's rain coat to chase bubbles.

And here she is just being her.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Our Next Big Adventure

This morning, I took Sophia to Tumbling class. I just decided it was time to start her on something that involved some sort of structure and instruction. I'm not a big one for tons of structure, so I knew it would be helpful for her to receive direction from someone else. We're going to TumbleBees here in Columbia. The class she's in is 18 months to 3 years. She did so great! I was very happy for her because she seemed to just light up with each new obstacle he presented! It was great fun to watch all the kids learn and play. It was cool to watch her look to someone else (Bob) for instructions on what to do next. He seemed to be pleased with her attention in the first class. . . so was I! I am very glad that we decided to take this step. It's just a 7-week class, but I think Sophia will definitely want to continue. I'll keep you updated on her progress.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


While Lulu showed up in many of the trip's log photos, I forgot to specifically mention her. The poor thing nearly got pitched when we got home. Erick gasped when I mentioned it. But then he admitted that she was "ten shades of nasty." Each and every rain soaked into the poor thing. Whenever Sophia would lean forward in her stroller, Lulu would go too and her legs would get dragged through - well, who knows what all they were dragged through. *Insert gag here*

Poor Lulu got thrown aside whenever Sophia forgot how much she "needed her old friend."

Each day, Lulu grew a little more tired looking and little more gray or brown or something. Hard to describe. It was my first mission upon returning home to salvage what was left. Luckily for her and Sophia, Lulu came out of the wash looking better than she had in months. Interesting, isn't it? It's like Lulu knew what was at stake and worked on herself in that washer - scrubbing her petals and her green toes. Well, it worked. Lulu's around for a while longer. Probably forever safe, so don't start any petitions or anything.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Whole Shebang

This is going to be a wrap-up from the trip with some of my favorite shots to guide us. It's going to be a long one, so bear with me.

When we first got into the city, we checked into our room in Mercer Hall on campus and walked the two blocks to see the arch at Washington Square. We were not disappointed.

The next morning was plagued with disappointments for Sophia and me. Rain - more like a torrential downpour, a broken umbrella, subway miscues and getting lost to name a few. So I needed a big time lift. When Erick came back from class, after shedding a few frustrated tears, I told him that I needed to see New York sites to inspire me or buy something. So we went for a long walk up Fifth Avenue (which starts at the Washington Square arch at 4th Street. We walked all the way up Fifth Avenue, past the Empire State Building

then over to Times Square on 42nd Street.

You do the math. It was a long walk, but just what I needed.We think that Sophia and I (well, just me really) probably averaged walking around 6 miles a day, and Erick 4 or 5. However, we ate enough sweets to make up for that.

When we got home, Sophia talked about all the cars honking outside our window. This is the corner of 3rd Street and Broadway.

The next day when Erick was through with class, we went on a cruise around the harbor and saw all of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. It was truly inspiring, even though Sophia was more than a little crazy on the boat.

The following morning, we went to Union Square Park and bought fresh fruit at the farmer's market. Here is Sophia washing the plum juice off in the fountain.

And here she is climbing in the playground at Union Square. This is where the squirrels were particularly squirrely.

It rained every day we were there. It was really only a problem that first morning. I bought a new umbrella, and we learned how to handle the unexpected rainstorms. Here was a common sight. Jumping over a big puddle at an intersection.

Erick and I both had sores on our feet simply because of wearing flip flops (or cric crocs as Sophia named Erick's Croc Flip Flops) with wet feet. Ouch.

On Friday, we went to see Ground Zero and the Financial District, then over to South Street Seaport for shopping and a look at the Brooklyn Bridge. While we were in the Financial District, Erick and I had our one directional disagreement. We were both tired by that point in the trip, and he was interested in seeing the bull that is in all the financial ads or whatever. Since I had no interest in seeing it, I was being disagreeable - possibly even sarcastic. It didn't help that we got a little lost trying to find it and then get headed back in the right direction. But, here's the bull in all its glory, just for Erick.

When we got to the South Street Seaport, which is just a fun shopping and historic district, we ate a nice meal and looked around. Here I am trying to get Sophia to smile at daddy.

Then we walked down to take a look at the Brooklyn Bridge. Our original plan was to ride the subway to Brooklyn and walk across to Manhattan, getting a better view of both. However, I think I've already mentioned the craziness of our toddler and the soreness of our feet. So here's the view we had.

And here we are. My favorite, by the way.

Also, I promised Erick I would tell this one funny story. Well, I suppose it's two stories with one theme. I have a problem with these particular turnstiles on the NY subway. (not my picture)

I would scan my metrocard, it would say go and unlock, then I'd walk forward - but in the wrong direction! So I'd have to come back and try again. Here's the rub. Once your card is scanned, you have to wait 18 minutes to scan it again. There are no do-overs. Amazingly enough, I did this on two separate occasions. I'm really not a ditz, but apparently I don't catch on very quickly. The first time, a subway attendant let us in without waiting. The other time was in an area below City Hall, and there were no attendants to be found. Erick was stunned that I could do it a second time, and I was confused. Now, what did I do wrong again? Anyway, it's funny now, but at the time waiting for 18 minutes with Sophia was no easy task. Here is Sophia waiting it out in front of City Hall.

Then Saturday morning, you've seen what Sophia looked like when she woke up at 3 a.m. She traveled much better on the way home, thanks to an air nap. And she's finally coming out of her funk. So that's the trip in a nutshell. I'm leaving out tons of fun stories. I didn't get a picture with Steve on Thursday night. I didn't take nearly enough pictures of places we ate or our dingy dorm room (did I say that out loud?). It was a great time, and I couldn't be happier to say that I've finally visited the Big Apple.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


After our trip to New York City, I have a few observations.

We discovered that New York is extremely dog-friendly. Particularly on our morning and evening walks, we would meet lots and lots of dogs! We were also surprised at the number of large dogs, as it seems they would be harder to have in a small Manhattan residence. That's where my observation comes in. Manhattan dogs are not like normal dogs. They're very cool, don't get me wrong. They're just not normal. Here is the dog from my earlier post.

They just squat right on the concrete sidewalk! Often without sniffing or anything. That was an interesting sight. It wasn't disgusting - just interesting. Not only the pooping, though. Dogs don't chase things in Manhattan. This is obviously a huge relief to their owners. Very rarely when walking through a park would you hear a dog barking at a squirrel. Oh, which brings me to the squirrels. They were weird, too. They just walk up to you hoping that you're going to feed them, although I didn't see a single person feeding them all week! This one crawled into another person's stroller. When she looked to see what happened, she found a nut buried by the squirrel! Weird

Also, I noticed that all strollers in NYC have to be Maclaren or even more expensive. That was interesting.

My favorite thing about Manhattan, and the entire metro area, I suppose, was that all of the neighborhoods (SoHo, the Village, etc.) were basically just small towns. Everyone knew everyone else and their business. You saw the same people every day. It was actually very tight-knit, it seemed. More so than a medium-sized Midwest city. I thought that was pretty cool. We made one particular friend at a McDonald's on 3rd Street that proved this theory. One day when I needed a pick-me-up big time, we stopped in for juice and Diet Coke (for Sophia and I respectively), but all the tables were full, so I couldn't get her juice mixed or my stuff back together. So I asked an older lady at a table by herself if we could join her. We sat down and had a pretty good chat! Then Sophia and I packed up and left. Well, we went back for breakfast on our last day and just happened to meet her again! She apparently came in there every morning and had her morning coffee. She remembered Sophia's name, and Sophia was so happy to see her that she walked over and volunteered a kiss! Again, she was in her element. Anywho, it was just an interesting thing to run into the same people daily in such a huge city.

The only time during the entire week that I felt unsafe in any way, shape or form, was driving to and from the airport. We had reserved a car service because of all our baggage and need for a family car. The drivers were very kind and got us where we needed to go, but I definitely was tempted to kiss the ground when we stopped! I may have felt a little unsure about crossing streets as well. All the taxis were pretty insistent that they get through the light. Sophia stopped commenting on honking horns (although we didn't once get honked at!) by the end of the trip.

It's easy to get lost and I have virtually no sense of direction. That statement says a lot. No particularly interesting stories here. Just a fact of wandering around a strange city alone with a map that is only accessible if I stop, put Sophia down or deal with her fussing in the stroller while I pull it out of my bag and try to determine where in blazes we are. I typically just kept heading the same direction until I saw a north/south or east/west street that I recognized and could navigate.

One very interesting thing we noted was how friendly people were in general to Sophia and me. Each time we got on the subway, people would offer their seats as I stood with Sophia. I felt bad declining their offers, but Sophia always complained when we sat. We were surprised at how people went out of their way to open doors or help us out in general. As I write this, I'm struck at the familiarity of the people we encountered on this trip and the hospitality of Atlanta in April. Hmmm. Maybe we just look particularly helpless, or maybe small children and young mothers are rare in big cities. Something to think about.

That's about all I can come up with at the moment. I plan on posting my favorite pictures of the trip some time soon. Let me know if I haven't covered something.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Home Again

Once we arrived home today, Sophia has been uncharacteristically melancholy. It would be easy to chalk this up to a very long traveling day. It was. . . she woke up at 3 a.m., thanks to honking delivery trucks and what we have decided was an uneasy feeling for her. We met our car service at 5:15 a.m., and after an O'Hare layover, we arrived home around 2:00 p.m. But it's not the long day that has caused her to be sad. She's not fussy or grumpy really. She just lost a little of the spark she had this morning in Manhattan at 3 o'clock in the morning. Take a look at this spark.

Her sadness this evening makes me sad too. I know it's too dramatic, but I think I'll end up losing Sophia to the city. It's not an overstatement to say that she was in her element. If you'll remember from our Atlanta trip in April, Sophia loves the faces, stories and conversation made available in a big city. After only five full days in New York, I can easily estimate that fifty or more people knew her by name. She made fast friends with anyone, animal or person, who looked her direction. She visually thrived on the focus. Of course this leaves me both relieved and sad for her that we left.

Seriously, though, our little family had a fantastic time wandering around Manhattan for five days. Sophia and I stuck to the parks primarily while Erick was in class. She did her best to try her fanny in each and every swing in the City. It was a little ridiculous. I honestly didn't know that my arm could get sore from pushing her in the swing, but it did! Here's a sampling (honestly not all) of her swinging....
Our first morning at Washington Square Park:

Tuesday morning at Union Square after plums from the Farmer's Market:

The Baby Swings at Central Park were full of babies, nannies, moms...and Erick...

The Big girl swings in Central Park:

A random park in the village that we didn't even bother to get the name of:

Also, a park on Thompson in SoHo, where we swung with Julianna Margulies and her son. No joke. We left her alone, but I'm sure it was her. She was in full papparazzi-free gear. No, I didn't take her picture.

When we got home today she seemed happy for a little while, then put her head in her hands on the couch, saying, "I want to go to Sophie's house." She had been convinced that the family residence at NYU we stayed in was her house the last few days. She was in absolute heaven because the security and door personnel knew her name and would welcome her loudly each time and mourn when she left. We were the only ones to greet her when she arrived home today. She didn't have a crowd of grad students to smile and wink in her direction. Our quiet little life, even with all of our friends and family, will be a quiet adjustment for her. I know she'll return quickly to feeling at home in her life, but I think I saw something this week that will remain with my little girl. We'll see. Sounds as though I'm feeling a bit melancholy myself. Honestly, I was thrilled to be home! Every mile we got closer just gave me a bigger smile. Don't worry, I have plenty more to say about New York. Plenty more pictures. This was all I had the energy for this evening.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Day Six

This was our final day in the Big Apple. I'll provide more details as to our trip and all its adventures when we get home. It's been a ride. Today, Sophia seemed intent on embarrassing us with her witty, albeit inappropriate, comments.

First thing this morning, we walked by a gentleman doing something we have discovered is not altogether uncommon in New York on trash day - he was rummaging through the trash. The only difference was that he happened to be without a shirt. In her loudest voice, Sophia commented, "She's naked!" It didn't help to explain that he had on pants. "She's naked, Mommy!"

Just a few blocks down the road, we saw a man who couldn't have been over 60 getting out of a service truck and crossing the road. For some reason, Sophia felt the need to point and yell, "Daddy, look at that old man!" Again, ignoring her only made her think we couldn't hear her. So she simply tried me, "Mommy, see that old man?" Again, it didn't help to explain that he wasn't old.

Finally, in the men's restroom this evening, Erick was changing her diaper at the changing table when she covered her eyes, then popped up and said, "Peek-a-boo, Guys!" Seriously. I couldn't and wouldn't make this stuff up.

It has definitely been an adventure.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Day Five

A beautiful day in Manhattan. Sounds funny to say. This one ended with a visit and enjoyable dinner at Vynl with our friend Steve. He's the son of one of Sophia's very favorite people, Ernie, so it's no wonder that she liked him. However, she refused to speak directly to him all evening, resorting to only coy stares and bouncing wildly in his direction. I guess she thought craziness and high bouncing would impress him as much as conversation. Anyway, she was a hoot. Of course as soon as Steve left our sight, Sophia got upset, talked about him all the way back and ended with, "I love him." So we just need to work on her timing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Day Four

I guess it was silly of me to think that I could share so few details without raising questions. So to answer yesterday's comments, we're here till Saturday for a class/grad program Erick is doing at NYU. It's to do with tax, so I didn't mention it because even the title of the class bores me. I say that with all the love and gratitude in my heart. Erick is aware and equally respectful of my feelings.

The next question. Yes, we're having an incredible time, mixed with boundless frustration. I'm so glad we tagged along as it's been the experience of a lifetime and we would have died of boredom without Erick at home. Yet, there are moments . . . ah, yes, there are moments.

Okay, now for the laughter. I had a couple runners up for the funniest thing today until this evening when Sophia did the following:
I held Sophia's hand and Erick pushed the empty stroller as we walked down a quiet street, lined with shops. We would point out things of interest - for Sophia, that's usually dogs. One particular dog, a long-haired dachshund, caught her eye and she ran forward to meet it and pet it as they passed going the other way. However, the dog's owner didn't see her, so they just kept right on walking at a pretty good pace. Sophia didn't miss a beat. She picked up to a run going after them with her arm in the air yelling, "WAIT! WAIT! WAIT!" for a good half block. Fortunately, the lady noticed her and politely stopped for the surprisingly insistent toddler. Of course, it took another minute for Sophia to actually pet the dog, who was understandably frightened at Sophia's forwardness. The whole thing is even funnier now as I think about it again from the perspective of anyone looking on. Even in NYC, Sophia is a show of her own.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day Three

First of all, I feel the need to clarify yesterday's post. It was the title only that was submitted by EC, not the whole blog. That looked deceptive. Secondly, I also think you need to know that I'm posting these blogs from Erick's phone. It's an explanation of my errors.
Anywho, today was a solidly good day, and Sophia was a riot, even when she was being . . . . two. Still, her most notable quote of the day was at its low point. I had put her in her stroller because Lord! my arms were tired. She cried about it, and after several dismal minutes, she said, "I want to go to Aaron's house!" It was very pathetic, and I struggled with whether to even bother explaining for the umpteenth time that Aaron is in Missouri. I did, of course. I am, after all, always with the words. I couldn't be happier (only partial sarcasm) that she follows in my footsteps.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Day Two

Alternate Title: A Tale of "Two" Days (submitted by Erick Creach)

Today really felt like two days to me. A good one and a bad one. Again, no details, but here are the respective quotes. The quote from the bad half came from yours truly as I didn't find anything Sophia said to be amusing. "We got to see New York City while it was still gritty from the night before."

The afternoon was significantly better. Sophia actually had some funny things to say. One of which was when one of the thousands of honking Taxis drove by, "He's saying 'Hi' to me! Hi, Car!"

Traveling with a toddler is nothing if not extreme...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Day One

I don't know if I'll post every day. Erick had to study, and that leaves little else for me to do in a dorm room. So I thought I might try to come up with the funniest thing Sophia said today. No details about the rest of the day - except that it was long.

Okay, Sophia had a lot to say today as usual, but one of the funniest she used a couple of times. She is known to walk up to strangers and stare or strike up a conversation. Today, she walked up to a couple of different people in the airport, got a smile, and walked back to me to say, I jus made a new friend!
That attitude should serve us well this week.

Friday, August 8, 2008

But when all is said and done...

...Lulu has the last laugh.

Lulu's Competition

We are traveling to New York City next week. Most of you know this, but I'm sure it's news to some. Anyway, part of our preparation included buying a possible replacement for Lulu. Lulu is Sophia's best friend, and if she were to fall down unnoticed in some NY Subway, what would we do? I can tell you what we wouldn't do, and that's try to track her down again! So, in order to prevent such a disaster from ruining our chances of a good night's sleep, I purchased a replacement. SHA, a store in downtown Columbia that carries Blabla dolls, only had one in the right size. His given name was Buzz. The process to choose him was not simple, and Sophia still wouldn't commit to cuddling with him if we lost Lulu. I think that was too great a betrayal. When it came to giving him a new name, that process was challenging as well. We went through a series of names that Sophia would come up with. I would then ask if that was his name, to which she would reply, "Noooo," in the Silly Mommy tone. Finally, she said "Lilly!" I asked if his name was Lilly? Again, she responded no, Billy! Finally, he has a name. Billy.

Lulu looked on in disgust at the proceedings, in spite of my assurances that Billy is simply an insurance policy should something happen. This was her response. Dejection. Poor Lulu. She's not doing herself any favors with this pose, is she? Billy looks a lot more cuddly and like he'd be better company, but what do I know?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Birthday Celebration, Part II

Let's get back to the celebration of others, shall we? Last night we celebrated William's fourth birthday at his house with some of his friends. It was a great time in spite of the heat and oppressive Missouri humidity. William did great and had a lot of fun visiting with all of his friends. One of my favorite things about William, though, is his ability to take it easy by himself for a minute if necessary. He doesn't get energy from others like a lot of members of this family do (yours truly), so he energizes by himself in order to have fun with others. I love that he is already learning how to keep the balance!

Sophia, on the other hand, happens to be one that feeds off of the attention of others, and I'm hoping we have a few years before she realizes that. When I couldn't get her to look at the camera for the life of me (I guess she was tired of it by then), one "Hey, girl!" from our friend Chris was enough to brighten her face with this look. Obviously, there had been a cupcake involved moments earlier.

I have to admit, I love these birthday parties. They can be hectic and consuming, but when the kids have fun, they are a good time! I'm so glad that we get to be a part of them and keep all of these memories for years down the road. Oh, we're not thinking about that, though. Just look at this adorable kid!

It's my birthday

It was pointed out to me that in my earlier blog I said yesterday was my birthday. Nope. It's today. I will chalk that up to lack of sleep and a congested brain.

Your birthday is a chance to celebrate yourself and enjoy life for what it is in that moment. At least that's what I'm declaring it to be. However, like most people, celebrating me is much easier said than done. So I decided that the best way of doing that would be to write a list of some of the things I like best in this world. Most of these have never before been on my Top Five List. It feels like maybe I've done this before, but one of the things I have to celebrate about myself when I'm being honest is that I am a little scatterbrained and have a really bad memory. (See first paragraph above) That's why I tell the same "had to be there" stories to some people and forget to tell important things to others. It is just me, but that doesn't mean I don't try to do better. This time, however, it's my birthday so I'm just not even going to try. Of course, you don't actually have to READ the list, but it's here all the same.

Porch swings
Time by myself
Knowing what makes some people laugh (i.e. penguins or people falling down)
Saying the word "ass"
Old barns

Corny, predictable romantic comedies
Off-the-wall Indy Films
Saved By the Bell (not the College Years, and DEFINITELY not the New Class)

Watching someone realize there's more to life
Spotting PDA on the sly (i.e. a pat on the bottom by an old couple)
Laughing really hard
Refrigerator magnets

Knowing the truth
Being okay with questions
Singing really loud to songs every knows
Tiger football (and Gary Pinkel)

My back
Background noise
Little girls' shoes
Coffee shops
Words and lists of words

Oh Look! That was 28 things! What a coincidence.