Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Booty

We had a wonderful day today! Sophia had so much more fun than I hoped today. I expected to have a 2-year-old day today because of the candy and confining costume. The opposite was true, and I am so grateful!

When we first started the discussion of the costume before nap, Sophia had to put it on and go across the street to visit William and Casey.

Here's her first knock of the day.

When she got up from her nap, we headed to Daddy's office and cruised the downtown stores. She was definitely hesitant at first, saying that her bucket was full after two candies. As they all do, she got the hang of it quickly.

By the time the Chandlers arrived, Sophia was ready to break free with Blake and Madilyn.

Luckily for Sophia, Madilyn was there for support and encouragement when needed.

By the end of the downtown loop, Sophia was worn out. All of that speaking on command got to her, I guess.

Then we just headed home to cruise our neighborhood and see the boys in their costumes.

All in all, it was a fantastic day, and Sophia had a great day as a cat. And she also got tons of candy...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Feeling Loved

All this talk about love last week, had me thinking over the weekend. Since having Sophia, I have discovered that I feel most loved when I see people loving Sophia.

On Sunday, we went to visit Momo. She is my dad's mother, and we haven't been able to visit since we returned for Popo's funeral. We also got to visit with my Aunt Linda and her lovely husband Russ. We didn't get any good pictures because Sophia was literally a blur, since Momo always has m&m's on hand. During our visit, I had a reprise of a feeling that I've noticed cropping up before. Sophia is lovable and cute and smart, yada, yada. But right off the bat, Linda, Russ and Momo were loving on her so much! The result was that I felt very loved. (Russ loves Linda, who loves me - you get the point) It's a love chain. I couldn't help but feel that because of my relationship with them (faulty and lacking as it may be), they loved me enough to care deeply for my daughter. Anyway, I just really enjoy watching people reflect their love of me onto Sophia, even when she's not performing or chatting or necessarily being lovable.

Of course I notice this in my own interactions with other people's children or friends or whatever. If I care about someone deeply, I care about what they care about (within boundaries, without feeling their feelings). I'm just saying. Take a look around and see who matters to people who matter to you. Get it? Love chain.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Two Good Ones

In spite of the overall failure of our attempt to capture a "family moment," Casey did get a couple good ones in the mix. They just happen to both include me. What can I say? I do a lot for the quality of a photo.

In this one, Sophia actually looks like my child. Yep, those are some VanDyke eyes you're looking at.

In this one, we took advantage of Sophia's desire to be elsewhere...

Family Photos with a 2-year-old

On Saturday after the parade, we went to Rock Bridge State Park with David and Casey and the boys as we had done last year. It worked out perfectly last year because we each had someone handy to take a family photo and snap some shots that we each would have missed. This year, it was not so ideal.

It was our own fault to start out with. We told Sophia we were going to a park, and she had the entirely wrong idea about what that meant. There were no swings or slides, just rocks and trees. Not really to Sophia's liking. She kept saying, "Let's go to the park now!" Poor thing. She was distracted by a few things. Water:

A leaf lasted a couple seconds.

It was almost comical really. Any time I would get close for a picture, she would push me away or simply turn the other way or yell something unpleasant. That's always a good feeling. After a lengthy walk through the woods, maintaining the hope that we would round a corner on a new attitude, we decided to give it up. On the way out, Sophia was happy because she was riding Daddy's back. So this is the best family photo I could get. Even then, she didn't really want to smile. She just couldn't help it.

Once we neared the van, she - of course - didn't want to go. Erick tried to snap a shot of her "flying" around the grass, but for some reason the camera focused on the grass. I just love the look on her face in this one. So sweet. So deceptively sweet.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday Laugh

Just thought I'd share a chuckle with everyone on a Monday. Last week, while we were playing, Sophia fell down (as she does so often). This time, she decided to "call" her friend Ava and tell her about it.

"I slipped and tripped, Ava!"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mizzou Homecoming, the parade

So we got up bright and early this morning to go to the Homecoming Parade. We went last year, but Sophia really wasn't old enough to enjoy it.

This year, she found a new appreciation for all the activity, people, floats and especially the marching bands. Here she is clapping for one of the marching bands that passed by.

Sophia was a big time Daddy's girl today, so she didn't get too involved in candy snatching or anything.

But once she saw the Mizzou Gymnastics team tumbling down the street, she was very interested. Here's a "Daddy, look at that!"

Mostly, she just ended up sitting on the ground after that, but it was at least an improvement in her involvement level. We had a lot of fun once she got into it. She started to try her own flips, and that got a little out of hand in the crowd, so we headed home halfway through the parade, but it was still a lot of fun for all of us! Go Tigers!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Mizzou Homecoming, Part I

Tonight was "House Decs" at Mizzou. A tradition where the Greek organizations on campus go all out to put on skits in front of their houses, complete with complicated sets, lighting and characters.

We were very excited to take Sophia to the first one that she would enjoy. So we bundled her up.

In my rush to bundle Sophia and pack all the necessities, I forgot to change out of my slippers. My friend Erica insisted they were fine, but they're red. I'm just saying. I look like the crazy old lady who wears slippers everywhere. No offense.

Sophia got a balloon, so all was well in her world.

And seeing her friend Ava was the icing on the cake! Obviously they're comparing balloons here. Fortunately, both purple.

Now we're excited for the parade and all the Homecoming glory of destroying the Colorado Buffaloes!

Lighter Hair?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Worth a thousand words

I really like this picture. I think it sums up Sophia on most days. She wants to wear her "new fancy black shoes," but she wants to play in the mud. I wouldn't call her a tomboy at all really. She's very much a girl, but she has a rough and tumble streak. She's a bit of an enigma, and that makes our days a lot of fun.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Back to the Comfort Zone

Parenting has been easier this week. Other than a 40-minute unexplained scream fest this morning, we've been doing well. After normal calming methods didn't work, and Sophia just clearly needed to let it all out, I just went ahead and took my shower. At one point, I plugged my ears just to listen to the water beating my head. (Maybe Sophia doesn't get all her drama from Erick.) Anyway, she stopped crying a few minutes into the shower, and since I could still hear her shuffling around, I knew she hadn't somehow met catastrophe. I came out, and she was snuggled up on our bed under the covers with her head on Erick's pillow. She said, "I'm asleep in Daddy's bed" and she wanted me to sing her a song to sleep, so I guess we were good.

It's comforting to me to know that Sophia can soothe herself. That used to be a big deal as an infant at nighttime, but now we're into a new stage of soothing. So, I'm just glad that even though I'd be willing to hold her through it, she has glimpses of self-sufficiency.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The greatest of these

Two weeks from tomorrow, a great deal of our population is going to be pissed off because their guy didn't win. No other way to put it. So let's start preparing ourselves now, okay?

I challenge everyone reading this to love me in spite of my vote. You have to assume I'm going to vote for the other guy. It's a secret ballot, so we can all assume that our friends and family are going to vote with us, unless we know otherwise. I'm challenging you to assume I'm voting for the other guy. Love me anyway. Not only me, but I challenge you to love every asinine, imbecilic and loud-mouth person who disagrees with you. I even challenge you to love the other candidate and his running mate. Whoa. Scary, right?

With what's next, I'm addressing my Christian readership. I certainly don't think Christianity has the corner on the love market. But I can just remind them what we were commanded to do. Everyone else has to love on their own. Paul had it right when he said "The greatest of these is love." He goes on to say that talent, self-sacrifice, righteousness, etc. are empty without love. So what does that mean? Just because you love Obama and McCain doesn't mean you have to vote for them. It doesn't even mean you have to give them the benefit of the doubt. But it might help us get through the day two weeks from tomorrow.

I'm just saying maybe if we all tried to love as Jesus did - not in spite of our differences, but BECAUSE of them - we could see that there are more right answers and more ways to love than just one. Paul didn't say, "The greatest of these is 'anti-abortion' or 'social justice' or 'defense' or 'supreme court appointments'." Nope. It's love. Now, one of the previous fill-in-the-blanks may be the way you think love is best expressed in government, but I'm just saying, what if there is more than one way?

Idealistic? I hope so. Love me anyway.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A little bit of random for Monday

A few thoughts to get you through the rest of your Monday.

Some people love our Tigers on Sunday regardless of their performance on Saturday.

I'm very lucky.

I love the fall and my camera.

Sophia has a tent for a doll the size of a Barbie. Here she is trying to climb into it head first.

When she does stuff like this, I often say, "Sophia, you crack me up." I say it pretty often because it's true. The other day in the car, she said, "Mommy, you make me all cracked!" when I was being as silly as a 2-year-old.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Good Times for a Great Cause

We did apparently learn our lesson from last year because we came home without a single centerpiece. It didn't hurt that they didn't offer them this year, but I'm confident that I could have controlled myself. We didn't bid on anything during the regular auction because we had gotten some great items during the silent auction portion. Erick and I each got gift certificates for our next tattoos and several other gift certificates that are a lot less interesting. We didn't get a party this year, but the P.S. Gallery didn't have one in the works, so we didn't miss out.

It was a great time. Dr. Z was no disappointment. I'm confident that he is taken with me, but everyone else assures me that it was the camera he was flirting with. Just throw me a bone!

I am sore today from all the dancing! It was such great fun to have Dr. Z all to ourselves, and we took full advantage of the opportunity. Here are some shots our friend Jenny caught.
Niki & Casey:

Erick and me:

Here we are in all our gussied up glory. Aaron & Jenny, Niki & JP, David & Casey and us.

It was a great opportunity to support a worthy cause, having a great time in the bargain. Can't wait for next year!

Go Tigers

Friday, October 17, 2008

Learned our lesson?

Last year about this time, I posted this post about the Rain Wine & Art Auction, along with our unintentional purchase of the orchid centerpieces. Let me start by saying those died ages ago and weren't worth the money. Fortunately, it all goes to a good cause.

Anywho, tonight we get another shot. We get to dress up in fancy duds and pretend to be interesting for the evening. Most of all, we need to keep our hands down. I'm practicing right now. Someone surprise me. I promise not to raise my hands in shock. I have a question? Just yell it out. I'm just really going to try to pay closer attention tonight. Wish me luck! Casey may need to be buckled in the chair. That has yet to be determined. The entertainment tonight is Dr. Zhivegas, so I'm hoping they don't in any way combine the two. I just don't see how I can keep my hands down while dancing!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pause for Authenticity

I'm only going to post this because it means so much to me to hear that other people struggle with this stuff. Maybe that's only me. In which case, I apologize in advance for admitting my weaknesses; please disregard and move on to brighter, cuter posts and pictures of Sophia.

Okay, so it's been a difficult week. Yes, Sophia is hilarious and endearing and smart. It turns out, she is also my nemesis. It really stuns me at times how a two-year-old person can push my button, ring my bell and get my goat the way that Sophia does. Each time it happens, I am more than willing to assume it is due to some failure on my part to teach her to respect me or something. I'm never sure exactly where the failure is; I'm just confident there is one.

As I stated in my last post, this has been a hectic week. Our busy schedules have combined with very early mornings and fun things like vaccinations to create the perfect storm. For some reason, when I am tired and busy and have virtually no margin to give, Sophia senses weakness and takes the opportunity to land the knockout punch. I understand that she is two. I'm fully aware that this next season of our lives is going to be challenging simply because of her age. It should be. She is learning to be independent, and I am learning to exercise authority in love. But I also understand that Sophia is perceptive, especially when it comes to me. She has had my number since she was a baby. She knows that my natural tendency is to lean into love and let authority go. It may sound crazy, but it's been proven over and over. I am not giving her too much credit.

Knowing my tendency to sacrifice authority for love (not to say that those who exercise greater authority lack love), I have to analyze each decision I make in dealing with Sophia. It's a split second mental marathon to determine my reasoning and rationale for coming to a conclusion. For example, I am cooking dinner. Sophia asks me to read a book. My natural response is "Yes." But because of my tendency to be a pushover, I think it over first. I go over in my head my reasons for saying yes. Am I doing it because I want Sophia to like me? Should I really finish dinner? How long will this chicken take? Which book is it? Am I afraid of a fit? If I say no, and she throws a fit, I can't change my mind. I'm not sure that mental lightning storm makes sense to anyone else. I'm not even sure it makes sense to me. The thing is, in a week like this one, my mind just frizzes out after the first question. The result is indecision and frustration for both of us.

This morning I shared my frustration with Casey and shed a couple of tears into my coffee. She simply reminded me that not every decision has to be the right one. What matters is that the overarching parenting principles that I believe in are playing out during the day. Also, there are chances for do-overs! If I mess up one time earlier in the day, I don't have to repeat the same mistake for consistency's sake. I can correct it. This is so simple, but it is such a challenge to believe in the moment. A mistake doesn't make me a failure. Neither does a temper tantrum.

Authenticity matters. Yes, Sophia is a fantastic child, and I am incredibly lucky. (She actually tells me that!) But parenting is still difficult because it matters so damn much. (pardon my emphasis) For those of you without small children, I apologize for the rant, but the truth applies everywhere. A mistake doesn't mean failure. Just do what you know is right and stick with it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Sometimes, we just have those weeks. Erick has fifty places to go, and I have as many things to do in the opposite direction. We're smack dab in the middle of one of those weeks, and it's shaping up to be that kind of a weekend, too.

Don't get me wrong, I realize that we are in the minority of families who don't operate on this level of busyness pretty much all the time. A week with fewer commitments is the exception for most, not the rule. Right now, Sophia doesn't enter the picture with her schedule, so we are able to keep a tight reign on what we do and when. For some reason, the fall seems to be the one time of year that we can never control our level of activity. I haven't figured that out yet, but I'll let you know when I do. I think it's football somehow. So, here we are. I will see Erick for - no joke - maybe 3 hours this week between Monday at 8 a.m. to Friday at 6 p.m. The thing is, except for one night, we'll both be in town! It would almost be easier if he was just out of town the whole week. At least then I'd know what to expect and I would be completely operating on solo.

I had been dreading this week, but we had a wonderful weekend just relaxing together to prepare for it. I'm just saying, I think we will survive. I am very grateful that this is not how we operate. Maybe I'm needy or something. I just miss him - and I miss us - when life becomes this hectic. I can operate just fine by myself, but I choose to do life with him as often as possible.

Sophia won't suffer much as a result of this week. We'll both see her our usual amount; we're just taking turns at it. She's not crazy about so much time where the three of us aren't together either. Every morning, she asks Erick where he's going. When he tells her that he's going to work, she responds with, "That makes me a little sad." Me too. It just makes me grateful for the normal pace of our lives. I look forward to having that back some time.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Columbus Day!

The Hairy Lizard

Sophia has a lot of friends, both animate and inanimate. Her newest close friend is what she calls either her Hairy Lizard or the Dragon.

As with most of her "friends," Sophia thinks of strange things to do together. One day she decided it would be a good idea to place him at the top of her stack of blocks. This was quickly followed by a karate chop to the lower blocks, sending the whole thing to the other side of the room.

Maybe we need to work on this because another time, I came around the corner to this:

"Oh no, Mommy! The dragon is eating Strawberry Shortcake!" Her concern only slightly masked the obvious joy at such a thought. I don't know where she came up with that one. I don't even think the boys usually have their more dangerous toys eat the weaker ones. Just instincts, I suppose.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tailgating on a Diet

When we started our 6-week eating plan, we were fully aware that it coincided perfectly with the beginning of football season, and therefore would essentially ruin our tailgating for the bulk of the season. We have been as faithful as we could be, only enjoying a fraction of the beer (that sounds bad) that we normally would.

Yesterday, with a 7 o'clock kick-off time, we were just going to HAVE to try our best to come up with a tailgating solution, because tailgate we must! It was really a collaborative effort, assisted greatly by our friends. I had been complaining via instant messaging to our friend Martin that during his visit to our tailgate this weekend, we would be virtually beerless. He helpfully informed me of MGD 64, Miller's lightest beer, having only 64 calories! For some reason, Erick is strictly a no-Miller man, so Milwaukee's finest brew isn't often enjoyed in our home. Desperate times call for desperate measures. So, we gave it a try.

Erick summed it up pretty well. "It tastes about like you'd expect a 64-calorie beer to taste." However, having had so little exposure to beer in the past 3 1/2 weeks, it tasted pretty darn good. I don't think we'll make it a habit, though.

Our tailgate food was greatly boosted in appeal by our friends the Chandlers. Knowing of our resolution to continue with the eating plan, they chipped in by bringing these vegetable kabobs (photograph courtesy of Casey.)

They were even tastier than they look. So, that is one tailgate adjustment that just might remain after our initial period is over. With peppers, onions, and the largest zucchini and yellow squash that I have seen in a long time, complemented by some fresh mushrooms and grape tomatoes for color, these were the finest veggie kabobs in my memory. Mmmmmm.

Anyway, the Tigers didn't make it easy for us to stay on track last night. In the midst of our offensive sputtering, I was really missing some chips and queso, or at least some real beer! We managed to push through, although the Tigers couldn't. Next week, when the Tigers play Texas, we'll be good and I have no illusions that we'll have a lower stress level. I do, however, think our result will be different next week! Go Tigers! Feast on some Longhorn for me, since I have to control my portion size.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Long Week

It has been a pretty long week, and I can't really explain why. Well, two reasons pop to the surface. Sophia has been a bit of a pill. Her worst behavior tends to be followed by her most boisterous laugh, so it's hard to know how to respond without laughing. That's not really true. There have been plenty of times that I wasn't tempted to laugh. The second reason is that I have been TIRED! I don't know why, but I have been exhausted this week. I think it's the mixture of allergies, late night and early mornings.

Sophia's toe is doing pretty well. The nail is still black and loose, but it is hanging on. I'm kind of worried that it will take a long time to come off. Anyway, she is acting just like normal as far as that's concerned.

Yesterday, I took advantage of her attitude to snap a few pictures. She was ignoring me, so it worked out pretty well.

Still ignoring me...

Monday, October 6, 2008

The apple doesn't fall far...

...but she falls often. Unfortunately, it appears that Sophia may have inherited my lack of hand-eye-or any other part coordination. She falls and drops things frequently, even for a toddler (probably still not as much as I do.) She has always been far more interested in the spoken word than the careful step. That's always been my excuse, too.

Up until this week, it has always been small cuts and scrapes that a well-placed kiss could fix. On Friday, that all changed. Sophia dropped a very heavy toy directly onto her big toe. She screamed like I haven't heard her scream for about 40 minutes until I finally rocked her to sleep in my bed. In the four days following this unfortunate incident, she has been a trooper. Most of the time, she runs around great, with a slight limp. She stops occasionally to have a good cry about it. And she never forgets to remind us of how her toe " 'till kinda hurts." Up until this afternoon, she had insisted on having a sock on it at all times because she didn't want to see her toe.

Last night, we noticed that her toenail was looking completely black, so we became certain that it would fall off. Today, it looks even worse. Tonight there was an incident with a door that made it certain that falling off is inevitable. Here is what it looked like earlier in the day when she was able to ignore it completely.

Awful, isn't it? It looks much worse now.

I just feel terrible when she has problems like this that I can't help with in the least. On this one, I'm looking for some more assurance or helpful advice. By those who have lost nails, I've been told it's not painful. However, I've also read that at the end, I may have to sever a piece of skin under the nail to fully release it. Doesn't sound like a fun job for me, I have to admit.

Having fully embraced my own inner klutz, I know this is just the first of many such unpleasant tasks. I suppose I should go ahead and get used to the idea.


Not a single comment on my less than attractive comfy wear? Disappointing. All the sudden, I'm feeling very self-conscious. I was sure that the humor would outweigh the embarrassment, but now I'm not so sure. (Was that too passive-aggressive?) I just want comments. I'll do the same for you.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


All three of us explored our homebody side this weekend. That was a big deal considering we're usually a family that is happiest on the go. On Saturday morning, we were beginning to get ready to head out to the Farmer's Market and garage sales, but Sophia said, "I'll stay at my house." Since she's not old enough to stay by herself, we decided to stay home with her. Really, it sounded great. We all stayed in our pajamas until noon. I actually got a lot accomplished around the house on Saturday, and all three of us had a great day just running rampant through our house in our pajamas.

Here's Sophia reading in her pj's.

Here I am drinking coffee in my pj's. This is proof that your entertainment and an occasional chuckle is more important to me than my reputation as a fashionista.

After Sophia went to bed, we got to watch the Tigers tromp Nebraska. That was just the best. I am still getting used to being a fan of a good team. It's a feeling I'm more than happy to get used to, though.

Today was a similar story, although we did get out this morning to go to church and celebrate Erick's mom's birthday with her over lunch.

We enjoyed getting out, but we were happy to get back to our house and stay here the rest of the day. I'm not even sad to have missed out on what appeared from my window to be a fabulous, sunny fall weekend. I'm getting sinus trouble anyway...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fall is My Favorite

This morning, we'll go to a garage sale or two. Play outside in our jackets and just enjoy the fall sun. This reminded me of a couple of poems I wrote last fall. You can link here to see them. For some reason, I always feel more introspective in the fall, and I tend to think a lot anyway, so that can get intense. The fall feels so crisp and clear. It makes my mind moreso.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The best part

Sophia usually saves her sweetest comments and snuggles for her daddy on the weekends. The fall semester has taken me away from the house at least two evenings a week, so Sophia has had to get used to my absence a little more often. Turns out she misses me!

I had a meeting yesterday that usually keeps me out past Sophia's bedtime, so I had already told her good night. Erick said she had mentioned me a couple of times with an "I miss my mommy, but I'll see her tomorrow."

I was very happy when my meeting was shorter than usual, and I was able to get home before bedtime. When I walked through the door, I heard, "It's my mommy!" That was followed by a big neck hug and Sophia saying, "I'm so happy to see you! I love you when you're gone." She confuses "love" and "miss" pretty often, but it's really the same thing, right? She did follow that up by saying that she was a little sad that I had a meeting.

Those moments are just the best. I'm always sad when I have to leave Sophia and Erick for anything other than shopping or eating, but it is great to know that I'm missed.